Guests and hosts alike, rejoice! These simple holiday-party staples are guaranteed crowd pleasers.
Cranberry Cheese Dip
1 bag cranberries
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2, 8-oz packages of cream cheese
Instructions: Finely chop cranberries, green onions, cilantro, and orange zest (a food processor works best). Stir in orange juice, salt, and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours (will stay fresh for up to a day). To serve, spread cream cheese on a platter and top with cranberry mixture. Serve with crackers of your choice.
Artichokes Au Gratin
4 tbsp bread crumbs
1, 12-oz. jar marinated artichoke bottoms, drained and patted dry
1 1/2 tsp grated parmesan cheese
1/4 lb brie cheese, rind removed and sliced
1 cup arugula
2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
Olive oil, for brushing
Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Brush a 9-inch baking pan with olive oil and lightly coat with 2 tbsp bread crumbs. Arrange artichokes on bread-crumb coated baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil (use brush to evenly distribute oil). Coat with parmesan and 1 tbsp breadcrumbs. Bake for 15 minutes; remove from oven and put broiler on Low. Divide cheese slices among artichokes and cover with remaining bread crumbs. Broil until cheese bubbles and topping browns (3-4 minutes). In a bowl, toss arugula with balsamic vinaigrette. Serve artichokes atop greens.
Roasted Tomato–Topped Crostini
8 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Olive oil, for drizzling
3-4 tsp dried thyme
3-4 tbsp fresh basil, shredded
1 long French or Italian baguette, sliced
1 garlic clove
Instructions: Preheat oven to 275 degrees (F). Place tomatoes, open face, in a shallow baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle thyme and basil, plus salt and pepper to taste. Roast 1-2 hours until soft and remove from oven. Increase heat to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, coat baguette slices with olive oil and bake until toasty (about 10 minutes). Rub crostini with garlic and top with roasted tomatoes. Serve warm.
Broccoli and Cheddar Dip with Roasted Potato Wedges
6 cups broccoli florets
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups half and half
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbs all-purpose flour
roasted potato wedges for serving (can sub potato chips or carrot sticks for simplicity)
Instructions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees (F). Toss broccoli with oil, salt, and pepper (to taste) and spread on a baking sheet. Roast until tender but not mushy (15-20 minutes). Let cool on cutting board before chopping into half-inch bits. While broccoli is cooling melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally (6-8 minutes). Stir in flour until it reaches a paste-like consistency (3-5 minutes). Add half and half and continue to stir until mixture reaches consistency of heavy cream (10-15 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in both types of shredded cheese, broccoli, and mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with roasted potato wedges, carrot sticks, or potato chips.