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Appetizers for Your Holiday Get-Togethers

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If you're tired of the same spinach dip and cheese bites at neighborhood and family parties, it's time to re-think the appetizer for upcoming holiday events.  Appetizers are a food category where you can feel free to think out of the box.  People can partake or not as it pleases them, so go ahead and try something different. Here are a few suggestions that can rev up your pre-dinner nibbling fare:

Cranberry Brie Pastry Bites

For the perfect pre-turkey appetizer, fill pre-made mini filo pastry cups with a small square of brie.  Dab with a small bit of cranberry sauce and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.  Bake at 350 degrees for 6-to-8 minutes. Serve while the cheese is still warm.

Sweet Potato Bites

Another good accompaniment for your Thanksgiving meal, these sweet potato bites are seasoned with bacon and thyme for an earthy flavor.  Shred baked sweet potatoes into a bowl and add crumbled bacon, thyme and black pepper to taste. Shape the mixture into bite-sized pieces and roll in breadcrumbs to coat.  Place the coated bites on baking sheet and spray with nonstick cooking spray to allow the pieces to crisp and brown.  Bake for ten minutes at 400 degrees. Serve the "tots" with a honey-mustard dressing dip.

Festive Spinach Cups

You can also use pre-made puff pastry to make a delicious spinach-cheese appetizer with a festive look for your holiday table.  Thaw the mini pastry shells and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Mix cooked spinach, heavy cream, salt, Fontana cheese, Parmesan and chopped green onions in a bowl.  Fill pastry shells with mixture and add a small bit of roasted red pepper to the top of each piece. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 25 minutes or until filling is hot. Serve while warm.

Mini Potato Latkes with Cranberry Applesauce

Shred potatoes into bowl.  Add a small amount of flour, baking powder, salt and finely minced onion and mix thoroughly.  Squeeze out excess moisture through a cheesecloth.  Form small patties that can be easily managed as finger foods.  Fry in hot oil in a saucepan until browned and crispy on both sides.  Drain thoroughly a wire rack. Mix cranberry sauce and applesauce into an even consistency.  Garnish with a dab of sour cream and the cranberry-applesauce mixture.

Sun-Dried Tomato Kabobs

Drain jarred sundried tomatoes from a jar and cut into bite sized piece.  Alternate pieces of the tomato with balls of mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves, slipping them onto small wooden skewers without packing too tightly.  Arrange on platter and drizzle with leftover oil from the jar.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. It's an easy and tasty appetizer with red-and-green holiday color.