The holiday season – which in my mind usually begins with Canadian Thanksgiving in October – can be loads of fun but it can also be stressful.
There’s always so much to do, but I find a lot of the stress that we feel lately is the “stress of keeping up”.
Y’all know what I’m talking about.
I mean, the world wide web is a spectacular thing at this time of year. It gives us some incredible ideas for entertaining over the holidays.
But a lot of times, I find the ideas are a bit much.
Like, “create a beautiful holiday centrepiece from foraged boughs that have been lovingly hand-picked in the mountain tops by gnome trained monkeys and soaked carefully in the tears of virgin mermaids”…
Ya feel me?
Alright, maybe that’s a bit extra. But there have been times I have seen holiday food projects that are just too over the top…even for me!
So this Christmas, why not take my lead and make a couple of these festive treats? Most are easy and many begin with store-bought items to make it easier for everyone, because we all don’t have access to gnome trained monkeys and tears of virgin mermaids….
Let’s begin with this beauty…take some store bought pizza dough and form it into an even circle, make slits in the sides, pull each piece out a bit, brush with egg wash and bake (see first pic for finished loaf!!).
And this cute Santa loaf was made with crescent roll dough…I’m hoping to have the directions for this cutie up soon!
And this great appetizer dish uses store bought pizza dough again, cut into small pieces (if you can find frozen bread rolls, those are the easiest); place the balls around a small brie and bake…serve with some pepper jelly or topping of your choice and tell guests to rip off pieces of bread and dig right in!!
This adorable conversation starter is one of my favs and is pretty easy to put together. Buy a log of goat cheese and split it into 3 part (one large, one medium and one small); roll them in grated parmesan and then stack them on each other, securing with a skewer. Decorate with parsley arms, a shaved carrot scarf, clove buttons, peppercorn eyes and mouth, a teeny carrot nose and a thyme crown…serve with crackers!
And how is this for an edible conversation piece?? Take a peek here for step by step instructions!!
And this cute candy cane appetizer was attractive to photgraph but I have to make an admission..
The day I was testing it, I had to leave my house and it wasn’t finished cooking. I pulled it out of the oven anyway and dusted it with powdered sugar just to get a decent shot (so that you could all get the general idea). I will see if I have some time to make it over and give better instructions. However, in the meantime, if you want to give it a shot, it’s just puff pastry rolled (I’m sure you could also use crescent roll dough) into a rectangle, topped with sweet cranberry sauce and pieces of cut up brie, closed up, formed into a candy cane and baked. I’m sure if it was baked properly, it would have been great!! Hahaha!
This one is a cute starter for the holidays! I made some tomato soup and served it in shot glasses alongside some easy crackers – using wonton wrappers, cut out Christmas shapes (I used trees), sprayed with cooking spray and either topped with chopped parsley or sprinkled with paprika (think red and green); bake until golden and serve alongside soup shots).
Now, this festive treat is made with Nutella but I’ve included it here because you could easily swap out the Nutella for some pesto or tapenade or sun dried tomato paste…dust with sea salt or parmesan (or both) and bake until golden! Click here for step by step instructions…
Here is an easy, peasy starter: take any soft, formable cheese (think goat cheese, cream cheese or even a combination of cheeses that might be the base of a cheese ball); form into a candy cane shape, use roasted red pepper strips to create “lines” and serve with crackers. I mean, it doesn’t get easier than that!!!
And why serve a simple tomato and bocconcini salad when you can make it into a holiday starter? I generally wouldn’t serve tomatoes at this time of year, but I find that cherry tomatoes are much sweeter than regular tomatoes (which can be quite grainy out of season). So serving these with small bocconcini on sticks and on a bed of lettuce leaf basil (with some sprigs of thyme and rosemary tucked in for good measure), it’s a cute change to a boring dish.
I did tell you that these were easy, right? This, below, is the simplest of them all: just take two packs of grocery store herbs (one rosemary and one thyme) and form a wreath on a wooden board; tuck an assortment of olives (I used mainly green and tucked in some black kalamata olives); with small star cookie cutters, cut some Christmas shapes out of bottled red peppers and place strategically around the wreath; finish with some green leaves (I used lettuce leaf basil but you could use spinach).
Sometimes making things festive just means you need to see things with different eyes. Yes, it means being a bit more creative, but it also means throwing caution to the wind and seeing if you can change up something “regular” into something spectacular. Like, curling a slice of cucumber into a tree shape and topping a mini sandwich in the cutest of ways!!
I’d love to see your ideas. What creative ways have you come up with to celebrate the season??