Wednesday, July 9

Appetizers for Easy Entertaining

We're having Party Week here at Natural Nester! I love organizing and hosting events at my home and couldn't wait to share some yummy recipes with you! Plus, I had so many people at the party requesting the recipes, I thought it was easier to share them all in one place. :) Unfortunately, I didn't think to get close up photos of the food, but as a reminder, this was the appetizer buffet!

Lemon-Dill Cucumbers
I saw a recipe on Pinterest that said to top cucumbers with store bought French Onion dip. That was my plan until I read an email from our local farmers' market, with a recipe for Cucumber and Dill finger sandwiches. I loved the basic idea and I came up with this recipe as a result of that inspiration.
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1-2 tsp. dried dill weed (or 2 Tbsp. fresh dill)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix cream cheese and sour cream together in mixing bowl until smooth. Add lemon juice and zest and dill weed and mix to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate overnight. To serve, spoon a dollop of lemon-dill cream on top of sliced cucumbers. Serve cold.

Marinated Cheese
I found the original recipe in a Taste of Home cookbook, but it called for cream cheese and was far more complicated. I could not find white cheddar cheese like the recipe specified, so I used 8 oz. blocks of mozzarella cut into cubes. I made a few other adaptations to simplify the process and this is the result.

16 oz. mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbsp. chopped green onions
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Cut cheese into small cubes (mine were between 1/4 and 1/2 inch.) In a gallon size zipper storage bag, combine remaining ingredients. Close bag and turn to mix marinade. Add cheese cubes, seal bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate overnight, turning at least once. When it's time to serve, drain marinade and serve cold, with crackers or bread cubes.

Ranch Mushrooms
These were a HUGE hit at the party! I plan to make them again to serve over grilled chicken. I originally saw the idea on Pinterest, but chose to use my own dry ranch dressing mix*, instead of store-bought.

1-1/2 tsp dried chives
1-1/2 tsp dried parsley
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried dill weed
3/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup butter, melted
24 oz. fresh cremini mushrooms (choose small bite-size mushrooms or cut larger mushrooms in half)

Mix first seven ingredients with the melted butter. Clean mushrooms and place in slowcooker. Pour butter and herb mixture over mushrooms and stir to coat. Cook on low for 3 hours. Serve hot.

*To use as ranch dressing, mix the dry seasonings into 2 cups sour cream. Chill overnight. To make salad dressing, thin with a bit of water or milk or use as-is for a vegetable dip.

Caprese Bites
These were perfect, fresh little bites. The basil was fresh from my garden and delicious!

Cherry or grape tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
Fresh basil

Layer a basil leaf, cherry tomato and fresh mozzarella cube onto a toothpick. Chill until ready to serve. You may sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, if desired. (We left this off for the party.)

Glazed Kielbasa Bites
You can find the recipe HERE at Real Housemoms. They were a big hit and I plan to make these for football watching parties in the fall! They had just a hint of spice and sweetness.

If you try these, please let me know how you like them! We loved them and I plan to make several of these recipes again. 

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