1. CAPRESE CHRISTMAS WREATH
Balsamic Glaze (or use 3/4 cup store bought):
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
12 ounces grape tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes)
10 ounces fresh cherry-sized bocconcini (mozzarella) balls
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
Handful fresh basil leaves, shredded (to garnish)
flaked sea salt and ground pepper, to season
For The Balsamic Glaze:
Combine the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook while stirring over low heat for 4-5 minutes, or until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium setting and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until reduced by one-third and thickened like syrup.
For The Salad:
Wash and dry the tomatoes. Arrange them in a circle on a large serving plate or round platter. Drain the mozzarella balls and arrange between the tomatoes.
Drizzle with olive oil and season with the Italian herbs, salt and pepper. Toss the tomatoes and bocconcini through the oil with a spoon.
Garnish with the fresh shredded basil.
To serve, place the bowl of balsamic glaze in the centre of the wreath. Arrange toothpicks around and underneath the tomato and cheese balls, with the sharp ends toward the middle of the plate.
2. CHRISTMAS VEGGIE TRAY SNOWMAN
2 cups cauliflower florets
10-15 button mushrooms halved
sugar snap peas
2 celery sticks
1 cup Ranch dressing
6 large black olives
Place three ramekins in a line on a large platter. I used 7 oz ramekins for the body and a 4 oz ramekin for the head.
Fill one body ramekin with cauliflower and one with mushrooms.
Arrange sugar snap peas fanning out from the bottom ramekin.
Place the celery sticks poking out from the sides of the middle ramekin for arms.
Arrange baby carrots fanning out from the middle ramekin, below the celery sticks.
Arrange cherry tomatoes around the top ramekin, above the celery sticks.
Fill the top ramekin with ranch dressing.
Slice the small ends (without the hole) off of the olives. Use these for buttons and the smile.
Slice two rings of olives for eyes.
Slice a baby carrot into a long triangle for a nose.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. SNOWMAN CHEESEBALL
2 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese
1/2 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese
1 clove of garlic, minced (optional)
Mix the garlic (if desired) into the cream cheese.
Roll cream cheese into two balls, one smaller than the other
Roll each ball in the finely shredded mozzarella cheese.
Build your snowman.
Add peppercorns for eyes, mouth, and buttons.
A little shred of carrot for the nose.
Arrange on a plate with crackers, bagel chips, etc.
4. SPINACH DIP STUFFED CRESCENT ROLL CHRISTMAS TREE
1 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1 pkg crescent rolls
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Cook the red bell pepper and garlic in the butter for 3 minutes. Add the spinach to the pan and cook, stirring, until just wilted. Add the cream cheese and sour cream to the pan and cook until melted, stirring frequently. Add the Parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and continue cooking until the cheese is melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
Unroll the crescent roll dough into a large rectangle. Press seams to seal. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into a large triangle tree shape. Take the two outside triangles you cut off and press dough together down the center to form a second triangle. Spread the spinach dip evenly over one of the triangles. Top with the second triangle of crescent dough.
Cut 1-inch strips into the tree from the sides towards the center, leaving a strip of dough in the center uncut. Carefully twist the strips several times.
Bake in the preheated oven for 13 minutes, or until dough is golden. Serve warm.