Two Easy Appetizers for Entertaining

Two Easy Appetizers for EntertainingThe Meal Before The Meal
While there are some who like to eat outside of the box, for the most part, we all eat the same stuff on Thanksgiving. There aren’t too many surprises from table to table. If there is one thing about Thanksgiving that varies widely, it is when we eat the feast. Turkey timing can pose some significant problems if you are trying to keep your sanity and still have room for the meal. Let me explain.

Those who eat their Thanksgiving meals in the evening have the easiest time of it. You can get up, eat a regular breakfast, do whatever you need to get done until it’s time for a reasonable lunch, and then you coast into the dinner hour for the main event.

For those of us who eat in the early afternoon, it’s a challenge to balance the need for sustenance and making sure there is enough room come meal time—all while the scent of roasting turkey taunts you from the kitchen. The struggle is real.

The truly blessed are the ones who have multiple stops on the turkey train. They have the early meal with family and/or friends at one house then head out to round two at another friend’s/family’s house, thus avoiding the problem altogether. And if there is pie at both stops, you, my friends, are the winners of turkey day.

The solution, obviously, is to have some snacks to keep you going until it’s time to dig in. But, the last thing you want to do is add more to the list of things that need to be cooked and/or prepped. Also, you don’t want it to be too filling.

A veggie platter is great ‘cause it’s easy and light but sometimes you just need a little bit more—probably because the kids have stuck all of the olives from the platter on their fingers. (And, sometimes it’s not just the kids.)

The following two easy appetizer recipes can get you through those hours ‘till Thanksgiving. They are no-cook, easy-to-assemble tidbits that require ingredients you can just throw in the cart when you pick up your turkey. It’s also a great way to entertain the teenagers who are soooooo bored! ‘cause they can assemble the appetizers themselves and leave you to the other stuff.

With both of these recipes, you can adjust the quantities for the size of your crowd. Check out these recipes for Cranberry Walnut Bread with Brie and Sliced Fruit and Endive with Dill and Smoked Salmon.

No matter what hour you choose to dig in here’s wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Two Easy Appetizers for Entertaining
Cranberry Walnut Bread with Brie and Sliced Fruit
This one is super easy.

Ingredients
Acme Cranberry Walnut Bread
Softened Brie Cheese
Pink Lady Apples or D’Anjou Pears

Directions
Grab a loaf of Acme Cranberry Walnut Bread and slice it thinly into single serving sized pieces. Smear your favorite brie on the slices and top with thinly sliced pink lady apples or D’Anjou pears.

Endive with Dill and Smoked Salmon

Ingredients
Several Heads of endive
Piedmont Grocery’s Dill Dip
Smoked Salmon
Optional: Capers

Directions
Separate the endive lives from the head, and swipe the leaves with a spoonful of our Piedmont Grocery Dill Dip. Top each with a piece of smoked salmon and three or four capers (if using) for a tasty and gluten-free snack.

Frittata Breakfast Sandwiches

Frittata Breakfast SandwichesFor The Times They Are A-Changin’
For the first time that I can remember, I find myself counting down the days until we fall back. Usually, it’s the other way around and I am trying to make a little bit more out of the Indian Summer daylight. This year? I feel like a 6-year-old waiting for Santa. I can’t wait to fall back ‘cause I just wanna sleep.

I have literally been counting down the days until November 5th. Trick or Treating? Please. I’ll take a pillowcase full of Zs thank you very much…. Am I the only one feeling this way?

What’s truly scary is I have put way more thought into this than I should. For example, I think there should be a Daylight Savings advent calendar of sorts. There would be two versions, and they would both start 30 days before the change dates—one in the spring and one in the fall. The spring version would include new razors, (‘Cause reality people. If my legs are always in jeans I am not, shall we say, as diligent.), antihistamines, margaritas, and small tubes of self-tanner among other helpful items. The fall version would have a variety of fresh-roasted coffee beans, artisan beers, pumpkin spice scented whatever, cozy boot socks, and maybe some new flannel sheets. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

So, with 25 days to go and no calendar to get me through, I’m dragging. The mornings are definitely the hardest. Just getting everyone out the door with everything they need is a challenge without also having to get them fed. Make ahead breakfasts have become essential. True, you can never go wrong with a muffin or box of cereal and some milk. But, that gets boring. And, it’s always good to have a little protein to start your day.

These Frittata Breakfast Sandwiches are great for when your morning routine gets away from you. They are easy to make in advance, have a lot of good protein, and are a nice change from cold cereal. Feel free to play around with the ingredients.

So if your sleep struggle (like mine) is real, try whipping up a batch of these babies. And, know that better times are only a few weeks away….

Frittata Breakfast Sandwiches
Yields 6 sandwiches

Read more…

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

Raspberry Oatmeal BarsBelly Up To The Bar
I am probably the least OCD person you could meet…and all you have to do is look at my office for proof. I am very much a visual learner. So, if I can’t see it, I forget about it. This means I have stacks of important stuff in various piles on my desk. I also have some similar stacks at home. It drives my very tidy husband bananas. If there is one area where I am a bit compulsive though, it would be school lunches.

I make my kids lunch every morning because the thought of them buying what passes for lunch at school makes me cringe. The good news is they would prefer to not buy their lunch. So, that battle is avoided. I have a strict formula. And, if I run out of one of the components, and am forced to send them without it, I develop a tick. I got issues, man.

The formula goes something like this:
There will always be a main component in either the form of a protein-filled sandwich or leftovers from last night’s dinner. (My daughter is the queen of leftovers.) There will always be a bottle of water and fresh fruit. A snack item is essential in the form of some pretzels, crackers or maybe some nuts. And, last but not least, lunch must always have a little something sweet at the end.

That last component serves two purposes. First, it’s a nice to get a little treat during the day. And second, I can use it as an excuse to randomly make yummy things. Why, as a mature adult, would I need an excuse you may ask? Because I can enjoy the occasional cookie—but my husband has no self-control. When it comes to home-baked goodness, he will eat them by the dozen. If I tell him that they are for lunches though, he is able to stifle his inner cookie monster. (Most of the time…sometimes I gotta sacrifice a handful to the cookie gods because, and I quote, “he is concerned that I may be poisoning the children and would sacrifice himself for their health and welfare”. Way to take one for the team, babe.)

I made these Raspberry Oatmeal Bars over the weekend “to put in the kid’s lunches”. The flavors really remind me of fall. The brightness of the raspberry jam will make you smile and I think we could all use a few more smiles these days…

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars
Makes 16 to 24 bars (depending on how you cut them) Read more…

Pumpkin Spice Maple Muffins

Pumpkin Spice Maple MuffinsSpice Girl
You start to get a whiff of it in the air right around August 20th and then the scent keeps getting stronger as August gives way to September. By the second week of September not only do you smell it but you see it popping up all over. And sometimes, in very strange places.

Then, it’s the first day of fall and you just can’t escape it. It’s everywhere! And, just when you think you’ve conquered your demons and can live a life free from craving that scent, that flavor, it’s spicy sweet claws grab a hold of you drag you back in. Pumpkin Spice is back. Can nobody save us?

I’ve been trying to put off the inevitable for a while now if only to enjoy Fall’s favorite pumpkin spice flavor in fall. Two days in to the new season…and I caved. It was the ultimate peer pressure. My inbox has been overflowing with newsletters and recipe suggestions like enterprising pushers all devoted to pumpkins and winter squashes of all shapes and forms. (Try us, they said. Just one little taste couldn’t hurt. Yeah, right.)

There was a maple pumpkin walnut cheesecake, and a pumpkin soup with apples and ancho chile, pumpkin ravioli, savory pumpkin tarts, pumpkin with lentils, stuffed pumpkin, chicken and pumpkin with dumplings (be still my heart), and on and on.

Amidst the bevy of sweet and savory possibilities sweetened with maple syrup or spiced with cayenne, I came across this very easy recipe for Pumpkin Spice Maple Muffins. What I like most is the use of whole wheat flour, which gives the muffins a hearty nuttiness—as opposed to some of the sweeter versions out there. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out, though, that a lovely cream cheese frosting would make these muffins otherworldly.

If you are one of the stalwart few who thus far have not succumbed to the frenzy that is pumpkin and it’s spices, I applaud your resolute determination in the face of mouthwatering scents and rampant marketing. And, I encourage you to continue on where I failed. In the meantime, I’ll be over here, eating a muffin.

Pumpkin Spice Maple Muffins
Adapted from the New York Times
Yields one dozen muffins

The turmeric gives these muffins a deep orange color. Browning the butter beforehand provides a vaguely nutty, deeply caramelized flavor that makes for a delicious muffin. For a gluten-free version of this recipe, just substitute the flour with an equal amount of Cup4Cup Multipurpose Flour. Read more…

Berrylicious Sweet Rolls

Berrylicious Sweet RollsLabor Day Labors
Not sure if you noticed, but it was kinda hot over the Labor Day Weekend. With temperatures as high as they were, everything we had on our schedule got canceled. And, no one wanted to even think about going outside so we just laid around like slugs. Thank goodness it was the opening weekend for College Football.

The good news is that temperatures are coming down into normal territory. This is good for obvious reasons but also for one not too obvious. If I am not stuck inside bored out of my mind, I won’t find myself eating as much and I ate way too much this last weekend.

Because my daughter and I had cabin fever, we passed the time cooking. We made pasta salad, potato salad, and BBQ chicken. We also made an attempt at French Macarons. (We did okay for a first attempt but they weren’t too pretty…)

Amidst all of the dishes we whipped up, I did manage to make a new recipe for Berrylicious Sweet Rolls that I had been meaning to try out. You know, for the kids.

These rolls are a nice diversion from the usual cinnamon rolls, though nothing could replace cinnamon rolls on my list of awesome tastiness. Instead of cinnamon and sugar, the filling is made by mixing the frozen berries of your choice with sugar and some cornstarch. Personally, I am a fan of the frozen Marion berries we carry from Willamette Valley Fruit but you can use any good quality frozen berries.

These Berrylicious Sweet Rolls are not as sweet as you would think. But, they are definitely worth the work for a Sunday morning treat.

Be careful when baking them. Mine turned out darker than I intended because the original recipe called for too much baking time…or maybe it was just that hot in my kitchen…

Berrylicious Sweet Rolls
Yields 16 rolls
Start these the night before for a fantastic morning treat. Set them to rise in the fridge overnight, and just pop them in a preheated oven in the morning. (See instructions below.) Read more…