Yes, it's possible to fill the bill - and all guests Something for everybody

December 08, 1993|By Dallas Morning News Universal Press Syndicate

Entertaining in the '90s comes down to one truth: You can't please all of the people, ever.

Special diets, political agendas and personal tastes make it hard to come up with a universally acceptable menu. Then there's the format: Buffet? Seated dinner? Potluck? Catered?

Add to that the usual holiday shortages -- time, money and energy -- and feeding the masses can be a big holiday headache.

What's needed is an ace in the hole, a collection of recipes that includes something for everyone, from diabetics to vegetarians to the nouveau broke. Here you will find recipes that cover many of the bases.

Challenge: Need a good appetizer quick.

Solution: Shrimp mousse is a little like shrimp cocktail on Ritz crackers. Keep the ingredients on hand. It can be made in a mold or a serving dish. If you don't have enough warning to make it the night before, pull out another old reliable: pickapeppa sauce over a cream cheese brick, served with crackers.

Shrimp mousse

Makes 12 to 16 servings

1 (10 1/2 -ounce) can tomato soup

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

1 (4 1/2 -ounce) can tiny shrimp

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 ( 1/4 -ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin

hot pepper sauce, lemon juice and grated onion to taste

Place soup and cheese over low heat until melted. Add remaining ingredients; pour into well-oiled mold. Refrigerate overnight. Serve with crackers.

Per serving: calories: 119; fat: 10 g; cholesterol: 33 mg; sodium: 251 mg; calories from fat: 75 percent.

Challenge: Guest on a heart-healthy diet.

Solution: A veggie tray isn't the answer; most dips are loaded with fat. Marinated mushrooms, steeped in red wine vinegar and herbs, is a step above plain vegetables. Although the percentage of calories from fat may seem high, the calorie count is low and the dish contains only 2 grams of fat per servings.

The selection of low-fat and nonfat ingredients on the market now makes it easy to cut the fat in traditional dishes. If eggnog is on the menu, choose a light variety, or offer a drink made with cranberry or other fruit juices.

Plus: You can keep these on hand for drop-in guests. They travel well and can sit out on a buffet.

Marinated mushrooms

Makes 3 cups

2 pound small mushrooms

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup water

2 tablespoons canola or corn oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (2 teaspoons)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

Clean the mushrooms, cutting off the ends of the stems. Set aside. Place remaining ingredients except bell pepper in a large saucepan and bring to boil. Add the mushrooms and bell pepper; bring to a boil again. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in a covered container for several hours before serving.

Per 1/4 -cup serving: calories: 35; fat: 2 g; no cholesterol; sodium: 46 mg; calories from fat: 58 percent.

Challenge: What to put out for youngsters.

Solution: Kids love Jell-O. They also like snack mixes. Kids love most finger foods, especially if they aren't too complicated or spicy. For something substantial, make easy Boboli pizzas, which can be heated as you need them. No need to fancy them up; kids, especially little ones, like the plain cheese variety.

Plus: Another good choice for vegetarians. You can assemble the pizzas early in the day and heat them at the last minute.

Easy Boboli pizza

Makes 16 appetizer servings

3/4 to 1 cup spaghetti or pizza sauce

1 large or 4 small Boboli bread rounds

2 to 3 cups shredded low-fat, part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread sauce evenly over Boboli. Top with cheeses. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Cut into child-size or appetizer portions. Per serving: calories: 144; fat: 6 g; cholesterol: 13 mg; sodium: 344 mg; calories from fat: 36 percent.

Challenge: Guest allergic to wheat.

Solution: Conventional breads, pasta and anything made with wheat flour are forbidden. But Bette Hagman, author of "The Gluten-Free Gourmet" (Henry Holt and Co., $12.95), points out that many prepared foods also may contain wheat products. One safe idea: a pie made in a meringue crust.

Plus: It travels well and makes a good buffet dessert.

Cranberry-orange angel pie

Makes 8 servings

meringue shell (recipe follows)

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (12-ounce) carton cranberry-orange sauce

1/3 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1 cup whipping cream or non-dairy liquid

Prepare and bake the meringue shell.

Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Gradually stir in the cranberry-orange sauce, orange juice, lemon juice and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Gradually add a little of the hot cranberry mixture to the egg yolks, then combine this mixture with the hot mixture in the saucepan.

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