Day 15 – How To Make Great Holiday Appetizers…

With all the food that we prepare for the actual dinner at the holidays, sometimes the appetizers get pushed to the side.  Don’t let that happen to you!  There are some awesome and super easy recipes out there for quick and tasty items you can put out for your company to nosh on while they are gathering and having some cocktails.  Here’s a few tips and a few recipes for you to try this holiday season…

  1. Lighter is better –  Even though it is a special day and you want to go a little nuts, remember that you are going to have a super heavy dinner coming up.  If you have too much food to begin with while people are coming through the door, you will be left with tons of unexpected leftovers from dinner because everyone will already be full.  Go easy, pick a few dips, a veggie plate, some chips, and maybe a few fun seasonal items.  It will leave your guests happy, interested, and ready to sit down and chow on some food later!
  2. Try something new –  A lot of people stick to the same holiday menus because they are tradition and make you feel instant comfort.  My family does this too for the most part, and we all look forward to the food we know we will be getting to binge on.  Can you say cornbread stuffing?  YUM.  This leaves you some wiggle room when you are planning your apps.  Try a little something interesting, something you haven’t done before or something you saw in a magazine that just called to you.  If it’s a total flop, it’s no big deal because it’s only a starter and if you find you love it, you can add it to your yearly rotation!
  3. Coordinate with your cocktails –  Are you having a signature cocktail for the night?  A pumpkin martini or a cranberry spritzer?  Try to compliment that with your appetizer choices because your guests will be drinking those cocktails as they are socializing and having some snacks, more so than at dinner.  Compliment flavors and try to have some tie ins.
  4. Add some color –  We eat with our eyes first.  Make the table or counter where you set out your apps inviting.  Add some splashes of color with bright cloth napkins from the dollar store and find some interesting plates or bowls at a local consignment shop.  A well designed spread will look more appetizing and will make people want to grab a bite or two.

Here are a couple super easy yet totally awesome apps that you can add to your holiday menu!

Baked Brie

1 wheel of good quality Brie cheese
1/4 – 1/2 c fruit preserve
1 – 2 cans of premade crescent roll dough
egg wash

Preheat the oven to 375.  Pop and unroll the crescent rolls onto a greased cookie sheet and press the seams together to make one sheet of dough.  Depending on the size of the wheel of brie you have, you can use 2 cans and press them together.  Place the preserves in the center of the dough in a thin layer the size of the brie wheel.  You can use any kind, but I live to use cranberry or blackberry.  Place the brie on top and fold in the edges of the dough onto the top of the brie.  Press to seal and carefully turn it over so the smooth side is up.  If you have a lot of extra dough on the bottom you can trim some off and use small cookie cutters to make pretty cutouts you can lay across the smooth surface.  Brush some egg wash over the top of the dough and bake the brie until it is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.  Take it out and let it sit for a few minutes before transferring to a plate with a large spatula.  Serve with some nice water crackers or thin slices of apple and pear.


Cranberry Relish Cream Cheese Spread

12 oz package of fresh whole cranberries
1-2 jalapeno peppers (depending on your taste)
2-3 med sized shallots
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 block of softened cream cheese 

Cut and seed the jalapenos, or leave in the seeds if your family likes things spicy.  Peel the shallots and rough cut.  Throw the cranberries, peppers, shallots and lemon juice into a food processor and pulse until a course chop is achieved.  Transfer to a bowl and add the sugar, cumin, and salt and pepper.  Stir well and taste for seasoning.  Let sit for at least an hour, or overnight to allow the sugar to incorporate and the flavors to meld.  Spread the cream cheese out onto a plate and top with the cranberry relish.  Serve with crackers or a spoon!

NOTE:  This recipe is life changing.  I no longer make anything other than this for Thanksgiving.  Do your guests a favor and try it!  I also sometimes mix the relish right into the cream cheese instead of spreading it on top if you want something that travels a little better.  ALSO, mix it into some mayo for an awesome spread on those leftover turkey sandwiches!

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