Christmas Appetizers – And the Winners Are . . .

It seems whenever I am planning a party, or attending a pot luck, I always run into the same problem – what do I make? It’s not a question of what so much as in a lack of ideas or inspiration. It’s more a struggle of narrowing things down to a reasonable amount of foods. There are times when I throw sensibility right out the window, and make everything. There are times when my guys rein me in with a firm “are you out of your mind?”

And there are times when I post my ideas on Facebook, asking friends and family to put their two cents in – which is what I did this week. I had narrowed things down to 18 different recipes, which was way more than I could manage. After all, the family farm is a bit of a drive and everything needed to fit into the car for transport. Not to mention the fact that it needed so actually survive the trip.

Some of the recipes I shared before, others are new to the blog.  My sister way up north in Oregon asked that I post the winners, so here goes . . .

Of all the cheese balls offered, this is by far the most labor intense of the bunch. It is also the most sophisticated in appearance. Since my offerings are gifts to my family’s pot luck gathering, the added effort was well worth it.

Cheese Spread Wreath 2

Cheese Ball Spread – Festive Bacon Cream Cheese Wreath
Cheese Spread
4 (8 oz) block cream cheese softened
1 1/2 cups diced bacon, cooked crisp
1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
3/4 of a large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup green onions finely chopped
1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

Line the inside of a 10-cup capacity Bundt pan with plastic wrap, making sure it is completely covered.

Open containers of cream cheese. Let it sit on the counter to soften. While the cheese is softening, dice bacon. Place in a skillet and fry until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow bacon to cool. If necessary, break into small pieces once cooled.

In the bowl of a stand up mixer, blend cream cheese, bacon and cheddar cheese until smooth.

Seed the bell pepper, cut into small pieces. Place 3/4 of the chopped pepper into the cheese mixture, reserve remaining red pepper for garnish.

Add seasonings to the cheese mixture. Mix until well incorporated. Taste mixture and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Spoon the cream cheese mixture into prepared pan. Spread into an even layer while adding light pressure to ensure the mixture smooths into the base of the pan.

Cover and refrigerate until chilled, (about 1 hour or up to 1 day).

Once chilled, uncover and invert the wreath onto a serving platter. Use a spatula to smooth the edges. The wreath is now ready to decorate.

Festive Holiday Decorations
1/4 cup parsley finely chopped
2 tablespoons chives finely chopped
1 tablespoon green onions, finely chopped
4 Green Olives, cut in half
4 Black Olives, cut in half
4 Kalamata Olives, cut in half
Rosemary Sprigs
Round Crackers, such as Ritz, for serving

Chop parsley, chives and green onions. Mix together. Carefully press the herb mixture onto the wreath to give it a nice green.

Cut olives in half, and press the halves around the top of the wreath.

Garnish with remaining bell pepper between the olives for a sprinkling of festive color.

Insert rosemary sprigs around the wreath. Brush with a little olive oil (optional for shine).

Serve with crackers.

Original recipe: Cafe Delites

This lovely platter is one of my favorites at Christmas Time. The bites are tasty, the Rosemary Sprigs give it that added festive feel. If there is room on the platter, it’s nice to sprinkle a handful of small tomatoes for an added splash of color.

Cold Cut Platter 2

Cold Cut Platter – Pastrami and Roast Beef Roll Ups
¼ lb thinly sliced pastrami (from deli counter)
½ lb thinly sliced roast beef (from deli counter)
2/3 cup Chive and Onion cream cheese spread
1 cup roasted red bell peppers (from jar) cut into ¾-inch wide strips.
Fresh rosemary sprigs for skewers
Cherry Tomatoes, to garnish the platter

Carefully spread each slice of pastrami with cream cheese spread. Top each with roasted pepper piece at one edge. Starting at roasted pepper edge, roll up each slice tightly. Cover and refrigerate. Repeat with roast beef slices. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

To serve, trim ends. Cut each roll into 1-inch thick pieces. Secure each with fresh rosemary. Makes about 80 bites

Originally posted as part of Joyful Christmas Nibbles.

Crock Pot Selection
Apricot Kielbasa Sausage Bites
Bacon-Onion Barbecue Meatballs
Teriyaki Smokies

I’m sort of a hoarder when it comes to old fashion crock pots. I have two of the old-time round pots, 1 very large oblong cooker (great for lobster), and two that are designed for smaller servings, one with two crocks, the other with three. That worked out great since my crock pot recipes were tied – everyone wanted all three. So here they are in their original form. Some minor adjusting may be necessary to fit into smaller crocks.

Apricot Kielbasa Sausage Bites
1 lb Polish Kielbasa Sausage Rope, fully cooked
1 jar (12 ounces) apricot preserves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Note: the original recipe was designed as a skillet recipe. Bringing a crock pot into the mix allowed this dish to be travel-pot luck friendly.

Cut Kielbasa into 1/4-inch slices. In a large cast-iron skillet, cook and stir sausage until browned. Remove from pan; discard drippings.

Add apricot preserves, lemon juice, mustard and ginger to the skillet. Heat over medium heat, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Return sausage to the skillet. Mix well to coat sausage in the apricot mixture. Transfer mixture to a crock pot. Continue to simmer on low.  The sausage is ready whenever you are ready to serve.

Original recipe: A Taste Of Home

Bacon-Onion Barbecue Meatballs
3 Slices Smoked Bacon, chopped
1/4 Onion, chopped
40 Frozen Meatballs
1 Bottle Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory Honey Barbecue Sauce

Lay 3 slices of bacon in a stack. Using a sharp knife, slice bacon lengthwise into four strips. Cut strips width-wise to create chopped bacon bits.

Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Crumble bacon and saute in dutch oven until almost crisp. While bacon is frying, chop onion. Toss onion into dutch oven with bacon and continue to fry until bacon is crisp and onions are nicely browned in bacon grease.

Place frozen meatballs into dutch oven. Using a large spoon, stir the pot to incorporate the meatballs with the bacon and onion.

Pour the barbecue sauce over meatball mixture, stir well. Heat over medium-low heat until the barbecue sauce just begins to bubble. Transfer everything into a crock pot. (If taking this to a pot luck or other function, now would be the time to pack it up for transportation).

Set crock pot to HIGH heat for about an hour or so, until the meatballs are heated through. Turn crock pot to LOW and continue to simmer until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.

Originally Posted at Rosemarie’s Kitchen

Teriyaki Smokies with Pineapple
2 Packages Beef Little Smokies
1 small can Pineapple Chunks, drained
1 Jar Teriyaki Glaze

Place Little Smokies and pineapple chunks into a slow cooker. Stir gently to mix sausage and pineapples together.

Pour Teriyaki Glaze over cocktail mixture. Give it one more gentle stir. Set crock pot to HIGH and heat for one hour.

Keep warm and serve directly from the pot or transfer to a nice serving bowl with a few cocktail skewers to get things going.

Originally Posted at Rosemarie’s Kitchen

Deviled Egg Platters
Avocado Christmas Deviled Eggs
Classic Colorful Christmas Deviled Eggs

Two of the deviled egg selection hit high marks. Since my tray holds 24 deviled eggs, I decided to make two different deviled eggs. Personally, I like the creamy texture of the avocado deviled egg, and the sprinkling of chopped red peppers makes it perfect for the holidays. However, not everyone is an avocado fan. So I’m also making a tray of my usual deviled eggs, with the whites of the eggs colored to bring the season to the tray. One third of the eggs will be red, one-third green and one-third will be left white. Mixing all these eggs together is going to create a lovely, holiday egg platter.

Avocado Christmas Deviled Eggs
6 large eggs, hard-boiled
1 small avocado, peeled and pitted
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon sweet relish
1 medium red bell pepper, small diced

Slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Set aside the whites and add the yolks to a medium bowl.

To the bowl with the yolks, add the avocado, mayonnaise, mustard and sweet relish.

Mash together the mixture with a fork then taste and season it with salt and pepper.

Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a star tip (optional) or resealable plastic bag. Pipe the mixture into the egg whites then garnish each deviled egg with three pieces of diced red pepper.

Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

Original Recipe at Just a Taste

Classic Colorful Christmas Deviled Eggs
Classic Deviled Egg
10 hard-boiled eggs
½ cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons mustard Dijon-Style Mustard
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt to taste
White Pepper to taste

Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Remove egg yolks and place yolks in food processor with mixing/chopping blade.

Mix/chop yolks until fluffy and are fine grade resembling bread crumbs. Add mayonnaise and mustard and mix until creamy. Mix in red wine vinegar one tablespoon at a time and season to taste. Store filling in refrigerator until ready to fill “colored” egg whites.

Holiday Colors
Red Food Coloring, Gel as desired
Green Food Coloring, Gel as desired
2 teaspoons vinegar
2 cups of water
2 large cups or mugs

Mix water, 1 color of food coloring and 1 tablespoon of vinegar into each mug.

Divide egg whites into thirds. Dip one-third into the green coloring, one egg white at a time until the desired color is reached. Remove, turn egg shell up-side-down on paper towels to drain. Repeat with each egg white to be colored green.

Repeat again with the red coloring.

Once the colored shells are completely dry, place into the egg tray, alternating colors between red, white and green.

Fill with egg mixture, piping if desired for a fancy finish.

If additional color is desired, garnish with chopped chives, red bell peppers or other festive final touches.

This is another old family favorite. The first time we made these roll-ups, Kiddo was in charge and we served them at a big open house where I was working at the time. The spread was huge, filling up an entire conference table with an assortment of goodies. I was managing some office space at the time, and we invited all the tenants in the building to stop in. One of the tenants asked where all the beautiful platters of food came from, and a co-worker said “Rose’s kitchen.” To which the tenant replied “Wow, same name as you.” I corrected him “No, it all actually came from my kitchen.”

Roll Ups - Spinach Jalapenos

Spinach and Jalapeno Roll-Ups
1 package (9 oz) frozen spinach
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 jalapeño chilies, minced
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
Roasted red bell peppers from a jar, cut into strips

Cook spinach as directed on package. Place in colander or strainer; rise with cold water to cool. Squeeze spinach to remove as much moisture as possible. In a food processor bowl with a metal blade, combine cream cheese and chilies; process until smooth. Add spinach ; process until just blended.

Place 1 tortilla on work surface. Spread ¼ of spinach mixture over tortilla, leaving ½-inch border on one side. Place strips of roasted peppers, piecing together to create one continues strip across middle of tortilla. Roll tortilla toward border; making sure beginning of roll is tight, easing pressure as roll continues to avoid forcing out filling.

Wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

To serve – remove plastic wrap, trim ends. Cut each roll diagonally into 8 slices. Arrange in an attractive fashion on a serving tray.

Recently, while searching through pictures of vegetable trays on the internet, I came across a picture that was so simple, so festive and so perfect. Now most of the time, you can follow a link that is attached to a photo that will take you to a recipe. This one took me to Pinterest. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of recipes, none of which was what I was looking for. So I did the only thing I could think of – guessed based on the photograph. If I am wrong, I am truly sorry.

Veggie Dip Tray

Holiday Vegetable Canapes
3 English Cucumbers
1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes
8 oz Cream Cheese Garden Blend
4 oz Sour Cream
Chives for garnish if desired
Pimentos for garnish if desired

Peel cucumber to create stripes. Cut into 1 1/2″ slices. Using a small spoon or melon baller, create a small well in each cucumber slice. Set aside until ready to fill.

Cut tops from tomatoes. Hollow out seeds. If necessary, cut a small slice from the bottom so that tomato will sit flat. Set aside until ready to fill.

Whip cream cheese and sour cream together. Spoon or pipe into cucumbers and tomatoes. Arrange on a platter. Garnish tomatoes with chives and cucumbers with pimentos if desired. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

olive penquins

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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