Appetizer Platters for Vegging-Out

How often do you find yourself vegging out in front of the TV with a big bag of chips and some store-bought dip? Your vegging – shoes off, feet up, flipping around the channels and wondering if there is anything worth watching on the Boob-Tube (Kiddo always snickers when I call the TV a Boob-Tube).

Let’s face it, most of us actually plan our vegging out time. It goes something like this: Get up; have coffee; make shopping list; run by the feed store (Hubby has several bird feeds in the backyard) gas up the car for the week; go grocery shopping; put away the groceries, then veg. Veg time is that dead time in between errands and chores or whatever else is planned for the day. It’s that wonderful; blissful hour or so with NOTHING to do – nothing pressing; nothing urgent. While we might not realize it, vegging time is worked into our weekend schedule somewhere.

Wouldn’t it be great if, rather than grab that bag of Ruffles and Onion Dip, we planned something for our vegging time? After all, we’re special people and we work hard. Why not reward ourselves?Here are a few make ahead; munch on later idea to make vegging out special.

Cheese Ball Bites with Ritz Crackers
For Cheese Ball Bites
16 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese(grated)
1 finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped red peppers
1 tablespoon finely chopped green peppers
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Blend in grated cheddar. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and chill at least 2 hours or until firm.

Shape cheese mixture into teaspoon size balls.

For Garnish
Paprika
Finely Crushed Potato Chips
Chopped Nuts
Parsley
Ritz Crackers

On small plates, spread out one plate of Paprika, one of chips, one of nuts and one of parsley.  Roll a few balls in paprika, a few in chips, a few in nuts and a few in parsley.

Place on a platter, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Surround cheese bites with crackers and enjoy.

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Cold Cut Roll-Up Platter
Roast Beef Roll-Ups:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 to 3 tablespoons minced banana peppers
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked roast beef

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, cilantro, peppers and garlic. Spread about 2 tablespoons on each slice of beef. Roll up tightly and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight.

Ham and Turkey Roll-Ups
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
4 teaspoons dill weed
1/2 pound thinly sliced fully cooked ham
1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked turkey

For ham and turkey rolls, in another bowl, combine the cream cheese, carrot, zucchini and dill. Spread about 2 tablespoons on each slice of ham and turkey. Roll up tightly; wrap in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight.

To Serve: Slice the roll-ups into 1-1/2-in. pieces. Arrange on a platter and serve.

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Stuffed Baguette
Baguette about 14-inch long
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
4 oz fresh goat cheese
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper (about 1 medium)
½ cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped Kalamata olives
2 oz finely chopped spicy salami
About 2 tbsp minced Italian parsley
About 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste (very unlikely since there’re plenty of salty ingredients)

Slice off both ends of the baguette. Using a long thin knife and working from the both ends, hollow the baguette out leaving about ½-inch thick crust all around.

Using an electric mixer beat the cream cheese until smooth and lump-free. Beat in the goat cheese and garlic. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Working again from the both ends, fill the baguette with the cheese mixture. Pack the filling tight. (A a slender tequila shot glass for pressing the filling or long, slender ice tea-spoon works well).

Wrap the stuffed baguette very well in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to two days.

Just before serving, slice the baguette into ½-inch thick slices and serve. For the most neat looking slices, treat it as a cheesecake – each time slice it with a hot dry knife.

Arrange on a platter and serve.

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Clear off the coffee table. Put out a few plates. Grab the remote and gather the family. Now you are set to “veg-out” in style!

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