As Thanksgiving preparations are already undereway for tomorrow’s eating feast, I wanted to share with you some last minute ideas. Most of us will be having a lot of family and friends over tomorrow during the day to help out with cooking the food for Thanksgiving Dinner. While the men usually gather in the family room and catch up on their latest fantasy football scores or their favorite NFL teams standings, the women standing in the kitchen hard at work (and also the other way around as well!), and with the children in the play room; it’s a sure bet that stomachs will be growling if you don’t feed your guests something in between their arrival and the time dinner is to be served. Here are some ideas (to go along with the usual cheese, fruit, nuts, and cracker or vegetable crudites platters) for dishes that will satisfy your guests and still leave them with enough of an appetite to feast on the main meal. You can put these dishes/platters out on the coffee table or set up a separate fold up table in your family/tv room. These dishes can also be made ahead of time (today).
It’s also always a good idea to have a cocktail table/bar with light Apéritifs…you don’t want your guest drunk, just slightly intoxicated to feel enough of the holiday cheer! Below are also some of my favorite holiday cocktails that can be made in batches and left in punch bowls or glass decanters.
For the children at your holiday party, put out juice boxes or make a batch of hot apple cider and serve with whip cream, dusted with cinnamon, and a slight drizzle of caramel. Make sure the children’s Apéritif table is also stocked with healthy snacks like cheese string, grapes, sliced apples, animal crackers, and low sodium sausage bites. This will keep them from having a melt down while they play and allow their mommies and daddies to enjoy the party.
Yields: 24 straws
Total Time: 55 min
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Oven Temp: 400
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sauté shallot and roasted red pepper in olive oil, 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool. Stir in grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- Roll 1 sheet puff pastry to 1/16-inch thickness. Trim to about a 16- by 8-inch rectangle. Spread red-pepper mixture over dough. Roll out the other sheet to same dimensions and place over first sheet. Press slightly to seal. Lightly brush with water and sprinkle with more grated cheese.
- Cut dough into 24 eight-inch-long strips. Twist each strip and transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking pans. Chill for 20 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes.
*NOTE: Variations of this recipe can be made by using grated or shredded cheese, spinach or mushroom to make “pastry pinwheels”. Layer the ingredients in between each layer of puff pastry and roll up. Cut pastry into one inch circles. Place on baking sheet, paint with a little melted butter or extra virgin olive oil. You can also make sweet versions of these pastry pinwheels with cinnamon & sugar, chopped nuts, pieces of dark chocolate and dried cherries or cranberries, or candied ginger, cinnamon, & nutmeg.
Store the savory/sweet straws (or pinwheels) in an airtight container or zip lock bags and they will stay fresh until you need them.
Yields 60 Pieces
Total Time 40 mins
- 2 sheet(s) frozen pastry dough, thawed
- 12 all-beef hot dogs
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
- Poppy seeds, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 puff pastry dough sheet into a 12- by 14-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 3 equal pieces for a total of 6 pastry pieces. Repeat with second pastry.
- Pat hot dogs dry with paper towels and pierce each several times with a fork. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and salt for egg wash. Roll each hot dog in 1 puff pastry piece, then seal with some egg wash.
- Place pastry-wrapped hot dogs on parchment-lined baking sheets and lightly brush with remaining egg wash; sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. Slice each pastry-wrapped hot dog into 5 sections and serve warm with spicy mustard, if desired.
*NOTE: Variations of this recipe can be made with sausage or chorizo. You can also serve with a cheese sauce for those who don’t like spicy mustard. Sesame seeds also taste great in place of poppy seeds!
- Puree all the ingredients together in a food processor. Mix in fresh chopped herbs such as parsley, rosemary, or thyme, if you desire. Serve on toasted pita triangles.
*NOTE: Variations of this dip can be made with black beans, garbanzo beans, or red kidney beans. You can also melt some shredded cheese on top or mix a little goat cheese in with the original recipe. You can also choose to serve the dip with bagel chips or pretzel chips. You’ll see how fast your guests eat this up!
- 1 loaf(s) day-old Italian bread, cut in 1/2-inch-thick slices
- Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
- Peppercorns in pepper mill
- Heat broiler or grill. Toast bread slices on both sides.
- Arrange toasts in basket. Serve with a bottle of olive oil and pepper mill alongside to season toasts.
Tomato and Olive Topping
- 1 teaspoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup(s) Niçoise olives, pitted and chopped
- 1/3 cup(s) chopped yellow bell pepper
- 2 cup(s) cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 teaspoon(s) sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon(s) ground black pepper
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until lightly browned — about 10 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl and add the olives and yellow pepper. Increase heat to high, add the tomatoes, and sear until heated through.
- Toss the charred tomatoes with the onion mixture. Serve over toasted breadslices. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
*NOTE: Variations of this recipe can be made by adding crispy proscuitto and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top of the diced tomato. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf or sprinkle with leaves of fresh basil that have been julienned. Or add some chopped shrimp (sauteed with butter and garlic) to top the toasted bruschetta.
- 1/2 cup(s) crème fraîche
- 1 tablespoon(s) capers, chopped
- 4 slice(s) pumpernickel toast
- 1 cup(s) pea sprouts
- 8 ounce(s) sliced smoked salmon
- 1/8 teaspoon(s) ground black pepper
- Stir crème fraîche and capers together. Spread onto toast slices. Place pea shoots on each toast slice. Layer with smoked salmon. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper.
*NOTE: Variations of this recipe can be made by slicing seedless European or Japanese cucumbers in place of the smoked salmon for those who do not eat fish or are Vegetarian.
Preparation time 50 minutes
Cooking time 15 minutes
1 can white crab meat (about 170 g), drained
1 can sliced water chestnuts (about 230 g), drained and coarsely chopped
1 can (310 g) corn kernels, drained
4 spring onions, chopped, green parts reserved
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 fresh red chile, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
6 sheets filo pastry (about 45 × 30 cm each)
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Sweet chile sauce to serve.
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Combine the crab meat, water chestnuts, corn, spring onions, ginger, chile and Chinese rice wine in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix together the canola and sesame oils in a cup.
2. Stack the filo sheets on top of one another and roll up the sheets loosely, rolling from a short side. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll across evenly into three pieces. Cover two of these shorter rolls with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out. Unravel the third roll, remove one of the strips and set the rest aside, covered.
3. Lay the strip of filo flat on the work surface, with a short end nearest to you, and brush with a little of the oil mixture. Place a heaped teaspoon of the crab mixture near the bottom, towards the right-hand corner of the short end, and fold the pastry diagonally over it. Continue folding diagonally, over and over, until you reach the end of the strip, making a neat triangular parcel. Place on a baking tray, seam-side down.
4. Repeat with remaining strips of filo, uncovering them only when needed, until all of the crab mixture is used.
5. Lightly brush the tops of the parcels with any remaining oil mixture and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake for 12–13 minutes or until crisp and golden.
6. Transfer the parcels to a wire rack and cool slightly. Meanwhile, shred the green tops of the spring onions for garnishing, to form ‘brushes’. Serve the parcels warm, on a tray garnished with the spring onion brushes and a small dish of sweet chile sauce.
*NOTE: Variations of this recipe can be made by using prawns or shrimp to fill the parcels: Use 4 ounces chopped cooked peeled prawns in place of the crab. Replace half of the water chestnuts with canned sliced bamboo shoots.
The parcels can be prepared in advance; cover the baking trays with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator. The baking time may need to be increased by 2–3 minutes if the parcels are very cold.
**NOTE: You can also make a simpler version with crab meat, chopped green onions (which are scallions), cream cheese, and ricotta cheese. Use a wonton wrapper and stuff the crab mixture inside. Brush lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 20 mins or until the wrappers are a light golden brown.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Roasting time: 10 minutes
2 cups walnuts
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 teaspoons crushed dried rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, combine walnuts with remaining ingredients. Arrange coated nuts in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan.
2. Roast about 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until browned. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead. Store in an airtight container.)
Makes: 2 cups
*NOTE: Variations of this recipe can be made by using pecans, almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds instead of walnuts. You can also make sweet spiced nuts by using cinnamon, brown sugar, maple syrup, and butter.
Pour the following into a whiskey glass or a tumbler:
1 oz pear liquor
1/2 oz whiskey
Fill to top with ginger ale.
Garnish with cranberries, slices of pear, or candied ginger.
Baked Apple Martini
Cut an apple into quarters and skin it. Soak in brown sugar and dash of cinnamon. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place in a glass baking pan for 15 minutes. You do not want the apples to get soggy but stay a little crisp but combine with all the sugars and flavors. Remove from heat and let cool. You can prepare these ahead and store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.
In a classic martini glass mix:
1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz apple liquor
1/2 oz sweetened apple juice
You can skewer the apple pieces with cocktails skewers which can be found at any party, food, or craft store. Or simply place the apple pieces at the bottom of each cocktail glass. Don’t forget to rim your glass with cinnamon and sugar to complete the presentation!
1/2 oz Kahlua
1 oz Pumpkin Liquor
2 oz milk or cream
Medium roast blend coffee
Pour ingredients into a tall glass dessert coffee cup. Top with swirled whipping cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon or pumpkin spice. Serve Immediately and Enjoy!
- 1 part vanilla vodka
- 1 part Kahlua
- 1 part Irish Creme
- A dash of pumpkin pie spice
- Candy Corns
- Place a Candy Corn on the bottom of a martini glass.
- Mix together the Irish Creme, Kahlua and vanilla vodka in a shaker with ice. Pour into a martini glass and sprinkle the pumpkin pie spice on top for decoration and to add extra flavoring.
- 1 part bourbon
- 3 parts apple cider
- 1 part apple schnapps
- Cinnamon sticks
- Warm the apple cider in a glass mug.
- Add the bourbon and apple schnapps, then stir in a cinnamon stick.
- 2 parts cranberry juice
- 3 parts apple juice
- 2 parts rum
- 1 part Chambord
- Ringlet sliced apple
- Mix all ingredients, except for the sliced apple, in a tall glass with ice.
- Strain into a martini glass
- Garnish the edge of the glass with a ringlet of apple.
- Top with a dollop of fresh whip cream
- 1 part apple brandy
- 1/2 part ginger brandy
- 1 part spiced rum
- 4 parts eggnog
- Ginger cookies
- Mix the eggnog, spiced rum and brandies in a cocktail glass with ice.
- Garnish the top with crumpled up ginger cookies or rim your martini glass with crushed gingersnap cookies.
“Eating is Believing!”
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!