Christmas is my favourite time of year. Holiday season is packed with gatherings, dinners and a ton of parties. With the snow falling outside, it’s the perfect time to gather friends and family all under one roof to enjoy some good food. One of the most fun ways to indulge during the holiday season is to host a casual party with a variety of finger foods and seasonal appetizers. With no worry about place cards and fancy table settings, a relaxed buffet style filled with small bites is the most laid-back way to entertain.
The best way to ensure you’re doing hosting the stress-free way is to plan ahead and include easy to make, smaller appetizers that can be prepped in advance. The Whirlpool Black Ice refrigerator has ample space for all my Holiday bites! All of the dishes below include easy to find ingredients – you won’t have to trek to any specialty stores, which will leave you plenty of time to relax before mingling with your guests.
First up on the list is a savoury tart – the crust is easy to prepare at home, but if you wanted to make it even easier, feel free to buy a prepared tart crust frozen from your local grocery store. A great mix of textures here with sweet roasted beets, creamy ricotta and peppery arugula, this tart is great finger food!
Ricotta, Beet & Arugula Tart
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, diced
1 tub of extra smooth ricotta
1 tablespoon honey
2-3 large beets, roasted and peeled and thinly sliced
handful of arugula
handful of roasted candied walnuts
1. If making the crust, in a large bowl or bowl of food processor, combine the flour, cornstarch and one-fourth teaspoon salt. cut the butter in with a pastry blender – or if using food processor, pulse a few times, until it is in very tiny bits. dump onto your counter or a cutting board, add one egg to the middle and mix until a dough comes together. knead a few times and form a ball to roll out. lightly flour your surface and roll out into either a circle or rectangle, depending on your pan.
pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees – par bake your crust for about 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden. this will keep from the crust being soggy.
2. To make candied walnuts, toast walnuts in a stovetop pan until fragrant. Pour about a tablespoon of maple syrup or tablespoon of brown sugar into the pan and a teaspoon of butter. Mix to coat, then spread in even layer on wax paper to cool.
3. Whip ricotta and honey together until smooth. Spread generously over slightly cooled tart. Layer beets on top, and then sprinkle with arugula and candied walnuts. Cut into squares and serve.
Next easy to come together dish is a rich dip filled with bacon, caramelized white beans, parmesan cheese and kale. Smoky and creamy, this dip goes well with a variety of crackers or even veggie sticks. This dip can be made in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to use.
White Bean, Caramelized Onion, Kale & Bacon Dip
1 can white navy beans, drained
4-5 slices smoked bacon, cooked
1 medium sized white onion, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
5 purple kale leaves, stems removed and chopped
1 cup parmesan cheese, divided
fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste
juice from half a lemon
1. Add the onions, butter and some salt and pepper to a pan over low heat. Cook onions for about 40 minutes, stirring often until deep brown and soft – cooking them for at least 40 minutes ensures you have that proper caramelized onion taste. This step can be made in advance and stored in the fridge.
2. Remove onions from pan once fully cooked and add kale and a splash of water. Cook until kale has softened.
3. Add beans, bacon, kale onions and half the cheese to a food processor and pulse until combined.
4. If using dip later, store in an airtight container in the fridge. If ready to use, transfer dip to an oven proof dish, sprinkle remaining cheese on top and add pop under the broiler until cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve warm with crackers.
A holiday party favourite in my family is always little meatballs. Tender with a crispy browned exterior and finished in a garlicky tomato sauce, these bites are warm and comforting, and again, easy to make ahead and store!
Pork Ricotta Meatballs
1 pound lean ground pork
2/3 cup full fat ricotta
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cups Italian flavoured bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon butter
fresh salt and pepper
1 head of garlic, roasted
1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add all meatball ingredients to a large bowl and mix until just combined. Roll into small balls and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake about 30 minutes or until starting to brown.
2. Add to a large pot with the all of the sauce ingredients, popping the roasted garlic out of their skins and mixing well. Add the meatballs and simmer for up to two hours until cooked through and tender. Once cooked they can be stored in the fridge for up to two days and re-heated on the stove top when ready to use.
Salty, sweet, and a bit spicy, roasted mixed nuts are a fun party favour as guests can snack on them while the rest of the food is prepared! Set up bowls around the table or even add them to individual little cups for fun!
Mixed Spiced Nuts
2 1/4 cups roasted mixed nuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons rosemary, finely chopped
Mix all spices and brown sugar together in a small bowl. Add nuts to a pan over medium heat along with butter and worcestershire sauce, once butter is melted, add spices and mix until evenly coated. Once brown sugar is melted, pour nuts onto wax or parchment paper in a single later to cool.
Of course you need something sweet at a holiday party! These cute truffles look festive rolled in pistachios or coconut, and are the perfect bite sized snack for guests to enjoy after a number of other savoury dishes. Below are two ways to make them, one using cream cheese and chocolate, and one using heavy cream. Both variations are easy and can be made in advance!
Chocolate Truffles (2 ways)
8 oz semi sweet or white chocolate, finely chopped
1 package 8oz cream cheese at room temperature or 1/2 cup heavy cream
Assorted coatings: coconut, cocoa powder, chopped pistachios
If using cream cheese:
1.Using a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl over a large pot of simmering water, melt chocolate, whisking constantly until fully melted.
2. Beat cream cheese and slowly pour chocolate in while mix. Beat for about 1 minute until fully incorporated.
3. Transfer to shallow dish and refrigerate until cooled but still pliable.
4. Using an ice cream scoop or even better, melon baller, roll into bite sized balls and then toss in desired coating.
If using heavy cream:
1. Bring cream to a boil over medium-high heat, then pour over chocolate. Let sit for 2-3 minutes then whisk until smooth.
2. Repeat steps 3 and 4.
Thanks for reading! What is your go-to dish for the Holiday Season?
Related: A Traditional Holiday Feast