Christmas is hailed as one of the most special days of the year — which means the food we prepare for the occasion should be exceptional in both taste and presentation. This selection is sure to set the mood for any holiday gathering.
Cranberry Brie Bites
Bright red cranberries already scream “Happy Holidays,” but when you pair them with a flaky crust and creamy brie, they transform into celestial treats. Here’s what you’ll need:
1 8-oz. tube refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 8-oz. wheel of brie
1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1/4 cup chopped pecans
6 sprigs of fresh rosemary cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Generously spray cups of a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
- Lightly flour a cabinet top or cutting board.
- Carefully roll out crescent dough and pinch together seams to create one piece of dough.
- Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 24 equal squares.
- Gently press squares into the muffin tin slots.
- Cut the brie into small pieces that easily fit into each slot and place them inside the crescent dough.
- Top each piece of brie with a spoonful of cranberry sauce.
- Sprinkle chopped pecans on each serving.
- Top each serving with a tiny sprig of fresh rosemary.
- Bake until the pastry crust is golden, around 15 minutes.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Beef Wellington Gems
Beef Wellington is one of the most elegant dishes of all time. As a dainty bite-size appetizer, its style and sophistication are elevated even more.
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed but still chilled
2 lbs. beef tenderloin or filet mignon steaks, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tbsp. butter
6 oz. cremini or portobello mushrooms, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped (reserve whole sprigs for garnish)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Pat the beef cubes dry with paper towels, then season them on all sides with salt and pepper.
- Add beef to skillet and sear all over, stirring often until browned on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove beef from skillet and set aside.
- Remove skillet from heat and wipe out with paper towels.
- Return skillet to stove over medium heat and add butter.
- When butter is melted, add mushrooms and shallots to the pan and sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
- After mushrooms and shallots are cooked, turn off heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in rosemary.
- Remove skillet from heat.
- While the mushrooms and shallots cool, lightly flour a countertop or cutting board.
- Unfold puff pastry.
- Gently roll each pastry sheet into a large square, about 1/8-inch thick. Carefully cut each sheet into 16 equal squares with a pizza cutter.
- Place one cube of meat atop each square, and top each meat cube with about a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
- Top each meat/mustard square with about a tablespoon of the finished mushroom/shallot mixture.
- Fold the pastry edges over each square and pinch to securely seal.
- Place the squares on parchment-lined baking sheets about 1/2-inch apart and lightly brush with egg wash.
- Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until golden brown.
- Garnish with rosemary sprigs before serving.
Christmas Tree Cheese Ball
This festive holiday appetizer does double-duty as an hors d’oeuvre and a dainty centerpiece. Just use kitchen shears to fashion the star on top from a yellow bell pepper.
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
4 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese
4 green onions or scallions, chopped
1 4-oz jar diced pimientos, drained
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup sliced/slivered almonds
1 yellow pepper, cut into small strips (after cutting out the star)
Assorted crackers and pretzels
- In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy and light.
- Stir in cheddar cheese, onions, pimientos, butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until fully incorporated.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Roll and form the cheese ball mixture into the shape of a Christmas tree, making sure the bottom is flat so you can stand it up on a plate.
- Garnish first with the cherry tomato halves, then add parsley, followed by the sliced almonds and pepper strips.
- Top the tree with the yellow star.
- Serve with assorted crackers, large toasted bread cubes, and pretzels.
Festive Olive Wreath Appetizer
Guests love appetizers they can pick at and choose their favorite foods from, and this festive wreath meets both those needs. Even better, it’s incredibly easy to make and radiates a lovely aroma. To make it, you’ll need:
Mini mozzarella balls
Olive oil, flake sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper
- Place a large round plate on a counter. Round works best for creating a wreath.
- Arrange a layer of fresh rosemary sprigs around the perimeter of the plate.
- Fill in the wreath with the olives, tomatoes, and mozzarella balls in a random pattern.
- Drizzle all the ingredients with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt flakes and pepper.
- Serve at room temperature.