Lightly sweet and tangy, lemon flavored cream cheese stuffed grapes are a welcome refreshment amongst the dips, cheese, meats and breads served at many holiday parties.

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 lemon
1 pound large red or green seedless grapes

Rinse and dry the lemon. Rinse the grapes.

Place the cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into the cream cheese. Zest 1 teaspoon of the lemon peel into the bowl. Juice the lemon for 1 tablespoon of juice and add to the bowl. Beat the cream cheese until smooth and all ingredients are well blended.

Fit a pastry bag with a star tip and transfer the cream cheese mixture from the bowl to the bag.

With a sharp knife cut an “X” into each grape about 2/3 of the way toward the bottom, taking care not to cut completely through the bottom.

Gently push the tip of the pastry bag pipe into each grape and push a bit of the cream cheese mixture into the gap, pulling back slightly as you push. Put a tiny dab of the cream cheese mixture on your serving tray and perch the stuffed grape on the dab. Continue until all grapes are filled.

The stuffed grapes can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours before serving. If you plan to hold the grapes in the refrigerator, decide how you will cover them. I’ve placed them on small plates and placed the plates in baking pans, which are easy to cover. Alternately, I’ve carefully inverted a bowl over a single large platter.

Yield: 40 – 50 grapes

*Magic: this recipe is exclusive to I Love You Recipes. It is from my personal, unpublished collection.

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Lightly sweetened and tender, scones are a quick and easy quick bread choice. We enjoy the bit of extra texture the oatmeal adds. Toss one in a bag and take it to work for a snack that beats vending machine fare.

3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant!)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 cup pitted dates, chopped

Position your oven rack in the center of your oven. Preheat oven to 400°.

Cut the butter into small pieces and place in the refrigerator to keep chilled while you measure and prepare other ingredients.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, brown sugar and vanilla until well combined.

Use either a large bowl or fit your food processor with a blade and combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir or pulse to mix. Sprinkle the chilled butter pieces into the mixture. Either blend by hand or pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. If you’ve used a food processor, place the mixture in a large bowl. By hand, stir in the milk mixture and dates and mix just until a sticky dough forms.

Drop the dough by measuring 1/3-cup measures onto an un-greased baking sheet.

Bake the scones in the preheated oven until golden, approximately 15 to 18 minutes.

Yield: 12 scones.

*Magic: this recipe is exclusive to I Love You Recipes. It is from my personal, unpublished collection.

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This delicious and attractive salmon appetizer spread can be made days ahead of your event. You can roll it into a log or use a shaped mould for an extra special touch.

1 16-ounce can wild salmon
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon grated horseradish
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated onion
1/2 cup pecans, roasted and chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Drain the salmon. Flake the fish into a bowl, removing the skin and bones.

A hand mixer makes quick work of blending the cheese and spices. Place the cream cheese in a medium bowl. Add the horseradish, dill weed, grated onion and salt. Mix well and then add the lemon juice and liquid smoke and mix until completely incorporated. Lastly, by hand mix in the flaked salmon until the flakes are no longer discernable.

To shape the spread, you can roll it into a log on waxed paper. Cover the log with the pecans and parsley. Wrap and refrigerate for at 24 hours. Alternately, this spread can be molded in a bowl or decorative mould. Using a piece of plastic wrap large enough to cover the surface of your mould, lightly butter the plastic wrap and sprinkle with pecans and parsley. Mound the spread onto the plastic wrap and press to spread across the pecans and parsley. Gather the edges of the plastic wrap, lift the spread and wrap into the mould and press into the mould. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Un-mold the spread while it’s well chilled. Allow the spread to stand at room temperature for about ½-hour before serving to make it easier to spread.

Yield: about 2-1/4 cups

*Magic: this recipe is exclusive to I Love You Recipes. It is from my personal, unpublished collection.

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Your guests will enjoy these Asian inspired pork meatball appetizers. Try serving on a bed of greens with toothpick-speared pineapple pieces scattered throughout.

1 pound ground pork
2 green onions
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water chestnuts
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3/4 cup cornstarch
Cracker crumbs, if needed

Wash and mince the green onions. Drain the water chestnuts (if using canned) and mince. Lightly beat the egg.

Place the pork, green onions, egg, salt, water chestnuts, ginger and soy sauce in a medium-sized bowl and mix to blend well. Add cracker crumbs, if needed, to create a consistency that’s easy to handle.

Place the cornstarch in a shallow dish. Pinch bits of the mixture off and roll into balls and then roll through the cornstarch to coat. Pan fry the meatballs until they’re no longer pink in the middle. Alternately, you can deep fry the meatballs.

Drain the meatballs briefly and transfer to a serving platter, inserting a tooth pick into each piece.

Yield: 30 – 40 pieces

*Magic: this recipe is exclusive to I Love You Recipes. It is from my personal, unpublished collection.

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These cheese puffs can be made ahead and frozen for up to a month. They’re delicious appetizers and a real treat, floated in a robust tomato or pepper soup.

4 ounces sharp cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 – 6 drops hot sauce (Crystal Sauce preferred!)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 357°.

Place the sesame seeds into a small shallow dish.

Grate the cheese into a medium-sized bowl. Add the flour, Worcestershire sauce (plus a couple of extra dashes), hot sauce, mustard, salt and butter and stir to combine thoroughly. Add the butter and mix well.

Shape the dough into marble-sized balls and dip each into the sesame seeds. Place the balls, sesame side up, on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, approximately 20 minutes.

Serve your puffs warm or at room temperature.

Yield: approximately 30 pieces

*Magic: this recipe is exclusive to I Love You Recipes. It is from my personal, unpublished collection.

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