Holiday Appetizers

Tonja Engen is a pro when it comes to cooking and entertaining. She launched her food and recipe blog called “Tonja’s Table” in 2011. She stopped by with delicious holiday appetizers you’ll want to make for your Thanksgiving get-together.

If you’d like to meet Tonja at her next book signing, click here.


16 ounces beef tenderloin cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 Tbls. olive oil
2 Tbls. butter
1 8-oz. package of baby bella mushrooms, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chicken broth
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbls. dijon mustard
½ tsp. each salt and pepper
1 Tbls. minced fresh parsley
1 package (17.3 ounces or 2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, beaten

1 cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tbls. prepared horseradish
1 Tbls. minced chives
½ tsp. salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season beef all over with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and sear until browned approximately 5-8minutes . Remove from skillet and set aside.
3. In same skillet, melt butter and add mushrooms and shallots. Saute’ until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add chicken stock, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Stir in cream, dijon, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is almost evaporated, about 7 minutes. Stir in beef and parsley; set aside and keep warm.
4. On a lightly floured surface, unfold puff pastry. Roll each sheet into a 12-in. square. Cut each into 16 squares.
5. Place 2 tablespoonfuls of beef mixture in center of half of squares. Top with remaining squares; press edges with a fork to seal. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Cut slits in top; brush with egg. Bake 14-16 minutes or until golden brown.
6. In a small bowl, combine horseradish cream ingredients; serve with appetizers.
7. To Make Ahead: Freeze unbaked pastries on baking sheets until firm, then wrap and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. When ready to use, bake frozen appetizers at 400° for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.

2 5oz. lobster tails, thawed if frozen
1 large celery stick, finely chopped
2 Tbls. red onion, minced
3 Tbls. creme fraiche
1 Tbls. mayonaise
2 Tbls. fresh dill, minced
2 Tbls. plus 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice, divided
3 tsp. red wine vinegar
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 avocado
1 loaf Brioche bread
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add lobster tails to boiling water, and cook for 5 minutes. (Cooking time for a lobster tail is approximately 1 minute per ounce). Remove tails and cool in ice water to prevent overcooking.
2. Using a kitchen shears, cut through the center of the shell down the back to open and remove lobster meat. Dice lobster and set aside.
3. Combine celery, red onion, crème fraîche, mayonaise, dill, 2 Tbls. lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Fold in lobster meat and mix thoroughly. (Lobster salad can be made 2 days in advance; store in airtight container and refrigerate.
4. Mash avocado in a small bowl with remaining 1 tsp. lemon juice and season with salt.
5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Cut crust off 6 slices of brioche and then slice into triangles. Toast on rimmed baking sheet until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. (Toasts can be made up to 2 days in advance; store in airtight container at room temperature.)
6. Spread avocado on toasts and top with lobster salad. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

1.5 oz Kettle One Vodka
.5 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup

1. Shake all ingredients and strain into Collins glass. Garnish with cranberries on the bottom and a rosemary sprig on top.

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