Entertaining Unexpected Guests During The Holidays

Wayne shares make ahead dishes as well as shopping tips for prepared food so that you can entertain effortlessly.

Friends and family are always stopping by during the holidays for casual visits, sometimes even unexpectedly.  Stocking up on certain basics and having food items prepared in advance makes it easy for you to be able to entertain on short notice.  Here a few recipes and suggestions for impromptu meals and snacks that are prefect for those occasions.  

Breakfast Casserole
serves 10


2/3 cu Bread Crumbs
1 tbl Olive Oil
8 oz Sliced Mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cu Roasted Red Peppers, chopped
1 tbl Fresh Oregano, minced
1/2 lb Smoked Turkey, cubed (you can use other cooked meats of your choice)
1 1/2 cu Shredded Sharp Cheese (loosely packed in a measuring cup)
3 tbl All Purpose Flour
3 tsp Ground Mustard
10 lg Eggs
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 tbl Heavy Cream

Cooking Spray
9” Springform Pan


Coat the sides and bottom of the springform pan with cooking spray.  Pour 1/3 cup of the breadcrumbs into the pan and tilt the pan to coat all surfaces.  Pour any excess back with the remaining crumbs.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 5-7 minutes.   Add red peppers and oregano and sauté for one minute more.  Remove from heat and add remaining breadcrumbs.  Stir to combine and then allow ingredients to cool.  Once cool, pour into the bottom of the springform pan and spread out evenly.

Mix turkey, shredded cheese, flour and mustard in a large bowl until well combined.  Pour ingredients over mushroom mixture and spread out evenly.

Crack the eggs into the same bowl.  Add cream and season with salt and pepper.  Beat the eggs to an even consistency.  Pour eggs over the cheese and turkey mixture.  At this point you have three options for with your casserole:

Bake Now: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cover casserole with aluminum and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 15-20 additional minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow casserole to rest for 10 minutes before unmolding and slicing.

Refrigerate Overnight:  Cover casserole with plastic wrap.  In the morning, remove casserole from refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Discard the plastic wrap and cover casserole with aluminum.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and then follow baking instructions above.

Freeze And Bake Later:  Place casserole in freezer uncovered for 1 hour.  Remove from freezer and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the egg mixture.  Place another piece of plastic wrap (or aluminum) over the entire pan and seal well.  Place casserole back in the freezer for up to 2 months.  To bake, remove casserole from freezer and let it stand a room temperature for 30 minutes.  Remove all coverings except a single piece of aluminum.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake for 1 hour covered.  Remove the aluminum and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

With all versions, this casserole goes well with sliced tomatoes or a fresh garden salad.
Ray & His Mom Esther's Fruit Logs
a “no bake” recipe
courtesy of Ray Marshalek


2 boxes Vanilla Wafers (12 oz size)
1 jar Maraschino Cherries (10 oz size)
1 pkg Chopped Dates (8 oz size)
1 box Raisins (15 oz size)
1 1/2 cu Chopped Nuts (pecans, walnuts or a combination)
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 oz size)


Us a food processor to pulverize all the vanilla wafers to the consistency of breadcrumbs.  Pour about 3/4 cup of crumbs into a shallow plate and set aside.  Place the remainder of the crumbs in a large bowl.  Drain the juice from the maraschino cherries into a bowl and set aside.  Remove the stems and roughly chop the cherries.  Pour the cherries and the remaining ingredients into the bowl with the crumbs.  Using your hands, mix the ingredients together until everything is fully incorporated.  If the mixture is a bit dry and ingredients aren't holding together, add a tablespoon of the cherry juice.  Divide the mixture into 6 equal sized portions.  Roll each portion into a thick log about 5" long.  Tap the top and bottom to make the ends relatively flat and the log consistent in shape from end to end.  Roll each log in the reserved crumbs.  Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To serve, slice into rounds and arrange on a platter.  These logs can be kept in the refrigerator or frozen.   

These will also make nice gifts for your visiting guests or as hostess gifts if you are visiting others.  Wrap them in food safe plastic (or tissue paper over the plastic wrap) and tie the ends with ribbon.

Additional Items

Olive Bar

Many grocery stores now have an olive bar section where you can select a variety of items in addition to olives like cornichons, marinated hearts of palm, dolmades, just to name a few.  Having an assortment of these items on hand makes for a quick snack tray and a nice accompaniment to cheese and crackers or even a larger platter that might also include meats.
Meats, Cheeses and Cracker

Butchers and grocery stores also carry quite an array of smoked meats, pates and cheeses.  The staff is usually very knowledgeable as well and will suggest a variety of items that compliment each other to help you create an appetizing platter for you.  I like to buy small quantities of a number of things simply for the variety it offers my guests.  


I recently featured two hot beverages, one for adults and one for kids in my gift-giving segment.  Both mixes can be made well in advance and stored very easily.  You can find both the Hot Buttered Rum and Cinnamon Raspberry Tea recipes at this link.

Many thanks to Ray for sharing his mom’s recipe.  I really liked it!  If you have any questions or comments, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on facebook.

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