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Holiday Finger Foods

Holiday finger foodsLooking for amazing Holiday finger foods to serve with those tantalizing Holiday drinks? Fret no more: here’s a choice of yummy recipes that should inspire you to get in the kitchen and start cooking up a storm!

While it’s true that some recipes are easier than others, keep on the lookout for those like our orange-cranberry relish that can be made ahead of time.

One thing to keep in mind is that these recipes don’t just make great Christmas party finger foods, but they will wow your guests at any celebration year round.

Dark Cherry & Brie Puff Pastry Bites

Dark Cherry & Brie Puff Pastry BitesNeed a super easy appetizer for your next holiday gathering? If so, you’ll definitely want to give these bite-sized phyllo cups a try. The flavors of warm, melted Brie and sweet dark cherries are enhanced with a slight hint of maple syrup. For a more complex and savory flavor combination, add some fresh thyme leaves to each cup prior to baking.

Yield: 30 appetizers
Total Prep Time: 15 minutes

8oz Brie, rind removed, cut into 30 small cubes
6 ounces frozen dark cherries, thawed and cut into small pieces (reserve juice)
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
30 frozen phyllo cups

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place phyllo cups on sheet and add one piece of Brie to each cup. Top off each cup with an equal amount of chopped cherries and reserved juice.
3. Drizzle a little maple syrup over each up and place in preheated oven for 7–9 minutes or until Brie is completely melted. Watch carefully to ensure the phyllo cups do not burn.
4. Remove from oven and serve warm.

Orange Cranberry Brie Crostini Appetizers

Orange Cranberry Brie Crostini AppetizersMaking crostini toppings does not have to be complicated. This orange-cranberry relish is best made a day or two in advance in order to give the flavors a chance to mingle. Just allow your relish to reach room temperature or heat it up briefly in the microwave (about 20 seconds) which will help melt the Brie even more. This orange-cranberry relish also stores well and can be served on its own as a tasty side dish, so no need to worry about leftovers – another reason why these crostini make such great holiday party appetizers!

Yield: 30 crostini approximately
Total Prep Time: 20–25 minutes

Cranberry relish:
12oz bag fresh cranberries
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
3/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons orange zest

1 long, thin baguette, cut into 1/3” slices
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8oz Brie cheese, rind removed and cut into thin slices

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine cranberries, sugar, maple syrup, orange juice, ginger, cinnamon and orange zest in a saucepan. Stirring constantly, cook over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes or until cranberries pop. Remove from heat and cool completely. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
3. Arrange bread slices on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush tops with melted butter. Bake until bread turns golden brown, approximately 7-9 minutes. Remove from oven and place one slice of Brie on top of each slice while it is still warm. Top with cranberry relish and serve immediately.

Prosciutto Baskets with Whipped Goat Cheese Filling

Prosciutto Baskets with Whipped Goat Cheese FillingThese elegant appetizers look a lot more complicated than they actually are. The trick is to have your prosciutto sliced thin enough to manipulate, but not so thin that it will fall apart as you work with it.

TIP: If possible, have your prosciutto sliced by your grocery store’s meat department instead of buying already sliced packaged prosciutto.

Servings: 24 appetizers
Total Prep Time: 30 minutes

12 slices prosciutto, thinly sliced
4 oz goat cheese, softened
4 oz ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, leaves only
1/3 cup pistachios, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cut prosciutto slices in half lengthwise to create 24 long, thin strips.
3. Spray a 24-cup mini-muffin tin with non-cook cooking spray. Take one thin strip of prosciutto and place is across an empty cup, with the middle of the strip over the mid-point of the cup.
4. Press the center of the prosciutto strip into the bottom of the cup. Carefully fold and wrap one end of the prosciutto around one interior side of the cup until it overlaps the prosciutto on the opposite side. Repeat with the opposite side of the prosciutto so that the exposed muffin cup is covered to form a basket shape.
5. Repeat this process with the remaining 23 muffin cups.
6. Place muffin tin in preheated oven and bake for 9-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them while they bake so they don’t overcook. The edges of the prosciutto will start to brown when ready.
7. Remove pan from oven and cool for a couple minutes before transferring each basket to paper towels to remove excess grease. Flip each basket after several minutes. Once all excess oil has been removed, transfer baskets to a large plate.
8. In a small glass bowl, combine goat cheese, ricotta cheese, heavy cream and thyme leaves. Stir or whisk until thoroughly combined.
9. Once prosciutto baskets are cool to the touch, transfer cheese mixture to a plastic sandwich bag. Cut a small tip off one corner and pipe cheese mixture into each prosciutto basket. Top each cheese-filled basket with chopped pistachios.
10. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.

Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese Logs

Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese LogsThese super easy holiday appetizers make a great addition to any holiday party menu. They offer amazing versatility just when you need it most! Serve the logs on their own with an assortment of your favorite crackers and vegetable crudités, or thinly sliced over your favorite mixed green salad. Let your imagination run wild: these logs are just the thing to help spruce up a simple dish: add a slice or two on top of a pile of hot veggies or sliced chicken, and watch faces light up…

Servings: 1 4” goat cheese log
Total Prep Time: 10 minutes

TIP #1: In order to avoid awkward squished log shapes, use dental floss (regular – not mint-flavored!) rather than a regular kitchen knife to achieve uniform round slices.

TIP #2: Save time and money by purchasing a larger 11-ounce goat cheese log instead and cutting it into three logs. Use your imagination to vary the toppings: toasted walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, or pistachios instead of pecans. Or forego nuts entirely and use fresh herbs, edible flowers or dried fruits (cranberries, apricots or figs) instead. For a truly decadent treat, try coating a goat cheese log in a semi-sweet chocolate ganache topped with chopped peanuts.

1 4-ounce goat cheese log, chilled
2 tablespoons honey
2/3 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
Assorted crackers and crudités for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spread pecans on rimmed baking sheet and place in oven for 10 minutes. Remove halfway through and flip pecans with a spatula to toast evenly. Remove from oven and cool completely before chopping.
3. Remove goat cheese log from package and drizzle with honey. Gently spread honey with your fingers until the entire surface is evenly covered.
4. Pour chopped pecans onto a small clean plate. Gently roll the honey-coated goat cheese log in the nuts until entire surface is coated. Apply gentle pressure with your fingers to fill in any open spaces.
5. Transfer to serving plate and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator until 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with crackers and crudités.

Savory Puff Pastry Bites

Savory Puff Pastry BitesThese savory puff pastry bites hit all the right notes with sweet caramelized onions, marinated Portobello mushrooms, applewood-smoked cheddar cheese, plus a hint of fresh thyme. Although there are several steps required to assemble these tasty morsels, the results are well worth the effort! Caramelizing onions is time consuming, but you’ll have plenty of leftovers which can be stored in the refrigerator for a week in an airtight container frozen for later use: they are delicious on sandwiches, in soups, or on top of your favorite pizza.

Yield: 64 appetizers
Total Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

1 package frozen puff pastry
2 eggs, beaten
Flour for rolling

Caramelized Onions:
4 large yellow onions
¼ cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Marinated Mushrooms:
8 oz sliced baby Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and patted dry
¼ cup Marsala wine
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

8 oz applewood-smoked cheddar, grated
3 tablespoons fresh thyme, leaves only
TIP: Freezing your cheddar cheese for 10 minutes will make it easier to grate.

1. Thaw puff pastry overnight in the refrigerator.
2. In a medium glass bowl, combine mushrooms and Marsala wine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature. Drain excess moisture before cooking.
3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add marinated mushrooms and sauté until browned and tender, approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
4. To caramelize onions, slice off both ends and remove outer layers. First cut onion in half lengthwise, then cut each half across the middle to form four sections. Finally, cut each section lengthwise into strips.
TIP: Don’t cut the onions too thin, or they may burn while cooking.
5. Over medium heat, melt butter in a large skillet with high sides; for best results, avoid using a non-stick pan. Add onions and stir with a wooden spoon until coated with butter.
6. Cook onions over medium heat for approximately 45–50 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to ensure they cook evenly and don’t stick to the pan. The exact cooking time will vary based on several factors, including the age of the onions and how many you cook at one time.
7. Once the onions reach the desired depth of color, add white wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add more liquid if necessary to scrape up all the brown bits, and then salt and pepper the onions to taste. Remove from heat and let cool in pan until ready to use. Once cool, transfer any unused onions to an airtight container for future use.
8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
9. Cut thawed puff pastry dough in half and roll out on a lightly floured surface. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut puff pastry sheet into 32 equally sized rectangles. Transfer puff pastry pieces to a prepared baking sheet and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
10. Repeat the above steps for the other half of the puff pastry.
11. Remove baking sheets from freezer and let sit for a couple of minutes before brushing each piece with the beaten egg.
12. Carefully arrange equal amounts of grated cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms on each piece of puff pastry. Sprinkle each with fresh thyme leaves.
13. Place baking sheets in the preheated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes before rotating each baking sheet to ensure the pastry bites cook evenly. Continue cooking until the pastry is golden brown, approximately 8-10 minutes.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Prosciutto-Wrapped AsparagusSimple flavor combinations are often the most delicious. These elegant party appetizers require just a few ingredients, but deliver incredible results in just a few minutes. For thickness consistency, have your prosciutto sliced in your grocer’s meat department and request very thin slices that do not fall apart when you handle them. If your slices are too thick, they will not remain neatly wrapped around the asparagus spears, and your appetizers will taste too salty.

Yield: 30 appetizers
Total Prep Time: 15 minutes

30 asparagus spears, washed, tough ends removed
15 slices of prosciutto, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat broiler to high. Line a large, rimmed baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Cut each strip of prosciutto in half lengthwise. Wrap each trimmed asparagus spear with a strip of prosciutto, starting just below the tip and wrapping toward the bottom. You should end up with the entire spear covered except for the tip.
3. Arrange wrapped asparagus spears on lined baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between the spears. Use a second pan or work in batches if necessary. Brush each spear with olive oil and season with freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
TIP: No extra salt is needed, as prosciutto is naturally salty.
4. Place baking sheet under broiler and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Remove pan from oven and carefully turn each spear before placing back under the broiler. Broil for another 2-3 minutes or until prosciutto is crispy and the asparagus is tender.
5. Remove spears from baking sheet and place on a wire cooling rack to allow excess grease to drain. Dab lightly with a paper towel if you wish. Transfer spears to a serving tray and serve immediately.

Seasoned Mixed Nuts

Seasoned Mixed NutsIn a rush and looking for easy holiday treats? These sweet and savory mixed nuts are sure to be a hit at your next holiday party. Plus they make a perfect last-minute hostess gift as you make your rounds this holiday season.

Yield: 4 cups
Total Prep time: 25 minutes

4 cups unsalted mixed nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, or pistachios)
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar, tightly packed
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss until nuts are completely coated and all seasonings evenly distributed.
3. Spread nuts into a single layer on lined baking sheet. Bake for 8–10 minutes before stirring nuts to ensure they are evenly toasting. Continue baking for another 8–10 minutes or until they reach a nice golden brown. Watch closely during final minutes to ensure the nuts do not overcook.
4. Remove from oven and sprinkle with additional sea salt or other seasonings if you wish. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container once cooled.

Mini-Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Salted-Caramel Crunch Topping

Mini-Pumpkin CheesecakesThese little mini-pumpkin cheesecakes are a crowd favorite because they look almost as good as they taste! Sprinkle each cheesecake with some pre-made salted-caramel crunch for that special extra touch. Another option is to top with your favorite caramel sauce and maybe some chopped nuts before serving, or simply sprinkle a little pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon on top of the whipped cream.

Yield: 24 mini cheesecakes
Total Prep Time: 30 minutes

Whipped Cream:
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons real maple syrup

1 ½ cups crushed gingersnap cookies (approximately 25-30 cookies)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pumpkin Cheesecake:
8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves

Optional garnishes:
Salted Caramel Crunch
Caramel sauce
Chopped nuts

1. In a large glass bowl, use a hand or immersion blender to blend 1 pint of heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract until it doubles in size and changes texture. Then drizzle maple syrup into the bowl and continue blending until mixture is light and fluffy. Set aside or place in refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 24-cup mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
3. Put cookies in a large heavy-duty freezer bag and cover with a towel, then pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin until cookies are uniformly crushed into very small pieces… or simply use a food processor.
4. Transfer crushed cookies to a glass bowl and add melted butter. Stir with a fork until thoroughly combined. Note: Add a little more melted butter to hold cookie crumb mixture together if necessary, being careful not to add too much which would cause the butter to compete with the flavor of the gingersnap crust.
5. Divide cookie crumb mixture into 24 equal parts and press into the bottom of each muffin cup firmly with your fingers to form a crust. Bake in preheated oven for 8–10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
6. In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, brown sugar and salt with a hand held mixer. Add pumpkin puree and Greek yogurt to cream cheese mixture and continue beating until combined.
7. Crack egg in a separate bowl before adding to the cream cheese mixture. Then blend in vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Continue blending until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated into the batter.
8. Divide pumpkin cream cheese mixture evenly between the 24 muffin tin cups and place on top of the pre-baked cookie crust. Fill each cup slightly higher than the edge of the pan.
9. Place muffin tin on center rack of oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and the pumpkin mixture has set. Remove from oven and cool completely before removing mini cheesecakes from tin. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.
10. To serve, top with whipped cream and salted-caramel crunch or your favorite caramel sauce. If using homemade whipped cream, spoon it into a plastic sandwich bag and cut a small corner off one bottom side. Pipe onto individual mini-cheesecakes for greater control.

Peppermint Bark

Peppermint BarkPeppermint bark is one of those favorite seasonal holiday sweets that everyone seems to enjoy. If you’ve never made it before, you are in for a very pleasant surprise. This super easy recipe assembles quickly with minimal fuss. Not surprisingly, the secret to outstanding peppermint bark is to use your choice of high quality all-dark or all-white chocolate.

Yield: 2 pounds
Total Prep Time: 2 hours (including refrigeration)

16 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
16 ounces high-quality white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup crushed peppermint candy

1. Place peppermint candy in a heavy-duty freezer bag and cover with a towel. Pound bag with a meat mallet or rolling pin until finely crushed, and set aside… or simply use a food processor.
2. Line a small, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. If necessary, dampen the bottom of the outer edges of the parchment paper to hold it in place.
3. In a double broiler, melt the dark chocolate until smooth. Transfer to parchment paper while warm and spread with a plastic spatula until uniformly thick.
4. Thoroughly clean double broiler before melting the white chocolate. Once smooth, stir in the crushed peppermint pieces until evenly distributed. Pour the white chocolate mixture on top of the dark chocolate layer. Spread over the dark chocolate layer until evenly distributed.
5. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Once hardened, break peppermint bark into pieces before serving or storing.

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