Simple & Helpful Holiday Appetizers

It’s that wonderful time of year when we gather with friends and family over tables and tables of finger food, also known as the holidays. It’s just also happens to be a very busy time of decorating, planning and shopping. That’s why it’s a good idea to have an arsenal of quickly prepared hors d’oeurve recipes you can whip up and take to parties with little notice or preparation time. It’s also the perfect time to show your friendship in action by a doing little things to help one another celebrate the season.

Here’s a tip for hosts and hostesses: Let your guests help! When someone asks what he or she can bring to your party, assign them something. Most of the time, they really are happy to help and are asking you in all seriousness. Not piling all of the party responsibilities on yourself is one of the best things you can do to allow yourself to actually enjoy the party. You’ll be doing yourself and your guests a favor by letting them join in the fun and giving yourself some time back to really celebrate the season.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season! Read more recipes like these in City Social magazine and at www.citysocial.com.

Pumpkin Dip
1 cup pureed pumpkin (canned or fresh)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 package cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup whipped heavy cream
Ginger cookies for serving
1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix together pumpkin and powdered sugar. Stir in cream cheese, cinnamon and nutmeg. Fold in whipped cream gently. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with ginger cookies for dipping.

Sweet Potato Pecan Tarts
30 small frozen phyllo shells
8 ounces mascarpone, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
1/4 cup cane syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Stir together mascarpone cheese, sour cream, egg, cane syrup and sugar. Stir in sweet potatoes and vanilla. In a small skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in pecans and sugar. Toast for 5 minutes or until brown. Spoon filling into shells placed on baking sheets. Top with toasted pecans. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until set. Cool on wire rack. Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cranberry Goat Cheese Bites
1 package frozen puff pastry
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (for homemade, see below)
4 ounces goat cheese
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Allow puff pastry to thaw. Cut the pastry into approximately 3- x 3-inch squares. Press each square into a mini-muffin tin. In a small bowl, whisk together cheese, honey and milk. Spoon a little cheese in the bottom of each pastry. Top with cranberry sauce. Pull together all four corners of the pastry and pinch together. The will “bloom” while cooking. Bake about 10 minutes or until puff pastry corners are lightly brown. Sprinkle with rosemary. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

In a medium saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Add cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Place a screen over the pot as the cranberries will pop as the cook. Stir occasionally. Set aside to cool. Serve anytime.

Fig and Mint Crostini
1 small baguette, sliced into about 16 pieces, toasted
16 jarred figs, each sliced in half
1 cup ricotta cheese
4 mint leaves, sliced julienne style
Sea salt, to taste

Spread ricotta on each crostini. Top with two fig halves. Sprinkle mint leaves and drizzle with fig syrup. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on top before serving. Serve immediately or chill and serve later.

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