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It’s that time of year again…the elf is on the shelf, Clark Griswold is up to his old holiday shenanigans, and I’m trying to find just one decent photo of our whole family to use for the holiday card–a near impossible feat. ?Truth is, I’m a real jingle bells junkie. ?I love trimming the tree, watching holiday movies, and baking cookies (not to mention the dozens of frosted mint fudge brownies I deliver to friends every year, and, no, you can’t have the recipe). ?And of course the kids have their favorite festive books, which we read every night while snuggling in our matching holiday pajamas — well, except for my husband, who draws the line at red and green striped long johns.
The holidays are also the season of socializing. ?Whether it’s family coming to visit or merrymaking with good friends, I’m always in search of delicious and easy appetizer recipes. ?When you are knee deep in preparing a holiday feast, crafting popsicle stick reindeer ornaments or helping the kids make the dreaded gingerbread house (can anyone please tell me how to get the roof to stay on??), there’s not a lot of time for puff pastry pinwheels or cocktail meatballs in saffron sauce. ?In short, it’s the perfect time to fall back on (almost) foolproof finger foods to keep everyone happy so that you can attend to the holiday chaos.
Prosciutto and Chutney Bites
I have to thank my father-in-law for my first go-to, prosciutto cups with chutney. ?He’s a master of the easy yet elegant, and these amuses bouches are no exception. ?Just spray a mini-muffin tin with cooking oil and line each cup with a couple of pieces of thinly sliced prosciutto, and bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes. ?The prosciutto will crisp and harden, then fill each prosciutto cup with chutney and serve. ?Sweet and salty, what’s not to love?!
Bacon Wrapped Dates with Manchego
Continuing with the salty pork theme, my latest discovery is bacon wrapped dates stuffed with manchego cheese. ?You can also do almonds instead of manchego, but I vote for cheese every time, in spite of the rumor that I could have a flawless complexion if only I could put some distance between me and dairy–so far, I haven’t been able to muster the willpower.
Baked Brie with Apricot Jam
My next favorite I first had at a friend’s house in Aspen and I’ve shamelessly copied it ever since. ?It’s so easy, just smother a wheel of brie with apricot jam, wrap the whole thing in crescent roll dough and bake until golden. ?For an extra special touch, use a cookie cutter to cut out a dough shape and add it to the top for wow factor! ?Serve with crackers.
Red Pepper Jelly and Goat Cheese Crackers
Another yummy option is crackers topped with goat cheese (or cream cheese), red pepper jelly and chives — red, white and green, totally festive! ?My only advice is don’t use rice wafers, stick with a regular cracker that can hold up to the cheese. ?I can’t tell you how embarrassed I was to bring soggy crackers to the last mom’s poker night…all evening I debated surreptitiously throwing them in the trash or pretending that I’d just carried them in for the unsuspecting woman with whom I’d carpooled.
Tex Mex Queso Dip
Last but not least is every Texan’s best kept secret, queso dip! ?Personally, I always like to throw in a Tex Mex meal at some point during the holidays because let’s face it, all that traditional American fare can get a little monotonous. ?And everyone who doesn’t know any better will think you’re a genius (as whoever invented this recipe doubtlessly was). ?I mean, what’s easier than melting a block of Velveeta and a can of Rotel tomatoes in a double boiler?
Happy munching, and let us know your favorites, because while they are too nice to admit it, my nearest and dearest would probably welcome a few more recipes in the rotation!