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Sometimes a Great Noshin'

Festive appetizers for your holiday parties

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Party season is upon us, which means it is time to find some time-saving ideas for party-worthy appetizers. Fast, tasty and economical is the name of the game when providing treats for friends and family. We are all busy people, but we must cook to impress from time to time.

My first offering comes from The Spice and Herb Bible, Sage Shortbread with Goat Cheese. Sage is such a festive holiday herb and who doesn’t like cheese? Oh, that’s right my friend Godot. … Anyway, what I really appreciate about this recipe is that you can make the shortbread ahead of time, freeze it, and bake it fresh each time you need it.

One would use this savory little shortbread in place of a cracker, and it can be topped with just about anything. The recipe suggests a small dollop of cranberry sauce, a pecan and a piece of deep fried sage leaf. You can find this recipe at

Next, check out one of your nicer grocery stores for Belgium Endive. The leafy vegetable is perfect for my Shrimp Salad Boats recipe. This one is not only easy, but it is a low-fat alternative to all the other decadent holiday fare we love.

The recipe calls for salad shrimp, a couple of tablespoons of mayo, a squeeze of lemon juice, fresh chopped tarragon, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and refrigerate. While that is chilling, pull the leaves of the endive apart carefully, wash and pat dry. Fill each endive “boat” with shrimp mixture and sprinkle with some finally-chopped Italian parsley for color.

Nothing says “Christmas” like red and green, so why not make a festive appetizer with these colors like a Bocconcini Tomato Skewer? All you need it toothpicks, Bocconcini (small fresh mozzarella balls), grape tomatoes and fresh basil. Cut the tomato in half; place one half on the toothpick, followed by a Bocconcini wrapped with basil next and then the other tomato half. Drizzle with good olive oil then dust with salt and pepper.

Last year about this time I mentioned how fabulous puffed pastry is. Again, I cannot over emphasize the ease of utilizing puffed pastry sheets. Keep a box in the freezer, slap in some shredded cheese, thinly sliced meat or vegetables, fresh herbs, roll it up, slice and bake. Like the shortbread earlier, another appetizer that can be done ahead of time and refrigerated. Do not freeze.

As far as holiday beverages go, you can never go wrong with sparkling. Whether it is real Champagne, Prosecco or even apple cider, no beverage is as festive as something that sparkles. As long as you don’t buy anything too expensive, add a little Framboise or pomegranate juice for color and a touch of flavor.

As I have illustrated above, sometimes less is more. Have fun with flavor, no matter what. And just because it took you only a few minutes to make, doesn’t mean it’s not good. It just means you are smart.

Eat out, Tacoma. We need your love.


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