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Party time is upon us

Now we’re heading into December and this is the party month. There are all kinds of holiday parties from your neighborhood open house to the office party. At the end of the month is New Year’s Eve, the biggest party night of the year.

So, let’s concentrate on party foods for a couple of weeks in this column. Let’s start with appetizers – those tasty little bites we long to dig into. To properly feed a party, we need a variety of foods for our guests to munch. Many appetizer recipes can be time-consuming and complex, and others are rather simple. Either way, your guests notice if you made the appetizers yourself. It is a positive reflection on the host.

Why not make them yourself and keep all the cooking satisfaction in your own kitchen? Both of the recipes featured today can be made in advance, taking the stress off the day of your event. Here are two simple recipes to get you started.

Cinnamon Pecans

1 large egg white

1 tsp water

4 cups whole pecans

1 cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

1½ tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 250.

Whisk together egg white and water in a large bowl until frothy; stir in nuts. Stir together sugar and cinnamon and stir into nuts, coating well. Spread nuts in a lightly-buttered shallow pan and bake until dry, about 50 minutes. Cool and break into bite-size chunks.

Optional ingredients might be a half teaspoon of ground nutmeg and/or a pinch of ground cloves.

Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Olives

1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed and dried

4 oz garlic & herb flavored goat cheese

4 green or black olives,minced

1 Tbl fresh Italian parsley, minced

Cut a slice off the top of each cherry tomato and gently scoop out the inside flesh, being careful not to poke through the bottom.

Bring goat cheese to room temperature and combine with olives, beat well. Place cheese mixture into the corner of a plastic zippered bag, squeezing out as much air as possible. Snip a corner off of the bag and squeeze out the cheese mixture into the cherry tomatoes; garnish with the parsley.

This can be made a day ahead, covered and refrigerated until the party. Optional ingredients might included minced green onion instead of the parsley.

Look for Chef Darrel’s blog on the website of our sister paper, Daily-Chronicle.com. Anyone with questions or comments for Chef Darrel is welcome to call him at 630-235-0672.

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