Christmas Appetizers and Cocktail Recipes That Are Easy But Impressive

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Think you don’t have time to make your own holiday treats? Think again. Impress your guests with recipes for appetizers and cocktails that are as delicious as they are easy to prepare. Michelle Dudash, RDN, registered dietitian, chef and author of “Clean Eating for Busy Families,” shows us how!

1. Christmas Appetizers
Show Stopping Charcuterie & Cheese Board
Choose 3 types of cheeses:
• Sharp, firm: sliced gouda or aged cheddar
• Decadent creamy: Whole wedge of triple cream/Brie
• Light creamy: soft goat cheese stuffed into apricots and peppadews, roll in pistachios

Foods that pair well with cheeses:
• Nuts, like in-shell pistachios. I work with Wonderful Pistachios and love pairing them with cheese because they’re the perfect crunchy complement—you get about 30 pistachios for only 100 calories and they contain protein and fiber which may help keep you fuller longer. Try their Salt & Pepper and Sweet Chili flavors for something tasty and different.
• Variety of interesting crackers, including whole grain and seeded, Parmesan crisps
• Something fruity, I find that guests gravitate towards fresh grapes cut into small clusters. Sprinkle in some pomegranate for a pop of color.

Presentation:
Ditch the plastic tray and arrange on a beautiful wooden cutting board or slate. Great deals at places like Marshalls and TJ Maxx.

Pair with prosciutto, too, since guests are hungry for a variety of protein foods.
Poached Shrimp Cocktail with Creamy Dijon Sauce
• I make this recipe for most of my parties and special dinners.
• Boil a bottle of white wine with herbs and spices and lemon, then add the shrimp.
• Paired with a 5-ingredient sauce

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2. Christmas Cocktails
Orange-Pomegranate Mocktail
• Just a few simple ingredients
• Each 8oz bottle of 100% pomegranate juice contains the juice from two whole pomegranates and nothing else. No added sugar. So you really can feel good about what you’re drinking.
• The pomegranates used come exclusively from their California orchards.

Holiday Pomtini
Pomegranate juice, orange vodka, Peachtree Schnapps, fresh orange juice and lemon juice.
3. A sweet snack—don’t forget the chocolate!
Dark-Chocolate Covered Pretzels with Peppermint and Pistachios
• Serve in a tall glass or small vase, which also adds height to your buffet.
• Also make great little gifts or party favors.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Food Lovers That are Healthy-ish

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1. Christmas Gifts for Men or For Dad
Allen Brothers shrimp cocktail ($69.95 for 2 pounds, fully cooked), bison burgers and other fine meats
If you order by 1 pm today, you can still get it there in time for Christmas.

Country Archer Jerky Gift Pack ($41)
Is the leading producer of premium gourmet jerky and meat-based protein bars known for its commitment to deliciously healthy, clean-label ingredients. The perfect gift for any traveler on your list, Country Archer Road Trip Pack features a variety of its USDA-inspected grass-fed beef and tender turkey jerky.

2. Gift Ideas for Women
Jacques Torres Chocolates NY Collection – Complete New York Line Gift Set ($55)
Is a perfect foodie gift for your viewers with wanderlust. He created the items in celebration of his 15th anniversary in New York, so all boxes act as NYC keepsakes, with colorful drawings of taxis, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and more. Made with dark chocolate and dried fruits, nuts and ginger.

Match Love Tea Set ($65)
Complete with a prime selection of whole-leaf green tea products and traditional Japanese tea ware. Novices and bonafide tea gurus alike can enjoy the benefits of the ancient superfood in a festive way!
3. Gift Ideas for Mom
Clean Eating for Busy Families
My cookbook tied with a kitchen tool, like a knife or Microplane grater.

Alter Eco Chocolate Gift Box ($17.99)
Packaged individually, easy for grab and go. Indulgent while still giving them antioxidants and less sugar than other treats.

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Shrimp Cocktail with Creamy House Sauce

White wine is a flavorful way to poach shrimp for shrimp cocktail. While you can open a new bottle of wine—it doesn’t need to be that good—this is a good opportunity to use up the old wine in the fridge. Or that “party wine” that you’ll never use. If you don’t have a full bottle, it’s okay to add some water.

For the shrimp:
1 bottle dry white wine, like Chardonnay
1/2 small onion, sliced (or use onion scraps)
1 lemon, cut in half
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
5 parsley stems, if you have on hand
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 fresh thyme sprig or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 1/2 pound peeled, deveined, tail-on thawed shrimp (21/25 count or larger, about 30 shrimp)
1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt, preferably flaked
Lemon wedges

For the sauce:
1/2 cup good-quality mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon reduced-sodium Worcestershire sauce (assure its GF if desired)
1/2 teaspoon steak sauce (assure its GF if desired)

To make the shrimp: Combine wine, 3 cups water, onion, squeezed lemon and juice, peppercorns, parsley, salt and thyme in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Remove solids from the liquid with a slotted spoon or strainer and discard the solids.

Bring broth back to a boil, remove from heat and immediately add the shrimp. Set timer for 5 minutes, or longer for larger shrimp. To test doneness, cut a piece in half and check to make sure it is opaque in the center, not grey or translucent. Add a few handfuls of ice to the pot to cool shrimp quickly. Lift shrimp out of the liquid and drain, but do not rinse. Store chilled until ready to serve. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and salt.

To make the sauce: Whisk together the sauce ingredients. Serve shrimp over ice with sauce and lemon wedges. Shrimp and dip may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Yield: 6 servings, 5 shrimp each (with 1 tablespoon sauce) ● Prep Time: 15 minutes ● Cook Time: 35 minutes

Per serving: Calories 101; Fat 5 g (Saturated 0 g); Cholesterol 108 mg; Sodium 271 mg; Carbohydrate 2 g; Fiber 0 g; Protein 11 g; Vitamin A 2% DV; Calcium 2% DV; Vitamin C 2% DV; Iron 9% DV

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Orange-Pomegranate Roy Rogers

Traditional kiddy cocktails are made with grenadine syrup, which is loaded with sugar and artificial red dyes, which may be linked to attention deficit disorders and hyperactivity in children. This updated crowd-pleasing mocktail gets it color from antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice, and its sweetness from fruit, plus just a touch of honey. And all for under 100 calories per class.

3 orange slices, plus additional for garnishing
1-2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup lemon-lime selzer water
1/4 cup 100% pomegranate juice

Directions:
Place the orange slices and honey in a glass. Muddle a few times to release the juices, then stir to dissolve the honey. Fill glass with crushed ice, pour in selzer and top with pomegranate juice. Stir.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes

Makes 1 serving, 16-ounce glass with ice each

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 99 calories, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 6 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 25 g total carbohydrate (1 g fiber), 0 g protein, 0% DV iron, 2% DV calcium, 2% DV Vitamin A, 42% DV Vitamin C.

HOLIDAY POMTINI™

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Recipe courtesy of POM Wonderful®.

3/4 oz. freshly squeezed pomegranate juice* or POM Wonderful® 100% Pomegranate Juice
1 oz. Orange Vodka
3/4 oz. Peachtree Schnapps®
1 oz. fresh orange juice
3/4 oz. lemon juice
Equal parts ground cinnamon and granulated sugar for garnish
Spiraled orange rind for garnish

1. Shake all drink ingredients with ice to chill.
2. Serve in a martini glass prepared as follows: Mix in a bowl, one part ground cinnamon and one part granulated sugar. Moisten the rim of a martini glass by swiping a slice of orange around the rim. Dust glass rim with the sugared cinnamon mixture and decorate with a spiral of orange.

Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels with Peppermint

1 bag dark chocolate chips
16 large pretzel rods
Crushed candy canes

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Place the chocolate pieces in a bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring well after each time to redistribute the heat. Once 75% of the chocolate is melted, stir until the remaining chocolate is melted and smooth. The more you stir, the better. Stick a clean finger (or a thermometer) into the chocolate to test to see if it is 90°F or just slightly lower (that’s about 8°F lower than body temperature). If it’s still too warm, let it rest a few minutes and stir some more. Once you think your chocolate is the right temperature, test it by dipping a knife into it and putting the knife in the refrigerator. If after 1-2 minutes, it is slightly shiny and not sticky, speckled, or streaked, then you have properly tempered chocolate. Immediately dip the pretzels into the chocolate, covering two-thirds of each pretzel, turning to coat all sides. Allow excess chocolate to drip off.

Sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the chocolate-covered pretzels and allow chocolate to set until completely firm. Store in an airtight container in a cool area until ready to serve.

Serve in a tall large glass or vase for a festive presentation.

To learn more, visit www.michelledudash.com.