• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Monday, November 29, 2010


This 'tree' looks festive and tastes terrific for school snacks,
 holiday buffets and potlucks or even as a table center.
(This one looks better.)

I am so glad there are creative people that think up things like this - I learned how to make it many years back and wish I could thank them for their talent.

TIP: If prepared the day before mist lightly and cover to maintain moisture. Keep in a cool place that will not freeze. (I just place on the top shelf in the frig.)

[I did not particularly care for the shape of this tree.  The tomatoes were too oval for my taste and I was a bit short of nice long stems to complete a more 'pointy' top.]

TIP: Buy lots of broccoli - you can always use left over broccoli - right?

Last year a grandson's kindergarten teacher said it was amazing to watch the kids eat the vegetables - they ALL wanted to eat the 'Christmas Tree'.  Children must be carefully supervised to not ingest toothpicks.

You will need the following supplies:

cherry tomatoes - round are preferable to oval

fresh cauliflower - 1 head that is not marked or yellowed

fresh broccoli - equal to (or a bit more than) the head of cauliflower
at least 4 or 5 large bunches for an 8" cone


pliers (or multipurpose scissors)

a foam cone form [covering with foil keeps foam from contact with food - colored foil looks very pretty as the pieces are removed or eaten]

support (disposable paper/foam plate - at home a tray or serving dish/plate)

Using pliers or sturdy scissors (or a craft knife)
 cut toothpicks in half.

Wash vegetables and pat dry (drain on paper towel). Keep nice and cool  so they don't go rubbery - no one will like to eat that.

Cut broccoli and cauliflower into bite size pieces. Some stems need to be longer and some shorter - the sizes needed will vary.

Cover foam base with foil (plastic wrap is fine but is a bit harder to 'poke')

Insert a toothpick into the bottom of a piece of cauliflower or broccoli .

Next inset the toothpick into the foam (through the foil).

Starting at the wide end of the base,  cover the cone with vegetables.

Keep the peices proportinate, larger and longer pieces near the bottom and smaller / shorter near the top or to fill in.

Work your way around the cone and gradually fill all areas so the foam is completely covered.  On larger pieces I tend to imagine thirds and start by placing a piece of cauliflower at each of the imaginary 3 points along the perimeter of the base and fill in-between with broccoli on that first round.

The cauliflower may be placed randomly or it may be placed in a spiral pattern that resembles a 'garland' on the tree.  Continue placing vegetables evenly around working up toward the top.

Tomatoes may also be placed at random on the cone where they 'decorate' the tree - I tend to just step back a bit and think - 'put one there' or 'it needs a bit of red over here'.  If I have already placed broccoli or cauliflower there I push the tomato or my finger between or if it is too snug I remove a piece.

TIP: tomatoes are too soft to effectively be used to 'push' a toothpick into the foam so I prick the end with the point and then place the toothpick into the cone.

  Next I  push the tomato onto the toothpick I have poked into the cone.

TIP: As the top becomes narrowed it may be necessary to use pieces with longer stems or smaller heads. This strategy 'adjusts' the cone's shape. By using longer (or shorter) stems on individual pieces, a more 'triangular' shape can be maintained.

After the cone is completely covered top with a perfect cherry tomato.

Serve with ranch salad dressing or a variety of dips.

If placed in the center of a large platter of tray, other vegetables, crackers, and snack foods may be arranged on the plate. Olives, celery, carrots, peppers and any extra tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower are great 'plate' fillers.

NB: secure cone to plate with florist putty or a stiff paste of icing that will set.

NOTE: This is a LOT of food! One 8" cone typically will serve a classroom of 25-30 students with some left over. Be careful to think small and use this size of cone for all except the very largest gatherings.

Here is a larger tree on a 10" cone. This one served a mixed crowd of about 50 adults and children (for about 2.5 hours of random snacking) with about two rows left near the base after the party. A small bowl of the same vegetables placed near the tree helps allow guests  'break the ice' - to begin snacking and not feel obligated to be the first to pull pieces off the tree - this also allows most guests to arrive in time to see the presentation.