Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Image 28This fun finger food will fit into any occasion, be it casual or formal.  I chose to dress mine up for a Christmas canapé buffet.

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

(adapted from tastesbetterfromscratch.com)

Makes 12-15

Ingredients:

1- 8 ounce package of room temperature cream cheese
2 tblsp butter at room temperature
2 tblsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp hot sauce
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese

Toppings:

Pick your favorites; I used:

1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pistachios
1/3 cup grated white cheddar
12-15 pretzel sticks

Other choices are chopped green onion, parsley, pecans, walnuts or almonds. Use your imagination!

Add first 6 ingredients to a medium mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer to beat until smooth. Stir in white cheddar.

Divide into 12-15 tablespoon sized portions. Roll into small balls. Chill at least 30 minutes. Roll balls in desired toppings. Do not add pretzel sticks until you are ready to serve.

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Olive and Cheese Wreath

Olive-Cheese wreath

Most of the better supermarkets have olive bars in their deli sections these days and fresh herbs are readily available. Olives are a finger food favorite, and creating this festive holiday appetizer couldn’t be any easier. You don’t even need a real silver tray; inexpensive, silver chargers are easy to find at craft stores.

Olive and Cheese Wreath

You will need:

Assortment of olives, preferably fresh from the deli; stay away from jarred olives if you can.

Fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes.

Parsley, dill or rosemary, for your wreath.

Arrange herbs into a circular wreath on your tray. Top with olives and cheese.  For an added touch, fill a pretty bowl with assorted fancy nuts and place in the center of the wreath.

Olive-Cheese wreath2

Crudités

Crudite

With just a little extra effort, something as simple as a vegetable tray can still have an impressive presentation without a lot of prep time. Try using a classic white platter, garnished with the outer leaves of a pretty, lacy Savoy cabbage. Hollow out the center of the cabbage and fill it with your favorite vegetable dip. Choose bright, colorful peppers, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes for your tray, cut into bite size pieces. Arrange the vegetables around the dip in an attractive manner and you will have a beautiful appetizer that will be a show stopper on any buffet.

You will need:

Large white platter

Large bright green Savoy cabbage

Red, yellow and green peppers

Broccoli crown

Carrots

Seedless Cucumber

Cherry or Grape tomatoes

Garden Vegetable Dip

Crab and Artichoke Tartlets

 

Crab and Artichoke Tartlets1

Crab dip is always a favorite at parties. This  is a cold filling that looks beautiful in mini phyllo shells, topped with a sprinkle of paprika for added color.

Crab and Artichoke Tartlets

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons dried dill weed

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Hot Pepper sauce- several dashes to your taste

Cayenne pepper (optional to your taste)

14 ounce can artichoke hearts; drained and chopped

1 pound can wild caught lump crab meat

Frozen Phyllo tart shells

Paprika for garnish

Combine first nine ingredients. Refrigerate one hour or overnight. Fill tart shells and garnish with Paprika. Serve promptly.

This recipe makes about 4 cups of filling. You can also serve as a dip with crackers if you do not want to use the tart shells.  Recipe can be cut in half.

Crab and Artichoke Tartlet 2

Lulu’s L. A. (Lower Alabama) Caviar

LA Caviar

Whenever I visit back home, I head over to Gulf Shores for lunch at Lulu’s. For those of you who may not know, Lulu is Jimmy Buffet’s “crazy sista”, Lucy. Lulu’s is a wonderful open air restaurant on the Intracoastal Waterway with great music, seafood and burgers. You’ll find lots of great southern fare on the starter menu too, and one of my favorites is her L.A. Caviar. It’s an awesome (and healthy) salsa made with black-eyed peas, bell peppers, red onion and tomatoes in a balsamic vinaigrette. Serve it up with tortilla chips or for a true southern experience, with saltine crackers. I serve it often at get-togethers and my guests love it. If you ever find yourself down in Gulf Shores Alabama, head on over for great food and great fun!

Lulu’s L.A. (Lower Alabama) Caviar
Lulu’s at Homeport Marina

3 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup chopped red onion

3 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper

3 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper

3 tablespoons chopped yellow bell pepper

1/2 cup quartered cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Salt and pepper

Combine black-eyed peas, onion, peppers, tomatoes, parsley, vinegar, oil and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Marinate for 12 to 24 hours before serving.

Serves 10.