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November 30, 2012

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Friday 5: No-Fail Holiday Party Dishes

by contributor

The holidays are here, and the next month or so will be a seemingly endless stretch of office potlucks, ugly sweater parties, cookie exchanges, and other gatherings where you’ll be expected to bring a dish. Short on time, culinary skill, and/or enthusiasm? Not to worry! These foolproof dishes will shine at any event, and nobody has to know how easy they were to make — until everyone asks you for the recipe, that is.

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and Honey

Image Copyright 2012 Television Food Network G.P.

Gorgonzola and Honey Bruschetta
Who doesn’t love a recipe with just four ingredients? And you probably have at least two of them in your kitchen already. These sweet-and-savory cheesy toasts look impressive and bake in minutes. But they do need to be served warm, so save this one for when you’re hosting at home or have access to an oven.

Espresso Bark

Image from allrecipes.com

Espresso Bark
This dessert doubles as a tasty homemade gift, so keep a batch on hand in a pretty tin for a hostess gift or emergency all-purpose present. Another four-ingredient special that comes together in minutes with the help of your microwave, yet looks elegant and festive. If you don’t like coffee beans, try substituting dried cherries or nuts instead.

Olive Oil Cakes with Lemon and Thyme

Image from Tasty Kitchen

Lemon-Lavender Olive Oil Cakes
If you want something to cut through the sweet and rich dishes that are synonymous with the holidays, these delightful little olive oil cakes fit the bill. The recipe in the link calls for thyme, but I always use dried lavender. The cakes taste fresh and heady, with just the right amount of sweetness. Whipping them up is a snap – you make the batter in the blender! And remember, olive oil is good for you, so you should probably eat at least two or three.

Chex Muddy Buddies (R)

Image from General Mills.

Chex Muddy Buddies (gluten-free)
Granted, a snack made from corn cereal squares doesn’t sound all that fancy. But trust us, kids and adults gobble up this chocolate-and-peanut-butter concoction, and it couldn’t be easier to make: a microwave, a plastic gallon bag, and you’re done. Plus, it’s gluten-free, which is a nice bonus for guests with dietary restrictions who often don’t get to enjoy the snack buffet. Set a stack of small plastic cups by the bowl for people to scoop their own.

Braided Calzone

Image from Squidoo.

Braided Calzone
This beautiful and tasty calzone is surprisingly easy to make. Sure, you could make a homemade dough and sauce and mix your own special blend of cheeses. But it will still be plenty delicious if you get premade pizza dough, pasta sauce, and shredded cheese at your favorite grocery store. The braiding is easy and forgiving once it bakes up. This dish is guaranteed to be a hit — let’s face it, it’s basically a gussied-up pizza.

Do you have a favorite no-fail holiday recipe? Share it in the comments!

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