Getting Ready for Christmas Dinner

Can you believe that Christmas is 8 days away?!  Where did this month go? I am sure many of you are starting to panic a little more as each day passes.  For many, I’m sure there is still too much to do and you are starting to become overwhelmed.  Not only is there shopping to be done, but let’s not forget about the cooking as well!  When it comes to the holidays, we think the most stressful part can be trying to cook for the entire family. We’re sure many of you are able to attest to that.  Appetizers are always the way to go before sitting down for the full course meal, not to mention the fact that it kills a little bit of time in between having your guests arrive and waiting for the main entree to be complete!

Chorizo Bites with Arugula Pesto

Chorizo Bites with Arugula Pesto

INGREDIENTS

Arugula Pesto:

  • 2 big packed handfuls arugula leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated romano or parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • water, as needed

Chorizo:

  • 1 (8inch) link chorizo sausage, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • dash sherry vinegar
  • dash oil, for sauteing

DIRECTIONS:

To make the pesto: Add the arugula, garlic, cheese, and walnutsto the bowl of a food processor or blender, and puree. As the processer is running, drizzle in the olive oil. This will be used to garnish the Chorizo. Season the mixture with salt, and pepper, to taste. If the pesto is too thick, you can thin it out with water.
To make the sausage: Cut the sausage link into large 1 1/2-inch chunks. Heat the oil in a saute pan, and saute the sausage until the edges start to brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Toss the pieces while they fry so they cook all over.
Add a dash of sherry vinegar to the pan to deglaze and release all the flavors. Transfer the sausage to a platter and serve with dollops of the arugula pesto. Add little cocktail sticks or toothpicks to each piece for easy eating.
Popcorn Rock Shrimp with Spicy Honey
Popcorn Rock Shrimp with Spicy Honey
INGREDIENTS
Popcorn Shrimp:
  • oil for deep frying
  • 2 cups of cornstarch (recommended: Maizena)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 pounds of rock shrimp

Spicy Honey:

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorn
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • sea salt

Garnish:

  • lemon wedges

DIRECTIONS:

For the spicy honey: In a saucepan, on medium heat, bring the honey, garlic, peppercorn, chili flakes, smoked paprika, and salt to a boil and let simmer for 2 minutes. Let cool, strain and transfer to a squeezable bottle. Keep aside.
For the popcorn shrimp: Preheat the deep-fat fryer to 360 degrees F.
In a bowl, mix together the cornstarch, flour, salt and pepper. Place the eggs in a bowl add the shrimp and coat. Remove the shrimp, letting the excess egg drip back into the bowl, then add the shrimp to the cornstarch mixture. Gently add to the fryer, turning until golden. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately after frying and drizzle with the spicy honey and garnish with lemon wedges.

 

Pizzettes with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Prosciutto

Pizzettes with Carmelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Prosciutto

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large onions, sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de provence
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ball purchased pizza dough (about 12-16 ounces)
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2-3 ounces prosciutto (about 5 large slices).  cut into 2 x 2 inch pieces
  • parsley or rosemary sprigs, for garnish
  • special equipment: 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter

DIRECTIONS:

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over low heat. Add the onions, salt, pepper, herbs de Provence, and sugar. Stir to combine. Continue cooking over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized and dark golden brown, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Roll out the pizza dough into a 1/4-inch-thick round. Using the cookie cutter, cut out 24 dough circles. Arrange the circles on a large heavy baking sheet. Place a small spoonful of the caramelized onions on each dough circle. Top with a small amount of goat cheese. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 10 minutes.

While still hot, top each pizzette with a piece of prosciutto. Arrange on a serving platter and garnish with sprigs of parsley or rosemary. Serve immediately.

 

So this holiday season relax with your family and friends as you all enjoy some quick and easy to make appetizers!

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