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Festival Foods

Cheese Please

Seriously, can you believe we are nearing the Christmas holiday already? I hear it day after day from so many people young and old -- time just flies so quickly for all of us! With that said, I thought it best to provide some quick and easy ideas for entertaining. This happens to be one of my favorite things to do!  It can be such fun if you plan ahead, keep it simple, and get creative. Take various trays of fun items, set your serving area with a red, green, gold, silver, or holiday tablecloth (or fabric), set out various candle sticks, scatter trays and baskets with bread and crackers, add items like small pinecones, ornaments, foiled candies and woohoo, you have just created a festive table that all will say, “WOW! This looks amazing!” Be sure to have a few cheese and meat items on hand. Here is a list that I consider for almost any holiday season at my house. Cheese itemscheese please #festfoods Brie, a good quality Cheddar, Fresh Mozzarella, Mascarpone, Blue Cheese, Fontina, a variety of the Sartori wedges such as Merlot, Raspberry, Gold, and without a doubt…the Montamore Meat Items Prosciutto, Bussetto Nuggets, and Hard Salami   CABOT CHEDDAR SPREAD Ingredients:

  • 1lb Cabot Sharp or Extra Sharp Cheddar, shredded
  • 1 medium sweet onion, grated and juiced wrung out
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Raspberry Preserves
  • Salty Crackers
Directions: Blend the first 3 ingredients. Spread on platter, approximately 1/4" thick. Shape into a star, bell or other festive shape. Top with raspberry preserves. Serve with salty crackers.   cheese pleaseBrie with Preserves/Fruit Spread on Mini Toast Take a mini toast, slice a brie log and place on toast, add small scoop fig, raspberry, or any fruit spread.             Fried Brie w/Raspberry Cut Brie log into ¼- ½ inch rounds then quarter. With finger, dampen wonton wrap edges with water (found in produce). Place brie on wonton wrap. Spread a healthy amount of raspberry jam on brie. Fold sides up, squeeze out any excess air and pinch seam shut. Place 4-6 wontons in fryer basket. Lower and fry for 2- 3minutes or until golden brown. Do not over fry because cheese will come out of wrapper.   cheese pleaseHoliday Baked Brie   Ingredients:
  • 1/2 package Puff Pastry Sheets
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves or raspberry jam
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 1 (14oz ounce) round Brie cheese
Directions: Thaw pastry sheet at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Mix egg and water. Unfold pastry sheet on lightly floured surface. Roll into 14 inch square. Cut off corners to make a circle. Spread preserves to within 1 inch of pastry edge. Sprinkle cranberries and almonds over preserves. Top with cheese. Brush edge of circle with egg mixture. Fold two opposite sides over cheese. Trim remaining two sides to 2 inches from edge of cheese. Fold these two sides onto the round. Press edges to seal. Place seam-side down on baking sheet. Decorate top with pastry scraps if desired. Brush with egg mixture. Bake 20 minutes or until golden. Let stand 1 hour. Serve with crackers.   cheese pleaseHoliday Ham w/brie on a baguette  1 Tablespoon olive oil, salt & pepper 12 slices of baguette bread 12 slices of ham 8oz brie 3 Tbsp. raspberry, strawberry, or apricot preserves   Pour the oil, pepper and salt into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Brush, cover each of the baguette bread slices on both sides. Broil them for up to 2-minutes on each side. The pieces should be lightly toasted. Take the bread from the oven and add the preserves, brie cheese and thinly sliced ham. Broil brie cheese appetizers for 2 or 3 minutes until the cheese melts and serve.  
Fresh Mozzarella wrapped in Prosciutto cheese please Arrange slices of prosciutto flat on a cutting board and put a piece of basil on one end of each slice. Top each piece of basil with a piece of mozzarella and a grape tomato half, matching the cut sides to make a ball or triangle. Season very lightly with salt and pepper and then roll up the balls in the prosciutto. Secure each with a toothpick and set on a platter. Drizzle with the olive oil and serve. Add a drop of balsamic glaze for added flavor if desired.   cheese pleaseGorgonzola & Mascarpone Torte Combine 8oz Mascarpone and ¼ cup honey together.  Combine mixture with crumbled Gorgonzola.  Spread on Plate. Top with ½ cup chopped walnuts and ½ cup dried cranberries. Serve on mini toasts.         cheese pleaseBussetto Salami & BelGioioso Asiago Fresco Cube cheese into ½” cubes. Wrap a slice of salami around the cube and spear with a toothpick.               cheese pleaseBaked Artichoke Dip w/Fontina Cheese 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil ½ yellow onion (diced small) 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped) 14oz artichoke hearts (whole, drained and coarsely chopped) 1/3 cup dry white wine 4oz cream cheese (room temperature) 2 1/4 cups Fontina cheese (cubed, 3/4 pound) 1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)   Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add artichokes and wine; cook until liquid evaporates, about 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in Cream Cheese until blended. Fold in 1 1/4 cups Fontina and parsley. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart baking dish; sprinkle with 1 cup Fontina. Bake until golden and bubbling, 30 minutes. Serve on pita chips or your favorite cracker or toast.   cheese pleaseFontina Cheese, what is it?                                                          Fontina cheese is a classic Italian cheese, although variations are made in several other countries as well. Depending on where the cheese comes from and how long it has been aged, fontina can be semi-soft to firm in texture, with a range of flavors from mild and creamy to more intense and pungent. The cheese is quite popular in Italian cuisine, especially in the region around the Alps where it originates. Variations have become popular around the world for a variety of cooked dishes and sandwiches, and it also makes a great table cheese. All fontina cheese must be made from cow's milk. As a general rule, the milk is usually raw, and the best cheese is made from milk that is as fresh as possible. The interior of the cheese tends to be a rich straw yellow to pale cream in color, and it is classically riddled with very small holes. The milk fat content is usually around 45%, so the cheese tends to be very rich and creamy, with a nutty flavor that gets stronger with aging. The cheese also melts very well, and it is sometimes included in fondue and similar dishes. Wishing you all a safe, healthy, fun filled loving Holiday Season! Merry Christmas!
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