Monday, November 07, 2011

Fabulous Finger-Foods

Have you checked your calendar recently? The holidays are near!  They are a time when families or friends gather to celebrate and share quality time together. From family dinners to holiday events, food usually takes center stage. Although some enjoy spending time preparing complicated recipes, it's helpful to have a stash of quick and easy recipes at your fingertips for informal gatherings with loved ones. A finger-food feast can be just as rewarding as a full-course dinner. . .and a little less stressful on the host! Here are some ideas for such a feast.

Start with a supply of bruschetta toasts, pita bread, chips, crackers, tea sandwich breads, or fresh, raw veggies. These serve as a good base for the topping recipes that follow:

White Bean Spread

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic,  minced
1 pinch red peppers, crushed
1 - 15 oz. can white beans, drained (save liquid)
1/2 tsp. rosemary, fresh and chopped
2 Tbsp. parsley, fresh and chopped
Salt to taste

Place olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper in a medium skillet. Saute' for one minute. Then, stir in the white beans and 5 Tbsp. of the reserved liquid. While heating, mash beans with a wooden spoon against the sides of the pan until a chunky puree forms.  Stir in the rosemary, parsley, and salt. If needed, add more bean liquid. 

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon, heaping, onto toast, chips, or veggie bites.  Makes 12.

Artichoke Topping

1 - 14 oz. can artichokes, water-packed
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. green-olive tapenade
1 tsp. light brown sugar
Salt to taste

Drain the artichokes and place them in a food processor. Add olive oil, lemon juice, tapenade, brown sugar, and salt. Blend until mixture is smooth.  

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon, heaping, onto toast or veggie bites.  Makes 12.

Red Pepper Topping

1 jar roasted red peppers, water-packed and drained
1 clove garlic, minced
4 Tbsp. bread crumbs, fresh
3 Tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes
Salt to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. If needed, add a small amount of the oil that the sun-dried tomatoes were packed in. 

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon, heaping, onto toast, chips, or veggie bites.  Makes 12.

Pinto Bean Hummus

1 - 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained
1/2 cup salsa
1 Tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. cumin, ground
1/2 cup cilantro, fresh
Avocado slices (optional)

Place beans, salsa, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and cumin in food processor. Blend until smooth. Place mixture into a bowl and stir in cilantro. Use immediately or refrigerate and chill.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon, heaping, onto toast, chips, or veggie bites. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

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