Foodie Friday: Appetizer Bonanza

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I love traditions. That comfortable feeling that comes from doing the same fun thing once a year (or more) with your friends and family. There is something to be said for being able to know what to expect. With all the holidays during this time it ends up being chalked full of traditions.

Having just proclaimed my joy for the routine, I have realized with adulthood just how much life can change from year to year. This Christmas was one of those times when it felt like everything was different. Yes, I was able to see most of my family, but very few of the usual components made an appearance.

This lead my mom and I to question even the simple, like what should be served for Christmas dinner. My mom threw out the idea of keeping it light and only doing finger food and I got excited. Maybe too excited. I busted out our ridiculously well organized pinterest board and drooled over all the appetizers. My mother then indulged me and we made eight different appetizers for five people. It seriously felt like one of my Christmas gifts was just the opportunity to get to try out that many new recipes. And I was super bossy about it too. I quickly snapped a picture of each food before I would let people try it. Then I made my family go around and critique the food. All in the name of blogging! Everyone happily put up with it and gave me plenty of feed back.

Basically what I’m getting at is we cannot always have exactly what we want the way it was in years past. I struggled a bit this year with a loss of so many my comfortable traditions. Difficult life events like deaths in the family and divorce changed that. But as cheesy as it sounds, if you get to be with those people that make you laugh and patiently put up with your idiosyncrasies, it all works out.

Onto the good stuff: appetizers!

My brother and cousin are both self proclaimed “picky eaters”. While my aunt and mom are expert cooks in the kitchen. This was helpful in that we had a wide range of flavor palettes and opinions. My raters used a 5 star rating system and added helpful critiques to improve these dishes for future use. I’m not sure in the end how useful the rating system was as the scales were often tipped if one person did not like a type of food in the dish. Nonetheless, I figured out the average for each dish.

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Baked Zucchini Fries with Marinara by Une-deux Senses

Rating: 3.75

Overall this was a hit. Both my brother and cousin said they really liked this dish, even though they tend to not care for zucchini. I would only make this appetizer if you are able to immediately serve it to your guest. You can do all the prep work ahead of time, but it is best if you can pop them in the oven right before guests show up.

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Sweet Potato Pecan Goat Cheese Bites by Spoon Fork Bacon

Rating: 3.5

The picky eaters were not that keen on this one, but my mom, aunt and I loved it. This is the appetizer to make if you want to make one appetizer to impress your guests. It is full of winter flavor and sets the tone for a fancy meal. We had a lot of leftover filling and mixed it with scrambled eggs the next day. A-Mazing.

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Apple and Smoked Mozzarella Mini Calzones by Sprouted Kitchen

Rating: 4.5

This was the overall “winner” of the night. It was that great combo of essentially a mini pizza (always a crowd pleaser) dolled up with some fancy pants ingredients. This would be perfect for a Super Bowl Sunday Party. In fact when I make this dish again, I think I will make a couple of different filling combos to add variety. It is a bit of work, but once you start, it is easy to change up the fillings.

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Balsamic and Thyme Roasted Portabella

Rating: 2

This one was not a favorite. We add two raters that wouldn’t even try it. One problem there was no cheese or carbs involved. I did not realize how important a component that is to appetizers. This was one of our healthy treats, but the flavor combo was off and as my mother pointed out repeatedly, I make a better one with cheese. The potential is there people, just needs to be adjusted.

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Pasta Salad Skewers

Rating: 3.25

This was my favorite of the night. It did not get a higher rating because my brother does not like most vegetables and my cousin wanted more cheese. While I liked it the way it was, the critique that a dish needs more cheese always has merit. Little mozzarella balls could have been a nice addition. As far as presentation goes this was obviously the best. If you are thinking about bringing pasta salad to your next potluck, consider this choice instead. You will do the same amount of work and look that much cooler. The recipe calls for Italian dressing, but we used a champagne dressing. A classic balsamic vinegar would be tasty too. Play around with it and find your favorite.

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Blooming Onion Bread

Rating: 4

We almost did not make this dish because, well, we already had a lot of cheese and carbs. But, it looked so easy (which it is!) and I had seen so many variations on it I was curious. The verdict was that it was awesome, but that fancier cheese should be used on future occasions. This is also great to add if you have a variety of dips floating about a party as I’m sure your guests won’t mind combining them with a little cheesy bread.

We also made these Guilt-Free Pizza Bites (Cauliflower Bites). They were a disaster. They did not cook right, they looked gross (hence no photos), but everyone still wanted to try them. In the end no one liked them. There was all this talk that the seasoning was off, but then we realized that it was just too cauliflower-y for any ones taste. That’s what you get for trying to sneak in a healthy dish. Oh well.

 

 

 

 

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