December is here and if you are like me you are thinking about what to serve during the holiday season. I like to make and freeze a selection of appetizers that can be pulled out and baked fresh. I also like to keep a few fresh items in my refrigerator that can turn into beautiful trays of healthy choices.
One of my favourite appetizers is Charlotte's Red Pepper Jelly Tarts. You can find this recipe in Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations cookbook. If you don't have our cookbook for this recipe alone I'd say it's worth buying the book.
Today I'm featuring two fresh vegetable appetizers.
- whipped herb and garlic cream cheese (**whipped cream cheese is a bit softer than spreadable cream cheese and is easier to pipe than soft cream cheese. If you can't find whipped, just add a few teaspoons of milk to spreadable cream cheese, which will make it easier to pipe)
- red pepper. for garnish
- Wash cucumbers. Using a potato peeler peel strips from one end to the other, leaving a strip of peel on and then a strip off. See photo.
- Slice cucumber into 1 1/2" slices.
- Using a very small spoon, scoop out the seeds from each round, making a little bowl. (don't scoop all the way through)
- Fill a piping bag with cream cheese and pipe into the little cucumber cups.
- Top with small pieces of red pepper. Place on serving tray and add parsley for garnish.
These can be made earlier in the day, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated.
Caprice Skewers with Reduced Balsamic
- package of 6" bamboo or other wooden skewers
- cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- long English cucumber, cut into small chunks, seeds removed
- fresh basil leaves
- mini bocconcini Cheese
- 1 cup balsamic reduction for drizzling
- I like to use bamboo skewers, but you can also use any wooden food safe skewers.
- Wash tomatoes, cucumbers and basil leaves. Dry on paper towel.
- Cut tomatoes in half (or leave whole if very small). Cut and seed cucumber.
- Thread vegetables alternately with each other and the bocconcini placing basil leaves between. Place skewers on platter, cover and place in refrigerator until ready to serve. These can be made early in the day.
- To reduce balsamic vinegar: place 1 cup of balsamic in a small sauce pan. Heat until it begins to boil. Turn right down and simmer for about 5-8 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to completely cool to room temperature. Place in refrigerator, and lightly drizzle over skewers just before serving.