Simple Thanksgiving Appetizers

Cranberry Brie PuffsI may love to experiment with dinners all year round, but there are a few special meals where I am loathe to stray from my tried and true favorites and Thanksgiving dinner is one of them. That’s right, I am a traditionalist when it comes to the main event–I like my mashed potatoes creamy, my turkey roasted, and my vegetables simply prepared. But I still love to play with the appetizers and this year is no exception. This year I am sharing two simple Thanksgiving appetizers that are simple to prepare (ready in 30 minutes) and a little different from the standard options: Creamy Indian-Spiced Spinach Dip and Cranberry & Brie Puffs (plus these would be great for any holiday party this season).

Watch me make them on Facebook Live!

Creamy Indian-Spiced Spinach DipCreamy Indian-Spiced Spinach Dip

Prep Time: 5 minutes, Cook Time: 15 minutes, Makes 6 servings

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

¼ yellow onion, finely diced, about ½ cup

1 clove garlic, minced

½ tsp. sweet paprika

½ tsp. garam masala

10 oz. frozen chopped spinach

4 oz. Neufchatel cheese or low fat cream cheese

½ cup plain low fat yogurt (or use any variety) or sour cream

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven broiler and set one of the oven racks about 4 inches below the heat source.

In an oven safe, medium-sized skillet, heat the oil over a medium high heat until shimmering, but not smoking. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, and garam masala and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the spinach and cook until the water evaporates, about 3 minutes.

Add the Neufchatel or cream cheese, yogurt, and Parmesan cheese and stir until all the cheeses have melted and everything is well combined, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle the top with the mozzarella and put under the broiler for 3 – 4 minutes, or until the cheese on top is bubbling and starting to brown. Serve with sliced fresh vegetables, sliced bread, crackers, or tortilla chips either warm or at room temperature.

Do Ahead and Delegate: Chop the onion, shred the cheese(s) if necessary and refrigerate, prepare the dip up until the baking step and refrigerate (if you do this, take the dip out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to allow it to come to room temperature), or fully prepare and refrigerate the dish.

Scramble Flavor Booster: Double the garam masala or add a sprinkle of cayenne.

Tip: Garam masala is a blend of spices often used in Indian cuisine. While different brands may vary a bit, it’s typically a combination of coriander, cloves, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (% based upon daily values): Calories 136, Total Fat: 9g, 14%; Saturated Fat: 4g, 22%; Cholesterol: 22mg, 7%; Sodium: 279mg, 12%; Total Carbohydrate: 6g, 2%; Dietary Fiber: 1g, 5%; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 8g

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Cranberry Brie PuffsCranberry & Brie Puffs

Defrost Time for the Pastry Dough: 20 minutes, Prep Time: 10 minutes, Cook Time: 15 minutes, Makes 12 servings, Servings size 2 puffs

2 sheets puff pastry dough

6 oz. brie cheese

¼ cup cranberry sauce

1 egg

Remove the puff pastry dough from the freezer and allow it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray.

Lightly flour your kitchen counter and unroll one of the sheets of the puff pastry dough. If the dough breaks into three pieces where it was folded, that is fine. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the dough so that it is slightly thinner than when you removed it from the package, about 1/16 of an inch thick. If the dough did not split in three, cut it into thirds, cross-wise.

Slice the brie into 24 1-inch by ½-inch pieces. Place four pieces, evenly spaced out, along each section of the dough. Top each piece of brie with ½ tsp. cranberry sauce. Fold the dough over and, using your finger, push down in between each mound so that you have pockets of filling surrounded by pastry dough. Slice the mounds apart (so there are 4 pieces from each section) and move to the baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining sheets of pastry dough.

In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1 Tbsp. of water and then use a pastry brush to brush each pastry pocket lightly with the egg wash.

Bake for 15 – 17 minutes, or until the puffs are golden on top. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Do Ahead and Delegate: Slice and refrigerate the cheese or fully prepare and refrigerate the puffs.

Scramble Flavor Booster: Add a sprig of thyme or rosemary to each pocket.

Tip: Need to cut a soft cheese? Freeze it for 20 minutes ahead of prep to make it easier to cut.

Nutritional Information per serving (% based upon daily values):
Calories 164, Total Fat 6g, 8%, Saturated Fat 3g, 14%, Cholesterol 28mg, 9%, Sodium 329mg, 13%, Total Carbohydrate 21g, 7%, Fiber 1g, 4%, Sugar 3g, Protein 7g


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