3 Simple Appetizers for Your Holiday Entertaining

The holiday season is upon us…

A global entertaining frenzy has begun, as each of us looks for unique food, beverage and decorating ideas for our next holiday party; ideas that will stand apart from the rest while showcasing our personal style.

With ‘red’ being the official color of the holiday season, I’m happy to pull out all my favorite ‘red’ sweaters and handbags, my large collection of ‘red’ platters, jars and dishes…and my lovely ‘red’ tea kettle.

3 Simple Appetizers for Holiday Entertaining; Inspired by Indian Flavors

This holiday season, we are on a mission to arm all our readers with no-fuss holiday recipes like fiesta chaat in fillo (phyllo) cups, Indian-inspired turkey with nutty green beans and our almond & pumpkin fudge-halwa.

Today’s offering of 3 stunningly simple and ideal-for-entertaining-a-crowd appetizers; come with a unique set of flavors, sure to please every palate. I’d recommend keeping these recipes handy.

Are these appetizers Indian-inspired? Absolutely, that’s just the way we cook…

Appetizer I: Cheese Chili Toast Triangles

Back in India, these yummy bites were the most requested appetizer at our hotel’s banquet events; they are filled with amazing flavor and look like ‘mini Indian grilled cheese open sandwiches’. Feel free to add your own touches like diced red pepper or chopped olives to the versatile cheese mixture.

Cheese Chili Toast Triangles

Makes 16 mini triangles

2 thin slices of grainy loaf bread
Butter for spreading on the bread

1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or any cheese blend)
½ Jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (use Serrano pepper or Thai green chili if you like it spicier)
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
¼ teaspoon ground paprika
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt, only if required based on the cheese

Cheese Chili Toast, in the Toaster Oven

In a small bowl, bring together the cheese, finely chopped Jalapeño/Serrano/Thai chili pepper, chopped onion, spices and seasonings.

Spread butter on the two slices of loaf bread and lay them on an ungreased baking sheet (you can also toast them directly on the rack.) Top the bread generously with the cheese mix, it might look like a lot but the cheese really melts down. Toast the cheese-topped bread in a toaster oven till the cheese has melted. For a browned cheese topping, broil the slices on a high setting for another 2 minutes.

Take off the crust and cut each slice into 8 triangular pieces for a perfect bite-sized appetizer. Serve the Cheese Chili Toast Triangles warm on a large platter.

Appetizer II: Maple-flavored Apple Spiced Goat Cheese Log

Goat cheese has a natural tang to it which works wonderfully, topped with the flavors of apple compote made using Granny Smith apples, maple syrup, cinnamon and cardamom. Lay out this delicious log on a plate with a spreader, along with some of your favorite crackers or sliced baguette, cold cuts, olives and grapes; you will soon have a crowd gather around this appetizer…

6-8 oz goat cheese log, at room temperature
I medium Granny Smith apple, cut in small dices
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons maple syrup

Maple-flavored Apple Spiced Goat Cheese Log, a Versatile Spread with Crackers or Sliced Baguette

Heat a saucepan with the diced apples, ¼ cup of water, maple syrup and spices. Cook for about 5-7 minutes till the apple has softened but still has a slight bite to it.

While the apple compote is still warm, roll a goat cheese log at room temperature in it, so the apple pieces stick to the entire cheese log. Place the log on a serving plate and pour the rest of the apple compote around the goat cheese.

Serve the Maple-flavored Apple Spiced Goat Cheese Log as a spread for crackers or sliced baguette along with cold cuts, olives and grapes as accompaniments.

Appetizer III: Pan-tossed Spicy Almond and Pecan

Over the years, I’ve tried many complicated spiced nuts recipes, which generally leave me with a disappointing outcome. Finally, I created this easy pan-tossed spicy nuts recipe, requiring no baking and no fluffy egg whites…all you need is nuts, sugar, spices and a large pan on the stove-top.

½ cup almond*
½ cup pecans or walnuts*
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon ground red chili or Cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt, if the nuts are unsalted
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

*Use any nuts of your choice; they can be salted or unsalted.

Pan-tossed Spicy Almond and Pecan, with a dash of lemon

Coat the nuts with canola oil, sugar and spices in a bowl.

Heat a large pan on the stove and add the spiced nuts mix to it. Toss them on a low flame, so the spices don’t burn and the sugar forms a nice crust around the nuts. Turn off the flame, let the nuts cool and drizzle lemon juice over them.

Serve the Pan-tossed Spicy Almond and Pecan at room temperature. They also store well in an airtight container.

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  1. says

    Thank you for posting such delightful appetizer recipes! Christmas celebration is fast approaching and I am really looking for more exciting and interesting appetizer recipes gladly I found your article! I am looking forward for your next article!

  2. says

    Great ideas, again. I look forward to seeing your blog in my mailbox–it always inspires me to try new things.

    I know you already have the Liebster blog award, but I nominated you again. If people can win an Oscar multiple times, why not a blogster award? (As far as I’m concerned, since this is a second nomination, you don’t have to go through the rigamarole of accepting again…) http://tracyleekarner.com/2012/12/01/my-third-curtsy/

    It was my way of letting my readers know whose blogs I’m reading, since I don’t have a blogroll.

  3. says

    I was just talking to the cashier at my supermarket about how I needed to dig out some of my red clothes for the upcoming holiday. When I got home, I forgot all about it. Thank you for reminding me again!

    • says

      Thanks, me too:) it’s like December just comes with that warm feeling and a need to see friends and eat good food! The toasts are perfect eaten warm and the goat cheese can really feed a crowd! Hope you like it:)

  4. says

    Thanks for the nut-recipe, especially. I have a complicated recipe which, although yummy, I only make every few years because it involves so many steps, including a deep-fry. This sounds like it will be a worthy substitute. I’m going to try it this weekend.

    • says

      I agree…my spicy nuts low point came with a 20-step recipe with a complicated spice mix!! And I actually tried it out…ha ha. That’s when I decided to create my own simple version, nuts are so handy for big and small gatherings, a no fuss appetizer you can leave around:) Thanks for trying them!

  5. says

    Hmm, yummy Peri, I can smell those pecans from here!! :) I love the way you spiced them, a real crowd pleaser! Your delicious triangles reminds me of the toasties we do in Turkey; we add a little chopped tomato – seeds taken away – to them. Gorgeous bites for the holiday season, thank you!

    • says

      Thanks Ozlem! The nuts are so yummy with a lemony hint:) I remember toasties back in India, we used to have a stove top toasty maker…my favorite was egg toasties (no surprise there!)…and what fun that our cuisine similarities continue:) Love the chopped tomatoes idea and they would work well with pulp and seeds out!

  6. says

    I am definitely using that first one! Cheese on toast is pretty much what I wish I could eat for every meal. Those little triangles say comfort and home to me: perfect for a cozy holiday get-together. And my husband pretty much wants jalapeno on everything!

Let me know what you think...