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Party Time! 4 Festive Holiday Apps

Host a seasonal soirée with a festive appetizer that’ll have your guests gushing. The recipes that follow are elegant but effortless, ensuring maximum time to mingle.

Pomegranate Chicken Skewers

Submitted by Catering By Design, 2830 Sunset Boulevard, Rocklin, 916-792-6485,

Pomegranate Chicken Skewers


• 14, 6-inch bamboo skewers, soaked

• 2 1/2 cups pomegranate juice

• 1/4 cup brown sugar

• 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

• 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

• 1-inch nub fresh ginger, finely chopped 

• 2 tbsp. orange marmalade (strain before serving)

• 1 tsp. vegetable oil

• 2 tbsp. lime juice

• 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced

• 1/4 tsp. salt 

• 1 ½ lbs. boneless skinless chicken thigh meat

1. Make syrup. Measure and combine first 5 ingredients (thru ginger) in mixing bowl, stir, then pour half into a small pot on medium-high heat. Stir occasionally, till reduced by 1/3 (about 10 minutes) or mixture becomes syrupy. Add orange marmalade. 

2. Make marinade. Add vegetable oil, lime juice, rosemary, and salt to remaining mixture.

3. Prepare chicken thighs by opening and flattening the meat on a cutting board. Cut into long 1-inch strips. Put meat on skewers, covering pointed end and leaving 1-inch free for a handle. Lay skewers flat in a baking dish and pour marinade over. Let sit 15-20 minutes on each side. 

4. Preheat oven to 300 and cook chicken for about 20 minutes. Brush syrup on the last 10 minutes of cooking to get a nice glazed finish. Don’t overcook; internal temperature should be 165. Makes 14 skewers but enough marinade for up to 3 lbs. of chicken.

French Onion Crostini

Submitted by The Butcher’s Cleaver, Loomis, 530-320-3132,

French Onion Crostini

• Baguette

• Olive oil and salt, for coating bread

• 1/2 cup olive oil 

• 1 stick butter 

• 4 large yellow onions, sliced

• 2 sweet onions, sliced

• 1 red onion, sliced

• 1 shallot, sliced

• ¼ cup salt

• 1 tbsp. pepper

• 1 cup sherry

• 1 cup beef stock

• Herbs of choice (thyme, rosemary, or basil)

Crostini: Cut baguette on the bias into ½-inch pieces and liberally coat with olive oil and salt. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

French Onion: Heat a heavy-bottom Dutch oven or pot with 1/2 cup olive oil on medium-high heat. Add stick of butter and all sliced onions then slowly cook over medium-high heat until onions start to reduce and color (about 15-20 minutes). Add salt and pepper then turn heat to low and cover for 30 minutes. Add the sherry and cook another 30 minutes on low with lid on; add beef stock and continue reducing for 30 more minutes uncovered. Onions should have a deep brown color and be heavily reduced. Let cool then place a large spoonful on a crostini. Top with herbs of choice.

Fire-Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip

Submitted by Off the Vine Catering, 3450 Palmer Drive, Suite 4, Cameron Park, 916-351-1592,, @off_the_vine_catering

Fire-Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip

• 12 oz. fire-roasted red bell peppers, drained

• 4 tbsp. olive oil 

• 4 cloves garlic, chopped 

• 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

• 3 tbsp. brown sugar

• 2 oz. parmesan cheese, shredded

• ¾ cup olive oil

• 4 oz. goat cheese

1. In a food processor, purée red bell peppers to a course consistency. 

2. Heat olive oil on medium-high heat and add chopped garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper mixture and sauté for 8-10 minutes. Add vinegar and brown sugar and continue to sauté for another 8 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Add parmesan cheese. Continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Once the cheese is melted in, pour dip into serving bowl. 

3. In a small fry pan, pour in ¾ cup olive oil. Once hot, add thick slices of goat cheese. Splash oil on top of cheese to warm and melt it. Once cheese is “cooked,” about 1 minute, scoop the goat cheese and place on top of the dip in the middle of the bowl. Serve warm with pita chips or grilled pita bread.

Rosemary Lemon Hummus

Submitted by Taylor Gillespie, professional food photographer and stylist and vegan home chef, Roseville,, 

Rosemary Lemon Hummus

1/2–1 head of garlic, as desired

Olive oil, for roasting

4 cups cooked chickpeas + 3/4 cup reserved liquid 

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 1/4 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

⅔ cup tahini

Crusty bread, to serve 

1. Cut the top off of a head of garlic and place in a sheet of foil with a drizzle of olive oil. Roast at 350 for 40 minutes and cool until easy to handle.

2. Drain chickpeas from can, reserving 3/4 cup of the liquid, and rinse. Place in a food processor with about half to the full head of the roasted garlic (as desired), lemon juice, 1/2 cup of the chickpea liquid, salt, and rosemary. Blend for 3 minutes or until very smooth.

3. Add the tahini and blend for another 8 minutes, or until very smooth and fluffy. Add more chickpea liquid if you feel the hummus is too thick. Adjust the seasonings and tahini to taste. Serve with crusty bread. 

NOTE: The hummus can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Compiled by MEGAN WISKUS