Sensational Holiday Appetizers on the Fly

Roasted garlic spread on a wheat cracker

Sensational Holiday Appetizers on the Fly

To prepare sensational holiday appetizers in a matter of minutes during the busy holiday cooking season, you may want to stock your pantry, refrigerator and freezer with the following items:

Dijon mustard on a spoonDistinctive, wine-based Dijon mustard is a welcome party ingredient. Whether classic or country-style, mustard adds extra flavor to holiday appetizers. It goes well with holiday cold meat and cheese platters.

Check the herbs and spices in your cupboard. Keep fresh garlic, onions, parsley and bell peppers for seasonings. You will be ready to whip up sensational holiday appetizers on the fly.

Purchase a variety of sliced and shredded natural cheeses for use in favorite cheese-based appetizers – from mild and sharp Cheddar and savory Italian blends to nut-like Parmesan. In addition, keep a tub of tapenade or marinated olives and mushrooms ready as well.

Flaky, buttery crackers serve triple duty as a crisp appetizer base, crushed as a savory crumb crust or used in tasty party meatballs.

Wine GlassHave plenty of simple snacks on hand so you can offer instant hospitality to anyone who drops by.

Stash a few boxes of crackers, a few bottles of wine, some biscotti and some spiced nuts or snack mix.

You can quickly whip up a batch of fondue, too! Cube and freeze some good bread, then just toast it in the oven for a few minutes while the fondue is melting.

If you do not have a fondue pot, use your slow cooker!


Holiday Appetizers – Recipe Suggestions

Roasted Garlic Spread Holiday Appetizers

Roasted garlic is soft, sweet and mellow; we like to place it on the table, in lieu of butter, for our guests to spread on crusty French bread. If you don’t use up all the heads of garlic at once, store leftovers in the refrigerator, covered, for up to ten days.

Ingredients:Wheat cracker Holiday Appetizers
3 to 4 heads garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay each head of garlic on its side and slice about 1/8 inch off of the pointed end, exposing the garlic cloves.
Stand garlic heads on their root ends (cut side up) in a shallow dish or skillet just large enough to hold them all. Drizzle olive oil over bulbs and sprinkle with chopped rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until very tender. Serve warm or at room temperature, allowing diners to scoop or squeeze garlic cloves out of skin and spread on bread.

Ginger Dip

For a holiday party, serve this creamy dip with an assortment of vegetable dippers such as fresh pea pods, grape tomatoes, jicama strips, zucchini slices, baby carrots, and celery sticks.

1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
One, 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely snipped fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped water chestnuts
1 to 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Dash salt

In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise or salad dressing, sour cream, onion, parsley, water chestnuts, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, and salt. Stir until well mixed. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve with crackers and/or vegetable dippers. Makes about 2-1/2 cups dip.

Per 1 tablespoon dip: 53 cal., 6 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 5 mg chol., 60 mg sodium, 0 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, and 0 g pro. Dietary exchanges: 1 fat.

Citrus Shrimp Holiday Appetizers

2 pounds cooked, shelled, deveined medium shrimp
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (lemon, orange, tangerine)
4 tablespoons lemon, lime and orange zest, slivered
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Juice of one large orange

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl and serve chilled.

Hot Spinach Balls Holiday Appetizers

Even though this recipe makes a large batch, don’t worry about leftovers. These tidbits are so tasty there won’t be any.

2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
2 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1 cup chopped onion
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup butter, melted
1-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 clove garlic, minced

In a large bowl, combine spinach, herb-seasoned stuffing mix, onion, eggs, Parmesan cheese, butter, thyme, and garlic. Shape into 1-inch balls; place on shallow baking pans. Cover and chill in the refrigerator about 2 hours or until firm.

Bake in a 300 degrees oven about 30 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Let stand on the baking pans for 1 minute. Serve warm. Makes about 5 dozen.

Per spinach ball: 39 cal., 3 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 21 mg chol., 75 mg sodium, 2 g carbo., 0 g fiber, and 1 g pro. Dietary exchanges: 1 fat.

Spicy Cheese Dip

Cheese, chilies and spices make sausage country gravy mix into a quick and easy Mexican-flavored dip.

1 package sausage country gravy mix
1-3/4 cups milk
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Mexican 4-Cheese blend
1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

Whisk together gravy mix and milk in a saucepan over medium heat until blended.

Add cheese and remaining ingredients, and cook, whisking constantly, 4-5 minutes or until thoroughly blended and heated. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes 24 (2 tablespoon) servings.

Holiday Brie en Croute

1/2 package frozen puff pastry sheets (1 sheet)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup apricot preserves OR seedless raspberry jam
1/3 cup dried cranberries, softened*
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 (1 pound) Brie cheese round
Water Crackers

Thaw pastry sheet at room temperature 30 min. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix egg and water.
Unfold pastry sheet on lightly floured surface. Roll into 14-inch square. Cut off corners to make a circle. Spread preserves to within 1 inch of pastry edge. Sprinkle cranberries and almonds over preserves. Top with cheese. Brush edge of circle with egg mixture. Fold two opposite sides over cheese. Trim remaining two sides to 2-inches from edge of cheese. Fold these two sides onto the round. Press edges to seal. Place seam-side down on baking sheet. Decorate top with pastry scraps if desired. Brush with egg mixture.

Bake  20 minutes or until golden. Let stand 1 hour. Serve with crackers  Serves 12.

*To soften cranberries, mix dried cranberries and 1/2 cup hot water in bowl. Let stand 1 minute. Drain and pat dry.

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Author: Jeni

Certified by the Professional School of Fitness and Nutrition in March, 1995; honored for exemplary grades. Practicing fitness and nutrition for over 20 years. Featured in the Feb. 1994 issue of "Shape" magazine. Featured in Collage in the spring issue of 1995 Low fat recipe's published in Taste of Home, Quick Cooking, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, among others. September, 2001: Featured in "Winning The War on Cholesterol" By Rodale Publishing