Quick and Easy Holiday Appetizers and Desserts

Most of these are not original recipes and I can’t find the sources of them so I apologize for this fact but I do hope you will enjoy these on your holiday buffet table this year. I taught a great group of ladies who volunteer and raise monies for local charities and fire departments and these are the recipes I taught them. What a fun class. And as always, be sure to let me know how these work for you if you decide to make them.

Brussels Sprouts Bites

2 pounds small Brussels sprouts, rinsed of any dirt

  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 pinch coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • small toothpicks or skewers


Preheat oven to 400.

Slice the Brussels sprouts in half, lengthwise. Don’t trim the ends, as they’ll hold together better with them. Toss the sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet with the oil and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bake for 40 minutes total, but start checking around the 25-minute mark. Toss them around too. In the meantime, chop up the prosciutto into small chunks. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high. Add the prosciutto and saute for about 5 minutes, until nice and crispy. Set aside. Remove the sprouts from the oven and let them cool about 5 minutes, or until you can handle them. Using toothpicks, slide on a sprout half, followed by a slice or 3 of the ham, then bookend it with another sprout half. Continue until you have about 32 mini skewers. Arrange on a platter and serve immediately.

Honey Walnut & Brie Tart-lettes

packages phyllo shells
1 wedge (8 oz.) of
Brie cheese, rind removed
tablespoons sweet honey
1/4 cup chopped & toasted walnuts

Place phyllo shells onto a serving platter. Place a heaping teaspoon of brie cheese into each shell and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle the walnuts into each shell and serve.


Tortellini Skewers

9 oz. Package of cheese filled tortellini

Medium or large black olives

Grape tomatoes

Cubes or balls of fresh mozzarella cheese

Basil leaves

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Bamboo skewers


Cook tortellini according to package directions, drain and set aside to cool. Begin threading skewers with tomato, tortellini, basil leaf, olive, tortellini, cheese cube and basil leaf. Arrange on a platter and drizzle with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar.

Creamy Cannoli Cups

2 packages phyllo shells

15 oz. Container of whole milk ricotta cheese

½ cup powdered sugar plus more for dusting

2 Tbsp. Granulated sugar.

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tsp cinnamon, divided


Mix ricotta, sugars, vanilla and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon in a bowl with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Chill in a one gallon zip-lock storage bag until just before assembling. Filling will seem thin but it will thicken with chilling. Warm phyllo shells according to package directions. Cut off one corner of the storage bag and pipe about 1 Tbsp of ricotta cream into each cup, add a few mini-chocolate chips. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Filling can be made a day or two ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.A variation in the cannoli cream that works well is a 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract and or orange extract.Other toppings that go well with the cannoli cups are chopped toasted almonds, chocolate sprinkles, candied orange pieces, chopped candied red cherries. For a creamier filling, you can strain the ricotta cheese in a fine mesh strainer for a few hours before using.

Black Forest Shooters

1 small box instant pudding, chocolate flavor

1 can of cherry pie filling, whole cherries

1 can whipped cream

Plastic shot glasses


Mix pudding according to package directions. Layer the bottom 1/3 of the shot glasses with pudding, next add a few cherries, more pudding, a squirt of whipped cream and a drizzle of cherry juice. Serve on drink trays. 

Optional: Line the bottoms of the cups with bits of brownie scraps


Elegant and Lacy Brownie

1 box family sized brownie mix for a 9 x 13 pan

powdered sugar

lace doilies of any shape or design

Small cookie cutters


Bake brownies according to package directions, but line the pan with foil that overhangs at the ends and has been sprayed with non-stick spray, and allow them to cool completely. Remove the brownies with the foil and set on a counter. Spray the cookie cutters with a little non-stick spray and cut out as many different shapes you can from the pan. Try to place the cutters to get the most brownies. Lay different parts of the doilies over top of the brownies. Using a mesh sieve, sprinkle powdered sugar over the doilies/brownies. Carefully lift doilies and move brownies to a serving tray. Use small crudite cutters in the smaller areas of the brownies.

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