5 Easy Appetizers for Holiday Hosting

5 Easy Appetizers for Holiday Hosting

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, lots of us will be turning our attention to our upcoming hosting obligations! Whether you’re hosting a holiday party, a family get-together, or a sophisticated soirée, here are five easy, fun, and tasty appetizers to see you through the entire holiday season.

Pear and Blue Cheese Crostini 

These are perfect if you’re looking for a light appetizer to kick off your hosting duties. With just five ingredients, you can keep refreshing your platters all night long.

Ingredients

  • 12 slices (1/2 Inch Thick) Baguette
  • 6 tbsp. Crumbled Blue Cheese
  • 1 Red Anjou Pear, Cored, Cut Into 12 Slices
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Agave Nectar (or Honey)
  • 1/2 tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the oven for about 2 minutes.
  2. Divide blue cheese evenly between the baguette slices (about 1 ½ teaspoons per slice) and bake until cheese starts to melt, 3–4 minutes.
  3. Place the pears in a medium bowl and, using your hands, coat them with the agave nectar or honey. Top each baguette slice with a pear slice and a few thyme leaves. Serve.
 Source: The Pioneer Woman

 

Christmas Tortilla Roll-ups 

Go super festive with these pretty red and green tortilla roll-ups! Bell pepper and green onion add some freshness to your appetizer offering, with ranch flavoring to transform this simple snack into a real crowd-pleaser.

Ingredients

  • 2 packages (8 Oz. Size) of Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1 package (1 Oz. Size) of Dry Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 5 whole Burrito-sized Flour Tortillas
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced Finely
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced Finely
  • 5 whole Green Onions, Sliced Thin

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, 1/2 to 3/4 of the packet of ranch dressing mix (add the rest to taste), and black pepper with a wooden spoon until totally combined. Divide equally among the tortillas and spread into a single layer all over the surface of each tortilla.
  2. Sprinkle on the red and green bell pepper, as well as the green onion. Roll them up nicely and tight, then wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
  3. Before serving, slice into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices and serve on a platter.
  4. Options: Add shaved turkey, prosciutto, ham, or any meat.
  5. Add fresh herbs if you have them.
     Source: The Pioneer Woman

    Christmas Deviled Eggs

    Guests of any age will love these fun green deviled eggs. A mixture of herbs and a secret ingredient (green food coloring!) means that kids and adults alike will be following the tray around all day.

    Ingredients

    • 1 dozen eggs
    • 1/3 c. mayonnaise
    • 1 tsp. mustard
    • 3 tbsp. dill pickle relish
    • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
    • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill, plus more for serving
    • 1 drop of green food coloring, optional
    • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
    • 1/4 c. diced red bell pepper

    Directions

    1. Fill a large pot with about 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Carefully add the eggs and cook for 12 minutes.
    2. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large bowl of ice water. Let cool for 2 minutes. Remove each egg from the water; tap the top and bottom gently on the counter, then return the eggs to the ice water for 10 more minutes. Peel the eggs.
    3. Halve the eggs lengthwise and remove the yolks.
    4. Combine the egg yolks, mayonnaise, mustard, pickle relish, parsley, dill, green food coloring (if using), salt and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 1 to 2 minutes to break down the herbs and combine well, scraping the sides and base of the bowl as needed. Remove the mixture and transfer to a large pastry bag, or zip top plastic bag. Snip the corner of the bag with scissors, to make a 1/2-inch wide cut.
    5. Place the tip of the bag into the empty hole of one egg-white half. Pipe the filling just until it fills the hole. Then, draw a triangle around the edges of the filling, to resemble a Christmas tree. Repeat with all the egg halves.
    6. Sprinkle chopped red pepper over top of the trees. Sprinkle with more chopped, fresh dill, if you like. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

    Source: The Pioneer Woman

    Tree-Shaped Cheese Christmas Board

    You’re always onto a winner with a cheese board: major hosting points for minimal effort. Simply layer your favorite sliced cheeses, meats, and crackers in the shape of a tree, and decorate with berries, grapes, and sprigs of rosemary. It couldn’t be easier!

    Ingredients

      • Sliced cheeses – I buy the presliced cracker cheese to save time.
      • Assorted meats – Use pepperoni, salami, prosciutto, etc.
      • Crackers – I used Raincoast Crisps here. They are my favorite cracker! Not only are they delicious, but they are beautiful too.
      • Assorted berries – You can use whatever you’d like. I used blackberries and golden berries.
      • Sugared cranberries – I make a batch of these sugared cranberries early in the season to garnish appetizers, desserts, and cocktails.
      • Fresh rosemary – It’s the perfect garnish for a tree.
      • Small cookie cutters – These are game changers. Use them to cut out shapes like stars, snowflakes, and candy canes. These cookie cutters will take your holiday cheese board to the next level.

      Directions

      1. Begin creating your Christmas cheese board by adding two layers of crackers to the bottom of a large wooden cutting board.
      2. Working upwards, add two layers of sliced cheese. Next, add a layer of sliced meat.
      3. As you layer, start to form the shape of a tree. (You can use my photos as a reference.)
      4. Continue layering with more crackers, cheeses, and meats until you reach the top of the tree.
      5. Decorate your tree with various berries and fruits. Sprinkle with sugared cranberries.
      6. Tuck in pieces of fresh rosemary around the tree.
      7. Using small cookie cutters, cut shapes from the cheese slices to decorate your tree and board.
      Source: Inspired by Charm

           

          Cranberry Brie Bites

          Crescent dough is your holiday hosting savior, and these cranberry brie bites prove it. Creamy brie, tangy cranberry sauce, and crunchy pecans give you the perfect holiday appetizer – or get creative and try out other cheeses and preserves to be the best host on the block.

          Ingredients

            • 1 (8-oz.) tube crescent dough
            • Cooking spray, for pan
            • Flour, for surface
            • 1 (8-oz.) wheel of brie
            • 1/2 c. whole berry cranberry sauce
            • 1/4 c. chopped pecans
            • 6 sprigs of rosemary, cut into 1″ pieces.

            Directions

            1. Preheat oven to 375° and grease a mini muffin tin with cooking spray. On a lightly floured surface, roll out crescent dough, and pinch together the seams. Cut into 24 squares. Place squares into muffin tin slots.
            2. Cut brie into small pieces and place inside the crescent dough. Top with a spoonful of cranberry sauce, some chopped pecans, and one little sprig of rosemary.
            3. Bake until the crescent pastry is golden, about 15 minutes.
            Source: Delish

             

            Happy holidays from the AMI team!

            5 Fun Apps for the Holiday Season

            5 Fun Apps for the Holiday Season

            Here are 5 fun Holiday apps suggested by the team at American Meetings, Inc. that will help you and your family make it through the holiday season organized and happy!

            1. The Christmas List

            This app is great to keep track of your Christmas shopping. You can make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for, and then you can set a budget for them. Let’s say that you add a friend. You’ll walk into the store, tap your friend’s name, and you’ll see the list of items you want to buy for this person, and, of course, the budget. You can then tap on the items as you buy them, and when you go back to the main screen, you can see how much you have left to spend on your gifts. This is a great way to keep track of what to buy, and most importantly not go over budget.

            Available on IOS and Android.

            2. Pandora Holiday Stations

            If you’re a holiday music fan, then you need to make sure you have Pandora on your phone. It has so many incredible Christmas music stations, your head will spin. Stations like: ’80s Christmas, Kids’ Christmas, Smooth Jazz Christmas, Hipster Holidays, and R&B Pop Holidays. There is even a Hanukkah music station.

            Available on IOS and Android.

            3. Christmas Booth: Photo Fun

            With this app, you can take a picture or just grab it from your camera roll and choose from a host of Christmas-themed stickers to turn anyone into a Christmas character. You can also send your photo via email, Twitter, or Facebook. It’s compatible with iMessage, too, so you can use the stickers there and message your friends.

            Available on IOS and Android.

            4. Elfster – Secret Santa Generator

            Elfster.com takes the business of holiday gift exchange generating to a whole new level of “ease and fun”. Making sure your special Holiday gift exchange goes smoothly and easily is what Elfster was designed to do FOR FREE. Yes, it’s completely free to use our Secret Santa generating tool and set up your next family Holiday gift exchange easily, faster, and more fun. Common holidays, of course, are Christmas, Hanukkah, and Eid al-Fitr – but whatever the holiday, if it involves gifts, we elves are ‘on it.’

            Available on IOS and Android.

            5. Martha Stewart Makes Cookies

            If you love making cookies during the holiday season, the Martha Stewart Makes Cookies app will totally impress you. It features more than 90 recipes, instructional videos, baking tips, packaging ideas, kitchen timers, shopping lists, and sharing options. There is also a category specifically for holiday cookies, as well as 6 additional recipe bundles for purchase.

            Available on IOS

            3 Great Thanksgiving Recipes for Busy Business Professionals

            3 Great Thanksgiving Recipes for Busy Business Professionals

            Managing your Meeting Planning strategies can take a toll on time to plan your own life. Here are three quick Thanksgiving recipes from the team at American Meetings that we love that are quick, easy and delicious.

            Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at AMI!

            Cheddar and Garlic Biscuits

            What You’ll Need

            • 5 cups biscuit baking mix or buttermilk biscuit mix
            • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
            • 1 3/4 cups Swanson® Chicken Broth or Swanson® Certified Organic Chicken Broth or Swanson® Natural Goodness® Chicken Broth
            • 2 cloves garlic, minced

            How to Make It

            1. Heat the oven to 450°F.
            2. Stir the baking mix, cheese, broth and garlic in a medium bowl with a fork.  Drop12 spoonful’s dough onto a baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough and another baking sheet.
            3. Bake for 10 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown

            Sausage & Apple Stuffing

            What You’ll Need

            • 1 3/4 cups Swanson® Chicken Broth or Swanson® Certified Organic Chicken Broth or Swanson® Natural Goodness® Chicken Broth
            • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
            • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
            • 1/2 Red Delicious apple, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
            • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
            • 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage, cooked and crumbled
            • 2 cups Pepperidge Farm® Herb Seasoned Stuffing
            • 2 cups Pepperidge Farm® Cornbread Stuffing

            How to Make It

            1. Heat the broth, celery, onion and apples in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables and apples are tender.
            2. Add the sausage and stuffing and stir lightly to coat.

            Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Squash with Cranberries & Pine Nuts

            What You’ll Need

            • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
            • 3 cups diced peeled seeded butternut squash
            • 1/4 cup olive oil
            • 3 tablespoons butter
            • 1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
            • 1/4 cup dry white wine
            • 1 cup Swanson® Chicken Broth or Swanson® Certified Organic Chicken Broth or Swanson® Natural Goodness® Chicken Broth
            • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
            • 1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
            • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

            How to Make It

            1. Set the oven to 425°F.  Stir the Brussels sprouts, squash and oil in a large bowl.  Spread the vegetable mixture on a rimmed baking sheet.
            2. Roast for 25 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned.
            Top Five American Cities For Your Next Corporate Meeting

            Top Five American Cities For Your Next Corporate Meeting

            Happy 4th of July!

            As we prepare to celebrate America’s birthday let’s take a look at All-American cities that have a special place in history.

            AMI staff recommends these five All-American cities as great destinations to host your next corporate meeting or event.

            Washington, DC

            Meet in America’s capitol in one of their many world class venues.


            Philadelphia, PA

            Begin a new meeting or event tradition in the city where it all began for America.


            Richmond, VA

            Get into the patriotic spirit in this historic Southern city that is perfect for any summer event.


            Boston, MA

            Host your meeting and event in this rebellious and notable American town.


            New York, NY

            Home of the Statue of Liberty NYC delivers a patriotic experience meeting experience second to none.