Gather round friends, it’s story time with Katie. Today’s story is about the first time she met her husband’s (then VERY new boyfriend), extended family.
First, let’s start with a little background. Adam and I started dating in November and I met his family right around Christmas. Let me also preface by saying this, I was only meeting his mother’s side and I was a bit nervous. Why? It’s only one side of the family, Katie. Chill. Oh, you silly naive little flower.
Adam’s mom is one of 10 children. 10. That’s double digits. 12 if you include his grandparents. Plus all the spouses. And the children. And a few bonus relatives for good measure.
I was meeting a good 20-30 people. At once.
I’m not great with crowds and I wanted to make a good impression. I liked this kid and I wanted his family to like me too. Luckily I had already met his mom and she was awesome and knew it could be overwhelming to meet everyone at once. So the day before the big Christmas party, we met at her parent’s house.
I remember pulling up to the house and turning to Adam and saying, “10 kids lived in this house?!” There were three bedrooms upstairs plus a couple in the basement and the house originally had ONE bathroom, but Grandpa put in another downstairs because he might have 10 kids but he’s not insane. When I walked into the kitchen, Adam’s grandparents were sitting at the table and there were probably 3 or 4 aunts and uncles milling about and possibly a few cousins somewhere. My shyness started to take over, but the Van Heirselee family was having none of that. I was pulled into hugs and handshakes and introductions were made and food was put in our hands and I was immediately a part of the family.
It was crazy and wonderful all at once.
That same day, we were sitting around the table talking or playing a card game or some other activity and one of Adam’s aunts (Mo? Eileen? I can’t remember at this point) asked Grandpa if he was ready for his martini. You see, Grandpa had a martini every day at the same time. He also had it with an olive. And not just any olive, but one stuffed with blue cheese. And it would marinate in that martini before his kids would lay claim to it. It would rotate through the girls, occasionally a son would get in on the action, but someone would always get the olives.
Grandpa loved it.
He loved his family, he loved having them around, and he loved sharing his olives. That was just the way he was.
I had the idea to make an appetizer of stuffed olives and this was the story that immediately came to mind. My olives might not have blue cheese or be marinated in gin but I bet if Grandpa were here, he would be happy to share a few with me.
- 1 cup green olives (I used castelvetrano olives because #obsessed, but use whatever type you like best), pitted
- 1 batch of plain cashew cream cheese OR plain regular cream cheese if you do dairy
- 1 head roasted garlic (leave off the seasonings and just use olive oil and a little salt)
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- juice and zest of half a lemon
- Pit your olives and set aside. Mix together the cream cheese (whichever version you’re using) and the roasted garlic. I used a fork to do this part to make sure the garlic mixed completely with the cheese.
- Add the basil to the mix and stir to combine.
- Using a combo of a spoon and your fingers, stuff the olives with the garlic/cheese mix. It’s a little messy and takes a little time, but it’s worth it.
- Once the olives are stuffed, heat a little olive oil in a small saucepan. Add half the lemon zest to the hot oil and let it fry a bit. Add the olives and shake the pan to coat the olives.
- Saute for a few minutes then add half the lemon juice. Shake the pan again and then remove from the heat. Add the pepper and the rest of the lemon zest and stir. Taste one and see if it needs more lemon juice or pepper and adjust.
- Eat right away or store in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days until you’re ready to use them.