Christmas 2014: 5 lightning fast appetizers to make this Christmas

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By: Danielle Waldron
dwaldron@flavor574.com

Richard/Flickr

Christmas doesn’t just stop with the opening of gifts or the carving of the ham at Christmas dinner — it’s the parties with friends and the endless meals with family that you might not see more than a few times each year.

If you’re expecting groups of friends and family to drop in throughout the day and into the evening, appetizers and small plates are the best way to get you out of the kitchen and enjoying time spent with loved ones. These five recipes each take 20 minutes or less to prepare, with ingredients that you won’t have to go out of your way for. 

CHRISTMAS TREE PULL-APART

From Eclectic Recipes. Serves 10. 

Time: 20 minutes

Even if the garlicky dough doesn’t retain the perfect tree shape, this festive and easy recipe can be whipped together just before guests arrive. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 can refrigerated pizza crust 
  • 4 oz. cream cheese 
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella or Italian blend shredded cheese 
  • 2 tbsp. butter 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced very fine
  • 3 tbsp. freshly chopped basil and rosemary 
  • 1 cup warmed marinara sauce for dipping

Directions: 

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lay the pizza dough on a flat surface and stretch it to a 10×15-inch size rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 36 equal squares. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and shredded cheese and mix well. 
  2. Add one tablespoon of the cheese mixture to each dough square. Make a ball with the dough and seal the edges. Place on a cookie sheet in a Christmas tree form and bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. 
  3. After removing from the oven, brush with butter and sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve with marinara sauce. 

CRANBERRY AND POMEGRANATE BRUSCHETTA

From The Café Sucré Farine. Serves 50.

Time: 18 minutes

Served on fresh, crusty bread, this bruschetta is great if you are entertaining en masse. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound cranberries, washed
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tsp. Sriracha sauce
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • Finely chopped parsley for garnish
  • 1 thin baguette, sliced about one-fourth of an inch thick 
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened

Directions: 

 

  1. Place the cranberries, ginger, sugar, honey and Sriracha in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse on and off several times until the cranberries are coarsely chopped. Don’t overprocess. 
  2. Add cilantro and pulse a few more times. 
  3. Transfer to a storage container and add pomegranate seeds and orange zest. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two sheet pans with foil or parchment paper. 
  5. Place baguette slices on prepared pans. Brush lightly with oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. 
  6. Bake for 14-18 minutes or until golden, rotating the pans halfway through. 
  7. To assemble, whisk cream cheese until creamy. Spread about a tablespoon on each crostini. Top with a scoop of the relish and garnish with more orange zest, if desired. 

CRANBERRY AND PISTACHIO BAKED BRIE 

From Gimme Some Oven. Serves 10.  

Time: 20 minutes 

If you need another cheese option besides a cheese ball, baked brie is a good item to set out. Baked brie is sweet and savory, just be sure to pair with the right crackers for snacking. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries 
  • ½ cup granulated sugar 
  • ½ cup water 
  • zest of one orange, divided
  • 1 wheel brie 
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios
  • Crackers for serving

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  2. Add cranberries, sugar, water and about half of the orange zest to a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place the brie in the center of the sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Transfer baked brie to a serving tray then top with cranberry sauce. Sprinkle with pistachios and remaining orange zest. Serve immediately with crackers. 

PEPPERONI PIZZA CRESCENT ROLLUPS

From Comfort of Cooking. Serves 8.

Time: 20 minutes 

I remember when I was younger, my mom would make these twisted breadsticks that had pepperoni in them. She’d sprinkle garlic powder and Italian seasoning on top and serve warm with marinara sauce to me and my sister — this was a holiday staple snack that we still have in the recipe box. This is a similar recipe that is more substantial for entertaining. 

Ingredients: 

  • 8 oz. can refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 32 slices pepperoni
  • 4 pieces mozzarella string cheese, cut in half 
  • Garlic powder, for sprinkling
  • Italian seasoning, for sprinkling
  • Marinara sauce, for dipping

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  2. Unroll crescent dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into triangles. Top the widest end of each triangle with 4 pieces of pepperoni, then a piece of string cheese. Roll up and tuck the corners in to keep cheese from oozing out. Place on a baking sheet. 
  3. Lightly sprinkle tops with garlic powder. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping. 

CAPRESE SALAD WREATH

From Food.com. Serves 7. 

Time: 10 minutes 

Amid the cookies, it’s a safe bet to keep something fresh available. You could chop up some carrot sticks for a vegetable tray, or arrange a pretty wreath of caprese salad — the colors are naturally festive. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2-3 large ripe tomatoes 
  • 6 oz. grape or cherry tomatoes 
  • 6 oz. very small grape tomatoes 
  • 6 oz. fresh mozzarella balls 
  • 6 oz. fresh mozzarella balls, small size
  • 4-6 tbsp. basil pesto 
  • 2 tbsp. vinaigrette dressing
  • Fresh basil for garnish 
  • Flaked sea salt 

Directions: 

  1. Wash and dry the tomatoes. 
  2. Slice the large ones neatly in thick slices and do not peel. 
  3. Slice some of the larger grape tomatoes in half and keep others whole. Arrange the slices of tomato and the different sized tomatoes in a circle on a large platter. 
  4. Drain the mozzarella balls and arrange between the tomatoes 
  5. Drizzle vinaigrette dressing over the tomatoes and mozzarella. 
  6. Place the pesto in the center. Garnish with sprigs of fresh basil. Place the sea salt in a small bowl so guests can season their own salad. 

Follow digital producer Danielle Waldron on Twitter at @DanielleWaldron

 

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