10 Appetizer Ideas

One reader asked about hot appetizer ideas. IT seem that around this time of year, it is a popular pitch-in request!¬†Personally, I love appetizers – they make a great, fun dinner and a festive start to a meal or contribution to a party. However, I don’t usually have a lot of time to spend on them so I have a few quick (but super tasty) recipes that I depend on!

1) BBQ meatballs or mini sausages (or both!) – I usually use pre-made, frozen meatballs…shhh…don’t tell. ūüôā Put them in your crockpot and pour your favorite, nice quality bbq sauce over it and cook on low.

2) Hot¬†Chipped Beef dip – My mom’s recipe and definitely delicious! This is delicious with crackers!

3) Jalapeno Popper Dip РMy boss made this last year and I LOVED it! This is my version of it. I serve it with crackers and cubed bread.

4) Baked Brie (pictured above) – You can find large wheels of brie fairly affordably at the large discount warehouses. I slice the top rind off and cover with any manner of things – jams, nuts & honey, or nuts, honey, & fruit. You can bake it until melty or you can even microwave it.¬†Serve with sliced pears, apples, crackers, and bread. This is probably my most requested appetizer at family events. ūüôā

5) Orange Cranberry Dip – You might notice a theme of dips but they are just so easy. I have one of the little dipper crockpots which makes keeping these warm and making them very easy.

She didn’t specifically ask for cold appetizers but here are five of my favorites:

1) Antipasti platter – an assortment of olives, marinated vegetables, cheese and cured meats. You can make this as simple or as elaborate as you like! The marinated mozzarella above is easy and delicious!

2) Cheese ball & crackers РThere are so many, many variations! You can  make a large cheese ball or small individual ones.

3) Cheese tray – Use 3-4 different cheeses and arrange on a platter. Garnish with grapes and assorted fresh fruit. Serve with crackers.

4) Hummus – You can make your own or buy it prepared! You can serve with fresh vegetables, pita, tortilla chips, and/or crackers.

5) Cream Cheese dip – Spread cream cheese on a plate, top with your favorite preserves (cherry is my favorite!). Serve with crackers.

What are your favorite appetizer recipes? Or what are your favorite appetizers to eat?

My Kitchen View

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted generally about the food things going on in my kitchen and beyond. I hosted Easter Dinner (well, it was more brunch-like) for 13 yesterday and it gave me a great excuse to develop a couple of cupcake recipes – carrot with a cream cheese filling baked in them and cream cheese frosting and lemon with a lemon curd filling and raspberry cream frosting. I was pleased overall with both and will share the recipes soon!

Otherswise, here was the menu:
-Ham (a traditional food for every holiday on my dad’s side of the family)
-Bacon, Spinach, Mushroom, & Swiss frittatas
-Sausage, Pepper, Onion, & Cheddar frittatas
Kazakh Cheese Pastries
-Strawberry Spinach salad w/Candied Pecans & Creamy Balsamic Dressing
-Asparagus & Tomato Salad
-Fruit Salad
-Challah Bread (my mom made this!)

My boys helped to make these cute Rice Krispie Treat nests as favors. I packaged them with tags and ribbon so they also doubled as place cards. They were so easy and the kids were so proud to tell our guests about making them.


In March, Heather and I visited a lovely tea room in Irvington. We enjoyed their special monthly tea event. Is was quaint, the staff was friendly, and the food was delicious. We hardly knew where to start on our two tiers of tea delicacies with several different types of sandwiches, gorgeous scones, and delightful sweets.

My family visited Cinncinnati a few weeks ago and found a place featured on Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives (Food Network). Terry’s Turf¬†was a hole-in-the-wall burger place with tons of character! We went at 5 on a Saturday and had to wait for about 30-45 minutes for a seat – by the time we left, I’m certain the wait was much longer. If your party doesn’t fill the table, you will likely be seated with strangers – with five of us, we filled our spot. ūüôā¬†Peanuts shells littered the floor and added to the ambience – my boys loved it! The burgers are huge but absolutely delicious and the Black Currant elixir (house made) added to fresh lemonade was fabulous! Terry, himself, came out and brought our boys mini candy burgers and chatted with my husband and me. He was jovial, humble,¬†and kind. We all agreed, we would definitely go back!

It’s been a busy couple of months with some great eating experiences. We continue to expand the palates of our sons and discovered quite recently that they all LOVE sushi. A fun (though pricey :)) discovery. We enjoy foodie adventures as a family – both in our kitchen and out! What’s been happening in your foodie world – any great new recipes, dining experiences, new obsessions etc.? I’d love to hear them!

Weekend Fare: Stuffed Shells

It had been far too long since I had made stuffed shells and so I decided to make them again. They are great for freezing and they are great for taking a meal to someone. They take a little bit of time but really, they are not hard at all and they look so pretty. You can easily make these vegetarian by omitting the sausage – they are delicious either way. My kids loved them and I like that the spinach adds some excellent nutrients!

Print This Recipe

1 (12 oz.) package jumbo pasta shells
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach – thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 (15 oz.) container ricotta cheese
2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 eggs
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of nutmeg
4 c. spaghetti sauce (you can make your own or use jarred sauce)
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add shells and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse in cold water.

Place sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain and crumble. In a large bowl, combine cooked sausage, spinach, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, egg, garlic, lemon juice and parmesan cheese. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, nutmeg.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9×13 pan and spread¬†1/4 c. spaghetti sauce in the bottom. Generously stuff pasta shells with the sausage and cheese mixture and place in baking dish. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 20 – 30 minutes until hot. Remove¬†foil and sprinkle on the remaining 1 c.¬†mozzarella and 1/4¬†c. parmesan.¬†Bake for another 10 minutes uncovered until cheese is melted and dish is bubbly.

Weekend Fare: Pumpkin Dip & Pumpkin Pie Spice

Our magazine review will be tomorrow with our picks for the best Thanksgiving magazines!

Today, I’m sharing a recipe that wouldn’t generally be in my repetoire but is delicious and very easy for holiday entertaining, so I’m making an exception. ūüôā This is a quick, easy, and wonderful dessert dip. It’s great for this time of year – perfect for showers, open houses, and snacks. I requested the recipe after enjoying it at an event and modified a little for our taste.¬†You can serve this with gingersnaps, cinnamon grahams, cinnamon pita chips or whatever else sounds good to you!

Print These Recipes

1 container (8 ounce size) frozen whipped topping, thawed (or equivalent stabilized, sweetened whipped cream)
1 box (5 ounce size) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 can (15 ounce size) solid pack pumpkin
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I make my own – recipe below)

In a large bowl, mix together instant vanilla pudding mix, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Fold in the thawed frozen whipped topping. Chill in the refrigerator until serving.

4 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Ginger
2 tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Allspice
1 tsp. Cloves

Combine and store in an airtight container.

Entertaining 101: Fondue

One idea for¬†a perfect New Year’s Eve menu is fondue!¬†A fondue feast is a delightfully interactive and¬†delicious meal. You can¬†cook fondue by heating oil or chicken stock in a fondue pot and cooking various meats and vegetables. Having several different dipping sauces makes it all the more tasty.

For a simpler fondue evening, make a pot of cheese fondue and a pot of chocolate fondue. I like to serve the cheese with three or four of the following: bread, carrots, cauliflower, celery, apple, and salami but you can use whatever you prefer. Make sure and provide dipping forks and individual plates for each guest. I like to serve chocolate fondue with an assortment of five or six things like bananas, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, pineapple, marshmallows, rice krispie treats, shortbread, thin butter cookies, and brownies. So delicious!

1 c. chicken stock
1 c. white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. – 1 1/2 lb. cheddar cheese, shredded
Fresh ground pepper

Bring stock and wine to a simmer. Stir in garlic. Slowly add cheese until desired thickness is reached. Finish with fresh ground pepper.

2 c. heavy cream
1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. caramel nibs or a caramel sauce
1/2 -1 c. chopped pecans, toasted

Heat cream until just beginning to bubble around the edges – stirring constantly. Add chocolate chips and stir to melt. Add caramel and continue to stir until combined (or swirl if using caramel sauce). Fold in pecans or sprinkle on top. Enjoy with fruit and goodies for dipping.