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Watch & Win: Successful Holiday Appetizer

Happy Holidays Secret Ingredient Viewers! It’s the season for great food and the Secret Ingredient is offering a chance to win a $25 Whole Foods Market gift card, so you can treat yourself to something special this holiday season. What’s the catch? It’s simple. We want to know what your favorite holiday party dish is and how it adds that special touch to your holiday celebrations. For inspiration, check out this week’s Secret Ingredient episode featuring our Specialty Department and watch as host Mark Law shares his tips for creating an amazing antipasti platter—for ten guests— in a snap. Antipasti platters are one of our favorite holiday entertaining tricks and the secret to their success is the great selection of artisan cheeses, charcuterie meats, olives, rustic breads, crackers, nuts and classic cheese accompaniments available in Whole Foods Market’s Specialty Department. After watching this week’s episode, post a comment with your favorite holiday party dish and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $25 Whole Foods Market gift card. Please post your comments between Monday, December 8th and midnight Wednesday, December 17th.  The winner will be selected by The Secret Ingredient panel of judges and posted in The Whole Story on 12/22/2008. Top Ten Tips for Successful Holiday Appetizer Parties 1.    Plan for 2 to 3 ounces (each) of cheese and charcuterie meats per person. 2.    Choose 4 to 5 cheeses. Feature cheeses made from one kind of milk, sourced from one region or create an eclectic mix of blue, cheddar, soft bloomy rind and fresh cheeses. 3.    Choose a variety of olives and plan for about 3 to 4 olives per person. 4.    Add variety with classic cheese accompaniments, such as: •    Marcona Almonds: Almonds lightly sautéed and dusted with sea salt. •    Walnuts in Lemon Honey: A heavenly addition to blue cheese. •    Membrillo: A quince paste from Spain. Delicious paired with Manchego. 5.    Choose 2 or 3 types of breads and crackers. Have our bakery experts slice the bread for you. 6.    Allow cheese to come to room temperature before serving for fullest flavor. 7.    Ask our wine experts for wine pairing tips. Chill whites, pinks and bubbles and allow reds to breathe. 8.     Each 750 ml bottle of wine yields 5 glasses. Plan on 2 to 3 glasses of wine per person. 9.    Pick up a selection of 365 Everyday Value Sparkling Water and Italian Soda for non-drinkers and designated drivers. 10.    Have small appetizer plates, napkins, serving utensils, cheese knives, corkscrews, ice and wine glasses on hand.

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169 comments

Comments

KT says …

Try pairing your Manchego with Quince Paste. It's really tasty!

Karen A says …

My favorite holiday dish -- and the favorite of my friends and family -- is cranberry crunch. I learned to make it during a visit to Plymouth Rock so it couldn't be more American!It's a hot, crumbly, yummy dessert made with oatmeal, butter, brown sugar and cranberry sauce. Top it with vanilla ice cream. I actually prefer Whole Foods own brand of vanilla ice cream!

Rebecca says …

Every Christmas eve, I look forward to cheese fondue in which we dip ham and french bread.

Sharon says …

I was born and raised in Florida, which can sometimes lack the "Holiday Season" spirit. I moved to Pennsylvania three years ago, and began celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with my husband's family. The first year, and every year since, I've made my favorite dessert recipe: Pear Gingersnap Cheesecake. The crust consists of crushed gingersnaps. On top of that is a layer of thinly sliced pears and powdered ginger, and then the cheesecake filling. It's an elegant version of a classic cheesecake, and of course I buy all of my 100% organic ingredients from Whole Foods. It's a hit every year, and usually the only dessert to be completely demolished!

David says …

I'll start off with a very simple holiday secret. For coffee after the meal, I add vanilla extract and some Pumpkin spice to the top of the coffee ground beans just before brewing. Great compliment to any dessert.

Claire says …

Brandy butter. It's easy to make and tastes delicious. All the indulgence you need for the Holidays!

sara says …

My favorite holiday appetizer has to be a delicious warm brie in puff pastry. Delicious crackers alongside and you are ready to feed a hungry crowd!

Stef says …

Mulled wine cupcakes with chestnut butter frosting! http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2008/12/christmas-cupcakes-mulled-wine-cupcakes.html

Jessica says …

Here's a tasty dish for a holiday party: Texas Caviar Chop fine: 1 small green or red bell pepper 1 small fresh jalapeno pepper 4 stalks celery 1 cup red onion In a small saucepan; Boil the following and then let cool completely: 1/2 c oil 1/2c cider vinegar 1/2 c sugar 1 t salt and pepper Pour over the chopped ingredients with 1 16 oz. can pinto beans, 1 15 oz can black eyed peas, 1 16 oz white corn all drained and strained. Chill at least 4 hours, serve with chips or as a side salad.

KBO says …

My husband and I are still establishing our own holiday traditions with ourselves and our families. My new favorite easy party snack is cutting squares of puff pastry into small squares, topping them with carmelized onions and a shaving of parmesiano reggiano, then baking until the puff pastry is golden brown. Easy and delicious.

Debie says …

My favorite and quick holiday party dish is Dried Beef roll ups. Take a slice of dried beef, spread a mixture of creme cheese and horseradish on it, layer in a scallion and roll it up. Let it sit in the fridge for about an hour, then slice in 1/2" slices. Platter rolled side up. Really tasty!

Nicole Franco Silva Bolanos says …

My favorite holiday dish is a simplified version of Kurkkusalaatti (Finnish cucumber salad). The recipe is just sliced cucumbers, sour cream & fresh chopped dill, salt & pepper to taste. Not only is the dish delicious, it's light flavor is a reminder that the winter holidays are celebrating the rebirth of spring and warmer months on the way. A lighter dish is always refreshing in the midst of heavy winter fare, and also a reminder of my Finnish heritage at a time when all cultures and religions come together to celebrate.

Tori says …

My favorite dish is the homemade cranberry sauce I prepare every year! I boil down two big bags of fresh cranberries, a 1/2 dark brown organic sugar, 2 cups maple syrup, & 3 cups of water until the cranberries burst and the liquid evaporates and thickens. Meanwhile, I mix up two cans of mandarin orange segments (with juice) and a bag of raw pecans in a blender until it forms a thick, nutty paste. I let the cranberry sauce cool (it boils for about 30 mins) and then mix in the mandarin-pecan paste and it makes for a rich, tasty sauce for tofurkey! :)

CandacitaBonita says …

My favorite holiday dish is My Mom's cornbread dressing, but this year I gave the recipe to a friend who put a vegetarian spin on it. I must say the vegetarian method beat out Mom's original recipe.

Monika Woolsey says …

My family always makes a Mexican Christmas salad, with oranges, apples, beets, sprinkled with coconut, pine nuts, and pomegranate seeds. And THEN, drizzled with tequila dressing. This is the dish that taught me that I actually love beets! Here's a recipe I Googled. Ensalada de Navidad (Mexican Christmas Salad) 2 large beets, peeled and sliced 1/3 pound piloncillo (about 2/3 cup small pieces) or 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 6 whole cloves 1/4 cup lemon juice 1 medium-size tart green apple, cored and sliced Romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and crisped 2 cups peeled, shredded jicama 1 medium-size red apple, cored and sliced 2 medium-size oranges, peel and membrane cut off, quartered and thinly sliced 1/2 small pineapple, peeled, cored, halved, and thinly sliced 1 large banana, sliced 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds 3 tablespoons roasted unsalted peanuts 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts Tequila dressing (recipe follows) In a 2- to 3-quart pan, place beets, piloncillo, cloves, lemon juice, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until beets are tender when pierced, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid; let beets and liquid cool. Let green apple slices stand in beet juice until pink; drain and discard juice. Cover a large platter with romaine. Arrange beets, jicama, red and green apples, oranges, pineapple, and banana on top. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, peanuts, and pine nuts, and add dressing. Serves 6. Per serving: 272 cal. (30 percent from fat); 4.1 g protein; 9 g fat (1.2 g sat.); 46 g carbo.; 44 mg sodium; 0 mg chol. Tequila dressing. In a small pitcher, combine 1/3 cup each orange juice and white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons each olive oil and tequila, 4 teaspoons sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Everly says …

1 large wedge of Brie 1 8oz block of cream cheese 2 round crusty loafs - sourdough is nice Chop up Brie and cream cheese and warm in a pan over med/low heat until melted together. Slice off the top of the loaf and remove the interior (leaving a bowl). Chop the second loaf of bread into bite-size cubes. Pour the cheese mixture into the bread bowl. Put the bread bowl with cheese into a 350 oven for 15 minutes or until the bread is warmed through. Serve with chopped bread (you can also add apples for dipping).

Angie says …

My favorite holiday party dish is a crab spread accented w/ tarragon and lemon. It feels luxurious, it's not that bad for you, and I feel like I'm supporting our local Maine fishing industry when I use crab!

Megan says …

I am vegan, so I often have to bring my own dishes to family gatherings. This Thanksgiving I made a few side dishes that my entire carnivorous family devoured: french green beans sauteed with olive oil, lemon zest, sundried tomatoes mashed sweet potatoes with maple syrup, orange juice concentrate, and chopped pecans They were both so simple, and complemented my Tofurkey roast incredibly well!

Serena says …

I love warm, thick, creamy hot chocolate for the holidays! Pop on some marshmallows, and it's the perfect after dinner treat :)

Lisa says …

My favortie dish is green bean casserole but made with organic foods and soy milk. Instead of milk use soy. Also use fresh green beans, organic mushroom soup, and the fried onions. This is lower in calories and great for those who are lactate intolerance. Lisa

kimberly says …

my favorite holiday party dish is my father in law's eggplant parm. even tho i am jewish i have been celebrating christmas with my husbands family since before we even began dating (we were best friends). i was a vegetarian thru my teens and early 20's, and my now father in law always made eggplant parm especially for me, so that i could have a main course instead of just the sides. even tho i now eat meat and could eat the turkey he roasts, he still makes it for me every year- which i love, as its my ALL TIME favorite food. he isnt well and is planning on teaching me how to make it this year to make sure i can enjoy it forever....

Valerie Mitchell says …

My favorite party dish is all about presentation :) Stuffed Whole Pumpkin :) * scoop the seeds out of a pumpkin or large squash * steam * stuff - for thanksgiving I used a Vegan rice and bean dish, I've also stuffed with something as simple as instant stuffing out of a box * Roast for about 1/2 hour Makes an impressive party dish in an edible serving bowl :)

jennifer says …

easy pumpkin spice spread one container vegan sour cream one small can pumpkin puree (not pie mix) 1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spices, to taste blend in food processor or blender and serve with graham sticks.

Eylem says …

I love Apple Pie and Bûche de Noël. Both are great for holiday parties, and if you can not bake one you can always purchase them from WFM.

Kamilah Rouse says …

My fav holiday appetizer for Thanksgiving or Christmas are figs stuffed with goat cheese. I usually make half of them wrapped in bacon for those that like that sort of thing... and the rest are au naturale for the rest of us! The figs taste like CHOCOLATE! People love them and expect them from me every event. :) Ingredients: * 8 bacon slices * 8 firm-ripe fresh figs, trimmed and halved lengthwise * 1/4 lb aged goat cheese such as Bucheron or Pouligny-St.-Pierre * 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar * 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin * 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt * 4 oz mesclun (4 cups) * 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste * 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Preparation: Preheat broiler. Cook bacon in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until most of fat is rendered but bacon is still pliable, about 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Remove 1 scoop of flesh from each fig half with small end of a melon-ball cutter and discard. Scoop cheese with same end of melon-ball cutter and just fill each fig half. Press fig halves together to form whole figs. Stir together brown sugar, cumin, and salt, then rub onto 1 side of each bacon slice. Wrap 1 bacon slice, sugared side out, around each fig and secure with a toothpick. Broil figs, bacon sides up, on rack of a broiler pan about 3 inches from heat, turning them frequently, until bacon is browned, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly, then discard toothpicks. Toss mesclun with lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste, then gently toss with oil. Serve figs with salad.

Traci Reynolds says …

My favorite is one my mom used to make every year for her holiday parties...you take cream cheese and spread it on a plate then cover it with cocktail sauce and then 1 can of mini shrimp on top you then place triscuits around the arrangement on the plate to place the dip on ENjoy because it's so yummy...easy and fast....

Courtney says …

My favorite holiday dish is more like a beverage. Egg Nog! In shakes, with or without alcohol, chessecakes,coookies, ice cream, anyway I can get it!

GeoffreyM says …

One of my favorite items for a party, because they can be made ahead, is savory cream puffs filled with a blend of herbed goat and cream cheese. The cream cheese is necessary to make it work with piping. Make the choux pastry as usual, but without any sugar. Make the cream puffs small--maybe the size of a quarter. Mix the cheese and herbs of your choice to a consistency for piping and put just a small dollop in each COOLED puff. Just before serving pop them into a 200-degree or so oven for 5 minutes to give a slight crisp to the puffs and warm the cheese.

Keith says …

My secret ingredient is to a little chipotle in the cranberry sauce.

Erin says …

I love a good baked brie during the holidays: http://erincooks.com/2007/12/10/star-light-star-bright-first-brie-i-see-tonight/ But one of my favorite childhood cooking memories has always been making a gingerbread train: http://erincooks.com/2007/12/17/all-aboard-the-jolly-express/

Christina says …

One of my favorite things to make is egg nog. There's something about it that's very comforting and very festive. My family is also very big on making cookies this time of the year. Our staples are gingerbread men, rum balls, chocolate layer bars, and magic cookie bars. I look forward to making them and eating them every year! Another item that's very festive and very easy to make are sruffed figs. Just take a fresh or dried fig, stuff it with goat cheese, preferably honey goat cheese if you can find it. wrap the stuffed fig with prosciutto. to hold it together place a tooth pic in each one. Just a plain toothpick soked in water for a few minutes is fine. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until the prosciutto gets crispy. It's soooo good and the perfect appetizer. :-)

Laura says …

I love the olive bar at Whole Foods - create your own tapenade by grinding the marinated mixture of pitted olives - add a pimento or slice of fresh parmesan or Sardo cheese to a cracker or slice of toasted bread and top with a pimento or red pepper and your friends will think you have been working all day. Yummy and delicious and SO SIMPLE....leave off the cheese and you even have a vegan friendly dish. Enjoy!

jeanne says …

This is a classic: wrap a strip of thinly sliced proscuitto around a small piece of a dried fig. Spear with toothpick. Done.

Lynn Peters says …

My favorite holiday dish that always brings in the holiday spirit to me is shortbread cookies! I love the smell and the soft texture of the cookies! They are delicious!

Eddy says …

Baked Brie! You can get them already assembled at a few of the Whole Foods on the East Coast, or you can make them yourself. They're super easy. http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,1977,FOOD_9936_28075,00.html

Mindy says …

For appetizers I usually head toward the carbs or veggie tray, so i keep that in mind when hosting a party or bringing a dish. My most loved dish yet has been my vegan spinach-mushroom tartlets. Packed with a creamy garlicy-mushroom-spinach flavor in a fluffy buttery pastry.... they're so very easy to get carried away with. haha

Jenny-o says …

My favorite holiday appetizer is spiced nuts. Easy to eat, lots of protein, and you can use a variety of nuts. * 2 large egg whites * 1 1/2 teaspoons salt * 3/4 cup sugar * 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce * 2 tablespoons paprika (preferably Hungarian sweet*) * 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne * 1 1/2 cups whole blanched almonds (about 1/2 pound) * 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (about 1/2 pound) * 1 1/2 cups pecans (about 1/2 pound) * 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled Preheat oven to 325°F. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat whites with salt until very foamy and gradually beat in sugar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and cayenne. Stir in nuts and butter, combining well, and spread in a large shallow baking pan. Bake nuts in middle of oven, stirring every 10 minutes, until crisp and golden, about 30 to 40 minutes. Spread nuts on a sheet of foil and cool. Break up nut clusters. Nuts may be made 1 week ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Brian Thomas says …

My favorite appetizer recently has been Grilled Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto. What you'll need: About a dozen fresh stalks of asparagus (thinner works better for this recipie) 1/4 lbs prosciutto, thinly sliced Olive oil Parmesan cheese, grated (optional) 1) Pre-heat your grill or griddle to a medium-high heat while you prepare (you can also do this with an oven, but you'll need to lightly steam the asparagus first if you do) 2) Gently wash the asparagus stalks and cut off the woody end pieces 3) Lay out a piece of prosciutto on your cutting board, lightly sprinkle on some grated parmesan (optional), and place a stalk of asparagus at the edge. 4) Roll the asparagus up, making sure you leave the tip exposed, as well as about a half-inch at the bottom (looks great for presentation and makes it easier to serve as a finger food before dinner). Repeat until you're out of asparagus. 5) Before you move them to the grill, lightly drizzle some olive oil over your wrapped stalks. 6) Transfer to your grill or griddle. Turn after 3-4 minutes, or when prosciutto starts to crisp. Remove them from the grill when prosciutto is lightly crisped on all sides. The tips of the asparagus should also begin to slightly blacken, giving them a great smokey taste. 7) Let cool for a few minutes before serving. This also works as a great recipe if you need to bring something to a friend's party. Simply double wrap them in foil, and keep them warming in the oven before you leave.

queenbumblebee says …

i always make the 'best holiday snack ever' ...its a david lebovitz recipe: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2006/12/the_best_holida.html its such a huge hit! when i make it i usually use the oat bran pretzels from whole foods..yum!

Anna says …

My favorite holiday appetizer is polenta topped with chicken, bacon, Manchego cheese and Fischer & Weiser raspberry or cranberry chipotle sauce. Roasted Raspberry Chipotle, Manchego, Chicken & Bacon Tapas This recipe won $500 in a contest sponsored by the company that sells raspberry chipotle sauce. MAKES 8 SERVINGS 1 (1 lb) roll of store bought polenta 1 tablespoon butter 1 1/2 cups diced onions 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped 6 slices pre-cooked bacon, chopped 2 cups shredded Manchego cheese (divided use) 2/3 cup Fischer & Wieser Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce 3 tablespoons pecan pieces 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray. Slice polenta into 12 equal rounds. Heat a large (10 or 12 inch) non-stick skillet over medium. Grill polenta rounds for 4 minutes on each side. Lay rounds, keeping as close together as possible, across bottom of pan. Add butter and onions to skillet and cook over medium for 3 minutes. Add chicken and cook with onions, breaking chicken up into very small chunks, for 4 minutes or until chicken is just-opaque. Remove from heat and stir in chopped bacon. Sprinkle 1 cup of the shredded cheese evenly over polenta rounds; Spoon chicken mixture evenly over cheese. Drizzle raspberry chipotle sauce over cheese, then top with remaining 1 cup of cheese. Sprinkle pecans over top. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly; sprinkle top with cilantro. Serve on small plates, tapas style.

Joshua says …

Black & White Cookies make a great appetizer. There not just for dessert!

Rebekah says …

For Christmas, I love Monkey Bread and cheeseball!!!

Karen says …

Everyone loves these warm, spicy bar nuts (recipe from the Union Square Café). Bar Nuts Preheat oven to 350°. Put 2 lbs. assorted unsalted nuts on a large baking sheet. Toast in the oven until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Meanwhile, combine: 4 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh rosemary 1 tsp ground cayenne 4 tsp brown sugar 4 tsp coarse salt 2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter Toss nuts with spiced butter mixture. Serve warm.

meredith davis says …

It's so hard to pick a favorite, because I am an all around food-lover, and when it comes to the holidays, I get so excited to eat things that I normally feel guilty about eating. I've always loved my aunt's homemade stuffing on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I've always enjoyed mowing down on delicious brie and St. Andre cheeses with the ladies in my family. Don't even get me started on how much I love gravy on EVERYTHING, but I think most of all, I really do enjoy anything we eat on Christmas morning. It's not exactly a party, but it's always a meal that everyone -including the kids- in the family enjoy. It really just feels good to start off such a wonderful day to something familiar and warm like thick-cut french toast with maine maple syrup and oranges that my grandparents bring from Florida, or warm homemade cinnamon buns with my aunt and uncle's homemade Irish cream concoction in our coffee (okay so the kids don't drink that). I suppose I could eat these any day for breakfast (not that I ever do), but with my family all there enjoying the meal in our pj's, with bedhead and sleepy eyes, it just feels really great.

Alessandro Vazquez says …

My family's Christmas tradition is spiced apple cider, all day long!!!

Liam Rose says …

Turkey and Cranberry Ravioli Giada De Laurentiis did a boiled version of this ravioli on a recent show. We made them and fell in love with the unexpected flavors from a ravioli, but we thought that flipping them in half and frying them would make them a perfect app for holiday parties! We actually did this just this weekend at our party and they were devoured in no time. We also did a cranberry puree for a dipping sauce served in a martini glass next to the tray of raviolis to make it extra festive! Best part is you can make all of the ravioli up ahead of time and keep them warm in the oven and pull them out as needed. They are also very cost effective for mass producing.

Ali says …

the easiest holiday appetizer ever: i get a block of cream cheese or neufatel cheese works great also, and you pour 1/2 a jar of red pepper jelly on top, serve with crackers- i like water crackers the best-its super easy and everyone loves this-it was an old one from my grandma, apparently this was the chic party appetizer back in the day, enjoy!

Laura says …

Like so many other people, a holiday appetizer staple is baked brie, either in a puff pastry or alone with jam on top. But my other two favorites are caprese skewers (basil leaves, mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes) or sweet potato fries (not fried but sliced and baked at 450 degrees w/ sea salt).

Liam Rose says …

PS. Link to Giada's recipe is here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/turkey-and-cranberry-ravioli-recipe/index.html Sorry for not including in my original post.

Lara says …

I love to make baked chevre in seasoned tomato sauce. Bake it in a pretty pie plate and watch it disappear!

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