Thursday, December 20, 2012

Appetizer Christmas Tree - DIY Entertaining

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So simple and delicious...

Isn't it pretty, a true show stopper yes??
I've been making this tree for years.  Sometimes I make it with stuffed olives and various cheeses, salami's, vegetables etc., I change it up every year.
This year I decided to use two different stuffed olives along with biscuit stars.  If I don't say so myself, it came out absolutely beautiful!!

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This project is so simple my friends, you won't believe you created it.  Better yet, you will be the "talk of the season" I say!!  I'm going to walk you through step by step and provide the delicious fillings and dips as well.

Ready to play?  Here we go;

Prep time: 2 hours
Cook time: 5-10 minutes
Yield: 3-4 dozen appetizers

Supplies & Ingredients:
For the tree:
1 foam round base 1 15/16 in X 7 7/8 in (49mm X 200mm)
1 foam cone 3 7/8in X 14 7/8in (98mm X 377mm)
Aluminum foil
Lettuce leaves (I used green leaf & iceberg)
Star cookie cutters (various sizes)

Additional Ingredients:
1 tube biscuit dough
1 apple
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice
Red sparkling sugar

*Black olives*
2 cans Colossal black olives pitted, drained and rinsed
3 OZ Feta cheese crumbled
6 OZ non flavored Greek yogurt
3 tbsp cream 
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chives (can substitute green onions, reduce amount)
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp favorite hot sauce
Pinch of salt *see below*

*Green olives*
2 cups marinated Greek green colossal olives (pitted)
4 OZ cream cheese room temperature
3 tbsp cream
1/8 tsp Herbes de Provence
1/8 tsp onion powder
Pinch of black pepper

1/3 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups crumbled crisp bacon (I used the real bacon bits for salad - Hormel)

Can I just tell you guys for a second, that according to the hottest "food trends", "whipped feta" is the latest food craze!!  When I read that, I quickly scrolled down to the recipe.  I literally "laughed out loud"!!  I have been making "whipped feta" for years, and so have my Greek ancestors before me.  It's called "Kopanisti" in Greek, meaning, to be beaten on, or as in the modern case, "whipped"!
We were trend setters and didn't even know it I say!!   *grin*

Okay, okay back to the craft...

Day before:
-In your food processor place your crumbled feta cheese, yogurt, oil, chives, herbs, cream and hot sauce.  Pulse till it's nice and creamy and can be piped through a decorating bag.
Taste, does it need salt?  Sometimes I have to add, other times I don't.  It just depends on how salty the brine that the feta had been sitting in was.  Place in a decorating bag with a large tip, set aside.

-Using your food processor again (or can use a mixer) add your cream cheese, onion powder, herbs, cream and pepper.  Whip/mix till cream cheese is nice and creamy and again easily piped.  Place in a decorating bag with a large tip, set aside.

-Gather two plates, and your olives.  

-To the black olives pipe your whipped feta mixture, place on plate, continue filling the rest of the olives till all are used.  There will be leftover filling, place leftover filling into  a small pretty bowl, cover and place in refrigerator.

-To the marinated green olives pipe the cream cheese filling, place on plate, continue filling the rest of the olives till all are used.  Again there will be leftover filling, place leftover filling into  a small pretty bowl, cover and place in refrigerator.

-Set the plates with the olives in the refrigerator to set about 1/2 hour.  When olives are set, cover with plastic wrap and keep in refrigerator till you are ready to assemble.

-Using a sheet of aluminum foil, wrap the base and set aside.

-Tear off another sheet of aluminum foil.  Cut into two strips and working from the base of the cone, wrap around.
Continue wrapping till you reach the top. You can use toothpicks to secure.

-Let's start with our greenery.  Break off the hard part of the lettuce and with the good side facing out, attach the leaves to the cone.  Starting from the bottom of the cone and securing with toothpicks.

-Lets attach our base to our tree.  Lay lettuce leaves over the round base.  Using 3 toothpicks, attach the toothpicks to the bottom of the cone. 
Press the cone onto the center and back of the round base.

-Voila you have a tree!!  How easy was that??
Oh, you can leave the toothpicks attached and showing, you will be using them later anyway.
Set aside.

-Using a pastry mat or a non-stick surface, lay your biscuit dough and your cookie cutters.
Following the instructions on your biscuit container set the oven temperature.

-Roll out biscuit dough out slightly and cut small stars.  I got 2 stars per biscuit.

-Place on baking sheet, continue with the rest of the biscuits.  Bake until the stars are golden and puffed about 5-6 minutes.  Remove onto a plate and set aside.

-Let's make our a star!  On a small plate, pour in some sparkling sugar.  Cut a large slice of apple.  Using your bigger star cookie cutter, cut the apple slice.  Insert a toothpick into the star.  Baste first with lemon juice then baste the star with the honey.  Roll the star in the sparkling sugar making sure star is thoroughly covered.  Place star back on to the sugar covered plate and place in refrigerator till ready to use.

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How pretty and TASTY!!

-What to do you do with the leftover star biscuits you ask?  We bake them, why waste?  Now is also the perfect time to take the olives out of the refrigerator.

-Ready to assemble?
-Start by placing toothpicks strategically all around your tree.  Make sure you have extra toothpicks for the star biscuits too.  Set aside.

-Mix your walnuts with your Parmesan cheese on a flat plate.
-Place your bacon bits on a flat plate as well.

-Start by dipping your black olives into the bacon bits, attach to the toothpick on the tree.  Continue till the black olives have been used.
To the green olives, we dip the tops of those into the toasted walnut/Parmesan topping.  Again, attach to the toothpicks on the tree. 

-Let's attach the star biscuits...

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Go ahead, take one, they are delicious!!

-Finally we bring out and attach our star.
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How pretty does this look?

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It's completely edible...

-See that open space on the bottom base, to the center right of the tree?  There is a small apple star lying on the base, see it?  Well, my friends, remember the extra "filling" we had from both cheeses?  That is where you place the small pretty bowls. Sprinkle one with the leftover bacon bits, and the other with the leftover walnut/Parmesan topping.  Or do as I did, I sprinkled the one bowl with the walnut/Parmesan mixture, then topped with bacon.  I reversed the order on the 2nd bowl.
Spread crackers around the charger/area.

"Holy appetizer neighborhood batman"!!
You will literally have an entire corner of appetizers!! YES!!

I apologize for the length of this post, but if you are a "visual learner" like me, I am an affirm believer that a picture "is worth a thousand words".  

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi


  1. Very creative!!! I love edible centerpieces! This looks lovely and tasty! Great post my sweet friend!!! Happy Holidays! =)

    1. Thank you Lillian!!! Happy holidays my friend!!