by Tara Davis

In the heart of the holiday season it can be easy to find ourselves overwhelmed with obligations and festivities. However joyful, the constant planning of family gatherings, office parties, football games and school events can sometimes be tiring. More often than not it means potluck, finger foods and (hopefully) crowd pleasing bites.

Unless it’s your claim to fame -in which case let’s swap recipes!- I encourage you to leave the potato salad and deviled eggs to someone else this year. Avoid the rut, the stress and predictability of holiday party food and shake up that snack game a little!

Below are some suggestions for a fresh take and easy options to consider bringing to your next shindig. Here’s hoping they inspire a new tradition for you and yours.

The Recipes

All can be served chilled or room temperature.

Hummus mini peppers: Drain and rinse 2 cans chickpeas. Mix with the juice of 1 lemon, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp garlic, 1 tsp white vinegar, 1 tbsp fresh thyme and salt and pepper to taste. You can leave the mixture as is, or blend to desired smoothness. Remove the stems of 1 bag sweet mini peppers and half lengthwise. Fill with chickpea mixture.

Marinated tomatoes: Cut the contents of one container grape tomatoes in half widthwise. Mix with 1/3 cup each olive oil, balsamic vinegar and shredded parmesan cheese, 1 tbsp diced garlic, and 1 large bunch fresh basil, chopped. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crackers or toast rounds. <note: these can also be served as skewers with whole basil leaves and sliced parmesan, drizzled with liquid mixture>.

Spiced fruit: Slice/chop 4 cups total your choice of mixed fresh fruit. My favorites are plums, pears, cherries, apples, oranges and mixed berries. Toss in a mixture of 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp.cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and the juice of one orange. Allow to sit for at least one hour before serving.

Cheese croissant bites: slice 1.5 cups your cheese of choice. Toss slices in 1/3 cup your hot sauce of choice. (My favorites are stilton or Dublin cheddar and Tobasco). Slice green onions, radishes and cabbage. Stuff mini croissants with some of each ingredient, and smoked turkey or ham if desired. Serve with mustard on the side for dipping.

Bonus tip: I like to throw a little ground cinnamon and cloves into my coffee grounds as they brew this time of year for a little winter flair!

Please contact me if you have any questions at (228)224-6781 or