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Easy Appetizers for Holiday Parties

Friday, December 14th, 2012

The first appetizer, goat cheese poached in tomato sauce, is one of the simplest and best tasting things I do. The second appetizer, hummus and pita tray with calamata olives, is a recipe for both hummus and pita bread but the store bought varieties are also fine. This allows you the flexibility to either buy the products at Price Cutter and make the appetizer in five minutes or to make either or both from scratch.

Poached Goat Cheese

Ingredients for sauce:*

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 16 oz. whole canned tomato
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Ingredients to finish

  • 8 oz. creamy goat cheese
  • Basil sprig
  • Toast points (see recipe below)

Heat small sauce pan and add oil. Sauté garlic and onion, covered, for about 3 minutes or until onions are soft. Add tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Puree tomatoes with immersion blender, regular blender, or in food processor to make a rich sauce and set aside.

Form goat cheese into an even, round disc, ½-inch thick. Place sauce in shallow baking dish. Put goat cheese in middle of sauce and bake for about 15 minutes at 375°F. Garnish with basil sprig. Serve hot with toast points.

For Toast Points

Slice a loaf of French bread into ¼-inch slices and place on cookie sheet. Brush liberally with olive oil and lightly season with salt. Bake for about 5 minutes at 350°F.

*You can also use a store bought pizza, spaghetti, or other tomato sauce instead.

Hummus and Pita

This recipe gives you the option of making either the hummus, the pita, or both from scratch. Remember: Price Cutter sells a very good pita bread and several varieties of prepared hummus. If you are short on time, you can brush the hummus with a little olive oil and heat in the microwave before serving with the hummus and calamata olives.

Ingredients for hummus

  • 2 cups cooked chick peas
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ¼ cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Chives for garnish

Instructions for hummus

Puree ingredients in food processor until almost smooth. Spoon into serving bowl and serve topped finely chopped chives or parsley.

Ingredients for pita

  • 1 package of yeast, or quick rising yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water

Instructions for pita

Dissolve yeast in ½ cup of warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy. Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Make a small depression in the middle of flour and pour yeast water in depression. Slowly add 1 cup of warm water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until elastic. Place dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. When the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded.

Coat large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated. Allow to sit in a warm place for about 3 hours, or until it has doubled in size. Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 10-12 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and ¼-inch thick. Heat a griddle or metal pan over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Brush each pita round liberally with olive oil and lightly season with sea salt. Place pitas in pan or on griddle and cook on each side for about 2 minutes or until puffed up and has brown spots on it. Remove from heat, then take a spatula and gently push down puff. Cut and use immediately or place in storage bags.

To plate

Cut warm pita into triangles. Place hummus in a nice, ceramic bowl and place in the middle of a large serving platter. Arrange triangles and pitted olives around platter.

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