This month will be filled with get-togethers at which tasty hors d’oeuvres are enjoyed instead of full meals.
One of the most popular is Spinach Artichoke Dip. You can purchase the cold version of this already made, but what could taste better than making it at home and serving it warm and melty from the oven? It is easy to make and to pop into the oven, but if you want to avoid the “day of” cooking, put it together the day before and refrigerate it. Let it warm at room temperature for 30 minutes before placing it in the oven to bake.
One of my favorite appetizers is Brie cheese and it is even more delicious when it is melted inside crispy puff pastry as in the recipe below for Brie en Croute and given a festive touch with dried cranberries and almonds.
Spinach Artichoke Dip
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, minced
2/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
½ cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese
Pepper, to taste
1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and squeezed to remove excess liquid, chopped
6 ounces frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed to drain excess liquid
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 1-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
In a mixing bowl stir together cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, Parmesan, mozzarella and pepper.
Stir in artichokes and spinach.
Spread mixture evenly into prepared baking dish. Bake in preheated oven until heated through and melty, about 20 minutes.
Serve with tortilla chips, crackers or toasted baguette slices.
Holiday Brie en Croute
1 tablespoon water
1 sheet of puff pastry (½ of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets)
½ cup apricot preserves or seedless raspberry jam
1/3 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
1 (13- to 16-ounce) Brie cheese round
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.
Sprinkle the flour on the work surface. Unfold the pastry sheet on the work surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 14-inch square. Spread the preserves on the pastry to within 2 inches of the edge. Sprinkle with the cranberries and almonds. Place the cheese in the center of the pastry. Fold the pastry up over the cheese to cover. Trim the excess pastry and press to seal. Brush the seam with the egg mixture. Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Decorate with pastry scraps, if desired. Brush with the egg mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let stand for 45 minutes. Serve with crackers.
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: SLOWE COOKING: Tasty appetizers are a must for holiday parties