At EatingWell we take off the week between Christmas and New Year's. The past few years I've spent this week skiing with friends in Colorado, but this year my husband and I decided to have a "stay-cation" instead, so we'll be snug at home in Vermont.
No matter where I am, my plans for this time of year always include a lot of fun with friends and plenty of good food. I like to start get-togethers right with super-easy, healthy and delicious appetizers.
Here are 10 of my favorite easy appetizers:
1. Mississippi Spiced Pecans-Yes, any spiced nut is great for an appetizer, but pecans happen to be my favorite. Plus the combo of salty and sweet and herbs in this recipe is just amazing.
2. Caviar-Stuffed New Potatoes-Look for American farmed caviar for a sustainable choice for these elegant little nuggets.
TO MAKE: Boil red potatoes; chill. Slice off one end for a base. Hollow out a small "bowl" in the other end and fill with caviar. Garnish with crème fraîche and chives.
3. Five-Spice Scallops-I love bacon-wrapped scallops as much as the next person, but it's great to have a healthier option. Especially when it's as delicious-tasting as these!
TO MAKE: Toss 1 pound large, quartered dry sea scallops with 2 teaspoons canola oil, 1 teaspoon five-spice powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Broil on a baking sheet until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve with toothpicks. Makes 8 servings.
4. Green Olive & Almond Spread-In my book, you can hardly go wrong with an olive. And in fact, when I'm in a real rush, I'll just put out a nice bowl of mixed olives (with a smaller one close by for the pits). But if you're a little more ambitious, try this spread. It's great served with slices of baguette, fresh vegetables or crackers.
5. Marinated Olives-Here's another idea for dressing up olives just a bit. Deee-licious.
6. Roast Beef & Blue Cheese Spears-If you can find Treviso, which is a dark red cousin of Belgian endive, use that. It makes this a stunning app.
TO MAKE: Combine 2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream with 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese. Top spears from 2 heads of Treviso (a slender variety of radicchio) or Belgian endive with ribbons of thinly sliced roast beef and a dollop of the blue cheese cream. Makes 16 servings.
7. Serrano Ham with Crusty Tomato Bread-I know this one has a long name, but don't be intimidated. It's just a matter of halving plum tomatoes, putting them on a baking sheet and then roasting them super slowly. They turn into an intense-flavored jamlike spread by the time you're done roasting.
8. Smoked Salmon Tartare-Smoked salmon is a holiday must. We put it atop little radish slices to dress it up.
TO MAKE: Combine chopped dill with reduced-fat sour cream. Top radish slices with chopped smoked salmon, a dollop of the dill sour cream and a sprig of fresh dill.
9. Spinach-&-Brie-Topped Artichoke Hearts-I use frozen artichoke hearts for this recipe. They're a great option because they don't have all the added sodium that you'll find in canned ones and they're not dripping with oil.
TO MAKE: Prepare one 9-ounce box of frozen artichoke hearts according to package directions. Stir 1 teaspoon lemon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt into 2/3 cup cooked chopped spinach. Top each artichoke heart with spinach and a small slice of brie. Broil until cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Makes 18 servings.
10. Steak-&-Boursin-Wrapped Bells-Use different colored bell peppers to make these pretty.
TO MAKE: Roll thinly sliced grilled steak, such as filet mignon, around a small dollop of light Boursin cheese and thin slices of bell pepper.
By Jessie Price
EatingWell food editor Jessie Price's professional background in food started when she worked in restaurant kitchens in the summers during college. She started out testing recipes for EatingWell and then joined the staff here full-time in 2004 when she moved to Vermont from San Francisco.
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