There was a time when I truly believed that my memories were so vivid, they could never fade. I remembered in such detail that the past felt like an unwavering, ingrained part of me. But that was the ignorance of youth, and as I look back on the Christmases of my childhood, I am sad about how many details have faded and blurred.
While I once could recall each Christmas with such clarity, now I remember bits and pieces in a montage of childhood joy. There was the shopping, for instance, which remains one of my favorite parts of the holiday. Finding just the right presents for loved ones is an art, and one that makes me so happy when I get it right.
Of course, my handwritten lists of childhood have transformed into the yearly spreadsheets I use to keep track of presents now.
Now an adult with children, I’ve loved teaching them about putting aside their wants and thinking of others, both through donating to food drives and buying presents for their loved ones. I’ve encouraged them to think about what would really make a great present for everyone on their holiday lists. And I love seeing their eyes light up when they find just the right present for someone else.
We’re in the home stretch now, when it’s time to gather and enjoy each other. And with that comes the need for little bites to fill our bellies while we fill our souls.
Need something quick for your holiday festivities? Why not make some easy crostini. With so many options for topping them, crostini can be a tasty offering for any gathering.
But, first, what is it?
Crostini sounds impressive but really it’s a fancy word for something that’s just somewhere between toast and a crouton. If you like bread (and crackers), this is for you.
And ultimately, crostini is a vessel for delicious toppings. It can be fancier like the Sage Ricotta Crostini with Sugared Cranberries I shared a few weeks back, or it can be simple like the ideas below.
Ready to make some? This is a simple process of brushing slices of bread with oil, seasoning and baking.
- 1 French baguette, sliced into ¼-inch slices
- olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet (or two, if necessary), and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-12 minutes until just beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before topping and serving.
Once you’ve made the crostini, it’s time for the fun part: topping it. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking.
Easy ideas for topping crostini
- Quick bruschetta: Mix together diced fresh tomatoes with chopped fresh basil, salt and pepper. Spoon onto crostini and drizzle with a touch of balsamic vinegar glaze
- Caprese: Spread basil pesto on crostini. Top with a slice of fresh mozzarella and fresh tomato
- Mediterranean: Spread with ricotta cheese. Top with chopped kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Raspberry, walnut and gorgonzola: Spread with raspberry preserves, sprinkle with chopped walnuts and crumbled gorgonzola cheese
- Egg and arugula: Top with sliced hard cooked eggs and mound with baby arugula that’s been mixed with a little fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil
- Bacon, egg and tomato: Mound with prepared egg salad. Top with a grape tomato. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon.
- Fig and prosciutto: Spread with fig preserves. Top with baby arugula and a little thinly sliced prosciutto.
- Meatball marinara: Spoon a little marinara sauce on and top with sliced meatballs. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
- Barbecue chicken: Spread with shredded rotisserie chicken mixed with barbecue sauce. Top with a little coleslaw.
Arrange your crostini on a platter, and you’re ready to serve.