5 kid-friendly holiday hors d’oeuvres


This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 6-year old daughter Viva, who is a sucker for food shaped like not food.

You ate turkey on Thursday, punched people for twenty percent discounts on off-brand flat screens on Friday, hassled small business owners on Saturday, slumped desolately and waited for someone to tell you where to spend money on Sunday, cyborged on Monday, and you’re theoretically giving whatever is left over to charity today … but what about tomorrow? Well, tomorrow begins a thirty-three day gauntlet of potential holiday parties which you’ll either be hosting or attending, which means you’ll need to start thinking about festive foods, drinks, dress and gifts. Call it Wind-up Wednesday. Or Wild-out Wednesday. Or Wecipe Wednesday if you’re feeling Fuddish. Some of the parties will be professional affairs where you clutch your nog and seethe with resentment over spending off-the-clock time with your awful colleagues. Others will be licentious bacchanals involving mismatched couples making bad decisions on piles of guests’ coats. Others still will be child-centric fetes where you pour glitter into jars and some tot or another cries every few minutes. And that last kind of party, Dear Reader, is where the recipes which follow will come in handy. 

If there’s one thing kids love, it’s stuff shaped like other stuff: Hats that look like animal heads. Backpacks that look like butterflies. Sandwiches that look like kitty faces. So here are five festive appetizers that also look like animals or holiday cryptozoological entities. Your kid just might deign to make them with you, and they’ll almost certainly eat them, face and all.

Hard-Boiled Egg and Black Olive Penguins

My grandma has made these my whole life. It wouldn’t be a holiday without an incredible, edible penguin, and when I see these little guys waddling across a platter I turn into the sea lion version of Cool Hand Luke. It’s just a peeled hard-boiled egg with black olive head and wings and carrot beak and happy feet. 

Strawberry and Crème Santas

Red and white and sweet all over, here’s a very simple way to make a St. Nick nosh. Use chocolate sprinkles to give him a little face, otherwise he’s just a berry and whip cream and your brain projecting a jolly old elf onto an upside down piece of fruit.

Raspberry Grape Grinches

You’re a green one, and a cinch. Combine a big white grape (I think you could do this with kiwi, also), a slice of banana, a raspberry, an optional marshmallow, a stick and Dr. Seuss’s Christmas curmudgeon becomes the tastiest thing in Whoville. You can make some facial details with chocolate icing if you’re really feeling ambitious. Serve with a side of roast beast.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Reindeer

A chocolate covered marshmallow reindeer has a crunchy candy nose, and with his pretzel antlers, he’s a treat you should compose. A plain marshmallow works, too. You’ll just have an albino deer. Either way, you’ll go down in dessert-on-a-stick history. 

Arctic Wolf Brie Persimmon Crostini

(That’s also the name of my Northern European Death Metal band.) This is a fantastic appetizer for adults we’ve kid-ified by making a wolf face on it. Baguette, brie, persimmon and brown sugar under a broiler for a few minutes leads to an incredible canapé for all ages and all seasons.

Okay, we had a great time making these, and I think you and your child will, too. They’re fun to roll out to unsuspecting guests, and even more fun to eat. (Oh, and four of the five are pretty darned healthy.) Now go throw a party!

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