Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Helper - 4 appetizer recommendations

I'm not sure if you love appetizers like I do, but here are some that I've made over the years that everyone seems to love. I can't tell you where the original recipes are from at this point, but here is the way I make these dishes now. Since my daughter has been a vegetarian (not a vegan though) for eight years, I also appreciate that she will eat 3/4 of the recipes. Win, win! I've made these appetizers so many times that I've basically committed them to memory. It used to drive me crazy when I'd ask my mom or grandmother about measurements or instructions for a recipe, and their answer would be 'to taste' or 'a pinch.' Unfortunately, I know why they said those things. After making these recipes for so many  years, I have no idea of measurements really either. The amounts I've given here are my best guesstimate, but I still think it's worth it for you to try to make these. They are delish! Here are four of my favorites. :) Enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Dates
    Ingredients:  2-3 packages of pitless dates, 1 pound bacon, 1 package whole almonds, toothpicks
    Directions:  Slice bacon into thirds, slice open date, insert one whole almond into date, wrap with 1/3 slice bacon, secure with a toothpick, arrange on a jelly roll pan
    Baking: bake at 350 until bacon is crisp usually 10-15 minutes, may turn on broiler if you prefer that method or to speed cooking, drain cooked date rollups on paper towel lined plate
    To serve:   arrange on a platter for serving, may serve at room temperature or slightly warm
    Alternatives:  I've also seen people replace the almond with blue cheese or brie, but I've never made them that way myself.

Spinach Rollups (*can be vegetarian)
    Ingredients: package of large flour tortillas, package of thawed frozen spinach, bacon bits (real or artificial), diced green onions, dry ranch mix, sour cream, mayo, drained and diced water chestnuts
    Directions: mix together spinach, bacon bits, diced green onions, 1 envelope dry ranch mix, 1 16 oz container sour cream, 1 cup mayo, and water chestnuts; smooth a thin layer of mixture onto a flour tortilla while leaving 1/4 inch of empty space around the edges; continue doing this until you run out of mixture - usually 7 tortillas in all; roll up tortillas and place in a baking dish covered with plastic wrap
    Freezing:  put baking dish in freezer for 30-45 minutes so rolls can get firm
    To serve: remove from freezer and cut each roll into 1 inch sections; arrange on a platter and serve chilled
    Alternatives: you may also add pimientos and leave out the water chestnuts if you wish

Rosalyn Carter's Cheese Ring (*vegetarian)
    Ingredients: 2 packages finely shredded cheddar blend, small jar strawberry preserves or jam, salt and pepper to taste, mayo, season all to taste (roughly 2 tsp), chopped pecans, sociable crackers or wheat thins
    Directions: mix cheese, salt and pepper, mayo, season all, and pecans together until well mixed
    Forming: place a small bowl in the middle of a serving platter and form cheese mixture into a ring around the bowl; it should look kind of like a cheese wreath when you remove the bowl
    To serve: fill empty space inside ring with the preserves; to serve, spoon cheese mixture and preserves onto a sociable or wheat thin; keep chilled until serving
    Alternatives: I prefer to add a dash of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.

Pineapple Cheese Ball (*vegetarian)
    Ingredients: 2 bricks cream cheese, 1 small can crushed and drained pineapple, season all to taste (roughly 2 tsp), 1 diced onion, small bag chopped pecans (*It's important to get the pineapple as dry as possible before mixing it with the other ingredients.)
    Directions: mix all ingredients together except chopped pecans
    Forming: form cheese mixture into a ball and pat chopped pecans onto the outside of it
    To serve: keep chilled until serving; serve with sociable crackers, cracked pepper crackers, or wheat thins
    Alternatives: I prefer to add a dash of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat

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