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For entertaining friends and relatives, try these holiday appetizers

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By Norm Harding, Reporter

Are you planning to go out on New Year’s or stay home with many of your friends and relatives? We used to go out a lot, but lately we’re just comfortable staying put and maybe having a few friends stop by during the day to enjoy the new year.

If you’re going to be staying at home and are expecting guests to pop in, why not have some scrumptious holiday appetizers for everyone to munch on while downing a favorite beverage of choice? These are not only good on holidays, but just about any other time of the year.

Baked Parmesan Artichoke Baguettes

12 oz. marinated artichoke hearts

3 stalks heart of palm

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

1 cup Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce

French Baguette, sliced one-inch thick

Parmesan cheese for topping

Paprika for topping

Drain artichoke hearts and place in food processor with other ingredients and process quickly until coarsely chopped. Place about 2 heaping tablespoons of the artichoke mixture on top of each bread slice and sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese and paprika. Place on a baking sheet and put under the broiler until topping is hot and bubbly. Serve immediately. Makes about 12 servings.

Marinated Shrimp with Avocados

1/4 cup tarragon vinegar

2 Tbsps. horseradish

2 Tbsps. yellow mustard

1 Tbsp. ketchup

1-1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 cup salad oil

4 cups minced celery

1/4 cup minced green onions

2 lbs. shrimp, cooked and peeled

4 medium avocados

In small bowl, combine vinegar, horseradish, mustard, ketchup, paprika, salt and pepper. Slowly add oil, beating constantly with electric mixer. Stir in celery and onions. Pour sauce over shrimp. Refrigerate and marinate for 4-5 hours.

Halve and peel avocados. Lift shrimp out of sauce and arrange on each avocado half. Serve with toothpicks. Makes about 8 servings.

Fig and Kalamata Olive Tapenade

For those of us who love figs and can’t think of ways to use them, other than eating them whole, here’s a really simple yet elegant way to present them for the holidays. Blended with kalamata olives, capers, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, serve this with Middle Eastern flat bread, fresh feta cheese and some nice garlic olives.

5 fresh black figs

1 Tbsp. capers, rinsed

1 Tbsp. kalamata olives, pitted

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsps. balsamic vinegar

Trim the hard step end from the figs and then blend everything together in a food processor until smooth; cover and chill. Best if used the same day, but will keep refrigerated for another day. Makes 1 cup.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Serve these with toothpicks or serve them with rice as a main dish meal.

12 oz. pkg. ground sausage

1 lb. ground beef

1 egg

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Chili sauce

Grape jelly

Mix all ingredients well, except the chili sauce and jelly; blend well. Shape into about 1-1/2-inch balls and bake on a broiler pan at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.

To make the sweet and sour sauce, combine equal amounts of chili sauce and grape jelly. Heat in a large saucepan; add meatballs, mix, and heat through. Add one large can of pineapple chunks, drained, heat until pineapple is hot. Serve immediately.

Sausage and Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms

20 large, fresh mushrooms

8 oz. Italian sausage

1 clove garlic, minced

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsps. finely chopped parsley

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Wash mushrooms well. Remove stems and finely chop. Remove outer casing from sausage and place in large skillet along with chopped mushroom stems, garlic and one-tablespoon olive oil. Cook over medium heat, breaking up sausage, until browned. Add parsley and the Parmesan cheese; mix well. Fill mushrooms with sausage mixture and put in shallow baking pan. Pour a little water and about a tablespoon of oil into the bottom of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Makes 20 appetizers.

Rumaki

Rumaki is an appetizer made with chicken livers and water chestnuts that are wrapped with bacon. My wife has made these for many years. Anything wrapped in bacon is good to me.

1/2 pound chicken livers (about 30 chicken livers)

15 slices thin bacon, cut in half

1 can (8 oz.) sliced water chestnuts, drained

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup melted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut each chicken liver in half; put a water chestnut slice between the two halves; wrap with a slice of bacon and secure with toothpick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Combine soy sauce and melted butter in a container large enough to hold the chicken livers. Add the chicken livers; turn to coat well; cover container and marinate for 3-5 hours. Before serving, place chicken livers on a cookie sheet and broil for about 5 minutes on each side. Makes 30 appetizers.

Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at nharding@brunswickbeacon.com.