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Holiday Party Hors d’oeuvres

20 J00000012UTC 2011

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary. I told new friends the story of the party we threw the night after the snowy, outdoors ceremony earlier that day. Friends and family filled our tiny house with happiness; glasses filled and re-filled with red wine and White Russians; our closest buddies frantically helped us prepare the most delicious food, little treats we love to make this time of year.

Instead of the refined carbohydrates pinwheels, processed cheese balls, barbequed fake meats and other ghosts of Christmases past, try something new. These three recipes use real, whole food, warm the body on cold winter nights and fill the belly so you don’t have to wipe out an entire plate of jelly rolls. So, in the spirit of Christmas sharing and cheer, here are three recipes you, your friends and your family will love.

Devils on Horseback aka Bacon Wrapped Dates

12 slices uncured bacon, nitrate and nitrite free

24 pitted dates, the bigger the better

24 raw or toasted pecan halves, optional

Preheat oven to 400. // Soak 24 toothpicks in a small bowl of water. // Slice bacon either in half long-ways or short-ways, depending on how large your dates are. If they are long, fat dates, cutting the bacon in half is easiest. If they are small you’ll have to do the harder work of starting at one tip and cutting the bacon in half length-wise. // Shove a pecan half into each date, if desired. If the dates are small, make a small slit to get the pecan in. // Wrap each date in a half piece of bacon and secure it with a soaked toothpick. Place on a cookie sheet (lined with foil, if you like). // Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, flip and bake 10 more or till bacon is bubbling and slightly crispy. If you like it very crispy, broil for the last minute or two. // Remove and serve warm or room temperature.

Try also prunes stuffed with macadamia nuts or just plain figs. These can also be served stuffed with goat cheese, but I leave it out. Haystack Mountain in Boulder makes a really nice one.

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Lemon Mint Yogurt Sauce
Adapted from Sunset Magazine

For the sauce combine and chill (forego if you are dairy sensitive; the meatballs speak for themselves):
1 1/2 cups whole fat (4%) Greek yogurt (look for high protein and low sugar)
Finely shredded zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp minced garlic

For the meatballs:
2 Tbsp finely grated ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp curry powder + 2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sea salt + 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 lb ground lamb
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, combine ginger, garlic, curry, garam masala, salt and pepper. Add meats and gently combine with hands till spices are just evenly distributed. Do not overmix. // Gently roll meat into 1 1/2 inch balls and set on a rimmed baking pan. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line another baking pan with paper towels.
// Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Brown meatballs in batches on all sides, turning as needed for about 10-12 minutes (medium rare). Transfer meatballs to towel lined pan. // Transfer meatballs to serving dish and serve with toothpicks and yogurt sauce.

Prosciutto Rolls with Arugula and Figs from http://www.epicurious.com

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

4 tsp grated lemon peel

12 thin slices prosciutto (not paper-thin)

6 ounces soft fresh goat cheese at room temperature, optional (I leave this out)

16 dried black Mission figs, quartered

4 large bunches arugula, stems trimmed

Whisk oil, lemon juice and peel in medium bowl to blend. Lay prosciutto on work surface, spacing slices 2 inches apart. Spread cheese evenly over prosciutto (optional). //  Arrange figs over cheese, dividing and spacing evenly. Drizzle lemon mixture over. Sprinkle with pepper. // Arrange 6 arugula leaves atop each prosciutto slice, alternating stems and tops and allowing tops to extend 1 inch over long sides of prosciutto. // Starting at 1 short end of each prosciutto slice, tightly roll up as for jelly roll. Cut rolls crosswise in half. // If you do not use cheese, use less sauce and secure each roll with a toothpick. //  Transfer to platter. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover with damp paper towels, then plastic; chill.)

Enjoy your partying and your eating this season. Taste fully and fill up on the real, whole, good stuff so you don’t end up binging on Pillsbury slice-n-bakes. Make your calories count– so they offer real fuel, real nutrients and so they work for you– promoting a healthy, natural weight, not the need to lose weight after the partying dies down and the New Year begins.

Cheers!

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