Everyone knows the key to the perfect Christmas get-together is sparkly, festive decor, fun & happy people and last but not least, tasty bites and cocktails. Naturally we made sure our party had the regular crowd-pleasers (seven layer dip, a cheese board, a bottle of tequila…) as well as some unexpected treats (rock candy champagne, Toasted Almond Parmesan Dip & bacon wrapped dates). All of the food was bite-sized, so it was easy to hold a cocktail in one hand (very important) and treats in the other (also very important).
The most satisfying part of throwing a successful soiree? The smiles on people’s faces as they eat & socialize. The rave reviews over our decor and food didn’t hurt either ;).
Two of my favorite treats of the evening? Butternut Squash Ricotta Toasts and Sweet & Spicy Nuts. These are easy recipes that you can whip up an hour before the party begins. See our how-to’s below…
Butternut Squash Ricotta Toasts (serves 8)
Ingredients: 1 bag frozen butternut squash cubes, 1 cup ricotta cheese, 1 lemon, 1 handful fresh sage, 1 fresh baguette, olive oil, salt and pepper,
1. Spread out the entire bag of frozen butternut squash onto a baking sheet and cook at 450 degrees for about 25-30 minutes (until squash is no longer frozen and browned/slightly crisped).
2. While butternut squash is baking, mix 1 cup of ricotta cheese with 2 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3. On medium-high heat, heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a skillet. Once hot, throw sage leaves into the oil and fry quickly for 2 – 3 seconds. Remove leaves from skillet and place on paper towel to soak up excess oil. Set sage leaves aside.
4. Remove squash from the oven. Cut baguette into small slices and spread ricotta cheese on top of each. Place squash chunks on top of the ricotta cheese and top it off with a couple of fried sage leaves.
Sweet & Spicy Nuts
Ingredients: 1/2 lb walnuts, 1/2 lb macadamia nuts, 2/3 cup white granulated sugar, 1/3 cup dark-brown sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 egg white (room temp), 1 tbsp water.
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine salt, white & brown sugars, cayenne and cinnamon making sure everything is thoroughly mixed with no lumps.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together 1 egg white and 1 tbsp of water. Then, place nuts in bowl and coat them evenly in the egg white mixture.
4. Transfer nuts to sugar/spice bowl and toss evenly so they are completely coated in the mixture.
5. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and bake for thirty minutes. Mix occasionally to prevent nuts from sticking together.