Rejoice! The holidays are upon us, and that means the holiday soirees will be in full effect soon. I have compiled some very easy (and delicious) recipes that you can use for appetizers or finger foods. These recipes can also be gifted – you can make the goodies, place them in a jar or wrap up in cellophane, stick a bow on it, and you have a tasty present to give away.
Candied Pecans– I just made these pecans for Thanksgiving, and everyone was complaining that I didn’t make more.
– 1 egg white
– 1 tablespoon water
– 1 pound pecan halves
– 1 cup white sugar
– 3/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Grease one baking sheet.
- In a mixing bowl, whip together the egg white and water until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
- Add pecans to egg whites, stir to coat the nuts evenly. Remove the nuts, and toss them in the sugar mixture until coated. Spread the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake at 250 degrees F for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.
Caramel Popcorn– Who doesn’t love caramel popcorn? Serve a huge bowl of this, or put some in tin and use as a hostess gift.
– 1 cup butter
– 2 cups brown sugar
– 1/2 cup corn syrup
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 5 quarts popped popcorn (you can use the microwave stuff, but I love popping fresh popcorn from the kernel)
– (optional) – handful of peanuts
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place popcorn in a very large bowl. (Mix in nuts if you decide to add them.)
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.
- Place in two large shallow baking dishes and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.
Parmesan Crisps– Fancy way to serve cheese (or add to your cheese platter since they are sort of cheese and crackers in one).
– 4 ounces Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Grate 2 ounces of the Parmesan using the side of the grater than finely grinds the cheese and then grate 2 ounces of the Parmesan using the side of the box grater that makes long shreds of cheese, and then mix them together. Drop rounded tablespoons of the grated Parmesan on the parchment paper to make small mounds. Bake in the oven for 6 minutes until golden.
- Cool and loosen with a metal spatula. Serve at room temperature.
Baked Fontina– This is a Barefoot Contessa recipe, so you know it will be good.
– 1/2 pound Italian Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese with the rind removed and diced in 1 inch cubes
– ¼ cup good olive oil
– 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
– 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
– 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
– 1 crusty French baguette
- Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 5 inches from the heat.
- Distribute the cubes of Fontina evenly in a 12-inch cast-iron pan. Drizzle on the olive oil. Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese and olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for 6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to brown.
- Serve the baked Fontina family-style—right out of the oven in the cast-iron pan with crusty chunks of bread for everyone to dip.