Life changes. There was a time in my life when I needed to be prepared as I never knew when to expect the former husband to invite a working colleague, a fraternity brother, or even his boss over for cocktails, and sometimes even dinner.
When it came to cocktail time appetizers, there were key ingredients I kept in the pantry: various cheeses, nuts, an assortment of crackers, a jar of green pimento stuffed olives, some kind of a pickled vegetable, can of garbanzo beans and tahini (for hummus), apples, and sometimes I might even have salami available, and meatballs and homemade salsa in the freezer.
When needed, and rather quickly, a couple wedges of cheese and a few sliced apples are always in order.
I also had several quick go-to recipes I could whip up in time that were perfect for noshing, such as these savory little appetizers, Cheddar Olive Balls. All you need is a few kitchen staples, some cheddar cheese, and a jar of green olives. Green stuffed olives was another staple for the evening martini. Now, I have experimented using black olives, but they just didn't have that salty-ripe-brine "zing" like a green olive has. They tasted rather bland.
To this day, possibly because old habits die hard, I still keep many of these staples about for quick entertaining - - even if it is just to "entertain" myself.
One can make these ahead of time and freeze. Before baking, place directly into the oven from the freezer, and extend the baking time by just a few minutes.
Cheddar Olive Balls
2 cups (8 oz.) Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 1/4 cups white flour
1/2 cup melted butter
1/8 tsp smokey paprika or cayenne pepper (optional)
36 (about) pimento-stuffed green olives
Mix cheese and flour. Add melted butter. Mix well. If dough seems dry and does not stick, work with hands. Pat olives dry. With 1 tsp. of dough, flatten it on the palm of your hand, and then cup and shape the dough around each olive - covering the olive well. Continue to shape into a ball rolling around with your hands. Place the finished balls on a baking sheet. Cover and chill for about one hour (or you can make these ahead and chill for several hours before baking). Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Let cool. Eat. Yum.