By Karen Fernau
The Arizona Republic
Cooking school owner Beth Cole dishes out unexpected advice on entertaining: Stay out of the kitchen.
Of course, guests do expect to eat, so Cole recommends what she calls a "no-cook cocktail party." All the hors d'oeuvres are assembled long before the doorbell rings, and served cold or at room temperature. After nibbling on roasted red pepper and walnut dip, dates stuffed with garlicky goat cheese and hoisin chicken lettuce wraps, guests won't miss hot food.
When planning your party, count on six to eight appetizers per person, or more if your guests are hearty eaters. Include low-carb bites and low-fat dips as well as seafood, beef, vegetables, cheeses and olives.
Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip
1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup fresh basil, tightly packed
1 slice white bread, crust removed, shredded into six to eight pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Place peppers, garlic, walnuts, basil and bread in a food processor. Process until nuts are finely chopped and the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Scrape the mixture into a small bowl. Stir in salt. The dip can be made two or three hours before serving, covered with plastic and kept at room temperature.
Serve with vegetables, pita chips or toasts. Makes 11/2 cups, about 6 servings.
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