I don't know about you, but each year I find autumn to be quite hectic; summer is over, and we try to fit in as many regularly scheduled activities as humanly possible before the holidays hit and schedules go out the window. (Maybe it's just here in the Pacific Northwest, where everyone stops for the summer to go sit out in the sun all day.)
Autumn is a great time for gatherings and dinner parties because of the fall harvest bounty, and there are endless party themes between pumpkins, Halloween, and everything in between. I've been working on my own social calendar and thought I'd share with you an simple, easy-on-the-waistline party platter perfect for when you have friends over. It's made up of three easy parts.
1. Extra Pumpkin-y Pumpkin Pie Dip
I just love pumpkin so much, and pumpkin pie, but when you're having a lot of people over, making a pie is hard work. Yes, I know you can just buy one in the store, but where's the fun in that?
Instead, serve up this incredibly simple pumpkin pie dip. It literally goes with almost everything - you could even dip your cocktail sausages in it (but you didn't hear that from me).
Extra Pumpkin-y Pumpkin Pie Dip
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese (room temperature)
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put all ingredients into a bowl and fold all ingredients together. Mix on high for 1-2 minutes, until all ingredients are blended thoroughly. Serve immediately, or keep chilled in refrigerator until serving.
2. Cheese Sampler
Once you've got your dip, now how about some cheeses? Cheese is always a party hit because 1) it's easy to eat, and 2) it's delicious.
A couple of weeks before I know I am having guests, I start stalking the discount section at the store. Our local Safeway has a specific section where cheese goes on sale; another smaller local grocery has a "$5 or less" bin where end pieces or odd shaped pieces end up.
By picking up smaller cheese purchases, I end up with a great cheese tray that looks impressive to guests, as they'll assume you splashed out on all the accoutrements. Having the varied cheeses also makes for great conversation and is a fun way to try new cheeses without worrying about being stuck with a brick of cheese you don't like. Be sure to label the cheeses when you put them out, so folks will be able to remember their favorites.
Optional but recommended: apples. They're fresh this time of year and affordable (and go well with everything here on this platter).
3. Sweet n' Spicy Lil' Smokies
Last, but not least, who has a party without some tasty cocktail weenies! These are a tried and true classic, but I'd like to encourage you to upgrade your dipping sauce. Most folks I know use BBQ sauce (or ketchup) with a jar of grape jelly. While this produces a nice smooth sauce, it has far too much sugar for me. Today, I'd like to share with you my sweet n' spicy recipe that will have your guests asking you for the recipe. I'll leave it to you whether you tell them or keep it for yourself.
Sweet n' Spicy Lil' Smokies
- 2 packages (16 ounces) Hillshire Farm Little Smokies
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup chopped pineapple, drained
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine ingredients except Little Smokies into a slow cooker; use a wooden spoon to combine ingredients, and leave in cooker on high for 15-20 minutes. Add Little Smokies and leave in slow cooker on medium/low heat for at least 1 hour, preferably 2. Serve piping hot.
What are your favorite autumn party snacks? Please share your ideas on our Facebook wall!
This feature was brought to you by Hillshire Brand Company in collaboration with Pollinate Media Group™.
All opinions are the author's.
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