Holiday Entertaining Made Easy Plus Delicious Recipes!

Comments (0) December 2017 KW Magazine

meat and cheese

The holidays are the perfect time to entertain, but the thought can also be somewhat daunting since we are all so busy this time of the year.  I love doing a beautiful cheese platter or charcuterie board. It’s really easy to pull together, can serve a crowd and everything included can be at room temperature, so you, as the hostess can relax and enjoy your party.  There really are no hard and fast rules, but I wanted to share and few guidelines with you to get you started.  And here are some fun recipes you can add to your platters or take to a party as a gift for your host.  Enjoy the holidays.  Eat, drink and be merry!

Depending on the size of the crowd you will be serving, you can assemble your offerings on any number of different things.  Use your imagination, get creative. I have used pizza peels, bread boards, large white platters, large chunks of wood cut from stumps, and even brown paper running the entire length of the table.

So let’s get started with a few suggestions you might enjoy:

Cheeses

Soft – Mozzarella or Brie

Semi-soft – Stilton or Gouda

Semi-hard- Manchego or Provolone

Hard- aged Cheddar or Parmesan

*Here’s a really delicious idea.  Try it.  I promise you won’t be sorry! Try drizzling a little honey over the semi hard varieties and then dust with a light sprinkling of instant espresso! Yum!

Meats or Charcuterie

Pepperoni, Chorizo, Ham, Prosciutto, Mortadella, Salami, Sopressata.  These are just a few ideas. Buy what looks good to you.

*When staging your meats, display them in different ways.  Roll some, slice some thinly, and cut some in chunks to make your board more interesting.

Crackers and Breads

Breadsticks assorted crackers, homemade crackers, mini toasts or crostini.

*try adding at least one homemade cracker to really impress!

Condiments and Spreads

Stone ground mustard, honey, chutney, jam or preserves

Fruits and Nuts

Dried fruits such as apricots, cherries and figs are great alongside assorted meats and cheeses. Also include a few fresh fruits that are in season, such as apples, grapes or orange segments.

Nuts are a must- walnuts, cashews, pistachios are all good, and they can be served raw or roasted. You might also try one of the many recipes for nut mixes you can make yourself in no time.

Vegetables Fresh and Pickled

Pickled vegetables bring a nice tang to the party.  Try marinated artichoke hearts, olives, cornichons, or pepperoncini.

Add some fresh vegetables too, like snow peas, baby carrots, colored bell peppers and lightly cooked green beans.

Finishing Touches

Once your board is assembled, decorate it up a bit with a few edible fillers such as parsley, arugula, fig leaves or baby lettuce.

Now, all you need are a few bottles of wine and you have a party!

Spicy Turkey Meatballs

2 lbs. ground turkey

3 t minced garlic

1 t salt

1 t pepper

2 eggs

1 c Panko bread crumbs

½ t paprika

1 t onion powder

Spicy Sauce

½ c hot sauce

1c brown sugar

2 T apple cider vinegar

¼ t salt

½ t red pepper flake

Combine meatball ingredients and form into bite sized balls. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 475 for 15-20 minutes.  While meatballs are cooking, combine sauce ingredients in medium sauce pan and bring to boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. Allow to cool.  Serve meatballs with dipping sauce on the side.

Holiday Mini Cheese Balls

2 8 oz. packages cream cheese

1 8 oz. shredded cheddar

1 t garlic powder

Dash cayenne

½ t black pepper

¼ c chopped roasted red pepper

¼ c chopped green onions

Beat cheeses with seasonings and divide in half. To one half mix in the roasted red peppers and mix green onions in the other half.  Cover and chill several hours.  Shape the cheese mixture into small balls and roll in a variety of toppings such as sesame seeds, chopped walnuts, parsley or additional shredded cheese. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

2 c mixed nuts

1 egg white

¼ c brown sugar

2 t paprika

¼ t cayenne

Combine ingredients and toss to coat. Spread on parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Cracked Pepper Nut Crackers

1 c flour

¾ c macadamia nuts

1 t salt

1 t pepper

4 T cold butter

2 T water

¼ c Parmesan-grated

1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 T water

In food processor pulse flour with ½ c of the macadamia nuts, then add salt and pepper. Add butter and pulse. Then add water and process until dough comes together. Shape into 8 “ log, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm.  Finely chop remaining ¼ c nuts and combine with Parmesan.  Cut crackers into ¼ “ slices and arrange on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with Parmesan mixture. Bake 17 minutes.

Rosemary Pecan Crisps

2 c flour

2 t baking soda

½ t salt

2 c buttermilk

¼ c brown sugar

¼ c honey

1 c dried cranberries

½ c chopped pecans

½ c roasted pumpkin seeds

¼ c sesame seeds

¼ c ground flax seed

1 T chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl combine dry ingredients, and then add buttermilk, brown sugar and honey. Stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients and stir until blended. Pour batter into two 8×4”loaf pans which have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake 35 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely. When cooled, slice very thin and arrange on ungreased baking sheet. Bake slices at 300 for 15 minutes.  Turn and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Copyright 2017 Christy Johnson all rights reserved

Christy Johnson, is a native Texan, transplanted to a small rural town in south central Nebraska. Married and a mother of two wonderful daughters, her motto for life is “Bloom Where You Are Planted” She loves cooking, gardening, reading and rescuing animals in need. Their farm family currently includes 1 dog, ten cats, two Quaker parrots and 10 hens. And a happy family it is!

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