appetizer bonanza

We’re going to Thanksgiving at our friend’s apartment in Denver, along with about 14 others!  I decided to make 3 different appetizers and a pie.  The stores weren’t too crowded this morning and everything I needed at Whole Foods, seemed to be on sale.  Score!!

  1. Peanut Butter Pie – graham cracker crust + hidden chocolate layer
  2. [Real Simple – Dec.] Prosciutto Crostini with a lemony fennel slaw
  3. [Real Simple – Dec.] Spinach Artichoke Relish
  4. [Real Simple – Dec.] Grilled Cheese with fontina + jam

Task #1 – Graham Cracker Crust


I didn’t want to break out the food processor to grind the graham crackers.  It’s in the basement packed up in a box.  So I decided I could crush them with a potato masher [ = FAIL]


These graham crackers were thicker than normal and I realized after I bought them that they were whole wheat.  I tried one and it was really interesting.  Much crunchier and heartier than the normal crumbly graham cracker.  At first, I kind of didn’t like them and was mad I bought them…but I ate another and thought the flavor + texture was great.  The masher definitely did not work!


The secret ingredient to making a good graham cracker crust, is HONEY!!


I decided to throw them in the blender…I forgot about the blender!!


I also thought I’d add a little cinnamon flavor.  About 1/2tsp went in.


  • 2c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 3T honey
  • 1/2tsp. cinnamon
  • 4-6T butter

The honey helps it hold together and I prefer the honey, instead of adding regular sugar which most recipes call for.

  1. Grind graham crackers into crumbs.  Measure out 2c. into a medium bowl.
  2. Add cinnamon
  3. Melt butter in the microwave and pour in.
  4. Add honey
  5. Mix until completely combined.
  6. Pour into a pan and press from the center of the pan out and work up the sides.  If it’s not holding together at all, it needs more butter.  I used 6T and it was probably a little more than enough. 
  7. Let cool on the stove and chill in the fridge.

Bake at 375* for about 7 min.  Watch closely!

Pouring in the butter!! Yes, I use r.e.a.l. butttter.




Hidden Chocolate layer!!!

  • 1/3c. dark choclate chunks/chips
  • 2T milk
  • 1/8tsp. fine grain sea salt
  1. Microwave for 30sec. to start. Stir.
  2. Put in for another 30sec until nice and smooth.
  3. Spread in pan and top with salt.
  4. Chill in fridge for 30min-1hr before putting the peanut butter filling in.



Can you see the salt? :)  Kelsey would be so proud!


No-bake peanut butter filling [beware - NOT guilt free!! ;)] This is enough for 1 – 9” pan but will have a little extra…

  • 8oz. cream cheese
  • 16oz. whipped cream
  • 1c. creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4c. powdered sugar
  • 1c. milk [I JUST realized I forgot to put this in the pie!! ahhh…the filling still tasted really good though..oh well!!]
  1. Beat cream cheese + powdered sugar.
  2. Stir in peanut butter + milk. 
  3. Beat in whipped cream.
  4. Spread into pan

cheese + sugar


everything combined + smooth [except for the milk I forgot…doh!]


I think it will still be tasty…probably just a little thicker than it should have been ;)


I don’t typically use powdered sugar because of how highly processed it is.  It is made powdery by the addition of corn starch.  I try to keep highly processed corn products out of my diet.  But in this no bake recipe, regular sugar or sucanat [my favorite!] would not dissolve and would lead to a gritty texture.  Sometimes I make exceptions. 

This was organic and used tapioca starch instead of corn starch.


Adapted from Real Simple recipe – Dec. issue – Spinach Artichoke Relish

  • 1 can artichoke hears, chopped
  • 1c. spinach, chopped
  • s+p
  • 1/4c. shredded parm cheese
  • 3T plain Greek yogurt
  • 2T fresh lemon juice
  1. Combine all ingredients until well combined.
  2. Serve with fresh veggies + crackers.
  3. Store in the fridge.

This recipe is great because you can make it the day before you want to eat it.  I changed the recipe from using mayo to using the yogurt.  It is super tangy and so so good.  It tastes really fresh and takes minutes to throw together.  I doubled the recipe because of how many people will be there.  The other awesome thing about this is it takes up no oven space, which is always nice around these food intensive holidays.


I bought some delicious Back to Nature – tarragon + thyme crackers that tasted great with this.  I cut up broccoli, celery, and carrots to dip as well.  Chris, Pat, and Natalie all tried it and gave it 2 thumbs up!  Super tasty and way more guilt free than the typical spinach/artichoke dip.


Adapted from Real Simple recipe – Dec. issue – Prosciutto Crostini with a lemony fennel slaw

  • 1 baguette
  • 4-6oz prosciutto
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 1T lemon
  • 1T olive oil
  • s+p
  1. Slice baguette on an angle in 1/4” thick slices.  I got about 32 slices from 1 baguette.
  2. Preheat oven to 350* and spread a thin layer of olive oil on each slice or spray with olive oil from your Misto can [which I love!!]
  3. Bake 10-15min until nice and crispy.
  4. Combine chopped fennel, lemon, oil, s+p.
  5. Cut prosciutto into strips that will fit well on the bread slices.

You can actually toast the baguette 1 day ahead of time, let cool and store in tupperware.  You can make the slaw as well but put together just before serving.


I’ll get more pics of the finished product tomorrow!

I’m also making the cheese/fruit grilled cheeses tomorrow when we get to the partay!  I cut the cheese ahead of time to make it a bit easier.

I feel like all of these recipes are super easy, even for the beginner cook, while they may seem quite fancy!  It’s also nice that you can make pretty much all of it ahead of time, and I only needed the oven once, to toast the bread.  That is pretty impressive for 3 apps and 1 pie! 

Let me know if you try any of them out :)

I made a green monster while cooking today.  It was deeelish!

  • 2c. spinach
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 juicy pear
  • 1/2T coconut butter
  • 1/2T chia seeds


I made all gone….and loved every bit of it.  I took the photo but Chris wanted to edit this one.


Dinner was super simple because of all the daytime cooking.

  • oven roasted fingerling potatoes
  • pan sautéed brussel sprouts
  • $.99 french boule loaf from WF!


The sprouts look burnt.  Don’t worry, they aren’t at all!  I sauté them with olive oil, s+p, for about 20+ min on med. low/med. and then hit them with a little balsamic at the end.  They get nice and caramelized and tad bit sweet.


I’m EXhausted.  Goooodnight!

Happpppy turkey gobbler day!!!!  I might go black Friday shopping with Laura, so I might not get to post until Friday evening.  Stay tuned for our crazy 16 person feast :)