Last week we celebrated David’s birthday by having people over for drinks and appetizers. When it came to food, we talked about the possibility of a waffle bar or build-your-own-nacho adventure. However, for the ease of keeping things at their proper temperature as people arrived at varying times, we decided to simplify it by having mostly cold appetizers with a couple of hot items to be made fresh once things got going. It was hard to pare it down, but this was the final menu:
Birthday Party Appetizer Menu
Stuffed grape leaves
Homemade turnip pickles
Guacamole & chips
David’s signature salsa
Before the big day, I started the turnip pickles and David made a trial run of the Holiday Cheddar Cheese Ball from Somer at Vedged Out since we’d never made it before. (It is fantastically good and was a huge hit with everyone at the party.)
Then the day before the party we picked up the remaining ingredients, plus a few premade things like stuffed grape leaves, garlic-stuffed olives, chips, and crackers.
Since we were the only vegans (or vegetarians for that matter) at the party, we wanted to have a variety of appetizers – some that were familiar, some that were new, and some that would be a fun twist on an old favorite. On the day of the event, David made his signature salsa, and I made an easy batch of guacamole.
I repurposed my Olive & Artichoke Pâté recipe and used it as a filling for sweet baby bell peppers. I just sliced off the tops (and saved them), hollowed out the inside of the peppers, and then used a piping bag to fill each one with pâté before repositioning the bell pepper tops. Additionally, having the tops on each pepper kept the pâté inside fresh and moist.
I made the filling for the Seitan Bacon Wrapped Cashew Cheese Stuffed Dates. Then I pitted the dates, stuffed them, and wrapped them with Upton’s Naturals seitan bacon held on with a toothpick, which guests were later able to use to retrieve their date from the platter. No forks necessary!
(I recommend choosing dates that are on the smaller side, as opposed to Medjool dates, so that the bacon easily wraps around them. Plus, the sweet/smoky/salty balance is a little better when the dates aren’t too big. Also FYI: if you want to fry the stuffed dates in advance, they are still really tasty served cold or at room temperature.)
Next, Loaded Potato Slices with Cashew Cream & Coconut Bacon! I chopped all of the toppings for my Loaded Potato Slices. Then I sliced the potatoes and kept them in a water bath in the refrigerator to keep them fresh until they were ready to be dried, lightly oiled, and baked at the party. I decided to use Phoney Baloney’s coconut bacon that night, but fried & roughly chopped Upton’s seitan bacon or Wayfare bacony bits would also be delicious choices.
Once lots of people had arrived and were talking and mingling, I headed to the kitchen to bake the sliced potatoes and shallow fry the stuffed dates. As the appetizers finished, I put them onto serving platters and enlisted David’s help in walking around and offering them to people.
The appetizers were plucked up in no time and were very well received, which always feels really good. (In fact, I completely ran out of the 40 stuffed dates that I made and had to make another batch for these pictures. More for me, darn it all…)
We had such a great time at the party. It was really fun getting to socialize, celebrate David’s birthday, and share some of our favorite foods with our friends.