Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Easy Holiday Appetizers

As Canadians across the country recover from their Thanksgiving turkey comas, and we start seeing Santa's in the stores, there's one thing that has become very clear...

The Holiday Season is upon us!

This past weekend was Thanksgiving, and as always I found myself quite busy. Between long weekend "must get stuff done" attitude and two family dinners, I was pretty happy to get back to work and unwind on Tuesday (haha!)

For Saturday's affair, I was asked to bring appetizers, which was great because it's my favourite type of food. I'd much rather share a whole bunch of appetizers at a restaurant then everyone get a meal any day. 

My one dilemma was that it was a Thanksgiving dinner for 8, rather than the "dinner for 25-30" that I'm more used to. But, I cut my numbers and I think there was a good amount of food... Maybe more shrimp.

when putting together an appetizer tray, sometimes it's best to follow my favourite meal approach. That is, lots of different things. I was going to a dinner hosted by my best friend and as she has ALWAYS said "it's not that I'm full, it's that I'm bored of what I'm eating". In other words, variety is the spice of life! Shake it up!

With that in mind I prepared the following

1) Mini Caprese Salads (on a toothpick!): Toothpicks are great, because your hands stay nice and clean and there's no need for cutlery. Simple cherry tomatoes, basil leaf and bocconcini (cut the cheese in half so it stands up nicely). You can sprinkle a little bit of balsamic on them if you like, but you don't need to!

 These little bite sized wonders are fresh, delicious, and make you feel less guilty about appetizer number two...

2) Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts (also on a toothpick!): These are delicious and easy... but I have to confess, I'm not going to give you the sauce recipe. It's a well kept family secret and my mother (and potentially grandmother) will string me up a flag pole. We have been known to trade it away for family recipes of equal value, but it's rare. 

These are always everyone's favourite appetizer. always.

To prep these, cook your bacon to "not quite done". that is, under cooked, DON'T crisp it. 

While that's happening, mix your sauce... again I'm not giving you mine, but I will say THIS: If you have a favourite rib or wing marinade that you like to mix (at home, not out of a jar...) then it will do QUITE nicely.

Once your bacon is properly under cooked, cut it in half. Then take your water chestnut and wrap it up inside the bacon and secure with toothpick. 

Place your water chestnuts into a baking pan and pour over your sauce. When you're almost ready to serve, cook them in the oven on 450F for 10-12 minutes (finishes cooking the bacon). Let cool a bit then serve (yum!)

3) Cheese Tray and Shrimp with Cocktail sauce: OK, unoriginal I know... but it gets the job done and rounds out the arrangement nicely. I also served some nice ACE crackers and a bunch of green grapes. 

I think it was a resounding success. At the very least, my cheese knives loved it!

Happy Holidays! Get eating! Bikini season is safely in the future!