Thursday, October 30, 2008

Keeping Creative Kitchens #4

I love to entertain! Something I've decided is really nice and easy is to have an appetizer or two for when people arrive at our house. It adds a gourmet feeling, gives you a little time to finish up the meal, is beautiful and just is that extra little thought - not to mention I love appetizers. :) I don't always manage this but when I do, it's always a hit! Here's the thing, it doesn't have to be expensive and it doesn't have to take very much time. So here are a few appetizer ideas and recipes.

- Cheese & Crackers - you can often find specialty cheeses marked down - especially at Kroger. You can garnish the plate with grapes.
- Fruit Kabobs - just wash and cut up a few different seasonal fruits and put them on skewers. Dip is delicious but optional.
- Hummus served w/vegetables and/or pita bread - you can buy the hummus or make it ahead.
- Baked Brie served w/sliced apples or pears, and bread or crackers - super easy and gourmet. I buy a large wheel of baby brie at Costco for $5.29. It serves many.
- Chips & Salsa - you can make or buy the salsa. Try a mix of blue & white/yellow corn chips for a pretty presentation. You could also do guacamole instead of or in addition to the salsa.
- Antipasti Platter - a little more work but can include olives, marinated vegetables (you can buy jars of this), bread cubes, fresh mozzarella balls, tortellini, meats (like prosciutto, summer sausage...). All of this can be done ahead and just arranged on a platter at the last minute.
- Fresh Veggies & Dip.
- Cream cheese & Jam w/crackers. This is super simple - spread a layer of cream cheese on a plate, top with preserves (we like cherry the best) and serve with crackers. It's Andrew's favorite and is SO easy.

There are so many other things you could do but the above are some of my favorites! I like that all but the baked brie can be served at room temperature - it frees up the oven and your schedule.

Now for a few recipes:
Guacamole
2 avocados
1/2 c. salsa
1/3 c. plain yogurt or sour cream
Lime Juice to taste
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 bunch cilantro
Mash avocado, add the rest of the ingredients. Serve with chips.

Fresh Salsa
6-8 tomatoes, diced
1/2 med. onion finely diced (I like red or sweet)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
Combine all ingredients and serve with tortilla chips.

Honey Fruit & Nut Brie
1/2 c. dried cranberries or cherries
1/2 c. pecans, walnuts, or almonds, coarsely chopped
2 Tb. butter
1/3 c. honey
1 round of brie
Saute pecans in butter. Combine fruit, nuts, and honey. Cut rind off top of brie. Pour fruit & nut mixture over brie. Bake in oven until melted or can microwave. Serve with crackers, bread cubes, and/or fruit slices.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus - can be made ahead and refrigerated.
2 can garbanzo beans
2 Tb. olive oil
1/3 c. chicken broth
2 tsp. parsley
3-5 cloves garlic
1/2 jar roasted red peppers (could substitute sun dried tomatoes for a different flavor!)
Combine all in the blender. Adjust seasoning to your taste. Serve with pita bread, veggies, and/or crackers.

I hope to get back to entertaining soon - I'm already looking forward to our annual Christmas Open House! Planning the perfect menu (even a simple one) makes me so happy! Maybe you will enjoy some of these easy appetizer ideas for your next dinner or party or game night. Do you have a favorite appetizer?

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2 comments:

Jen said...

You posted some of my favorite things to eat! I could eat whole meals of appetizers. :)

LOVE Roasted red pepper hummus, salsa, warm brie from the oven (you can top with brown sugar too) and guacamole.

People here in Texas eats TONS of salsa and guacamole and I am happy to join in with them.

Mama Zen said...

Excellent ideas!