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Thanksgiving appetizers?

I'm planning our Thanksgiving feast and I'm trying to come up with some new ideas for appetizers. Since my husband and our guests (our best friends, with whom we've spent the last 4 Thanksgivings) will not allow me to deviate from their menu of favorites for the main meal, I only really get to flex my creative muscle with appetizers, unless I want to add extra meal dishes (which we most DEFINITELY do not need, LOL). I'm thinking about a riff on St. Louis style toasted ravioli (my husband is from STL) by using a butternut squash and leek filling, then topping with goat cheese or fresh ricotta. Would love other ideas though - what are your favorites?

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  1. I think the idea is lovely and sounds very good - as long as it's the only butternut squash you serve (I just mean, check not to double up).
    You could flex some unusual muscle and make roasted-beet borsch shooters.
    Delicious and simple; dried apricots with goat cheese and toasted nuts
    tiny savory pumpkin cheesecakes (like mini-mini sized) with rosemary and fennel seeds
    herbed breadsticks wrapped in proscuitto; lemon zest
    you could also deconstruct your idea by making the filling for the St. L raviolis out of goat cheese and ricotta and egg, and serving them with a pumpkin marinara dip or a "melted" leek vinaigrette....
    recipes available if you'd like any of them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      Nope, no doubling up - I love butternut squash but the one time I tried to introduce a main meal dish with it it was enjoyed but vetoed for a repeat (except for the uninvited vegetarian that year, who would have starved without it). I like the idea of making a dip for the ravioli as well, but I wanted to avoid putting the cheese in the filling simply because my husband doesn't like goat cheese and one of the other guests doesn't care for cheese in general (silly man!). Maybe the leek sauce and do half the ravioli with cheese and half without.

      The beet shooters sound terrific and the mini-pumpkin cheesecakes sound good as well - my husband loves sweet pumpkin cheesecake so a savory one should go over well. Hm, decisions decisions!

      1. re: biondanonima

        Just butting in with the thought that you should try butterCup squash instead of butternut. I find butternut to be too watery and sometimes tasteless. When you are looking for butterCup type squash, look for a label that sounds oriental. ButterCup is drier and tastier. It looks like a dark green flattened pumpkin.

        I'm just learning to like goat cheese. Made some savory cherry tomato jam that friends loved. The jam would also be good on cream cheese. Still experimenting with other uses for it. The recipes I tried just made a small amount. I think they were on White on Rice's blog.

    2. Here are previous threads: http://www.chow.com/search?query=%22t...

      I think the reason that crudites with dip are so often served before the T'day and Xmas meals is that they take a while to consume and are not highly filling. Cheesy, high-calorie hors d'oeuvres spoil guests' appetites.

      1 Reply
      1. re: greygarious

        Thanks for that - I should have used the search, but hey, 'tis the season for new Thanksgiving threads, right? Anyway, I hear you about crudites but when I have served them to this crowd before they just sit. We also make Thanksgiving an all day event, so "appetizers" really means "little things that sit out all day for pre-, during- and post-dinner noshing."

        That said, something lighter, cheese-free and vegetable based might not be a bad idea! :)

      2. You and I are on the same wavelength. I've been testing out ideas/recipes for Thanksgiving apps, and one that sticks out as a winner so far is goat cheese-stuffed dates, wrapped in prosciutto and baked (or fried, although that just seems indulgent), per an idea I read from another CHer recently. I am figuring on two per person.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chevrelove

          I made these for a party recently (but stuffed with fontina instead of goat) and they were a hit. I've never fried them - just warming them through in the oven works for me. So delicious.

        2. on the crudite front, perhaps some stuffed endive leaves... plenty of room for a variety of creations and not too heavy.

          you could do parmesan frico bites and top each with a dollop of dressed salad (caesar or otherwise)

          instead of tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and balsamic/olive oil skewers, you could do roasted root veggie skewers with or without gruyere cubes and sage leaves

          roasted chickpeas could be done in several flavor combos

          1. Last year I did pear, caramelized onion and blue cheese filo cigars. They were so delicious. My mother always does stuffed mushrooms, which allow you to riff on the basic recipe with creative variations.

            5 Replies
            1. re: katecm

              Mmm, the cigars sound marvelous - I will keep that idea in mind. A last-minute guest brought stuffed mushrooms last year and they weren't very well received, although it could have been because they just weren't all that good, LOL.

              Considering the tastes of my guests, I'm actually thinking of just doing the ravioli and then making a little roasted tomato bruschetta topping - tomatoes aren't Thanksgiving-y to me but one guest is so picky that all he really eats is bread, turkey and pie - at least the bruschetta would give him something interesting to put on his bread (unfortunately, all of the other interesting things I like to put on bread are on his do-not-eat list). Not that he needs it - he claims that turkey, bread and pie are all he really wants anyway!

              1. re: katecm

                oh yum - those sound so different - would you share the recipe you used please? Did you find them difficult to make using the filo dough? woud you think the flavor profile would still be tasty with goat or something a little less biting than blue?

                1. re: smilingal

                  I just caramelized onions, then once they were pretty much done, threw in some diced, peeled pears, and sauteed them about two minutes. I seasoned with salt and pepper, a splash of balsamic, and then crumbled in the blue cheese to taste. I think goat would be just as good in this if you wanted to go that route. I think what is important is that it be creamy enough to act as a bit of a binder.

                  Then, I just laid out the filo one sheet at a time, laid a strip of the filling out, folded the ends in and rolled. They can be made ahead and frozen, then just bake in the oven with a brush of melted butter when you're ready.

                  1. re: katecm

                    Love it - so easy, and make ahead. Could almost be used as a dessert as well if you cut the onions and added a bit of sugar or honey - kind of a cheese and fruit baklava.

                    1. re: katecm

                      thanks - definitely going to make this one day soon - good with drinks around the fire - which, with our weather in NY, is getting ready to happen soon! hnnn - wonder if some nuts wouldn't also be good in the mixture?