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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

There’s an App for That

An appetizer, that is, for Thanksgiving. I’ve been making my favorite fall appetizers for too many years for me to remember. Yes, I’m that old. I should branch out, and usually do try a couple of new ones each year, but the tried and true favorites always make a comeback.

Olive Pumpkins

pumpkin-olives I think these were originally called something cute, but I’ve found it’s important to emphasize that there are olives involved. Once I didn’t and an olive-hating friend may have not forgiven me yet. This recipe, by the way, is from my friend Cammie. She doesn’t hate olives.

2 Tbsp slivered almonds
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 drops red food coloring
2 drops yellow food coloring
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur Whole Wheat White so they’re healthy! ;0) )
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
6 oz. garlic cheese spread (here in the land o’dairy I had about 43 brands to choose from)
7 oz jar pimiento-stuffed olives, drained

Bake almonds at 350 for about 5 minutes, until toasted.

Stir together butter, flour, food coloring, red pepper, and cheese spread until it forms a ball.

Press about a tablespoon of dough around each olive. Use the dull side of a small knife to score “pumpkin dents”. Place on parchment covered jellyroll pan. They can be close together as they’re not going to expand any as they bake. Chill one hour.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, until very barely browning. Remove from oven and place an almond in each to resemble a stem. Try not to eat all of them before serving. They’re best warm, but still tasty at room temp. You can make them ahead and keep them chilled until ready to bake. Just cover them with plastic wrap if you do that so they don't dry out.

Apple Ranch Cheeseball

whole-apple Another great recipe from Cammie…all my cute food seems to have come from her! I think her spices were different…we’re a ranch-lovin’ family, so I just use ranch mix for the spices. The white cheddar is important, as it keeps the inside white and looking like an apple.

8 oz sharp white cheddar, shredded
8 oz cream cheese, softened (I use lowfat…like it matters)
1/2 pkg ranch dressing mix
Cinnamon stick, broken in half
Bay leaves

Blend cheeses and dressing mix. Place on plastic wrap and shape into a rough ball. Wrap plastic around it, and twist at the top to help you get it into a compact apple shape. Chill for at least 2 hours. Remove wrap and place “apple” on a piece of wax paper. Dust the paprika all over it, and roll it around to coat it. Add cinnamon stick and bay leaf for your apple!


Pumpkin Marmalade with Lil’ Smokies

Yes, I said Lil’ Smokies. This is, I think, the only way I make them. Take a big cast iron skillet, heat it up, pour your Smokies in, and let them get brown. Stir occasionally, but let them stay in one spot long enough to carmelize. These must be served warm, but you won’t have to worry about them sitting around for long!

For the marmalade:

15 oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup orange marmalade (or whatever you have left after making cranberry sauce)
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Combine pumpkin, marmalade, and ginger in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Turn the heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Let cool before serving. This keeps for a week or two in the refrigerator. It's good on toast, scones, pancakes, a spoon, whatever.

On my serving board, I place the Smokies, the pumpkin marmalade, some spicy brown mustard, white cheddar, and some sort of cracker. Mmm-mmm!

Pumpkin Dip

I’m sure you’ve had this, but it is so tasty I have to give it a little shout-out. It’s a little like pumpkin cheescake, but it’s just cookies and dip, so no guilt, right? I serve it with gingersnaps and apple slices.

8 oz cream cheese
15 oz pumpkin puree
2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp orange juice concentrate

Combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar, then add remaining ingredients. Chill until ready to serve.

Hope you all have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving ( I know, that’s so military…hoping it’s safe!). I may or may not blog tomorrow…my husband actually took leave AND there’s Thanksgiving Feast with the kindergarteners. We were asked to contribute trail mix, so I’m not planning to make it my main meal of the day! Enjoy the apps!

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