Quick-fix crowd-pleasers, for hurried guests and procrastinators.

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Got a last-minute invite to a picnic or barbecue, and have no idea what to bring? We’ve come to your rescue, with tried-and-true crowd-pleasers that use common and/or few ingredients — organized by how much (or how little) time you have before the party.


Corn Pudding

1 (16-ounce) can whole-kernel corn

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1 (16-ounce) can creamed corn

16 ounces sour cream

2 sticks butter, melted

4 eggs, beaten

2 small boxes Jiffy corn-muffin mix

¼ cup sugar

Mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon. Pour into a 9- by 13-inch pan and bake in a 350-degree oven for an hour. (If it seems a little too Jello-like when you take it out, bake 15 minutes more.)

— Elaine Glaser


Rotisserie Chicken Salad

What you’ll need: a rotisserie chicken chilled, mayo, cranberries.

Cut or pull the cooled meat off the bone in bite-size pieces, discarding the carcass and the skin. Put it in a bowl. Add low-fat mayo to desired consistency and then sprinkle in some dried cranberries. That’s the basic recipe. Add whatever else strikes your fancy, perhaps almonds or celery.

Tostados Con Frijoles Negros y Queso Fresco (Refried Black Bean Tostados)

What you’ll need: vegetable oil, corn tortillas, canned refried black beans, grated parmesan and grated queso fresco (find it in the refrigerated section).

Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Add a generous splash of vegetable oil and fry the corn tortillas on both sides one or two at a time until you get as many as you need. Place the fried tortillas on paper towels to drain excess grease. Heat a can (or two if you need) of refried black beans in a pan over low heat, adding a splash of water to get to spreadable consistency. Take the tortillas, beans and cheeses to the picnic. Spread a thin layer of warm refried beans on each tortilla and sprinkle with the cheeses. Simple and scrumptious.


Champagne Punch

What you’ll need: 1 bottle of champagne, 2 cups cranberry cocktail juice, 2-liter ginger ale, 1 package frozen raspberries.

Mix all ingredients; add a little ice. Serve over ice. Bonus points if you serve it in a pretty bowl.


OK, so you don’t have time to fix anything. At least buy something good when you screech into your local market. Such as:

Watermelon: You can never go wrong and you can never have too much. Just make sure it’s cold.

A bottle of white wine: A hot day calls for a cold and refreshing — and a little sweet — thirst-quencher. A Moscato or Riesling would be a fine choice.

Ice-cream cups: Most ice-cream treats would melt, but these little self-contained servings of ice cream that we all loved as kids are pretty safe to tote if you have a food chest filled with ice in the car.

Takeout: Grab a large order of your favorite takeout from your neighborhood hangout — barbecue wings, specialty pizzas, a 10-pack of tacos, refried rice. Chances are if you like it, so will everyone else.

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