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Holiday appetizers

Pomegranate Jeweled Cheeseball

Source: How Sweet Eats

Yield: serves about 4 to 6

Total time: 1 hour (mostly down time)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

10 fresh sage leaves

1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, softened

4 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened

6 ounces freshly grated sharp white cheddar cheese

1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup pomegranate arils

crackers for serving

Directions:

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add butter. Once it's sizzling, toss in the sage leaves and cook until crispy - flipping once and cooking about 1 minute per side. Remove the sage leaves and place them on a paper towel to crisp up a bit. Set the butter aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, mascarpone and cheddar cheese. Beat until combined, then add in the almonds, sage leaves, remaining butter, salt and pepper. Mix on low speed until combined, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides and the bottom if needed. Take the cheese mixture out of the bowl and mold it into a big ball as best you can. Roll it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the arils on a paper towel and pat them completely dry. Let them sit out while the cheese is chilling to remove as much liquid from them as possible. This will keep the cheeseball pretty!

After 30 minutes, mold the cheese into more of a smooth ball. Add the arils to a plate or baking sheet and roll the ball through them, using your hands to press arils into all the cracks and crevices. You will need to gently press so the arils adhere to the cheese. At this time, you can serve it immediately or keep it in the fridge until ready to use. If you want to make it ahead of time, you can rolls the ball 1 to 2 days beforehand. I'd wait until the night before or morning of to add the pomegranate arils, and you may need to let the cheese come to room temp a bit so it's sticky enough.

Black Pepper Popovers with Chives and Parmesan

Source: Familystyle Food

Ingredients:

2 cups milk

4 eggs

4 tablespoons butter, melted

10 ounces all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest

Directions:

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly coat a 12-cup popover pan or muffin tin with melted butter or oil.

Whisk together the milk, eggs and butter in a large bowl until blended. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Place the empty pan in the oven to heat for 7 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and fill the cups evenly with the batter (this is less messy if you transfer batter to a 4 cup liquid measuring cup).

Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking until the popovers are deep golden brown, 15 - 18 more minutes.

Cool briefly in the pan before removing and serving. You can reheat cooled popovers in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes.

Pastry Wrapped Cranberry Baked Brie

Source: Half Baked Harvest

Ingredients:

Cranberry Sauce

▢ 2 cups fresh cranberries

▢ 1/2 cup orange juice

▢ 1/4 cup maple syrup

▢ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

▢ 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

▢ 1 pinch sea salt

Brie

▢ 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

▢ 1 8-12 ounce wheel of brie cheese

▢ 2/3 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

▢ 1 egg, beaten

▢ coarse sugar, for sprinkling

Instructions:

1. To make the cranberry sauce: in a medium pot, bring the cranberries, orange juice, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to a boil over medium heat. Boil 10-15 minutes or until the cranberries burst and the sauce becomes jammy.

2. Preheat the oven to 425° F.

3. Lay the puff pastry flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the brie in the center of the pastry and remove a little of the rind from the top of the brie. I leave the rind on the bottom and sides intact. Spread the cranberry sauce over top and then sprinkle over the pecans. Fold the corners of the pastry over the brie. Brush the pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with sugar.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is deep golden brown.

5. EAT and enjoy with your favorite bread or crackers...or just with a spoon.