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Invite friends over for a festive holiday party and make sure these easy appetizers, snacks and beverages — filled with seasonal flavor — are on the table. 

This collection of delicious dishes will get your holiday party off to a memorable start. These recipes are provided by Chef Corey Nolta from Caraway Cafe at Jorgensen Plaza in Cedar Falls. 

The Holiday Brie Bake makes an elegant display that looks as if you spent hours in the kitchen. These deviled eggs will be the first appetizers to disappear off the buffet, while roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon dipping sauce will have haters rethinking their dislike for this unassuming vegetable. Finally, heat up your appetizer tray with jalapeno popper dip. You can serve it with crackers, chips, crudites or yes, jalapeno poppers.

Spicy-sweet nuts are crunchy companions to slow-cooker hot chocolate and a salted caramel apple cocktail that stays warm throughout the party. Toast your guests with a Pumpkin Pie Martini or Gingerbread Cocktail.

Recipes for crunch Cinnamon Vanilla Glazed Walnuts, Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pecans and toast-worthy holiday-themed beverages and cocktails are from McCormick kitchens. 

Holiday Brie Bake

1 sheet puff pastry

1 tablespoon raspberry jam

2 tablespoons slivered almonds

1 7 ounce round brie

1 egg

Crackers, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 F. Unroll puff pastry onto floured surface. Spread raspberry jam in center of pastry. Spread almonds over raspberry jam. Place brie in the center of the pastry. Wrap pastry around brie and seal with an egg wash. Flip the pastry-wrapped brie onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly brush egg wash on top of the pastry. Bake 15 minutes until golden brown. Arrange on a serving platter and serve with crackers.

Deviled Eggs with variations

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, halved and yolk removed


Yolks from hard-boiled eggs

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

1 teaspoon pickle juice

Salt and pepper, to taste

Slice eggs in half lengthwise and remove yolks to a medium bowl. Place whites on a platter. In the bowl, use a fork to crumble yolks. Add in egg yolks, mayonnaise, mustard, pickle juice and salt and pepper. For variations, you can create deviled eggs in various flavors. Variations

Sriracha Lime

1 teaspoon sriracha

1 teaspoon lime juice


2 teaspoons buffalo sauce


1 tablespoon avocado puree

Spicy Bacon

1 tablespoon bacon, finely diced

2 teaspoons jalapeno, finely minced

Simply add ingredients to egg yolk mixture for variations

Then evenly fill egg whites with yolk mixture, either by teaspoons or using a pastry bag.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Dipping Sauce


1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon horseradish mustard

2 strips bacon, cooked and finely diced

In a bowl, mix together the above ingredients. Pour into serving bowl.

For Brussels sprouts:

1 pound Brussels sprouts

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Sea salt

Cracked pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Trim ends off Brussels sprout, then cut each in half and add to large bowl with remaining ingredients. Toss until well combined. Place Brussels sprouts onto baking sheet and roast for 30 to 35 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes. Serve warm with dipping sauce.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup mayonnaise

5 jalapenos, seeded and diced

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 green onion, diced

Combine all ingredients until well incorporated. Serve hot or cold. To serve hot, preheat oven to 350 F. Place dip into baking dish and bake 15 to 20 minutes until bubbly. To serve cold, hollow out sourdough or other favorite round bread and pour prepared dip into the bread bowl.

Serve with crackers, chips, or artisan breads.

Cinnamon Vanilla Glazed Walnuts

These slightly spicy, sweet nuts are a terrific holiday snack or a topping for salads or vegetables such as carrots, winter squash or sweet potatoes.

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg white

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups walnut halves

Preheat oven to 250 F. Mix sugar, cinnamon, red pepper and salt in small bowl. Set aside.

Beat egg white and vanilla in medium bowl until foamy. Add walnuts; toss to coat. Add spice mixture; toss to coat nuts evenly. Spread nuts in single layer on greased baking sheet.

Bake 1 hour, stirring nuts after 30 minutes. Cool slightly and break apart. Cool completely and store in airtight container up to 2 weeks. Makes 10 servings.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pecans

Use pecans or walnuts for these lightly sweetened spiced nuts. Serve at a holiday party for guests to nibble on. It's also great for gift-giving. Place in cellophane bags and tie with a holiday ribbon.

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg white

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

3 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 250 F. Mix sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt in small bowl. Beat egg white and vanilla in large bowl until foamy. Add pecans; toss to coat well. Add spice mixture; toss to coat pecans evenly.

Spread pecans in single layer on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 1 hour, stirring once. Cool slightly and break apart. Cool completely. Store in airtight container up to 2 weeks. Makes 12 servings.

Slow Cooker Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Prepare this cold-weather-favorite to help party guests warm up: rich, creamy hot chocolate made right in the slow cooker. Created with just five ingredients, you can let this indulgent treat simmer in the crock, while you mingle.

1/2 gallon (8 cups) whole milk

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 package (12 ounces) dark chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

Place all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover.

Cook 60 to 70 minutes on HIGH or until chocolate is melted and mixture is heated through, stirring every 15 minutes. Reduce heat to WARM or LOW to serve. Makes 10 servings.

Pumpkin Pie Martini

4 ounces light cream

1/4 cup canned pumpkin

3 ounces white chocolate liqueur

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Fill cocktail shaker two-thirds full with ice. Add light cream, pumpkin, white chocolate liqueur, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice; shake vigorously 15 to 20 seconds or until well mixed and chilled. Strain into 2 martini glasses. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

Gingerbread Cocktail

Make your holiday party even more festive with this cocktail that features the traditional cinnamon and ginger flavors of gingerbread.

1/2 cup half-and-half

1 ounce coffee liqueur

1 teaspoon molasses

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Place all ingredients in cocktail shaker; stir to dissolve molasses. Fill cocktail shaker two-thirds full with ice; shake until well mixed and chilled. Strain into martini glass. Serve immediately. Makes 1 serving.

Slow Cooker Salted Caramel Apple Cocktail

A sachet of fragrant McCormick spices – cinnamon, clove and allspice – infuses this holiday cocktail with some of the season's most-loved flavors. Rim glasses with chopped peanuts and caramel sauce.

4 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon whole allspice

1 teaspoon whole cloves 6 1/2 cups apple cider

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided

1/2 cup salted dry roasted peanuts

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups caramel vodka

2/3 cup jarred caramel sauce, divided

Place cinnamon sticks, allspice and cloves in coffee filter or double layer of cheesecloth. Tie with butcher twine to form a sachet. Place spice sachet, apple cider and 1 teaspoon of the sea salt in 3-quart slow cooker. Cover.

Cook 1 hour on HIGH or 2 hours on LOW.

Meanwhile, place peanuts and remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Place peanut mixture on shallow plate; set aside. Remove spice sachet from cider mixture. Stir in vanilla and caramel vodka.

To serve, pour 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce on shallow plate. Dip rim of each mug in caramel sauce, allowing excess to drip off. Gently dip or roll rim in crushed peanuts to coat. Ladle beverage into mug. Gently stir in 1 tablespoon caramel sauce. Serves 12.


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