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3 homemade snacks to serve with your holiday cocktails

You need something simple and satisfying.
Almond date mix [MICHELLE STARK  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Almond date mix [MICHELLE STARK | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Dec. 10, 2019

If I ever open a restaurant, it will be called Tiny Snacks, and the menu will consist entirely of, well, you know: small dishes worthy of just two or three bites. Everything will be $3.

This is almost always my preferred way of eating, because I have extreme FOMO and also realize that lots of food just tastes less good the more of it you eat. But this is especially my preferred way of eating at a party.

A little handful of something here, a small scoop of another thing there, and pretty soon your plate is full of a wide variety of delicious morsels. The holidays are a wonderful time to indulge in this kind of meal, because potlucks can quickly equal more than the sum of their parts. You make two dishes, but get to enjoy 10? Hallelujah.

Snacks go particularly well with cocktails. But even if you’re not inviting a dozen people into your home, you can still whip up a couple of snacks for festive noshing. Two of these got me through Thanksgiving prep, and they would be equally as satiating during holiday cookie baking or in between Christmas Eve gift exchanging.

Almond Date Mix

I first saw this recipe about a month ago on Bon Appétit’s website, and I’ve made some version of it no less than seven times since. It is ridiculously easy, full of wonderful holiday-esque aromas (roasted orange peel!) and substantial. Also: not entirely unhealthy. The key is to make sure everything is coated in plenty of olive oil, and to stir often while roasting. If you can smell the nuts, they’re probably close to being done.

Almond date mix [MICHELLE STARK | Tampa Bay Times]

1 cup raw almonds

8 pitted Medjool dates, cut or torn into chunky pieces

4 wide strips orange peel

2 sprigs rosemary

Large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine almonds, dates torn into chunky pieces, orange peel, rosemary, crushed red pepper flakes and a large pinch of kosher salt in a small heatproof skillet. Add enough olive oil to very generously coat the nuts and dates. Give it all a stir.

Transfer skillet to the oven and roast until nuts are deep golden brown in the center, dates are chewy and starting to caramelize and the orange zest has curled and started to crisp around the edges, about 20 minutes.

Source: Adapted from Bon Appétit

Prosciutto and Pear Rollups

I’m going to be really real with you right now and tell you that prosciutto is not my favorite. I mean, as a salty cured meat, it’s better than most things, but I much prefer something like salami or pepperoni — more texture, more flavor, more oomph. That said, I really like prosciutto in a bite like this, cradling a sweet sliver of fruit and a creamy cheese, drizzled with honeyed olive oil and flecked with salt.

8 strips prosciutto, or even thinly sliced ham, about 3 inches wide

1 large pear, thinly sliced

8 ounces Brie cheese, cut into 1-ounce pieces

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup honey

Freshly ground black pepper

Flaky salt, such as Maldon

Place a piece of prosciutto on a flat surface. Place a piece of pear and a piece of cheese at one end of the strip of meat, then roll starting at that end away from you until pear and cheese are wrapped in prosciutto.

Repeat with remaining prosciutto, pear and cheese.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, honey and black pepper. Place prosciutto rollups on a serving board or platter, then drizzle olive oil mixture over top. You can reserve some for later drizzling or dipping if you like.

Sprinkle everything with flaky salt and serve.

Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times

Garlic Stuffed Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a great vessel for yummy fillings, but you can keep it really simple and still get satisfying results. Fill them with a garlicky cheese mixture, then bake and serve warm.

8 ounces fresh, whole mushrooms

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cloves garlic

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash mushrooms and remove the stems.

Place cream cheese in a bowl and stir until it is creamy. Grate garlic cloves into bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine.

Using a teaspoon, scoop cream cheese out and fill the mushroom where the stem was. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Place mushrooms stuffing side up in a glass baking dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

After 15 minutes, pull baking dish out of oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to taste. Return to oven to finish baking. Mushrooms are done with the Parmesan has browned lightly.

Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times

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