Thanksgiving tends to be a big meal, but that doesn’t mean guests aren’t looking for a little something to snack on while they wait for the turkey to finish.
Veggie trays are always popular with the most health-conscious eaters in your family, but after three carrots, four pieces of celery and more olives than a supreme pizza, your guests might be sniffing around for something a little heartier to tide them over until dinner. These three party-friendly appetizers fit the bill and will come in handy throughout the upcoming holiday season.
Spicy Corn Dip
Several years ago my friend Patty Fallahee graciously allowed me to share her recipe for Spicy Corn Dip on the Chic Site, and it’s still one of our most popular posts. It’s got a bit of heat from the chipotle, a crunch from the corn and peppers, and it’s all wrapped inside melted cheesy goodness. A must try!
— Rachel Hollis
2 Tbsp. butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cups corn (frozen or fresh)
12 oz. (1 1/2 8oz.-packages) cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 large bunch scallions, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 Tbsp. chipotle in adobo sauce (from chipotle pepper in adobo sauce can)
2 Tbsp. hot sauce (or more if you like it super spicy)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, sauté the butter and the yellow onion, garlic, red bell pepper and corn over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream cheese until combined.
In a large bowl, mix the remaining ingredients with the veggies and cream cheese mixture. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
Pour the dip into an oven-safe baking dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbling. Serve hot out of the oven with chips or chopped veggies. Serves 8 to 10.
— From “Upscale Downhome: Family Recipes, All Gussied Up” by Rachel Hollis (Thomas Dunne, $19.99)
Crunchy Party Mix
This highly munchable snack — loaded with pretzels, nuts, bagel chips and cereal — may resemble your typical party mix, but it isn’t. Tabasco adds an unexpected little kick, and dried rosemary lends a surprisingly sophisticated touch. It’s perfect for movie night or a TV binge-watching marathon.
3 cups corn Chex cereal
3 cups rice Chex cereal
3 cups wheat Chex cereal
2 cups broken bagel chips
2 cups pretzels
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup cashews
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
4 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce
2 tsp. dried rosemary
In a slow cooker, toss together the cereals, bagel chips, pretzels, peanuts and cashews.
In a small bowl, whisk the garlic powder, onion powder and salt with the melted butter until dissolved. Whisk in the Worcestershire, Tabasco and rosemary. Pour the sauce over the cereal mixture and toss gently to coat.
Cover and cook on low for 3 hours, stirring every hour. Let cool in the slow cooker, uncovered. The mix can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Serves 6 to 10.
— From “Slow Cooker Family Favorites: Classic Meals You’ll Want to Share” by Maggie Shi (Countryman, $19.95)
The cheese ball is a cliche. I believe, however, that like the pig in a blanket and the baked potato, cheese balls are so cliched they’ve actually become cool. Socially acceptable or not, when this thing is put out at a party of any kind, people hover over it like it’s a crystal ball.
Once you get used to the idea of making a cheese ball, keep a few things in mind. Bring it out at least thirty minutes before you plan on serving. This forethought will make it spreadable and allow the complexity of its flavor to come through. Also, consider doubling the recipe. A fully formed cheese ball freezes and travels nicely. And, last, keep your cracker choice simple. This is not the place for roasted-garlic Asiago Triscuits. Sea salt or plain Jane is the way to go here, possibly everywhere.
This recipe calls for dates, but please do not use pre-chopped dates from a bag. They are covered in sugar and taste like sweet cardboard. Use whole, dried dates and remove the pits.
— Vivian Howard
1/4 cup high-quality blue cheese (I like Maytag)
1/3 cup (5 1/2 Tbsp.) butter
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. cream cheese
1/4 cup chopped dates
2 Tbsp. finely chopped scallions (both white and green parts work here)
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
Take the blue cheese, butter, goat cheese and cream cheese out of the refrigerator to soften 30 minutes before making your cheese ball mixture.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all the ingredients except for the pecans and parsley. Paddle it up until homogeneous. It will be loose and sticky and you’ll wonder how you’re ever going to form that mess into a ball. The answer is, you transfer the bowl to the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so. During that time, the cheese mix will firm up enough for you to pat it into a sphere. Once it’s stiff enough to hold up, form the ball and roll it in the pecans, followed by parsley. Makes 1 large cheese ball or 2 small ones.
— From “Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South” by Vivian Howard (Little, Brown and Company, $40)