Easy appetizers for a holiday party or any time

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 16, 2014

By Deirdre Parker Smith


The invitation says “bring an appetizer or dessert.” You figure everyone is going to bring a dessert, or four different people will show up with chips and salsa.

Everyone loves sausage balls, or hot spinach-artichoke dip, but you’ve done that so many times.

What else is out there? What’s in your refrigerator and pantry? Maybe you could wrap those pickles in bacon. Maybe not.

Between now and New Year’s day, you’ll get other invitations — food day at work, get together at Uncle Bob’s, the church party. Here’s a selection of appetizers that are just a little different. Some are easy as stirring together four ingredients. Others  have a few steps, but familiar ingredients.

Start with this one, which won the Bisquick Quick Creations Contest at the North Carolina State Fair in October. Julia Truelove of Raleigh submitted these turkey mini muffins.

Thanksgiving Appetizer Bites

2 1/4 cup Bisquick

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 pound lean ground turkey

1 cup finely diced celery

1 cup finely diced onion

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 small sweet potato, shredded

1 cup dried cranberries

Dipping sauce:

1 cup jellied cranberry sauce

1/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 36 mini muffin tins with canola spray and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add celery and onion and sauté 1 minute. Add ground turkey and all seasonings and continue to sauté, breaking up turkey, for 5 minutes or until turkey is cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in shredded sweet potato and cranberries. Cover and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together Bisquick and buttermilk until just combined. Add the turkey mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Divide the batter amongst the prepared muffin tins and bake for 20-22 minutes until golden. Allow to rest for 1 minute then remove from pan.

In a small bowl, whisk the cranberry sauce and sour cream until smooth. Serve the bites warm with the dipping sauce. Makes 36 appetizers.

Kendra Bailey Morris’ Country Ham Spread

Makes 24 mini sandwiches

1/2 pound country ham, diced

1 small shallot, minced

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. honey mustard

1 Tbsp. sweet relish

2 Tbsp. whipped cream cheese

1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

2 Tbsp. chopped walnut pieces, lightly toasted

1 hard boiled egg, chopped

1 tsp. black pepper

24 soft party-size dinner rolls

In a food processor, gently pulse all ingredients (except rolls) until the mixture just holds together but still retains some chunks. Be careful not to over process. Season with black pepper.

Fill each roll with about two tablespoons of ham salad and serve. This dish is best made a day ahead.

Prep time: 30 minutes

From Food Republic

This simple spiced nuts recipe is adapted from Food & Wine magazine

Sugar and Spice Nuts

3/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1 Tbsp. chile powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 large egg white

2 cups raw pecans (9 ounces)

2 cups raw almonds (9 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar with the salt, chile powder, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. In a large bowl, beat the egg white until frothy. Add the cashews, almonds and spiced sugar and toss. Spread out the nuts on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, stirring once, until browned. Let the nuts cool on the baking sheet, stirring occasionally.

Active time, 10 minutes, total time, 1 hour. Makes 5 cups.

This cheese spread is great on any cracker and especially good served with grapes or apple slices.

Blue Cheese Spread with Bourbon

8 ounces (1/2 pound) creamy blue or gorgonzola cheese

8 ounces whipped cream cheese

2 Tbsp. bourbon

Soften the blue cheese and cream cheese by leaving out to reach room temperature.

Mix all ingredients together and chill at least 1 hour for flavors to develop. If mixture seems too thick, add additional bourbon. Serve at room temperature for easier spreading.

Cranberry Feta Pinwheels

1 (6 oz.) package dried sweetened cranberries

1 (8 oz.) container cream cheese spread

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup chopped green onion

1/4 cup green (or red) pepper jelly (optional)

4 large flour tortillas or wheat flour tortillas or spinach tortillas

Combine all ingredients except tortillas and jelly, if using, mix well.

Divide and spread mixture evenly among tortillas. If using jelly, spread on tip of mixture.

Roll up tightly, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour.

To serve cut into 12 slices.

A nice variation is to add thin slices of ham on top of the spread before rolling.

Adapted from food.com