Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Friendsgiving and Whipped Feta Crostinis

This past weekend, Cory and I hosted our second annual Friendsgiving. Friendsgivings have become somewhat of a cliche, but I absolutely LOVE it. Everyone chipping in, bringing a dish, enjoying some craft beer or good wine, and celebrating the holidays together. There's nothing like it!

I changed up my menu a bit this year, compared to last year when I wanted to make my appetizers mimic a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatos, green beans...) Because we typically have a larger crowd of people, with folks coming and going at all different times, I like to keep our Friendsgiving table filled with appetizers and finger foods. At this point, I don't think we can handle a sit down dinner. It's not that me and my friends aren't classy. We are VERY classy.

So - finger foods, that everyone can enjoy, no matter what time they join us. I also wanted to put out some dishes that would still be tasty even at room temperature. And for my challenge, I wanted to make my very first cake! All together, everything came out great, and my amazing friends also brought some additional delicious treats that kept everyone coming back for more!

My spread was made up of the following dishes:

Whipped Feta Crostinis with Asparagus and Balsamic Reduction - recipe after the jump!!

Ina Garten's Stuffed Mushrooms

The woman can do no wrong--recipe here. I was taking tastes of the filling all morning and had to stop myself before eating it all!

Bourbon Whiskey Glazed Cocktail Meatballs

I made a double batch of these, which meant I had over 50 meatballs in my Crockpot. There was nearly a battle over the last meatball. These suckers are addicting. Next time you have any sort of party or potluck, I strongly encourage having these on the table! Find the recipe here.

Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Tarts in Fyllo Dough Cups

I found this recipe in a magazine and snapped a picture of the recipe on my phone. Tangy and sweet and totally festive!

Pumpkin Dream Cake with Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

Making a cake is so much fun and I got to put my new cake stand to good use! I will be working on my icing skills over time, but the important part is that this cake was truly a dream - so tasty and moist. I used this recipe but instead of maple syrup in the frosting, I added one vanilla bean and an extra teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Divine!

My awesome friends also brought some seriously yummy foods, including rice balls, cheesy potato casserole, butternut squash raviolis, veggie platters, spiked apple cider, and a pumpkin dip with gingersnaps. I cannot thank everyone enough!

Well, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and before the recipe I wanted to take a moment to be totally cliche and reflect on what I'm thankful for. My family, friends, Cory, Dot, Angelo, good health, a job that challenges me and that I enjoy, and you my readers! My life is all the better for it. I hope you all have a fabulous holiday and take some time to be thankful for the people who have changed your life!
Here's what you need for Whipped Feta Crostinis* (Print Recipe!)

6 ounces crumbled feta
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
1 loaf french bread, sliced
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into ~1 inch pieces
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup brown sugar

Here's what you do

Combine the feta and cream cheese in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and salt and pepper. Process until completely smooth and incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use (bring to room temperature about 30 minutes before spreading on the crostini).

Place the bread pieces on a dry baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until golden and toasted. Set aside to cool.

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and boil for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and run cold water over the top until cooled to stop the cooking.

In a small sauce pan, make the balsamic reduction. Combined the vinegar and brown sugar and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to a strong simmer and cook until reduced by half and the mixture has thickened, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

To prepare the crostini, spread a generous amount of the whipped feta on a piece of the bread. Arrange two pieces of asparagus on top and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Repeat with all the bread. Enjoy the day the feta is made!

*Gas Stove Girl original, feta recipe adapted from Ina Garten

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