Halloween is officially over and November is here, which means it’s time for Thanksgiving-inspired recipes! This week I decided to focus my column on an underrated part of Thanksgiving food: Appetizers. There are so many creative, fun and delicious appetizers that complement the main courses of Thanksgiving. These three recipes are the perfect place to get started: Cranberry brie bites, sweet potato bites and fried mashed potato balls. The cranberry brie bites are super gooey and have the perfect balance of tart and sweetness. The sweet potato bites are the sweetest and easiest appetizer you could possibly make and the mashed potato balls turn a favorite side dish into crunchy on the outside yet creamy on the inside balls of cheesy goodness.
Cranberry brie bites
1 (8 oz.) tube of Pillsbury crescent dough
Flour, for surface
1 (8 oz.) wheel of brie
1/2 cup of whole berry cranberry sauce
1/4 cup of chopped pecans
6 sprigs of rosemary, cut into 1-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a mini muffin tin with cooking spray. On a lightly floured surface, roll out crescent dough and pinch together seams. Cut into 24 squares. Place squares into muffin tin slots. Cut brie into small pieces and place inside the crescent dough. Top with a spoonful of cranberry sauce, some chopped pecans and one little sprig of rosemary. Bake until the crescent pastry is golden, which should be about 15 minutes.
Sweet potato bites
3 to 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 teaspoon of maple syrup
1 (10 oz.) bag of marshmallows
1/2 cup of pecan halves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a large baking sheet, toss sweet potatoes with melted butter and maple syrup and arrange in an even layer. Season with salt. Bake until tender, flipping halfway through, which should take about 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and switch oven to broil. Top each sweet potato round with a marshmallow and broil until puffed and golden. Immediately top each marshmallow with a pecan half and serve.
Fried mashed potato balls
3 cups of prepared mashed potatoes
3 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2/3 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons of thinly sliced chives
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/3 cups of panko bread crumbs
In a large bowl, combine mashed potatoes with cooked bacon, cheddar, chives and garlic powder, and season with salt and pepper. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated. Place eggs and panko in separate shallow bowls. Use a small cookie scoop to scoop one to two inch balls of mashed potato mixture. Roll into a ball in your hands, dredge first in egg and then in panko. Repeat until all mashed potatoes are used. Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet until thermometer reads 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry potato balls in batches until golden on all sides, which should take about two to three minutes. Drain on a paper towel lined plate and season with more salt.