Entertaining guests during the holidays isn’t just about a main course that calls all to the table. What often makes a festive gathering more fruitful is a spread of delicious appetizers, delightful drinks and divine desserts that keep loved ones coming back to the kitchen for more.
For appetizing dishes from the first guest at the house to the last out the door, you can heighten the flavor and appearance of favorite recipes with one simple ingredient: apples. Ranging from tart to sugary sweet, finding the right balance for your palate is key. Scent can also influence taste, especially when you have a balanced sweetness with an uplifting, fresh aroma.
The versatile flavor of apples isn’t just limited to foods, however. For the adults in the room, Pumpkin Spice Apple Cider with a splash of bourbon is a seasonally appropriate way to quench thirst and break the ice. Simply omit the bourbon for a kid-friendly version so the whole party can savor a sip.
Apple Oat Crumble and Citrus Caramel Topping
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 apples, diced into large cubes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup cold butter, diced small
1/2 cup caramel
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 orange, zest only
1 tablespoon orange juice
vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In bowl, stir together sugar and ground cinnamon.
Toss apples in lemon juice then in cinnamon sugar mixture. Spread in 9-inch pie dish.
In another bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour and oats. Using hands or fork, cut in butter until pea size crumbs form. Sprinkle evenly over apples.
Bake 40-45 minutes until mixture is bubbling and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes.
In small pot, whisk caramel, salt, orange zest and orange juice until warm.
Spoon apple oat crumble over large scoop vanilla ice cream and top with salted citrus caramel.
Apple Stuffing Bites with Rosemary Gravy
1 box stovetop stuffing
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups diced apples
1/2 onion, diced small
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef broth
2 teaspoons kosher salt
20 turns fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
Cook stuffing according to package directions; set aside and allow to cool slightly.
In large sauté pan, melt butter sauté apples and onion until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.
Stir together stuffing and apple mixture. Spread stuffing on sheet tray and allow to cool in refrigerator.
After cooling, form stuffing into medium bites and place on sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
Broil bites until golden brown and slightly crispy.
To make gravy: In small pot, melt butter and whisk in flour. Cook flour 1 minute, whisking frequently.
Whisk in beef broth, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce; bring to boil, whisking frequently. Remove from heat and stir in rosemary. If desired, continue gently simmering gravy to thicken.
Arrange stuffing bites in serving dish and drizzle with gravy. Serve hot.
Pumpkin Spice Apple Cider
1 apple, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
2 ounces bourbon
4 ounces pumpkin spice apple cider
apple slices, for garnish
rosemary, for garnish
cinnamon stick, for garnish
In pan over medium heat, sauté diced apples in butter and pumpkin spice 5-10 minutes.
In glass, combine bourbon and pumpkin spice apple cider; top with sautéed apples.
Add demerara sugar then garnish with apple slices, rosemary and cinnamon stick.
Bell-Issimo Brie Melt
1 round brie (6-8 ounces)
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Unwrap brie and place on microwave-safe dish. Cut off top of brie round and microwave 60 seconds until middle is soft.
Slice apples into thick wedges.
Top brie with half the apples, crushed walnuts and dried cranberries.
Serve with firm crackers and remaining apple wedges.