Holiday appetizers don’t have to be complicated to be impressively full of flavor! These recipes all either have components that can be made ahead or will last for a few days, so feel free to make a big batch and have these snacks on hand for last minute guests and cocktail parties. Warm olives and spiced nuts take normal appetizer bites to the next level, and a cheese plate is taken up a notch with homemade crackers. The herbed goat cheese and pear on radicchio is simpler than it looks, and comes together in a flash if you make the goat cheese spread ahead of time! You can even serve the components separately and have guests build their own.
Enjoy and Happy Hosting!
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, cut in half vertically
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced lemon or orange peels
- Half of the leaves of one medium sprig of rosemary (about 12 leaves)
- 3 Tbsp. gin
- 8 oz. olives
- Add olive oil to a small saucepan. Add garlic and bring to medium heat, so garlic just barely starts to get little bubbles coming out of it. You don’t want to sauté them, you are just releasing their flavor.
- Stir in peppercorns, citrus peels, and rosemary and cook for two minutes at this temperature.
- Stir in gin and olives to coat with all the spices and oil, then turn heat down to low. Stir occasionally, letting them cook for 7-8 minutes.
- Turn heat off and let them sit on the burner for 10 minutes, up to 30 minutes. Serve warm. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator one week.
Homemade Flax Crackers
One or two of your favorite cheeses
Honey and California Walnuts
- 1 cup ground (or milled) flax seeds
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
- 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Add all of the ingredients but salt to a medium bowl. Stir until fully combined. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
- Form your dough into a ball and place between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll out dough as thin as possible, about 1/8”.
- Remove top piece of parchment paper and use a sharp knife to cut a grid of 1 inch squares.
- Slide parchment paper with un-baked crackers onto a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake for 10 minutes, remove and flip, and bake another 3 minutes. For crisper crackers, turn the oven off and leave the crackers in the oven for an additional hour.
- 2 1/2 cups mixed raw nuts such as pecans, walnuts and peanuts
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. Chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 Tbsp. Sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. Ground cumin
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
- Preheat an oven to 300°F.
- In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the rosemary and stir until aromatic, about 1 minute. Pour the seasoned oil over the nuts in a bowl. Add the sugar, cumin, salt, black pepper and cayenne and stir to coat the nuts evenly.
- Transfer the nuts to a baking pan.
- Bake, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are toasted, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely.
- Store the nuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Radiccio with Pear and Herbed Goat Cheese
- 1 small head Treviso radicchio
- 4 oz. goat cheese
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh herbs such as chives, basil, rosemary and/or parsley
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small pear, small diced
- Soften the cheese for 10 – 30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine the cheese, garlic, herbs and oil. (Can be made up to 24 hours in advance.)
- Trim the end of the radicchio and separate the leaves. Use the largest leaves for the appetizer and save the smallest ones for your next salad. Set aside.
- On the blunt end of each leaf, spoon about 1 1/2 tsp of cheese. Top with some of the diced pear and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.