Dates with Goat Cheese and Toasted Pecans
Three simple ingredients:
I usually get my goat cheese and medjool dates at Sam's -- but I'd buy the pecans at a regular grocery store unless you really need five pounds of nuts. Toast the pecan halves in a toaster oven (or broiler), but be careful, they burn quickly! Make as many or as few as you need -- 3-4 per person should do.
Cut the dates in half and remove the weird little seed (the seed kind of freaks me out, I have to confess).
Fill the space where the seed was with goat cheese. It works best if the goat cheese is at room temperature, otherwise it's too crumbly. I use one of those tiny espresso spoons to get the right amount of cheese into the date.
Top each goat-cheese stuffed date with a toasted pecan half.
These simple little treats are amazing, the flavors all go together really well.
Rosemary Crackers with Goat Cheese and Chipotle Cranberry Sauce
Hopefully you have leftover Chipotle Cranberry Sauce from Thanksgiving (it lasts for a good month in the fridge), and you'll have extra goat cheese if you bought one of the giant packages of it at Sam's for the appetizer above. The rosemary crackers I used came in an entertaining sampler pack from Aldi, but I'm sure you can get a full box of just rosemary-flavored crackers somewhere. I sort of just threw this together a few nights ago when a neighbor stopped by, and it turned out to be a hit. My neighbor declared it to be a "flavor explosion." I think that's a good thing?
Also, three simple ingredients:
Top the cracker with a dollop of goat cheese, then drizzle the cranberry sauce on top. Voila!
If you don't have chipotle cranberry sauce on hand, I'm sure any kind of pepper jelly would work.
White Bean Hummus with Bell Peppers, Apples, & Pecans
A delicious, garlicky hummus topped with a festive red & green mixture. It's also low fat (and vegan, if you have to please a veggie in the crowd). Use some of the pecans left from the date appetizer above.
1 can white navy beans
3 cloves of fresh peeled garlic (use more if your guests won't mind)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives
½ teaspoon dried rosemary, chopped
¼ cup toasted, chopped pecans
½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
½ green bell pepper, finely chopped
½ red apple, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped chives or green onions
½ lemon, juiced
½ teaspoon olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
water crackers/pita crackers/toasted french bread
Drain and rinse the beans. Puree in a food processor with the garlic and olive oil. Add the lemon juice, salt & rosemary and pulse until it's blended to a smooth texture. Stir in chives.
Mix together the chopped pecans, peppers, apple, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt/pepper (if you're not serving right away, mix the nuts in right before serving so they keep their crunch).
Put the hummus in a serving bowl and garnish with cracked pepper, a fresh rosemary sprig, and olive oil. Put the apple/pepper/nut mixture in a smaller serving bowl.
Put the hummus on the cracker/bread of your choice and top with apple/pepper/nut mixture.