Finishing 2007 with festive finger food

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

As the Christmas season leaves us once again, we look ahead to planning our New Year's Eve party menus. I usually keep things simple with lots of finger foods and appetizers instead of doing a full meal with courses. So, today it is all about finger foods and snacks for the evening as you spend time with friends and family ringing in the new year.

Baked Pralines and Brie

1/3 cup pecan pieces

8-ounce Brie round

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 to 1/2 cup honey

Toast pecans by spreading them on a cookie sheet and baking at 375 degrees for 5 minutes. Shake the cookie sheet often and watch carefully. Set aside to cool. Place Brie in a small oven-safe baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans. Drizzle enough honey over Brie to cover toppings. Bake at 400 degrees until topping is bubbly. Remove and serve immediately with crackers.

Mini Chipotle Seafood Quiches

2 packages Athens mini phyllo shells

1 (4-ounce) package reduced fat cream cheese

1/2 cup light real mayonnaise

1 cup imitation crab meat, finely chopped

1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese

1/4 cup scallions, finely chopped

1/4 cup red peppers, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Thinly chopped scallion or chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place phyllo shells in mini muffin pans. With a mixer, at medium speed, beat softened cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in crab meat, cheese, scallion, red pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and salt. Fill shells with mixture using a pastry bag or spoon. Bake for 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with scallions or chives, if desired. Shells can be filled and refrigerated for up to 24 hours ahead, then baked as directed above.

Cranberry Meatballs

For the meatballs:

2 pounds ground beef

1 cup cornflakes

1/3 cup dried parsley flakes

2 eggs

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/3 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons onion, chopped

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Form into small balls. Brown in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Drain.

For the sauce:

1 (16-ounce) can jellied cranberry sauce

1 (12-ounce) bottle chili sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

While meatballs are baking, combine the sauce ingredients. Pour sauce over meatballs and bake uncovered at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve hot with party picks.

Lemon and Dijon Chicken Wings

2 pounds frozen chicken wings

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1/2 cup margarine

Bake frozen chicken wings in an oiled 13-by-9-inch glass casserole dish at 450 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, just until browned; drain fat. Mix the remaining ingredients together and microwave on medium for 2 minutes or until margarine is melted. Pour sauce mixture over chicken and stir to coat. Return chicken to oven for 30 minutes more or until crispy.

Pinecone Cheese Ball

1 (8-ounce) carton garden vegetable cream cheese

1 (8-ounce) carton roasted garlic cream cheese

1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

3 green onions, chopped

2 cups pecan halves, toasted

Fresh rosemary sprigs, for garnish

In a medium bowl, combine cheeses and onions. Shape into an oval and chill for 2 hours. Arrange pecan halves over cheese oval in an overlapping row pattern, beginning at the bottom and working upward to resemble a pinecone. Arrange rosemary sprigs at the top. Cover and chill for up to four days. Serve with assorted crackers.

Festive Raspberry Dip

4 cups colby and Monterey Jack cheese, finely shredded

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

4 green onions, chopped

1 cup pecans, chopped

Raspberry jam

Assorted crackers

Mix together cheese, mayonnaise, green onions and pecans. Spread onto a serving platter and top with a layer of raspberry jam. Serve with crackers.

To add some color to this appetizer, I always put a little more chopped green onions and a few pecans on top.

Sweet Chicken Bacon Bites

1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders

1 package sliced bacon

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Cut chicken into one-inch cubes. Cut each bacon slice into thirds. Wrap bacon around chicken and secure with toothpick. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Dredge chicken bites in mixture and place on a greased broiler pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until bacon is crispy and chicken is cooked through. These can also be baked in advance and placed in a crock pot on the warm setting.

Artichoke Salsa

1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, chopped, liquid reserved

1 tomato, chopped

1 red onion, diced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lime juice

In medium bowl, place artichoke hearts, reserved liquid, tomato, onion, salt and lime juice. Stir until well blended. Serve immediately or chill and serve. Serve with crispy chips or crackers.

Pepperoni Puffs

1 cup flour

1 cup milk

1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1 1/2 cups pepperoni, diced

Combine first five ingredients until well mixed. Add pepperoni and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Grease mini muffin pan and fill 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve as is, or with a warm marinara sauce for dipping.

Seafood Fondue

1 can cream of shrimp soup

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup Swiss cheese, shredded

1 (6-ounce) can crab meat

1 (6-ounce) can shrimp

1 French bread loaf, cut in bite-size pieces

Blend first 6 ingredients together in a double boiler until cheeses melt. Transfer mixture to a fondue pot or serve in a slow cooker on low heat. Dip pieces of French bread into fondue.

All out of room, with many more recipes to share, so they will just have to wait until next time.

Have a great beginning to the new year, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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