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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

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Raquel Pestana says …

My favorite and easiest holiday appetizer is Tomato Caprese. Mix 1 teaspoon basil pesto with 8 oz of fresh mozerella cut into .5 inch cubes. Remove the seeds and juice from 15 cocktail tomatoes. Place a cube of mozerella in each tomato. Alternatively you could use fresh mozerella with a piece of fresh basil. You could also use goat cheese. The tomaotes can be hallowed out a day ahead. Makes a colorful and fesitve looking appetizer!

Thien-Kim says …

I love the olive bar at WF! We just had a tree trimming party and I made baked crab rangoons. It was sooo easy and not greasy like the fried ones you get from the Chinese restaurant. I just mixed cream cheese, garlic powder, salt & pepper with chopped crab meat. Then placed a small dollop on wonton wrappers. Brushed some egg white around the edges and scrunched them up to make a bag shape. Baked until golden brown. They were quite a hit!

CKC07 says …

Vegan pumpkin pie of course! YUMMY

Brenda Hensley says …

Something very simple: Fresh figs, sliced in half chevre proscuitto or honey I take figs, slice them in half, top with a little chevre, a small piece of proscuitto. Or for a veggie take on this, leave off the proscuitto and drizzle with a little local honey. Yummy!

Abbie says …

My favorite holiday party dish is my Mom's homemade baklava. It's made without water, so it has an amazing extra crunch. Instead of serving it as a dessert, I would pair it with a cheese plate! The nutty, crunchy diamonds are drizzled with honey, and along a good brie or a mild, soft goat cheese, the taste pairing would be incredible!

Andrea says …

This appetizer is not very fancy, but it is super simple and really good. Instead of having chips with just salsa, I like to put a block of cream cheese on a deep platter and pour salsa over it. I guess it can be considered a type of "chip dip".

Lora Lee McCullough says …

One year I was in Santa Fe New Mexico around Christmastime. It had snowed, and it was beautiful! We walked around the square then walked into a local resturant for a cozy bowl of posole! Posole always reminds me of celebrating with a crowd of friends and family and the blessings that it brings. It is a cozy comfort food in the wintertime! Feast day Posole 1 t. (each) black peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds 2 onions, chopped 6 cloves garlic, minced 4 T. lard 3 pounds chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces 1 t. ground canela 1 1/2 cup New Mexican red chile powder 6 cups posole 4 to 8 cups chicken Broth Salt to taste Put the posole in a 6-quart pot and cover with cold water by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, adding water as needed, until the kernels have softened and begun to burst. Toast the black peppercorns, cumin, and coriander in a small, heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring until the spices are fragrant and begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer spices to a plate to cool. Once cool, crush the spices in a mortar and pestle. In a 6-quart pot, sauté onions and garlic in lard over medium-high heat and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken pieces and cook for 4 to 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the toasted spices, canela and chile powder. Add the cooked posole and broth and bring to a simmer. Add salt and continue to simmer for at least and hour. Adjust the seasonings and serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, sliced jalapeños and fresh flour tortillas. Santa Fe School of Cooking

Zana Bowen says …

It's all about the cheese! Goat Cheese rolled in cranberries...so yummy. Love whole foods!

Teresa K says …

I love cheese! So, I'll give two of my Favs First: Brie you need a whole round. A baking round dish. Put several slits in the top of the rhine and then soak with Amarrato Liquor. Let set in the frig for an hour. In a skillet warm real butter and sliced Almond and the secret ingredient Crazy Mixed Up Salt (fajita seasoning). Just a couple of shakes. Be careful not to burn! Then cover the top of the brie with the butter mixture, cover with foil and bake about 20/30 mins @ 350. uncover to let brown a bit for 3/5 mins. Add sliced breads and crackers. Another Cheese dish is Blue Cheese. I like Maytag! Crumble the cheese, pecan pieces and the secret ingredient diced red seedless grapes..mix and chill. Make a lot it is fabulous and addicting! Easy Cheesy! Happy Holidays!

CAROL WELLS says …

The fig spread with the soft cheese is awesome. I sampled them in my Lomo Alto store in Dallas and fell in love with them. Especially the fig spread. My friends loved it, too. Thanks for being my favorite store

Melanie says …

For a nice warm holiday beverage, I like to warm up some apple cider and then add cinnamon sticks. For a nice adult kick, you can add a few shots of brandy as well. I like to serve this drink with a chicken dish, as the apple flavors mix nicely with the flavor of chicken.

Nichole says …

One of my favorite holiday appetizers to serve is baked brie with Fig Sauce. Brie should be of good quality, and wrapped in puff pastry at home. Bake as usual. Fig Sauce: 10 - 12 Sun Dried Figs 2 Cups of Port Wine Place figs and wine in a medium stock pan. Cover to prevent evaporation. Slowly over low heat bring figs to a low boil. Once they have reached a slow boil, turn the heat off and let the figs soak up the port wine. Once the figs have cooled to touch rough chop them on a board, add them to the remaining port wine left in the pot. Finely chopped garlic and shallots can be added, and salt and pepper to taste for a more savory dish. (This also pairs well with a blue cheese.) Orange zest, brown sugar, and honey can be added for a sweeter dish. (also with a tiny pinch of salt). Spoon your choice of sauce over the baked brie (I also put either toasted hazelnuts or toasted pine nuts on top) and serve with good quality breads and crackers.

Christine says …

My favorite holiday dish is my family's traditional Rum Cake!! It's perfect for getting us all into the holiday mood. Not only is it fun to make, but it makes the entire kitchen smell great and is by far the best tasting thing you could possibly put in your mouth. Extremely moist, our rum cake sits on top of a layer of crushed pecans, and is glazed in a deliciously sweet rum glaze. We always package them and deliver them to the neighbors for the holidays. They are a delicious treat everyone can enjoy!

Jess Grasso says …

The five olive bread and the wonderful assortment of olives is the best. The Holiday season is the best time to try something new and slightly away from your personal taste. The one blue I have not been able to find in the Fort Collins which I like the best because of its sharp fragrant body is "Oregon Blue".

Barb Sorensen says …

My favorite Holiday Party Dish is something my X mother in law taught me. Mushroom poofs! It's a norwegian appetizer. I take some philough dough for like croissants. roll it out flat and long on a floured surface. Ten in a seperate container I mix cream cheese with drained canned chopoped mushrooms, a litle bt of paprika and alitle bit of nutmeg. I mix it all together and then spread it out over the philo dough in a medium to thin layer. If it's too thick it will all ooze out onto the pan and that's not good. ten once I have it all spread onto the dough, I roll the dough up from the long side. so that the poofs dont get too big. then I cut it in 1 inch thick pieces and lay each pieced roll onto a greased and floured cookie tin. then I bake it in the oven at 350 degrees until they are light brown on top. then I take them out and let them cool and then voila~ eat them! yummy! Pefect warm up dish for a cold day!. I like to eat them semi warm. not hot because thecheese when it's hot can burn your mouth, so let them cool alittle bit before biting into them. regards BArb

Ashlee says …

My favorite holiday dessert would have to be my pumpkin bars. They are made with whole wheat flour, I substitute egg whites for the eggs, I use applesauce in place of the oil which makes these bars really moist. The cinnamon, nutmeg and pecans give them a great flavor. You don't have to tell anyone that they are healthier, they will never know. At least mine didn't!!!

Dawn says …

I have two favorites, both are super easy and you always go home with a clean plate. The first one is a really simple cheese ball- 1 8 oz.package cream cheese, softened, a large green bell pepper, diced, and 1 jar of the dried beef, chopped up. Mix the 3 ingredients together and form in a ball, serve with crackers,flatbreads, crostini, whatever you like. The other appetizer I love is BLT stuffed tomatoes. Take a pint of tomatoes- ones that are about 2" in diameter work best, 1 head of butter lettuce(chopped fairly small), a cup or so of mayo and about 1/2 cup of bacon bits(to taste). Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the insides. Mix the lettuce and mayo, and half the bacon. Fill the tomatoes with the lettuce mix and garnish with remaining bacon. YUM!!!! We eat these year- round. Especially good in the summer with fresh tomatoes.

Lissette Paedes says …

The best apetizer for xmas is brie and crackers with champagne. Let's also not forget hot chocolate

Victoria Martinez says …

My Favorite drink to make on Christmas for my family is called "Ponche Caliente" It is a traditional hot christmas punch from mexico made with apple juice,a stick of cinnamon,brown sugar,cut apple slices,guava,kumquats,sugar cane,and optional servings of brandy.It is even more delicious when you serve it in a glass with the rim filled with lemon juice and sugar."mmmmmmm....delicioso!"

Viridiana says …

My favorite dessert for Christmas is called "Arroz Con Leche" It is sweet rice with organic almond milk. Since I am only 13, my mom is still teaching me how to make it. My mom tells me to put milk,rice,sugar,sticks of cinnamon,and a few drops of vanilla into a pot and warm it up. After a while, it's ready to eat. You can even eat it with cookies,bread,and add raisins to it. I love this dish, hopefully I'll soon be able to make it all by myself!

Yazmin says …

I like bread pudding! My grandma makes it all the time.

Yvonne says …

I am of Puertorican heritage, so my best thoughts of Xmas include "tembleque", a pudding-like dessert made with coconut milk, and cinammon. Absolutely delish :)

Kathleen McCafferty says …

I would have to say that my favorite holiday dish would be one that my Dad makes. We just had them at Thanksgiving-sweet potato ravioli. We start off homemaking the pasta shells and then placing them in the freezer. You bake sweet potatoes, mash them up with some butter and pure maple syrup, then spoon about one to two tablespoons into each ravioli and roll it up. After they are cooked, take them out and drizzle on the homemade butter sage sauce, which has a little pinch of truffle oil. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds, and voila! They are so delicious!!!

Cara says …

I love cheese fondue during the holidays (all warm and delicious). I make mine using 2 cups cream, 2 cups shredded gruyere, 1 cup shredded mozarella, pepper, nutmeg, garlic, and salt. Just heat the cream until bubbling with pepper, garlic, salt, and nutmeg (to taste) then add in cheese and stir. It's perfect when you use pita chips to dip in it!

Genevieve says …

To honor my mixed family heritage, we often prepare a huge bagel breakfast on Xmas morning, and make our own cream cheese spreads (usually one with chopped scallions, one with olives -I use spanish pimento-stuffed green olives- and one with chopped mixed veggies) as well as a whitefish salad (whole smoked whitefish, chopped onion, homemade mayo to moisten, salt & pepper to taste - blend in food processor till creamy, being careful to remove all fish bones!). Served with a side of sliced red onion & tomatoes, everyone loves it and generally family & friends coming in and out on Xmas day help themselves thruout the morning, into the afternoon! The hardest part for me is getting up early on Xmas day to get the bagels! lol The second holiday dish which has become a holiday tradition is our Tiramisu (pick-me-up in Italian) which we make every year for New Year's Day, when the whole family gets together for a huge meal. It's so popular we always have someone in charge of serving it, otherwise people tend to take enormous portions leaving little - or none! - for everyone else! It's always the first dessert to get eaten and the easiest to make. It's lady fingers drenched in equal portions espresso and rum (i find using a spray bottle makes this easy) layered with a mixture of marscapone cheese (a sweet, creamy Italian cheese u can find at Whole Foods) into which u fold whipped heavy cream sweetened with a bit of sugar. The last layer is the cream mixture, onto which I grate a bar of high quality bittersweet chocolate, and then chill until serving. It's the only holiday dessert requested every year!

Johleen says …

Growing up as a kid from a lower class family, the height of luxury holiday entertaining was an orange and wine colored cheese covered in shaved almonds. It didn't seem unnaturally hued against my mom's spread of triscuits and wheat thins. Now that I'm adult and have the good fortune to eat a variety of cheeses, particularly from WF, I've honored my humble roots with the basic perennial favorite, cheese balls/logs. I give it a sophisticated spin with flavorings like ginger, parmesan, Jamaican jerk and wasabi, since I have a diverse crew of friends. Think of the flavors your friends bring to the table and let them become the inspiration for the outer toppings. From there the recipe is an affordable time saver. I use goat cheese alone. Mike, a team leader from Arlington WF, taught me to cut the recipe with cream cheese or neufatchel cheese in a 1:1 ratio to save money. If you use the cream cheese, whip with a mixer. Jo's Snow Balls 24 oz. goat cheese rolled into palm size balls (1 tbsp) placed on a chilled baking sheet (refrigerate while you prep coatings & cracker tray) 4 sandwich bags filled individually with 1/4 cup: *Ginger snaps *Wasabi peas *Grated parmesan with 1 tbsp italian seasoning *Jamaican jerk seasoning with 1 tbsp plain bread crumbs Crush the ginger snaps and wasabi peas. Drop the goat cheese balls into the bag and roll gently (shaking will cause the cheese to loose its shape). Remove and return to chilled tray. My friends still talk about the "Snow Balls" I served for our winter solstice party. Feeds 10+ hungry revelers

Kaity says …

My favorite holiday treat is sweet potato or pumpkin purée on top of a slice of multi-grain bread or crackers. Yum...

Hannah Brumage says …

One of my favorite holiday appetizers is an old hawaiian favorite- Rumaki. Marinate some chicken livers in soy sauce, ginger and a little brown sugar. Cut them into 1/2 inch pieces, place on top of a sliced water chestnut, wrap the whole thing in bacon, skewer with a toothpick and broil. Very quick and easy to prepare, and highly addictive. This works best for the pate loving crowd.

Teresa says …

One of my favorite seasonal dishes is a roasted spaghetti squash. I top the squash with roasted red onions, garlic, mushrooms, and bell peppers (red or yellow). Although any veggie combo is just fine. I then stir it all up with a delicious miso-tahini (miso, tahini, water, a.c. vinegar....) sauce that I thicken in a pot. Serve it all together with some chopped fresh spinach and basil. This tastes great and it's super fun to make with this very versatile yet ignored squash.

Justine says …

I love warm spinach artichoke dip, served in a bread boule! You can make it with greek yogurt and canola mayonnaise to make it a bit healthier: 1 c Fage totale greek 2% yogurt 1 box frozen spinach 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese 1/2 c. shredded Mozzarella 2 T. canola mayonnaise 2 t. crushed garlic 1/2 t. black pepper 1/2 t. sea salt 1 t. (to taste) Hot sauce 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, quartered, drained 2 T. parmesan cheese 1/2 c. shredded Mozzarella Coarsely blend everything up through the Hot sauce (in a food processor). Add artichoke hearts and process until a chunky mixture forms. Place in a 1 qt. baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until bubbly, about 35 minutes.

Tracie Dickerson says …

Eggnog. Maybe Rum. Maybe not. Sometimes cinnamon or nutmeg. AWESOME!

Trish Lavenburg says …

This is vegan and addictive! Roasted Vegetable Dip 2 medium zucchinis, diced into 1 inch cubes 1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes 1 red pepper, diced into 1 inch cubes 1 yellow pepper, diced into 1 inch cubes 1 small onion, peeled and quarted 3 Tblsp olive oil 1/2 tsp pepper 1-1/2 tsp sea salt 2Tblsp lemon juice 1 clove garlic 1 Tblsp natural peanut butter 2 tsp sesame oil 1/4 cup chopped parsley Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss all of the vegetables with the olive oil, pepper and sea salt. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast 45 minutes, turning halfway during cooking. Allow to cool 10 minutes. Place vegetables and remaining ingredients in a food prcessor and pulse until dip is chunky. Serve with pita chips or tortilla chips.

bina edwards says …

I make Oriental salad for every occasion, everyone likes it so much

Olga Maystruk says …

Stir-fried shrimp with garlic, paprika, black pepper and parsley!

Kris Nichols says …

Scalloped Oysters - a tradition that is as decadent and as special as is sounds! 1 medium onion, chopped 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter or margarine, melted 1 1/2 teaspoons celery salt dash of pepper, or to taste juice of 1 lemon 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 5 cups coarsely crumbled saltine crackers 1 quart shucked oysters, drained (reserve liquor) 1 cup reserved oyster liquor 1/2 cup light cream 1/2 cup milk Preparation: Saute onion in melted butter until tender, not browned. Add celery salt, pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, parsley and crackers. In a buttered 2 1/2-quart casserole, layer one-third of the crumbs, half of the oysters, one-third of the crumbs, remaining oysters and remaining one-third of the crumbs. Pour oyster liquor, cream and milk over all. Bake at 350° 35 to 45 minutes or until oyster edges curl. Oyster recipe serves 6 to 8. Enjoy

Frances Burch says …

My favorite holiday food is a simple corn bread stuffing with pork sausage.

Bryan Siddall says …

Since before I was born my family has been enjoying the same Christmas breakfast on our farm. The mere thought of Christmas floods my senses' memory with the savory egg souffle my grandmother (and now my mother) makes annually. Farm fresh eggs, mushrooms, cream, sharp cheddar cheese, ground breakfast sausage, and bread baked to a golden brown warms the soul as it reminds me of our small centennial farm. Happy Holidays!

Eileen says …

My favorite appetizer is something my sister in law makes - it's just basic sausage and mushrooms, cooked down w/olive oil, garlic and some other seasonings - YUM!

Chez Us - Denise says …

GREAT Piece. I love that you have it broken down as a list as well. One of our favorite go to holiday foods is a very easy and tasty smoked salmon dip served with homemade crackers and baby veggies and you must not forget a glass of bubbly to go with it!

Amalas says …

My favorite appetizer (holiday or not!) is a ham and cheese ball. Very simple - cream cheese, cut-up deli ham, green onions, garlic salt, and the "secret" ingredient - worcestershire sauce. Great on crackers or little toasted bread slices.

Mickey says …

Black Bean Fudge has impressed me lately, utilizing egg substitute, alternate sweetener and olive oil.

jill says …

My most successful holiday appetizers are always the simplest for some reason. The year I made frico, I had to actually pull out the skillet and make a sample, because no one believed if you just melted cheese in a pan that it could end up like that! I put the warm and pliable frico over a sturdy glass so it drapes into a floral shape. Now frico requested at all my parties. Also, it's just not a party at my house until there is a silver dish full of pistachios on the table!

Vanessa O. says …

For me its Pasteles....Pasteles are a Puertorrican dish that consist of grating green plantains and bananas, yautia and a potato. Then you make some pork and cut it in chunks and combine it with the vegetable mixture, that mixture you wrap in banana leaves and boil it. To Puertorricans having a pastel is the begining of Christmas!!!

Greta Anderson says …

My favorites are: Grilled Shrimp & Pineapple with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Goat Cheese,Proscuitto and Sage Carmel Apple Dip w/Chocolate Toffee Bits served with sliced Apples Can't forget the Cocktails! Lemon Drop w/ a sugar rim Limencello and must not forget....Champagne!

Christa says …

My new favorite holiday appetizer is the brie with pomegranite and cranberry topping that ya'll offered this year for Thanksgiving. That and the cranberry cheddar cheese too.

Cyndy says …

My fave is my upsidedown French toast. I make it for brunch every Christmas Eve. Everyone waits in line to get some! It's layered apples and bananas sauteed in maple syrup and butter and lemon juice with egg batter soaked thick french bread and topped with sprinkles of freshly ground cinnamon. I make it a day ahead and then pop it in the oven!

Linda says …

Soft Goat Chese stuffed Peppdews always create a sensation when I serve them.People are intriged by the vibrant color and because they are not widely known they always spark conversation,and dares!Once people taste them they become advocates,encouraging others to taste them as well.Stuff Peppadews with Goat or Blue cheese,and serve in a Vodca Martini for a visually pleasing and tasty variation!

Kate says …

My favorite holiday recipe is Baked Stuffed Figs - Great App or Dessert! 1/2 cup blanched almonds 6 ounces mascarpone or cream cheese 1/4 cup sugar 1 small lemon 16 large dried figs 1 teaspoon lemon zest Directions: Toast almonds gently in a hot skillet or on a baking sheet in a 350F oven (this takes about 5-7 minutes) until golden and fragrant. Grind in a food processor. Add mascarpone and sugar, lemon zest and process until smooth. Pipe into the fig. Transfer the figs into a baking dish, stand them upright and bake at 350F until warm, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

John Curran says …

John: A simple appetizer is made from a French bagget, a top end blue cheese (Silton, Gorganzola, Danish Blue,etc) and a hard pear. Cut the bread at an angle and toast lightly. Spread the blue cheese on the toast. Cut and core the pear into thin slices and place it on the cheese. Dig in!

Treena says …

I love gluten-free sugar cookies!

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