My New Favorite Appetizers

martha-stewart-cheese-balls.jpgThough I found myself a tad depleted at the end of the whirlwind of holiday gatherings and guests we hosted, one thing I love about entertaining is assembling menus and trying out new recipes. (Admittedly -- perhaps not surprisingly given yesterday's tooth fairy post -- I created an Excel based project plan to keep track of the various menus and prep schedules.) And of all the new recipes I tried this holiday season, there were three Martha Stewart recipes that were fantastic and easy. They're my new favorite appetizers and now get real estate in my recipe binders (yes, I have binders) and I wanted to be sure to share them with you.

Cheese ball trifecta. These cheese balls rock. They're easy to make -- you start with a base recipe and split it into three varieties -- and they were all delicious and appealed to different tastes, with the cheddar + cranberry being sweet/mild, the Roquefort + walnut being wonderfully "stinky" (as Laurel calls it), and the goat cheese + scallion being creamy and rich. I followed Martha's cheese ball pairings (water crackers, vegetable chips, and cucumber, respectively) and they were the perfect vehicles for the cheese. One note: this recipe yields a lot of cheese ball action. You could halve the recipe, or I ended up making the full batch and using it across two parties.

Artichoke dip. I love artichoke dip but strangely, had never made it myself before. And, well, this yummy recipe encouraged me to eat a lot more raw vegetables than I normally would on a cold winter day! The dip keeps well too and is delicious reheated. It would also serve well to fancy up a sandwich.

Orange spiced cashews. I made this cashew recipe to go with Martha's butternut squash soup (per the soup recipe recommendation). And while I found the soup rather unremarkable, the cashews were fantastic, even without the coriander (I didn't have any) and cayenne (I'm not into hot stuff right now). I put the cashews out in a pretty dish Laurel painted at Clay Dreams and our guests happily munched the cashews down by the handful -- it's a good thing I made a double batch!


Image credit: Martha Stewart cheese ball recipe