If you're tired of the standard holiday appetizers like veggies and dip or meat and cheese, add a little pizzazz to your spread with these miniature bites full of savory flavors.
With all the cocktail parties and holiday dinners this time of year, it's easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to menu planning. This season, try something new with these easy but impressive appetizers.
Mini bacon-onion bites with goat cheese mousse
Bacon is always a crowd-pleaser, but it's even better when it's caramelized with onion and balsamic vinegar.
- 6 strips bacon, chopped
- 1 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, divided use
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
- 1 refrigerated pie crust
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Lightly flour your work surface and roll pie crust out slightly in all directions. Using a 2-1/2 inch round biscuit cutter, cut out 20 pieces of pastry.
- Press pastry into miniature muffin tins, making sure to press into corners and bottom. Prick bottom of each pastry several times with a fork.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven and cool pastry shells on a wire rack.
- In a small saucepan, combine bacon and onion. Heat over medium until bacon starts to sizzle, then reduce to low. Cook mixture over very low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan frequently.
- Add balsamic vinegar, to taste, and continue cooking for about 15 more minutes until bacon and onion are very well caramelized.
- In a mixing bowl, mix together goat cheese, 1 tablespoon cream and thyme.
- In an electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk 1/4 cup cream until stiff peaks form.
- Fold whipped cream into goat cheese mixture. (For easier assembly, spoon mixture into a pastry bag or zip-closed bag with the corner cut off.)
- To assemble, fill each pastry cup with bacon-onion mixture, then top with a dollop of goat cheese mousse.
Chipotle-cocoa pork tenderloin crostini
Don't let this unique combination of flavors stop you from trying these delicious and tender pork crostini.
Yields about 20-30 depending on thickness of pork slices
- 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and silverskin
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspon ground chipotle pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped tomato
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- Baguette, sliced
- Jack cheese, sliced
- Balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Combine brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt, chipotle pepper and cinnamon. Liberally coat pork on all sides with spice mixture.
- Heat olive oil in an ovenproof pan over high heat. (Do not use nonstick.) When pan is very hot, sear pork for about 1 minute per side to form a crust. Place pan in the oven to continue cooking, about 15-18 minutes, depending on size of pork and desired doneness. (We recommend using a meat thermometer to reach 140 degrees F. Pork will continue cooking once removed from the oven to reach 145 degrees F.)
- Remove pork from oven and tent loosely with foil for at least 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, thinly slice pork.
- In a small bowl, combine tomato, onion and cilantro.
- To assemble, place baguette slices on a baking sheet. Top with a slice of cheese, then toast in hot oven until cheese is melted. Top with 2 slices of pork, a spoonful of tomato mixture and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
Mini butternut squash-fennel pie pockets
A hint of sweetness makes these savory pie pockets sing.
- 1-1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
- 1 large fennel bulb, cored and roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 refrigerated pie crusts
- 2-3 tablespoons honey, warmed to thin if needed
- 1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
- 1 egg
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Combine butternut squash and fennel in a glass baking dish. Toss with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Roast until squash is fork tender, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
- Place roasted vegetables in a food processor and puree. Add nutmeg and ginger. Pulse to combine. Taste mixture for seasoning. If needed, add salt and pepper.
- Lightly flour your work surface and roll pie crusts out slightly in all directions. Using a 2-1/2 inch round biscuit cutter, cut 20 pieces of pastry out of each crust.
- Make an egg wash by beating egg with a splash of water.
- Place 20 pieces of pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush egg wash around edges. Place a heaping teaspoon of butternut squash puree into the middle of each pastry. Top with remaining pastry. Using a fork, crimp around the edges of each pie. Poke 3 small holes into the top of each pie. Brush tops with egg wash.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.
- Immediately brush tops of warm pies with honey and sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Quick tip: Make additional pie pockets as desired with leftover butternut puree or whip up a quick soup by whisking chicken stock and milk in over medium heat to achieve desired consistency.
More appetizer recipes
Easy stuffed pastry cups
Baked pumpkin with garlic yogurt
Mini Reuben sandwiches