Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Couple Easy Appetizers

I've never been a big fan of New Year's Eve as a holiday, it just feels too arbitrary to me. Yes, I know, it's a fresh start and all that, but I've always felt that one's birthday is a more meaningful date for fresh starts and new beginnings. Anyway, this year, like most years, we just stayed home, but instead of having a regular dinner, we had appetizers for dinner. Here are two of the things I made. (I know, the holiday party season is almost over, but you can hold on to these recipes for the "Big Game" parties that will be coming up soon!)

Sue D’s Mediterranean Layered Dip

1 8-oz package prepared hummus
1 8-oz package prepared tabbouleh salad
1 cup English cucumber, peeled and diced (see note)
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
Greek salad dressing
Oregano for garnish
Pita chips

1. Spread hummus in bottom of 8-inch pie plate.
2. Spoon tabbouleh salad evenly on top of hummus.
3. Spread diced cucumber evenly on top of tabbouleh.
4. Sprinkle crumbled feta over cucumber, then drizzle with Greek dressing.
5. Garnish with oregano and serve with pita chips.

Note: If you can't find English cucumber, just use a regular cucumber, but be sure to seed it first. To seed it, cut it in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds.

Customizable Baked Brie

1 small brie round (6-8 oz)
1/4 cup jam, preserves, or honey (seedless jams or preserves work best)
1/3 cup chopped or sliced nuts (could also use hulled sunflower or pumpkin seeds)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a small oven-proof dish with parchment; place brie round on parchment.
3. With a small sharp knife, cut three or four slashes lengthwise and then crosswise across the top of the brie (only cut in about 1/4-1/2 inch). 
4. Spoon jam, preserves, or honey over top of brie, then sprinkle nuts over top.
5. Bake for 7-8 minutes -- just long enough to warm and soften the brie, but not long enough to melt it completely. Serve with crackers.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can customize it to your own personal tastes. The brie in the picture above has honey and hazelnuts. Some other possible combinations: apricot jam and sliced almonds; plum preserves and walnuts; seedless raspberry jam and pecans; sweet pepper jelly and pumpkin seeds. Use your imagination and have fun with it!