It seems that more and more, Thanksgiving has become the kickoff to Christmas, but for me, it’s the high point of the holiday season. To my mind, what’s beautiful about Thanksgiving is its simplicity. No secrets, no surprises, no mall and no stapling lights to the roof. No glitter (well, OK, there’s some glitter). Thanksgiving is the day we talk about how grateful we are for food, for the roof over our heads and for the people in our house that day, some of whom may just be at loose ends on that fourth Thursday in November.
This is not to say that the preparation for this lovely day of gratitude isn’t fraught, of course. In our house, by early November expectations are set high, with binge pinning sessions of biscuit recipes and adorable napkin-holder crafts (hence the glitter). The week before Thanksgiving includes the inevitable last-minute sprints through grocery stores for larger disposable roasting pans, yeast and more glitter. The day of Thanksgiving is a whirlwind of apple peelings, stacks of dishes and, if we’re lucky, sneaky moments of joy.
My personal moments of joy during Thanksgiving are always buried in the details. The wishbone is one. The handmade butter is another (pro tip: get the kids’ table to shake a mason jar of whipping cream ’til you hear the “thud” of liquid turning solid). And though the turkey is the star of the show, my heart is always with the appetizers.
My love of a cheese ball on Thanksgiving is connected to a hazy memory I have of my mother when she was a tall and slender twenty-something standing in our kitchen in bare feet and a black cocktail dress, manhandling a cheddar mixture into a ball. And to this day, there’s literally nothing I’d rather see on Thanksgiving than a nut-encrusted ball with a spread knife stuck in it. But this year, I’ve got big cheese ball plans that go a tad outside my comfort zone (where all the good things happen, right?).
The genius of these mini White Chocolate-Hazelnut Cheese Balls is that they are simple, but surprising. Just four ingredients—cream cheese, white chocolate, roasted hazelnuts and sugar—blend together for a classy presentation and unexpected sweet treat.
Serve with sliced apples and cookies or with banana bread for a heartier snack (depending on your turkey countdown clock).
A new addition to my lineup, and another incredibly easy Thanksgiving appetizer recipe, is a mash-up of two of my favorite appetizers: Guacamole-Stuffed Deviled Eggs.
Yes, you read that right. Guac meets deviled eggs for the Thanksgiving appetizer that came straight outta left field. At first, your family will mock. “OMG Thanksgiving at my sister’s house. Guacamole deviled eggs!!!” But as soon as they take a bite, they will realize this is one of those flavor pairings that is as natural and inevitable as peanut butter and jelly. And seriously, what took us so long to put hard-cooked eggs and avocado together?
Assembly is easy. Simply cut hard-cooked eggs in half and remove the yolks. Mash the yolks with mayo and three more ingredients, stir in avocadoes and tomatoes, and fill the egg whites for an adventurous and delicious way to kick off your Thanksgiving dinner.
Here’s to good food, simple celebrations and gratitude.