Ho Ho Holidays: Festive fare for parties, gifts or snacks

December 8, 2010 11:08:00 AM

Jan Swoope - jswoope@cdispatch.com


As the days tick by until Santa''s big scene, our halls are getting decked and our calendars filled. Time spent with those we care about is always a huge part of the holidays. Whether getting together for a family Christmas movie night, or hosting a party for the neighborhood, festive food will add more "merry" to the gathering. We''ve compiled a few recipes to trigger some smiles. The children can even help with some.  


The highlight of any holiday party is an appearance by the jolly old elf himself, and a Santa cheese ball appetizer is sure to garner compliments. Try mini rice cakes instead of cream cheese for a beard, or broccoli for ears. Before serving, bring to room temperature for the best flavor and consistency. 


Festive chocolate bark is perfect for parties or gift-giving. Make extra batches of this confection, though, because you''ll want to fill your own candy dish rather than give it away. Enlist a young helper for swirling the white and semisweet chocolate. 


Gift-wrapping extends to the holiday table with the recipe for a cleverly-decorated savory cream cheese spread. And what child wouldn''t love Crunchy the Snowman snacks, wrapped in colorful candy scarves and top hats? The recipes for all of these are included in today''s pages. 




Party time 


People are definitely in a mood to celebrate at this time of year, but throwing even a simple party takes time and preparation, so make yours as stress-free as possible by making your lists and checking them twice. Readers'' Digest and familyfun.go.com offer some tips.







Makes eight to 10 servings 




One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened 


4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese 


1 tablespoon softened butter 


1 tablespoon minced onion 


One clove minced garlic (optional) 


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 


1/2 teaspoon tomato paste 


Black pepper, to taste 


Red bell pepper 


1 to 2 cups whipped cream cheese 


Radish slice, carrot stick, pretzel, black olives, crackers, and a cherry tomato 










8 ounces of cream cheese (softened) 


1/2 teaspoon dried dill 


1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 


1/8 teaspoon salt 




Red bell pepper 








Makes about 1 3/4 pounds 




1 cup shelled pistachio nuts (about 1/2 pound in shell) 


12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped 


8 ounces white chocolate, chopped 


3/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries 










Bag of 8-inch pretzel rods 


1 cup white chocolate chips 


Mini chocolate chips 


Orange decorators'' gel 


Fruit leather (various colors) 


Gummy rings 






(Recipes courtesy of www.familyfun.go.com)

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.