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Season's Eatings: Appetizers

by Alexandra Harcharek

Our cookbook of more than 80 recipes, submitted by Suburban Family editors, readers and fans, will take you from crowd-pleasing starters to sweet endings.

Recipes compiled and written by Allie Harcharek unless otherwise noted.

Appetizers & Hors D’oeuvres

The best holiday parties include three things: great friends, lots of laughter and good food. To ensure you’ve got all three at your next gathering, try these recipes for crowd-pleasing starters.

Bruschetta

Ingredients:
8 plum tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tbsp. aged Balsamic vinegar
5-6 leaves fresh basil, chopped into ribbons
Salt and Pepper
1 long French baguette

Directions:
Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise. Remove all seeds and juice, then finely chop tomatoes and place in a bowl. Add olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper and mix lightly with hands. Let marinate for 15 minutes while slicing baguette into thin, diagonal slices. Lightly toast in oven or on a grill pan until bread just crisps, but doesn’t brown. Arrange bread on a serving tray and spoon a heaping tablespoon of tomato mixture onto each bread slice. Garnish with ribbons of basil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Antipasto Skewers

Ingredients:
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 lb sharp provolone cheese, cut into bite-sized pieces
8 oz Italian salami, cut into thin slices
Mini mozzarella balls
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
2 tbsp. fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Salt and pepper
Bamboo skewers

Directions:
Arrange ingredients in an alternating pattern (for example: tomato, provolone, salami, mozzarella, zucchini, olive, salami, tomato) and thread each ingredient one by one onto the bamboo skewers. Arrange skewers on a serving platter and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Squeeze lemon over top and garnish with fresh basil ribbons.

Asparagus with Hollandaise

Ingredients:
1 bundle fresh asparagus, washed and dried
3 egg yolks
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup butter, melted
Dash of Tabasco sauce

Directions:
Steam the asparagus until tender, about 5 minutes. Once cooked, rinse in an ice bath to stop the cooking and then set aside on a platter. To make the Hollandaise, in a blender combine egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce. Cover and whir for 5-10 seconds until mixed. Slowly add hot butter and blend once more, about 10 seconds on high speed. The sauce will immediately thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in a small pitcher or by pouring over the plated asparagus.

Baked Brie with Honey and Almonds

Ingredients:
1 wheel of brie
1/4 cup honey
Toasted almond slivers
Handful of dried cranberries
Sliced baguette, for serving

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place brie wheel inside an oven-safe ramekin or line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place in the center. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven, place on a serving plate and immediately drizzle with honey and sprinkle with almonds and cranberries. Surround with thinly sliced baguette for serving. Cut into brie; cheese should be soft and runny. Serve immediately.

Bacon Wrapped Scallops
Submitted by Michaelangelo Ilagan

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb large sea scallops, cleaned
1/2 lb bacon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Directions:
Heat your oven's broiler. Wrap each scallop in one strip of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place all the wrapped scallops onto a sturdy baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil for 10-15 minutes, until bacon is nicely cooked and the scallops' juices are running. Remove from heat and serve with toothpicks and napkins. Accompany with lemon wedges and spicy mayonnaise for dipping.

Baked Salami
Submitted by Lisa Biren

Ingredients:
2 lb whole Italian salami
1 jar Szechuan-style duck sauce, for dipping

Directions:
Heat a grill or barbecue until very hot. Using tongs, grill the whole salami until blackened on all sides. Remove from heat and carefully slice into bite-sized pieces. Arrange on serving dish with toothpicks. Serve warm with duck sauce on the side for dipping.

Root Vegetable "Frites"
Submitted by Liz Harcharek

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 lbs of root vegetables, such as parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, celeriac, etc, peeled and cut into even sticks

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 F. Pour vegetable oil in a large roasting pan and warm it in the pre-heating oven. When the oven is ready, carefully transfer the vegetables to the oil, tossing them well in order to give them an even coating. Return to the hot oven for 45 minutes, turning occasionally until crisp and cooked. Remove from oven, take frites from pan with tongs and serve in a bowl or cone.

Mini Quiches

Ingredients:
12 eggs
2 packages pie crust
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 slices bacon, cooked and drained
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar, shredded
Salt and pepper
Materials: Muffin tray and 3” round cookie cutter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly spray two muffin trays with cooking spray. Roll out both pie crusts and cut 3” circles from the dough. Line the muffin trays with dough circles and set aside. Crack 12 eggs into a large bowl and beat well. Add milk and cream, stir until combined. Chop cooked and drained bacon into small pieces. Stir into egg mixture, then add in spinach, cheeses and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully pour the egg mixture into the muffin trays, filling each tray 3/4 of the way. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until eggs are set and crust is browned.

Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini

Ingredients:
1 jar fig jam
1 baguette
1 tbsp. olive oil
6 oz soft mild goat cheese
2 fresh ripe black figs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Fresh thyme

Directions:
Cut baguette into thin diagonal slices. Sweep each slice with olive oil and grill in a pan or on the oven until lightly browned and toasted. Arrange on a serving platter, grilled side up. Spread 1/2 tbsp. fig jam across the top of each slice, and top with a dollop of goat cheese. Add one or two pieces of fresh fig and a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves. Drizzle with flavored extra virgin olive oil and serve at room temperature.

Deviled Eggs
Submitted by Lisa Biren

Ingredients:
1 dozen eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp. hot mustard
1/4 tsp. yellow curry powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper

Directions:
Hard boil the dozen eggs using your preferred method; cool and peel shells. Carefully slice the peeled and boiled eggs in half length-wise. Preserving the whites, separate egg yolks into a separate bowl. Mash together the egg yolks, with mayonnaise, ketchup, hot mustard, curry and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the egg whites on a serving tray, hollow side up. Spoon or pipe the egg yolk mixture into the hollowed whites, using a sprinkle of paprika as garnish.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:
8 oz whipped cream cheese
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
14 oz canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 cups fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped
1/4 cup shredded fresh mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, blend together cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Gently fold in artichoke hearts and spinach; the spinach will wilt and absorb moisture as you stir. Transfer the mixture to a large oven-safe bowl or round baking dish. Top with shredded mozzarella. Bake for 25 minutes, until bubbling and browned on top. Remove from oven, place on serving platter and serve with chips, crackers or crudités.

Blinis with Caviar

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat pancake mix (unsweetened)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
2 tbsp. melted butter, divided
2/3 cup whole milk
For garnish: Black caviar, crème fraîche, finely chopped chives, smoked salmon

Directions:
Combine pancake mix with egg, 1 tbsp. butter, milk and salt. Stir until well combined. On a flat skillet, melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, spoon batter onto the surface to make small silver-dollar sized pancakes. Cook until tiny bubbles appear, about 1 minute, then flip. Transfer golden brown blinis to a serving dish and serve warm, topped with a dollop of crème fraîche, caviar, a sprinkle of chives and smoked salmon if desired.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Submitted by Kelsey Schwartz

Ingredients:
1 cup buffalo sauce
1 cup bleu cheese dressing
1 cup ranch dressing
1 8 oz package cream cheese
12 oz shredded sharp cheddar
3 large chicken breasts

Directions:
Boil the chicken breasts in a large pot until fully cooked. Meanwhile, in a large microwave safe bowl, combine the buffalo sauce, bleu cheese dressing, ranch dressing, cream cheese and cheddar. Microwave the mix on high for 3 minutes. Stir and microwave for another 3 minutes, until fully melted. Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove from pot and let cool. Then shred the chicken into small pieces and fold into the buffalo sauce mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Can be served hot or cold on your favorite chip or cracker.

Sassy Sangria
Submitted by Shannon Caulfield, of Sassyvine.wordpress.com

Ingredients:
1 750ml bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Shiraz)
Sprig of fresh mint
2 oranges
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges.
3 cups ginger ale
2 tbsp. sugar

Directions:
Cut one of the oranges into thick slices and put at the bottom of a large glass pitcher. Add strawberries and lime wedges. Leave a little bit of the lime to squeeze the juice. Half the second orange and squeeze in the juice. Cut and muddle the fresh mint and add to pitcher. Next, pour the entire bottle of wine into the pitcher; add ginger ale and sugar. Gently stir, mixing all the fruit and juices together. Add ice to large glasses and serve with fresh mint leaves and fruit wedge for garnish. For a stronger, more fruitful flavor, refrigerate overnight and serve the next day.

Mini Crab Cakes

Ingredients:
8 oz. package fresh lump crabmeat, drained
1 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp. garlic powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:
Pick through crabmeat, removing any bits of shell. In a medium sized bowl, stir together mayonnaise, chopped green onions, garlic powder, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. Gently mix in breadcrumbs and crabmeat until combined. Using your hands or two metal spoons, shape mixture into small cakes, using about 2 tbsp. per each one. Chill for 30 minutes. To prepare, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil or butter in a large griddle or pan. Cook crab cakes on medium-low heat, about four minutes on each side (take care when flipping) or until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste, garnish with chopped chives, a sprinkle of panko crumbs and fresh lemon wedges.

Mini Quiches

Ingredients:
12 eggs
2 packages pie crust
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 slices bacon, cooked and drained
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar, shredded
Salt and pepper
Materials: Muffin tray and 3” round cookie cutter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly spray two muffin trays with cooking spray. Roll out both pie crusts and cut 3” circles from the dough. Line the muffin trays with dough circles and set aside. Crack 12 eggs into a large bowl and beat well. Add milk and cream, stir until combined. Chop cooked and drained bacon into small pieces. Stir into egg mixture, then add in spinach, cheeses and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully pour the egg mixture into the muffin trays, filling each tray 3/4 of the way. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until eggs are set and crust is browned.

Mushroom Flatbread

Ingredients:
3 large naan (Indian flatbreads)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 shallot, minced
1 cup assorted wild mushrooms, sliced
1 cup shredded fresh mozzarella
1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves stripped
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped
1 tsp. dried oregano
6oz soft goat cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a frying pan, saute shallots and mushrooms with 1 tbsp. olive oil until soft and fragrant. Drizzle remaining tbsp. olive oil over naan breads and spread mozzarella evenly across the breads. Spread mushroom and shallot mixture over the cheese, season with dried herbs and dot with goat cheese. Drizzle with a bit of extra olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Bake on the oven rack for 7 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Slice into rectangles and serve.

Pastry-wrapped Brie with Caramel and Pecans

Ingredients:
Package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 8 oz wheel of brie, cut into two rounds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Thinly sliced pears and crackers, for serving

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unfold puff pastry onto a flat lightly-floured counter and roll out evenly with a rolling pin. Place one half of the brie wheel, cut side up, into the center of the puff pastry. Spread brown sugar and pecans on top of the brie, then top with the other brie round (cut side down). Fold pastry around the brie, gathering at the top. Trim off excess pastry and discard. Brush with an egg wash (for a golden brown appearance after baking). Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden, then remove from oven. Allow package to stand for several minutes before cutting. Serve with pear and crackers.

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:
24 oz white button mushrooms, rinsed and dried
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tbsp.. Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 lb Italian sausage, removed from casings
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:
Remove stems from mushrooms by gently twisting base. Chop stems and set aside. In a large bowl, toss mushroom caps in oil, making sure to coat inside and out. Place in a large baking dish, open side up and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. In a frying pan, sauté garlic in 1 tbsp. olive oil, taking care not to burn. Add sausage and cook, crushing with a spoon to get smaller pieces. Sauté until meat begins to brown, then add chopped mushroom stems and onion, cooking until softened. Place the stuffing mixture into a bowl, and spoon a portion into each mushroom cap. Top with mozzarella. Broil for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is melted and browned. Serve immediately.

Mini Pork Meatballs with Teriyaki Sauce

Ingredients:
1/2 lb ground pork
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 egg
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 bottle Teriyaki Sauce, room temperature

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients except Teriyaki sauce until well blended. Using two spoons, shape meat mixture into walnut-sized meatballs. Arrange the meatballs two inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake 25-30 minutes or until juice runs clear. Remove from oven. Meanwhile, pour the Teriyaki sauce into a large clean bowl. Dip the cooked meatballs into the Teriyaki until fully coated with the glaze. Serve on a tray with toothpicks in each meatball.

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 10 (December, 2011).
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