A Stress-Free Appetizer Platter
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So I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year, like I have for the past two years, and luckily I think we've finally gotten a good system down and I'm not super stressed... yet. I am doing fine now but I will inevitably be feeling the heat later this week when I am not quite done with Thanksgiving dinner and hungry guests are starting to arrive. But I think if I can pull off a make-ahead stress free type of something to tide them over while I finish up dinner, then maybe that'll be one less thing on my plate to worry about... you know while I finish up the things to fill up theirs.
So here's my idea, instead of more things to cook and more dishes to worry about, one big, make everyone happy, start the conversation, easy to prepare, fix it and forget it appetizer platter. With the help of simple store-bought ingredients and a few fresh things sprinkled in and it's sure to please everyone. Actually - these are one of my favorite things to make so I thought I'd share with you how I make my no-fuss appetizer platters, how I decide what to put on them and how I arrange them so it's a good variety for everyone.
While I was at the Fred Meyer, I picked up a small variety of crackers, fresh fruit, nuts, salami, and cheese. I grabbed a Kaukauna cheese ball in the deli section, knowing it's a great option that goes with everything and still adds its own unique texture and flavor.
And here's the trick to really make this no-fuss. I do this the morning of, and then stick it in the fridge. It took me all of 10 minutes to assemble this whole tray so I can do it while I'm drinking my first Thanksgiving coffee and watching the first few minutes of the parade, then later all I have to do is pull it out and set it next to the champagne for guests to serve themselves later.
I leave anything particularly perishable (like the cheese ball) in the wrapping until it's ready to serve, so it is still nice and fresh when I set it out later.
I usually start with the big stuff first that can't spread much. So here - the grapes and Kaukauna cheese ball came first, then the bowls of hummus and nuts, then next the salami and cheese, then I arranged everything around those just to fill in the gaps and keep a good variety at every reach of the platter.
I think the presentation is the biggest key to this being easy but looking fancy. Small little details like fanning your strawberries and laying the food out flat without crumbs lingering makes it feel curated, not thrown together.
Then at the very end - and this is my favorite step because it really makes it look so finished and lovely - is I took the remaining half package I had of some Rosemary, and I just stuck sprigs in wherever it felt flat or you could see the exposed tray. Not only does it make it extra festive, but it's lovely texture and aroma making it feel really polished and thought of (and definitely not a quick fix for an appetizer),
Then when it's time to serve, everything comes out of the wrapper, and voila - an easy and stylish cold appetizer that's perfect to keep guests satisfied until the real meal begins.
When I'm shopping to make big platters like this I use a really simple method:
I always have: a dip, a meat, a couple cheese options, a couple different cracker options, and the rest fresh food (veggies or fruit). I choose what's in season and on sale most of the time. And I top it with fresh herbs because of the perfect finishing touch they are. I mix and match all the time and with that much variety, it all just works without too much thought into the pairings.
And some fun facts about the Kaukauna cheese ball - it's made with 100% real cheddar, is available at your local Kroger, and they come in tons of different varieties so it's delicious by itself or as a part of other recipes and dishes.
Funner fact? You can get $.50 back on your purchase of Kaukauna Cheeses through ibotta. Find the deal here.
Funnest fact? They're hosting a sweepstakes! For a chance to win prizes through a Kaukauna® sweepstakes, you can either share a pre-written tweet, visit the social hub, visit Kaukauna®'s Facebook page, or visit Kaukauna®'s Pinterest page! Four lucky winners will win an "entertaining basket" that includes a $250 Visa gift card, apron, oven mitt, kitchen towel, Kaukauna® cheeseboard, and serving platter. Ten lucky winners will receive a $100 Visa gift card, and fifteen lucky winners will receive either a $25 Visa gift card, a Kaukauna® cheeseboard, and an oven mitt or apron! Sweepstakes entry dates are 11/15/2017 12:00am ET to 12/31/2017 11:59pm ET. See Official Rules: http://cbi.as/a10gz
And regardless of how you do it, I hope you'll chill and really enjoy this Thanksgiving! Don't fret - everyone will get to eat, you'll get the meal done, no holiday is ever perfect but that's the beauty of it and I hope you and yours have a Happy Happy Thanksgiving.