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.
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 Mayonnaise 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.
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.
November is a busy month for everyone. Our thoughts usually turn to the upcoming holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
However, there’s one day in November that we rarely think about—Veterans’ Day. This day honors men and women, both living and dead, who have served our country in the armed forces. Some of these veterans’ families have lived around the world and formed their own communities of Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force “families.”
My father was a World War II Army veteran, who spent years in the European Theater of Operations. My niece is a Navy veteran who recently returned from a tour of duty in Italy. My husband’s aunt and uncle lived throughout the United States and Europe during his uncle’s career in the Air Force. While we were growing up we didn’t experience many vacations due to workaholic parents.
There were day trips either to West Point Military Academy or Gettysburg Battlefield. Continuing this tradition, this summer we visited Annapolis Naval Academy in Maryland for probably the fifth time. My first stop traditionally is the gift shop. So this month I’m sharing some favorite recipes from military families.
When you’re shopping for Thanksgiving, buy an extra can of whole berry cranberry sauce for this favorite from Marine Family and Friends:
Cranberry Horseradish Appetizer
1-16 oz. can whole berry cranberry sauce
1/3 cup fresh, minced onion
2 Tbsp. horseradish
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1- 8 oz. block cream cheese
Your favorite crackers
Stir together cranberry sauce, onions, horseradish, sugar and salt in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat, cover and chill. Spoon sauce over cream cheese and serve with crackers.
Fig and Goat Cheese Spread
1 pkg. Black Mission figs
1/2 cup port wine
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. crushed rosemary
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 pkg. goat cheese
Toasted baguette slices
Infuse figs with port wine until they are plump, adding more port, if necessary. In small pan, add olive oil and saute’ the red onions until caramelized. Add the figs with juice, rosemary and garlic. Saute’ all until warmed through. On toast, spread a bit of goat cheese and top with fig mixture.
Pork with Sauerkraut
Pork meats (roast, country ribs, kielbasa, franks, knockwurst or combination of meats)
1 bag sauerkraut
2 chopped apples
1 chopped onion
1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup apple juice
Mix all ingredients well (except meat) and place in oven-proof dish. Bake sauerkraut a total of four to six hours. Keep covered for most of the baking time. Add meats before sauerkraut is done accordingly: Pork roast, two hours; country ribs, 1 1/2 hours, kielbasa, 1/2 hour knockwurst, 20 minutes; and franks, five to 10 minutes.
Now, from the Navy Lodge:
1/4 cup butter
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. fresh minced garlic
1/3 cup beef broth
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 thinly sliced red onion
16 oz. fresh halved mushrooms
In skillet melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, mustard and garlic cooking until smooth and bubbly. Stir in beef broth; add remaining ingredients. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender.
1 onion, chopped
1 stick butter
6 oz. cottage cheese
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. frozen broccoli, thawed and chopped\
1 pkg. Jiffy cornbread mix
Mix all ingredients adding cornbread mix last. Bake in 400 degree preheated oven for 25 minutes.
Easy Chocolate Almond Pie
4 small Hershey’s with Almond candy bars
20 large marshmallows
3/4 cup milk
1/2 pt. whipping cream, whipped
1 baked pie crust
Melt candy, marshmallows and milk in saucepan. Do not boil. Refrigerate until set. Pour into pie crust. Chill until ready to serve.
From the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado:
2 lbs. shrimp
2 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup Progresso seasoned bread crumbs
Rinse shrimp in cold water. In large saucepan, bring water, vinegar and Old Bay seasoning to a boil. Add shrimp and stir. Cover, boiling until bright pink, about 3 minutes. Drain. Peel and devein, if necessary. Melt butter in large skillet until sizzling. Add shrimp and saute’ briefly. Put in baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake five minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with toothpicks.
This dish from the Air Force Academy just screams “autumn”
Braised Red Cabbage with Cranberries
2 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion
1 small head red cabbage, cored and sliced thin
1 cup cranberries
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground garlic
In skillet, heat olive oil and cook chopped onion until soft. Mix in cabbage and cook about 10 minutes until cabbage is barely wilted. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and continue cooking until almost all liquid has evaporated and cabbage is completely wilted, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf. Serves 4.