I love Christmas. I love the message, the planning, the shopping, the giving, the craziness, the decorating, the cooking, and most of all the snow if we're lucky.
For a few years now I've vowed to cut back on excess and also on spending excessive time stressed out about cooking, cleaning, decorating, shopping. I make it easier to enjoy the holiday by finding time for myself to relax and share and visit with friends and family instead of rushing around too much.
I promised I would share my favorite Christmas appetizer recipes again. Appetizers are always a big hit at my house around the holidays. Every year I like to add a few new ones to the mix. I already shared some pf these on the blog last year but here they are again in case you missed them.
These bacon-wrapped apples are absolutely scrumptious.
- Peel and cut apple slices. Wrap in 1/2 piece of bacon. Place on oven tray (or cookie sheet with sides)
- Dust with cinnamon & sugar and bake at 400 for 10 min or so.
The recipe said to turn and bake another 10 min. My bacon did not cook very fast so I turned the oven to broil and that worked better for me. You might want to try it first to see how long it takes for your bacon to cook. I used the toaster oven because the regular oven was full so maybe that's why. Also, don't cut the apple slices too thin.
How about some Mini cheese bites ?
Another appetizer that goes over well is Zucchini pizzas.
- Slice zucchini into thin rounds. Place on oiled cookie sheet
- Top with pizza sauce (or tomato sauce mixed with garlic powder and oregano) and shredded cheese and bake at 350 until cheese is bubbly.
Here's one from the Food Network for Spinach artichoke dip -
A few years ago I made these Black Forest Ham Rollups. Also good.
Some years I make a broccoli-red pepper dip, one of my favorite quick standbys.
Mix a container of Greek yogurt (or sour cream if you prefer) with finely chopped broccoli and half a red pepper. Add garlic powder and salt (or a bit of Ranch dressing mix) and you're done. Do not blend the yogurt in blender; it gets runny. Ask me how I know . . . . Fold the vegetables into the yogurt or sour cream. The sad thing is I cannot find these crackers anywhere anymore. The perfect crispness. This year I will probably serve it with Pretzel Thins.
Speaking of Pretzel Thins - Since I can no longer find these peppermint candy-coated chips at Trader Joe's I decided to make my own with melted white chocolate chips mixed with crushed peppermint candies. Dip the pretzel thins into the warmed chocolate mixture and cool on wax paper.
Here's a great Cranberry-Brie appetizer.
Sounds like all I do is eat around the holidays but I really love to cook and, anyway, shopping in the cold weather really works up an appetite, you know?
Another favorite treat I only indulge in at the holidays is peppermint bark candy. I'm sure there are places you can buy it all year long but, trust me, it's a good thing that I don't see it much at other times of the year. I recently bought some Peppermint Bark and when it was finished decided maybe I'd look into a recipe to make my own. How hard could it be? There are all sorts of recipes if you do a search, and you can certainly take your pick, but basically it's layers of dark chocolate, white chocolate and crushed peppermint candy cut into squares. Very simple.
First, melt some dark chocolate chips (or use better quality chocolate if you care to) in the microwave in a glass bowl. Stir after about 30-40 seconds and again if needed. If you have a moderately powerful microwave, don't let it go for too long or the chocolate will burn and you'll have to trash that batch and start over. Ask me how I know. When it's all melted, pour into a small square baking dish lined with wax paper up the sides. Smooth the chocolate with a spatula. Place in freezer for 20 minutes. Crush the peppermints or candy canes. Then, melt the white chocolate and smooth it over the hardened layer of dark chocolate. Top the soft chocolate with the crushed candy, pressing it into the layer a bit. Place in freezer for another 10 minutes. When it hardens, lift the wax paper out of the dish and break into pieces or let it soften a little and then cut with a knife into squares. Yum!
Don't ask why the plate is not full. If you've ever had peppermint bark, you already know. Besides, someone had to eat all the broken pieces. Clearly, I'll have to make more before Santa gets here.
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Have a fun time as you celebrate and remember to try to stay stress free. I know it's easy to get dragged down around the holidays for various reasons. We've all got our unique stresses. If you start to feel Grinchy and grumpy around this time of year, make a conscious decision to at last try to be as joyful as you can, choose to do some things that focus on the goodness and beauty of the season, focus on others, visit with family or friends and see if you can't turn that attitude around. Put on some Christmas music, decorate a little, watch a favorite holiday movie (Prancer, anyone??) or make some cookies. It's difficult to stay down for very long if you're making cookies. Everything is a choice - even joy. I really believe we're only as happy as we choose to be. Whether your holiday is happy ultimately depends upon you and how you choose to relate to others. Hope it's a good one!