Party Appetizer Round Up!

by Corinne

Christmas isn’t the end of parties and appetizers, so here’s the round up of the last few weeks if you’re looking for something for a New Year’s party! There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re looking for vegetarian, gluten free, fast and easy, freezer friendly or indulgent deliciousness.

Marinated Feta Dip

Smokey Caramelized Onion Dip

Three Cheese Spinach Dip

Mini Lasagnes

Pears with Prosciutto and Cheese

Caprese Bites

Pesto Tortellini bites

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Crispy Wontons with Pork Filling

Antipasto Kabobs with Oregano Marinade

 

 

 

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

By Corinne

These little apps are a hit wherever I’ve brought them. I looked into them because I thought there was another name for them – and there is, sort of. Traditionally roumaki has chicken liver wrapped in there with the water chestnut. No thank-you, I’m good. That being said, there is one problem with these, it’s FAR to easy to eat a lot of them!

Time: 5 min to prep marinade, 2-24 hours marinate, 15 minutes prep, 25 minutes bake.

Oven: 400F

You will need:

  • 1 540mL (19 oz)can whole water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1/2 cup sodium reduced soy sauce *GF as long as GF soy sauce is used
  • 1 large clove of garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 chili pepper minced or 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • juice of one lemon
  • toothpicks

Combine soy sauce, garlic, chili, brown sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl large enough to also accommodate the water chestnuts. Whisk to combine. Add drained, rinsed water chestnuts to marinade. Allow to marinate overnight, or at least 2 hours.

Cut bacon in half and lay on a plate. Partially cook – about 5 min in my microwave. This saves you time in the oven and ensures you end up with crispy bacon. Drain any fat that has come off of bacon.

Wrap half of a piece of bacon around each water chestnut and secure with a toothpick. Place on a cookie sheet and back at 400F for 20-25 minutes until bacon is crispy.

 

 

Antipasto Kabobs with Oregano Marinade

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By Corinne

The nice thing about these is you can easily alter them according to your own tastes or those of your guests. Celiac or gluten free guests? Make some without tortellini! Olives make you gag? Leave them out! Like to spice things up? Make them with hot genoa! Is any pepper too hot? Consider leaving out the pepperoncinis 🙂

The bocconcini is delightful if you have time to let it marinate overnight – if not, it will still be better for having spent at least 20 minutes in the dressing.

You will need some combination of the following:

  • 10-20 cherry tomatoes, halved if using mini san marzano cherry tomatoes
  • about 20 olives
  • about 20 slices thinly sliced genoa sausage
  • mini bocconcini cheese-1 pkg about 20-22 pieces
  • about 7 pepperoncini peppers
  • canned, drained artichoke hearts- not pictured but a nice addition if you have them
  • cooked tortellini* I wouldn’t use tortellini if I was also making pesto tortellini skewers with sundried tomatoes **not gluten free if using tortellini
  • cubes of another cheese if desired- such as asiago

Marinade for bocconcini and/or tortellini:

  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp of dried oregano (yes, a tablespoon, not a teaspoon)
  • freshly ground black pepper

Cook about 20-25 tortellini according to package directions if using. Do not over cook. Drain and let cool slightly.

Drain and pat dry bocconcini.

Whisk together marinade ingredients and divide marinade between bocconcini and tortellini if using. Allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes, but preferably overnight.

I like to prep all of my ingredients for any sort of food that requires assembly like this one into little prep bowls. Half cherry tomatoes if using ones that are particularly large or if using my favourite mini san marzanos.

Using kitchen shears, snip off stem end of pepperoncini and then halve or quarter depending on size.

Once all ingredients are ready, start to assemble your skewers. It doesn’t matter what order you put them on in, however you do it they will end up looking pretty. When you get to the slices of genoa, if you fold each slice in half, and then in half again you get a nice effect.

Again, the beauty of these is that they can be totally personalized according to taste.

Creamy Leek and Asparagus Soup

By:  Julie

Time:  40 min

Serves:  4-6

It’s not really the season for asparagus here in Ontario, it’s the season of snow and preserved goodies.  It’s about the time of year when my eyes are really starving for something green and beautiful.  That’s exactly what this is, a green and beautiful bowl of spring that you can enjoy, briefly forgetting that it is only December and there are still 4 solid months of winter to endure.

I was planning a leek and potato soup, needing some warm comfort food and having to use up some leeks that I had in the fridge, but then I walked by some lovely green asparagus that happened to be on sale.  On sale asparagus is rare in the middle of winter.  It’s imported from California, or Peru.  It’s not the tenderest shoots I’ve eaten, but since the soup will be pureed, this is not a problem.

You Will Need:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 large leek, sliced thin
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 tsp mustard seed
  • a large bunch of asparagus, chopped in to 1 inch pieces
  • 3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 2 cups of water
  • grated lemon zest
  • flat leaf parsley (if desired for garnish)
  • salt and pepper

I used a dutch oven to melt the butter on medium low.  Then I added the leek, garlic, and a few pinches of salt.  I put the lid on and left the leak to sweat for 10 min, stirring occasionally.  I then added about a tsp of salt and the mustard seed.

This smells heavenly.  Resist the urge to eat the leeks.

Add the asparagus, chicken broth, and wine plus 2 cups of water.  Stir and bring to a simmer and allow to cook, uncovered, until the asparagus is tender.  You don’t want to cook it too long or you will lose the lovely bright green colour.

Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 5 min.  You can puree this in batches in a blender but I used an immersion blender.  I don’t even own a blender so I make due with a food processor or the immersion blender.

Add salt, pepper, and the juice of the lemon to taste.  Serve with chopped parsley over top.  I also added a dollop of sour cream because it’s a really good excuse to eat it.  I served this with toasted turkey sandwiches on 12 grain bread and we really enjoyed it, but it would also make a spectacular appetizer at your next dinner party, warm or chilled.  It was a nice, light, fresh meal

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Pesto Tortellini bites

By Corinne

This appetizer has a short ingredient list, but is big on flavours. They come together quickly and can be prepared the day before your party if desired.

Makes: about 25-27 skewers with 3 tortellini each if you use the whole package

Time: about 10 minutes to cook pasta, assembly depends on how many you decide to make. It took me about 10 minutes to put together about 20.

You will need:

  • 350g rainbow tortellini (or plain will also work)
  • 3 tbsp of pesto
  • seasoned sundried tomatoes in oil
  • bamboo skewers or toothpicks

Cook tortellini according to package directions- if using fresh tortellini, usually the boiling time is only 2-3 minutes. Do not over cook. Drain and stir in a generous 3 tbsp of pesto. Let cool completely. This part can be done the day before if desired.

Slide a tortellini, piece of sundried tomato, tortellini, piece of sundried tomato and tortellini onto wooden or bamboo skewers. Repeat. That’s it. You’re done.

These can be prepped the day before and stored in an airtight container overnight if needed. I usually serve these cold, though they are certainly good heated.

Caprese Bites

By Corinne

This is one of my favourite apps in the summer when basil is readily available, but if you can find fresh basil and some good looking cherry tomatoes in the winter it makes a pretty, seasonal coloured appetizer for a Christmas party.

Mini San Marzano tomatoes are my favourite variety of cherry tomato. If you happen to come across them, you must buy them. They are SO full of incredible, rich tomato flavour, much like their namesake, the San Marzano tomato.

You can generally find balsamic reduction in most grocery stores these days. I actually didn’t use a reduction for the photo, as I happen to have a good quality balsamic that is fairly thick, though not quite as viscous as a proper balsamic reduction, but it did the trick.

Bocconcini is a mild unripened mozzarella cheese. They come in a variety of sizes, and sometimes you can find them in slices as well. For this recipe, use the mini ones so they don’t overwhelm the tomatoes.

Time: 10 min

Makes: 20-22

You will need:

  • about 20-22 mini bocconcini  (this is usually about how many come in the container)
  • 10-11 cherry tomatoes, preferably mini San Marzano’s if you can find them
  • fresh basil, about 15-20 leaves
  • balsamic reduction
  • fresh ground pepper
  • toothpicks -make sure you use plain and not mint or cinnamon!

Drain mini bocconcini and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. If your basil leaves are particularly large, you can halve those as well.

Assemble your caprese bites! Slide one bonconcini onto the toothpick, follow with a leaf of basil, folded in half if desired, and then slide the halved cherry tomato on last, cut side down so they will sit nicely on a plate.

Drizzle with balsamic reduction and a grind of fresh pepper to finish.

Pears with Prosciutto and Cheese

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By Corinne

I know there are a lot of people who love blue cheese. I do not. I appreciate what other people like about it; I get that it’s tangy and creamy… but… to me it tastes mostly like licking the damp corner of the basement. Not to dissuade you from doing this with blue cheese if that’s your thing. I made half of them with Stilton because I know people love it. The half I wanted to eat I made with Oka cheese.

Oka is a Canadian cheese with a rich history. It originated in around 1893 in an abbey in Quebec. It has a unique taste and a pretty and edible orange rind. If you find the rind makes it a bit too tangy for you, you can of course remove it for a milder flavour.

I feel like the combination of pears and prosciutto will likely work with any good flavourful cheese, so try it with something you enjoy!

These are a super quick app to make, but you don’t want to make them too far in advance (an hour or so at most) as the pears will discolour a bit as they sit.

This is easy to double if you wish, but I made a fairly small amount as I was making a variety of other apps as well 🙂

Time: 5-10 min depending on if you’re doubling or not. This comes together super quick

Makes: as written – 10-12 pieces

You will need:

  • 1 ripe pear
  • 5 -6 slices of prosciutto*
  • cheese of your choice! for this plate I used Stilton (blue cheese) on half, and Oka on the other half
  • blackberries for garnish if desired

Cut pear in half and remove seeds and stem. Cut into 10-12 equal sized slices.

Cut up your cheese- I used blue for half and Oka for the other half.

Cut each piece of prosciutto in half length wise.

Begin your assembly. Grab a piece of pear, put a piece of cheese on it and wrap your piece of prosciutto snuggly around it. The prosciutto tends to sort of stick to itself a bit, so it’s unnecessary to use a toothpick to keep it together.

Arrange on a platter and toss some blackberries on there, because they’re pretty and the acidity of them nicely complements the richness of these delightful bites.

*prosciutto is generally gluten free, but you should always double check the package if you are sensitive to gluten