The Best of CaliGirl Cooking: Top 15 Holiday Appetizers

Coming at you today with one final “best of” roundup before Christmas – today we’re talking all about the holiday apps!

Best EVER Winter Vegetable Platte | CaliGirlCooking.com

Before I get too carried away with CGC’s most popular holiday appetizer recipes, I wanted to give you a quick update on our sitch: We’ve been away from our home in SB for a week and a half now, escaping the smoke to save our precious baby girl’s lungs. As I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon, things aren’t looking great for our beautiful oceanfront town. Winds have been terrible since early this AM, which when combined with the very dry conditions in our area have made for a massive amount of evacuations in our area. Although our home is not in an evacuation zone yet, we are certainly surround by them and at this point can only keep our fingers crossed that the firefighters get SOME sort of break in the weather ASAP.

A couple of days ago it had been looking like we might be able to come home tomorrow, but now we’re second guessing that and thinking we may be up here in the Bay Area until Christmas. It’s certainly not what we had envisioned for our first holiday with the babe and the pup, but we’re trying to keep our heads up and make the most of this extra time we get to spend with our families. I’ll be sure to keep you posted as best as possible on social media but, in the meantime, let’s all get our mind off of things with some delicious apps. Shall we?

Without further ado, here are my 15 most popular holiday appetizers!

All-Dressed Party Mix | CaliGirlCooking.com

1. ALL-DRESSED PARTY MIX
2. BEST EVER WINTER VEGETABLE PLATTER
3. CREAMY MUSHROOM PATE

A fresh baguette is the perfect accompaniment to this Creamy Mushroom Pate.

4. FIVE INGREDIENT SMOKED SALMON AND CUCUMBER ROLL-UPS
5. PUMPKIN WALNUT PATE
6. BUTTERNUT SQUASH CROSTINI WITH CRISPY PROSCIUTTO AND SAGE

Curry-Rosemary Roasted Mixed Nuts | CaliGirl Cooking

7. CURRY ROSEMARY ROASTED MIXED NUTS
8. GOAT CHEESE, APRICOT AND PISTACHIO CROSTINI WITH HONEY
9. HOMEMADE ROSEMARY AND OLIVE OIL CRACKERS
10. HOMEMADE WHOLE WHEAT CRACKERS – TWO WAYS

Homemade Whole Wheat Crackers: Two Ways! | CaliGirlCooking.com

11. PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED PEARS WITH CREAMY BLUE CHEESE
12. ROASTED CAULIFLOWER HUMMUS WITH ROSEMARY AND GARLIC
13. BACON WRAPPED STUFFED DATES
14. SPICED ROSEMARY BAR NUTS

Portobello Hummus | CaliGirlCooking.com

15. PORTOBELLO HUMMUS

What are your favorite holiday appetizer recipes? Share them with me in the comments below!

Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups

Let’s kick off the week with another easy appetizer recipe!

A tray of Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups will be a huge hit at your next holiday party!

I hope you all had a restful, relaxing weekend filled with lots of fun and holiday cheer. Ours was about as exciting as can be with a one-month old and was made even better by the enjoyment of these Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups, which I am officially dubbing the “it” easy, healthy recipe of the season.

That’s right, these Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups are incredibly simple to make, yet so full of flavor you’d never guess they’re actually one of the healthiest appetizers you can add to your repertoire in this month of endless get-togethers and celebrations.

Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups are an easy, healthy appetizer for any get-together.

Oh, and did I mention they only require five ingredients? That’s right! No special grocery store trips or endless hours slaving over the stove to whip up these delicious bites of heaven. You can grab everything you need at your neighborhood grocery store and have a beautiful tray of Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups ready to bring to your next holiday party in less than 20 minutes.

Speaking of those easy-to-find ingredients, here they are!

Cream cheese
Dried dill
Fresh chives
Persian cucumbers
Smoked salmon

See what I mean? Never been easier.

These Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups are the best holiday appetizer to make this year!

I think I’ve made it pretty clear why I love these tasty tidbits and want to make them for every occasion for the foreseeable future – they’re easy, healthy, composed of just a few ingredients and yet so full of flavor. Plus, I really missed my regular intake of smoked salmon when I was preggo with our baby girl so I’m making up for lost time 😉

I’m not going to keep you long today because, if there’s anything that’s a constant this time of year, it’s that we don’t have much spare time on our hands to sit reading blogs all day. There are more important things to do and people to spend time with!

But, in case you’re looking for a few other appetizer ideas to whip up this season, here are a few of my favorites from the archives…

These Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates

This Butternut Squash Crostini with Crispy Prosciutto and Sage

These Spiced Rosemary Bar Nuts

This Creamy Mushroom Pate

And these Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese.

Read on for the Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Up recipe!

A tray of Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups will be a huge hit at your next holiday party!
Print
Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups
Prep Time
15 mins
 

This easy, no-cook appetizer is full of flavor yet requires just five ingredients. It's the perfect healthy contribution to your next get-together!

Course: Appetizer
Servings: 30 pieces
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces whipped cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 4-5 Persian cucumbers
  • 8 ounces smoked salmon, cut into 30 strips
  • 30 toothpicks
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the whipped cream cheese, dill and chives until combined. 

  2. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the cucumbers lengthwise to form long, wide strips and lay out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

  3. Spoon cream cheese mixture into a pastry bag and cut off the tip. Squeeze a line of the cream cheese onto each strip of cucumber. 

  4. Place a strip of smoked salmon on top of each cream cheese-lined cucumber and roll up the cucumber, securing at the end with a toothpick. Refrigerate until ready to serve!

 

Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil

Easing back from the long holiday weekend with the simplest of recipes for you!

This Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil is incredibly easy to make and adds tons of flavor to any dish!

In fact, much like my Three-Ingredient Calabrian Chili Spread, this Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil is so simple that I even hesitated to share it with you all. But guys, it’s just as the recipe title says – stupid simple – and will be such a life-changing addition to your pantry that I just couldn’t NOT share it with you all. So here goes!

Flavored olive oils have been gracing grocery and specialty store shelves for quite some time now but, to be honest, do we really know where those “flavors” are coming from? Are your favorite flavored olive oils that you buy at the store done so artificially? Are you absolutely positive that all the flavoring comes from the freshest ingredients? Are you sure you want to drop a few extra bucks on the so-called high end “fancy stuff” when you could just as easily invest in a Costco size jug of extra-virgin olive oil and flavor it on your own for pennies on the dollar?

If you’re anything like me, I’m going to guess you’re in the latter camp, which makes Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil the next best thing to hit your kitchen table this holiday season.

Use this Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil as a dip for your favorite bread, or use it in place of regular olive oil for cooking and dressing salads!

Sure, making your own Shallot Oil requires just two simple ingredients, but the ways in which you can use it are endless. We love whipping up a batch to dip pizza in (ranch dressing, you can take a back seat) and I also used it in place of the regular olive oil I called for in this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs. Basically, you can add a dash of Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil to any ol’ dish that calls for olive oil to really up the flavor game (just make sure the crowd you’re entertaining is down for boatloads of flavor!)

As far as the making of this deliciousness goes, it really couldn’t be easier. Simply slice up some shallots, throw them in a bottle with some olive oil, let it sit for a day or two and, voila, you now know why we dub this tasty concoction “Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil.”

A bottle of Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil is the perfect holiday or housewarming gift!

Grab the recipe below and let me know what great ways you end up using it!

This Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil is incredibly easy to make and adds tons of flavor to any dish!
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Super Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This homemade flavored olive oil is perfect to have on hand in your own pantry, or to give as a hostess or holiday housewarming gift.

Course: Side Dish
Servings: 2 cups
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Combine ingredients in a glass bottle with a stopper and/or drizzle lid. Let sit for a day or two before using. 

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese

Mixing it up with some hors d’oeuvres-y things today!

A tray of Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese ready to be devoured!

Because, I mean, what are the holidays without some delicious appetizers to snack on throughout the day? These Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese are certainly topping my list of delicious bites to get me through the day RN, especially as an extra-hungry breastfeeding mom. It doesn’t hurt that I am also completely reveling in the fact that I can enjoy charcuterie and moldy, stinky cheeses again!

Yes, these Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears do involve some pungent, creamy blue cheese (my favorite) but I do understand that not everyone is as freaky about stinky cheese as I am. That being said, you could easily sub in something a bit mellower like brie or even your favorite hard cheese. Just do me a solid and try the prosciutto-pear-cheese combo roasted up in the oven ASAP…You won’t be sorry!

I have always been a fan of fruit and cheese. After all, we’re all about balance here on this site and mixing in some fresh fruit with sometimes slightly more indulgent (although still arguably with some health benefits) cheese is a great way to cut back on the crackers and breads and get in some extra fiber and nutrients at the same time. A win-win in my book!

A platter of Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese is the perfect appetizer for entertaining.

In fact, you can rarely find my entire family getting together for any sort of occasion without some sort of cheese and charcuterie selection making an appearance, so you can bet these Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese will be one of our hors d’oeuvres selections for Thanksgiving, Christmas and more!

They’re sweet, salty and creamy all in one (or maybe two) bites and will absolutely just melt in your mouth. Plus, they’re pretty darn easy to assemble, so almost anyone should be able to assist in putting them together. I made a batch for my mother-in-law’s birthday at the beginning of October and they disappeared quicker than you can say “prosciutto.”

So let’s talk about the recipe for a minute. I decided to bake said Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese to give the pears a nice roast-y flavor and the prosciutto a little crispy crunch, but I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t end up being a little messy. That being said, if you love warm, oozy, roasted hors d’oeuvres, definitely give these babies their time to shine in the oven. But, if you’d rather keep things neat and simple (and also leave room for more important things, like a roasted bird or green bean casserole, in the oven) than it’s perfectly acceptable to serve these uncooked as well.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese can also be served completely raw for an even easier hors d'oeuvres recipe.

Tell me, besides making these Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese, what are your plans for Thanksgiving? Are you traveling to visit family and friends or staying put and entertaining on your own at home?

We’re gathering up the babe and headed up to NorCal on our first road trip with her. So far our game plan is to just take things slow and stop when needed (it’s normally about a four-hour drive) but I’d love to hear any suggestions you have for taking a newborn on a long car ride.

Delicious roasted Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese ready to be enjoyed as a holiday appetizer.

I hope you have a wonderful week filled with lots of delicious food!

A tray of Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese ready to be devoured!
Print
Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

The flavors of sweet, salty and creamy all come together in this quick and easy appetizer that is perfect for entertaining. 

Course: Appetizer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 5 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin strips
  • 7 ounces creamy blue cheese (or your favorite cheese to pair with pears)
  • 4 pears, cut into 6 wedges each
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil.

  2. Take one strip of prosciutto and spread on a small amount of creamy blue cheese. Wrap around a slice of pear and place on baking sheet.

  3. Repeat this process with the rest of the pear wedges.

  4. Roast in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the prosciutto looks slightly crispy and the pears slightly roasted.

  5. Let cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

You can also just assemble the pears and skip the roasting part for an even easier method!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese | CaliGirlCooking.com

Homemade Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers

Today I have for you your new go-to recipe for all your entertaining needs!

These Homemade Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers are the perfect accompaniment to your next cheese and charcuterie board!

Once you try these Homemade Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers, you’re never going to want to go back to store-bought crackers again. Seriously though, who knew something like homemade crackers could be so easy?

We’re talking seven ingredients, very little prep and bake time, and at least a day’s worth of delicious cheese accompaniments. Your holiday appetizer spread? Never been better.

I’m not sure what possessed me to try making my own crackers, it’s just one of those realms I felt I should venture into at one point or another in my cooking journey. That’s part of what this blog is all about, after all – getting people (myself included) to step out of their comfort zone and learn how to make delicious food that would otherwise seem intimidating or out of reach. I can guarantee that when you tell your holiday houseguests that the crackers gracing your cheese and charcuterie platter are homemade, they’ll be completely wowed and think you’re the most inventive cook on the planet. Promise.

A bowl of Homemade Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers.

I’m all about the recipes that seem fancy and complicated but really aren’t, and these Homemade Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers most certainly fit into that category. From start to finish, they take under an hour to make, making them totally attainable on any day of the week, no matter your schedule.

There are really no special ingredients in these bad boys, just the usual culprits: flour, salt, buttermilk and, of course, olive oil and rosemary. Oh, and a little maple syrup for a touch of sweetness! All of the ingredients get incorporated into a (somewhat dry) dough, rolled out as thin as possible and cut into the desired shape before baking. After a quick 20-25 minute turn in the oven, you’ll have a tray full of delicious Homemade Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers ready to serve to your hungry troops.

Homemade Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers ready for a quick turn in the oven.

This recipe makes enough for two very hungry or four mildly hungry guests, but if you’re entertaining a crowd, I suggest doubling up because these puppies are going to disappear FAST. The only caution I would give you is that they are best served the day they are baked, so only cook up as much as you think you’ll need. Since they’re so easy to make, you’ll be able to whip them up anytime the desire strikes!

Homemade Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers adorn a delicious cheese and fruit platter.

I hope this weekend has been treating you well. It’s been an eventful one over here at CGC headquarters, with one of my good friends giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, our fur baby getting spayed (:() and me cooking up a storm to get a bit ahead of the game for when baby girl comes in just a few short weeks.

We have our second baby shower here in Santa Barbara this weekend and are looking forward to seeing a bunch of our family and friends and of course eating a ton of delicious food. I may even see some Homemade Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers in my very near future…

These Homemade Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers are the perfect accompaniment to your next cheese and charcuterie board!
Print
Homemade Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

These homemade crackers are studded with rosemary and olive oil and so easy to make - the perfect addition to your next cheese platter!

Course: Appetizer, Snack
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt, for topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl, then stir in the remaining ingredients to form a somewhat crumbly dough. 

  3. Using your hands, mold the dough into a thick square or rectangle. 

  4. Sandwiching the dough between two pieces of parchment, use a rolling pin to roll it out as thin as possible, keeping it in as much of a rectangle or square as possible. 

  5. Once you have your dough as thin as you can get it, remove the top piece of parchment paper and cut the dough into the desired shapes. (I cut mine into small rectangles.)

  6. Place cut cracker dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges of the crackers take on a golden brown color. Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving. Best if served the day they are baked. 

Homemade Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers | CaliGirlCooking.com