How to entertain on bits of this and that: Italian Rice Cakes

DSC03166 Or how to pull a meal out of your hat. Or how to make something from nothing. So you get the idea here that I somehow pulled off a little breakfast for friends on literally bits of this and that. When I host guests, I love to have an abundance of foods on my table, it’s the Italian way to show our love. I can’t change. But yesterday morning I had guests over for breakfast, cooking from a fairly empty pantry and fridge. Due to exciting reasons that I will share later, I had no time to shop, no time to bake an elegant treat, or no time to plan a beautiful menu, and there was no way I would ever cancel, I love my friends and they love me, empty kitchen and all! But I wasn’t worried, because really, this is the kind of entertaining that should occur more often- spontaneous and carefree, showing true love through friendship and not show, and on simplicity. We have gone too far in this society that if it isn’t perfectly perfect, we don’t entertain. Pish Posh.

So I am writing this post in hopes that you can see that with a few tips you will learn how to entertain guests on what you have in your home at this moment. Learn how to be creative, spontaneous, and get the idea out of your head that perfect is the only way. Entertaining is about sharing what you have, presenting it in a loving manor, and placing more emphasis on the relationship.


Folks, I have entertained friends on tea and toast. That’s all it takes.  Toast with a little butter and cinnamon sugar and you just upped that game to a gourmet level. See? It doesn’t take much.  Your guests care more about you than getting a gourmet meal.  Sure, we always want to put our best forward, but if that is getting in the way of you having friends over then you need to regroup and rethink things.  Keep it simple, keep it honest, keep it you!

Yesterday’s meal was put together by…
1.  Turning leftover cilantro lime rice into Italian Rice Cakes along a small dish of leftover homemade pizza sauce. Never throw any amounts of leftovers away. That tiny bit of pizza sauce was a huge blessing to this meal! These Rice Cakes are adapted from the classic Italian Rice Balls, balls of rice and cheese that have been breaded and deep fried. My version is without the breading, making them gluten-free and only pan fried in a small bit of olive oil.
2.  Turning four pieces of bacon into “bacon chips” by slicing the bacon into thirds
3.  And placing out the little fruit I had.
4.  Oh, and eggs, there is always eggs- only had four, but hey when cooked only 6 minutes, and cut in half produce a colorfully creamy-yolked treat.
5.  I combined the apple juice and cranberry juice I had leftover from a party the other night to make enough for all of us
6. I also served French Press coffee because it is so much fun!

Use everything you have, never waste food! Be creative.

Now on to how to make it pretty… If you can’t stuff them to the gills, then make what you have look purty, purty.
1. White table clothes make even the simplest of foods look gorgeous, and make your guests feel pampered. I love my white clothes that I got from the restaurant supply store. They wash up beautifully and can be bleached. Ironing? No, I never iron and make no apology for wrinkles.
2.  I under-use my pretty pitcher- juice or simple water from your pretty pitcher will make your guests feel like royalty. Old glass bottles work nicely too.
3. If you have been following me for a while you know by now that I love my planks. My Daddy made me these planks from red oak, cut to various lengths for my entertaining needs. I love these things as the shear earthiness of them make my little bits of food look so cheery and friendly. Make some for yourself, or ask someone to make a few for you.
4.  As you know, Himself and I have been married for 20 years now and all those lovely wedding glasses are broken and gone. Learn to use what you have. I have mason jars (duh!) and they are my new favorite (only) juice glasses. Use what you have!
5.  One of my favorite hostess gifts to give and receive are pretty paper napkins. I have a stash to pull out and use to add a splash of color and pizazz to my entertaining.
6.  Also a lighted candle goes a long way in making for peaceful entertaining. I forgot to light one, but no matter, the friendship was all the light we needed.

Italian Rice Cakes
Recipe type: Gluten-free, leftovers
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
On turning leftover rice into beautiful breakfast fare.
  • 2 cups leftover cooked rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • few pinches black pepper
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 slices of salami, diced fine
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil for frying
  • ½ cup leftover pizza or marinara sauce for dipping, optional
  1. Mix the first 5 ingredients well.
  2. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet.
  3. Drop rice balls by ice cream scoop into hot oil and press down slightly with a spatula to form a pattie.
  4. Fry on each side until golden brown.
  5. Serve with sauce if you have it.
  6. Makes about 12 cakes depending on the size of your scoop.

What advice would you give about keeping things simple when entertaining?


  1. jeri
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 12:38 AM | Permalink

    We once put a VERY large Thanksgiving turkey in the oven at the crack of dawn, but forgot to turn it on. Embarrassing, of course, when the guests arrived. But everyone piled into the kitchen and we cleaned out the pantry inventing all kinds of weird appetizers. Then we ate the sides and the pie and drank a lot of wine, and finally the turkey was done. Everyone agreed it was the best Thanksgiving ever. As long as you invite the right people, your party will always be a success.

    • Robin Sue
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

      Sometimes the bloopers make for the best parties, in fact not sometimes, but always!!

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