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Posts Tagged ‘holiday appetizers’

Now that the holiday entertaining season is in full swing, I’ve been thinking a lot of about some new appetizer ideas. Last week I posted some really great antipasto squares, a mix of Italian meats and cheeses sandwiched between crispy layers of pastry. Delicious! This week at a friends Thanksgiving festivities, I actually squealed when he put out a platter of stuffed mushrooms. They are one of my favorites and while I tend to favor a traditional sausage stuffed mushroom, to be honest, I’ll go for any damn kind you put in front of me. I started thinking about a new spin and having made french onion soup a few weeks back, I thought that might make a good stuffing – caramelized onions and melted cheese. Brilliant.

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Folks, the season is upon us. From here on out it’s all eating and drinking and nibbling and grazing. Dig out your elastic waistband pants and find all those wine bottle sized gift bags you’ve been hoarding all year. It’s also time to think about some good recipes – things to serve, things to bring, things to gift. Holiday-ish recipes that are delicious and festive, impressive but not too complicated or time consuming. (Nothing will crush your holiday spirit more than holiday stress.) As much as I love a pinecone cheeseball, I needed some new ideas for festive appetizers that rang all those bells but let’s be real, are there any truly new appetizer ideas or has everything been done to death? I started googling and came upon several “lists” – compilations of the best holiday appetizers to make this season. Nothing really blew me over (how many version of meatballs can there be??) but one did intrigue me … Antipasto Squares.

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A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a New York Times article on cheese balls titled “To Find Out Who You Are, Peer Into the Cheese Ball”. I was delighted. One sentence in particular resonated with me, “December is the Olympics for cheese ball fans.” Truer words have never been spoken. Oh how I love a cheese ball, a cheese log or those wonderful tubs of crock cheese anytime really but especially around the holidays. On a cracker, or better yet a Triscuit, there are few better snacks. While I certainly favor some flavors over others, I’ve yet to meet a cheese ball I don’t like. That pink “port wine” crock cheese? One of my favorites. A cheese ball makes a party, my friends. True story.

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My mother, sister and I were discussing the Christmas Eve menu a few weeks ago via email and my sister had a request. For pre-dinner appetizers, could we have rumaki? Sure! They’d long been a family favorite and I knew they’d be well received. Take a chicken liver, wrap that around a water chestnut and wrap that in bacon – delicious! I was more than happy to take that one on. There was one problem. As many times as I’ve made them, I’ve never really been happy with how they’ve turned out. They were always gobbled up but I always thought they were just ok. I knew they could be better. So just in time for your New Years Eve festivities, I’ve come up with a better rumaki.

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1bakedsheet.lrg.IMG_5681I am always looking for a good party hors d’oeuvre, especially around the holidays. Something that’s nice to nibble on with a glass of wine, while you pick at the turkey and make radish roses for the relish tray. One that isn’t too difficult to eat, doesn’t require silverware or even a napkin. A real crowd pleaser if you will, that can dance that fine line between fancy and down home. If it has butter or cheese in it, all the better. Most importantly, one that isn’t a big exhausting over thought project that eats up far too much time. This one hits all the marks and has been a favorite of mine for years and years.

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Retro old school appetizers, for the most part, are perfect. Rumaki, that delicious little bite of salty brown sugar glazed bacon wrapped around a bit of water chestnut and chicken liver? They were a requirement at my parents’ parties when I was a kid and I ate as many as I could steal. Green olives wrapped in a cheddar dough and baked until crispy? Delightful. How about meatballs or little Vienna sausages swimming in a sea of those ‘70’s classics, chili sauce and grape jelly? Sounds hideous, I know, but I’m also certain you were the one boxing out the crockpot, fishing around with a toothpick hoping to score that last delectable, caramelized piece. And then there’s baked Brie. Does anything epitomize the ‘80’s more than a golden pastry encased round of gooey cheese? I think not. I also don’t think it should stay stuck in the ’80’s. Holiday party season is here, let’s bring that baby back

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