As winter nights get longer and colder, banish the doldrums with a little pizzazz. Do like Emeril says and "kick it up a notch." Open your home, your heart, to the good life. Throw a party!
Pop the cork on that champagne bottle and pair the bubbly with savory bites that bring warmth to winter. Whether the occasion is New Year's Eve, the Super Bowl or your own special reason to kick up your heels, plan your party to include festive foods that make your mouth happy. Make sure these dishes are also easy to prepare. After all, you want to enjoy the party, too.
Choose recipes with bold elements that make a statement. Go for ingredients like caramelized onions and sun-dried tomatoes. Freshly made sausages in hot, smoky, sweet or savory flavors. Firm and delicious olives, from dark ripe varieties to stuffed Manzanillas. Hearty, thinly sliced salami. Roasted red peppers. Smoked mozzarella and Gouda or salty feta cheeses. Put these ingredients together in inventive ways--in party pizzas, individual appetizer skewers, a make-ahead antipasto salad or savory mini-sandwiches.
These colorful party offerings will look great on a casual yet upscale buffet table.
Sun-Dried Tomato Sausage, Olive & Caramelized Onion Pizza
1 tablespoon butter
In medium skillet over high heat, melt butter. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, onions, salt, thyme and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and begin to brown, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. Heat medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add sausage. Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned on both sides. Set aside to cool completely. Heat oven to 425 F. Line baking pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray. On lightly floured work surface, unfold pastry sheet. Roll pastry out to form rectangle approximately 8- by 12- inches. Brush away excess flour. Transfer pastry to prepared pan and evenly distribute sausage rounds and onions on top. Sprinkle with feta cheese and olives. Drizzle pizza with remaining olive oil. Bake 14 to 15 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown around edges and cheese lightly golden on top. Serves 4 to 6.
Double Olive Antipasto Salad
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
In large bowl, combine oil, vinegar, garlic and pepper; mix well. Add cheese, salami, both olives and giardiniera, tossing to coat. Cover; chill at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. Add croutons to olive mixture, tossing to coat. Arrange spinach leaves on serving plates; top with salad. Serves 4 to 6.
Bourbon-Braised Chicken & Apple Sausage with Onions
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Heat medium skillet over medium-low heat for 30 seconds. Melt 2 tablespoons butter; add onions and brown sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes until onions are partially browned. Season with salt and pepper and place thyme sprigs in skillet. Add sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until sausage is browned, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add beer; reduce heat and cook, covered, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in remaining butter and bourbon. Remove thyme sprigs before serving. Place sausages and onions in split and toasted rolls, cut into bite-sized pieces and serve with Emeril's Kicked Up Horseradish Mustard. Serves 2 to 4 per roll.
Holiday Olive & Sausage Skewers
8 (8-inch) bamboo skewers
Soak skewers in water to cover for 15 minutes. Heat oven to 375 F. In small skillet, melt butter with garlic; stir in oregano and salt. Drain skewers. Alternately thread olives, sausage, bread and bell pepper onto skewers; place on baking sheet. Brush butter mixture over both sides of skewers. Bake 6 minutes. Turn; continue baking 6 minutes or until bread is golden brown and sausage is heated through. Makes 8 appetizer servings.
Clockwise from top: Double Olive Antipasto Salad, Holiday Olive & Sausage Skewers, Sun-Dried Tomato Sausage, Olive & Caramelized Onion Pizza, and Bourbon-Braised Chicken & Apple Sausage with Onions.