Cheryl’s Cuisine: December 2019

christmas-xmas-christmas-tree-decorationBy Cheryl Radkiewicz

It’s not that many years ago that I would spend hours, hours and hours preparing just one of many appetizers to serve during the holidays. Gone are those days.

Now I need quick, easy and no-fuss, but they still must be crowd-pleasing.

I usually start out with a divided appetizer tray and fill it with various olives, pickles, caper berries,  marinated mushrooms, roasted artichoke halves and peppadews (all store-bought).   

Then I prepare trays of various cheeses cut in chunks (family preferred) with an assortment of crackers.  Keep in mind that the hostess’s best friends during the holidays are cream cheese, sour cream, grated cheese, butter and mayonnaise. Yes, calorie-laden, but it’s the holidays….  Now it’s my turn to fix some quick, easy delicious bites to please even the toughest palate (that honor belongs to one of my brothers).

So here goes with this year’s holiday menu items for entertaining:

Peppery Pimento Cheese:

1  (l lb.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

1-4oz. jar sliced pimentos, undrained

1 cup mayonnaise

Salt, to taste

1 1/2 tsp. black pepper (or just a little less)

Mix all ingredients together.  Serve with crackers.

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Cognac Cheese Ball:

1-8 oz. pkg.  Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1- 3oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. prepared mustard

1 Tbsp. Cognac

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup chopped nuts 

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. pepper

Combine cheese, butter, cream cheese and garlic in food processor; process until creamy.  Add mustard and Cognac. Combine parsley, nuts, paprika and pepper. Form cheese into a ball and roll in parsley mixture.  May be frozen. Makes 2 cups.

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Tortilla Roll-Ups:

1- 4 oz. can chopped green chiles

3 green onions, chopped

1-8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

3 large flour tortillas

Salsa or picante sauce

Mix chiles, onions, cream cheese and garlic powder together.  Spread on tortillas, roll up and refrigerate until chilled. Cut into bite-size pieces.  Serve with salsa or picante sauce on the side.

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Shrimp Dip:

1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise

1 cup chopped onion

8 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded

Small can of baby shrimp or 12 cooked shrimp, chopped

Mix mayonnaise, onion and cheese together in a small casserole dish.  Add chopped shrimp. Mix well. Sprinkle top with Old Bay seasoning. Cover casserole dish.  Bake in 350 degree oven until cheese is melted, about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm with a side of Ritz Crackers.

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Mexican Corn Dip:

2-11 oz. cans Mexican corn, drained

4 oz. can chopped green chiles

1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped

3 green onions, chopped

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Combine all ingredients, mixing well.  Refrigerate overnight. Serve with tortilla chips.  Keeps in refrigerator for 5 days.

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Hot Crab Meat Dip:

1 lb. crab meat, cooked, flaked

6 slices bacon, cooked crisp

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1/2 cup chili sauce

1 tsp. tarragon

1 tsp. vinegar

1 tsp. dry mustard

1/2 tsp. tabasco

Paprika and salt, to taste

Layer crab meat in lightly buttered casserole dish. Top with bacon.  Meanwhile, in large bowl combine mayonnaise, chili sauce, tarragon, vinegar, dry mustard, Tabasco, paprika and salt, to taste.  Top crab meat and bacon with this mixture. Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes or until top is bubbling. Serve with crackers.

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Artichoke Nibblers:

1-12 oz. can marinated artichoke hearts, drained

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

4 eggs

1/4 cup dry bread  crumbs

Salt,  Pepper and Oregano, to taste

Dash of Tabasco

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

2 Tbsp. minced parsley

Chop drained artichokes well.  Add onion and garlic. Saute’ until onion is limp, but not browned.  Beat eggs well. Add bread crumbs, salt, pepper, oregano and few drops of Tabasco.  Stir in Cheddar cheese, parsley and artichoke-onion mixture. Bake in 8×8″ baking dish for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve with crackers or pita.

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Almond Amaretto Cream:

1 cup sour cream

3 Tbsp. powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. almond extract

3 Tbsp. Amaretto liqueur

Mix all together.  Use as a dip for fresh fruit.

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Best wishes from our house to yours for a happy, safe, blessed holiday and New Year.

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