As we get into holiday season planning, I
thought we’d share some simple ideas for presenting appetizers.
balls, dips and spreads that contain cream cheese or other cheese to stand at
room temperature for 15 minutes or so for better flavor and spreadability.
appetizer platters with sprigs of fresh herbs, lemon wedges, small clusters of
grapes, or small whole pickles.
strips of colorful sweet peppers, radishes, cherry tomatoes, and fresh sugar
snap peas as dippers, besides the usual celery, carrot sticks and crackers.
dips in edible bowls made from red or green cabbage shells, or cored colorful
sweet peppers.Fruit dips can be served
in melon or grapefruit or orange shells.
appetizers should be able to be served cold or at room temperature.
Save the hot
appetizers for serving from your own kitchen.
Take a hint from experienced hostesses, and
keep your appetizers to a small selection – maybe one or two items, if you are
serving a meal too. Easier on you, and
your guests will have enough room to eat your meal. I also suggest not refilling appetizer trays
when you are serving a meal – call folks to the table instead. Don’t let appetizer time last too long before
serving the meal. Our photo recipes above (clockwise): Holiday Cheese Ball Individual Cheese Pies Crunchy Potato Bites Cream Onion Dip
We’ve enjoyed this simple holiday salad for years. I like it because it is so easy to make and looks so pretty. It’s a great take-along dish for those holiday get-togethers. I left out the lemon juice and substituted 2 teaspoons of grated orange peel I had in the freezer. Use pecans or walnuts, whatever are on hand. I used my home canned cranberry sauce. You can use diet jello, lite whipped topping and low fat cream cheese successfully. Cheeseberry Salad 1 (3 ounce) package Jello -- cherry 1 cup Hot Water 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice 15 ounces Whole Cranberry Sauce -- canned or 1 pint 8 ounces Cream Cheese 1/2 cup Pecans -- chopped 8 ounce carton Whipped Topping -- thawed Dissolve jello in hot water. Add cranberry sauce and lemon juice. Cool and pour into 7 x 11" glass pan. Chill until thickened. Whip cream cheese until light and fluffy. Fold in whipped topping. Spread carefully over jello. Sprinkle with nuts. Chill overnight, covered. 8 servings Cost: $3.35 or 42¢ per serving. This is often less expensive during the holidays, when the cranberries, cream cheese and whipped topping are on sale. The recipe for 8 for jello and cranberries can be doubled, and poured into 9x13" pan. Topping doesn't have to be doubled. The Jello can be sugar free; cream cheese and topping can be light or fat free.
Lemon Curd as a gift is always enjoyed. Normally I would make Lemon Curd, but this recipe for Citrus Curd looked good and as I am going to bake Christmas cookies it will be used for filling in Tassies, Meringue, and thumbprint cookies, and over slices of white or pound cake. I will save two jars to give as gifts, that is if we don’t eat it first. All of us are fans of citrus flavors in anything and this was so simple to make.
There are some good curds available commercially, but this is so easy to make that I wouldn’t bother buying any. It just takes a small amount of your time, and when you do like I do and use a double boiler, you do not have to stay standing over it constantly. I never make something that might scorch easily except in my double boiler. I am willing to take a few extra minutes for it to cook rather than have to throw it out.
A couple of tips for you,
1. the recipe calls for orange peel, and not the juice. It really does add to the taste, but you could get away without using it. I try to make it when I will have something to use the orange juice for in the next couple of days. Wrap the orange in plastic wrap or a Ziploc bag and store in the refrigerator till you are ready to use it. or juice it and freeze the juice for later.
2. The curd is thick when you can run your finger down the back of a coated spoon and it does not run together, or put a small amount on a plate and set in the freezer for a minute or so. Take it off of the heat while you are testing for doneness.
Either way, gift or for yourself the Betty Crocker Gifts from the Kitchen has another great recipe and gift idea. Tie a pretty bow on it and you are good to go.
Curd Filled Sugar Cookies
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon grated lime peel
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup fresh lime juice
4 eggs, slightly beaten (with a fork)
In a 4 quart heavy pan (or double boiler) mix all ingredients except eggs. Break the eggs in a small bowl and beat slightly with a fork, just till the whites are beaten in with the yolks and set aside. Cook and stir the citrus mixture over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes (double the time with a double boiler) or until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved.
Gradually stir some of the hot mixture into the beaten eggs, using a whisk or fork. Stir the egg, lemon mixture back into the main pan of curd. Cook over low heat for 12 to 15 minutes (took me 20 minutes) until thickened.
Pour into 4 sterilized hot 8 ounce jars. Wipe rims and seal with caps. When cool, store in refrigerator.
I would not try to hot water bath this, better to make small batches more often.
gift you can still make for Christmas – it doesn't take long at all.
sauce is thick and delicious, and, you know what is in it. You can get two nice half-pint jars from the
recipe with a little left for you. No
need to can it – it keeps in the refrigerator quite a while, so you can use some
pretty jars and caps from purchased items like jelly or salsa to save
The Betty Crocker Gifts from the Kitchen has a recipe for Chocolate Billionaires. They looked like they would be similar to a turtle candy which Bettie”s daughter counts as her favorite candy.
My thought was these would make a great gift for her. My daughter and granddaughter were coming over to help make candy so I would have some help doing them.
I didn't try them, but granddaughter did and gave them a two thumbs up rating. I thought they were very easy to make. Be sure you use a nonstick pan to melt the caramel in. I did that and it was no problem to clean afterwards.
As usual when dipping candy into chocolate, be sure your chocolate is melted and not too hot. You can always warm it if it becomes too stiff. Melted centers are not fun to work with. We thought the crisp rice cereal in this recipe tasted somewhat like a Nestle’s bar and kept the caramel from becoming too stiff.
A good gift to give and easy to make and clean up afterwards.
1 14 ounce bag caramels unwrapped
3 tablespoons water
1 ½ cups chopped toasted pecans
1 ¼ cups crisp rice cereal
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips 18 ounces (I used milk chocolate)
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
Line 2 cookie sheets with wax paper or parchment paper.
In a 4 quart heavy saucepan, heat caramels and water over low heat; stirring constantly until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in pecans and cereal until coated. Roll mixture into 1 inch balls, placing on cookie sheet.
In a bowl over simmering water, melt chocolate chips and shortening. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Dip the caramel balls into the chocolate and replace on the parchment paper. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes. Then store tightly covered at room temperature.
PER SERVING: (1 candy) Calories 124, Total fat 7 g,, Total Carbohydrate 16 g.,
EXCHANGES; 1 other Carbohydrate, 1 fat; Carbohydrate Choices 1
Betty Crocker’s Gifts from the Kitchen has lots of nice treats to use for gifts. All of us are fans of cheese balls, so this recipe for three cheese logs was just the thing. Now I just have to get it given as gifts and out of the house before we eat all of them.
Thanks to Sue, who gave me her large Cuisinart food processor, I was able to make these with not as much work.
Cheese balls or logs are work, but worth it in the long run. I used the processor to chop the nuts, shred the cheese, and then mix everything together. Much, much easier than by hand.
I did not use smoked almonds as we don’t care for that flavor. Keep in mind that the cheese log will only be as good as the cheese you use. I used Kraft Reserve, and a Amish Blue cheese. Of course, Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese is my cream cheese of choice. This is not the recipe for low fat cheese or pre-shredded cheese.
Pair the log with a box of good crackers for a great gift. Your kids teacher, the mail man, or maybe your secret pal. Anyone who likes cheese will enjoy this recipe.
Smoked Almond Triple Cheese Log
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (16 ounces before shredding)
2 packages (3 ounce each) cream cheese
3 ounces of a good brand Blue cheese (¾ cup crumbled, buy whole and crumble your self.)
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion (I used 1 tablespoon chopped shallot)
In food processor bowl with metal blade place the two shredded cheeses and the crumbled blue cheese. Cover and process with quick on and off motions until combined. Add the onion, Worcestershire and red pepper sauce. Cover and process just until combined. At this point, I chilled the cheese mixture before I rolled it. Not too long, about ½ hour or until it handles without being too sticky.
Divide into three parts. Roll each into 6 inch roll. Place nuts and rosemary in a shallow dish, a pie plate works well, and with your hands roll the cheese log in the nuts patting them firmly into the cheese.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours.
*I had way too many nuts. I will cut the amount of almonds to ½ to ⅔ cup the next time.
You can freeze the left over chopped nuts for another batch.
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We live a lot like our folks did in the 40's and 50's - baking, gardening, canning, cooking from scratch, hanging up the wash, having coffee with friends, sharing good books, taking a Sunday drive in the country.We don't feel like we're giving up anything.