“Eat, Drink & Be Merry” – Anonymous
Happy almost Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. To me, it’s the start of the Holiday Season, and with that just a wonderful day where we gather together to share, celebrate & create great memories over one of the most thought-out meals of the year. Over the past several weeks, I have received countless e-mails for any number of Thanksgiving recipes, and I love reading them all! Turkeys, side dishes, desserts, cocktails…oh my stars, there are so many!
Have you noticed, though, that there doesn’t seem to be much written about Thanksgiving appetizers? I guess that there’s so much emphasis on the Thanksgiving meal, & many families tend to serve on the earlier side, about 4, or even earlier, there may not be enough time to serve an appetizer. Also, it would be terrible to spoil your appetite, especially when a feast is about to be served.
However, there really are a bunch of hours before the feast! To me, there’s nothing worse than to have multiple pairs of eyes staring at me asking when the meal is going to be served…because they’re starved.& when they’re starved, they get grumpy. Grumpy, hungry people are no longer helpful, which means the cook has become a “one-man show”. Oh, the pressure!
Therefore, I am a big believer in appetizers! It doesn’t hurt to have a nibble or two along the way, does it? After all, if any cocktails are being served, it seems wise to have a little something with those libations, don’t you agree? Most importantly, appetizers can be lifesavers…if there are any unforeseen delays in serving the Thanksgiving meal, appetizers will be our friends & keep everyone happy, which is certainly a blessing, especially when there may be a “dynamic” or two brewing, if you know what I mean?
I recently taught a cooking class at the Greensboro Children’s Museum, and guess what my topic was…Thanksgiving Appetizers! We had a blast…the students were enthusiastic & beyond helpful, the staff extraordinary…it was one of my favorite experiences recently. I decided to share with the class Holiday Appetizer recipes for all the reasons I’ve shared with you, as that is the one thing we all need in our entertaining armamentarium…just one or two delicious appetizers that will stave off those awful hunger pangs while everyone awaits the Thanksgiving feast!
What I love most about this Quick & Easy Holiday Appetizer Menu is that the flavors in each appetizer compliment the flavors in the others. Most importantly, these appetizers can be served throughout the Holiday Season, not just on Thanksgiving Day! Since they have been taste-tested numerous times, not only by my students, but also by many of our friends, who have been my proverbial guinea pigs, if you will, I can say will a fair amount of certainty that you be well received if you serve these during the Holidays…I promise!
The first appetizer we made was Hot Pepper Jelly Blue Cheese Dip, which we served with Terra Sweets & Beets & Cape Cod Chips. Diane made this appetizer, & she did a terrific job! I actually published this recipe a few weeks ago, and I think it is perfect for the Holidays! After all, a chip & dip recipe goes a long way when entertaining, & guys love this dip! The combination of hot pepper jelly & blue cheese work well together, & the flavors of the various chips compliment the dip so well. The various colors are striking, which makes this a beautiful appetizer to serve on Thanksgiving Day & all weekend long!
Next, we served Cornbread Stuffing Fritters with Cranberry Mustard. These are the best, both in ease & flavor! Dana was in charge of making the fritters, & she did a superb job! Serve the fritters while everyone is watching football…these will be devoured before you know it!
When you think of lettuce wraps, you think of “asian”, don’t you? Lettuce wraps are such a wonderful appetizer concept because they make a gorgeous presentation, are easy-to-make, & can be filled with virtually anything! For this class, we made Roasted Butternut, Pecan, Pomegranate & Ricotta Lettuce Wraps. Diced butternut squash is roasted with five-spice powder & brown sugar, then combined with toasted pecans & pomegranate seeds in creamy ricotta for a appetizer that is sublime! These lettuce wraps would also work well for any vegetarian guests you may have as part of their Thanksgiving dinner.
Melanie, Dawn & Mark did a great job making the wraps! The wraps were a huge hit among the students, as well as our friends & neighbors, who graciously tested my newest recipe before I taught it to the class. Thank goodness for good friends!
Next, Goat Cheese, Pancetta & Hazelnut Stuffed Dates…I have been making this appetizer for years! I love serving this appetizer because it seems there is always someone at a gathering who dislikes dates…who, after tasting this appetizer, suddenly becomes a convert! Four ingredients…it doesn’t get any better than that!
This year, I did a twist on the stuffed dates…I added dried cranberries to the goat cheese mixture, then experimented with stuffing the dates with this new mixture versus serving the spread on Rosemary Raisin Pecan Raincoast Crisps. The Crisps won, hands down! I recommend keeping Nutty Pancetta Cranberry Goat Cheese Spread on hand throughout the Holiday Season…it has all the components of a great cheese spread…salty, nutty, sweet & of course, cheese…& it’s easier to make a spread than a cheese ball…if Entertaining is Easy, then we are not making cheese balls!
Now, for the easiest Holiday appetizer…& definitely, the most delicious of all! One of my dearest friends, Bobbie Martin, has been making sweet potato biscuits for years…& they are truly the BEST sweet potato biscuits I have ever eaten. They are so good whether eaten plain…or stuffed with anything from preserves to Smithfield Ham. A few years ago, Bobbie started selling her biscuits, & you can now order Bobbie’s Sweet Potato Biscuits online by clicking here or emailing Bobbie at BobbiesSweetPotatoBiscuits@gmail.com. The biscuits are perfect for any Holiday table! Be sure to order 2 dozen so you can freeze one dozen to use later this Holiday Season!
It has been awhile since I’ve shared a cocktail/mocktail with you….well, here’s one that I hope you love as much as I do. Cranberry Ginger Sparklers are perfect for Thanksgiving & the entire Holiday season because you can serve this refreshing drink to kids of all ages! O Ginger Ale, light cranberry juice & Prosecco are the only 3 ingredients you need! Remember to leave out the Prosecco for the little ones!
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving this week, and I also hope that my Holiday appetizer menu is helpful this coming weekend. Be sure to check my website for other Thanksgiving menu ideas & recipes this week to help you with all your Thanksgiving needs. Cheers!