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Appetizers and side dishes will make your holiday a hit


November 21, 2019

Miriah Kardelis

BRIE CROSTINI is highlighted by a homemade cranberry sauce.

Brie Crostini with Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Serves 10-12 people

While there are quite a few options out there for appetizers you can easily grab at the store, you can't beat the taste of homemade. It's even better when that appetizer is easy enough to put together without consuming the better part of your day. That is where the crostini comes in. Similar to bruschetta, this little snack is so versatile, the options for ingredients are endless. A Brie crostini with homemade cranberry sauce looks fancy, but it will be one of the quickest hors d'oeuvres you will ever put together.



8 oz. wheel of Brie

1 baguette

Olive oil

Homemade Cranberry Sauce:

12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries

2 small mandarin oranges

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cinnamon stick

½ cup water

½ cup orange juice

Pinch of salt


Homemade Cranberry Sauce:

In a medium sauce pan, combine water, orange juice, and sugar. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.

Add cranberries, mandarin oranges, 1 cinnamon stick, and salt. Cook until cranberries burst, and the popping noise is done, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool.


Preheat oven to 375.

Slice baguette diagonally, about a half inch thick and evenly coat each piece with olive oil. Evenly spread out crostini pieces on a cookie sheet and bake for about 3 minutes before adding the cheese.

Take crostini out of the oven and add slices of brie to each piece of bread. Bake for another 5 minutes, or until brie is melted.

Remove from oven and add a spoonful of cranberry sauce to each crostini and serve immediately.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Serves 6 people

Some may think that risotto is an intimidating dish to cook. It's not. All you need is the dedicated time and attention to watch over this dish as the rice releases starch and absorbs the surrounding liquid. Because of the high amount of starch in this traditional Italian rice, the constant stirring will give you the highly anticipated, creamy texture that everyone loves about this dish. The butternut squash in this recipe will give you those cozy fall vibes, that makes this the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving meal.


3 cups butternut squash (about 1 ½ pounds) – peeled and diced into half inch cubes

1 small white onion (about ¾ cup) – finely chopped

2 garlic cloves – minced

10 fresh sage leaves – chopped

2 cups Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine

6 cups vegetable broth – room temperature

3 Tbsp butter

½ cup parmesan cheese -freshly grated – If you purchase an 8 ounce wedge of parmesan cheese, use the remaining as a garnish

Olive oil


In a large pot, heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add in squash and onion, cook until squash begins to darken around the edges and can be pierced with a fork, about 6-8 minutes. Add in 1 tbsp. butter and garlic, stir for an additional 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the remaining butter and Arborio rice, stir frequently. Sautee the rice for about two minutes until the grains are well-coated. Add in the white wine and stir until mostly absorbed.

Add vegetable broth 1 cup at a time. Stirring often until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid before adding more broth.

Continue to stir – constant stirring will release the starches from the risotto resulting in a creamy consistency – this will take about 20 minutes. You want the risotto al dente, not mushy. Stir in the parmesan and sage. Serve right away.

Create You Own Charcuterie Board

Serving: Sizes will vary on number of guests

There is no appetizer more awe-inspiring than a charcuterie board. Charcuterie is compromised of preserved and prepared meats, with the addition of hard and soft cheeses. On the board you will also see ideal pairings for the meat and cheeses. While the options are endless; breads, crackers, fresh and dried fruits, nuts, and dips should all be present.

When building your board, the key factor for presentation, is for the board to look full, and in a sense, packed. You want a platform big enough to fill to the edges. Don't be afraid to stack and pile, while playing with the different colors and textures of all the ingredients.

Meat: You will want about three to four slices per each guest. Dried salami and prosciutto are always a favorite go-to for a charcuterie board. Make the meat easy to grab by rolling it or folding into a ribbon.

Cheese: You want a variety of hard and soft cheeses. About two to three ounces per person. While you don't have to pre-slice a soft cheese like brie. It will be easier for your guests, if you pre-slice any firm and hard cheeses. When arranging the cheese, you don't want any two cheeses right next to each other. Use the other ingredients as borders to separate from the other ingredients.

Breads and Crackers: You want several options for everyone. A thinly sliced baguette as well as a darker bread will be good. Crackers come in different shapes and sizes; use that to your advantage to create some movement. These are the vehicle for the rest of the charcuterie board, so variety is key.

Fruits: Fresh fruit will add a pop of color and flavor to your board, while dried fruits add extra textures to the rest of your pairings.

Nuts: The added crunch will act as a space filler to fill in any empty gaps. Remember we want the board to look full. All nuts should be salted as well as shelled.

Bowls of marinated veggies: These do a similar job as the fresh fruit. Some fun color as well as a good snack to crunch on. These options are endless. Two to three choices should be good for a board.

Condiments: This is where you can add some fancy gourmet spreads to your board, or you can keep it as simple as some mustard and honey. All should be served in small separate bowls, placed around the board, each with their own serving utensil.

To assemble:

Condiments: You will want to start with the placement of the bowls for each condiment you have chosen. The bowls will act as pillars to lean the cheeses and meats against.

Honey, coarse ground mustard, pesto, a variety of fruit spreads

Bowls of Marinated veggies: Because the majority of these will also need to be in bowls, these should be the next to be added to the board.

Olives, pickles, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes

Cheese: Wedges of brie and blue cheese don't need to be pre-sliced, and can be added as a whole to the board. You will want a set of serving knives so your guests can easily slice through without having to wait to be served. The rest of the cheese can be pre-sliced or cubed. Again, use the bowls to lean the cheeses against. A general rule of thumb is to have at least one soft cheese, one firm, and one hard cheese.

Brie, blue, aged cheddar, parmesan, gouda, anything smoked will go well

Meats: The main attraction of the charcuterie board. Any cured meat will work, you can also add in some sliced roasted turkey, so you can have something for everyone's palate

Salami, dried salami, prosciutto, pancetta, ham, bacon, turkey

Crackers and bread: A sliced baguette, crostini, and a variety of crackers are what people will go to first. These will set the tone for the whole board. Variety is key.

Baguette, a darker bread, artisan crackers, pretzels

Fruits: Fresh and dried fruits are to be added next to your board. Don't keep these too uniform, the various pops of color throughout will give the board some life.

Fresh: Grapes, apples, pears, all berries

Dried: apricots, plums, mangos, dates

Nuts: The final step. These will be used to fill in any gaps you have left on your board.

Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, cashews

Add some fresh herbs or flowers for garnish and your charcuterie board is finished! Keeping in mind that variety is key and you want your charcuterie board to look nice and full; you don't need to spend a ton of money in the expensive part of the deli. The beauty of this appetizer is its versatility.

Harvest Salad

Serves 4-6 people

This salad screams fall using your favorite apples, dried cranberries, and candied walnuts. A combination of fresh and crisp flavors that is worthy of any holiday gathering. Includes a simple dressing as to not over flavor the rest of the ingredients.


6 cups of mixed greens – spinach and arugula, but any spring mix will do

1 green apple – thinly sliced – coated in lemon juice to keep from browning

1 red apple – thinly sliced – coated in lemon juice to keep from browning

1 small red onion – thinly sliced

1 cup dried cranberries

½ cup feta cheese – crumbled

Candied Walnuts

1 cup walnuts – roughly chopped

½ cup white sugar

1 Tbsp butter


½ cup fresh lemon juice

½ cup olive oil

2 Tbsp honey

2 tsp mustard – Dijon or regular will do

1 ½ tsp poppy seeds

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper


To make the candied walnuts, melt the butter in a pan, add sugar, and stir until dissolved. When mixture starts to bubble, add in walnuts and stir for an additional 2 minutes. Lay nuts out onto a piece of parchment paper to cool.

Place all of the dressing ingredients into a mason jar, and shake well until everything is combined. You can adjust to taste, more lemon juice for a tart flavor, more honey for a sweeter flavor, more oil for a creamier flavor.

In a large bowl, start with the greens, add the apples and onions on top, and pour on the dressing. Toss everything until well combined.

Top the salad with the cranberries, cheese, and candied walnuts.

Mini Chocolate Ganache Tarts

Serves 6 people

Decadent, dark chocolate ganache is a treat on its own; but when you turn it into a tart you have a dessert that will "wow" everyone at the table. If you don't have mini tart pans that are needed in this recipe, you can make one big tart using a nine-inch pie plate.

Utensils needed

6 mini tart pans or a nine-inch pie plate


Chocolate Ganache:

12 oz. dark chocolate – either in bar form or chips, use a high quality chocolate for a better taste

1 cup cream

6 tbsp. butter

Tart crust:

2 cups crushed graham crackers

1 stick butter

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375.

To make the tarts, start by melting 1 stick of butter. In a large bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar and cinnamon. Add in melted butter and vanilla. Stir all ingredients together until fully incorporated. Press into greased tart pans or greased pie plate. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Carefully remove the tart crust and place on a piece of parchment paper to continue cooling. If you leave the tart crust in the pans too long, there's a possibility the tart will break when removing if it has been sitting too long.

To make the ganache, melt all the ingredients together on the stove. Fill your tart crust, and chill until the chocolate has set.

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

Serves around 7-10 people

An easy, two ingredient Thanksgiving side dish that has the taste and look of elegance and pairs well with everything else you have on the table. A recipe that you can easily double or triple depending on the number of guests you have coming. Prosciutto is an Italian dry-cured ham that is always thinly sliced. The saltiness of the meat, combined with the crunch of the asparagus, will please everyone's palate. It can usually be found in your grocer's deli in three-ounce packages. This recipe will take no longer than 20 minutes from start to end, making the preparation of the dish stress free. It will also allow your guests to try something new that they may not see on the traditional Thanksgiving table.


2 packages of thinly sliced prosciutto

2 bundles of asparagus

Olive oil for seasoning

Pepper for seasoning


1. Trim the ends off of the asparagus and roll each individual spear with one slice of prosciutto. Wrap the prosciutto around the middle of the spear, leaving each end uncovered.

2. Drizzle each end of the asparagus with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with pepper.

3. Preheat a large pan on medium heat.

4. Cook asparagus for approximately 3 minutes, turning the spears halfway through. You want an even all-around crispiness of the prosciutto, before removing from the heat.

5. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Scones with a Spiced Glaze

Makes 8 scones

While these pumpkin scones may not be a dessert you want to serve at the end of the evening, they will make a wonderful treat in the morning with a cup of coffee. The real pumpkin in these scones make them the epitome of all the fall desserts out there. The scones themselves aren't on the sweeter side, but with the addition of the spiced glaze, your sweet tooth will thank you. Don't want the added sugar? Feel free to leave the glaze completely out of the equation, these pumpkin scones are delicious enough to stand on their own.


2 cups flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 stick butter – cut into small cubes, the colder the better

½ cup pumpkin puree

1 large egg

3 tbsp milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

For the first layer of glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tbsp milk

For the spiced glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

2 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add in cold butter. Using your hands, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like a coarse sand, and can be balled up in your hand.

Add in the pumpkin, egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Stir together until a soft dough forms.

On a slightly floured surface, knead the dough until it full forms. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle or a circle, about an inch thick. From here, cut the dough into 8 triangles.

Place scones onto the baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until you can see the bottoms start to brown.

To make the first layer of glaze, combine the powdered sugar with the milk and set aside. To make the spiced glaze combine all the ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.

Let scones cool for 10 minutes and spoon the first layer or glaze onto each scone. Then drizzle each scone with the spiced glaze. Allow the glaze to set before serving.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Serves 10-12 people

If you are looking for an easy last-minute appetizer, this is it. While it may not be a traditional appetizer you see at Thanksgiving, that's ok! You can't go wrong by serving anything that's warm and cheesy, like this dish. A huge selling point for this recipe is that you don't need a huge list of ingredients. This recipe goes the easy route by using a jar of alfredo sauce instead of the traditional mayo you see in a lot of other recipes out there. Serve with a baguette, crackers, and a variety of veggies. It's that easy.


1 box frozen spinach – 10 oz. thawed and chopped

1 can artichoke hearts – 14 oz. drained and chopped

1 jar of garlic alfredo sauce

4 oz cream cheese – room temperature

1 cup parmesan-romano cheese – shredded

1 cup mozzarella cheese – shredded

Pepper to taste


Preheat over to 350.

Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and spread mixtures into a 8x8 baking dish.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until cheese is bubbling.

Serve immediately with bread, crackers, and vegetables.

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Will happily serve 12 people

An incredibly rich and creamy dessert, to offset all the pie this Thanksgiving. This cheesecake has a cinnamon infused graham cracker crust that is to die for. In this recipe you won't find the traditional water bath that most cheesecakes call for; instead you will bake this cheesecake for 1 hour before placing it in the refrigerator to set up overnight. This cheesecake is delicious enough on its own, but feel free to top with some homemade whip cream or fresh fruit.

Kitchenware needed

9-inch spring form pan


2 cups crushed graham crackers

¼ cup brown sugar

1 stick butter – melted

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

Cheesecake Filling

16 oz cream cheese – room temperature

2 sticks butter – room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup sour cream

2 tbsp corn starch

2 vanilla bean pods or 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract


Before you start anything, you will want to have your cream cheese and butter sitting out for several hours to come to room temperature. This step is extremely important, it will prevent lumps from forming in your cheesecake.

Preheat your oven to 375. Line a spring form pan with parchment paper. For easier removal of the cheesecake, you can grease the parchment paper. The reason for lining the spring form pan with parchment paper is because it is the easiest and safest way to remove your cheesecake.

Combine crushed graham crackers, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add in melted butter and cinnamon, and mix ingredients until fully incorporated. Press into the bottom of the spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Turn your oven down to 320.

Miriah Kardelis

TWO GLAZES and simple spices make these pumpkin scones a tasty Thanksgiving treat.

Beat the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. This will also help warm up the ingredients for a creamier texture. Add in sugar and beat for another 10 minutes.

Add in the sour cream, corn starch, and vanilla. Mix until smooth.

Pour cheesecake mixture over the graham cracker crust, and bake for one hour exactly at 320.

Remove from the oven.

*Please note: the cheesecake filling will be very "jiggly." This is absolutely normal. The cheesecake will set up over night when you place it in the refrigerator.

Once removed from the oven, place the cheesecake on a heat safe surface and allow to cool for one hour. Do not remove the spring form pan.

Place in the refrigerator overnight to set up.

Right before serving, remove the spring form pan


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