Tara Berger is the Stylist and Owner of One Stylish Party, an entertaining blog and online party boutique featuring designs and inspiration for entertaining in style.
Crisp air, cozy fireplaces, and gathering together with close friends and family are just a few of the reasons why I love fall so much. Before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season officially kicks off, I think it is fun to host a Friendsgiving dinner party for a few close friends. It is a great excuse to spend time with some of your favorite people, and requires a lot less work thank a traditional Thanksgiving feast.
For this Friendsgiving party, I partnered with Heinen’s Grocery Store to come up with a heavy appetizer menu to keep things less formal and easy to prep. My goal was to allow guests to mingle and snack throughout the party, so I did not see a reason for a formal sit down dinner. Along with the appetizers I prepared, I also asked my guests to bring a potluck dish with them to the party. My friends were happy to share in the responsibility of cooking, which made hosting even easier.
See below for the fall appetizers I prepared for my Friendsgiving dinner party, which were all made with ingredients sourced from my local Heinen’s.
Cranberry Brie Bites
This is a simple party snack that is sure to wow your guests. With only 5 ingredients and a 20 minute prep time, it is an easy addition to any holiday menu.
Simply roll out the puff pastry and slice it into 40 pieces, brush with egg wash, then layer two slices on top of each other to create 20 small stacks, place the stacks on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. While they’re baking, slice your Heinen’s brie into bite-size slices and place them on top of the puff pasty. Pop them back in the oven for another 1-2 minutes until the brie is melted. For a seasonal finish, top each bite with a dollop of cranberry sauce and fresh thyme leaves.
- roll puff pastry
- 1 egg
- Heinen’s brie
- 6 tbsp cranberry sauce
- fresh thyme leaves
If you and your guests simply cannot get enough of creamy goodness of baked brie, this recipe for Baked Camembert Au Calvados, recommended from Heinen’s resident cheese expert, will be a great addition to your celebratory spread.
Polenta Crostini with Butternut Squash, Ricotta and Sage
This mouthwatering appetizer is a true show stopper. The textures and flavors come together to create one of the most unique fall dishes I’ve ever tasted. It’s another easy dish to prepare, too. Simply start by cooking the polenta according to the package adding in butter or avocado oil, garlic powder and salt while its cooking and stirring in Parmesan cheese when the cooking is complete. Once combined, grab a pan and spread the hot polenta evenly, then chill it in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.
As it’s chilling, grab your cubed squash and toss it with salt and olive oil, lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-28 minutes at 425° F, until tender. While these bake, heat a pan over medium-high heat with avocado oil and add the sage leaves evenly to the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 30 seconds, place them on a paper towel, drain the grease and repeat until you have your desired amount of leaves.
Now it”s time for the sweetness, and this is easy. Simply stir the ricotta and maple syrup together with a bit of salt and set aside in the fridge. By this time, your polenta should be done baking. Slice it into small squares, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place under the broiler for 3-6 minutes. Don’t forget to flip the pieces when the time is up and broil for another 3-6 minutes to ensure even cooking. Let them cool for five minutes, then tip with ricotta, butternut squash, sage and salt and serve at your desired temperature. They taste great at room temperature, warmed or chilled.
- 1 cup polenta
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 cups cubed butternut squash
- 30 sage leaves
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 ½ tsp maple syrup
- 3 tbsp avocado oil
- salt and pepper
Prosciutto Wrapped Apples with Blue Cheese
This is another quick and easy appetizer that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. When planning my menu, I wanted a lighter recipe to include and when I saw that this one only takes 10 minutes to prepare, I was sold! With only two steps, it seriously could not be easier. Start by grabbing a large bowl and tossing the pears and lemon juice together. Once coated, place a pear slice, arugula leaf and slice of blue cheese on a piece of prosciutto and roll it up. That’s it for this beautifully simple recipe.
- 2 apples
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 cup arugula
- 3 oz Heinen’s blue cheese
- 6 slices prosciutto
Honeycrisp Apple Sangria
I love serving a signature drink when hosting a party. It is a fun and festive way to start the evening and helps to break the ice to hand someone a cocktail when they walk in the door. Just remember that if you are serving a signature cocktail to have other options available for your guests, such as a variety of wines and a non-alcoholic apple cider as well.
For the Apple Cider Sangria I served at my Friendsgiving dinner party, I simply stirred the ingredients below in a carafe and refrigerated for an hour, or longer, before serving.
- 1 bottle of pinot grigio
- 2 ½ cups fresh apple cider
- 1 cup of champagne
- ½ cup of brandy
- 3 honeycrisp apples, chopped
- 3 pears, chopped
End the evening on a sweet note by serving an assortment of seasonal treats such as pumpkin spice cake, gourmet donuts, cheesecake and fresh pies. I typically source store bought desserts and am thankful for the Heinen’s bakery for always having such an amazing selection of treats to serve at my parties!
Photography: Brittany Gidley Photography | Styling, DIY Balloon Garland Kit: One Stylish Party | Stationary: Tiny Prints | Florals: Life in Bloom | Cake: Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes | Rentals: Borrow Rentals | Food Styling: Teaspoon of Sparkle | Signature Cocktail: Cocktails and Spanx.