Some quick bites for Christmas parties |

Some quick bites for Christmas parties

Lamb, turnip and tomato skewers
Susie Jimenez

The best time of the year is here. Not because we get presents for the Christmas holiday, but because we are surrounded by food everywhere we go. There are so many parties to attend and organize, and the food is the most important thing at the events. But we all have to make it easy on ourselves, because it’s also very stressful. Here are some great to-go bites that you will enjoy and your guests will love.

Lamb, turnip and tomato skewers

2-pound leg of lamb

6 turnips, washed and quartered

30 cherry tomatoes, halved

4 tablespoons rosemary, chopped finely

Season the leg of lamb with kosher salt, pepper and rosemary. Place in a 2-inch-deep pan with turnips, and cover with foil.

Roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

When you pull the lamb out, let it rest for a few minutes, then slice thin pieces that you can ribbon onto a long skewer, and follow that with one turnip and a half cherry tomato. Place them on a platter and drizzle with mint cilantro chutney (recipe below).

Mint Cilantro Chutney

1 cup cilantro

½ cup mint

1 jalapeno, rough chop

1 lime, juiced

¼ cup water

2 garlic cloves, rough chop

Place in the blender for one minute until well-pureed.

Grilled zucchini and veggie rolls

2 zucchinis, sliced thin longways

3 bell peppers (red, green and yellow)

1 bunch scallions

1 yellow squash, cut into strips

1 tablespoon ginger, chopped fine

½ cup goat cheese, room temperature

Make sure you cut all the vegetables to similar size.

In a sauté pan place one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat with ginger. Once the ginger is caramelized add bell peppers, zucchini and scallions. Cook over medium high heat for three minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool down.

Place the strips of zucchini on the grill over high heat to get grill marks. Grill only one side. Set aside to cool down.

Spread a thin layer of goat cheese on the zucchini (the side with no marks). At the end closer to you place equal parts of the vegetables you sautéed and roll them up.

Artichoke Brie cheese tartlets

2 packages Athens phyllo tartlets

1 can artichokes, remove excessive water and chop

2 tablespoons garlic, chopped finely

2 cups Brie cheese

1 jalapeño, chopped finely

2 cups spinach, chopped

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

In a pot place one tablespoon olive oil with garlic and jalapeno over medium heat for one minute. Then add artichokes and spinach and cook for another three minutes. Turn heat off and add Brie cheese to melt. Season with pepper and a touch of salt.

Fill tartlets on a baking sheet with the artichoke mix. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of each tartlet and place in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Hibiscus Ginger Spritzer

1 cup hibiscus flowers

4 cups water

¼ cup ginger, peeled and rough chopped

¼ cup agave

1 caradamom pod

Place all the ingredients into a large pot and bring it to a boil.

Cool down the tea, then strain into a pitcher with 2 cups of ice.

Serve by filling your glass with ice and pouring it ¾ of the way and finishing it up with soda water or sparkling cider.

You can spike this one with anything. Vodka, tequila, rum or whiskey.

Susie Jimenez was the runner-up from season 7 of “Food Network Star” and owns a local catering company. She can be reached at or (970) 948-4096.

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