If your menu is not yet set for Christmas or any upcoming holiday gathering, consider these starters to help set a festive food mood.
Pull-apart cheese and spinach Christmas tree
Dozens of iterations of this semi-homemade dish have filled up social media feeds this season.
Check out the full recipe here to give this festive, filled and flaky appetizer a try, and feel free to adjust the flavors and fillings according to your palate and preferences.
Brie and cranberry puff pastry wreath
Store bought dough in this recipe will save lots of time for any holiday hosts who are pressed for precious minutes in the kitchen, but the final result won't look or taste like you cut any corners.
Christina Musgrave of Tasting with Tina shared her full recipe here that takes less than 30 minutes to make and is filled with all the holiday flavors: cranberry, orange, brie and of course -- buttery pastry.
Snowman Brrr-ata Caprese
Digital food creator Sine Siemkowicz has hundreds of seasonally appropriate recipes on her site and social pages, Foodbites, and this simple Caprese salad in the shape of a snowman is a simple way to jazz up the hit appetizer.
Plus, with minimal cutting or chopping and simple ingredients, this dish is ready in under 20 minutes, which she said will "give you more time enjoy the holidays with your loved ones."
4 burrata balls
Red cherry tomatoes
Place the drained burrata carefully in pairs on a platter - one on top of the other.
Slice a carrot and trim it into two triangle-shaped noses. Place a carrot nose on each snowman.
Top the snowmen with peppercorn for the eyes, buttons and mouth.
Make a scarf out of basil leaves and simply stick these between the burrata.
Arrange the cherry tomatoes on the platter around the snowmen.
Place the bocconcini and basil leaves.
Top with a good drizzle of olive oil, balsamic glaze and a generous sprinkle of sea salt. Serve.
Camembert with Garlic and Rosemary
Cooking with Cocktail Rings creator Kylie Mazon Chambers shared a couple of her favorite easy and cheesy appetizers to add to any holiday table this season.
This simple 20-minute appetizer from Chambers' book "Share and Savor" bakes into a gooey, creamy and dippable starter.
Start with a fresh round of camembert, cut cross hatch marks on top of the rind and insert thin slices of garlic and fresh rosemary tips into the cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Plate and serve with crostini or crackers.
Baked Goat Cheese in Marinara Sauce with Crostini
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
1 French baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup marinara sauce of choice
6-ounce goat cheese log
Kosher salt, as needed
Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
1 tablespoon thinly sliced basil, for garnish
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Dip one side of the baguette slices into the oil and place on a baking sheet with the oil-dipped side facing up. Repeat with the remaining slices.
Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove and let cool.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Add marinara sauce to the bottom of an 8 by 5 by 1/2-inch baking dish.
Flatten the goat cheese log into a circle then add to the baking dish on top of the sauce.
Bake until the goat cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, then garnish with basil and serve with the crostini.
Recipe reprinted courtesy of Cooking with Cocktail Rings.
Figs in a Blanket with Whipped Goat Cheese Mousse
The chefs at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City shared this simple meat-free riff on a favorite holiday appetizer.
Makes: 25 pieces
1 sheet puff pastry, cut into 3-inch triangles
7 large figs, cut into quarters
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons water (egg wash)
Goat cheese mousse, (recipe below)
For the Goat Cheese Mousse
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces goat cheese, brought to room temperature
1 bunch chives, finely sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
On a sheet pan, lay the figs skin side down. Sprinkle liberally with the sugar and bake for 5 minutes, or until caramelized. Let cool. Lower the oven to 350 degrees.
Lay one piece of puff pastry on a clean surface and place a cooled fig onto the wide end of the triangle. Roll pastry and seal the end with the egg wash.
Place the rolled figs on a sheet tray and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
For the goat cheese mousse: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip the heavy cream until very stiff. Set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon and beat the goat cheese until very soft and smooth.
Slowly fold in the whipped cream, a third at a time until well incorporated.
Fold in the chives, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour mixture into a pastry bag (or alternatively put in a bowl) until ready for use. Either pipe or spoon the mixture on top of the figs in a blanket.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story was originally published on Dec. 15, 2021.