Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Make-Ahead Appetizers for the Holidays

Unexpected guests are part of the holiday season. Be prepared with these make-ahead appetizers when the doorbell rings. Keep apple cider, eggnog, or a bottle of wine at the ready. Offer your guests some already prepared tidbits, pour a cup of cheer, and relax. Keep it simple, and don't miss out on the best part of the season - friends and family.

Walnut Red Pepper Dip

Annabelle Breakey, Karen Shinto

Perfect for those unexpected guests, this ultra simple dip only takes 10 minutes to prepare and kicks up the flavor with roasted red peppers and walnuts. Serve it with your favorite bread rounds or pita chips.

Prep Time: 10 minutes.


Makes 2 cups


  • 2 cups shelled walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jar (12 oz.) roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

In a food processor, pulse walnuts, cumin, sugar, and salt until walnuts are finely ground. Add peppers, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Whirl until smooth.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per tbsp.

Lynn Lloyd, Santa Cruz, CA, Sunset, DECEMBER 2007

Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Jan Gautro

Hot Artichoke-Cheese Dip
This warm dip is just the thing when you hanker for a creamy, cheesy snack. And because you are likely to have the ingredients on hand in the fridge and freezer, it's also great for impromptu entertaining.


12 servings (serving size: 2 1/2 tablespoons dip and 2 baguette slices)


  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 green onion, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 12 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained
  • Cooking spray
  • 24 (1/2-ounce) slices baguette, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Place garlic and onion in a food processor; process until finely chopped. Add 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and next 4 ingredients (through pepper); process until almost smooth. Add artichoke hearts; pulse until artichoke hearts are coarsely chopped. Spoon mixture into a 3-cup gratin dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated and bubbly. Serve hot with baguette.

Photo: Jean Allsopp
Marinated Olives and Manchego


Makes 3 cups


  • 1 cup kalamata olives, rinsed
  • 1 cup manzanilla olives, rinsed
  • 1 cup diced manchego cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil Preparation

Toss ingredients together gently. Let stand in glass jar 1 day.

Coastal Living, APRIL 2007

Find more recipes at Coastal Living.

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