Appetizers for Any Gathering

Thanksgiving is over and the holiday season has begun.  You may be like me, you get invited to a few parties and host your own parties or holiday gatherings at your house. I host Thanksgiving and Christmas at my house along with a few other get togethers thrown in…just because!

Appetizers are my favorite part of any gathering.  In fact, I like to host just cocktail/appetizer/pickings parties.  Last Christmas, I hosted…again, and I decided that only appetizers would be served.  Nothing that required a fork and/or knife.  I even used paper plates…say it ain’t so!!!  Oh my goodness, did I just put ain’t down in writing?!  I never say that non-word, let alone write it!  My kids would be shocked!  But they won’t read this!

Anyway, here are a few very easy appetizers to help you make your gatherings easy and yummy!  And here is the video of What’s Linda Cooking for ORCTV.  The staff loved all the appetizers and they were gone…very quickly!  Enjoy!

What’s Linda Cooking Easy Appetizers for ORCTV

Debbie’s Cheese Ball

1/4 lb Smoked ham
8 ounces Cream cheese
3 Green onions, chopped
Chopped pecans
Chop ham, green onions and mix with cream cheese.  Make into balls with scoop. Roll in chopped pecans.  Refrigerate until serving.

Herb & Parmesan Pinwheels

1 roll Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls
1 (8 ounce) container whipped cream cheese
1⁄3 cup  fresh parmesan cheese, shredded
4 teaspoons fresh rosemary sprigs 
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375°F
Do not separate dough into triangles. Gently press or roll seams to seal, but do not flatten.
In small bowl, mix cream cheese, parmesan cheese, and rosemary.
Spread mixture over dough.
Roll up dough from the long side. Slice into 1/2 inch rolls.
Please pinwheels flat onto cookie sheet or baking stone.
Bake 12 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm.

Stuffed Mushrooms

8 ounces mushrooms
2 pieces bread
1/2 small onion
2 garlic cloves
Butter
Parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning
Parsley
Salt & pepper
Take stems out of mushrooms.  Chop mushroom stems and onions.  Sauté until soft with minced garlic and butter.  Add bread crumbs, Italian seasoning and parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
Arrange mushroom caps on baking sheet.  With small scoop, fill mushroom caps with bread crumb mixture.
Bake at about 400 for about 15-20 minutes.

It’s All About the Sides

I don’t know about you but the side dishes for many holiday or everyday dinners are my favorites. There is nothing like homemade apples sauce, broccoli au gratin, mashed potato casserole (just one of my favorites), homemade cranberry sauce and so much more.  When eating my  holiday diner, I have very little of the “main” dish meat on my plate but a lot of the sides. Frequently, I put a little bit of every side on my plate and then go in for seconds of my favorites.  We have some tried and true sides that we always must have for our holidays.  It seems mashed potatoes (I think there would be a revolt if we did not serve some sort of potato), always make an appearance at holidays but also many times at our family dinner table.  But, why not have some of these special sides for your everyday dinners? Isn’t every night/day you sit down to a meal with your family special?  No matter how many times I serve roasted pork, homemade apples sauce is always a favorite accompaniment.  And don’t even think about jarred aka non-homemade apple sauce!!  It just does not compare.

This month at the Council on Aging, I concentrated on side dishes.  With the upcoming holidays, I thought it would be a welcomed segment.  So, I hope you enjoy these side dishes.  I know my family will this Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Here is the link to the What’s Linda Cooking episode.  I hope enjoy watching it as much as I did filming it and the seniors had enjoying this feast!!!  YUM!!!

Mashed Potato Casserole
6 large all purpose potatoes
1 small onion chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup or so of chicken stock
1/4 cup or so of butter
salt to taste
4 ounces of shredded Mozzarella cheese or cheddar cheese
Place peeled and cubed potatoes into a large pot with water to cover.  Add salt.  Boil until tender.  Drain.
Meanwhile, sauté onion in butter or olive oil. When onion is almost done, add minced garlic.  Sauté for another minute.  Add to potatoes and mash.  Add chicken stock, butter and shredded cheese.
Put into a large baking dish.  If desired, add more cheese on top or buttered bread crumbs.  Bake at 400 for about 20 -30 minutes.
Broccoli & Cheese Casserole
20 ounces broccoli florets (can be frozen)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 butter
3/4 cups milk
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 sleeve Ritz type crackers
¼ cup butter, melted
Steam broccoli until just tender.  Put into a large baking dish.
In a sauce pan, add butter until melted.  Add  flour and cook for about 1 minute.  Slowly add about 1 cup of milk,  whisking to incorporate.  It will thicken.  If too thick, add a little more milk.  Take off the heat and add about half the shredded cheese.  Stir until melted.  Add cheese sauce to broccoli and mix until broccoli is coated.
Melt about 1/4 cup of butter.  Mix with a sleeve of crushed Ritz type crackers.  Top broccoli with the cracker mixer and remaining cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Apple Sauce
About 4 lbs Tart apples
1/4 cup sugar or to taste
1 lemon juiced
Cinnamon, to taste (optional)
1/2 cup or so of Water
Peel, core and dice apples and add to a large sauce pan.  Add a little bit of water, lemon juice and sugar..  Cook for about 20 minutes until apples are soft.  Mash to desired consistency.  Add cinnamon to taste.