Tis the season for appetizers. It is their time to shine! My favorite parties to attend and give have revealers gathered around the holiday table laden with mouthwatering appetizers, chinking their glasses in celebration. If you are going to a holiday party or having one, appetizers are the shining star.
Imagine a stress free holiday party…The hostess and host are there around the table, enjoying the party, looking unhurried and relaxed, laughing with their guests. You think this impossible? It isn’t. With a bit of organization and some easy appetizers in the starring role, this could be your holiday party. After reading this, even if you have NEVER given a party… you will want to. So read on at your own risk of becoming a smooth operator.
Here are a few tips to making a holiday party come together like Beethoven’s 9th.
-First off, it is important to make appetizers that are easy to handle with one hand, as most people have a drink in hand. Also make sure they aren’t messy as folks tend to dress up a bit for parties and don’t want BBQ sauce on their Christmas shirt.
-Select easy hors d’oeuvres that you can serve at room temperature so that you can prepare all the food ahead of time and be relaxed and enjoy your friends at the party. There is nothing more stressful for everyone than a harried host that is running back and forth from the oven to the table.
-Have easy to serve drinks, like wine, pre-made punch and sparkling cider at a drink counter where guests can help themselves. Have all your appetizers ready on the table around the time that the first guest arrives.
Now for easy appetizers that you can make for your party or bring to a party, here are some delicious ideas for your holiday merry making.
Easy appetizers with maximum impact;
~Take a small round of brie at room temperature, place on a plate and drizzle with cranberry sauce, chopped fresh rosemary and honey. Serve with crackers or Bread and Ocean’s baguette slices. (This is truly amazing, simple but amazing)
~Make a cheese and fruit platter in the shape of a wreath on a large round platter. Use your imagination and have cedar boughs or salal leaves under it all in the form of a wreath, red grapes, dried fruit and nuts for contrast and cute little cheese rounds with crackers. Have fun with this one!
~Put out a platter of cooked shrimp and serve with cocktail sauce. (This never grows old)
~Bake a frittata of your choice and cut into bite sized pieces and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of green onions.
~Fill endive leaves with a tablespoon or two of cauliflower hummus and garnish with smoked paprika and chopped green onions or olives. Arrange on the platter like flower petals with the bowl of the hummus in the center. Arrange other veggies around the endive leaves in a floral pattern as well. (There has to be a veggie platter, just make it beautiful.)
~ Everybody LOVES deviled eggs; just make them a wee bit dressier by adding smoked paprika, crumbled cooked bacon and hot sauce to the yolk mix. Garnish with cooked crumbled bacon, chopped chives and smoked paprika.
~Cut fingerling potatoes into fourths, length wise. Toss in olive oil and salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven, like 425 degrees till done. Arrange on a platter in a floral pattern with a garlic or red pepper aioli dip in the center.
~Roast sweet potatoes cut in one inch cubes, tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper, in a hot oven till done. Fry up some sliced chicken apple sausage till brown. Stick one piece of sweet potato and a slice of sausage on a toothpick and serve with a homemade mayo mixed with cumin, chili powder and hot sauce. (delish!)
Here is a recipe for the hottest rage in hors d’oeuvres, bacon wrapped dates. They can be made so many ways but this is my favorite. I’ve also included a recipe for sparkling cranberries that are a beautiful and delicious on all your appetizer plates. So dear holiday partiers, whip up an appetizer and get out there and make merry. Tis the season!
Bacon Wrapped Dates
24 large moist dates, such as medjool
12 not-too-thick slices of bacon
24 whole toasted unsalted almonds
Move oven rack to upper third of oven and preheat oven to 500°. Pit dates, by tearing them as little as possible. While the dates are awaiting their moment, halve the 12 slices of bacon crosswise. Stuff cavity of each date with 1 almond and then wrap 1 half-piece of bacon around the width of each date and put dates, seam side down, on a baking sheet, at least ½” apart. Bake until bacon is golden and crisp, 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool briefly before serving or can be served at room temperature.