Quick appetizers to help liven up your holidays | NevadaAppeal.com

Quick appetizers to help liven up your holidays

Linda Marrone
For the Appeal
PHOTOSBYBRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Linda Marrone's pomegranate-orange cooler. TOP: Marrone's holiday starters, including tortilla pinwheels and Caesar salad roll-ups.

I got an e-mail from my friend Carol Ratzalff who was a hometown Carson gal for many years but moved to Bend, Ore., several years ago. She said she was thinking of me as she was getting an early start on her holiday baking and was going to make a gingerbread house with her granddaughter.

She was at one of the many gingerbread house parties that I hosted over the years. It always was fun to make them with a group of kids and adults. I told her I cheated this year because I saved my gingerbread house from two years ago and put it out. It held up, but this will be the last year I’m sure.

She and her husband Dave used to have an annual Christmas party and it was always so much fun. Lots of people from all over town participated because Carol worked for a law firm and Dave was in construction.

They would go and cut a pinyon pine for their Christmas tree. I love the pinyons’ scent. I don’t know how Carol and Dave always got such a good looking one. I sent Ralph and the kids once and that was our first and last pinyon.

She writes, “We’re having our usual Christmas party and there’s usually a fairly big crowd. I’m retired now, so if you have any kick ass appetizers that can be done ahead of time, feel free to pass them along.”

I’ve got three easy appetizers that I’m going to share with you and Carol. They can all be done ahead of time and they have the added benefit of being pretty healthy, plus easy.

For a festive and healthier beverage why not try a pomegranate-orange cooler or pomegranate mimosa. I made all three appetizers you see pictured in less than an hour.

For the Caesar salad roll-ups all you do is take three or four small romaine lettuce leaves and tie them with a blanched green onion top. To blanch your onion, cut off the white portion of the onion and save it for the pinwheels. Drop the green part of the onion in boiling water for 1 minute, rinse in cold water, drain, pat dry and they are ready to go. Stack your romaine lettuce leaves on the now pliable green onion and just tie them. Arrange on a plate with your Caesar dressing in a bowl and sprinkle the leaves with a little fresh grated parmesan.

Belgium lettuce makes a terrific little holder for whatever you want to put in it. Cut off the end and separate the leaves and they are ready to fill. I used a little softened cream cheese mixed with a little blue. Spread it on the front of the lettuce using the back as your holder and top with a few chopped nuts right before serving, roasted pumpkin seed or pistachios would be a good choice this time of year.

• Linda Marrone has been a Carson City resident since 1973 and together with her husband, Ralph, formerly operated Marrone’s Restaurant in Carson City and Somethin’s Cookin’ Catering.

Tortilla pinwheels

8 oz. softened cream cheese

2 tsp. coarse-grained mustard

1Ú4 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 green onion tops, minced

5 (10-inch) flour tortillas or any flavor wraps

1Ú4 lb. baby spinach leaves, cleaned and dried

1Ú2 lb. honey-baked turkey

Roasted red bell peppers, cut in strips

Blend together the cream cheese, mustard, cayenne pepper and green onions. Spread the mixture, thinly on the tortilla making sure you have enough on one side so that when you roll the tortilla up it stays together. Press spinach leaves on half of tortilla and place a thin layer of turkey on other half and lay the strip of red bell pepper down the middle. Roll up the tortilla and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1-8 hours. When ready to serve slice and arrange the rolls on a bed of lettuce or flowering kale. Serves 4-6.

Pomegranate-orange cooler

For the freshest flavor use refrigerated pomegranate juice, add orange juice and ginger ale. Same for the mimosa: Champagne, pomegranate juice and a splash of orange juice.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Peg Bracken, “Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients for a truly Merry Christmas.”