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Smoked salmon crostini bites with mustard butter and dill

This elegant appetizer is easy enough to prepare, you’ll whip it up party after party. Pour your guests some Chardonnay and snack on these salmon bites to get the engagement going! Notes: Substitute Italian bread if that’s what you have on hand. Also, you can use goat cheese instead of butter, or chives or capers instead of dill — all delicious alternatives. Smoked salmon crostini bites with mustard butter and dill Ingredients 1 stick butter, softened  1 tbsp stone ground mustard 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 1 tsp lemon juice 1/2 tsp lemon zest 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill + 1 tbsp chopped dill for garnish 1/8 tsp salt Freshly ground pepper 1 long, thin French baguette, sliced about 1/4-inch thick About 10 ounces of best quality smoked salmon, thinly sliced and cut into 1-to 2-inch pieces Lemon wedges (for serving) Directions Preheat oven to 375ºF. Position baguette slices in a…

3 fun napkin folding ideas for your Christmas table

The holidays are the perfect time to kick your table decorating game up a notch. You’ve spent hours scouring Pinterest to help you create the perfect holiday menu. You’ve dropped serious dough on extra serving platters, and you’ve cleaned corners of your house you never knew needed cleaning. Now is no time for holding back. Folding napkins is such a festive way to add some extra fun to the party. It’s quick, easy, and can make you feel like you really have it all together. If you need some inspiration, here are three holiday napkin folding ideas that will impress your guests — even if you’re drinking out of plastic champagne flutes. We can’t win them all, but you can have cute napkins! Christmas Tree Will work with either cloth or paper napkins. This fold works best for sit-down dinners.  1. Fold your square napkin in half. Then fold it in…

3 Easy steps to picking the right bottle of champagne for you

Christmas and New Years are right around the corner meaning one very exciting thing — it’s solidly champagne season. We associate the pop of the cork and those sparkling flutes with fun and celebration. But while you may want to down a glass, or two… or three, over the holidays, sometimes all of those choices at the store can be confusing. If you’ve ever hit the wine store and didn’t know what to buy, or feel like an amateur this time of year in the alcohol department, read on for a beginners guide to shopping for champagne. Remember, whichever you choose, make sure it’s in a dark bottle to help keep light away and preserve the intended flavors of the drink inside, but relax. It’s champagne! And no one should ever take a drink this fun and fizzy too seriously. Also see, Tips to prevent a champagne hangover. Step 1:…

Apricot Pinwheel Cookies

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without these dainty, bright orange apricot-filled cookies brightening up the table. The melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese pastry dough and light fresh, apricot filling are too good not to share this holiday season. I remember my grandmother saying these cookies were an Italian tradition, yet, much like the handful of Italian slang words she spoke, I’m not sure how much validity there is to that claim. I’ve found links to similar Hungarian and Polish recipes, and even a few from Finland. Regardless of their origins, this cookie has become a Christmas classic. You’ll often see similar cookies on mixed catered cookie trays in a basic roll shape —but those cookies don’t even compare to the perfection of these little wonders. Plus, the pinwheel shape adds some extra fun for the season. My aunt (who has literally made our family thousands of these little time consuming cookies in her…

Crispy Cheese Tortellini Appetizer with a kick

If I had to think of the one* recipe that I’ve been making my entire life, it would probably be these parmesan crusted tortellini bites. I’ve been making these since before I knew anything about food, and definitely before I cared even the slightest bit about cooking. So let me share this most delicious of all appetizers. These cheese tortellini are breaded and fried to crispy, golden perfection. Sprinkle them with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and dip them in warm marinara sauce. I call it an appetizer, but really, I never want to eat anything else when these are around. You can use a deep fryer, but I just stick with a deep pot. It can be a little tedious moving the little tortellini through all of the steps of breading and frying, but it’s worth it. I typically just settle in for the long haul, pop on some…

Holiday Ornament Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie Treats might already be your go-to when you need a quick treat for a kid’s birthday party or snack for the class, but this holiday season, dress them up a bit for a brand new take on the old classic. They’ll look just as good in your kid’s lunchbox as they will on the buffet table at your holiday party. I made red and green Rice Krispie ornaments, but you could easily adapt to make them match the color scheme of your holiday decor — blues or purples. Leave some without food coloring for an all natural golden ornament look. I sprinkled in some golden sugar sprinkle for extra shine, but the photo doesn’t pick up on it well. Add sprinkles in the colors of your choice for extra customization.  I could even see them decorated with piped white chocolate for more fun and flavor. The Rolos were…

Roasted butternut squash with cranberries, goat cheese and walnuts

Cranberries can turn just about anything into a festive side dish. I’m definitely guilty of overusing the little red seasonal berries, but I can’t get enough of their sweet, tart taste this time of year. Roasted butternut squash is good on its own, but trust me, it’s made better by a little juicy pop. I learned a saying years ago — “If it grows together, it goes together.” (It’s actually pretty common in the gardening and food world nowadays.) I think about it often when I pair foods. And it’s so true. Strawberries and rhubarb; tomatoes and basil; squash and cranberries. They both peak this time of year and are a perfect pair. I purchased some pre sliced squash at the grocery store the other day. I couldn’t resist. It was on super sale since it was about to go bad. That meant I needed to use it up right…

Baked brie with cranberry jalapeño jam

I am, without a doubt, an appetizer person. It’s where all the best foods are found! They’re always so cheesy, gooey, warm, and dunkable — This spicy baked brie with cranberry jalapeño jam appetizer is no exception. This recipe is great around the holidays because you might already have fresh cranberries are your house. You can substitute a cup of homemade cranberry sauce for the fresh cranberries if you have leftovers. Plus, just look at those colors! They’re a perfect pop to any holiday table. This delicious sweet and spicy brie recipe comes together without a whole lot of work involved. Just warm the brie and top with a simple 10 minute cranberry jalapeño sauce. It’s so creamy and such an unusual combination, it will be gone in no time! Serve it with crackers, apple slices, and/or sliced baguettes. Baked brie with cranberry jalapeño jam Serves 8 as an appetizer…

This turkey-shaped butter will be the talk of the table

If you’ve ever gazed at your Thanksgiving table and thought the butter dish looked a little boring, apparently you’re not alone. One company is churning out turkey-shaped butter sculptures, and they’re flying off the shelves. The Philadelphia-based Keller’s Creamery is making seasonally-shaped half pound butter sculptures for $3.99-$7.99 each. The architectural achievement is the perfect depiction of a plump, Thanksgiving turkey, with textured feathers, wattle, and tail all made from creamy salted butter. Most big box stores and supermarkets are be stocking the designer dairy item. Gristedes in NYC, Walmart, Whole Foods, and Wegmans are all confirmed carriers. As an East Coast brand, the birds are more commonly found in nearby states. If you can’t find one where you live, you could always buy a mold on Amazon and make your own. It’s recommended that you keep the butter cold until serving, so all your guests can enjoy your delightful…

Overnight apple cinnamon raisin french toast casserole

Dishes like this overnight apple cinnamon raisin french toast casserole are particularly great around the holidays when you have guests, but you also want to sleep in. You want it all! And I agree. On top of being easy to make, breakfast casseroles are a great choice because you can prep them ahead of time, and feed an army in to time. Try making customs omelets or stacks and stacks of pancakes when you’ve been entertaining the entire day and night before — yawn! This casserole says “I care” yet, “I also care about my sanity.” Just tear or chop up some bread and apples. Add some raisin and let soak overnight in the creamy french toast egg mixture. The bread will sop up all that delicious flavor and give you super moist french toast, loaded cinnamon flavor. And all the fruit in this dish means that you don’t have…