Healthy Appetizers for House Party Gaming Nights

Well, I am not a gambler (though I know the grim reaper is waiting for us all and life is always a gamble), but casino games, when enjoyed responsibly, can be a good distraction from the daily trials of life.

Here I suggest some non-greasy, healthy and filling bite-sized appetizers and snacks to enjoy with your friends when you get together for a semi-formal poker-themed house party of fun and games. Indeed, any gathering of a night of socializing and enjoying a game of cards can only be enhanced by serving these crowd pleasers.

This first snack is one that is hard to resist. These spicy delights contain my favorite trio of sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and olives. The earthy mushrooms are complimented perfectly by the sharp and tart flavours of the stuffing. If you are a mushroom fan like I am, you will find yourself reaching for more. This recipe can of course be increased in quantity depending on the number of participants attending your event.

Stuffed Mushrooms with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Olives

Stuffed Mushrooms with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Olives

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  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 8 - 10 large white mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño, seeded finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaaspoon saffron
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup goat cheese
  • Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 20 minutes. Chop the soaked tomatoes into small bits and set aside.

  • Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth. Carefully scoop out the stems using a knife and small spoon. Chop the stems into very fine bits and set aside.

  • Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the mushroom caps to the pan and saute them for a few minutes, flipping often, until they begin to brown. Remove from pan and again set aside.

  • Reduce the heat to medium, add the olive oil to the pan and then toss in the shallots. Stir and fry for a minute or two, and then add the chopped stems and jalapeño. Saute, stirring frequently, for about five minutes. Now add the sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice, saffron, cayenne, paprika, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook for another minute and transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Stir in the goat cheese and olives and stir until everything is well combined.

  • Spoon the filling into the mushroom caps.

  • Coat the bottom of a baking pan with a bit of olive oil. Transfer the stuffed mushrooms to the pan. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for roughly 10 minutes. Garnish with a bit of fresh parsley if desired.

My next suggestion for your event are these delightful little airy puffs that can be served with a red pepper dip, such as Spicy Red Pepper Hummus, or just on their own, as I enjoyed them. Again, the recipe can be increased in quantity to suit your needs. These little nibbles are hard to resist.

Smoked Gouda Gougères

Smoked Gouda Gougères

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  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • dash cayenne
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 cups smoked or black pepper Gouda cheese
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  • In a medium saucepan, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil over high heat. Immediately add the flour, paprika, cumin, and cayenne, reduce the heat to low and stir until the mixture forms into a smooth ball that separates from the sides of the pan, about 1 minute.

  • Remove the pan from the heat and beat with a wooden spoon for a few minutes.

  • Now add 1 egg and the chopped herbs to the pot. Beat until thoroughly blended and repeat, adding 1 egg at a time. Add the cheese to the pot in small handfuls, stirring in between additions.

  • Drop the mixture in rounded tablespoon portions onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving roughly an inch between each puff.

  • Bake in a preheated 400° oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown. Cool slightly on a wire rack and serve warm.

  • Makes approximately 35 - 40 cheese puffs.

  • For those unfamiliar with the term, gougère are a savory French-style cheese puff that is often made with Gruyère cheese, and sometimes stuffed with other ingredients. Any flavourful cheese can be used. I decided to try the recipe with smoked Gouda, but feel free to substitute Gruyère, aged sharp cheddar, or goat cheese.

Other appetizers and crowd pleasers you are sure to enjoy:
Goat Cheese Olive Balls
Chocolate Nut Butter No Bake Fudge
Cocoa Fruit Treats

On the top of the reading stack: The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje

Audio Accompaniment: Trentemoller


MapMaster said...

Love the gougeres!

Ivy said...

Love them both!

The Food Hunter said...

I'm loving the mushroom stuffing!