Day 8 ~ Games Night
November 30, 2012
Day 10 ~ Serve It Up Pretty!
December 2, 2012

Day 9 ~ Appetizers

My family’s tradition is to eat appetizers and play games on Christmas Eve. We have an open house all afternoon so friends and family can come and go.


I mentioned on Day 1 of my 12 Days of Christmas that I’m not a great cook. I can however combine ingredients so I am qualified to make salads and appetizers. Both of which I love. (I think it’s human nature to love the things you’re good at!) I promise I will keep all of my suggestions very, very, very simple!

Here are some of the things I will be making this year:

A Cheese Tray
4 ounces aged cheddar
4 ounces cranberry pepper boursin cheese
4 ounces smoked gouda cheese
4 ounces gorgonzola
A pinch of coarse salt
Raw honey (unclarified)
Raw pecans
Mixed olives
Fruit chutney
When making a cheese tray choose cheese you love (there are 4 types of cheese; Aged, Soft, Firm and Blue) I would choose one from each category. Stay away from the standard sliced cheeses, go a little fancy here!


Bacon Wrapped Dates



1 pound of bacon
1/2 pound of dates
Reduced Balsamic Vinegar 
Sea Salt

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Slice dates and bacon in half
3. Wrap bacon around dates
4. Lay bacon wrapped dates on a greased baking sheet
5. Bake dates for 20 minutes and then flip.
6. Bake until bacon is crisp
7. Plate dates
8. Drizzle reduced balsamic vinegar over dates
9. Serve a small heap of sea salt


A Stuffed Mushroom Bar

I consider a mushroom cap the perfect host for an endless combination of ingredients you like. 

Here are some of my ideas:

Steak & Blue Cheese
Feta & Olives
Crab, Green Onion & Cream Cheese
Buffalo Chicken & Blue Cheese
Italian Sausage, Marinara & Mozzarella
Boursin Cheese & Parmigiano Reggiano (this is cheating in a very gourmet way!) 

The Buffalo Chicken & Blue Cheese

1 pound of mushrooms, stems removed
8 ounces of cream cheese (you can use light)
3 ounces of blue cheese crumbles (danish or gorgonzola)
1 chicken breast cooked and shredded
Franks red hot sauce (add to taste; mild, medium, hot)
How to:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Combine cream cheese and blue cheese
3. Toss shredded chicken in the franks red hot sauce
3. Stuff mushroom caps with both mixtures
4. Bake until golden brown

Italian Sausage, Marinara & Mozzarella 


1 pound of mushrooms, stems removed
1/2 pound of cooked ground pork sausage 
1 cup of marinara sauce
Grated mozzarella 

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Combine ground sausage and marinara sauce
3. Stuff mushroom caps
4. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on top of each mushroom
4. Bake until golden brown

Your imagination is the only limitation for this appetizer.


Caprese Skewers

Everyone’s had a caprese salad so this is just a bite-sized version of a classic dish.


20 grape tomatoes
10 Ounces of cubed mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of reduced balsamic vinegar 
2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped
1 pinch of salt
20 toothpicks

How to:

1. Toss tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, olive oil and salt 
2. Skewer tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil
3. Drizzle reduced balsamic vinegar over skewers
This appetizer is as easy as it gets!


Shrimp Surprise Dip


8 ounces of cream cheese (you can use light)
4 ounces of sour cream (you can use light)
2 cans (4 ounces) of small shrimp, drained
8 ounce jar of cocktail sauce
1 cup of tex-mex kraft shredded cheese
1 large tomato
4 green onion stalks
Assorted crackers for dipping

How to:

1. Mix cream cheese and sour cream
2. In a baking dish with sides spread cream cheese / sour cream
   mixture evenly
3. Combine shrimp and cocktail sauce in a mixing bowl and spread 
   evenly over cream cheese layer
4. Sprinkle Kraft tex-mex cheese covering shrimp 
5. Chop and sprinkle tomatoes and green onions
6. Serve with crackers

I like to serve appetizers that can be made in advance and are simple to eat for guests walking around and visiting. I promised to keep it simple and I think I did! I hope this gets you planning all of your Christmas menu’s. Did anyone notice the consistent use of cheese? That’s because I love it!

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