When hosting an open house or making appetizers for a group, there are three major food groups that need to be addressed. They are savory foods including some sort of meat dish, sweet treats or desserts, and some kind of fruit, Sheryl Barrett of Edmond said.

Barrett’s daughter, Jennifer Luttrell, is the head chef and manager for a quaint little restaurant outside of Indianapolis, Ind., the Creamery Cafe and is known not only for her menu at the restaurant but also for her catering business.

“I’ve taught Jennifer all I know about cooking, and she has taught me even more,” Sheryl said.

This year, venture beyond chips and dip or a cheese ball and create easy, festive hors d’oeuvres that will leave guests looking for more. Turn to “little bites” that deliver big flavor, look fabulous and are healthy, too! A few key ingredients make all the difference.

Give your guests the gift of flavor as they savor small plate dining. Palates will delight in the taste and texture of balsamic-drizzled beef crostini, beef skewers paired with peanut-bourbon sauce and a fabulous finale of cherry tarts and cookies.

Fresh mushrooms just naturally look and taste great as appetizers. You can stuff them with a wide range of savory fillings or thread them onto skewers for delicious grilled fare. One serving (five medium-sized white mushrooms) has only 20 calories. Mushrooms are also low in carbs and free of fat, cholesterol and sodium.

For that savory filling or brochette, use heart-healthy Canola oil, the lowest in saturated fat of all popular vegetable oils. With its light flavor and clear color, Canola oil allows the flavor of other ingredients to come through. High in vitamin E, Canola oil is also a good plant source of omega-3 fatty acids.

And to add big flavor without fat or calories, seasoning blends work their special magic. Instead of just using salt and pepper, seasoning blends can be sprinkled on to add flavor to meats, fish, shellfish, chicken or vegetables. Look for all-natural herb and spice mixtures that contain no MSG or preservatives. And you’ll be ready for the festive season!

When you want to kick your casual entertaining up a notch, try a new way to pair food and wine. Prepare dishes with varying flavors such as tart, spicy, savory or zesty herb.

The bold and full-flavored dishes offered provide an excellent palette with which to combine the intriguing tastes of gourmet food with the sheer elegance of wine.

Serve your guests different varieties of wines, from Chardonnay and Viognier to Syrah and Merlot.

Nothing says home like an easy-to-make pie, especially during the holiday season. Whether you’re gathering loved ones for a grand holiday feast or a cozy winter supper, no dessert beats a pie. If you are putting your pie on the buffet line with appetizers, tickle your guests’ taste buds with tartlets filled with chocolate cream and peppermint or cherries.

Rely on the convenience of a frozen pie crust or already prepared tart shells to ensure you can make tempting desserts even when time is at a minimum.

Creating these festive finales to your gatherings of friends and family is simple when you start with the richest flavors of the season. From classic cherries to succulent cream and chocolate, traditional flavors used in creative new ways will ensure any holiday gathering is a bit more special.

*****

RECIPES

Kicked Up Mediterranean Orzo Salad

Serves 12 to 15 generous portions

Ingredients

1 pound orzo pasta

1 (12.8-ounce) package Emeril’s Sun-Dried Tomato Gourmet Smoked Sausage (4 links), cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 (10-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes in herbed oil, drained (oil reserved) and sliced

1 (12-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

1/2 large red onion, finely diced

1 (6-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained

1/2 pound feta cheese, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch Italian parsley, washed, dried and chopped

1 heaping tablespoon Italian seasoning

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons dried red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions

Cook orzo al dente, drain and rinse in cold water; drain well and set aside.

In large bowl place sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, onion, olives and feta. Add cooled orzo to mixture and pour in reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes. Add olive oil. Mix gently. Fold in parsley. Add Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Add red pepper flakes. Serve well chilled.

Recipe shared by www.Foodeditor.com



Stuffed Seaside Shrimp



Serves 8–10 appetizer portions

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds (16 to 20) shrimp

1 (12.8-ounce) package Emeril’s Habanero and Green Chili Gourmet Smoked Sausage (4 links)

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1 teaspoon Emeril’s Bam! Seasoning

1 1/2 cups minced fresh or canned pineapple

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

1/4 cup small diced red onion

1/4 cup small diced red pepper or pimentos

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh or powdered ginger

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold water

Rice mix (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Boil shrimp 3 to 5 minutes. Rinse, peel, devein and split shrimp (butterfly). Cook sausage to package directions (reserve liquid). Place sausage in food processor and grind.

In bowl, combine bread crumbs, seasoning and sausage. Place 1 tablespoon sausage mixture on each butterflied shrimp. In small saucepan, add pineapple, reserved cooking liquid, green onion, red onion, red pepper and ginger. Bring ingredients to a boil and add cornstarch and cold water. Mix to thicken. Place each shrimp on baking pan, drizzle 1 teaspoon sauce over each individual shrimp and bake 3 to 5 minutes.

For additional flavor after baking, drizzle remaining sauce over shrimp and serve over favorite rice mix.

Recipe shared by www.Foodeditor.com



Stuffed Mushrooms



Serves 4

Ingredients

1 (12.8-ounce) package Emeril’s Kicked Up Gourmet Smoked Sausage (4 links)

12 stuffing-size portobello mushrooms or approximately 15 button mushrooms

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup Smoking Loon Syrah, divided

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cook sausage in skillet and crumble with fork until evenly browned. Drain and set aside.

To prepare mushroom cups, remove and chop stems; set aside.

In medium bowl, mix chopped mushroom stems, cream cheese and bread crumbs. Stir in sausage and 1/4 cup wine. Spoon mixture into mushroom cups. Transfer to large baking dish and cover with the remaining wine. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Recipe shared by www.Foodeditor.com



Beef Crostini With Balsamic Drizzle

Makes 24 appetizers

Total preparation and cooking time: 45 to 50 minutes

Ingredients

2 boneless beef top loin (strip) steaks (about 1-1/4 pounds) or 4 tenderloin steaks (about 4 ounces each), cut 1 inch thick

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

12 slices thin white sandwich bread, crusts removed

1-1/2 teaspoons coarse grind black pepper

salt

4 ounces garlic-herb cheese spread, slightly softened

prepared balsamic syrup*

24 small arugula leaves

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine Parmesan cheese and flour in small bowl; toss to mix well. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle Parmesan mixture evenly into 8-inch circle on baking sheet.

Bake in center of 350 degrees F. oven 6 to 8 minutes or until melted and light brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Break into 24 irregular-shaped pieces. Set aside.

Cut each bread slice diagonally in half. Place in single layer on baking sheet. Bake in 350 degrees F. oven about 6 minutes or until lightly toasted but not brown. Set aside.

Press pepper evenly onto beef steaks. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Place steaks in skillet; cook top loin steaks 12 to 15 minutes (tenderloin steaks 10 to 13 minutes) for medium rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally. Carve steaks into thin slices; season with salt.

Meanwhile, spread 1 teaspoon garlic-herb cheese onto each bread piece; top with 2 to 3 steak slices. Drizzle balsamic syrup over beef; top with Parmesan crisp and arugula leaf.

*Available in the dressing aisle next to the vinegars in large supermarkets and specialty stores. If not available, balsamic syrup can be prepared by combining 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons molasses in medium saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-high; cook about 10 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 1/4 cup. Balsamic syrup may be stored in airtight container in refrigerator.

Cook’s Tip: Parmesan crisps may be made 1 day in advance and stored in airtight container.

Recipe shared by www.Foodeditor.com



Festive Beef Bites with Peanut-Bourbon Sauce

Makes 24 servings

Total preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1-1/2 pounds boneless beef top sirloin or shoulder center steak (ranch steak), cut 3/4 inch thick

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Sauce:

Ingredients

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup bourbon or apple cider

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions

Soak twenty-four 6-inch bamboo skewers in water 10 minutes; drain.

Cut beef steak into 1-inch pieces. Alternately thread 2 beef pieces and 1 bell pepper piece evenly onto each skewer. Season with black pepper.

Combine sauce ingredients in medium saucepan, stirring until smooth. Bring just to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 12 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Keep warm.

Meanwhile place 1/2 of skewers on rack in broiler pan so surface of beef is 3 to 4 inches from heat. Broil about 6 to 9 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness, turning once. Repeat with remaining skewers.

Serve with peanut sauce. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Cook’s Tip: To grill, place 1/2 of skewers on grid over medium heat of gas grill. Grill, covered, 6 to 8 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness, turning once. Repeat with remaining skewers.

Recipe shared by www.Foodeditor.com



Merry Cherry Tarts

Makes 24 servings

Total preparation and cooking time: 55 to 60 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 can (20 to 21 ounces) cherry pie filling

1 teaspoon Kirsch (cherry liqueur) (optional) Whipped cream (optional)

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat butter, cream cheese and sugar in large mixing bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add flour and salt; mix well.

Roll dough into twenty-four 1-inch balls. Spray miniature muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Press 1 ball evenly onto bottom and up side of each muffin cup.

Combine cherry pie filling and Kirsch, if desired, in small bowl. Spoon 1 tablespoon cherry mixture into each pastry-lined cup. (There should be a minimum of 2 cherries in each cup.)

Bake in 350 degrees F. oven 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool in muffin cups 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Garnish each with dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe shared by www.Foodeditor.com



Cheery Cherry Cookies

Makes about 7 dozen cookies

Total preparation and cooking time: 20 to 25 minutes

Chilling time 4 hours

Ingredients

1 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel

1 cup honey-roasted peanuts, finely chopped

1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted (optional)

Directions

Combine cherries and 2 teaspoons of the flour in small bowl; toss to mix well. Set aside.

Beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large mixing bowl with electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; gradually beat in remaining flour and salt. Add orange peel and cherry mixture; mix to combine.

Divide dough into thirds; shape each third into log, 1 1/2 inches in diameter and about 7 inches long. Roll each log in 1/3 cup peanuts. Wrap each log in waxed paper or plastic wrap, twisting ends to seal. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Unwrap logs and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Place slices 1 to 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in 400 degree F. oven 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from cookie sheet to wire racks; cool completely. Drizzle cookies with melted chocolate chips for festive appearance, if desired. Store in airtight container.

Cook’s Tips: Peanuts must be finely chopped to easily slice dough into rounds.

Cookie dough logs may be made in advance, wrapped airtight and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 weeks. Thaw frozen dough in refrigerator before slicing and baking.

Recipe shared by www.Foodeditor.com



Mushroom Bruschetta

Yield 3 cups

Ingredients

1 baguette

Canola oil for brushing on baguette

1/2 cup Canola oil, divided

4 cups Monterey White or Brown mushrooms, quartered

1/2 cup diced onion

1 teaspoon Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Vegetable Magic

1 tablespoon Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Herbal Pizza and



Pasta Magic

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 medium tomato, diced

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Directions

Preheat oven to broil. Slice baguette, place on baking sheet. Brush with Canola oil. Broil until lightly browned.

In large sauté pan, heat 1/4 cup Canola oil. Sauté mushrooms and onions 5 minutes. Add vegetable seasoning blend. Cook 5 minutes longer. Cool mushroom mixture.

In large mixing bowl, combine pizza and pasta seasoning blend, garlic, cheese, tomatoes and cooled mushroom mixture. Add remaining 1/4 cup Canola oil and red wine vinegar. Serve chilled on toasted baguettes.

Recipe shared by www.Foodeditor.com



Spicy Beef and Mushroom Brochettes

Yield 3 cups

Ingredients

1 pound top sirloin beef, cut into 1-inch cubes

30 Monterey White or Brown mushrooms

1 red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup Canola oil

2 tablespoons Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Steak Magic

Directions

Place all ingredients in plastic resealable bag. Mix well. Place in refrigerator and marinate minimum 1 hour up to overnight. Stir occasionally.

Thread beef cubes, mushrooms and peppers alternately onto skewers. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. Discard any remaining marinade.

Grill over medium heat, turning several times until peppers and mushrooms are browned and beef is done (approximately 8 to 10 minutes). Serve hot.

Recipe shared by www.Foodeditor.com



Cream Cheese and Prosciutto Stuffed Mushrooms

Yield 25 to 30 appetizers

Ingredients

25 to 30 small Monterey White Mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and reserved

3 tablespoons Canola oil

1 small onion, finely diced

2 teaspoons Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Vegetable Magic

1 teaspoon Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Meat Magic

1 clove garlic, minced

6 slices prosciutto, finely chopped

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

Directions

Finely chop reserved mushroom stems. In sauté pan, heat Canola oil. Add chopped mushroom stems, onion, seasonings and garlic. Sauté 5 minutes. Add prosciutto. Continue to sauté 5 minutes more. Turn heat to low and add cream cheese. Stir until mixture is well blended. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously stuff each mushroom cap and place in baking dish. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Finish under broiler until tops are golden.

Yield: 25 to 30 appetizers

Recipe shared by www.Foodeditor.com



Holiday Chocolate-Mint Pie

8 servings

Ingredients

1 Pillsbury Pet-Ritz frozen deep dish pie crust

1 1/4 cups milk

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup milk

20 large marshmallows

1 cup whipping (heavy) cream

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

6 tablespoons crushed red, green and white hard peppermint candies

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake pie crust as directed on package for One-Crust Baked Pie Shell. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, stir together 1 1/4 cups milk and pudding mix; cook over medium heat as directed on box. Reduce heat to low; continue cooking while adding chocolate chips, stirring until melted. Set aside.

In 3-quart saucepan, heat 1/2 cup milk and marshmallows over low heat, stirring constantly, just until marshmallows are melted. Refrigerate about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon.

In chilled medium bowl, beat whipping cream and peppermint extract on high speed until stiff. Gently stir in marshmallow mixture. Gently stir in 1/4 cup of the crushed candies.

Spread chocolate mixture in cooled shell; top with whipped cream mixture. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons crushed candies on top. Store covered in refrigerator.

Recipe shared by ECES Inc.

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