Friday, December 30, 2016

Anna Sultana’s Appetizers: Cheese Balls, Cheese Crescents and Stuffed Mushrooms

Happy New Year!!
I know, we just finished saying ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Hanukkah’, which is still going on until the evening of January 1, and now another celebration is bearing down on us.

Friends… gotta love ‘em.
They just want to drop in to wish you all the best in the new year.

There are even traditions about New Year visitors:
The first person to enter your home after midnight foretells the kind of luck you’ll have in the coming year. 
A tall, dark, handsome male bearing small gifts is said to bring the best luck; and no one should leave the house until someone first enters from outside.
How this happens is your problem.

Yeah, New Year visitors can affect your whole year!
So they really have to be treated with respect.
And, of course, they have to be fed.

Ma had some easy holiday snacks for just such important folks.
Some of the recipes require a bit of chilling.
It might be a good idea to do the prep work today.
That way you can relax and enjoy your guests.
After all, they meant well and your whole new year depends on them!

Wondering when Hanukkah will happen in the next few years? Here's a list:
2017:   December 12 - 20
2018:   December 2 - 10
2019:   December 22 - 30
2020:   December 10 - 19
Hope it helps!

                        Cheese Balls 

Chop separately and set each aside 
well drained roasted red peppers, enough to make 1/4 Cup
2 green onions
pecans, enough to make 1 2/3 Cups

Place in a large mixer bowl
500 g cream cheese, softened
200 g shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
dash cayenne pepper 
Beat with mixer until blended.
Divide the cheese mixture in half.
To one half add the chopped roasted red peppers.
To the other half add the chopped green onions.
Mix each until blended. 
Refrigerate several hours so the flavours will blend.

Shape into 24 1-inch balls and roll in the chopped nuts. 
Or make Cheese Logs by dividing in half and rolling each half into a 6 inch log before coating with nuts.
Refrigerate until ready to serve with crackers. 

Vary the stuffing by using the following:
1/4 Cup chopped fresh dill and / or 1/4 Cup chopped green onion 
medium or old cheddar cheese
green olives instead of the roasted red peppers

For variety coat the cheese balls with any of the following: 
toasted sesame seeds, chopped fresh parsley, dried parsley or paprika 
your favourite grated cheese or chopped nuts
grated parmesan cheese with a little finely chopped fresh parsley


                        Cheese Crescents

32 crescents 

Mix until blended
1/2 Cup cream cheese 
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon bacon bits (either real or packaged)

2 cans (235 g each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls 
Separate into 16 triangles. 
Spread each triangle with 2 teaspoons of the cream cheese mixture.
Cut each triangle in half.
Starting at short side of triangle, roll up. 
Place, point-sides down, on baking sheet.
Heat oven to 375°F. 
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. 
Serve warm. 

Vary the filling by adding any of the following to the seasoned cream cheese:
shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese
crumbled Feta with green onion or chopped spinach
black olives and sun dried tomatoes and grated cheddar
smoked salmon with chives or capers
garlic salt, canned small shrimp and chopped green onions, with or without chopped red peppers

For a sweeter filling don’t use the sage and garlic. Use this instead:
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 Tablespoon chopped walnuts 
Allergic to nuts? Don’t want cream cheese? Use chocolate chips.

If you’re in a rush you can use different flavoured cream cheese.

If you have the mini crescent rolls you won’t need to cut them.
To make ahead, prepare the crescents, and place them on the baking sheet. Refrigerate up to 4 hours before baking as directed.
The leftovers are also good cold out of the fridge or reheated in the microwave.


                        Stuffed Mushrooms

Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan

In a medium bowl mix
3/4 Cup fine bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 cup hot water 
Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Remove stems from
16 large mushrooms, about 1 pound
Arrange caps in the prepared pan.

Finely chop 
the mushroom stems
1/2 of a small green pepper
1/2 of a small red pepper

Place in a large frying pan
3 Tablespoons butter or margarine 
the chopped stems and peppers
Cook, stirring constantly, until tender. 
Stir the fried vegetables into the stuffing. 
Spoon the stuffing into the mushroom caps.

Preheat broiler.

Drizzle the caps with 
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine, melted 
Broil caps 5 to 7 inches from the heat 5 minutes, or until heated through. 
Garnish with
chopped basil
shredded cheese

Serve with crackers, bread slices and vegetables.

Vary the stuffing by adding any of the following:
garlic, chopped green onions and grated mozzarella cheese 
cooked bacon and onions
cream cheese
canned small shrimp or crab meat

If you’re in a rush you can use a 120 g box of Stove Top Stuffing Mix.
Before next holiday season make a batch of the stuffing mix and keep it in the freezer.

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