How to Make Christmas Tree of Mixed Olives & Sun-dried Tomatoes (A show stopper!)

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung as we slumbered in our nook hoping that Santa would bring us a cook! … Author unknown.

Maybe no chef, but here are some fun recipes to make your Christmas Special


Preparation time: 2 minutes. Serves: 1

Grand Marnier
Cranberry Juice

Sprig of Rosemary
Cranberries or Raspberries

In a champagne flute, combine Prosecco, Grand Marnier, and Cranberry juice. Garnish. Merry Christmas!


Preparation time: 30 minutes. Serves: Many

2 cups goat cheese, softened
2 cups cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup red bell peppers, diced
1/4 cup dill pickles, finely diced
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp. garlic powder

2 cups pitted mixed olives (black and green), drained
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (save oil)
Small Rosemary sprigs
Yellow Bell pepper

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the spread; mix well. Place a piece of non-stick plastic wrap on a flat kitchen work surface. Scoop the goat cheese mixture out onto the plastic wrap. Using your hands and some plastic wrap* mold the mixture into a tree shape with a wide base (makes a more stable tree) and place on a serving plate.  Smooth the sides of tree mixture, if necessary.

Now it is your turn to be creative as you ‘decorate the tree’. Arrange the mixed olives, tomatoes, and Rosemary sprigs; pressing each one lightly into the mixture. When finished and for extra flavor, brush olives with some of the sun dried tomato oil. Cut a star out of the yellow bell pepper and place on the top.

*Instead of plastic wrap I use either a shower hat on my hands or thin plastic gloves.

Tip: Before decorating the tree, be sure to pat dry, each olive and sun dried tomato with a paper towel.

Tip: While decorating, if your goat cheese mixture gets too soft and it is difficult to hold its shape, refrigerate it for a while.

Note: Maybe made ahead. Will keep in refrigerator for 24-48 hours.

Also, I halved the ingredients for the tree in this photo.


Preparation time: 15 minutes. Serves: 4

2 (6 oz.) cans tuna in oil, drained
½ tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 jar (about 12) whole piquillo peppers
12 large fresh basil leaves

In a bowl, flake tuna. Add paprika, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper and oil; mix well. 

Dry piquillo peppers on paper towels. Carefully split peppers open, remove seeds, and lay flat. Place a basil leaf on each, with the tip of basil leaf showing on edge of pepper. Top with 1 Tbsp. tuna mixture. Carefully roll to close and place on serving dish. Drizzle with a little extra oil. Serve.


Capt. Jan Robinson’s Ship to Shore Cookbook Collection is available at your local marine or bookstore. Visit: Email: [email protected] 

Capt. Jan Robinson
Capt. Jan Robinson’s Ship to Shore Cookbook Collection is available at your local marine or bookstore. Visit email [email protected] Tel: 704-277-6521. Don’t miss the new cookbook added to Jan’s collection: DINING ON DECK