Have easy party food recipes handy for the holidays | Entertainment/Life

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It’s that wonderful time of year, also known as the holidays, when we gather with friends and family around tables and tables of bites.

It also happens to be a very busy time for decorating, planning and shopping. That’s why it’s a good idea to have an arsenal of appetizer recipes that you can quickly whip up and bring to parties with little notice or prep time.

Here’s a tip for hosts and hostesses: let your guests help you! When someone asks you what they can bring to your party, give them something. Most of the time they are really happy to help and ask you seriously.

Our local Farmers Markets have plenty of homemade preserves, cheeses and prepared breads to make preparing for your Christmas party easier.

I have shared some recipes that you can put together using these items and saving you a lot of time. Bring them to a party or include them with other dishes your guests bring to your own gathering.

These little cranberry bites are a little sweet and a little tart – just like I am at this stage of the holiday season. They look impressive, but are very easy to make. Last time I made this, I used goat cheese found at my local farmers market and a little rosemary from my little herb garden.

I tend to pile up jars of canned figs in the back of my pantry, but I’ve seen quite a few in almost every market I visit. I usually use my whole jarred figs for these little crostini, but you can easily use spreadable jam instead. If you’re not a fan of figs, your favorite fruit spread will also do the trick. Mint gives these crispy, sweet bites a holiday twist. Our market has a baker who has crostini already cut and grilled to perfection, which would make this dish even easier.

Not piling all the party responsibilities onto yourself is one of the best things you can do to allow yourself to actually enjoy the party. Use helpful ingredients from your local farmer’s market or other local vendors. And don’t forget to get a little help from your friends! You’ll be doing yourself and your guests a favor by letting them join in complimenting the chefs and giving you some time to really celebrate the season.

Cranberry Goat Cheese Bites

The recipe is from Teresa B. Day.

1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 cup whole cranberry sauce

4 ounces of goat cheese

1 tablespoon of honey

1 tablespoon of milk

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

2. Cut the dough into squares approximately 3 inches by 3 inches. Press each square into a mini muffin pan.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together cheese, honey and milk.

4. Place a little cheese at the bottom of each puff pastry.

5. Garnish with cranberry sauce. Gather the four corners of the dough and pinch together. The dough will “bloom” as it cooks.

6. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the corners of the puff pastry are lightly browned.

7. Sprinkle with rosemary. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Fig and Mint Crostini

The recipe is from Teresa B. Day.

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 small baguette, cut into about 16 pieces, toasted

16 jarred figs, halved if whole figs

4 mint leaves, julienned

Sea salt, to taste

1. Spread ricotta on each crostini. Top with two fig halves or spread jam evenly.

2. Sprinkle with mint leaves and drizzle with fig syrup.

3. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on top before serving.

4. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve later.

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