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Appetizer for (Canadian) Thanksgiving?

I'm hosting some family for Thanksgiving on Sunday night. I'm doing a fairly traditional turkey and sides - mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, glazed carrots, a yam and spinach gratin, cranberries, stuffing, gravy. I'm also serving a squash and apple soup to start, and lots of desserts.
I'd like to have an appetizer out for people to nibble at for an hour or so before dinner, and I just can't decide what to do - help! I'd like something not too rich to compete with the big meal, and not plated.
Any suggestions / favourites?

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  1. Frankly, though it's hackneyed, I'd suggest a crudite tray with a ranch-dressing type dip.
    And/or some seasoned popcorn/poppycock. I assume, since it's family, that there will be some kids, for whom familiar finger foods would be best. And with a big meal you don't want your apps to be so irresistible that everyone's full before the first course. You can always use the uneaten veggies later.

    1. I agree with greygarious. In this case, less is more. I usually do cheese straws with sliced apples and pears and a poppy seed dip.

      1. I am going to make cheese straws for my Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps some seasoned almonds or toasted walnuts. I like the crudite idea.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sarah galvin

          Do you have a good recipe for cheese straws you could share?

        2. You really don't want a lot of appetizers. At our house we don't even bother because everyone is here for the whole weekend and no one goes 20 minutes without snacking on something. BUT if I were to make anything, I think it would likely be just some maple glazed nuts. Start with a mixture of nuts - almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, whatever you like - and drizzle with equal amounts of maple syrup and olive oil. You just want it moistened, not drenched. Sprinkle with some kosher salt and spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast at 325 just until glazed, mixing once in a while. This shouldn't take very long, but it's been a while since I've made it so I don't have exact details.

          Addictive and a good way to start Thanksgiving.

          1. My mom always puts out a bowl of in-shell nuts and a couple of crackers. This keeps people busy, and it's hard to stuff yourself when you have to crack each nut yourself.

            We also get the cranberry goat cheese from Trader Joe's, but I don't know if they have that in Canada.

            1 Reply
            1. We always have a relish tray. Olives, pickles (sweet gherkins) celery sticks & carrot sticks. Deviled eggs. Just a little bit of protein or a munchie that won't take up too much space, but provide a little nibble & a little protein if needed.

              1. Thank you all for your excellent suggestions! I think I will follow your advice and have not so much of an appetizer as a few munchies put out. I love the idea of cheese straws, as well as the spiced nuts or seasoned poppycock. Love the maple nuts too. And ooooh, devilled eggs... perhaps I'll have those available for brunch.
                The cranberry goat cheese sounds fabulous - we don't have Trader Joes in Canada, but I do have an excellent cheese store that may carry something like this. Very festive sounding, and I may add that to my cheese tray that I'm serving much later in the evening (we do games after dinner and usually have a midnight snack).
                Thanks to all for helping out and jogging my brain in the right direction.

                4 Replies
                1. re: MrsCris

                  I saw cranberry goat cheese at Costco here in Calgary on Monday - I'm willing to bet the Edmonton Costcos have it too.

                  1. re: maplesugar

                    You want a real French Canadian appetizer, make little Phyllo cup sized Tortiere pies. Tourtiere is a classic French Canadian meat pie usually the meat is mixed with potatoes. Or you could put the cooked tortiere mixture in puff pastry squares like mini pasties.

                    1. re: KiltedCook

                      Thanks, o kilted one. Tourtiere is the centrepiece of our traditional New Year's Eve buffet. I like the idea of the putting it in phyllo cups - that would be fun. I'll keep that in mind.
                      I think it's likely too rich and filling for a Turkey dinner appetizer, but thanks for the suggestion!

                      1. re: MrsCris

                        I agree, Tourtiere is heavy... but I like KiltedCook's idea of phyllo, maybe a beggar's purse with roasted veggie and goat cheese? (says she who has phyllo in the freezer taking up valuable real estate)

                        I was also pouring over last season's Cooking Light and I'm also thinking of either a pimento cheese spread or smoked salmon... I should make some decisions but quick :)

                2. Cold shrimp and crudites with dip. Smoked salmon, capers, lemon, cracker platter. Also love the idea of the relish platter mentioned above.