Whipped Feta & Vegetable Platter

We know that this point in the holiday season can feel like a revolving door of guests and family coming over. There is a constant struggle of wanting to be the hostess with the mostest and also relaxing during the holidays. To help our cause we stock up on lots of  snacks so that we can throw together an appetizer board in just a few minutes. We love this whipped feta platter because it turns something ordinary into something much more extraordinary that really impresses your guests. Instead of a quick trip to the grocery to purchase the standard box of veggies and ranch, a trip through the produce section will give you the ingredients for this Martha Stewart-on-steroids Whipped Feta & Vegetable Platter. 

Making a Martha-esque veggie platter means expanding your horizons in the produce section of your grocery store. Instead of celery, opt for endive and asparagus. Instead of baby carrots, choose the longer rainbow variety to give your veggie platter some color. When making any type of appetizer board or platter, we always try to choose a variety of colors, textures, and tastes. This way there is something on the board for everyone. To compliment this array of veggies, we have made a Whipped Feta Dip with lots of fresh herbs. The feta gives the dip a nice punch of salt, Greek yogurt adds a nice tang, and the fresh herbs make it feel like summer even in the coolest of winter days. 

Whipped Feta Dip and Vegetable Platter                                                                                                                        
Serving Size: 8-10 appetizer servings                                                                                                       
Prep Time: 30 minutes      Total Time: 30 minutes 

Ingredients for the Feta Dip :

  • 8 oz feta cheese 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup Greek yogurt 
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh herbs, finely chopped (we used dill, rosemary & chives)
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Ingredients for the Vegetable Platter :

  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed 
  • 1 bunch of radishes, rinsed and quartered 
  •  1 zucchini, cut into spears 
  • 1 package rainbow carrots, stems trimmed and peeled 
  • 2 bunches endive, leaves removed 
  • 1 package cherry tomatoes 
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced on the diagonal to make spears 
  • 1 small bunch of cauliflower 
  • 1 package green onions, ends trimmed and outer layer removed 

Directions:  

  1. To make the dip, put the feta in a medium bowl. Use a hand mixer to whip the feta until it starts to become fluffy- three to four minutes. Add the Greek yogurt and continue to mix. If the mixture is still dry (this will depend on the type of feta you buy) add the water 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is smooth and has a thick, dip-like consistency. Add the fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste. Be aware the feta is very salty, so add the salt sparingly until you get the taste you want to achieve. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve.   
  2. The reason this recipe has a 30 minute prep time, even though the dip takes 5 minutes or less to make, is so that you take the time to prep the vegetables. Wash everything thoroughly and pat dry before assembling on a platter. You can mix and match the veggies we have used in this platter or use up whatever you have in your refrigerator! Just be sure to choose a variety of colors and textures. 


Cheese Board: Autumn Edition

When hosting events, there is nothing we love more than putting together a cheese board. It can be assembled ahead of time and is a great distraction for your guests if you are still doing some preparation in the kitchen. It is the perfect vessel for putting many different foods together and looks spectacular when people walk in the door. We made the Autumn edition of our cheese board for Thanksgiving using ingredients that were seasonally fall – apples, Autumn Cheese, Pumpkin and Ginger Crackers. The options are endless when it comes to make these boards and the best part is that you don’t have to do much with combining flavors. With other dishes we would tell you that less is more, but when it comes to a cheese board, more is more. We love to dig through the aisles of Trader Joe’s to find items to mix and match. 

Our Cheese Board Tips:

  1. Use small ramekins and bowls to help separate foods that might run together, like marinated olives. This allows you to prepare the board a little more in advance and keeps all of the items on the board fresh for longer. 
  2. Stick to the rule of 3: three types of cheese, three types of charcuterie, and three types of crackers. This is a great base for a board for a party of 10-12 people. There will be enough variety that everyone will find something they like.
  3. Buy cheeses with a variety in taste, texture and type of milk they are made from. If a cheese is really hard (like a Parmesan) cut it into bite sized pieces for the board. The same goes for brie in a large wheel. Cutting the cheese up helps your guests have an easier time digging into the good stuff. 

Cheese Board: Autumn Edition
Serving Size: 8-10 servings 

Prep Time: 20 minutes   Total Time: 20 minutes 

Ingredients On This Board (all from Trader Joe’s unless homemade):

  • 1 wedge of Brie cheese
  • 1 wedge of Rosemary Asiago 
  • 1 wedge of Chimay Autumn Cheese 
  • 1 package assorted charcuterie meats
  • 2 apples, thinly sliced 
  • 1 lemon 
  • 2 bell peppers, medium chop 
  • 1 cup+ marinated olives 
  • 1 cup+ honey roasted sesame cashews 
  • 2 cups roasted butternut squash dip 
  • 2 cups Pumpkin Cranberry Crisp crackers 
  • 2 cups Trisket crackers 

Directions:  

  1. Start to assemble by placing the cheese on the board. Keep it spread to various corners. Next add the items that will go in bowls on the board. These should be for dips and more liquid items like the olives so that they don’t spread into the other ingredients. 
  2. Now add the charcuterie, folding it into different sizes to create different textures on your board. We like to fold the circular cuts into quarters and roll other larger pieces to give each item a different look. 
  3. Follow Step 2 with the vegetables and fruits, making sure to give the apples a squeeze of lemon juice before placing them on the board so that they do not brown before serving. If you are making the board in advance, stop at this point and refrigerate. 
  4. Complete the board by filling the the various holes with crackers, nuts, and other dry items. You may need to shuffle items on the board around, but the more the merrier! Serve at room temperature. 

Homemade Pretzel Bites

Tate’s dad loves a good football Sunday, and as a result, a number of amazing game day appetizers have been created over the years in the spirit of feeding the inhabitants of the man cave. He is famous for his homemade pretzels, but the epitome of the Tuck & Tate dream team came when we mixed his homemade pretzels with our kale and artichoke dip. This, people, is what appetizer dreams are made of. 

This pretzel recipe originally came from Pinch of Yum– a food blog that we have obsessed over for a few years now. We tweaked her recipe to fit our football needs and present you with this crossover version below. 

Homemade Pretzels
Makes: 24 pretzel bites 
Prep Time: 20 minutes   Inactive Time: 60 Minutes   Total Time: 95 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package quick rising yeast
  • 3 tbs brown sugar 
  • 1 cup whole milk (warmed)
  • 2 tbs melted butter
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 4 cups warm water 
  • 1 egg, whisked in a small bowl 
  • Everything Bagel seasoning 
  • Kale and Artichoke Dip (or your favorite dip to bake in the center) 

Directions:  

  1. Put the warm milk, sugar, and yeast in a standing mixer bowl. Let the mixture set for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the yeast begins to bubble. 
  2. Add the melted butter, salt, and flour to the yeast mixture. Use a dough hook to blend the mix until a dough forms. Most of the dough should be balled together- this will take approximately 3 minutes on low speed.  
  3. Sprinkle extra flour onto a flat countertop. Remove the dough from the mixer and knead with your hands a few times- until it is a ball. Clean the original mixing bowl, grease it with cooking spray, and put the dough into the clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 60 minutes. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 
  5. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place on a floured surface. Divide the dough into 24 balls (we divide the dough in half, divide each half into 3, and each 3 into 4 to get this without our brains exploding). 
  6. Combine the baking soda and 4 cups warm water. Dunk each of the pretzel balls into the baking soda/water mixture and place in a ring in a cast iron skillet. You will have too many pretzels for the skillet; any extra can be placed on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  7. Brush the pretzels with the whisked egg and top with everything bagel seasoning. (Carefully) pour your dip of choice into the center of the pretzel ring and bake for 12-13 minutes. Let the pan sit for a few minutes after it has finished cooking before serving. 


Kale & Artichoke Dip

This recipe goes way back to when Tuck’s mom was first starting out in the food blog game. We love this Kale & Artichoke Dip because it has all the fun of its spinach counterpart, but with half the calories. You can eat the entire bowl of dip with a spoon (we have) and not feel bad about it because of the incorporation of healthy ingredients. We like using kale because unlike spinach, it holds up really well during the cooking process and keeps its texture. We know the feeling of cooking an entire bag of spinach and being left with about two tablespoons when we are finished. If we are spending the day in Tate’s man cave, we need this dip to last for a few hours, not a few minutes! The result with our version is cheesy, hearty, and mostly healthy. It will be your favorite companion all football season long. 

Kale & Artichoke Dip                                                                                                   

Makes: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes     Baking Time: 20 minutes     Total Time: 35 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups finely chopped kale
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups jarred artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 12 oz reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup low fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a small pot of hot water to a boil (about 6 cups – you can estimate this). Add the baking soda and the kale, simmer for a minute, and drain the kale into a colander. Rinse the kale with cold water to stop the kale from cooking – the baking soda keeps the kale green and prevents it from turning brown.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and yogurt until combined. Mix in the garlic, onion, red pepper flakes. Use a spatula to fold in the kale and artichoke hearts until all of the ingredients are mixed evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Spray an 8 x 8 inch baking dish or a small 6 inch round dish with cooking spray. Add the dip to the pan using the spatula to make an even layer. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top. 
  5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve warm with chips and mixed vegetables. Or just a spoon if you’re Tate’s mom.


Butternut Squash Dip

Over at Tuck & Tate, we love ourselves a good dip. We set out to create a dip that resembled the best of fall and are excited to share this one with you. We’ve taken all the best elements of baked potato dip and brought them to the table for fall with butternut squash. The results are creamy, hearty, and the perfect blend of sweet and savory.  You can serve it with crackers, veggies, a spoon – really anything – it is that good. It’s great as a stand alone appetizer, or can be used in a cheese board as shown below.  

Butternut Squash Dip
Makes: 2 cups of dip
Prep Time: 45 minutes Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 5 strips of bacon
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 3 tbs whole milk or water
  • 2 green onions

Directions:  

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2) Cut the butternut squash in half and place face up on a cooking sheet. On a separate cooking sheet, lay out the bacon strips. Place both the butternut squash and bacon in the oven for 25 minutes and let it do its thing.

3) While the squash and bacon are baking, slice the onion into 1/4 strips. Put the olive oil in a pan and turn the heat on LOW. Sautee the onions low and slow for at least 25 minutes union the onion are golden and almost jam-like. 

4) Remove the bacon from the oven and set the timer for an additional 20 minutes to finish cooking the squash. You want the squash to be able to be mashed by a fork before removing it from the oven

5) Chop the bacon and green onions.

6) Remove the squash from the oven. Once cooled, scoop out the seeds and discard. 

7) Remove the skin from the squash and place squash in a blender with the cream cheese. Blend until creamy and smooth. You may need to add the milk or water if the puree is too thick.

8) Remove the puree and mix together with the sauteed onions, bacon and green onions. No seasoning needed – the ingredients all blend together to give the right taste! 

9) Serve hot or room temperature.