It’s Christmas time and during this month inevitably you will be invited to party after party, and some of them will be last minute.

I cannot tell you how many times Captain Wentworth has dropped the “Darling, the Jones’s have invited us over for a drop of port tonight and I told them you would whip up a dish to bring,” at the last minute of course.

To which I answer, “Oh, how wonderful dear, I’ll make something fabulous in the half an hour I have between arriving home from the day job and leaving for the Jones’s.” [Insert fake smile and batting of eyelashes here]

Sometimes it’s a chore to do party after party if you’re unprepared and you work all day.  My dear friend Tia and I were discussing this subject just the other night over a glass of wine. We figured if you plan ahead in a minimal way you can whip up “fabulous” from the basics in the pantry.

You can save the world, or at least your sanity by always having:

Cream Cheese

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Here are a few ideas of what to do with them:

Cream cheese makes a great baked dip layered or mixed (layered is faster) with meat, cheese, salsa, sauce or vegetables.

For example:

Southwest Chicken Dip

One block of Cream cheese is spread on the bottom of a small baking dish, topped with shredded or cubed chicken, a jar of salsa and then cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for twenty minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.

It takes five minutes to throw together and pop in oven, go fix your hair and make-up, change your clothes and you’re out the door in thirty.

Don’t have chicken? Use left over taco meat, turkey, sausage or steamed vegetables. Just make sure everything gets chopped- it needs to be scoopable! You can also use ham and BBQ sauce, turkey and cranberry dressing, crab and cocktail sauce.

Don’t have time to bake? Mix cream cheese with some marshmallow cream and chocolate chips, serve with graham crackers for instant S’mores.

Think of the possibilities if you have a few more minutes and a can of crescent rolls. You can stuff those bad boys with anything and they taste good.  Cocktail weenies are a given, but what if you don’t have them in the fridge? Think of all the great combinations we’ve talked about. Using the same concept, mixing ingredients together, fill triangles and pinch edges closed- then bake while you get ready. This takes a few extra minutes, but they are easier to transport than the hot baking dish, so it’s a toss up. This is great if you ate all of the tortilla chips last time you had a bad day.

Note: After writing this and asking Capt. Wentworth to read it over, I asked him why he likes springing invitations and a commitment to cook on me at the last minute. You know what he said? “I had no idea that stressed you out, plus you always tell me how much you like to cook.”

I can’t decide if he’s really that clueless or that inconsiderate, so I have decided to make him help next time.