By Cheryl Radkiewicz
Holidays are upon us and I always feel it’s important to have something quick and easy for visitors, whether they be expected or unexpected. This month I’m sharing my very favorite appetizers to prepare and have on hand to lessen stress in our lives during this hectic season.
By the way, my pantry contains olives, pickles, artichoke hearts, peppadews, canned tomatoes, Ro-tel tomatoes with chilies, a variety of crackers, cream cheese, La Cucina’s House Italian Dressing, and Calvey Kitchen Puree’.
NOTE: I very seldom use any bottled dressing, however, I’ve found our local restaurant, La Cucina, to have an excellent product.
Another new local product on the market is Calvey Kitchen Puree’, a blend of spicy, sweet, savory natural ingredients. If you like heat, you’ll love this. However, if you don’t like heat, just put a dab on cream cheese atop crackers for a refreshing “pop”.
So, while someone in your house is serving drinks, you can be in the kitchen quickly throwing together a “relish tray” or “antipasto.” By the way, these recipes can all be prepared ahead of time and have a long refrigerator life. (I have made all of these dozens and dozens of times…always a hit!)
Enjoy your holidays. Don’t stress too much. Savor everything.
From our house to yours, Have a Very Merry and Blessed Christmas!
1-14 oz. can whole tomatoes, chopped, not drained
4 Tbsp. light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. ketchup
6 drops hot sauce, or to taste
1/2 tsp. black pepper
In saucepan on medium heat mix all ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and allow mixture to simmer for 2 hours or until cooked to a thick sauce. Refrigerate. Serve with cream cheese and crackers or as a vegetable side dish. Yield: 3-4 cups. Note: The longer this mellows, the better.
2 cans (4 oz. each) mild chopped green chilies
3 cups (12 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×9″ square dish. Alternately layer chilies with cheeses, starting and ending with the cheeses. Beat eggs, milk and flour together. Pour egg mixture over layered ingredients and bake for about 1 hour, or until firm.
Cut into small squares. Serve warm. Note: This can also be made ahead. Refrigerate. Cut into squares and microwave or heat in low oven. Yield: 16 squares.
1/2 lb. cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 lb. bacon, chopped, cooked and drained
1 onion, quartered
1 tsp. dry mustard
Bread rounds or slices of bread, quartered
In food processor, grate cheese, then add bacon and onion. Chop and blend together. Add mayonnaise to bind and mustard and blend well. May be refrigerated or frozen at this point. If frozen, before serving, thaw mixture.
When serving, spread room temperature mixture on bread rounds and toast under broiler until brown and puffed. Yield: 60 rounds.
NOTE: Definitely make this ahead..so easy to prepare.
Homemade Boursin Cheese:
1 cup ( 2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2-8oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. dill weed
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. rosemary
Cream butter and cream cheese. Add next 7 ingredients, increasing or decreasing to suit individual tastes. Mix until well blended. Cover, chill and age for at least 24 hours before serving. Serve at room temperature. Serve with crackers. Note: Any leftovers can be used in a quiche or with baked chicken or baked potato.
1 can Great Northern white beans (Progresso, if possible), rinsed and drained
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can green beans, rinsed and drained
1 can yellow waxed beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
Mix all rinsed and drained beans together. Season with the following olive oil, wine vinegar, parsley, oregano, and a half teaspoon (or more) of garlic salt.
Mix thoroughly. Serve at room temperature. Make ahead to meld flavors.
Deviled Ham Dip:
1-8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
2- 4 1/2 oz.cans deviled ham ( or leftover ham)
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Hot sauce, to taste
1 cup sour cream
1/2 jar stuffed green olives, chopped
Combine cream cheese, deviled ham, mustard, Worcestershire and hot sauce, blending well until smooth. Stir in sour cream and olives. Refrigerate, covered. Serve with crackers, raw veggies or baguettes.
NOTE: Definitely make this ahead for best flavors.