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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday "Apps" That Are Sure to Dazzle

Depending on the type of holiday party you are throwing there is a perfect appetizer for any party.  There are the appetizer and cocktail party where you want very filling apps because those in fact are the meal.  If you are having a large Christmas dinner at the dining room table you want to keep the apps simple and not extremely filling so that you guests will devour your beautiful Christmas dinner.  The following posts are dedicated to the perfect holiday appetizers....they are sure to dazzle!

 *Photo Courtesy of Southern Event Planners

* I believe I had seen a "shrimp shooter" idea at a catered event some time ago.  A few Christmas's ago I decided to come up with a Shrimp Shooter recipe of my own and serve them at my parents Christmas Party.  They were a party favorite!  They are very festive and colorful on your holiday appetizer table!

  • 20 - 30 medium sized shrimp (cooked and cleaned - tail on)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (plus 2 TB for salsa)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped (seeds can also be removed to avoide some "heat")
  • 1 12oz-15oz canned chunk pineapple chopped (keep juice)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes chopped
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 1/2 white onion chopped
  • 1 avacado diced
  • 1 cucumber peeled and diced
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 TB. apple cider vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Place the shrimp in a large bowl or large plastic zip lock bag.  Add the olive oil, pineapple juice, salt and pepper for about 1 to 3 hours - no more or shrimp will cook even more.
  2. In a medium sized bowl place the tomatoes, green onions, white onions, jalapenos,cucumbers, pineapple and avacado, and garlic.  Pour lime juice and 2 TB. olive oil, and apple cider vinegar over vegetables (will help with browning of the avacado).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Make this only about 1 hour in advanced as you do not want the avacado browning.      
  3. Put about a tablespoon or so of salsa in each small plastic (or glass if you have them) shooter glass.  Remove a shrimp from the marinate and have shrimp hang over edge of shooter cup with tail facing outward.  If you have room you could place two shrimp on each glass.
  4. Serve immiediately on a pretty platter.      
* Photo Courtesy of Savoury City


* The bright red color of the tomato against the stark white of the cheese and flaky crust of this tart look great on your holiday appetizer table.....very Christmasy!

* Makes about 5 dozen appetizers

  • Tart Crust (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups shredded white cheddar or Gruyere cheese (8 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 - 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
  • 5 roma tomatoes , peeled and sliced
  • Fresh basil for garnish
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare and bake Tart Crust.
  2. Reduce oven temp. to 375 degrees.  Place remaining ingredients, except tomatoes and basil, in food processor.  Cover and process about 1 minute or until smooth. (if making ahead cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours)
  3. Spoon cheese mixture into crust.  Top with tomatoe slices evenely distributing them over top of cheese.
  4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until top is light brown.
  5. Cool tart; remove sides of pan.
  6. Cut tart into 1 inch squares ( a tomato should be on each 1 inch square)
  7. Garnish with chopped fresh basil.


1 cup shortening
2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
7 to 8 TB. cold water
  1. Cut shortening into flour and salt in large bowl, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Sprinkle in water, 1 TB. at a time, until pastry pulls away from sides of bowl.
  3. Gather pastry into a ball; shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface.
  4. Roll pastry into 14x10 inch rectangle.
  5. Ease pastry into rectangular tart pan with removable bottom, 12x8x1 inch.  Trim edges of pastry so it is even with top of pan.
  6. Prick bottom and sides of pastry with fork.
  7. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light bown; cool.
*Recipe Courtesy of Betty Crocker


 * A staple at any tapas restaraunt is the baked cheese with tomato sauce served with french bread.  I am a sucker for this appetizer!  Again, the white of the cheese and the brightness of the tomato sauce looks very colorful and festive!  This can be made with all goat cheese to be really authentic, but some guests might not like the strong flavor of all goat cheese so you can mix it with cream cheese.

* Serves about 8

  • 3 TB. olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 12 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 TB. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 long, thin loaf French bread, thinly sliced
  1. Put the olive oil and onion in a saucepan, and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until the onion is soft but not browned.
  2. Add the tomatoes, water, salt and sugar and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and goat cheese until smooth.
  5. When you are ready to serve place cheese mixture in a baking dish.  Bake  in the oven for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is just lightly browned but not melted.
  6. Remove from the oven and carefully pour some of the tomato sauce around the cheese.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and garnish with basil.
  7. Serve at once with french bread on the side.
*Photo Courtesy of 28 Cooks


* I love crab dip and I love artichoke dip.  This dip combines both flavors in one terrific and simple dish!  Serve with some crackers or sliced french baguette on the side and you will be good to go!
  • 1 package - 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped
  • 1 - 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 package - 8 oz. imitation crabmeat, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup grated fresh parmesean cheese
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions (white and green parts)
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • additional sliced green onions for garnish
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine cream cheese and mayonnaise in bowl, mix well.  Add garlic.
  3. Add artichokes, crabmeat, parmesan cheese, green onions, juice of lemon and black pepper to bowl.  Mix well.
  4. Spon mixture into a baking dish.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown around edges. 
  5. Sprinkle with red bell pepper and garnish with additional green onions.
*Recipe Courtesy of Pampered Chef
*Photo Courtesy of Kraft Foods


* With all the dips always available on an appetizer table I sometimes like to include something that is a bit more substantial.  These sweet and sour chicken wings are great!  They are also super simple to make and only calls for a few ingredients!  If you line the baking pan with foil you will also have a super easy clean up!
  • 12 chicken wings (about 2 lbs) tips removed, wings cut in half (or 24 chicken drummies)
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 TB. purchased sweet and sour sauce
  • 1 TB. soy sauce ( I prefer low sodium)
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Line baking pan with foil.  Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.  Arrange chicken wings in spray foil lined pan.
  2. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minuts.  Remove wings from oven.  Turn wings.  Return to oven, bake an additional 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine all remaining ingredients; mix well.
  4. Remove wings from oven.  Reduce oven temp to 375 degrees.  Brush wings with about half of the sauce.  Return to oven; bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove wings from oven.  Turn wings; brush with remaining half of sauce.  Return to oven; bake an additional 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink next to bone.
* Makes 24 appetizers
* Recipe & Photo Courtesy of Pillsbury


 * You probably have made or at least scene some version of a pinwheel recipe.  These are very festive, very easy and very good!  Make sure you find a grocery store that carries red and green tortillas....they do not look as festive without the color!
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 TB. finely chopped black olives
  • 2 TB. canned chopped green chilis
  • 1 TB. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 package - 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3 spinach, tomato or plain flour totrillas (8 - 10 in. in diameter)
  1. Mix all ingredients except for tortillas.  Spread cheese mixture evenly over tortillas; roll up tortillas.
  2. Wrap tortillas individually in plastic wrap.  Regrigerate at least 3 hours but no longer than 24 hours.  Cut into 1 inch slices.
*Makes about 30 appetizers

*Recipe Courtesy of Betty Crocker
*Photo Courtesy of Culinary Net


* Now if you don't see this recipe and picture and think Christmas....I don't know what ever will.  This would just look beautiful on a table...even if no-one ate it that would be ok...because your table would still look pretty!



2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet


  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup garlic-and-herbs spreadable cheese


  • 2 gold or silver baking cups
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs
  • Assorted cut-up fresh vegetables (such as bell pepper strips, carrots, broccoli florets, grape or cherry tomatoes, cauliflower florets, zucchini slices and chopped fresh thyme)


1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray.

2. Remove dough from 1 can; do not unroll. With palms of hands, gently roll dough in one direction into 10-inch log. With serrated knife, cut log into 20 slices. Repeat with second can of dough.

3. At center of pizza pan, arrange 2 slices side by side, pressing together to flatten inside edges and to form a circle. Place 7 slices in ring around center slices; press together lightly. Arrange 12 slices in the next ring; press together lightly. Arrange 19 slices in the last ring, overlapping edges slightly in ring. Press together gently.

4. Bake 13 to 18 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Gently loosen ornament from pan; cool 5 minutes. Gently remove ornament from pan; slide onto cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat cream cheese at medium speed until soft and fluffy. Slowly beat in whipping cream, continue beating until fluffy. Beat in spreadable cheese until well blended. Cover; refrigerate until serving time.

6. Place cooled ornament on large round serving tray, rearranging as necessary if crescent slices have separated. Spread entire ornament with cream cheese mixture. Shape one baking cup for ornament top, folding in half at base of cup. Cut small slit in top. Fold second baking cup inward from outside edges to make strip. Twist together at base to make loop for ornament top. Insert base into slit. Slide springs of rosemary through loop to look like branch of pine tree. Garnish as desired with vegetables and thyme.

 *Recipe & Photo Courtesy of Pillsbury

1 comment:

  1. Yeah i have been dyign to try to do a baked goat cheese at home. i will let you know how it goes!! Cheers!