1. SNOWMAN CHEESE BALL
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (16 ounces)
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard
2 drops red pepper sauce
1 container (4 ounces) whipped cream cheese, softened
Decorations (see Success Hint), if desired
Assorted crackers, if desired
Mix 3 packages cream cheese and the Cheddar cheese; divide into 3 equal parts. Combine 2 parts to equal two-thirds of mixture; mix in pesto. Mix onion, mustard and pepper sauce into remaining one-third mixture.
Cover each cheese mixture and refrigerate about 4 hours or until firm enough to shape. Shape each cheese mixture into ball. Wrap each ball, label and freeze.
About 12 hours before serving, remove balls from freezer. Thaw in wrappers in refrigerator.
Arrange balls on serving plate with smaller ball on top for head of snowman. Frost snowman with whipped cream cheese before serving. Decorate as desired. Serve with crackers. Store covered in refrigerator.
Decorating Tips - Use your imagination to decorate this whimsical snowman! You can use fresh rosemary and dried cranberries (crown), chopped olive pieces or raisins (eyes and buttons), pimiento or red bell pepper (mouth), radicchio or carrot ribbon (scarf), and asparagus spears or celery sticks (arms).
2. HOLIDAY MINI HOTDOG WREATH
32 Hillshire Farm Lit’l Smokies (or comparable)
1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 can (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent dough rolls
Optional: Roasted bell pepper strips, cherry tomato halves and fresh rosemary for garnish
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Open package of sausages and drain off liquid.
Combine cranberry sauce and barbecue sauce in a small saucepan; heat over low heat, stirring until smooth and hot.
Unroll dough, separate at perforations, creating 4 rectangles. Press perforations to seal. With knife or pizza cutter cut each rectangle lengthwise into 8 strips, making a total of 32 strips.
Wrap 1 strip of dough around each sausage. Place crescent-wrapped sausages with sides touching on ungreased cookie sheet or round baking stone in a circle, forming a wreath shape.
Bake for 11 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly.
Carefully remove wreath onto serving platter, if desired. Garnish wreath with bell pepper strips to form a bow, and cherry tomato halves and rosemary sprigs for ornaments, if desired.
Serve with cranberry-barbecue sauce.
3. PEPPERONI CAPRESE BITES WITH BASIL VINAIGRETTE
24 Mini Mozzarella Balls
24 Basil Leaves
24 Slices of Pepperoni
24 Small Cherry Tomatoes
Thread the mozzarella ball first then fold the pepperoni in half and half again and thread onto the toothpick. Next add the basil leaf then the tomato.
BASIL VINAIGRETTE INGREDIENTS:
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Scallion, finely minced
6 Basil leaves, chopped fine
Pinch of salt
6 Grinds of Black Pepper
In a medium glass jar, add all of the above ingredients and shake well. Let sit at least 30 minutes to let the flavors develop.
4. CRANBERRY PECAN BRIE BITES
12 oz fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked through
¾ cup sugar
½ cup orange juice
½ cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1 piece of orange peel
2 8.8 oz packages Original Stonefire naan flatbread
1 8 oz package brie
24 pecan halves
fresh thyme to garnish
INSTRUCTIONS FOR SAUCE:
Combine sugar, orange juice, and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine.
Add cranberries, salt, cinnamon stick and orange peel.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently.
Continue cooking, for about 10 minutes, or until all or most of the cranberries have popped.
Let cool for at least 30 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Cut naan into pieces using a pizza cutter. Aim for 6 to 8 pieces per naan.
Cut small wedges off the wheel of brie and place on top of the naan.
Spoon a small amount of the cooled cranberry sauce on top of the brie. Top with a pecan half.
Place on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until brie starts to melt and bubble.
Remove, top with a sprig of fresh thyme and serve immediately.