Read food writer Andrea Weigl’s holiday appetizer column at newsobserver.com/living/food-drink/article51051025.html
Here are a few more quick recipes:
New York Bagel Dip: In a medium bowl, mix 8 ounces smoked-salmon cream cheese, 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. In a 1-quart glass bowl, alternately layer cream cheese mixture with 2 cups pretzel sticks, broken; 1 medium tomato, diced; and 1 small bunch green onions (green parts only), thinly sliced. Serve with crudite or crackers. Yield: 3 cups.
Buffalo Chicken Dip: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In 1-quart baking dish, combine 2 cups shredded chicken, 1 (8-ounce) package softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup Frank’s or Texas Pete hot sauce, 1/2 cup blue cheese or ranch dressing and 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with crackers or fresh vegetables.
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Hot Sausage Balls: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 1 pound hot bulk pork sausage, 8 ounces room-temperature grated sharp cheddar cheese and 3 cups biscuit mix in a large bowl and mix by hand until well combined. Shape into 1-inch balls. Arrange the balls about 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake until cooked through and well browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot. Yield: 4 dozen.
Fig and Blue Cheese Bruschetta: Turn oven to broil. Broil 36 ( 1/4 -inch-thick) slices of French baguette on a baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees. In small bowl, combine 3 ounces softened cream cheese and 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese until well blended. Spread 1/2 teaspoon cheese mixture onto each baguette slice. Top each with 1/2 teaspoon fig preserves. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until hot. Yield: 36 servings.
Lentil Crostini: Rinse 1 cup uncooked lentils and place in large saucepan with 1 cup chopped celery, 2 fresh bay leaves and 3 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Pour 4 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute 2 sliced garlic cloves and 1 cup chopped onions for 5 minutes until soft. Add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes and 2 cups canned, crushed Italian plum tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, then cook 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened. Add to lentils and cook until lentils are fully tender. Remove bay leaves, add 2 teaspoons kosher salt and cook for 10 minutes longer until lentils are very thick and falling apart. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature with toasted bread slices. Yield: 12-15 servings.
Cheese Sticks: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 jelly roll pans or rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Thaw 1 box (17 1/4 ounces) frozen puff pastry sheets. Unfold sheets. On lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll each sheet into 12-by-15-inch rectangle. Brush sheets with 1 large egg, beaten. Onto 1 sheet, sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon each salt and cayenne pepper, 6 tablespoons each freshly grated Asiago cheese and Parmesan cheese. Place remaining sheet, egg side down, on top of filling so edges of sheets line up evenly; use a rolling pin to roll out into a 13-by-16-inch rectangle. With pizza wheel or knife, cut crosswise into 1/2 -inch-wide strips; place strips, 1 inch apart, on pans. Twist each strip several times. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden. With spatula, carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Sources: “The Southern Living Community Cookbook,” by Sheri Castle (Oxmoor House, 2014); “Fun Food Fast!” from Good Housekeeping (Hearst Communications, 2015); “Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine,” by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali (Knopf, 2015); and “The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook,” edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge (University of Georgia Press, 2010).