Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Treats

It's Thanksgiving week at Mystery Lovers Kitchen!

Welcome into "our" house.

Today, I'm sharing...


What's not to like about appetizers? For a Thanksgiving feast, you've got to have
a lot of them, right? You've got family and/or friends...or just
yourself...milling about.

You must eat. And enjoy!

I remember Thanksgivings where all I ate were appetizers. I adore turkey, but by the time the meal came around, I'd had so many delicious treats before, I couldn't even consider a taste of turkey (my favorite) and mashed potatoes (my second favorite) and cranberry sauce (okay, this might be my first favorite) and pumpkin pie (all right, truth? I never pass up pumpkin pie)...but you know what I mean.

Appetizers. You've got to have good, great, tasty appetizers. They set the mood. They let the
family and friends mingle. They stir the palate.

Yes, of course, a cheese platter is always a wonderful appetizer.

But here are a couple of appetizers that are just downright tasty!

And easy.

Easy is important!!!



12 thin (but not too thin) pancetta slices

12 arugula leaves

12 slices fresh goat cheese

3-4 teaspoons peach preserves

4 figs, sliced thinly


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place pancetta in single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. [Can be put on foil.]

Bake until crisps, 12-15 minutes. [*A thicker piece of pancetta will take longer to cook and not be as brittle. I recommend.]

Cool pancetta and transfer to a platter.

Top each pancetta with 1 arugula leaf, 1 slice of goat cheese, ¼ teaspoon of jam, and 1 small slice of fig.

If desired, sprinkle with ground pepper.



1 cup artichoke hearts (canned, in water)

½ cup basil leaves, diced

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

16-18 green pimento-stuffed olives (diced)

1 5.2-ounce garlic-herb cheese (like Boursin)

Crusty breads, crackers, breadsticks


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Chop artichoke hearts, basil, and olives. Pour into mixing bowl. Add cheeses. Stir well.

Pour mixture into 4-cup baking dish.

Bake about 15 minutes.

Garnish with diced basil.

Serve with breads and crackers.


... for my gluten-free friends, I wanted to share a gluten-free stuffing recipe. That's right, stuffing! Made with GF bread. It's so delicious and so easy, it's scary. This was inspired by a new Twitter friend @glutenfreegirl. She has an ongoing romance with a chef and they put together a little video on stuffing. I tweaked their recipe to make it my own.

Most importantly, start with a really good gluten-free bread. Don't skimp. It can be homemade or store-bought, but make sure it's a bread you normally like. [I start with mine frozen so it won't absorb too much moisture too quickly.]



12 slices gluten-free bread

2 cups GF broth

1 cup chopped celery

¼ cup chopped water chestnuts

½ cup chopped yellow onion

4 tablespoons butter

3 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

1 egg plus enough water to equal ½ cup liquid

Parsley flakes

[If desired, 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese]


Set oven to 300 degrees.

In a saucepan, combine butter, broth, celery, onion, chestnuts, and spices. Bring to boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

In a bowl, combine egg and water.

Slice bread into thick cubes. (I like to use frozen bread so it won’t absorb the moisture too fast.)

Put the bread into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Pour the egg/water combination over the bread. Pour the hot broth combination over the bread. DO NOT STIR YET.

Bake in oven 30 minutes. If desired, broil the stuffing for about 5 minutes until crisp brown.

Remove from oven and stir, chopping up the bread to moisten entirely. [If you do not like your stuffing so moist, do not chop and stir. Simply serve...]

Garnish with parsley flakes and serve.

If desired, this may be served with shredded Parmesan cheese.



Remember to enter Krista's Christmas Cookie Contest!

Krista's Christmas
Cookie Contest!

Krista Davis is celebrating the upcoming release
of her new holiday mystery, The Diva Cooks a Goose.

She's holding a delicious contest! Send Krista your favorite cookie recipe
at Krista at KristaDavis dot com and you might win!
Find out more by
clicking here


Finally...if you'd like to know more about A Cheese Shop Mystery series and want to download a few other recipes from me (on recipe cards), click on this link to my website: Avery Aames. I've posted recipes in the "morsels" section. There's lots of other fun stuff, as well. And sign up for the mailing list to get in on the next contest...coming soon.


  1. I'm so glad you've covered appetizers, Avery! I needed some fresh ideas, since I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year. :) Except that, especially looking at that delicious-looking artichoke-olive dip, I don't know if I can wait that long! Thanks also for sharing your Gluten-free stuffing...sounds amazing!

  2. Food to eat before the turkey is served...

    I am being haunted from my childhood, my hands are still sore from being whacked with that kitchen spoon.

    Always a cheese and cracker tray.

    But that olive dip does look amazing!

  3. You forgot the sage! It can't be dressing without sage!!! My family's favorite appetizer is black olives, plain, and a LOT of them. Last TG, my oldest granddaughter came up to me with 10 black olives, one on the tip of each finger! That's my girl! Nurse JudyMac

  4. Excellent, Avery - thank you! I am always on the lookout for new appetizer recipes. We adore appetizers here and sometimes make them just to have as snacks around the house. These are wonderful. Thank you!

    NurseJudy - when I was a kid I always popped the black olives on my fingers too. Unfortunately - and to the great embarrassment of my kids and husband - I still do

  5. Okay, Judy and Julie, I have to admit, I still like to put olives on my fingertips, too. Did anyone's mom make them an olive and mayonnaise sandwich?

    And sage in the dressing. Hmmm. I'll have to try that.


  6. Dave - you got your fingers whacked? For sneaking a bite? Ouch! How many times until lesson learned, I wonder.


  7. Elizabeth, I do know there are times I can fill up on appetizers. The aromas of Thanksgiving are so incredible that the taste buds just gear up early. And there's chatter, and activity, and well, I've just go to eat. The Pancetta and Figs and goat cheese was an incredible combo. Sweet, salty, spicy. Incredible. (If I do say so myself.)


  8. Yummy as always! The gluten free stuffing is a terrific idea. MJ

  9. I'm definitely going to make the artichoke dip you posted. Sounds wonderful, and like one of your other readers said, I'm not sure I can wait a week to try it! Thanks!

  10. Beth, it really is yummy. Because there were only four of us eating the appetizers, I had leftovers, so I spread the artichoke dip on toast the next day and grilled it open-faced. Oh, wow! A perfect lunch.


  11. Oh, darn it, Avery. It's now lunchtime here in NYC and your post has made me crazy-hungry for all of your delicious fare. I'm with Beth! Artichoke dip is a must-make! And the pancetta with goat cheese and peach preserves...oooooh, yum. Also love, love, love your photos of the fresh figs, one of my all-time faves, too. I better stop now or you'll be seeing me at your front door with an empty plate in my hands. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!

    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  12. All delicious .... I'm definitely going to try the pancetta and goat cheese yummy thing!

  13. Well now I know why I waited till now to take a look. I would have been starving. I love all the recipes Avery, I am going to have to try them all.

  14. Avery, these would be wonderful for a holiday party, too!

    ~ Krista

  15. These are absolutely lovely appetizer, Avery! The combo of flavors must be incredible...I'll look for figs at our grocery though I don't recall seeing them there before...makes me miss our San Diego days where they were plentiful. Wishing you and yours a great Thanksgiving!!!

  16. Count me in as another cheese & apps lover! Avery, these are fabulous!

    And olive sandwiches, oh yes! I've got hubby hooked and he loves to put olives on almost any kind of sandwich now! you mean I didn't invent them when I was 4 or 5? Along with the pickle and potato chip sandwich with mayo on toast? ;o)

  17. Hannah, yes, the pancetta is a winner. I'm serving it again and again.

    Babs, LOL. Waiting to read the blog until dinner time was definitely a smart idea.

    Krista, they're wonderful for any party. An after writing 10 pages party. An end of the tough day party. A pity party!

    Booklover "Nanc" ~ If you can't find figs, try another soft fruit. Possibly pears, which are in season! Enjoy!

    Good eating to all.


  18. Booklover, if you can't find figs, I've made a similar app using pears instead. Equally wonderful!