Sunday Happy Hour

The sun, the warmth – finally! I thought spring would never get here. After piddling in the yard, a dog walk on campus and some tidying around the house, Sunday’s late afternoon left us free to host an impromptu happy hour on the back porch. Beverages are a given at happy hour – but what’s a true happy hour without some snacks? In search of inspiration, I headed over to the Harps on Crossover, which is a great place to shop for organic (and often local) products, and perused the produce section and cheese case. Only $25 and an hour later, I was serving some happy hour snacks that only appeared to be slaved over.

Two things I found in the produce section were fresh local arugula and Sweden Creek Farm shiitakes. I paired these two ingredients with a block of feta I already had on hand, and some premade croissant dough. Sure, making your own dough is a great way to impress your company and ensure a dazzling result, but I always remember what Ina Garten said about entertaining: “Your friends won’t have any more fun if you slave for hours in the kitchen.” I removed the stems from the mushrooms and gave them a rough chop. While sautéing them with a little onion, I added a homemade touch to the croissant dough. On a floured board, I pressed it out with my fingers, pressing together the perforations, and used a biscuit cutter to cut the dough. I topped each dough with a teaspoon of mushrooms and onions, then topped the entire thing with feta. After 15 minutes in the oven, I sprinkled the chopped arugula liberally over the warm snacks.

Another ingredient that caught my eye at the store was Ozark Mountain Smokehouse’s “Tontitown Style” salami – and the cutest little red skin potatoes, for only $.99 per pound! After cruising the produce, I made my way to the well-stocked cheese case and came across their “reduced for quick sale” basket. I picked up a hunk of Oregon blue cheese for half price. (Not to worry, the expiration date is still a good ten days away – plus, it’s blue cheese – can it really get any moldier?!) I thought the salami would serve as a good platform for a few thin slices of boiled potato, topped with a dollop of blue cheese and chopped green onion. It may sound like a fussy canapé, but it’s really just your standard “meat and potatoes” snack.

With good company, good beer and the remainder of the day’s sunshine, we gathered on our back porch to munch on the happy hour snacks. Hosting a happy hour – or any gathering, for that matter – doesn’t require loads of preparation, time or money. All it takes is a little inspiration, $25, and an hour in the kitchen. Go, take an hour to get happy!

Mushroom Canapés with Arugula and Feta

(makes about 20)

1 c. diced mushrooms
1/2 c. diced onion
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 cans croissant dough, pressed flat and cut into 2″ shapes
1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese,
1/4 c. chopped arugula

Preheat oven to 375°. Sautee the mushrooms and onion in the olive oil over medium heat until softened and beginning to brown. Remove the croissant dough sheet from the can, fold it in half and press it flat with your fingertips. Cut the dough into 2″ shapes. Using a teaspoon, place the mushroom and onion mixture on each piece of dough, then top with feta cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and sprinkle liberally with chopped arugula.

Salami Potato Stacks with Blue Cheese

(makes 15)

15 slices salami, 1/4″ thick
6 small red skin potatoes, boiled whole
1/2 c. crumbled blue cheese
1/4 c. diced green onion
ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat broiler to highest setting. Place salami slices on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or aluminum foil. Slice potatoes in 1/4″ thick slices and place on top of salami slices. Top each stack with blue cheese. Add ground black pepper to taste. Place under broiler for approximately 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted and salami is sizzling. Remove from oven and sprinkle liberally with diced green onion.

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