Take 9 Chicago: Last Minute Dishes to Bring to That Holiday Gathering You Forgot About

Don't panic... and these are way better than "chips & dip."

October 29, 2018
Monkey Bread

Dreamstime

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Holidays are stressful enough with family-you-never-talk-to around, presents to buy, decorations to put up and let’s not forget about all the added expenses… the last thing you need is to remember you were supposed to bring an appetizer to that gathering in a few hours (and no, chips won’t cut it).

No need to worry, here are 9 quick, easy & simple items to bring to that get-together that won’t get you looks of disdain for lack of effort.

1. Pigs in a Blanket… Holiday style!!

Who doesn’t love Pigs in a Blanket?! Exactly, no one. This appetizer requires just 4 ingredients & less than 35min to make!

Ingredients: a package of Little Smokies, a tube of crescent rolls, poppy seeds, butter

Make Pigs in a Blanket as you normally would by cutting up the crescent rolls into smaller pieces and wrapping them around each little smokie individually. Here's where the "holiday-ness" comes in: place them in a circle (aka "wreath" shape) on the cookie sheet touching. Yep, all in. Once your wreath is complete, melt some butter in the microwave and spread it over each piggy (this is the glue) before sprinkling poppy seeds over all of them (what makes something fancy instantly? Decoration of course!). Follow the instructions on the crescent roll tube & pull out your Piggy wreath once you see them turn golden brown!

Added bonus: when you plate the circle of piggies, include an element of whatever holiday you're celebrating as decoration on the plate. Thanksgiving? Add some (fake) leaves! Christmas? (Fake) Pine needles! (or other similar-looking spices) A birthday? Sprinkles! (Ok, maybe not that last one).

2. Goat Cheese & Marinara Dip

A fancier-looking, quicker-to-make version of bread sticks!

Ingredients: Jar of marinara sauce, 1 package of goat cheese, 1 loaf of french bread, olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice up the frenche bread, put the slices on a baking sheet & drizzle with olive oil. Put the marinara in a bake-safe dish & top with goat cheese. Place the dish in the oven until the cheese begins to bubble and turn golden brown around the edges. Swap out the dish with the sheet of french bread and bake for about ten minutes until the edges of the bread are golden brown. Voila!

Added bonus: top cheese/marinara with a sprinkling of basil

3. Beer-cheese fondue

This literally has two ingredients (not including whatever you choose to dip into the cheese!) It doesn't get quicker than this...

Ingredients: 1 container of spreadable chedder cheese, your favorite beer, something to dip with: bread, pretzels, veggies (grab a veggie tray?), sliced apples

Ideally you'd have a fondue pot, but if not any pot will do! Put a can of your favorite beer in the pot and bring to a boil. Once you see it bubbling, gradually add in the cheese, stirring until it's smooth. Done! Dip your bread, sliced apples, pretzels or veggies into the cheese & enjoy!

Added bonus: top the cheese with parsley.

4. Pizza roll-ups

You're about to be the hero of the party walking in with a pizza item!

Ingredients: Package of flour tortillas, a jar of pizza sauce, mozzarella sticks, a package of small pepperoni, olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, take a stack of tortillas (4-5) and wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave for about 20 seconds. When they come out they should be nice and pliable. Take your mozzarella sticks and cut each in half (long ways). In the center of your tortilla, make a line of pepperoni and place the halved mozzarella stick on top. Roll the tortilla up like a burrito and place on a cooking sheet. Spread a little olive oil over the tortillas and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown & the cheese is fully melted. Use the pizza sauce as dip and you're done!

5. Parmesan Garlic Swirls

Ingredients: 1 tube of pizza dough, 1 container of grated parmesan cheese, garlic, butter, parsley

Preheat the oven to the temperature listed on the pizza dough. Meanwhile, melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter. In a bowl, combine a tablespoon of minced garlic, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan & 1 tablespoon of parsley. Roll out the pizza dough until it's a rectangle that's around 1/4 inch thick & brush with the melted butter. On half of the dough, spread the parmesan/garlic/parsley mixture. Fold the other side of the dough on top of the parmesan side and press down. Cut 1inch thick pieces of dough and twist before placing on a baking sheet. Bake for about 9 minutes or until the sticks are golden brown. 

6. Feta Avocado & Pomegranate Bruchetta

Ingredients: a loaf of french bread, 1 container of feta cheese, 1 container of guacamole (no tomatoes!), olive oil & a container of pomegranate seeds

Slice the bread and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil & bake until golden brown around the edges. Spread guacamole on each slice of bread, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds & feta cheese. Done! Can we add how fancy & colorful it looks too?

7. Baked Brie with Cranberry Sauce & Walnuts

Ingredients: 1 16oz round of brie, 1 jar of cranberry sauce, 1 package of crushed walnuts, crackers (to scoop with)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the rind off of the top of the round of brie and place on a bake-safe casserole or dish. Top the cheese with the cranberry sauce and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with walnuts and serve with crackers or sliced bread!

8. Cheese burger meatballs

Ingredients: 1 package of frozen pre-cooked meatballs, 1 package of sliced cheddar cheese, 1 container of grape tomatoes, lettuce... toothpicks also needed.

Place the meatballs in a frying pan & follow directions on the package to reheat. As they're warming up, cut slices of cheddar cheese into fours and halve some grape tomatoes. Once the meatballs are beginning to brown, carefully place a slice of the quartered chedder cheese slices onto each meatball. It should take 1-2 minutes for the cheese to melt to the meatballs, once they do remove from heat. rip off a few small pieces of lettuce. Spear a halved tomato, followed by the lettuce and end with a cheesy meatball. Done!

Added bonus: add bacon!!!!!!

9. Cheesy Herb Monkey Bread

Ingredients: 2 tubes of Pillsbury Flaky Grands Biscuits, 1 package of shredded colby-monterey jack cheese, garlic powder, dill, butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use some of the butter to grease a tube cake pan. Melt a 1/3 cup of butter in the microwave and mix with 3/4tsp of dill and 3/4tsp of garlic powder. Separate each tube of biscuits into five, then quarter each. Dip half of the quartered dough pieces in the butter/dill/garlic powder mixture and put in the cake pan. Sprinkle 2 cups of colby-monterey cheese over the biscuits in the pan. Coat the remaining biscuits in the butter/dill/garlic powder mixture and place on top of the cheese. Sprinkle extra cheese over the top of the second layer of biscuits. Bake 30-35 minutes and enjoy!