By: Jacqueline Gomes, RDN, MBA
You may be feeling as though you need a vacation from this past week of cooking and shopping, but finally Christmas has arrived! Whether you are celebrating the spirit of Christmas or simply enjoying an evening at home with your family, we all can appreciate time spent with loved ones.
If you are entertaining, have festive appetizers and finger foods ready for when guests arrive. Have a mix of indulgent foods and healthier options such as cheese and fruit, poached pears, baked apples or brown rice pudding so that everyone can partake in the festivity of the holiday!
Finger Foods & appetizers for a crowd:
- Charcuterie Plate: Prosciutto, Chorizo, Olives, Hummus, fig spread and a variety of your favorite cheeses such as Manchego, mini herbed mozzarella balls, Brie and Swiss
- Shrimp Cocktail served with store bought cocktail sauce
- Ricotta, pesto & cherry tomatoes over crostini
- Caramelized Onion Tart with Gorgonzola and Gruyere
- Pigs in a blanket (wrap mini hotdogs in crescent roll dough)
- Baked Brie & Cranberry bites. Fill ready to bake phyllo cups with one slice of brie and one teaspoon cranberry sauce
- Extras: Dips, corn chips, Carrots, Celery, Cucumber slices, Fresh Bread
Sample Christmas Menu:
Caramelized onion tart
Artichoke dip with raw veggies and crackers
Filet mignon or Roasted Whole Turkey
Served with wild mushroom sauce
Roasted Red Potatoes with Fresh Garlic
Steamed Haricot Vert
Chocolate Covered Almond Cake
Assorted Christmas Cookies
Caramelized Onion Tart
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 of one Puff Pastry Sheet, thawed
1 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese or swiss cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
all-purpose flour for work surface
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 15 minutes or until well browned, stirring often. Remove the skillet from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Sprinkle the work surface with flour. Unfold the pastry sheet on the work surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 12-iinch square. Place the pastry onto the baking sheet. Brush the edges of the pastry with water. Fold over the edges 1/2 inch on all sides, crimping with a fork to form a rim. Prick the center of the pastry thoroughly with a fork.
- Spread the onion mixture on the pastry to the rim. Sprinkle with the cheeses and chives.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let the pastry cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Cut into 24 rectangles. Serve Warm.
Recipe: Puffpastry.com Pepperidge Farm.
Chocolate Covered Almond Cake
Ground almonds, almond flour and coconut sugar combine in this healthy, gluten-free cake recipe. Don’t skip the dry sherry syrup! It gives this cake a complex, fruity flavor that results in an extra-moist cake. Serve with afternoon tea, brunch or as a special dessert.
- 1 1/2 cups Marcona Almonds or lightly salted roasted almonds (8 ounces)
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar or granulated sugar, divided
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup low-fat milk
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 Tablespoons dry sherry, preferably Pedro Ximenez
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar or granulated sugar
- 6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Coat a 9-inch spring form pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Prepare Cake: Process almonds and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor to the consistency of almond butter. Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat eggs on medium speed until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat on high speed until pale in color and tripled in volume, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the almond mixture, then oil, then almond flour, then milk, mixing on medium speed after each addition until just incorporated before adding the next. Mix in lemon zest and cinnamon. Scrape the batter in the prepared pan.
- Bake the cake until a tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan and remove the sides. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Invent onto the rack and remove the pan bottom. Put a large rimmed baking sheet below the rack.
- Prepare Syrup: Meanwhile, cook sherry and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Poke several holes in the bottom (now top) of the cake with a fork. Brush with half of the syrup. Let the cake absorb the first layer then brush with the remaining syrup. When cool, cover with plastic and let stand for 1 hour or up to 1 day.
- Prepare Ganache: Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until just boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Gently stir to combine. Let stand for 30 minutes to thicken.
- Carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate, leaving the now top side up. Frost with the cooled ganache.