I am pretty steadfast when it comes to hosting friends and family, during the holiday season. Whether we are gathering around the TV for a Christmas movie or around a massive pile of presents for our annual Yankee swaps, no party is complete without good tidings and most importantly food. This is where the hostess comes in, am I right?
Now, as I stated earlier hosting friends and family is really one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. I love seeing friendly faces walk through our front door and I yearn to eagerly settle in amongst my guests and chit chat the night away; but hostessing duties always come first, which is why I live by creating quick and easy holiday appetizers.
I know some of you guys will want to get fancy up front, and wow your guests, but save the trills and frills for the ice cream bar, and focus on creating food that is easy to walk around with and an overall crowd pleaser. Whenever I’m contemplating my appetizers, I always reach for Willow Tree Chicken Dips; because they are filled to the brim with flavor and can easily transform an everyday appetizer into something more unique. Not to mention, I love supporting local New England businesses and not only is the Willow Tree brand located out of Massachusets, but they’ve also been operated and owned by the same family for over 60+ years!
Today, I’m sharing my go-to holiday appetizers with you all that will save you time, by getting you out of the kitchen and into the party. These recipes are a yearly staple at my house around the holidays, especially on Christmas Eve. If you are a New Englander then you already know that the Patriots play each year on Christmas Eve, and while Matt and his family attend the game, my family and I have our own special tradition. We usually curl up by the fire, appetizers in hand, and Christmas jammies on to watch the Patriots, ‘Do Their Job’, before heading out for Christmas Eve festivities.
It’s usually quite chilly outside by this time of year, so my Mom and I aim to recreate my siblings’ favorite comfort food to munch on while watching the big game. It’s really important for me to spend as much time as possible with my family since I don’t get to see them that often, and that is where Willow Tree comes in. Both of the recipes below take under forty minutes to create and are easy enough for an amateur chef like me to whip up.
First off, get a kick in your holiday taste buds with this Jalapeno Willow Tree Buffalo Chicken Dip Mac and Cheese. This recipe is for the comfort food lovers and is an easy treat for your guests to grab and go. Also, it’s basically impossible to watch a football game without incorporating Willow Tree Buffalo Chicken Dip into the mix, it’s such a classic tailgate dish.
Next up, my Mom and I usually toast some ciabatta bread and make Willow Tree Chicken Caesar Dip Bruschetta This is the perfect treat for your non-mac-and-cheese lovers, aka my brother, and also a healthier option for those looking to eat just a light snack before a massive Christmas Eve dinner. Personally, I prefer two massive Christmas Eve dinners, so I usually eat a serving of both appetizers and get some cardio in while wrapping presents later that evening.
- - 4 tbsp butter
- - 1/4 cup flour
- - 2 & 1/2 cups whole milk
- - 1 brick of cheddar cheese (8 oz.)
- - 1 brick of gruyère cheese (8 oz.)
- - salt and pepper to taste
- - 1 lb pounds of elbow macaroni
- - 1 & 1/2 tubs of Willow Tree Buffalo Chicken Dip
- - breadcrumbs for topping
- - jalapeño if desired
- First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and boil the elbow macaroni pasta on the stove as directed. While that is boiling melt your butter in a saucepan, and once melted add flour and whisk together for three minutes over medium heat. Next, add your two and a half cups of whole milk and whisk until the mixture becomes thick.
- Now for the good part, adding in the cheese! Grate the two bricks of cheese and add it to the saucepan mixture until the cheese is fully melted. Next, add your one and a half tubs of Willow Tree Buffalo Chicken Dip into the mixture and let melt. Make sure to taste test and add salt and pepper to your liking.
- Finally, drain your pasta and add the cheese mixture to the plain pasta. Use some elbow grease and mix together well, if desired add a chopped up jalapeño to give the mac and cheese an extra kick.
- Put the mac and cheese into a baking dish, top with breadcrumbs and slide into the oven for half an hour. Serve in individual dishes or cups to make it easy for your holiday guests to grab and go!
- - 1 loaf of ciabatta bread
- - 1 tub of Willow Tree Chicken Caesar Dip
- - an assortment of olives
- - 1 bag of Romane lettuce
- - 2 garlic cloves
- - olive oil on hand
- - salt and pepper to taste
- First, slice the ciabatta bread and lightly brush with olive oil on each side. Over low heat, grill the sliced bread on top a grill pan until each side is toasted. Once toasted to your liking, remove from grill pan and carefully rub each side, with a garlic clove for seasoning.
- Lay out the sliced and grilled bread on a cheese board and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Next, place a piece of romaine lettuce and a small scoop of Willow Tree's Caesar Premium White Meat Dip onto the bread. Finally add as many toppings as your heart desires! You can add sliced olives, pickles, pomegranates seeds and even a think slice parmesan cheese.
Both of these appetizers are unique and delish on their own, and if you are left with any leftover Willow Tree Chicken Dip in your fridge, I always put that out as a third option with pita crackers and chips. Okay, now that I’ve let you all in on my own Christmas Eve family traditions I’d love to hear some of yours in the comment section below. xx Aubrey
Shop This Post: