(NewsUSA) - You barely saw your friends and family the last time you hosted a holiday soiree. As your guests mingled under the mistletoe, you baked trays of mini quiche and assembled shrimp cocktails, leaving little time to enjoy their company.
Sound familiar? If so, you might want to rethink your entertaining strategy -- it is possible to throw an elegant gathering without spending all of your time in the kitchen.
Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati, authors of the cookbook 'Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's,' say that it's a simple matter of buying the right ingredients.
For example, making homemade puff pastry requires hours of folding dough on itself -- but frozen puff pastry, which is available in most grocery stores, makes for easy and impressive appetizers. 'Use the grocery store as your prep kitchen,' says Miniati. 'With the right purchases, you can make gourmet appetizers in minutes.'
Try serving these surprisingly simple Pastry Bites at your next gathering. Alternate fillings could include goat cheese with cranberries, pesto with roasted red peppers, or ricotta and pine nuts. Or for a quick alternative to pumpkin tarts, enfold pumpkin butter in puff pastry dough to make easy Pumpkin Spice Turnovers.