Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Keep it simple

Appies are a quick and easy treat to serve to your holiday company

For any gathering this holiday season, consider serving a variety of appetizers and finger foods.

Have a variety of cold and hot dishes as well as the old stand-bys like roasted mixed nuts, Chex mix, cheese balls with breads, crackers or raw veggies.

With office, business and home parties well under way, we are often required to bring an appetizer to share.

Today’s recipe for apricot wraps will make a great change from the same old, same old. It’s a nice mix of sweet and salty with a crunch; it’s quite delicious.

The hot pizza dip is a favourite for kids and adults alike, and if you wish to add pepperoni, finely chop it and cook separately to lose some of the fat before adding it to the mix. Give it a try — it’s always a hit.

Apricot Wraps

1 package (14 ounces) dried apricots

1/2 cup whole almonds

1 pound sliced bacon

1/4 cup plum or apple jelly

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Fold each apricot around an almond. Cut bacon strips into thirds; wrap a strip around each apricot and secure with a toothpick.

Place on two ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pans. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until bacon is crisp, turning once.

In a small saucepan, combine jelly and soy sauce; cook and stir over low heat for 5 minutes or until warmed and smooth.

Remove apricots to paper towels; drain. Serve with sauce for dipping. Yield: about 4-1/2 dozen.

hot pizza dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup pizza sauce (I used 1 cup)

1/2 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped

Tortillas or bread sticks

Combine the cream cheese and the seasonings. Spread in the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. (I used a round cake pan.)

Combine cheeses and sprinkle half over the cream cheese layer.  Spread pizza sauce over that. Sprinkle remaining cheese and bell peppers on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Serve warm with bread sticks, tortilla chips, or pita triangles.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.