The holiday season often means a hosting parties, get-togethers or some other sort of gathering. You can always just put out a veggie tray or chips and store-bought dip, but if you don’t mind investing a little time, you can offer your guests a little something special. Here are two options, both with shortcuts aimed at making things a little easier.
Simple Cheese & Crackers
A little prep done well in advance makes these "heat & eat"
1 pound goat cheese (NOT feta!)
1 jar roasted garlic
Your favorite cracker
The goat cheese can get kind of pricey, but many wholesale clubs carry it in one-pound logs. Depending on the size of the group you’re expecting, you can portion it out to fit your needs. Also, you can roast your own garlic – and if it weren’t the holiday season, that’s what we’d recommend, but, hey, you need some “me” time, too, right?
Anyway, if you use the whole pound of goat cheese, spoon out four tablespoons of roasted garlic (adjust for your taste, of course) and mix it together. Cover and let flavors marry in the fridge for at least an hour, but it can sit for quite some time.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and arrange crackers on the sheet. The type of cracker is really up to you –Triscuits work well, but some folks don’t like the texture. Gently spoon a dollop of the cheese & garlic mixture onto each cracker and then place the sheet in the oven for five minutes. While that’s warming, put a fine mince on the chives.
Once the crackers come out of the oven, sprinkle each one with some chives and serve warm.
If you’re serving wine, a light, crisp white works really well – Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc or Viognier.
One-bite Italian chicken
A little prep makes these simple
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Zesty Italian dressing
Grated Parmesan cheese
Fancy toothpicks (you know the kind, with the colorful plastic fringes!)
Cut the chicken breasts into 2-inch strips and marinate with the dressing (yes, we know you should make your own, but like we said above, it’s the holidays and you deserve some time off, too!). Get a GOOD Italian dressing, something with a lot of flavor. Let that marinate for at least an hour.
Place the chicken on a baking Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the sheet into an oven preheated to 425. Once the chicken is about done, dust the pieces with the cheese and place in the oven for another minute or two. Take the sheet out of the oven, drizzle the chicken with a bit of the balsamic and skewer with your fancy, schmancy toothpicks. Serve on a platter.
If you’re serving wine, these can stand up to a bold red.