Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to refocus on the remaining festival of eating that spans now through the New Year! There is more noshing and nibbling packed into the next 30 days than perhaps in the whole calendar year! With invited (and quite possible uninvited guests) dropping by with holiday cheer and hungry appetites, I like to have a few simple yet show-stopping appetizer recipes at my fingertips so that no one is disappointed.
My recipe for Blue Cheese, Pomegranate and Quinoa “Caviar” is an easy yet elegant addition to any gathering, whether you need sophisticated snacks to headline a cocktail party or as a prelude to a full-scale dinner party. Or, perhaps as an “I’m not cooking tonight” mini meal to enjoy with a bottle of wine in your fuzzy slippers after everyone heads home!
One of the treasures of this holiday hors d’oeuvres recipe is pomegranates. Pomegranates on their own are a quite festive fruit, the little arils inside resemble ruby-red jewels and taste decidedly more precious. When paired with a pleasingly pungent blue cheese and the almost nutty texture and taste of quinoa, you get a taste experience that I can describe no other way than Manheim steamroller for your Mouth – a modern orchestra of fa-la-la flavor!
While this holiday appetizer looks like it spent all day getting ready for a food glamour shot, it’s actually embarrassingly easy to make. All the ingredients are just tossed together in a bowl and then molded into a standard 6-ounce ramekin dish. If you’d like to do individual servings, mold with a mini melon baller or cookie dough scoop.
I’ve served this Christmas and New Year’s Eve party recipe on one of my favorite cracker; the nearly paper-thin wafers from 34º Crisps. However, you can use the cracker of your choice or even serve a dollop atop an apple or pear slice.
If you have leftovers, a big spoonful or two of Blue Cheese, Pomegranate and Quinoa “Caviar” is fantastic on a steak salad – especially with the Pomegranate Blueberry Vinaigrette. Enjoy!
I’d love to be in New York City this Labor Day weekend, binging out on fabulous foods and Broadway shows. The last trip I took to the Big Apple with my mom, we took in a show every night for nearly a week – such an entertaining escape from reality! Check out the sweepstakes at the end of my post sponsored by Stella® cheeses; the winner and a guest will enjoy a trip to NYC to take in a show, dinner and the sights – it could be you!
While I’m not doing a Broadway boondoggle this fall, the hubby and kids do what we can to take in the ample arts and events in Austin – last week we sat in jaw-dropped amazement at Kooza by Cirque de Soleil and tonight the family is just taking it easy with a movie at home. I’m trying to keep my diet cleaned up now that I’m deep into training for Spartan Beast and a subsequent marathon and have retooled my salty snacks too be less processed, gluten-free and more protein-oriented.
For tonight’s movie (Wild), I whipped up a batch of Gluten-Free Asiago Almond Crackers – bite-sized, crispy and filled with grain-free goodness. Not only to these herby crackers work for folks with gluten intolerances, they also fit into a Paleo (paleo-ish) diet that is willing to allow for a bit of cheese and butter.
Made with artisan cheeses, my Gluten-Free Asiago Almond Crackers are sophisticated enough for a fancy cocktail party – but the kids love them as well. They’re actually not at all difficult to make and a sensible snack option you can feel good about feeding your family with ingredients that include Stella® cheeses, gluten-free baking mix, almond meal, flax seed, thyme and butter. Simple goodness!
When rolling out the gluten-free crackers, it’s easiest to do so between parchment or wax paper – use your favorite little cookie cutter or use a pizza cutter to make squares, diamonds or other shapes. I would also strongly suggest baking on Silpat or a sheet of parchment to prevent sticking and burning. The crackers made using Italian-style cheeses can be frozen for up to six months, so make a couple extra batches!
I really loved using the Asiago from Stella® cheeses – it had a distinct, aged flavor and natural saltiness that added addictive yumminess to the recipe without having to add extra salt. I’m a little bit of a cheese snob and Stella® cheeses really rock – made with old world craftsmanship and a rich dairy heritage that dates back to 1923, this company makes all sorts of cheeses from shredded to crumbled and sharp to sweet. Some of the products I think you’ll love are the Asiago (used in recipe feature), Rosemary Medium Asiago, Fontina, Fontinella®, Italian Sharp, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Mediterranean Parmesan, Provolone, Ricotta, Romano and Black Pepper Romano.
So, back the sweepstakes I hinted at earlier – enter here for a chance to win a trip for two people to New York City with a $500 gift card, dinner for two, and two tickets to a Broadway show. You may enter once per e-mail address per day through October 31, 2015. For full rules, please visit Stella® cheeses. : #StellaTakesManhattan
Add flour, almond meal, flax seed thyme and cheese to work bowl of food processor. Pulse food processor to blend.
Add one tablespoon of butter at a time, pulsing between, until dough is crumbly.
Slowly drizzle about 4 tablespoons of ice water into dough while food processor is on. Stop adding water as soon as the dough is moist enough to start pulling off edges of work bowl.
Place ball of dough onto parchment paper. Flatten into a thick disk, wrap the dough up in the paper, and chill in the refrigerator one hour to overnight.
After chilling and ready to make, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll dough between two pieces of parchment paper until it is evenly 1/8 inch thick. Use pizza cutter to cut dough into squares or use small cookie cutters to punch out shapes. Place uncooked crackers on a parchment-lined baking sheet into top one-third of preheated oven (to prevent burning).
Cook for 8- 10 minutes until lightly golden brown. Let cook for 5 minutes. Store in air-tight container.
May and June are party season at our house, maybe even more so that the winter holiday months! With my son’s graduation party and a Father’s Day cookout book-ending a couple family birthday celebrations, book club, and a baby shower, I need lots of easy but elegant entertaining ideas! Plus, you know me – I always want to put a healthy spin on all my appetizer recipe creations.
Nothing more beautiful and brimming with good taste and nutrition than topping FINN CRISP crackers with healthy toppings like low-fat cheeses, fresh fruits and veggies and nuts. I used these delicious thin crispbreads, which are baked with whole grains and fiber, as the foundation for ten different flavor combinations. Choose a sweet topper, a savor topper or a sweet-savory topper – there is a well-dressed cracker for everyone at your party.
Top Row (left to right)
Aged White Cheddar Cheese, Sliced Dried Apricots, Balsamic Syrup
Peanut Butter mixed with Soy Sauce and Sriracha, Matchstick Carrots, Minced Red Onion, Shredded Chicken
Low-fat Cream Cheese, Halved Blackberries, Fresh Mint