Bring on the Holiday Appetizers
Holidays mean celebrations with family, friends and co-workers and what’s a celebration without some terrific food and sharing of recipes. Of course we all have our creamy, cheesy and chocolaty favorites, but it might surprise you that your guests will appreciate you for providing some yummy healthy snacks as well. Plus all this will give your friends a reason to enjoy desert!!
Blue Cheese Ball with Dates and Walnuts
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon nonfat buttermilk
5 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
3 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons minced pitted dates (2 to 3 dates)
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts, toasted
Place first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Add dates, shallots, lemon rind, salt, and pepper; beat at medium speed until well blended, scraping sides of bowl as necessary.
Spoon cheese mixture onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Form into a ball, using a rubber spatula. Wrap cheese ball in plastic wrap; chill overnight.
Combine parsley and walnuts in a shallow dish. Unwrap cheese ball; gently roll in nut mixture, coating well. Place on a serving plate. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Creamy Spinach Phyllo Cups
30 mini phyllo shells
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
2 (6-ounce) bags baby spinach
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons shredded Swiss cheese
3 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/2 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, very thinly shaved
Preheat oven to 425°.
Arrange phyllo shells in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Lightly coat shells with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 4 minutes or until lightly browned and very crisp.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute or until fragrant but not browned, stirring frequently. Coarsely chop 1 bag of spinach. Add chopped spinach to pan; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, tossing frequently. Chop remaining spinach; add to wilted spinach in pan. Cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, tossing frequently. Sprinkle spinach mixture with salt; toss well. Stir in Swiss and cream cheese; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts and sauce is thoroughly heated. Remove pan from heat.
Spoon about 1 tablespoon spinach mixture into each shell. Top evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Light Crab Dip
1 cup fat-free cottage cheese
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 375°. Combine first 9 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.
Combine cottage cheese mixture, cream cheese, and onion in a large bowl; gently fold in crab. Place crab mixture in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
Rosemary Chipotle Roasted Almonds
(I promise this one goes really fast, they are great for sitting at your bar or beverage station)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. chipotle seasoning (for a salt-free blend I like Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle)
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped + pinch more after roasting
Pinch cayenne or chili powder, to taste
Pinch salt, to taste
Pinch black pepper, to taste
1 c almonds
Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine all ingredients except for the almonds in a bowl and mix. Add the almonds to the oil and spice mixture, and toss to combine. Spread almonds in a single layer on a parchment, foil, or Silpat-lined cookie sheet (for easier cleanup) and roast for 15-20 minutes until lightly toasted, or until desired toasting and browning level is reached. Allow to cool slightly and serve. Top with a pinch more of finely chopped rosemary after roasting, if desired. Will keep in an airtight container or jar for weeks.
Spicy Shrimp on a Stick
(this one also goes fast, and it is an easy one to put on a Holiday skewer!)
Combine 30 tail-on, peeled, deveined shrimp; 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1 tablespoon chili powder; 1 tablespoon honey; salt; and pepper. Thread 3 shrimp on each skewer and a small hot pepper (if desired); cook each side 2 minutes on an oiled grill pan or on a grill.
Healthy Stuffed Mushrooms
1/2 pound ground turkey sausage (or very lean pork sausage)
4-ounce package fat free cream cheese, softened
32 ounces mushrooms
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/3 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash mushrooms and remove stems using tomato corer. Brown turkey, then chop mushroom stems and add to turkey mixture. Mix in cream cheese and remaining spices. Spoon turkey filling into mushrooms, then bake for 15-17 minutes. Serve immediately.