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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

Julie says …

Pumpkin Spice SoyNog (Vegan) 12.3 oz. (1 box) extra-firm SILKEN tofu 1 1/2 cups soymilk or other nondairy milk 3/4 cup canned pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling!) 9 Tbs brown sugar 3/8 tsp cinnamon 1/8 tsp (generous) ground cloves 1/8 tsp (generous) salt 3/4 cup organic soy creamer, or rich full-fat soymilk or nutmilk 1 Tbs pure vanilla extract 15-18 ice cubes OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup rum (or you can use bourbon or brandy) (can be spiced rum) GARNISH: freshly-ground nutmeg; cinnamon sticks Crumble the tofu into a blender. Add the nondairy milk, pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Blend until smooth. Add the creamer, optional rum (if using), vanilla, and the ice cubes. Blend until smooth and frothy and thickened. Serve immediately in small glasses or cups, garnishing with grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick. Servings: 6

Shayna says …

My favorite holiday appetizer is my boyfriend's sister's vegan lentil dip. She served it with some delicious hard flax crackers that are local to Whole Foods in Sarasota, FL (and which I can't get in California!), and it made a fantastic, healthy, and unexpected appetizer amid the cheese and veggie plates. The lentils were boiled, put in a food processor with enough olive oil to get the mix smooth, and then gently spiced with a Turkish spice mix and a little Adobo. The final product was thick yet smooth - a great complement to those hard crackers. The best part: getting creative with leftovers! That aspect definitely makes it a holiday dish for me. We all collaborated on getting the spices and texture just right, and the family working together to cook and create is, I think, the essence of the holiday season, no matter what we come up with!

Summer says …

My favorite holiday appetizer is cold spinach artichoke dip with vegetable crackers OR tuna pate made with tuna, cream cheese, a little chili sauce, and spices blended in a food processor and served on crackers or in cucumber boats. Bon appetit!

Ken says …

My favorite is something my mother used to make for Christmas and New Year's partys. She used to make these amazing little toasted rye rounds with an onion and sour cream mixture and a small amount of swiss cheese melted over the top under the broiler. The taste was a great mix of the rye, onion, and melted swiss. They were always the first to go!

Emily Barklage says …

I know it's overdone, but I always bring the crab dip appetizer that everyone loves. Spread one bar of cream cheese on a plate. Top with one jar of cocktail sauce - spread like pizza sauce. Sprinkle two cans of crab meat over the top and serve with crackers.

Holly says …

I love to slice dates, stuff them with a good quality blue cheese such as Maytag, then wrap them in a thin piece of bacon or proscuitto and bake them until the bacon crisps and the cheese turns gooey. They disappear minutes out of the oven! They're a special holiday treat that doesn't intimidate anyone.

Sara says …

My favorite holiday dish is to mix a jar of apricot preserves with finely minced 1-2 jallapeno peppers (more for their color and a bit for their heat), pour over a wheel of brie and bake until bubbly; serve with cubes of french bread. Yum!

Darren Marshall says …

One thing I like to make as a main course for the holidays is my ham glazed with molasses and blood orange. I mix the juices of the oranges w/ molasses , add slivers of the peel on the ham with the cloves , and glaze with the blood orange and molasses mix. The smell goes through my place like an old-fashioned holiday pomander and evokes the memories of Christmases past.as an appetizer , I do cheese and crackers with a champagne cheddar rolled in ground chestnuts , and a swiss with smoked pepperoni.Add a veggie platter with a cranberry and brie dip , voila!

joey ericsson says …

I will always love the old classic veggie platter with dip inside a bellpepper.

Kristina Packard says …

My favorite holiday dish is the antipasta platter. We always have smoked cheese, salami, olives, roasted red peppers, and goat cheese. Also, some Proseco and wonderful dry wines.

Pat Atkinson says …

My favourite way to welcome Yuletide guest is by offering them a cup of mulled wine and a homemade shortbread cookie (likely flavoured with sage and topped with a smigeon of cheddar). Here's my family's recipe 1 lemon 1 orange 1 bottle of medium to full-bodied red wine A pinch of grated nutmeg Cloves (poke approximately 10 into the orange before submerging the fruit in the wine.) 60ml / 2 fluid oz of Triple Sec or cognac 60g / 2oz light brown sugar 2 cups of Green tea (already steeped) 4 cinnamon sticks Instructions Cut the lemons into slices. Poke the cloves into the orange. Pour the red wine into saucepan (or crockpot) and gradually heat. Add fruit slices, orange, nutmeg, cloves and Triple Sec / cognac. Keep an eye on the mixture and wait until it becomes hot to the touch but doesn't boil. Blend in sugar and green tea Pour into clear glasses. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a slice of lemon. Make sure to have a roaring fire in the fireplace and seat your happy guests before it. Merry Christmas!

ruth says …

My favorite holiday dish is a homemade avocado dip. Yummy and a big hit. Avocado mixed with low fat yogurt. Spread this on toasted Italian sliced bread. The best ever.

Heather says …

Sweet and sour meatballs, sliced in half, served on toasted baguette slices is always popular at my house.

Doug says …

Probably about the easiest (and simplest) crowd pleaser I do is asparagus-wrapped prosciutto. Quickly saute or steam aspargus spears (just enough to soften--don't lose that great texture!), allow to cool. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice, a little black pepper, and wrap in paper-thin slices of prosciutto. Serve cold. I also like to roll thin slices of prosciutto or serrano ham around a mixture of goat cheese and herbs de provence or a little fresh thyme and some cracked black pepper.

Rachel Cara says …

My fave holiday dish that I've made it a dairy free Pumpkin Pie. You can take any recipe really and substiture Soy or Rice Milk. I also like to use a whole wheat pie crust, gluten-free are good as well for those with allergies.

Carla Arias says …

My wonderful husband's most requested appetizer has to be my "Beef Tenderloin Bites" which are actually very simple to make. Cube filet mignon steaks in generous 1" squares. Place in a bowl and toss quickly with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil, some cracked black pepper, a little sea salt and garlic powder. Set aside. Cube roasted red peppers (from the Whole Foods deli) in same size pieces as the tenderloin. Toss these with additional olive oil, pepper, salt and garlic. Place on a baking sheet and broil for about 2 minutes per side. The meat will be nicely browned on the outside and still succulent on the inside. Squewer one piece of beef together with one cube of pepper on festive toothpicks and serve immediately. I usually serve with a nice pesto dipping sauce purchased at Whole Foods. Goes quickly, especially by your male guests!

saritha says …

Sweet Dessert - Kesari 1 cup wheat soji(Indian grocery) 1&1/2 cup Sugar 1/2 cup ghee/Butter. 1&1/2cup water 10 Dry grapes 10 Cashews 2 Cardamom pinch of vanilla essence. Take a pan, add 2 tbsp of ghee fry dry grapes,cashews and cardamom for garnishing. fry the wheat soji with 2 tbsp ghee and add sugar,water cook for 8 min. Add vanilla essence,fried dry grapes,cashews,cardamom. Ready to serve I love this dessert. Let me know how it goes. Thanks Saritha

Will says …

Rolls, Rolls, Rolls! There is nothing better than soft, fluffy, fresh out of the oven warm homemade dinner rolls.

Paula says …

With my German and Slovak heritage, the holidays are filled with heavy, comfortable foods. To balance it, my mom always roasts pecans with a little salt until they are dark and fragrant. For almost 30 years she's been filling up the same dark red glass dish and offering it to friends and family who have overdone it on the other treats made with sugar, dough or sauerkraut. In comparison, roasted pecans are surprisingly light and refreshing!

Niurka says …

My favorite would be sweet beans.Its a Dominican served around Easter but some make it during Christmas time.

Betsy Bowman says …

Cranberry Chutney (sold at WF) on a block of 365 cream cheese. A nice soft goat cheese works well too and adds a bit of tartness with the chutney. Goes well with any cracker, but my favorite is Back to Nature's Sesame Ginger Rice Thins. Makes a nice gluten-free addition to appetizers. Easy and quick to do and ingredients can be kept on hand. The Cranberry Chutney adds a nice touch of red color to holiday parties.

Betsy Bowman says …

WF Recipe for Quinoa Egg Bake with Thyme and Garlic is one of my favorites. I decided that it would make a wonderful appetizer. I made it according to the recipe and let it cool in the refrigerator for several hours. Then I cut it into small squares (about 1 inch) and placed each square on a decorative mini cupcake liner. Easy to do and was a hit with my friends at happy hour. This freezes well too. You can do part of the casserole in small pieces and the rest in larger pieces for a meal.

Jennifer says …

A nice ice cream and expresso coffee. Then have all the toppings ready. My kids love to do this with hot chocolete also. So we start with the ice cream in the bottom of the cup and then add the expresso..........enjoy.

Camellia says …

I LOVE THE BITE SIZED BROWNIES AT WHOLE FOODS. WHOLE FOODS IS A REALLY GREAT PLACE FOR ALL KINDS OF APPETIZERS AND DIFFERENT TREATS. EVERYTIME I SERVE ENTREES I GET FROM WHOLE FOODS, PEOPLE ALWAYS ASK ME WHATS MY SECRET. FOR TRUELY DELICIOUS AND INFALLIBLE TASTING APPETIZERS, WHOLE FOODS IS THE PLACE TO GO.

Meryl Gerner says …

This is very tasty and couldn't be easier to make. Take a brick of plain Philadelphia cream cheese and spread green jalapeno pepper jelly over it and serve with crackers. You'd think it would be extremely hot, but it's not.

gail says …

Mushrooms stuffed with lobster, great appitizer! lobster, parm cheese,ritz crackers a touch of fresh minced garlic, bake 20 mins.+/- yummy!!!!!

E. Basta says …

Our favorite family appetizer tradition is papaya mango salsa. It is super easy to make with papaya, chopped tomatoes, lime juice, lime zest, chopped cilantro, and add some crackers and you are done. We try to eat more vegetarian meals for our health and Whole Foods is just the place to get organic fruits and vegetables.

helenlam says …

My favorite holiday party dish is Chinese sticky rice. In my family this dish is only served on the following holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chinese New Year.

Sophia says …

My favorite holiday dish is my aunt's sweet mashed potatoes with pineapple chunks. Yum!

Grainne says …

My fav appetizer is a deluxe veggie tray... filled with sugar snap peas, grape tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, mushroom, red, yellow and orange pepper... best thing is the Catalina or any red french dressing.

Deborah says …

Growing up my Great Grandma and then Grandma would make something called cherry soup. It is a family recipe that has tart cherries, cinnamon, dumplings. It is thick and wonderful and so yummy!

Stacey says …

This was my first time watching "The Secret Ingredient". What I got out of it was putting all the pieces together... from shopping to presentation. Sometimes, I get in the store adn have all of these great ideas and then have no clue when I get home! One of my favorite holiday dishes, my greek grandmother's recipe, is the Greek cheese pita. It is an appetizer consisting of a phyllo triangle with feta cheese and a few other ingredients. Since I discovered Whole Foods, I find you feta cheese to be the best around. I used to go to my local Greeks market but Whole Foods feta is so fresh and always available. I wanted to share this story because now Whole Foods has become part of my family tradition during the holiday season!

Jen Anderson says …

My daughter was just diagnosed with Crohns putting Chirstmas cooking into a tailspin - but we are finding/inventing many alternatives to keep it normal and fun but healthy for her. Fresh fruit cobblers with apples and pears topped with wheat free granola is great warmed and we brought some along with apple cider sorbet to garnish it to a party and shared it with everyone. A major hit!

Tamia says …

My favorite Holiday party dish has got to be all finger foods..smokies, meatballs, cheeses, fruit and wine of course! During the Holidays there is so little time and so much to do I normally just purchase the above items frozen and just let me crock pot do all the work. (not the cheeses and fruit of course) Happy Holidays everyone!

Melanie says …

My favorite holiday appetizer is Wholefoods made guacamole with dried and cut fresh cranberries stirred in, served with Whole foods homemade tortilla chips in rainbow colors. I'm busy enough getting everything ready, so prepared food is the way to go. The cranberries and green guac make a festive colored dish.

Robin says …

Jello Cake I make 2 round white cakes and put lots of holes in them with toothpicks. I use red and green jello for christmas colors. While the jello is still hot I slowly pour red on one cake then green on the other until all the holes are filled and its very moist. Then refriderate over-night and I use whip cream to frost and a xmas decor on the top. I like to sprinkle coconut on the cakes after the whip. It reminds me of snow. Tastes Awesome and is my Favorite Christmas Delight. Hope you can try it sometime! ~Robin

shannon says …

I love serving hot mulled wine. It tastes great, is easy to whip up from ingredients you have already, and fills the apt. with a wonderful scent. Guests love it and always want more!

cpns72 says …

our favorite party appetizer is thin slice turkey deli meat to roll with cream cheese mixture with prepared horseradish and chopped fresh green onion. can eat alone or with fresh baked french bread or cracker. Very easy to make and yummy appetizer to serve for any kind of party.

Emily Winans says …

Not really a party dish per se, but since Chirstmas is a day long party it sort of counts. We always start off Christmas morning with a wonderful homemade strata, coffee and fresh fruit. Otherwise, I have a sweet tooth and am most happy at a party this time of the year eating peppermint brownies. Yum!

S.J. Zwicker says …

My father used to make stuffed cherry tomatoes-there's only 4 ingredients. Every time I make them, it reminds me of him. Cut a basket of cherry tomatoes in half and scoop out the insides and seeds with a small melon baller. Rinse and drain a can of small baby shrimp and mash them with an avocado. Fill the cherry tomato halves with the shrimp/avocado mixture and sprinkle with paprika. Red and green - very Christmasy and delicious.

Diane says …

Hi, Our family loves this easy but pleasant looking dish. Almond Cheese Pinecone 16 ounces cream cheese softened 2-5 ounces jars pasteurized process cheese spread with pimento 1/2 pound blue cheese crumbled 1/4 cups minced green onions 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce 2 cups blanched whole almonds toasted Pine sprigs for garnished Crackers In a large bowl with mixer at medium, beat cream cheese, cheese spread, blue cheese until smooth with spoon stir in green onions and worchesershire sauce. cover and refrigereate for 1 hour On work surface with hands, shape cheese mixture into shape of a large pinecone, Arrange on wooden board. Beggining at narrow end, carefully press almonds about 1/4 inch deep into cheese mix in rows making sure that pointed end of almond extends at a slight angle. garnish with spirgs Enjoy and Happy Holidays

Jacque says …

I've found that even guests who say they don't like spicy foods love Chipotle Pecans, if they're brave enough to try them. Use your favorite spiced sugared pecan recipe and substitute chipotle powder. Be smart and make more than you think you'll need! They make a great holiday gift as well. I suggest serving Chipotle Pecans on salad with goat cheese.

Kelly McNichol says …

My easy favorite is garlic-pesto pastry bites. You can use homemade pesto of any kind or those that whole foods makes. Basil/pinenut is usually great, as is sundried tomatoe. Get frozen pastry or phyllo dough and minced garlic. Unroll the pastry dough, spread on a layer of pesto, then minced garlic. Cover with another layer of dough. Cut into bite size squares. Pinch the edges closed, place on cookie sheet. Bake for 9 minutes or until golden brown and 325. Then watch them disappear.

Jane Morrell says …

My favorite holiday appetizer is endive leaves topped with mandarin orange, candied walnuts and goat cheese, drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Top this with chopped fresh chives and cracked black pepper. It's a beautiful dish and perfect to bring along to a party. Always a hit!

Heather Hultzer says …

My favorite holiday appetizer! Zucchini, Avocado and Pomegranate Salsa with pita chips. The colors are festive and the different flavors pop! 2 zucchini cut in 1/2 inch dice (3 1/2 cups) 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt 3/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper 3/4 cup finely chopped red onion 1 cup diced fresh avocado (1/4 inch dice) 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds 1 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 3 whole-wheat pitas Preheat oven to 425 Toss zucchini with oil, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, Spread zucchini in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, tossing once, until tender and golden brown. Let cool and leave oven on. Transfer zucchini to a medium bowl. Add onion, avocado, pomegranate seeds, feta, lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; gently stir to combine. Refrigerate 30 minutes (up to 2 hours). Cut pitas in half; split each half into half-moons and cut each into 3 triangles. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet. LIghtly coat both sides with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Bake, flipping once, until pale golden brown, about 5 minutes. Serve with salsa.

Caroline says …

Our favorite secret ingredient for the Holidays is Cackalacky Spice Sauce (Available at our local Whole Foods here in Chapel Hill). To make an amazing party dip, we simply mix one bottle of Cackalacky with one 16 Oz container of sour cream and serve with fresh carrots & broccoli. Yummmm! Simple and delicious! P.S. I like Joey's idea (above): serve the Cackalacky dip in a fresh bell pepper!

Sheilapec says …

My favorite appetizer to serve over the holidays (or any time) is homemade meatballs with chili sauce (12 oz. bottle) and jellied cranberry sauce (16 oz. can). Combine sauce and put in slow cooker with meatballs for approx. 4 hours on HIGH. Enjoy...............

Sulay says …

My favorite dish would be rice with cinnamon flavored chestnuts, raisins and roasted shredded turkey meat.It's heaven!

Katina says …

I have several favs but the 2 I use the most often are Layered Taco Dip and Sweet & Sour Meatballs.

Lois Stewart says …

A favorite of ours is Gougere (Cheese puffs made with a pate a chou). They are so-o versatile - can be made with Gruyere, a nice well-aged natural Swiss, or even a sharp chedder. They are best made fresh - but I have made ahead and frozen - then reheated to crisp them up. They are great for a little something with wine - They are easy to eat (not greasy, or dripping with a sauce, don't need a knife to cut, eat with fingers!You can add fresh herbs ( dill, thyme), maybe a coarse ground mustard, or a couple of grinds of mixed pepper! Have Fun!

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