Holiday Appetizers as Seen on Global’sThe Morning Show including Pear and Gruyere Pinwheels, Pecan Crumble Baked Brie and Whipped Feta and Cranberry Berry Dip

Holiday Appetizers as Seen on Global’sThe Morning Show including Pear and Gruyere Pinwheels, Pecan Crumble Baked Brie and Whipped Feta and Cranberry Berry Dip

Charcuterie and cheese boards are staples of holiday entertaining. However if you add a few easy holiday appetizers to the mix, it’s a nice way to fill out your menu and fill up tummies. This way you can pare down your dinner menu making it more budget friendly. Besides, everyone knows the cocktail nibbles are where it’s at!

Whipped Feta and Cranberry Dip
Makes: 6 to 8 Servings

1 cup fresh cranberries
1/3 cup water 
2 tbsps brown sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1 cup feta in brine, cut into chunks
1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
2 tsps fresh chopped thyme, divided
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsps toasted chopped pistachios
1 tbsp honey

For the cranberry sauce:
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk water and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add the cranberries to the pot and return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst. Stir in the zest. Remove the pot from the heat. Let cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl to chill in the refrigerator. Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

For the dip:
In a food processor or using an electric hand mixer, pulse feta. Add cream cheese and 1 tsp thyme and pulse until combined. With motor running drizzle in oil, blend until mixture is smooth and fluffy. 
Transfer whipped feta to a serving bowl. Top with cooled cranberry sauce. Scatter pistachios over top, drizzle with honey and remaining fresh thyme. Serve with crackers.

You can make this recipe using ricotta cheese too. For this version, follow for the dip below:
2 cup ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil, extra drizzle for serving
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

For serving:
Drizzle of olive oil
toasted chopped pistachios
Fresh thyme

Pear and Gruyere Pinwheel
Makes: about 20 per roll
2 puff pastry sheets, defrosted
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 Bosc pears, cleaned, cored and grated
1 1/2 cups grated gruyere
1 egg, beaten
Fresh or dried thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Lay one sheet of puff pastry out on a clean,  lightly floured work surface. Keep the other sheet in the fridge. Make sure to lay the sheet out with the longest side laying horizontal.
Brush the surface with 1 tablespoon mustard. Leave a small border on the edges. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup gruyere cheese and the shavings of one pear.

Roll up jelly roll style from bottom to top. Pinch edges shut. Pop in the freezer while you make the second roll with the remaining puff pastry sheet

Freeze each roll for about 15 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch slices and line up on prepared baking sheet. Leave about 1/2 inch in between each pinwheel.

Whisk the egg. Brush the tops of the pinwheels with egg wash. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown and cooked through. Serve with a sprinkle of thyme.

Apple Pecan Baked Brie
Makes: 2 baked bries
1 300g wheels of Triple Cream Brie
1/2 cup diced gala apple
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2  Tbsps unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsps heavy cream 
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350. Cut a cross hatch pattern into your brie. Place brie in a small oven-safe skillet or baking dish.
In a nonstick skillet over low heat, melt butter and brown sugar until bubbly. Stir in heavy cream, cinnamon, apples, pecans and salt until completely coated, then remove from the heat.
Pour apple mixture over brie and bake until cheese melts and bubbles, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with some fresh, chopped rosemary. Serve with toasted bread.

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