Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Food

December 27, 2011

Easy but elegant appetizers for New Year’s Eve and beyond

ASHLAND — When planning a cocktail party, especially for New Year’s Eve, you might look for items that are elegant and unusual as appetizers.

This recipe from Mrs. T’s Pierogies is different, delicious and filling.

PIEROGY PESTO BITES

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1⁄4 cup prepared pesto

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 (12.8-ounce) package Mrs. T’s Potato & Cheddar Mini Pierogies

1⁄3 cup roasted red pepper strips, well drained

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Sauté pierogies as package directs.

Stir softened cream cheese, pesto and salt in medium bowl until well blended and smooth.

Arrange pierogies on large serving platter; top each pierogy with a small dollop of pesto mixture. Top each with a few roasted red pepper strips; sprinkle with pine nuts.

Makes 6 appetizer servings.

t

This is one of my favorite appetizers. I don’t know many people who like artichokes as much as I do, but if you’re a fan, you’ll like this.

HOT ARTICHOKE SPREAD

1 cup mayonaise

2 14-oz. cans or 2 9-oz. packages artichoke hearts

1 small clove of garlic, minced

1 drop hot pepper sauce

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Mix together and put in food processor or blender until smooth. Spread in lightly greased baking dish and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Serve warm with rye bread or wheat crackers.

t

As a main dish, served on skewers on a bed of rice, this is delicious. It also makes a good and different appetizer when you use jumbo shrimp.

GRILLED LEMON BASIL SHRIMP

Marinade about 11⁄4 pound of large shrimp in the following blender-pureed mixture for 30 to 60 minutes:

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1⁄2 cup plus two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

3 large garlic cloves, crushed

3⁄4 teaspoons salt

1⁄2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Skewer shrimp and grill over charcoal for about 3 minutes per side. For main course, serve on a bed or rice. For appetizer, remove from skewers and serve with crackers and cocktail sauce.

TIP: To prevent cracking, soak wooden skewers in warm water while shrimp marinade.

t

My neighbor loves my cheese ball and last year, she asked for the recipe. This year, she sent her 6-year-old son over to my house with a cheese ball for me, so I know firsthand this recipe makes a nice gift.

HOLIDAY CHEESE BALL

2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon diced pimentos

1 tablespoon diced green peppers

2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Chopped pecans

Assorted crackers

In large mixing bowl, combine first seven ingredients. Mix well and shape into two balls. Roll in pecans. Cover and chill.

Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before serving. Serve with crackers.

t

My mom’s best friend shared a great dip recipe with me. This is a hit at parties.

JANET’S SHRIMP DIP

Can of shrimp, rinsed well and drained

8 ounces cream cheese

1 tablespoon onion juice

2 to 3 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins

drop lemon juice

Mix together and refrigerate. Serve with crackers.

t

Here’s a different way to use salmon. You can serve these with bean soup for a light dinner or put them out on a New Year’s Eve buffet with salsa.

SALMON QUESADILLAS

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 14.75-ounce can salmon, drained, bones and skin removed

1 or 2 teaspoons dried basil

1⁄2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon butter, softened

4 tortillas, 8 inches

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Saute garlic in oil until tender. Stir in salmon, basil and pepper and cook until heated throughout.

Spread butter over one side of each tortilla. Place them buttered side down on a griddle. Sprinkle each with 1⁄2 cup cheese. Spread 1⁄2 cup salmon mixture over half of each tortilla. Fold over and cook on low for a minute or two on each side. Cut into wedges and serve.

t

This is another versatile dish. Make it in a round pan and serve a wedge as a side dish or make it in a square pan and cut it into bite-sized squares for an appetizer.

ZUCCHINI BITES

2 eggs

2 medium zucchini, shredded

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄8 teaspoon pepper

1⁄4 cup fine dry bread crumbs

1 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Grease an 8-inch square pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together everything except 1⁄2 cup of the cheese and spoon into pan; sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake 20-25 minutes until set.

t

While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send e-mail to lward@dailyindependent.com.

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