Pesto Goat Cheese and Cranberry Topped Brie

I have been a member of a book club for about 15 years and I always look forward to our monthly meetings. We have about 12 members and we rotate houses to discuss the latest book, so we each host the group about once a year. (This month we are reading National Book Award winner Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, which I found captivating).

Whoever hosts the meeting provides appetizers and dinner for the group. When it is my turn to host, since I’m cooking a big dinner, I like to keep appetizers very simple. I usually put out a cheese plate, a bowl of grapes and a bowl of nuts.  One thing I’ve found is that most women (including my daughter Celia and me) love cheese in almost any form, so the cheese plate is always the center of attention.

Since you are likely to be doing a little entertaining this winter, I wanted to share a beautiful idea for a red and green holiday cheese plate. It’s so simple to make yet it looks festive and tastes wonderful.

For the goat cheese and pesto log, top an 8 oz. log of goat cheese with about 3 tablespoons of pesto and 1 Tbsp. of toasted pine nuts. Serve with thin toasts or crackers. (Hint: to keep the pesto looking bright green, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice in it before spreading it on the goat cheese.)

Here’s how you make the Brie with cranberry sauce. You can also use prepared cranberry sauce, of course, but fresh cranberry sauce is amazingly easy to make and can be prepared well in advance.

What are your favorite easy appetizers to set out before guests arrive? Please share in the comments below.

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