Roasted Vegetable Platter

We know that Thanksgiving 2020 is probably going to look a little different for most of us this year. If you are used to having a large gathering, downsizing your menu and vision can seem a little sad. Our tip for enjoying the holiday to the fullest is to prepare your menu as you would any other year. If Thanksgiving doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving without 10 side dishes, go ahead and make your traditional full menu! We suggest that this year you downsize the quantity but not the scale of your traditional Thanksgiving menu. We all need a little holiday cheer after the strangest year of history, plus, who doesn’t love Thanksgiving leftovers?

Even with a small gathering, we love to have an appetizer out and ready for our guests to arrive. Because a traditional Thanksgiving menu is loaded with carby side dishes, we like to keep appetizers light. Save the baked brie for other winter gatherings. We love this roasted vegetable platter because all of the components can be made the day before. We love the addition of the romesco sauce and the lemon aioli to provide a zesty punch, but you can serve the vegetables with any dipping sauce you enjoy. All it takes is some quick assembly on Thanksgiving Day and you will have a gorgeous appetizer to set the tone for a festive holiday dinner. We have gone ahead and listed out every vegetable and dip on the platter that we used in the recipe below, but we encourage you to plan out your platter so that you do not have any repeating vegetables in your main dinner menu.

Roasted Vegetable Platter

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Print


A healthy and robust appetizer platter to have waiting for your Thanksgiving guests!

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower, stem removed and cut into florets
  • 1 acorn squash, seeds removed and sliced into wedges
  • 1 package petite rainbow carrots
  • 3 beets, rinsed, peeled, and sliced into wedges
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • romesco sauce, or dip of your choice
  • lemon & garlic aioli, or dip of your choice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prep the vegetables that need roasting (cauliflower, squash, carrots and beets) so that all of them are peeled, have their seeds removed, and are chopped into large bite sized pieces. Lay the vegetables on a cookie sheet or two so that they are in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast the vegetables until they are fork tender, anywhere from 30 – 40 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the oven and let cool so that they are warm or room temperature. If you are making the vegetables the day before, refrigerate and bring out to room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.
  4. Serve the vegetables on a platter with romesco sauce and lemon aioli, or any dips of your choice. Serve with small forks and/or toothpicks to allow your guests to help themselves.


Spooky Pepperoni Pizza Dip

This recipe is a super fun, adult and kid pleasing, Halloween dip. You can basically do no wrong by creating pizza dip. This dip is everything we love about the topping of pizza (cheese, sauce, and pepperoni) combined and served in a pizza dough bowl. Feel free to add additional pizza toppings that you like to this dip- peppers, mushrooms, olives, really anything you like to eat with pizza. This recipe is assembled by using a bread bowl to be the spider’s body and creating dough legs to make it extra cheesy for Halloween. (See what we did there!) You can use the legs for dipping and add crackers and veggies for additional dunking options.

Spooky Pepperoni Pizza Dip

  • Servings: 8
  • Print

A simple, crowd pleasing dip that can match any “theme” based on the shape of your pizza dough bowl.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs fresh pizza dough
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 package pepperoni, chopped (6 oz)
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • Everything Bagel Seasoning

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to the temperature your pizza dough recommends (this should be on the package, but about 400 degrees if no temperature is listed). Take the dough out of the refrigerator so that it comes to room temperature.
  2. Create the dough bowl. On a clean countertop, divide one of the balls of dough into two equal parts. Roll one half of the dough out into a round circle. Spray the outside and bottom of an oven-safe, bowls shaped baking dish with cooking spray. We used a 2 cup baking bowl, but this can vary in size. Placed the rolled dough over the bottom of the baking bowl and place the dough right side up on a cookie sheet – the bowl will be upside down with the dough facing up. Use the remaining dough to create a ball “head” for the spider, if you are making this for Halloween.
  3. Use the other ball of dough to create the “legs”. Roll the remaining dough into 8 equal logs and place on the cookie sheet. Brush the scrambled egg over the legs, head and body of the spider and sprinkle Everything Bagel Seasoning on each leg. Place the cookie sheet with all of the spider dough into the oven and bake for 15 -20 minutes or until the dough is completely cooked through.
  4. While the dough is baking, in a medium pan melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes or until the onion becomes translucent but not brown.
  5. Add the cream cheese and continually stir until the cream cheese is melted. Once melted, add the pizza sauce and mix to combine.
  6. Add the pepperoni and any additional pizza toppings you wish to use, turn the heat off, and set the dip aside.
  7. Once the dough is cool enough to touch, remove the bowl from under the dough bowl. Place on a platter and add the heated pizza dip. Assemble the legs next to the pizza dip bowl to create a spider. We topped ours with slices of bell pepper for eye balls. Serve as is or with additional vegetables/crackers for dipping.


Mother’s Day Lunch 2020

This year was a special Mother’s Day for a lot of reasons. This was the first year that Tate’s mom was celebrating being a mother to both a human and a fur child, and due to the pandemic, the first year that Tuck’s parents were home for Mother’s Day. We knew we had to do something really special to celebrate the big day. Tuck’s mom took the lead on menu planning and prep so that all the moms could have a relaxing day without being slaves to the kitchen. Here is how the menu and day played out.  

The Menu 

We tried to create a menu that had a little something for everyone. Our mom loves Israeli food and the restaurant Safta here in Denver in particular. When Safta opened she went to a food event with the head chef, Alon Shaya, which means we are all owners of his cookbook. We wanted to take elements from his book that we all love and create a menu from it. Originally we had planned to have appetizers and lunch as two separate courses, but decided having lunch as one big platter of food would serve the mood of decadence and be easier to prepare. It ended up being very family style, which feels appropriate to the day even if it isn’t the best social distancing practices. 

When planning a menu as extensive as this one, it is important to be strategic in time management and designating specific areas to extend the most energy. The first step to doing this is buying as many items that are pre-made as possible. We bought all of the “snacks” from our favorite Middle Eastern market, Arash. They have better hummus than we could ever make on our own and it is an easy way to eliminate a lot of prep work. Making homemade pitas with a menu this large would be absurd, so we bought those as well and threw them on the grill so that they were hot and crunchy when we sat down to eat. We marinated the chicken kabobs and lamb meat the day before, so that all that was left to do the day of for those dishes was to cook them on the grill. The pound cake is a favorite recipe of ours from the Safta cookbook and easily can be made the day before, which eliminated having to spend a lot of time Sunday morning on dessert. 

The final preparation for lunch was pretty easy with the help of a few extra hands. We had Tate’s dad grill the lamb and chicken in the backyard, Tuck’s dad on roasted cauliflower duty, and the Tuck’s mom assembling the platters. The key to any platter, as you can read from our cheese board assembly posts, is that more is more. We divided the dips into small ramekins so that each platter had a little bit of everything and filled the boards with veggies and pitas once the entrée kabobs were cooked. The visual is stunning and almost overwhelming- they are always a crowd pleaser! 


Homemade Tzatziki

Tzatziki is an essential component to any Greek or Middle Eastern menu; you can serve it as an appetizer with pita and sliced vegetables or as a condiment with your entree. It’s cool temperature and flavors help balance out the spicier flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine, like our Lamb Kofta recipe coming tomorrow. You can buy a pre-made version of this in any grocery store, but we prefer to make it ourselves because it takes just a few minutes to make and we can really control the flavors this way. Tate’s mom likes it with extra garlic and Tuck’s mom prefers it with extra lemon zest. 

Homemade Tzatziki 

Makes: 2 cups

Prep Time: 5 minutes     Total Time: 5 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cucumber, diced or grated 
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt 
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill, packed and minced 
  • zest of 1 lemon 
  • juice of 1/2 lemon 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 tbs olive oil, separated 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions 

  1. The consistency of the tzatziki is up to you. We prefer a chunkier version and dice the cucumbers; if you prefer a smoother version grate the cucumbers into a medium sized bowl. 
  2. Add the yogurt, dill, zest and juice of the lemon, garlic, and 1 tbs olive oil to the cucumber mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  3. Serve the tzatziki chilled to room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil over the top. Serve with crudite or pitas. 

Homemade Guacamole

All puns for the Golden Globes aside, we LOVE this guacamole recipe. It is the recipe that Tate’s mom has used for years, and as a result is the go-to guacamole recipe for everyone that tastes it. There is nothing sneaky about this recipe- it is just the perfect blend of all of the essential ingredients. 

Homemade Guacamole 
Makes: 6 appetizer servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes      Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 3 large, ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (ideally from fresh limes)
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stem and seeds removed
  • 1 serrano chili, stem and seeds removed
  • 1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Place the garlic, red onion, jalapeno, serrano, and cilantro in a small food processor. Pulse until all of the components are minced. Add to a medium-sized bowl. If you do not have a food processor available, finely chop these ingredients and be careful not to touch your eyes after chopping! 
  2. Cut the avocados around the middle with a good knife. Split in half and stab the pit with your knife to remove it. Use a spoon to scrape out the avocado from the skin and into the bowl. Immediately add the lime juice to the avocados to prevent browning.
  3. Use a potato masher to break down the avocados. We like our guacamole on the chunky side, but mash until all of the ingredients are incorporated and the texture you desire. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  4. Keep covered and chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips and mixed vegetables for dipping.

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. 


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
  • 1/4 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, yogurt, sour cream, and mayonnaise 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.