A little bit of sweet, a little bit of savory, a little bit of tangy…you get the picture
Butternut Squash in a crisp shell? Thanksgiving has arrived!
Simple Shrimp Dish
Packing heat with Pumpkin Seeds
Holy Potato Sticks, Batman!
My one true love…
Meatballs…is there more to say?
Happy Friday all!
Tomorrow I am headed north of these here parts to attend a family wedding! It must be wedding season because I have found myself attending quite a few this year. I don’t mind because I absolutely love weddings…just something about wearing a pretty dress, getting my nails and hair did, and dancing the night away that I just find addicting! Anyway, Thanksgiving season is fast approaching and this year I have decided to do a Thanksgiving countdown! So, every Friday on Friday Link Love I will feature my Top Ten Thanksgiving Recipes, beginning with Thanksgiving appetizers and ending of course with Thanksgiving desserts, a little bit of gluten-free, a little bit of healthy, and a little bit of fattening. What can I say? I like balance.
Did I mention that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all time? It’s not just the big ole’ turkey, juicy and plump, sitting in the middle of the family table on a platter, or the dessert table lined with three different pumpkin pies, an array of cobblers, and my mom’s chocolate delight, but rather the culture of the season. Simply put, Thanksgiving to me is well, about being thankful for what you have (and sometimes what you don’t have). It’s that one day of the year where we really get to emphasize what we are thankful for, just in case we haven’t already spent the 364 other days of the year counting our blessings. This year, just as any year, I am thankful for God, who has blessed me with this life, my immediate family made up of three people whom I love unconditionally, my parents who have raised me to be the woman of strong character and honest integrity that I am today, teaching me that love conquers all and to trust in God’s plan, both of my extended families, who are a little bit crazy, a little bit dramatic, but I still love em’, and my third family, a.k.a. my lululemon family who have been nothing but a barrel of support, especially as I work towards obtaining the goals I have set for myself.
With that said, I am also thankful for food, my true and undying passion in life, along with providing you all with wonderful recipes, not just for dishes, but for life. So, why don’t we kick off our first week of Thanksgiving with my Top Ten Thanksgiving Appetizers, because what is Thanksgiving without starters, a.k.a. crudites and creamy ranch dip, a fruit tray, or a gorgeously arranged antipasto platter layered with salami, prosciutto, a variety of Italian cheeses, olives, roasted bell peppers, and eggplant! All of this food talk has got me anxious, let Thanksgiving begin!
Top Ten Thanksgiving Appetizers:
1. Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, and Cherry Jam Rolls by Cookin Canuck: Being that I am Italian, it’s only natural that Prosciutto be the main appetizer featured on my Thanksgiving table. We Italian’s pretty much wrap anything we can find in prosciutto…there is just something about prosciutto that makes an asparagus spear or a fresh slice of sweet cantaloupe extra tastier. It’s that salty, yet meaty flavor of the thinly slice prosciutto that gets me every time. What can I say, I love me some pig! Anyway, when I saw this recipe, I was all over it! Spread thinly sliced prosciutto with a layer of tangy goat cheese and sweet cherry jam. O my heavens! The flavor combination is out of this world, a little bit salty, a little bit sweet, a whole lot of yummy! I would suggest playing around with different flavored preserves if you are skeptical about cherry jam, might I suggest strawberry preserves or even apple butter…come to think of it, apple butter would be perfect for a fall flavor combination!
2. Roasted Baby Pears with Herbed Goat Cheese by Tyler Florence: Okay, so you know I just love goat cheese so I just couldn’t resist posting this recipe. Tyler Florence is definitely my kind of chef…not to mention he’s Italian, so that is even better. Anyway, he stuffs roasted baby pears with herbed goat cheese, wraps with bacon, and bakes until the pears of tender and the bacon is crispy. Did I mention that he drizzles the finished product with a bit of honey and peppery arugula. Yes, please!
3. Apple Walnut Crostini by Baked Bree: There is just something about apples that says, “Happy Thanksgiving!” Combine dried apples with chopped walnuts, a bit of honey, a splash of lemon and orange juice, herbes de Provence, coriander, orange zest, and cream cheese. All this on top of slices of crusty baguette? Pop these babies into the oven for a quick heat, just to melt the flavors together. What is better than warm bread topped with a cheesy crunchy apple spread? Sign me up!
4. Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Galette by Sunday Suppers: Did I mention that I absolutely adore squash, in fact, I love just about any kind of squash, butternut squash being in my top five. There is just something about butternut squash that makes me feel all warm and toasty inside. It definitely puts me in the holiday spirit and this galette is a perfect fall appetizer that highlight butternut squash beautifully, yet effortlessly. The butternut squash is embedded into an open-faced pocket of homemade dough. Bake in the oven until golden perfection and top with chopped walnuts and pomegranate seeds that add a little burst of freshness. Add a pinch of cracked black pepper, dash of salt, and a good drizzle of olive oil and this galette will blow your mind!
5. Shrimp Cocktail with Creamy-Spicy Green Onion Dipping Sauce by Whole Foods Market: Now, I know what you’re thinking? Really, Chelsy? Shrimp cocktail at a Thanksgiving feast? Well I am here to tell you not to knock the shrimp cocktail until you have tried it! This is a regular appetizer at my Thanksgiving gatherings, in fact, it is the dish I look forward to the most upon arrival to the family member’s house who is hosting Thanksgiving dinner. In my family, it is really a toss up who is going to host Thanksgiving between all the aunts and uncles, yet I can always count on a huge platter of fresh, ice cold shrimp with a signature cocktail sauce to prep my appetite before diving into the turkey head first! Plus, shrimp cocktail is super simple to make. This shrimp cocktail is served alongside a rich, spicy sour cream dipping sauce and is sure to be a crowd favorite at your Thanksgiving party!
6. Chili Roasted Pumpkin Seeds by Elana’s Pantry: C’mon, what is the Thanksgiving table without a bowl of roasted pumpkin seeds for pre-game snacking! I am used to seeing an assortment of sugar coated walnuts or spicy pecans atop my Thanksgiving table, so I thought pumpkin seeds would be a great alternative. These pumpkin seeds have a whole lot of kick behind them, spiced with a bit of chili powder, a touch of salt, and drizzled with a good coating of olive oil. Not to mention, they are a healthy snacking treat for the season where we tend to be more than thankful for a table covered in a sea of homemade desserts, and maybe some chocolate covered candy too! Just a tip: If you have allergies, as I normally do during this time of year, just pop a couple of these and you will feel instant relief in no time! No need for antihistamines here! Last note: these little spiced gems are gluten-free, so your guests with celiac can enjoy them as well!
7. Gluten-Free Potato Sticks with Roasted Tomato Salsa by Gluten-Free Goddess: For all my people with gluten allergies, this appetizer will definitely satisfy your savory tooth. These potato sticks pack a good crunch that can only be sent from the gluten-free goddess herself. Roasting thin strips of potato in the oven creates that classic, french-fry like crispiness that will leave you asking, “McDonald’s who?” Instead of ketchup, serve these babies up with a homemade roasted tomato salsa that is sure to pack a punch! You can also serve these with a bit of sea salt or gluten-free ketchup (try Muir Glen) if you prefer. Did I mention these flavorful potato sticks are gluten-free?
8. Italian Stuffed Globe Artichokes by Food Blogga: Now, in my family stuffed artichokes on any occasion is a regularity. If I were about to eat my last meal, stuffed artichokes would be #1 on my list. They are the ultimate Italian comfort food in my opinion. I must say that my grandmother makes the best stuffed artichokes in the world, seriously, nothing can surpass hers. She can give us all the family cooks the recipe and we can make stuffed artichokes repeatedly, and of course they will come out great every time. Yet, in the end, its just something extra that my grandmother adds to her dish (something that she doesn’t tell us)…I think it is the pure love in her heart, that makes her stuffed artichokes the best. You have never tasted something so delicious, that requires few ingredients. Basically, the stuffing mixture is a combination of homemade Italian breadcrumbs, chopped garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, italian seasonings, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with a bit of extra olive oil and presto, it’s that simple! Everyone has their own rendition and this recipe adds chopped kalamata olives and toasted pine nuts…sound delicious! I would serve this alongside a simple Italian dipping sauce: 1/4 c. olive oil, 2 tbs. melted butter, chopped garlic, fresh chopped basil, pinch of salt and pepper and BAM, those little artichoke leaves will be extra tasty after they take a dip in this savory sauce.
9. Parsnip and Honey Soup Shots with Spicy Sweet Potato Crisp by The Passionate Cook: I am a huge fan of soup, especially in the winter time when its freezing outside (about 60 degrees round these here parts in Texas) and the wind is whipping through the trees so hard that I lose my flip-flops walking to my car. Anyway, that’s the time when I whip out my big soup pot, or my crock pot and cook myself up a huge bowl of hearty, thick soup that warms my heart from the inside out. Today is definitely one of those winter days that requires a good serving of piping hot soup. This recipe has definitely won over my heart and would be absolutely ideal as a Thanksgiving appetizer. The soup gets a creamy based from pureed parsnips, add vegetable stock, garlic, a pat of butter, a squeeze of juiced line, and a bit of honey for sweetness. Wait, that is not even the best part! Pour the soup into individual shot glasses and top with a vibrant orange sweet potato crisp! O my word! Your guests are going to be absolutely speechless!
10. Baked Chicken Meatballs by Smitten Kitchen: I am absolutely smitten with these meatballs. I love meatballs in general, preferably my own recipe. I like my meatball with actual meat, you know, more meat than breadcrumbs. I feel like bread is sometimes used as a filler in meatballs and that you can make the mistake of using too much, so much, in fact that it becomes a bread ball rather than a meatball. You get what I am saying, right? You have to have a perfect balance. These chicken meatballs are a unique take on a traditional Italian meatball but I thought I was give them a chance. These chicken meatballs pack a whole lot of flavor, are super moist, and the best part…nestled inside each meatball are a few specks of chopped salty pancetta! Sounds absolutely delicious and you know Thanksgiving at my house just isn’t complete without a meatball. Insert a toothpick into each meatball so your guests will have no problem grabbing these up. You can also serve these babies with a simple marinara dipping sauce or this peperonata recipe.