Add color and flavor to your holiday charcuterie or cheese board with these tasty spreads and toppings. Bonus: many of these recipes are large enough to share. They make great hostess gifts when presented in a pretty jar with the recipe attached.

Caution: Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.


Olive Tapenade in white bowl with crackers and parsley

Olive Tapenade

This recipe is so easy it’s simple to whip up a batch for casual entertaining. Or freeze a few jars to have on hand when guests drop in unexpectedly.

Tip: If you prefer a paste texture rather than a chunky tapenade, add more olive oil slowly to processor and pulse longer until smooth.

WHAT YOU NEED to make 1 ½ cups

  • 1 cup Niçoise olives, pitted
  • 1 cup small green French olives (Picholine), pitted
  • ¼ cup Oven-Dried Tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • ½ tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
  • ½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ¼ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

COMBINE all the ingredients in a food processor, except the olive oil. Using the pulse button, process until coarsely chopped and well blended. Continue to process, slowly adding the olive oil.

REFRIGERATE in a covered container. Use as needed for up to 1 week, refrigerated, in a covered container. To store, fill freezer jars with tapenade and freeze.


Perfect Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto in tall containers with a dollop on bread

Perfect Pesto

Start with this yummy recipe and adjust the ingredients based on your taste and what’s growing in your garden or stored in your fridge.

WHAT YOU NEED to make 1 ½ cups

  • 4 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 4 medium cloves garlic
  • ½ cup toasted chopped walnuts or pine nuts
  • ¾ cup shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

PUREE basil, garlic, walnuts, Asiago, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender until smooth. While processing, slowly pour in olive oil and add salt and pepper.

POUR pesto into freezer jars, cover, and freeze. For smaller portions, pour pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. When firm, remove frozen cubes from tray and place in freezer bags.

TO THAW, remove jars or cubes and defrost in refrigerator or at room temperature. To quickly thaw cubes, place in a microwave-safe measuring cup and microwave on high 15-20 seconds until softened.

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Tossed with angel-hair pasta, this pesto also makes a quick and satisfying meatless meal.

WHAT YOU NEED to make about 2 cups

  • 2 pint jar (2 cups) sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • 1 cup toasted almonds, walnuts or pine nuts
  • 1 head of garlic, separated into cloves, skins removed and roughly diced
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup tightly packed basil or spinach
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Zest of 1 medium lemon
  • Olive oil

ADD the sundried tomatoes (with the packing oil) with all other ingredients to a food processor. Process until evenly minced.

AS NEEDED, while the processor is running, add additional olive oil to get a smoother, moist batch.

STORE pesto covered in the fridge until ready to use or pour into freezer jars, cover, and freeze.

TO THAW, remove jars and defrost in refrigerator or at room temperature.


Bruschetta with tempenade and mozzarella

Bruschetta in a Jar

What could be more welcoming than warm, freshly toasted homemade tomato bruschetta? Just spoon these zesty tomatoes onto a toasted baguette and garnish with grated cheese and a splash of olive oil, if desired.

WHAT YOU NEED to make 3 ½ pints

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 9 cups chopped cored plum tomatoes (about 4 lbs or 12 medium)

COMBINE garlic, wine, wine vinegar, water, sugar, basil, oregano and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes or until garlic is heated through. Remove from heat.

Unless planning to preserve in jars (get the steps here), allow to cool, ladle into serving dish and pour extra into glass jars. Refrigerate any leftovers.


Bacon Jam on cheese and bread

Bacon Jam

Bourbon and maple syrup give this tasty appetizer its unique flavor. Serve over brie on crostini or over an egg on toast. It’s so delicious that the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

WHAT YOU NEED to make 3 cups

  • 1. pound sliced bacon, minced
  • 2 cups finely chopped shallots
  • 4 small cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground mustard
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup sherry vinegar
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar

SPREAD half of bacon in a single layer in a large skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned, 20 to 23 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Remove fat; clean pan. Repeat with remaining bacon, reserving browned bits and 1 tablespoon fat in pan.

ADD shallots and garlic to pan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, ginger, and mustard and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Increase heat to high; add bourbon and maple syrup. Bring
to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Add vinegar and brown sugar and return to a boil. Add reserved bacon; reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid reduces to a thick glaze, about 10 minutes.

TRANSFER mixture to a food processor and pulse until it has the consistency of a chunky jam. Refrigerate in an airtight container at least 1 hour and up to 4 weeks or freeze up to 3 months.


Oktoberfest Mustard and warm pretzels

Oktoberfest Beer Mustard

Pair this tangy-sweet mustard with smoked meats, salami or well-marinated grilled meats. And, of course, bratwurst.

WHAT YOU NEED to make 5 half-cup (4 oz) jars

  • 1½ cups beer
  • 1 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup malt vinegar
  • ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp onion powder

COMBINE beer and brown mustard seeds in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand at room temperature until seeds have absorbed most of the moisture, about 2 hours.

PLACE mustard seeds and remaining liquid in a food processor or blender. Process until chopped and slightly grainy.

TRANSFER mixture to a large saucepan. Whisk in water, vinegar, brown sugar, dry mustard, and onion powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until volume is reduced by a third, about 15 minutes.
Unless planning to preserve in jars (get the steps here), allow to cool, ladle into serving dish and pour extra into glass jars. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Did you know: Tiny mustard seeds don’t become pungent until they’re cracked and mixed with liquid. The sensation of heat comes from a volatile oil released when the seed is mixed with water. Unlike pepper heat, which concentrates and accumulates in the mouth , mustard heat travels up the nose, then dissipates.


Pepper Jelly on wooden bowl and peppers with a fiesta napkin

Pepper Jelly

If you enjoy a mild pepper jelly, this recipe should top your list. The addition of jalapeño peppers adds just the right kick, without extinguishing your taste buds.

WHAT YOU NEED to make 6 cups

  • 4½ cups finely chopped green bell pepper (about 4 large)
  • ½ cup finely chopped jalapeño pepper (about 4 small)
  • 1¼ cups cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp Ball RealFruit™ Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup honey

COMBINE green bell peppers, jalapeño peppers and vinegar in a large saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down over high heat, stirring constantly.

ADD sugar and honey. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.

Unless planning to preserve in jars (get the steps here), allow to cool, ladle into serving dish and pour extra into glass jars. Refrigerate any leftovers.


Hot Pepper Jelly on Crackers

Hot Pepper Jelly

WHAT YOU NEED to make 6 ½ cup jars

  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • ½ cup chopped jalapeño pepper (use only fresh jalapeños)
  • 5 cups white sugar
  • 1½ cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 (6 fluid ounce) container liquid pectin

REMOVE stems, veins and most of the seeds of the bell and jalapeño peppers. Mince peppers in a food processor.

COMBINE bell peppers, jalapeños, sugar and vinegar in a 5-quart pot over high heat. Bring to a rolling boil; add crushed red pepper and cayenne pepper and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.

STIRRING constantly, add the pectin and let mixture continue to cool for 2 minutes more. Now stir for 1 minute.

Unless planning to preserve in jars (get the steps here), allow to cool, ladle into serving dish and pour extra into glass jars. Refrigerate any leftovers.


Bourbon Plum Butter oh whole wheat bread

Bourbon Plum Butter

This deep red butter makes a tasty spread on artisanal bread.

WHAT YOU NEED to make 6 cups

  • 10 pounds ripe plums, pitted and cut into quarters
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup bourbon, divided in half
  • 1 cup water
  • 1½ cups brown sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 8 whole allspice berries
  • 1 6-inch x 6-inch piece cheesecloth

BUNDLE spices together in cheesecloth.

PLACE cut plums into slow cooker on top of spice bundle. Add lemon juice, ¼ cup of bourbon, water, ½ cup of brown sugar. Coat plums with mixture. Cover and cook on high for 3½ to 4 hours. The plums should become very soft. Reserve liquid for Bourbon Plum Jam (see below).

TRANSFER plums to blender or food processor with a slotted spoon, draining as much liquid as possible (remove spice bundle). Puree the plums in batches until smooth. Transfer puree to a large 6- to 8-quart pot. Stir in 2 cups of brown sugar, the remaining ¼ cup bourbon and honey. Bring to boil, reduce heat.

Simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 45 minutes, stirring often.

Unless planning to preserve in jars (get the steps here), allow to cool, ladle into serving dish and pour extra into glass jars. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Caramelizing Sugar

Combine 2 cups sugar, ½ cup of water and ¼ teaspoon of lemon in a pan. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mix has a sand-like texture. Place the pan and stir over medium-low heat. Once the sugar has come to a boil, stop stirring. Watch the mixture—when it darkens to a copper hue the sugar is done.


Bourbon Plum Jam on brie cheese with grapes accompanying

Bourbon Plum Jam

This recipe can be made in conjunction with the Bourbon Plum Butter above by using the remaining cooking liquid from the butter for the jam.

WHAT YOU NEED to make 8 cups

  • 8 cups reserved plum liquid from Bourbon Plum Butter recipe or 6 cups prune juice and 2 cups apple juice
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 8 tbsp of lemon juice
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • 1 pouch Ball liquid pectin

COMBINE plum liquid, lemon juice, and bourbon in a large pan. Stir in pectin. Bring to rolling boil.

ADD sugar and return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.

Unless planning to preserve in jars (get the steps here), allow to cool, ladle into serving dish and pour extra into glass jars. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Transform ordinary meals and appetizers into something extraordinary with easy-to-make-and-store condiments, toppings, and sauces. Whether serving family and friends or giving a gift from your pantry, these delicious recipes are sure to please even the fussiest palates.

Photos by Chris Hennessey


© Caruth Studio

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