Coming Down From Finals with Brie and Fig Jam

Confession: I LOVE appetizers.  Like, love love.  And lucky for me, the way my family celebrates Christmas happens to indulge that deep-abiding affection.  We do Christmas Day dinner with one side of the family and Christmas Eve with the other, and on Christmas Eve we do all hors d’oeuvres.  Which means everybody gets to munch on a million yummy things!  It’s pretty much my favorite thing ever.  So when I had an excuse to make appetizers for dinner this week, I jumped at the chance.  Christmas coming early?  I think so.

zoo lights

I didn’t even know Zoo Lights was a thing before I moved to DC– my hometown zoo needs to get on it!

The other night, BF and I went to Zoo Lights at the National Zoo.  It was the teeniest bit rainy and a Tuesday night, which means it was pretty deserted, but that was great!  No crowds and a great view of all the pretty lights.  And the cutest little patchwork band that did an awful job on the Nutcracker Suite– I think it was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.  When we turned for home, BF and I decided it was a good night to crack open a bottle of wine and just relax for the rest of the evening.  In a stroke of utter genius (*to be taken with a grain of salt, just in case you weren’t sure), I decided the perfect accompaniment  to our vino was an appetizer dinner.  I’m not saying this was borne of laziness, but I’m also not NOT saying that…

It was a little easier to get up close and personal with this elephant than with the real deal!

It was a little easier to get up close and personal with this elephant than with the real deal!

I have had a half jar of fig jam sitting in my fridge for the LONGEST time– I keep forgetting it, and every time I remember it’s there, it doesn’t fit into my meal plan.  So this impromptu dinner provided the perfect excuse to use that stuff up!  I can be not the best about finishing food in my kitchen, and since BF and I are about to clear out for the holidays I’m definitely feeling pressure to use food wisely.  So even though I bought brie AND crackers to make this dinner and that’s the polar opposite of using up what I’ve already got, I finished that darn fig jam so I’m going to put this one in the “Win” column.

brie, fig jam, and almond crackers

Ummm yeah. A definite win.

SO.  About this appetizer.  It’s kiiiind of delicious.  I totally made it up, and it was a recipe I had no intention of sharing.  But then I tested one before dinner because this is my right as meal-preparer and I realized the error of my ways.  This is an easy-peasy appetizer that takes almost no effort to put together and can be served cold (a HUGE win when you’ve got a million holiday things to do).  If you can heat a little olive oil and avoid burning some almonds, you’ve got a guaranteed success on your hands.  I’m making a mental note to revisit these little guys next week for my family 🙂

Wheat Crackers with Brie, Fig Jam, and Rosemary-Toasted Almonds

  • Wheat Crackers (or sliced baguette)
  • 8 oz. Brie (warmed in a low-temp. oven if you walked outside for a while with your brie on a cold night and it got chilly like mine did)
  • Fig Jam, or any other jam that suits your fancy (raspberry would go nicely here, or maybe apricot)
  • Raw Almonds, sliced or whole
  • Dried Rosemary
  • Olive Oil

If you need to heat up your brie a little, pop it in a 250 oven for a few minutes– don’t let it get so soft that it’s melting, because you want it to be slice-able (not that there’s ANYthing wrong with gooey brie, but this isn’t the place for it).  Heat a T. olive oil and sprinkle in a hefty pinch of rosemary.  Allow the mixture to heat for a few minutes so that the rosemary will open up and flavor the olive oil.  Add almonds, stirring occasionally.  Cook til toasted, and keep an eye on these babies– they will go from raw to burned the minute you turn away from them.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Top crackers with a slice of brie and a small spoonful of fig jam.  Sprinkle with toasted almonds (once they’re cool enough to touch, or course) and serve!  Preferably with a glass of nice pinot noir that BF’s parents brought you.  But any other glass of red wine will do.

Crackers with Brie, Fig Jam, and Toasted Almonds

This cracker looks lonely. Probably because it was the last one? Don’t worry, BF fixed that quickly.

Maybe it was because this is the week after finals and having nothing to do makes EVERYthing feel indulgent.  Or maybe it was the brie, which just IS indulgent.  But something about sitting on the couch with some red wine and these little guys just felt SO relaxing.  You can tell I really mean it because of all (ALL) the caps I’m using.  The original plan had been to make these an actual appetizer and have a real dinner afterward.  But after we got through the first batch we decided our time and calories would be far better spent eating more of these.

crackers with brie, fig jam, and toasted almonds

Can you blame us?

The only thing that could have improved upon this night was a watching a Christmas movie.  Which we then did– The Muppet Christmas Carol, a classic (and excellent, if I do say so myself) choice.  I always forget just how great that movie is.  Man, why can’t every week be the week after finals??