These recipes are for low-cost, high-flavor, wedding day worthy appetizers! Bruschetta, Fruit on a Stick, Greek Salad, Caprese Salad on a Stick, Pig in a Puff and Warm Artichoke Dip.
This past week was a very busy week for cookplantmeditate. We did catering of appetizers and cake for our step brother’s wedding this past weekend. We do about three large parties per year, usually one of which is a wedding. Weddings are always the most difficult because, with all of the excitement, emotions tend to run high. Luckily this party went pretty smoothly in the drama department compared to parties we’ve done in the past. Over the years though, we’ve been able to mostly lower our center of gavity and just try to keep on task. All in all, it was a beautiful party (in one of our most beautiful venues yet – our parent’s back yard), and I think everyone enjoyed themselves, though we were very disappointed that the cops shut down our band only five or six songs into their set at not even 7 p.m. At least the band was able to stay and enjoy the rest of the party.
Our parents prepared a nice menu of steak, chicken and several side salads. As with most parties this size, set up of linens, glasses, drinks, cleaning, decorations, etc. are very important so we try to turn to our “easy entertaining” list of appetizers for food. We offered pre-appetizers and appetizers, which were really easy to quickly prepare and we share them with you here. We tried to keep most appetizers relatively healthy with a couple of sinful things thrown in.
Of course, none of this would have been pulled of without the help of our most awesome sous chefs. A HUGE thanks to Jill, Matt and Rachel. Awesome job!!! And, of course, thanks to our parents for offering up such a beautiful space and the bride and groom for entrusting us with this important task. Congratulations to Steve and Marlena!
The cake we did was red velvet with a cream cheese, butter cream frosting. I will save the details on how to tackle a wedding cake for cheap at a later date.
PRE-APPETIZERS (Cold appetizers which can be enjoyed while waiting for hot appetizers to come out of the oven)
We love bruchetta. Most of the time, we toast this on baguette in the oven with a little cheese on the top. YUM! This time we did it fresca style – in a bowl served along side sliced baguette. It’s beautiful to look at and the ingredients couldn’t be simpler. Bruchetta is basically diced tomatoes, crushed garlic and chopped basil all tossed together with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Fruit On A Stick Centerpieces
Talk about bang for your buck! These are beautiful to look at, fill up table space otherwise taken up with expensive flowers (which are later discarded) and give your guests something healthy to munch on while they wait for hot appetizers and the main course. These centerpieces had 12 sticks per vase which amounts t0 2 sticks per person. Just take your favorite three seasonal fruits, place them near the end of a skewer and place the skewer (sharp end down so no one pokes their mouths) in a vase, decorated with the party colors and/or trinkets.
We served this with a little pita bread. I’ve offered a link above to our previous full post on Greek Salad but I repeat the basics here. Also, check out our prior post on Homemade Pita.
10 oz tomato (cherry, grape and/or yellow pear halfed or romas cut up)
1/2 red onion cut into 1/16 inch strips
1/2 large cucumber cut into 1/8 inch slices, then quartered
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil
1 teaspoon freshly chopped oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound deli style (marinated, not pickled in the jar), pitted calamata and green greek olives
10 oz container of crumbled feta cheese
In a large bowl, soak tomatoes, cucumber and red onion in vinegar for 20 minutes. Pour into a collander and let strain 20 mintues more. Put mixture back into the bowl and toss with olives, basil, oregano, thyme, garlic and olive oil. Top with feta cheese. Serve alone or with fresh pita. Keeps in frefrigerator a week or more.
Capreses Salad On A Stick
I know you’ve already seen our prior post on Basic Caprese Salad but this on is like eating a whole salad in one bite, and the presentation is awesome. People want to eat it just because it looks good! For serving purposes, calculate sticks 2 per person. For each stick you need a small fresh (buffalo) mozzarella ball, some basil leaf and a cherry or grape tomato. Place them on the stick, place them on a platter and drizzle with a littl balsamic vinegar. In this case, we used the marinated variety of mozzarella balls since that was all we could get but feel free to get the plain ones and trick them out with a little marinade of your own, or not.
Pig In A Puff
These are simple and delicious. Simply cut puff pastry into little strips, wrap them around a L’il Smokie sausage and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until “puffed’ and golden. Serve them with a little ranch dressing and/or barbeque sauce for dipping and you have an easy crowd pleaser. Even better, these can be prepared hours ahead of time and then placed in the oven once people start showing up.
Okay, okay, so we didn’t make these ourselves from scratch this time but with Nancy’s (available in our freezer department), you can’t miss. I remember I first got hooked on these when our older sister was pregnant with my niece and she took these little yummy things to offer as a snack to her lamaze class. I’m certain there were quite a few very happy, expectant parents that night. Luckily I got to sample them before she left the house.
I offer a link to our prior post on Artichoke Dip but here are the basics. In this instance we added 4 cloves of crushed garlic. But you don’t have to stop there! Our favorite version of this is one that Amelia makes with diced, drained roma tomatoes, crushed garlic and fresh herbs.
14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained (not the marinated artichokes)
1 cup full fat mayonaise
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesean cheese (not the grated stuff in the green shaker container)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients together until well incorporated. Place mixture in an ungreased cassarole dish and cook in the oven approximately 35-40 minutes or until top is starting to brown and the dip is bubbling. Serve with crackers, chips, french bread, pita chips, etc.
Note: If you are mixing ingredients by hand, you may want to rough chop your artichoke hearts first to ensure more even distribution.
Congratulations to the bride and groom!