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Cooking In Real Time: Fast and Tasty Party Fare

An easy appetizer and dessert that will make you the toast of the party.

Does your heart sink when you’re asked to bring an appetizer or dessert to a party? You want to do something more remarkable than onion soup dip, but you don’t want to fuss. Try this smoked salmon spread – you can whip this up in about five minutes.

As for the dessert, you want something impressive and festive. My glazed spiked eggnog bundt cake is decadent and takes only about 15 minutes of attention. These two recipes will make you the toast of the party!

Smoked Salmon Spread

  • 4 oz. cream cheese (low fat is fine)
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp. horseradish mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon
  • Fresh chives or scallions, finely minced
  1. Placed the cream cheese, sour cream, mustard, and garlic powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are mixed.
  2. Add the smoked salmon, pulse until the salmon is thoroughly incorporated. Taste for seasonings, add more mustard or garlic powder if necessary.
  3. To use as a dip, double the recipe and place in a small bowl. Or take an additional five minutes to squeeze a little spread onto cucumber slices or into mini Phyllo shells. (They’re easily available this time of year; I found them at the Darnestown Harris Teeter.)
  4. To do that, spoon the spread into a zip sandwich bag. Cut off a ¼-inch corner of the bag. Place cucumber slices or shells onto a tray. Squeeze a bit of salmon spread onto each piece. Sprinkle a few minced chives or scallions on the top. This will make about 30.


Glazed Spiked Eggnog Bundt Cake

  • 1 package yellow or white cake mix
  • ½ package (1.5 oz) instant butterscotch pudding mix
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¾ cup eggnog
  • ½ cup rum
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped


Glaze:

  • ½ stick butter (light butter is fine, but use butter, not margarine!)
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. rum


Plenty of people turn up their noses at cake mixes and I admit I used to be one of them! But not any more. Mixes these days give you a consistent product with a tender crumb. A few additional ingredients really enhance the taste, so go for it!

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Thoroughly coat the inside of your Bundt pan with cooking spray and sprinkle the pecans evenly on the bottom. (, use them!) Set aside.
  2. Dump all the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the cake and pudding mixes and nutmeg. Mix on low speed for 1 minute.
  3. Increase speed to medium high, mix for 3 additional minutes. Pour the batter into the greased pan. Firmly tap pan on the counter and give it a good shake. This will get rid of any air bubbles and even out the batter.
  4. Bake in preheated oven 35-40 minutes. Check the cake at 30 minutes with a skewer. If the skewer comes out clean or with only a few crumbs on it, the cake is done.
  5. Place on a cooling rack. Set the timer for 20 minutes for the cake to cool.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare your glaze by melting butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Mix in sugar and rum, return to microwave for 1 minute on medium-low. Stir well so all sugar is dissolved, set aside.
  7. With the cake still in the pan, poke holes in it with narrow pointed skewers. Pour half the glaze into the holes. After the cake has cooled 20 minutes, with a dinner knife, loosen the sides of the cake from the pan.
  8. Place a cooling rack over the cake pan, invert the pan and remove it. Let it cool on the rack another half hour, then slide the cake on the serving plate, poke holes in the top of the cake with the skewers, and pour on the remaining glaze.

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