Making a list and checking it twice…a list of seasonal snacks and appetizers that is!
The holiday season is upon us, bringing parties, open houses, and gatherings galore. I like to make sure I’m always prepared food-wise for these events, so I have a list of go-to options that are fast, easy, and tasty. These options are perfect for no-fuss appetizers, snacks for last-minutes guests, or hostess gifts when I’m off to a soiree.
The holidays are about friends and family, of course…but they are also about FOOD!
1. Roasted Nuts
Luckily these are quick to make because they are best when eaten warm. Roast 1 pound of cashews on a sheet pan for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Then coat with 1 tbsp melted butter, 2 tbsp minced rosemary (fresh is best), 1 tbsp salt, and ½ tsp cayenne pepper. Make them after your guests have arrived, and serve them fresh. Also, check out this super easy and delish Spicy Cashew Recipe from michellep.
2. Caramel Corn
Make a batch of this at the beginning of the season, and you’re ready for any unexpected guests. You can also package it up and give it away if you need a last-minute hostess gift or holiday gift for a friend or coworker. Here are a few recipes to get you poppin’!
3. Chex Mix
The original Chex Party Mix is a classic holiday snack mix, but feel free to try one of the new versions also. I especially love the cranberry orange style Chex Mix or Chex pumpkin pie crunch for the holidays.
4. Pretzel “Turtles”
The Rolo Turtles Recipe is delicious and a snap to make! Place a chocolate covered caramel candy on top of pretzel. Bake for 4 or 5 minutes at 300 degrees. Take out of the over and push a half pecan onto each one and then let them cool. They are perfect for setting out in a bowl when guests stop by, or packaging to give away.
There are endless possibilities for this favorite app. You can go with the standard tomato and basil topping brushetta. Or get creative: Olive tapenade, salami & feta, Gorgonzola & honey, or salmon & mascarpone are a few of my fancier favorites.
6. Cheese & Salami Bites
I think it’s smart to always have a few kinds of cheese and salami in your refrigerator. It’s easy to plate these with a thinly sliced apple or a small bunch of grapes or grab some toothpicks to make tiny meat and cheese bites…instant appetizer, no need to even turn on the oven!
7. Pumpkin Dip
Pumpkin Dip is always a hit a holiday potlucks and office parties. Mix 1 can pumpkin, 1 8 oz package of cream cheese, 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice. Serve this yummy seasonal dip with apple slices or graham crackers. Consider serving in a hollowed out pumpkin—but if pressed for time, it tastes just as good from a bowl.
8. Mini Quiches
These are always a hit. Make them with cheddar alone or with ham is delicious—but don’t hesitate to get more creative. Bacon-lovers will adore you for serving bacon and cheese cups. These will be gone before you know it! Here are some more ideas for these tiny delights:
9. Spicy Pepper & Cream Cheese Spread
Place an 8 oz block of cream cheese on a platter. Pour cranberry pepper jelly (or a similar pepper jelly) over the top. Serve it up with crackers. People will the love spicy and sweet combo. If you’re looking to have even more spice, try a baked artichoke and jalepeño dip.
10. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Save ‘em after you carve your pumpkins, and roast up a snack. Roasted pumpkin seeds are THE best!
11. Pigs in a Blanket
Classic Pigs in a Blanket are so easy to make. Cocktail-sized wieners and Pillsbury crescent rolls keep well in the freezer, so you can always have the ingredients on hand to whip up some of those cute little pigs in a blanket. Cut crescent rolls into triangle-shaped thirds and wrap around each cocktail wiener. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, or until the crescent rolls are golden. To jazz it up a bit, try adding cheese or bacon. Or provide a fun dipping sauce or two.
12. Cheese Log
A cheese log is a great make-ahead item that can be sealed and stored in the freezer for several weeks. There are lots of options to play around with for toppings and cheeses; I like chopped pistachios and cranberries for the holidays.
13. Toffee Dip
Combine ¾ cup brown sugar, 8 oz package cream cheese, ½ cup powdered sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla with a mixer. Stir in ¾ cup crushed toffee candy bar. Serve with apple slices or graham crackers. Or try Saltine Cracker Toffees — they’re excellent for snacking and gifting!
Use Pillsbury crescent rolls to make pinwheels. The flavor possibilities are endless – Mediterranean, Pizza, Italian, and assorted cheeses just to name a few. See what you’ve got in your fridge to be inspired.
15. Pasta skewers
Tortellini Skewers are a great light snack when you need a break from all the big feasts. Marinate cooked tortellini, mozzarella chunks, and cherry tomatoes in Italian dressing. Alternate each item on a skewer with whole basil leaves. These look great lined up on a tray.
16. Spinach Artichoke Dip
A party is not complete without a spinach artichoke dip. Serve with veggies, crackers, or chunks of French bread.
17. Veggie “Shots”
Serve veggie sticks in shot glasses with ranch dip at the bottom. This one is all about presentation. For the Christmas gatherings, be sure to include some red and green bell pepper strips to make a Veggie Tree with cheese dip.
18. Cocktail Meatballs
You can either make meatballs ahead of time, or buy them frozen from your favorite store. Try them sweet and sour style, or hot and saucy (http://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/hot-and-saucy-cocktail-meatballs-recipe/1/). I find it works well to serve these from a slow cooker to keep them warm.
19. Pillsbury Breadsticks
Use Pillsbury frozen dough to make breadsticks. Have fun playing around with different toppings for the breadsticks. Apply egg wash, and then get creative. Poppy seeds or sesame seeds are tasty. Garlic and Parmesan cheese are a popular duo—or brush on some pesto. They’re also great for making Mini Pretzels!
20. Brie and Cranberry
Brie and Cranberry is as pretty as it is tasty. Bake Brie for 10-15 minutes at 325 degrees. Remove from oven, and pour cranberry sauce and almonds over the top. Bake for 5 more minutes. Serve with crackers.