Topic of Conversation

The Starting Line Up

Whether you’re a guest or host, these simple appetizer recipes can be made well before the Thanksgiving festivities giving you time to enjoy your holiday company instead of fussing in the kitchen.

Cheese Ball Courtesy of Martha Stewart


1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 2 ½ cups) 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce Ground pepper 1 cup finely chopped pecans


In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese with cheddar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and a generous pinch of pepper until well combined. Mix in ¼ cup pecans. Cover cheese mixture with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 ½ hours or up to overnight.

Before serving, divide cheese mixture in half and shape each half into a ball. Spread remaining ¾ cup pecans on a plate and roll balls in pecans to coat completely, pressing nuts to adhere. Serve chilled with raw vegetables and crisp crackers.


Cannellini Bean, Scallion and Prosciutto Dip – Courtesy of Real Simple


1 19-ounce can cannellini beans 3 scallions (white and light green parts) 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice ¼ teaspoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon pepper 2 ounces prosciutto 1 small garlic clove, finely grated 1 medium baguette, cut into rounds


In a medium bowl, combine the means, scallions, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Fold the prosciutto into the bean mixture. Refrigerate for up to a day.  Add in the garlic just before serving. Display the bean dip with the sliced baguette.


Spinach Artichoke Dip – Courtesy of


2 cups parmesan cheese 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped 2/3 cup sour cream 1 cup cream cheese 1/3 cup mayonnaise 2 teaspoons garlic, minced


Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a square baking dish. In a large bowl, mix together parmesan cheese, spinach and artichoke hearts. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese and mayonnaise until well mixed. Add cheese mixture to spinach mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes and serve with crackers, toasted bread or raw vegetables.

If making ahead, refrigerate the spinach and cheese mixture and increase baking time.


Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Tart Courtesy of Country Living


3 cups (about 10 ounces) grated Gruyere cheese 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano ¾ teaspoon fresh ground pepper 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 large (2 cups) sweet yellow onions, sliced ¼ inch thick 2 tablespoons fresh thyme 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator ½ cup sliced kalmata olives


Heat oven to 400F. Mix Gruyere, cream cheese, mustard, oregano and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a large skillet, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat until dark brown and caramelized—about an hour. Stir in the thyme and set aside.

With a sharp knife, cut the puff pastry dough into 8 equal sized pieces. Roll each piece out to an 8-inch by 6-inch rectangle. Spread about ¼ cup of the cheese mixture on the dough, leaving a ½-inch border all the way around. Top with ¼ cup of the caramelized onions and 1 tablespoon of the olives.

Bake tarts on parchment-lined baking pans for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375F and bake until puffed and golden – about 12 more minutes.

If making ahead, place uncooked tarts on parchment-lined baking pans and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze until solid, about two hours. Wrap each frozen tart securely in aluminum foil and stack in airtight container. Store frozen for up to two months. To serve, bake frozen tarts at 400F for 12 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375F and bake until puffed and golden—about 15 more minutes.