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Need an easy, simple appetizer to take to a party

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I'm in charge of appetizers for a party of our extended family, and I need an idea for something that I can bring to the party (fortunately this requires a only a one block walk from our house). The appetizer should be something fairly easy and not too frou-frou (this is a non-risk taking, meat and potatoes crowd). For example, one of the appetizers I'm bringing everyone's favorite meatball recipe, which is just a mixture of Jimmy Dean's hot and regular sausage plus chopped water chestnuts, baked in the oven until browned, drained of the grease and served warm with barbecue sauce for dipping. Anything else along those lines? We always have tamales for this dinner, but the appetizer does not need to be related to the dinner. TIA!

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  1. Last week we had a Mexican themed dinner for an annual get together. I made turkey mole enchiladas for the main course. For some appetizers I made my grandmother's version of southwestern pimento cheese that always diasppears pronto and a hot refried bean dip with crumbled chorizo and a bit of suateed onion and queso enchilado.

    For the cheese dip you need about 3/4 lb. either sharp cheddar or longhorn/colby cheese. It depends on what your group likes. Grate it coarsely and place in a mixing bowl. Add 2 Tbs. minced onion and a little bit of minced garlic. Add 1 can chopped roasted green chilis (Ortega or La Preferida) are better than Old El Paso and a few grindings of black pepper toss with a fork to combine and then stir in enough mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip) to bind but not enough so that it gets gloppy, if you get too much mayo in just add a bit more cheese. Serve at room temperature with freshly fried tortilla chips. I sprinkled a little ancho chili powder on top for a bit of extra color.

    The bean dip was nothing more than a lg. can or refried black beans mixed with 1/2 lb. browned and crumbled chorizo and about a 1/2 C. chopped onion sauteed in a bit of lard then the whole mixed together and place in a a baking dish, I used a souffle dish, topped with queso enchilado and baked until piping hot and the cheese is melted and has taken on a little color. Serve with the chips too.

    There were no complaints and very little left.

    1. I love to cook, love to try new things, and like you, I always end being asked to bring a tried and true "comfort food" recipe of "sausage balls" - Jimmy Dean with shredded cheese & biscuit mix, mixed and rolled into balls and baked. ::sigh:: (OK, that was a bit melodramatic - I love the darn things too.)

      One other favorite is stuffed mushrooms - I go with sausage stuffing because my husband is allergic to shellfish, and they couldn't be any easier - just make a basic sausage stuffing, drop into cleaned mushroom caps, and voila. I'd seen a recipe somewhere recently that used a bacon/blue cheese stuffing, but don't recall where.

      While I'm thinking of stuffing things, stuffed cherry tomatoes are always nice, if you can get the wonderful little "on the vine" hothouse variety. For this I usually just do a simple cream cheese and herb mix.

      Stuffed jalapenos always appeal to those who feel the need to prove their manhood (as it were) - stuff canned jalapenos with cream cheese mixed with a bit of shredded cheese, wrap with bacon and bake until the bacon crisps. That one's better for a Superbowl party, but as long as I was going on about my pedestrian stuffed stuff I figured I'd toss it in.

      1. Here's one that is super easy and has always gotten rave reviews. Be sure to make it ahead and enjoy with most any kind of cracker...
        Olive Nut Spread

        8 oz cream cheese, softened
        1/2 cup mayonnaise
        1/2 cup pecans
        1 cup chopped green olives
        dash pepper
        2 Tablespoons olive juice

        Stir together, cover and chill. It will set when it cools. Should be made at least a day in advance for flavors to develop.

        1. This is a recipe that appeared on Chowhound last fall. It made my list of party appetizers. I use a combo of both cheddar and monterey jack cheeses.

          The following is a copy and paste.

          Brought this dip to our son's house for the playoffs last year...all his friends kept going into the kitchen and saying "What IS this???? Who MADE this???? Dude, did you TASTE that?"

          Bonnie's Buffalo Chicken Dip

          4 - boneless skinless chicken breast halves, about 2 pounds, boiled and shredded with 2 forks (I do mine in the crockpot and then I have homemade chicken broth for other cooking uses; the meat shreds so beautifully, too.)

          1 - 12 ounce bottle Frank's Hot Sauce (try NOT to substitute....Crystal is passable but whatever you do, do NOT use Tabasco!)

          2 - 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened

          1 - 16 ounce bottle Ranch dressing

          1/2 cup chopped celery

          8 - ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese or combo thereof

          Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 13x9x2 inch baking pan, combine the cooked, shredded chicken meat with the entire bottle of Frank's, spreading to form an even layer.

          In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cream cheese and entire bottle of Ranch dressing, stirring til hot and smooth. Pour this mixture evenly over chicken mixture.

          Sprinkle with chopped celery. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Then add the shredded cheese and bake uncovered for another 20 minutes or til bubbly--do not overbake or the cheese topping will get browned and hardened! Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Serve with celery pieces (cut the celery cross-wise, not lengthwise...you want the dip to get scooped into the celery piece)...or with any sturdy dipping chip like Tostito Golds.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Alan408

            I made this for a Superbowl party after seeing it on Chowhound and *loved* it! Really does taste like a dip version of eating buffalo chicken wings.

            1. re: Celeste

              "Really does taste like a dip version of eating buffalo chicken wings."

              Excellent way of putting it. I made this last year and enjoyed it quite a bit. But it is still a dip, and is not just like eating wings. IMO

            2. re: Alan408

              My family does the chicken wing dip too - slight difference in how we prepare it. Spread the cream cheese along the bottom of the pan. Combine shredded chicken with mozzerella cheese, hot sauce and blue cheese dressing and pour over cream cheese. Then top with some mozzerella and bake.

              1. re: Alan408

                I also made the Buffalo Chicken Dip for a birthday party after seeing the recipe on Chowhound. People (including myself) devoured it! I got asked for the recipe by several people who were at the party. It is SO good!!!

              2. Something simple, delicious and loved by all:

                Bacon Wrapped Waterchestnuts

                Waterchestnuts from can, rinse, wrap with 1/2 piece of bacon, secure with toothpick and repeat. Bake on like 350 until bacon is crispy, 15-20 minutes. I love these things and they go like hotcakes everytime!

                Have fun!

                1. Before reading Raymond's suggestion, the first thing that popped into my head was rumaki. I served it last Christmas, and my guest went nuts over them. Here's an Emeril recipe - I like to serve them with a not too sweet, sweet & sour sauce.


                  1. A couple of ideas:

                    cream cheese with hot pepper jelly spread over it, serve with crackers

                    Drunken puppies: 3/4 cup brown sugar; 3/4 cup ketchup; 1/2 cup diced onion; a Tablespoon yellow mustard; 2 pounds of cocktail wienies; 3/4 cup Kentucky Bourbon; simmer uncovered about 30 minutes, throw in a crock pot on low and serve

                    1. I went to a small dinner party last weekend a couple brought this layer dip that everyone loved, and so simple. Hummus, romaine lettuce, kalamata olives, tomatoes, onions, feta, and cucumber. Truly, it went over really well. I actually made some today to nosh on and still like it. The couple got the recipe out of the local paper...the column has other easy appetizer recipes as well.

                      I brought a roasted red pepper dip that was really easy and was ok but I over-toasted the pine nuts (not good). I put 4 oz. blue cheese, 4 oz. goat cheese, a roasted red pepper or more to taste (used jarred), a couple tablespoons toasted pine nuts, a dab of tapenade, and a bunch of basil and a tablespoon of olive oil in a food processor and blended until smooth. Then I chilled it and served it with slices of baguette. I think the baguette slices would have been better toasted, or maybe using pita would be better as the "scooper" needs a little firmness. Hope this helps.

                      Link: http://www.startribune.com/stories/43...

                      1. Since you're already bringing a meat appetizer, I say something all or mostly vegetarian. Yummy "comfort food" apps that always delight even a foodie such as moi:

                        Potato skins w/ sour cream, bacon, chives
                        Deviled eggs
                        7-layer dip

                        1. talk about potatoes, I've made the recipe in the linked post below twice since seeing it just a few weeks ago on Chowhound...it got raves, disappeared...and really couldn't be much simpler. As the OP notes, you can do most of it ahead of time! This is one of those recipes where the sum is greater than the parts.

                          (and thanks to the OP!)

                          Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                          1. How about something really simple like a cheese ball? You have the meat covered and a good cheeseball is always a highlight. My family recipe:

                            2 packages of cream cheese
                            8oz of pepper jack cheese
                            6-8 slices of bacon, cooked crispy and crumble
                            2-4 garlic cloves crushed or finely diced
                            one bunch of chopped scallions
                            tablespoon of pimento cheese

                            Mix it all together with your hands, roll into a ball and roll through chopped nuts of our choice. You can adjust ingredients to your taste - you just can't go wrong with this. Tastes great with veggies or crackers or bread or on a spoon standing in the middle of the kitchen at midnight. The pepper jack adds such a nice little bite!

                            Another favorite that's super easy is layering goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and drained pesto. I do it in a very small, square loaf pan (like the tiny disposable ones you buy at the grocery) that I line with strips of wax paper so that it pops out easily. Then just layer the goat cheese, SDT, goat cheese, pesto, etc ending up with a layer of goat cheese. I typically end up with 4 layers of the cheese, two of pesto and one of SDT in the middle. Turn it out onto a plate and you're done. Very pretty layers and very festive! Just be sure the pesto is VERY dry or the oil will run down the sides. Serve with crudite (broccoli seems to be a favorite) and crostini or crackers.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: krissywats

                              I had the same thought--cheese ball. Always popular, no matter who is there. I use a recipe that combines some kind of processed port wine cheddar cheese spread and cream cheese (I think? it's been a long time), probably a little something else (maybe worcestershire? tabasco?) and it gets rolled in walnuts.

                              Everybody loves cheese!

                              I think the layered goat cheese thing sounds good, it always looks festive. Another popular, easy to assemble and carry appetizer.

                            2. A super simple family favorite is hot artichoke dip. The recipie is on Progresso artichoke hearts, but it is just a can of artichoke hearts chopped, mixed with 3/4 cup mayo, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and a dash of garlic powder. Bake at 350 until bubbling, aroung 30 minutes. Everytime I bring it somewhere people ask for the recipe. We like it with crackers or tortilla chips.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jms

                                My family makes this for everything- though we double the artichokes and cut back a bit on the mayo. It goes farther and is a bit lighter that way, but still tastes fab. I like it best with tortilla chips and salsa.

                              2. An incredibly easy dip that tastes nothing like its components, so even people who don't like some of them (like me - hate swiss cheese, not crazy about mayo) love it. Looks a bit like a crab dip.

                                1 pkg finely shredded swiss cheese (Sargento makes a good one)
                                1 small (4 oz, I think - the smallest size) mayo - not Miracle Whip
                                1 small to mdium diced red onion

                                Mix. Allow to stand for awhile for flavors to blend. Particularly good served with pumpernickel pretzel dipping sticks.