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What do you serve with drinks before Thanksgiving Dinner?

Any special nibble that's great with drinks before a coma inducing dinner? Anything your family loves? I'm looking for suggestions to serve my crowd. Thank you!

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  1. Favorites are stuffed mushrooms and the kids like shrimp with cocktail sauce. It's hard to keep it light. Spiced nuts and pistachios are good too. I try not to offer too much but I often get carried away.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Cheesy Oysters

      We do the good old crudites with dip. Not real exciting, but it works, it's light, and won't spoil the rest of the Thanksgiving dinner.

      1. re: Cheesy Oysters

        I stick to simple crudites, gherkins, olives and such. No dips or cheese which would blunt the appetite for dinner.

        1. re: Cheesy Oysters

          do you have a good technique for spiced nuts? I'm thinking roasted almonds w/ garlic and rosemary. Just don't know if I should butter and/or salt before or after roasting.

          1. re: NYchowcook

            Nychowcook, I always advocate home cooking BUT, I was at Whole Foods this weekend and tried their Holiday Spice roasted pecans. OMG! It was seasoned with cloves, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and tasted exactly like Thanksgiving & Xmas rolled into one. Plan to use some in a roasted pear, blue cheese salad but they would make excellent apps.

            1. re: NYchowcook

              The Black Pepper almonds from epicurious are ou tof this world. They are just the right balance of salty/sweet/spicy and they are always gobbled up.

          2. I always do a pretty big raw vegetable platter surrounding a good size bowl of my famous blue cheese dip. I also am always asked to make a layered and quite decadent dip that features cream cheese, chopped red onions and red and black caviar. It's all layered into a spring form pan. Mine is heart-shaped and obviously for Valetine's Day but if anyone asks I tell them, "It's heart-shaped because you'll love it." And then almost all nibbles are put away for at least two hours before the bird emerges.

            1. Love the recipe for the cheddar/cranberry spread. Any favorite spiced nut recipes? Would you share the blue cheese dip and caviar? They sound so good!

              5 Replies
              1. re: DaisyM

                My favorite spiced nuts are spicy and sweet. I like this with cashews. You roast your cashews with sprigs of rosemary. When they're done, and the rosemary is crunchy, break the rosemary leaves off and toss them with the cashews. They are also a delicious, crunchy treat. While they are roasting, melt a few tablespoons of butter with brown sugar, salt, pepper and a touch of cayenne. When it's all melted, and while the cashews are still warm, toss everything together. Spread out on wax paper and allow to dry.

                They're amazing! It's a real change from the usual sweet or spicy, and the rosemary is a great treat.

                1. re: DaisyM

                  I actually wrote out the blue cheese dip in another thread that I will look for. Here is the recipe for caviar pie:
                  12 eggs -- hard-boiled
                  mayo
                  salt and freshly ground pepper
                  One medium red onion, chopped
                  8 ounce block of softened cream cheese
                  16 ounces sour cream
                  2 large jars -- black caviar
                  1 large jar -- red caviar

                  "Grease" a 10" spring-form pan with a little mayo.Mash the eggs, mayo (enough to hold eggs together), salt, and pepper together. Spread into bottom of pan.
                  Spread onions on top of egg salad. Mix cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Spread over onions. You can be prepared up to this point the day before (recommended). Put the spring-form on a paper towel on a plate (the sour
                  cream tends to separate). Spread the caviar into a cute design. Serve with plain crackers.

                  1. re: southernitalian

                    Be sure to rinse the caviar before spreading it. The dye in inexpensive grades tends to bleed through. Also, it's so much better if you can use a cream cheese without gums. I serve mine with warm potato pancakes.
                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/29500...

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      melanie, have you found any brands without gums? well, national brands?

                      1. re: alkapal

                        In California we have the Sierra Nevada/Gina Marie brand that's distributed statewide, available at Safeway and other supers as well as cheese shops, and relatively inexpensive. Don't know if it is sold more widely than that. Here's a thread from last year with some ideas,
                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/301859

                2. I vary the appetizers, but a couple that are always requested are Epicurious recipes - blue cheese and caramelized shallot dip (I use St. Agur blue), and brie topped with cranberry sauce and baked in puff pastry (I use Epi's cranberry sauce with cherries, marsala and rosemary):

                  blue cheese and caramelized shallot dip
                  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                  cranberry sauce with cherries, marsala and rosemary
                  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: Rubee

                    Rubee: What is your recipe for brie topped with cranberry sauce and baked in puff pastry?

                    1. re: happy_macomb

                      I make a batch of the cranberry sauce with cherries, marsala, and rosemary (recipe below) to use for both the appetizer, and for dinner later. Actually, I've been using this recipe ever since funwithfood posted it on CH. It's delicious.

                      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                      Baked Brie

                      1 sheet puff pastry - thawed according to directions
                      1 wheel of good-quality French Brie
                      1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp. water

                      Cut the top rind off the brie with a sharp pointed knife. Roll out pastry a little thinner, and to smooth the seams. Place Brie, rindless side-up, in center of puff pastry. Spoon some of the cranberry sauce onto cheese. Bring up pastry on two opposite sides over cheese. Brush remaining two sides of pastry with egg wash. Fold over cheese and crimp or press seams to seal. Brush pastry with egg glaze and place on baking sheet.

                      Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes until it is golden brown. Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving with crackers. Don't worry if it splits while baking - I think with the red cranberry sauce, even if it oozes out, it still looks pretty. Of course, you can also make it fancy, cutting strips of puff pastry in designs and attaching for decoration.

                      1. re: Rubee

                        Yes, I did this for pre-Thanksgiving one year, and it was delicious - but it wasn't light, and people ate so much of it that I fear it did put a damper on the dinner. So caveat emptor....

                        1. re: Bat Guano

                          Ha - I serve at least 3-4 appetizers every year. I guess my family eats a lot! ; )

                          I've been doing the cranberry brie for a couple of years now - it's actually requested. Thanksgiving for us is the whole day, though, and I serve appetizers about 2 hours before dinner so that helps.

                          1. re: Rubee

                            Yum!! I might be hosting Turkey day this year and these recipes look fabulous! I needed something different than the good old crab dip. Thanks!! Just curious, what do you dip into your blue cheese dip?

                            1. re: chocchipcookie

                              I used to do crudites and chips, but nobody ate the crudites. Now I serve it with celery sticks, and, if I can find them, Solea rosemary olive oil chips (or thick kettle-style potato chips otherwise).

                              Be sure to use a very good quality, creamy blue cheese (I prefer St. Agur, but have also made it with Cashel Blue).

                              My dad loves this, and always requests a batch for his birthday and my parents' anniversary, and my gf just requested it for her engagement party. Hope you like it!

                              1. re: Rubee

                                Thanks! I can't wait to make it-I looove blue cheese!

                            2. re: Rubee

                              Rubee-
                              Can I get your recipe for cranberry brie?

                              Thanks

                              1. re: drewb123

                                Hi drewb123!

                                It's just a few posts above:

                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/44928...

                          2. re: Rubee

                            Thanks! I am not a rosemary fan do u think I can leave it out?

                            1. re: drewb123

                              Yes. I actually don't add the minced rosemary since many people aren't fans of too much rosemary. I just put in a couple sprigs, let cool, and then remove them, so I think you can definitely leave it out.

                            2. re: Rubee

                              Rubee-

                              Question what size brie wheel do you buy 7 oz or larger? Thanks

                              1. re: drewb123

                                Around 13-14 ozs (a wheel about 6 inches in diameter)

                        2. We always have family favorites that will not totally spoil the appetite (dinner is LATE)
                          and can be prepared ahead of time, so that the apps do not distract from the meal prep.

                          Cheese Straws
                          Ham Biscuits
                          Sweet Pickles
                          Ollives and/ or Sausage Balls wrapped in Cheese Straw Dough
                          and a new but favorite snack, Ina Garten's Caviar Dip with Crudite.
                          Gotta love Turkey Day!!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jdm

                            I second the cheese straws...don't want anything too heavy before dinner

                          2. My family absolutely has to have shrimp cocktail before every holiday dinner no matter what. But lately, after eons of the usual Crosse and Blackwell type sauce, I've been trying to devise different recipes. Sometimes I win, and other times they scream for the old tried and true.

                            Another family favorite is Salmon roe poured over a heap of wonderfuly fresh cream cheese, or creme fraiche and spred on sesame crackers.

                            I try not to duplicate similar tastes that may be included in the dinner, but do not let cocktail nibbles get too intense. Sometimes a simple 'bagna cauda' with a few raw vegetables does the trick... but always the shrimp cocktail has prominence.

                            1. It depends on who's hosting each year, but usually there's a crudite platter, a cheese and crackers sort of thing, shrimp cocktail (which is massively popular with my family), and some kind of fruit. That way everyone likes something being offered. But we're not fancy-party types when it's family, these are more "snacks while everyone pitches in finishing things and setting the table" nibbles.

                              1. At Thanksgiving I've learned a few things. Dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy turkey and all the rest of the meal are so HEAVY that I have a strategy.
                                So before dinner, I really try to keep the bread, cracker, or any carbs out of the picture for the apps. If I did put those things down, most of them, no all of them (my family) would just sit there and eat all the hot garlicky artichoke dip with the sour dough bread, till it's gone or whatever else I put out. So now I do try to keep it lighter and less of it. At first they complained.
                                At Thanksgiving there are always small stuffed mushrooms (but just enough) and always ice cold shrimp with aioli. Smaller portions here, and when its gone its gone. I've learned my lesson, they come in SO hungry, so no heavy carbs, because they get overloaded on them.
                                One thing I do like and so do they, is to have a small delicious soup.
                                Handing it to them in smallcups as they come in. I've done clam chowders, butternut squash, creamy garbanzo bean (this is a fave),and cream of mushroom... Serving a little bit of soup at this point seems to work best for us. I have tried to serve the soup as a first or second course, but with all of the rest of the meal, it is just too much. So giving it to them earlier satisfies them and they don't need anything else before the dinner.

                                And I always have fresh fruit out, its light and refreshing or crudite with a ailoi. We always serve champagne or the designated cocktail, afterward they are off into the court to play a little football while I complete the meal. By then, they've really worked up their appetite.
                                This is the system I use for our family. I have mostly guys and it works best, so now I don't get my feelings hurt because they are too full to eat dinner. I learned the hard way. I use to put out crackers and breads with spreads and dips, and deviled eggs, and a ton of special appetizers. They would get stuffed!
                                The next thing I know is that I would be so disappointed because they would barely eat the dinner I'd worked all day on.
                                I really don't want to cook left overs for Thanksgiving if you know what I mean!
                                Now Christmas and New Years Eve and Day, that's an entirely different story!

                                25 Replies
                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  chef chicklet - how do you do creamy garbanzo bean soup? sounds YUMMY! thanks.

                                  1. re: AMFM

                                    Just saw this, I'll dig up my recipe. It's pretty garlicky, a recipe I created myself. I did use canned chickpeas is that ok? Oh and I served it with fresh olive baquette bread (homemade of course).

                                    I actually brought this to a party and warmed it in the microwave then put it in a soup toureen it was a pretty big hit.

                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                      garlicky is great. canned is fine - chick peas are the one bean i seem to only use canned.
                                      thanks so much. my kids LOVE chick peas and most bean soups so i'm always looking for new ones.

                                      1. re: AMFM

                                        And so here you are, enjoy!
                                        Talking about it made me crave it! So I whipped up a batch-hah 30 minute meals has nothing on this dish!
                                        Creamy Garbanzo Bean soup - for two double or triple for a crowd.
                                        as a starter served in tiny cups with tiny spoons and choose your toppings accordingly.
                                        2 cans garbanzo beans drained
                                        1 med white onion chopped
                                        2 serrano chilies ( one for less heat)
                                        3 large garlic cloves sliced
                                        1 stalk celery chopped fine

                                        Saute everything in olive oil together slowly, adding the garbanzo beans last, then the spices - low heat,almost like roasting everything in the pan, it will carmelize and contrribute really good flavor. This is beautiful served in tiny espresso cups with a tiny cheese straw or bacon beiget. A thin freshly baked olive baguette warm and sliced is perfect as a dipper.

                                        1 T cumin
                                        1 T herbs de province
                                        1 T onion salt
                                        1 T white pepper
                                        salt – be careful taste it before adding any.
                                        lemon juice
                                        Additional toppings: cilantro, creme fraiche, fresh parsley, pimento, chopped black olive ( a tad to tie in with the olive bread) jalapenos, tomaotes. Pepitas also work. All up to you.

                                        After the veggies and gbs are soft and heated through, and the spices are releasing their scent, turn the heat off and cover with a lid. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to cool. Then take everything and put it all in the blender. You can squish a little lemon juice over all to brighten, but not too much.

                                        Pulse until all is smooth, it will be thick, add chicken broth one can at a time, then pulse. Should take 2 full cans and possibly a third of the last 3rd can.

                                        Add 1 T cream sherry, and 3 T heavy cream
                                        Blend well, should be smooth and creamy, taste. Heat all through and ladle into a bowl, top with bacon bits or green scallions, tomatoes, olives or red onion.
                                        We love this soup spicy so you might want to use only one pepper. We love the heat...
                                        Delicious! ( and the baby loved it)
                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/7220939@...
                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/7220939@...

                                        1. re: chef chicklet

                                          Wow - that looks great and sounds delicious! Ha - thanks for your recipe, now I have to make it this weekend too.

                                          1. re: Rubee

                                            I know you'll enjoy it rubee, it is so simple and fast!
                                            The serrano chilies (with the seeds and membranes) I put in were larger than normal so it made it rather spicy. We still can't believe the baby liked it.
                                            Really and I'm not trying to brag, but its really a satisfying and tasty soup. DH ate all of it, and was wishing for more. I'm just worried about the heat for anyone else trying it, I love it really hot.
                                            When I make this for parties or at family dinners, I don't usually add serrano, just 1 jalapeno without seeds.

                                            1. re: chef chicklet

                                              THANK YOU!!! This sounds yummy. Will have to try soon. My 1 year old does heat but the 4 year old not as much so I may cut back. But still sounds lovely. I really appreciate your posting.

                                              1. re: AMFM

                                                your welcome, it is wonderful with homemade bread. Now that would be if you have time...

                                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                                  as much as i love to do other things (including other baking) i've always been intimidated by bread from scratch! i confess. your olive baquette sounds awesome though and i'm pretty picky about additives in my kids food so i may get there!

                                              2. re: chef chicklet

                                                Looking forward to your soup, so I'm making it for supper tonight!

                                                Just double-checking - the spices are a tablespoon each, correct?

                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                  Sorry been gone most of the day.Yes a Tablespoon each

                                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                                    Oh my, I agree with DaisyM - was that ever delicious! Even my husband, who doesn't like chick peas, ate two bowls. I thought I had frozen some serranos this summer, but only had jalapenos in the freezer so I used two of those instead. Otherwise, I followed your recipe exactly except for adding one extra garlic clove and using homemade chicken stock. I loved the spice blend, especially the cumin and herbs de provence. The cream sherry was a perfect addition too. I loved it - creamy, spicy, and so full of flavor. Wow, this is a keeper. Thanks so much chefchicklet for sharing this. You really should post this on the new "Publish a Recipe" link. I garnished E's with bacon, and mine with a dollop of creme fraiche, and.served with cheese straws from Silver Palate. Delicious.

                                                     
                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                      Rubee, sorry I got so thrilled you enjoyed it I didn't notice the other link.

                                                      Your changes are fantastic, I'll try them next time. Thanks for the suggestion to publish, I'll check that out. Oh and the cheese straws from Silver Palate, are a favorite of mine too!

                                                2. re: chef chicklet

                                                  Oh, my goodness! I just made your soup and it is just delicious. Thank you for posting this recipe. I love it!

                                                  1. re: DaisyM

                                                    Thanks Daisy, I love this too. Did you use 2 serranos as I do?
                                                    I bought knock out little cups today to serve these as a sort of shot.Battery is gone on my camera, I'll post pictures tomorrow.
                                                    Glad you like it!

                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                      I didn't have serranos so just used red pepper flakes. It was terrific. It is great to have such a creamy soup without cream or cheese. Healthy AND delicious. You rule!

                                                      1. re: DaisyM

                                                        rubee and daisy and chefc - now i can't WAIT to make this. thanks again. glad to hear about the pepper variations since i don't think i can make it as hot in my house. yeah! it's soup weather....

                                              3. re: chef chicklet

                                                chef chicklet, thanks for your soup recipe! You really should publish it. I made it last night and it was superb!
                                                First I made a vegetable stock (onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, forgot to put in parsley). (okay, okay, that defeated the point of "fast", but I'm sick and wanted more nutrients)

                                                Then sauteed onions, celery, garlic, serranos & some ancho/poblano; threw in cumin, aleppo pepper and beans, and covered and let them sit as you suggest.
                                                Pureed w/ veg stock, added sherry & creme fraiche, and warmed. Yum, yum! thanks!

                                                1. re: NYchowcook

                                                  Thanks nycook. I do love this easy soup, everyone that hates garbanzo beans around here, loves this soup. I think its the spices. The Herbs de Provence, has lavender which is another great flavor note with cumin, serano, and lemon. I'm thinking I will publish it. Thanks to you and everyone else that has encouraged me to do so, so sweet!

                                                  1. re: NYchowcook

                                                    Thank you Nychowcook! I really love this soup. It was gobbled up at a party that was predominate Sri Lanka family and friends. They really loved the heat, and wanted the recipe too. It travels well, even in a thermos, it is perfect for work. Well you might have to skip the sherry!
                                                    Thanks for the encouragement to publish it. I still need to figure that step out!

                                                  2. re: chef chicklet

                                                    your soup looks so good, and garbanzos are so savory! your composition is excellent in the photo -- apple sets it off nicely. asian feel to use of space.

                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                      chef chicklet, your photos are wonderful. Do you have a link to your pineapple cake?

                                                      1. re: dolores

                                                        you know I can't remember? I think so... let me check.

                                                        1. re: dolores

                                                          had to search a little bit, but found it. Thanks for asking! And the compliment on the photos!
                                                          To me, it is one of the best, I used dried bing cherries for additional flavor and texture/color. We loved it. Funny I was just thinking about making it again this afternoon.
                                                          Here it is! http://www.chowhound.com/topics/402932

                                                        2. re: alkapal

                                                          alkapal, thank you for the encouragement, I truly a novice with the camera. It's all fun though, I'm working at it!

                                              4. last year we did Gourmet's cheddar crisps and they were excellent!
                                                http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
                                                also, we had a big hunk of glorious Stilton and some good preserves and Carr's, and that was lovely as well.

                                                1. Great ideas here, I am going to steal a few. Here are two of mine. (I also love Chef Chicklet's soup idea.)

                                                  These are light and very tasty:

                                                  UNION SQUARE BAR NUTS

                                                  1 1/4 lb assorted unsalted nuts
                                                  2 T rosemary chopped
                                                  1/2 t cayenne
                                                  2 t dark brown sugar
                                                  2 t koser salt
                                                  1 T melted butter

                                                  - Preheat over to 350
                                                  - Toss nuts and spread them out on a cookie sheet – toast about 10 minutes
                                                  - In a large bowl, combine other ingredients
                                                  - Toss warm nuts with butter mixture and serve warm

                                                  This is on the heavy side, but excellent and is a gorgeous color and presentation:

                                                  Warm Brie With Chipotle Cranberry-Currant Marmalade

                                                  Use canned chipotle peppers to make the pepper puree.
                                                  1 (13.2-ounce) Brie, about 5-inch diameter
                                                  3 cups fresh cranberries
                                                  1/3 cup dried currants
                                                  3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
                                                  1/3 cup water
                                                  1 to 3 teaspoons pureed chipotle peppers
                                                  1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
                                                  Salt
                                                  Tortilla chips, for serving

                                                  * With sawing motion, use sharp bread knife to remove top rind of Brie. Set aside. (Can be done days ahead and refrigerated, wrapped in plastic. Bring to room temperature before heating.)

                                                  * Place cranberries, currants, brown sugar, water, chipotle puree, cinnamon and dash salt in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, uncovered, stirring often, until most berries have popped, about 8 minutes. Cool mixture to room temperature. (Can be made up to 1 week ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.)

                                                  * Unwrap Brie; place on baking sheet lined with heavy-duty foil. Spread generous 1/3 cup marmalade over cut surface.

                                                  * Bake at 300 degrees just until Brie is soft and warm, not oozing, about 8 to12 minutes.

                                                  1. My family tradition is cashews, pistachios, stuffed grape leaves, stuffed mussels, shrimp cocktail, hummus and toasted pita chips.

                                                    1. I'm reading this thread with great interest. It is usually my duty to furnish the "befores". The family is fraught with teenagers, sigh...The adults are not at all adventurous diners. Consequently, I do hum-drum stuff, ie chips, dips, seven layer Mex dip. hot chili/bean dip. This year I am considering cocktail pigs in a blanket as an exciting new addition...yes, you read it right. I'd appreciate any suggestions, but remember my group.

                                                      13 Replies
                                                      1. re: Gail

                                                        Maybe you could do some of your basic stuff, but try to make everything a little more gourmet. Like instead of pigs in a blanket, get some nice sausage - maybe game sausage, or a chicken and apple - cook it and cut into slices. Then wrap each slice with some puff pastry and bake. Same idea, but nicer for you and maybe eye-opening for them. Instead of onion dip, do a homemade caramelized onion dip with pita chips. Just call them pigs in blankets and onion dip.

                                                        1. re: katecm

                                                          Somewhere along the line I picked up a recipe wherein you make little meatballs and wrap them in crescent roll dough. We made them for supper, but I'd bet they'd make nice appetizers with a selection of sauces for dipping.

                                                          1. re: revsharkie

                                                            a variation on this my sister in law makes is olives wrapped in crescent roll dough. Easy as can be and a big hit.

                                                            1. re: NYchowcook

                                                              Oh yum! I could see making these with biscuit dough, too - esp. an herbed/spiced or cheesy biscuit dough.

                                                          2. re: katecm

                                                            sausage rolls where I come from (England). That's what we call sausages in pastry.

                                                            brie and cranberry puffs
                                                            mushroom vol aux vents - make a thick creamy mushroom sauce and stuff into empty vol aux vents cases (can you buy these in America - have to say I have never seen them, otherwise they can be made from puff pastry and a cookie cutter).
                                                            Egg and onion (boiled eggs, just enough mayo to bind and then chopped scallions, s and p) serve with ritz crackers or mini matzoh crackers.
                                                            small crackers with smoked salmon - not too rich or filling.

                                                            1. re: smartie

                                                              I would love to know how you make your sausage rolls please!

                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                I haven't made them in the usa because I don't know where to get sausage meat here. (I don't eat pork and used to get beef sausage meat in kosher butchers). English sausage meat is finer than American. however if you like a certain sausage you need to get the casings off, roll out a piece of shortcrust pastry into a 18" by 4" rectangle, fill with sausage meat and roll up, pinching long edge together, cut into 2" slices, bake on a cookie sheet till brown (use an eggwash). Make as many as you want.

                                                                1. re: smartie

                                                                  Thanks smartie!

                                                                  Look for puff pastry shells (vol-au-vents) next to puff pastry sheets in the grocer's freezer section.

                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                    Cost Plus (I live in LA) has fully baked mini and full size vol au vent shells. I picked some minis up last week and plan to serve them stuffed with crab mouse as well as mushroom.

                                                          3. re: Gail

                                                            Let me say that I am a somewhat adventurous eater and I am most definitely not a teenager(!), but I still love pigs in a blanket at any time. Hebrew National cocktail franks wrapped in Pillsbury crescent dough is the best!

                                                            Now the seven layer dip or hot chili/bean dip for Thanksgiving? Not so sure about those!

                                                            But as katecm suggested, maybe you could at least do some fancier stuff. This Barefoot Contessa Pan-Fried Onion dip is a winner...

                                                            http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                                                            1. re: valerie

                                                              >>>Now the seven layer dip or hot chili/bean dip for Thanksgiving? Not so sure about those!<<<
                                                              I know, but we gather about noon and the bird et al doesn't appear until early evening. So I can't get by with veggies and dip, need something more substantial. The Mex emphasis is because we live in CA. : >
                                                              Thanks for the Contessa's recipe, I'm off to find it.

                                                            2. re: Gail

                                                              Gail, I've made Mediterranean variation on 7-layer dip that is easy and a hit even with unadventurous eaters: hummus, scallions, cucumber, grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, roasted red pepper, chopped fresh parsley. Serve with pita crisps or flatbread. Good luck.

                                                              1. re: intuitive eggplant

                                                                What a great recipe - thanks!!!

                                                            3. Wow! I can't believe how many great ideas I now have. At this point I don't care if everyone is too stuffed for dinner...I'm making the Union Square Nuts and baked brie for sure!

                                                              1. We do crudite - celery, fennel, carrots with blue cheese dip. Two types of olives. Just as people arrive/stumble downstairs.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: gini

                                                                  I do crudités if only because I want them. I also serve edamame or roasted chickpeas, and a gourmet take on Ritz cracker sandwiches (rice cracker sandwiches with either a pesto/goat cheese mix or with seasoned PB).

                                                                2. Stick to non-meat appetizers. Quiche was very popular with my guests the last time I did this. You can make them in pie tins and cut slices as needed, or if you are up to it, go with mini-quiches. All can be made days ahead.

                                                                  1. I don't think anyone in my family has ever worried about appetizers being "too heavy." We have ro-tel and velveeta dip with chips, cheese and crackers (sometimes with sausage or something, too), veggies and dip, guacamole, sometimes shrimps or something if my uncles bring them up from Tulsa, that sort of thing--along with the adult beverage of your choice. We usually gather and start snacking a couple hours before dinner is served. Then comes supper, and after naps or walks or whatever we frequently have another meal. It's a major production number.

                                                                    Now, since Mike and I live seven hours away from the family, we're not there for Thanksgiving, but we do go down for Christmas, and it's about the same. Our own Thanksgiving is just the two of us, and we mostly sleep in and then eat turkey. We don't have appetizers. When we lived in Portland, we used to go pick up Mike's mom and we'd all go out to eat, to the steak & chop house or out to the Edgefield, where they had a special menu for the holiday.

                                                                    1. My cousin, who hosts most years, always does a light soup -- either a pumpkin soup or a turkey vegetable -- served in mugs or espresso cups.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: djdebs

                                                                        i love soup early in the afternoon served this way. I'm thing about a buttery oyster stew in expresso cups (my Dad's recipe) We eat around 4-5 so I can serve this around 3:30pm or so with cheeze straws.

                                                                      2. Don't like to do too much but planning to make gravlax from 1/2 side of salmon with pumpernickel bread (leftovers with bagels, cream cheese & onions for brunch over weekend), spiced pecans, and maybe some cheese & crackers.

                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                          You are making your own gravlax??? I feel like such a failure!

                                                                          1. re: DaisyM

                                                                            Daisy, honest to goodness, other than putting up 3-4 days in advance, it is NO big deal. I use the recipe from the Julia Child/Jacques Pepin cookbook. The hardest part is finding fresh dill in large enough quanitity. It is actually very simple, you just have to remember to keep turning it over. The leftovers are great with bagels & cream cheese or in an omelet.

                                                                            1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                              Daisy, I second Diane. Gravlax basically makes itself. If you have fish lovers for your feast, it really wows. Just don't tell anyone how ridiculously easy it is! :-)

                                                                              1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                You've both inspired me! I'm going to make it for New Year's Day brunch when we have a lot of people. Thank you...I never even thought of making that myself.

                                                                              2. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                Really dib? I am thinking this is great sub instead of my usual oysters with champagne sabayon sauce. They are jut toooooo hard with a house full of people, crazy. I would love to make gravlax, I can find the recipe but how big of a fish and what cut? Do you use a whole fish?

                                                                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                  I use a side of salmon when I make it.

                                                                                  The last time, I used this recipe and really liked it with the various citrus and cilantro instead of dill. It was a big hit as part of a New Year's Eve buffet.

                                                                                  Three Citrus Gravlax
                                                                                  http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                                    This sounds wonderful, but can you tell me if there is any concern with the salmon being raw? Or does the citrus "cook" it? This may be a ridiculous question, but I just have never done this before and don't want to send anyone to the emergency room!

                                                                                    1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                      Hi DaisyM (glad you liked that cranberry sauce with cherries and marsala BTW!)

                                                                                      The citrus is more for flavor. When I made the recipe above, I actually cured it for 48 hours. It's really the salt that 'cures/cooks' the salmon and releases moisture. The color shouldn't change that much, but you'll notice that the salmon firms up nicely. It's technically salt-cured raw salmon. Maybe someone will have a more detailed answer on how this works. Some safety tips suggest always using salmon that has been frozen (to be sure that potential parasites are killed).

                                                                                      Here's some good info with step-by-step pics:

                                                                                      Cooking for Engineers - Gravlax
                                                                                      http://www.cookingforengineers.com/re...

                                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                                        Thank you so much! I'm inspired!

                                                                                        1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                          I cure mine for 24 hours - some recipes call for a lot more - you can certainly make it ahead, clean off the salt etc., and wrap well in saran wrap - lasts for a good week or so.

                                                                                          This is the recipe that I use -

                                                                                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/40439...

                                                                                    2. re: Rubee

                                                                                      mmmm cilantro sounds really nice. thanks for the tip and the link!

                                                                            2. I made the cranbery chutney with dried cherries and marsala wine this weekend. It was AMAZING. Felt the need to try it out on a round of brie....fantastic at room temperature. It is a keeper. Thank you for suggesting it!

                                                                              1. Vermouth, if they need it ;D

                                                                                1. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without my dad's pickled shrimp. It's a nice twist if you're a little tired of the same old cocktail sauce combo. They go insanely well with a nice cheese platter.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: rdnnyc

                                                                                    Oh thank you for reminding me! I made pickled shrimp a few years ago for the first time and it was such a hit. I have to find the recipe. I can't remember where I got it from. I think it was in a holiday issue of either Gourmet or Food and Wine.

                                                                                    1. re: Densible

                                                                                      If you are looking for a classic pickled shrimp recipe, Frank Stitt's Southern Table or Pat Conroy's Cookbook both have excellent recipes.

                                                                                      Here is my family recipe for something similar. This is called Shrimp Remoulade where I am from – Cajun Country. It is a red vinaigrette as opposed to a mayonnaise base. This dish is divine and flies from the table. It should be made at least one day before, so it is easy to serve on a big food day like Thanksgiving.

                                                                                      It looks beautiful: you can serve it with toothpicks as a stand-around appetizer with cocktails/wine or it also makes a beautiful salad. Arrange some leaves with sliced avocados and cherry tomatoes (I love to use a mixture of butter lettuce and red leaf lettuce with this salad), give everyone 5-8 shrimp and use the marinade as the dressing. You could even go all out and add some fresh lump crabmeat to it as well. Both ways are wonderful.

                                                                                      I call is Candy’s Shrimp Remoulade as my Aunt Candy taught me how to make it.

                                                                                      CANDY’S SHRIMP REMOULADE

                                                                                      2 lbs peeled, cooked shrimp
                                                                                      11/2 cup olive oil
                                                                                      1 cup red wine vinegar
                                                                                      4 T chili sauce
                                                                                      1/2 cup Creole mustard (I life to use a mustard that is NOT smooth; one with peppercorns, for instance)
                                                                                      1 cup chopped celery
                                                                                      1 cup chopped green onions (green and white parts)
                                                                                      2 bay leaves
                                                                                      salt
                                                                                      red pepper
                                                                                      paprika

                                                                                      Mix all ingredients, save shrimp, together to create marinade. Fold in shrimp and let sit over night in the refrigerator.

                                                                                      Be sure to remove it from the fridge an hour or so before serving!

                                                                                  2. How about just oven-roasting some fresh chestnuts. (I got one of those tools for piercing the chestnut to prepare it last year and am anxious to try it out this year, but you could also improvise a good system for prepping them.) Easy, gives the guests something to fiddle with, different, seasonal, and not too rich.

                                                                                    1. Jackp and I will have Thanksgiving dinner with his 89-year-old step-mother. We'll start off the meal with champagne and small bites. For all I know, that's as far as things will go; at 89, she doesn't have much appetite but she does appreciate good champagne.

                                                                                      We'll have a second Thanksgiving on Saturday with my family. No apps and no drinks, darn it. No turkey, either - the hostess has decided that "nobody really likes turkey." Well, Jackp and I do, so we will have half a turkey some day soon.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: jillp

                                                                                        "nobody really likes turkey"?! so sorry. i do too! :)

                                                                                        1. re: AMFM

                                                                                          That just means she makes bad turkey, thus nobody likes it.

                                                                                      2. After years of rejecting "deep-fried turkey" as some sort of "trailerpark food", I finally used the turkey frier that I bought for boiling crawfish and blue crabs, to cook some deep fried turkey (2 turkey breasts and 6 turkey legs). I came to realize that cooking a whole turkey carcass in an oven was totally unsatisfactory. So, I gave the deep fry a try. A thousand times better than any turkey I've ever eaten. Injected cajun marinade, and a cajun dry rub on the outside. Get the oil temperature up, and truly, there is no comparison. I try and serve heavy appetizers like Elgin sausage (Southside Meat Market in Elgin, Texas), home smoked salmon with cream cheese, and an artichoke dip. The less my guests eat of my deep fried turkey, the more for me.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: dhedges53

                                                                                          my brother did it for the first time last year too and also said it was fabulous. i've still never had but i love the other kind - and would probably burn my house down!

                                                                                          1. re: dhedges53

                                                                                            I agree - once we tried the deep-fried turkey, we've never gone back the more traditional. It's always perfectly cooked, stays juicy for days, and every bit of the skin stays crispy. I love that it frees up the oven. The only skeptics I know are the ones who haven't tried it. My mom made a face the first year I said I was doing a deep-fried turkey, but she loved it! I think some think it's either batter and fried like chicken, or greasy. Of course, now everyone who has been over raves about it and would be disappointed if I didn't serve it. The new electric deep-fryers for turkeys are clean and safe, though it limits the size you can cook.

                                                                                          2. Gravlax or smoked salmon with little thin toasts and the traditional garnishes. Keeps it light and entirely different from the Main Event.

                                                                                            1. Cranbury-Brie pizza, pigs in a blanket, stuffed mushrooms, crudite with different dips.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: synergy

                                                                                                The pizza sounds great, but what exactly is it?

                                                                                                1. re: valerie

                                                                                                  It is so easy to make, and my most requested dish to bring as a guest. Pillsbury pizza dough, 1 can of whole cranberries sauce, brie cheese (my supermarket sells rindless brie) and pecans. Roll out the dough in a baking sheet and cook till slightly brown. When cooled, dot the brie cheese all around the dough. Spead the cranberry sauce (remember, buy whole cranberry sauce), around it. Sprinkle pecans all over. Bake till the cheese melts. Simple and delicious!

                                                                                              2. My appetizers while having some drinks, watching football, and waiting for the bird to finish are:

                                                                                                crab dip and crackers
                                                                                                shrimp cocktail
                                                                                                peanuts
                                                                                                chex mix

                                                                                                Drink options:

                                                                                                a selection of beers
                                                                                                red & white wines
                                                                                                and of course a selection of tequilla's

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                                  imho, the turkey is an excuse to eat all the other good food on thanksgiving. e.g., turkey vs. triple creme brie.... no contest! turkey vs. crab dip....no contest. turkey vs. leftover turkey sandwich with mayo, cornbread stuffing and jellied cranberry sauce....priceless!

                                                                                                2. So after all of these great ideas it looks like:
                                                                                                  Brie with that delicious cranberry, cherry, marsala chutney
                                                                                                  smoked salmon made into a spread with chives, dill, cream cheese and capers served on thinly sliced black bread
                                                                                                  AND because my stepdaughers love them...pigs in the blanket
                                                                                                  We're going to have mulled apple cider & sparkling cranberry juice (Trader Joe's)

                                                                                                  1. Had to chime in at the last minute as the menu was completed yesterday. We are going for some new and different things -

                                                                                                    Baked Crab Rangoons - wonton wrappers filled with crab/cream cheese mix and baked
                                                                                                    Blue Cheese and Carmelized Onion Squares - pastry topped with the two ingredients
                                                                                                    Candy's Shrimp Remoulade which I'm stealing from Tom P on this post. Thanks Tom!!!

                                                                                                    No crudites, no chips, no dips - how did I manage to convince them?????

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: AlaskaChick

                                                                                                      Hey AlaskaChick! When you get a chance, can you post the spec.s of your baked crab rangoon? Thanks so much! Happy Thanksgiving!

                                                                                                      1. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                                                        Here's the link to the recipe on the kraft site - it was originally in one of those newspaper inserts my mom found

                                                                                                        Sweetie cracked dungeness last nite and they are about to be created. I'll let you know how they turn out.

                                                                                                        http://www.kraftfoods.com/kf/recipes/...