It’s one of those best-worst things that happens: You have friends coming over at the last minute. You’re stoked to see them, but ugh, when you try to think of some munchies to throw together quickly, you come up blank. Um… do your friends love you enough to be OK with an open bag of Doritos? Probably, but if you aspire to something a wee bit more polished, actress/singer/songwriter and host of Cooking Channel’s Real Girl’s Kitchen Haylie Duff can help you out. She shared with us some of her secrets to last-minute entertaining when you have almost no time at all to prepare.
If you only have 5 minutes
It’s not about what you have to serve — it’s about how you arrange it. “Just turn on some music, light a nice candle or two and maybe open a bottle of wine,” Duff suggests. “You can arrange the wine glasses, the opener, a pretty decanter and some linen coasters on a wooden cheese board to make the space look really beautiful, and it will only take you five minutes.”
If you only have 10 minutes
Duff has the ultimate 10-minute snack: “My nori and sesame popcorn recipe is a fun way to jazz up an all-time classic. The combination of two of my favorite snacks is seriously true love.” If nori isn’t your thing, try another flavoring that elevates popcorn, like t?garashi, paprika, cinnamon-sugar or one of these cool flavored salts from McCormick.
If you have only 15 minutes
Duff says she almost always has crackers, cheese, veggies and hummus in her kitchen, which makes it easy for her to throw together an appetizer at the last minute. “I also have a balsamic-blackberry brie recipe that’s quick, but looks really impressive, especially around the holidays.” We’ll say — it looks gorgeous. “Once the food is all set, you can move onto the ambiance,” so don’t forget to light those candles and dim any overhead lights.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.