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- American television chef and food writer
Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, many of our favorite celebrity chefs are jumping ahead to Hanukkah (naturally, since it's in full swing now) and Christmas. Giada De Laurentiis gave us a jumpstart on all things Christmas even earlier this year with her self-care gift guide and Bloomingdale's holiday present roundup, and this weekend, she hopped onto Food Network to share some culinary inspiration.
During the first 2 minutes of the episode of her seasonal series called Giada's Holiday Handbook, we had already started scouring our calendars for the perfect occasion to share the recipes featured in the Small Bites Potluck Party lineup. The festive menu includes Shrimp Fra Diavolo Bites spiked with Calabrian chile paste for just enough kick, arancini-inspired Crispy Chicken Meatballs, a Whiskey Spritz punch and super-festive Chocolate Christmas Tree Brownies. What really stole the show, though, in our veggie-loving eyes, were the Goat Cheese-Stuffed Baby Peppers. "They're really easy to eat and very colorful," De Laurentiis says.
Fans seem to agree, based on the five-star rating and comments like, "My youngest son picked this out as one of our Christmas appetizers. Raves all around! I bought a big pack of mini peppers, so we will be enjoying these 'til New Years!"
Getty Images / Taylor Hill / HONG VO
To make the low-carb Christmas appetizer at home, start by preparing the baby bell peppers: Cut 10 in half (or as many as you'd like to feed your crowd), remove the seeds, then toss them with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. On a rimmed baking sheet, place each half cut-side down and broil for about 4 minutes, or until they soften slightly. This might vary quite a bit based on your oven, according to fan comments, so simply check at 4 minutes and adjust accordingly based on your doneness preference.
As they cool, all that's left to do is mix up and pipe in the filling. (Before we go any further, we could mention De Laurentiis recommends a piping bag with decorative tips like this Ateco Pastry Bag Decorating Kit; buy it: $19.95, Williams Sonoma, to make quick and beautiful work of the job. "During the holidays, I take the extra step and I make things look a little fancier," she says. But a zip-top bag with the end trimmed off also works in a pinch, or you could even use a small spoon to scoop and spread the filling inside the pepper halves for a more low-fuss look.)
Back to the filling: "I'm using 4 ounces of goat cheese, and just a little bit of mascarpone to kind of loosen up the goat cheese and make it a little fluffier," De Laurentiis explains during the episode, noting that it's important to begin with these at room temperature so they are soft and a cinch to blend. "Add some citrus to brighten up the goat cheese," she says, while grating in the zest from one orange and one lemon.
Add a pinch more salt, use a spatula to combine, then scoop the filling into your piping vessel of choice. Fill each pepper evenly with the goat cheese mixture, garnish with fresh chives "to get a little bit of that mild onion, herby flavor on top. And I love the color combo; it reminds me of Christmas. The red peppers and the green chives look like Christmas," she explains.
Another reviewer chimes in to confirm that she "followed the directions and they came out perfect. So good and so easy!" Get the recipe for Giada's gorgeous and healthy-ish Goat Cheese-Stuffed Baby Peppers here, and score more stress-free entertaining inspo in our guide to 15-minute appetizers and drinks.