HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Your easiest appetizer

I"ve been asked to bring a starter/appetizer to a party we're attending Sunday afternoon. I'm super far behind on a paper I'm writing so 1) don't have a lot of time to make something and 2) haven't a lot of energy to put into thinking about something to take.

So....share with me....what's your favorite easy peasy appetizer or starter? All ideas welcome....probably will be for a crowd of 15-20. I was thinking about going retro with a cheese ball if anyone has any good recipes for one?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The spinach dip recipe is always a crowd pleaser (one cup mayo, 500ml sour cream, frozen chopped spinach that has been thawed and drained of all water, and a bag of knorr veggie soup mix) It is super simple and really tasty. Do ahead the night before and voila. Serve with bread, cheese, veggies, etc. You can spice it up with some hot sauce.

    7 Replies
    1. re: pancake

      The spinach dip is so pretty served INSIDE a scooped out pumpernickel round, too, if you can find one at grocery store bakery. Just tear up the scooped out bread for dippers, veggies too.

      1. re: pancake

        And, if you do this, as a recent thread reminded, squeeze the ever-lovin' heck out of the spinach, getting as much of the water out as possible.

        1. re: onceadaylily

          yep, that's a drawback of working with the frozen chopped spinach...you really NEED to work it, baby!

          1. re: onceadaylily

            I wrap it in a dish towel, twist the top and squeeze and squeeze. I think I read here that someone uses a ricer.

            1. re: c oliver

              Love the ricer idea. Thanks for mentioning it!

              1. re: bear

                Yeah. It was one of those aha moments.

                1. re: c oliver

                  I'm feeling stupid that I never thought of this. It seems obvious in retrospect. Thanks for the tip!

        2. I love pigs in a blanket. The tiny hot dogs from boar's head wrapped in strips of crescent rolls. Not very fancy or homemade, but real crowd pleasers! Serve with mustard!

          1. You could always do another retro favorite, crockpot meatballs in barbeque-cranberry sauce-mustard concoction; the meatballs would be um, frozen, store-bought. Or, maybe pinwheels?
            Take some flour tortillas...spread with cream cheese Hidden Valley Ranch concoction and sprinkle with diced green chilies, chopped pimentos & chopped black olives...roll them up night before and then slice down that afternoon. No cooking involved. OR, how about hummus and pita chips/veggie slices? That would be pretty and pretty easy!

            8 Replies
            1. re: Val

              This is a great list of 101 easy appetizers from Mark Bittman: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/19/din...

              1. re: zamorski

                Zam, nice post...great list for handy reference especially at this busy time of year!!! ♥

                1. re: Val

                  You are welcome, Val--I tend to turn to it more when I am drawing a blank on what to prepare: I am sure that most of us had had those moments...

                  1. re: zamorski

                    Bittman is a riot too...love his cooking videos on youtube! Make me laugh every single time!

                2. re: zamorski

                  Fabulous reference, thanks so much for posting!

                  1. re: zamorski

                    Thanks very much for posting this list! I'd seen it when it was first published and forgotten about it. I printed it out, handed it to my husband saying "you're in charge, pick something you like!" He made caprese sticks with mozz, tomato, and basil and did a great job. Looks beautiful on the plate, took him ten minutes to do!

                    1. re: zamorski

                      Thank you so much! I printed this out to PDF and saved in cookbook folder, never to be lost :).

                      1. re: zamorski

                        Great article. Thanks so much for the link.

                    2. Easiest app is roasted nuts. Do several varieties and call it a day.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: smtucker

                        Oh, I love fried almonds: Just very slowly fry whole blanched almonds in a light vegetable oil--the oil temp should be such that they take around 15 minutes--much cooler than your usual deep-frying temperature. Cook until they are light tan--they will darken and firm up a bit as they cool. Leave a bit of oil on the surface when you drain them so that the salt will stick. Salt generously--I pound my salt in a mortar until it is very fine--this helps it stick to the nuts.

                        1. re: smtucker

                          Here are 2 good nut treatments--one super easy, one more involved.

                          Irresistible Roasted Pecans (from "John Clancy's Christmas Cookbook")
                          3 cups shelled pecans
                          6 TBLS melted unsalted butter
                          1 TBLS coarse salt
                          1 tsp freshly ground white pepper

                          In a roasting pan, toss pecans with butter, salt, and pepper. Roast in preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes--stir/toss 1 or 2 times during roasting. Let nuts cool in pan on a rack. Put the nuts in a paper bag and shake around a little to absorb excess butter. Very tasty!

                          Spiced Cocktail Nuts from (Giada De Laurentiis via Food Network site)
                          These are great but quite spicy hot, watch the cayenne and the curry!



                        2. Here's my stupidly simple recipe for an always popular dish. At this time of year I always keep a bag of cooked shrimp in the freezer. You can defrost them in a flash by putting them in a strainer and letting cold water run over them. With those shrimp i make,

                          Shrimp with Lemon-Chive (or Tarragon or Thyme or whatever fresh herb you can get) Vinaigrette

                          Whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, 3 tbsp of lemon juice, 2tbsp of chopped chives (or herb of your choosing), salt & pepper to taste.

                          Pour over defrosted, cooked shrimp and toss to coat.

                          You can take/serve this as is or, w a dish of whipped cream cheese and crackers on the side.

                          1. Pickle spears (asparagus, if you want to be fancy) spread with cream cheese and wrapped in a slice of ham. I made them for a work potluck over 10 years ago and someone this year said, "Remember those things you made with the pickles..."

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Jeri L

                              I had a coworker that made these with asparagus. They were very tasty.

                            2. There was a recipe not too long ago in Bon Appetit that I made and loved (as did my guests). And it's ridiculously simple. Salt & black pepper kettle chips. Layer individual chips with a piece of smoked salmon. Top with lemon creme fraiche. (just add lemon zest to creme fraiche to taste.) I usually top with chives. Easy. Great texture and taste. And totally addictive. Great with champagne.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: perk

                                I saw that recipe - and made some the night before to test...

                                We ran out of Smoked salmon it was so good!

                              2. the very easy crowd pleaser that comes to my mind is Bonnie's Buffalo Chicken Dip with celery, bread pieces or whatever else you'd like.

                                1. Deviled eggs or bacon wrapped dates....I wrote about this on my blog here: http://motherskitchen.blogspot.com/20... and here is the recipes...

                                  Bacon Wrapped Dates -
                                  24 pitted dates
                                  12 slices bacon, cut in half lengthwise

                                  Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll each date in bacon and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet with the edge down. If it won't stay rolled up, fasten it with a toothpick. Cook until bacon is browned nicely, about 30 minutes. These taste great warm or cold. People are totally impressed.

                                  Deviled Eggs

                                  7 eggs
                                  2 T. yellow mustard
                                  2 T. mayonnaise
                                  paprika and capers for garnish

                                  Use old eggs for this recipe - if you only have fresh eggs in the house, buy some at a party store. (translation: "Party Store" means "Liquor Store" in Michiganese) Eggs at party stores are always old - who buys eggs at a party store? They are guaranteed to be not fresh.

                                  Put eggs in a pot of water filled to a depth of 1 inch more than the egg tops. Heat the eggs until the water is boiling, shut off the pot and put a lid on it for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, peel the eggs under cold water. Stale eggs peel easily, fresh do not, but you've got one spare egg in case there's a bad peeled eggs.

                                  Slice the remaining eggs in half, and then remove the yolks and mash them in a bowl. Add the mustard and mayo - equal proportions are important. That is the key of a successful deviled egg. Stir up the mixture - it should be just moist enough to hold the yolk mash together - if you need more mayo/mustard, add it, but it should be equal proportions.

                                  Spoon the yolk back into the whites. Sprinkle each with paprika and garnish with 3 capers. People love deviled eggs. I

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: momskitchen

                                    Bacon wrapped dates are a stand-by for me, too, but I always make 1/2 of them stuffed with bleu cheese- EXTRA YUMMY.

                                    My other go to is artichoke dip- 2 cans of plain (not marinated) artichoke hearts, roughly chopped; 1 can(I use the artichoke can to measure) of mayo, i can of shredded parmesan, and a dollop of garlic- mix together and bake at 350 for 0-30 min, serve with pita chips.

                                    1. re: momskitchen

                                      add a bit of tinned smoked trout or sardines to the mashed egg yolk mixture. Surprisingly good and a nice change for deviled eggs.

                                    2. Fresh cream cheese in the middle of a plate with red salmon roe poured over surrounded by sesame seed crackers. Use a butter knife to spread.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Gio

                                        White bean and artichoke hearts dip. Puree together, salt and pepper and garlic. voila!

                                      2. I always make baked brie when I need a super easy app that looks gorgeous and tastes great. For 15-20 people, you can do two little ones or one large one. Buy a wheel of brie and those puffed pastry sheets (I've heard people use cresent rolls too, but I like the puff pastry). Defrost the pastry by setting it out on your counter for 45 minutes, then roll out a little. Place the brie wheel in the middle of the sheet and wrap the dough around the brie to make a little package. You can even use the excess pastry to cut out some little design - leaf or turkey or apple or whatever. Brush with egg wash and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes. If you pull it out right before you leave for your party, It'll stay hot and gooey for at least an hour. Serve with crackers, but you can also just cut wedges and eat.

                                        For a variation that adds more time, make a filling for the brie. I do everything from apples and brown sugar to mushrooms and thyme. Just saute up a small amount (like 1/2c) of some filling - on T-day, I did the mushrooms with a little garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Then cut the brie wheel in half, spread in your filling, and then close up the brie. Then wrap as described above. This entire process took me about 15 minute hands-on time, and it was the hit of about a dozen appetizers. I wish I'd made 2 big ones!!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: RosemaryHoney

                                          Mmmm...brie. These recipes sound delish. I'll have to try them. When I have absolutely no time, almost none at all, I can still serve this brie appetizer:
                                          8 oz. brie with the top rind cut away to about 1/4 inches from the edge
                                          1/3 cup dried cranberries
                                          1/3 cup toasted nuts of your choice (I like pecans)
                                          1/3 cup caramel sauce (or less if you prefer it less sweet)

                                          Mix cranberries, nuts and caramel sauce. Place brie on microwave safe plate and add topping. Micro for 60-90 secs and serve with baguettes or crackers. Done!

                                          1. re: RosemaryHoney

                                            I have a friend that brings this along to almost every party we gather at and it is always gone by the end of the night. She sometimes adds raspberry chipolte sauce to it and that is yummers, too. I would love to try it with the mushrooms filling...adding to list of take withs this season.

                                          2. Easiest? Cheese and crackers. Always a winner, and requires 30 seconds of effort to open the packages and put it all on a tray.

                                            1. Just you take a block of Philly, pour over it the contents of a really good purchased salsa, and serve it up with tortilla chips.
                                              Or, mix raspberry jam with horseradish to taste, and serve it with poached prawns.

                                              3 Replies
                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  Cold, for dippin'!! (sorry it took me so long to get back to you with this.)

                                                2. re: mamachef

                                                  I was once gifted yearly with a bottle of raspberry chipotle sauce that we used to mix with cream cheese for a dip that always went over well with the crowd. I wonder if a small amount of chipotles blended with the sauce would taste the same as that sauce? Hmmm.

                                                3. This is really easy, and once you've assembled it you can pretty much forget it.

                                                  1 - 1 lb wheel or round of panela cheese (you can use cotija cheese as well)
                                                  1/3 Cup corn oil
                                                  1/2 Cup Olive oil
                                                  6 Cloves of garlic smashed and pinced
                                                  2 Tbls dried Oregano, preferably Mexican orgeano

                                                  Poke a few holes in the cheese with a skewer and put it in a ziplock bag big enough to hold it (quart size generally works). In a small bowl combine the oils, garlic and orgeano. Whisk until well mixed. Pour over the cheese, seal and refrigerate. Marinate the cheese for at least 4 hours, overnight is better. Turn the cheese every time you open the fridge door.

                                                  When ready to serve, take the cheese out of the bag and put it in a small baking dish and pour the oil over it. If the the serving dish is oven proof, go ahead and use that. Heat the oven to 350* and bake the cheese for 15 minutes, or until the cheese has softened and the oil bubbles. Serve with crackers, crostini or thin slices of French baguette

                                                  Panela is a Mexican cheese that softens/melts but holds it's shape. Any cheese that has similar properties can be subbed. I actually prefer this dish with Cotija cheese.

                                                  1. Beer cheese spread dip in a hollowed-out pumpernickel bread is retro, tasty and easy.

                                                    Mix an 8 ounce container of Wispride Port Wine or Old English Cheese Spread with 8 ounces softened cream cheese, garlic powder to taste, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup beer of your choice. Hollow out a pumpernickel loaf and tear bread into pieces. Put the dip in the hollowed loaf with the extra bread pieces for serving.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: bear

                                                      As a teen I used to go to Kentucky to visit friends during the summer. We used to hang out in the grocery store parking lot and drink Ale 8's and eat beer cheese we bought in the store. Do you know if what you described is similiar? I loved that stuff!

                                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                                        no it would not be the same taste....google the recipe for halls beer cheese or jonnie Allmans beer cheese...that would be what you remember

                                                        edt to add: if you live in the South they sell Halls beer cheese in Krogerwith the cheese by the deli counter~~~

                                                        1. re: LaLa

                                                          I think the beer cheese is more of a thick spread, and the dip is a bit looser and creamier. It calls for more beer and a brick of cream cheese. The flavor profile would be related, I think.

                                                          I'll ask my sister, who gave me the dip recipe many moons ago when we were young twenty-somethings and loved to entertain, and who later in life lived in Kentucky for several years. I'm sure she can compare them.

                                                          1. re: LaLa

                                                            I live in NC but have never seen it in the grocery stores here (and we don't have Kroger). With the brand names you posted I was able to find a recipe that looks like it could match up. Check it out:

                                                            Hall's Original Beer Cheese Spread

                                                            8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, longhorn style, cubed or shredded
                                                            1/4 cup warm beer (some say stale Bud light)
                                                            1/4 tsp. garlic powder
                                                            1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
                                                            1/4 tsp. Tabasco

                                                            Combine all ingredients, except beer, in food processor. Pulse to combine. Stream in beer until desired consistency is reached. Serve with crackers and veggies.

                                                            Here's an interesting article about the origins of beer cheese in Central Kentucky:

                                                            That beer cheese w/ an Ale 8 was some good stuff... at least that's how I remember it. =)

                                                      2. Short on time/not much money? Mexican Layered Bean Dip.

                                                        Spread refried beans on the bottom of a pyrex oblong casserole dish. Sprinkle with cumin/salt. Pour over that a layer of PIcante sauce. Spread handful of shredded Mexican cheese over that, then layer chopped onion/sliced black olives/chopped tomato. Throw on chunks of avocado if you have that and shredded lettuce if you want. Serve room temp. with good tortilla chips.

                                                        I've seen a billion variations on this. A layer of cream cheese/blended with avocado over the beans, ground sausage over the beans.

                                                        Always a hit.

                                                        1. Here's another one that's even faster, and it's kind of nice for autumn.

                                                          Grab a couple Granny Smith apples from the store, and one of those packages of caramel dip that they sell in the produce section. Also, grab some chopped nuts (either peanuts or walnuts). My mom skips the caramel and blends one large package cream cheese with a couple TBL of brown sugar as the "dip."

                                                          You could just serve the washed apples on a wooden cutting board, with a few apples cut up, a paring knife on the side and the chopped nuts in a smaller bowl.

                                                          Tip: super yummy but don't eat too many, which is easier said than done. I got a terrible gut ache one night at a party eating about 20 slices of this, lol!

                                                          1. http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/r...
                                                            Once baked this is a delicious artichoke casserole; warm or room temperature.
                                                            Always a rave at parties.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                              How did you serve it? Crackers? Bread? It looks fantastic!

                                                              1. re: edinaeats

                                                                As is. Since there are breadcrumbs in the recipe, nothing else is really required.

                                                            2. Belgian endives with sour cream and caviar is mighty easy...or squirty cheese in a can and a box of Ritz crackers. For the truly easy, skip the crackers...no slicing, no cleaning. For a little more work, caponata and a sliced baguette goes together quickly and always yields an emptied dish.

                                                              1. Soften a brick of cream cheese and mash it with flaked smoked salmon (a little goes a long way); salt to taste.
                                                                Line a small bowl with plastic wrap and smoosh the salmon spread into the bowl to form a 'cake'. Chill. To serve, invert onto a plate peel off the plastic and top with chopped chives or green onions. Surround w/ fancy crackers or whatever.
                                                                So simple, but everybody loves this.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: weewah

                                                                  heh, even the brick-of-cream-cheese-covered-with-pepper-jelly is pretty great...had that at someone's house recently and she served it with rice/sesame crackers..I kept going back to it. Yours is richer, fancier but great also!

                                                                2. Baby portabello mushrooms stuffed with gorgonzola cheese, topped with fresh chives. I do them in the smoker until tender and juicy, but sauteeing in white wine works just fine. DANBOB

                                                                    1. I am all about easy lately. All of these can be serve room temp:

                                                                      Marinated artichoke hearts wrapped in a slice of salami, then speared
                                                                      Teriyaki chicken or beef, cooked/speared, or do teriyaki chicken wings
                                                                      Steam (or par-boil) asparagus spears, wrap in prosciutto, serve with a light dijon mustard sauce
                                                                      Melon wrapped with proscuitto (tho melon might not be good now, maybe another seasonal fruit)
                                                                      Grissini (thin Italian) breadsticks wrapped in prosciutto
                                                                      Cucumber cups or belgian endive spears filled with your choice of filling: crab salad, curried chicken salad (easy to dress up store bought), gazpacho, salsa, herbed goat cheese. An old idea from Martha Stewart, crab salad on a cucumber slice
                                                                      Marinated shrimp wrapped with a blanched pea pod, then speared
                                                                      Caprese skewers: small grape tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella (bocconcini or small pieces of a large ball), a piece of basil, kalamata olive
                                                                      Anything on crostini: store bought salad (dress up tuna, chicken, seafood), roasted tomato spread, or my favorite, goat cheese topped with fig jam, chopped proscuitto and chopped walnuts

                                                                      A word about presentation. Even if the item is "easy," I would still make an effort to dress up the presentation. A base of slaw, sliced lemons or limes, shredded red cabbage or even raw spinach leaves will make anything look better. Try to contrast the base color to the food and it will look great. Again, minimal effort.

                                                                      Good luck on your paper!

                                                                      1. Mix a small jar of red salmon roe with an 8 oz container of sour cream. Let it chill for a couple of hours. Hollow out a round pumpernickel, tear bread into bit sized pieces, arrange on plate around bread. Pour sour cream mixture into bread. My mother made this all the time for company when I was a kid. The next day I would eat the bread bowl that the sour cream mixture had soaked into!

                                                                        1. I got this idea from this site, and it has been a HUGE hit whenever I have used it - I would search for the original link, but I'm also overloaded with work right now.

                                                                          Take those little phyllo cups and crisp them in the oven. Then drop in little spoonfuls of some kind of jam or relish - I've used fig jam and cranberry relish, but think apricot or raspberry would be nice too. Or maybe cubes of ham with peach preserves... Put a little of the jam in each cup. Top the jam with a little cube of brie. Then bake until it gets all melty.

                                                                          There are never any leftovers when I make this app.

                                                                          1. I second the spinach/artichoke/cream cheese/sour cream/spice dip as the easiest appetizer.

                                                                            Another stand by is jalapenos stuffed with a mixture of shredded cheddar, cream cheese, and spices then wrapped in 1/3 slice bacon and baked until the bacon is done.

                                                                            Another easy one is baguette slices spread with goat cheese then drizzled with honey and put under the broiler until it looks like the honey disappears and the edges are crisp.

                                                                            1. Easy, easy: unroll a sheet of puff pastry. Sprinkle 4 oz crumbled blue cheese over the pastry. Roll up jelly roll style. Slice. Brush with egg wash. Bake at 375 17 minutes till golden brown. Great with a cocktail and easy to remember when you are on vacation and/or working in some one elses kitchen

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: sarahmchugh

                                                                                This sounds great but I'm curious why you slice it before you bake it.

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  It browns up nicely and looks like pretty individual pieces. They are better if golden brown. Try them!

                                                                                  1. re: sarahmchugh

                                                                                    Easy and good is almost my mantra :) I'll try it.

                                                                                2. re: sarahmchugh

                                                                                  I love puff pastry pinwheels! I usually lay a few slices of prosciutto and sprinkle with asiago or parmigiano cheese, but they are delicious with just cheese of pretty much any sort. They are easier to slice if you freeze the log partially first. Also, these freeze beautifully, so I always have a log or two pre-made in the freezer. Take them out and let them thaw on the counter for an hour or so and slice and bake.

                                                                                  Here's a photo of what they look like. If you do a good job of sealing the edge, you won't get the little tail that you see. I must have been lazy that day.

                                                                                  1. re: TorontoJo

                                                                                    They are also delicious with olive tapenade as a filling. Yum.

                                                                                    They are also easy to make into palmiers if you roll both sides and meet in the middle. Here's a nice visual blog post on an easy way to form them.


                                                                                    1. re: bear

                                                                                      Yep, or pesto! Pretty much anything goes. I usually spread some dijon mustard with the proscuitto as well. It helps to bake these on parchment to make release and clean up super easy.

                                                                                3. My fastest and easiest is blue cheese stuffed olives. Buy the queen olives already pitted but not stuffed. If you cannot find them unstuffed, the pimento stuffing can be removed with a wooden toothpick very easily and I always reuse them somehow. Place crumbled BC in a quality zip lock plastic bag (sealed) and submerge in warm to hot water. Smoosh every 3 minutes until lumps are gone, but do not let get so warm that cheese starts to separate. In the meantime, prep and/or drain olives, place in bowl and place the travel container or serving plate next to the bowl of prepped olives. When the cheese has no more lumps in it, snip a small tip of the zip lock and use it like a pipping bag to fill the olives. All this drama takes about 15 minutes <GRIN>

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: MartiniGenie

                                                                                    Or you can just buy blue cheese stuffed olives :)

                                                                                  2. Classic artichoke dip (also retro): Box of frozen artichoke hearts, cup of mayo, cup of grated parmesan cheese (Kraft is fine - don't waste your money on Reggiano), little can of Mexican peppers. Chop artichokes and peppers, mix with mayo and parm, bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve warm. People go bananas over this.

                                                                                    Or, I second the nomination for nuts. Who doesn't love nuts? Just get a bag from Trader Joe's.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: NYprof

                                                                                      this is a classic dip. I have done this in pinch and people DO go nut over it. I did however spurge on decent cheese-but maybe I did not have too. The other thing I have done is gone to a middle eastern market (where Middle easterners shop not fancy section of whole foods b/c it will cost too much) and purchased hummus, baba, olives, feta and pita bread-made a platter. Don't forget to drizzle olive oil on spreads. People LOVE this.

                                                                                    2. Turkey kielbasa. Take two Hillshire farms kielbasas, slice them sort of thinly, put them in a pyrex dish with about a bottle of Stubbs BBQ sauce, a third of a stick of butter (in pats spread out) and a little handful of brown sugar. Bake about 25 minutes (stirring on occasion). Serve w/ toothpicks. super easy, everyone loves it.

                                                                                      1. Get a round or log of goat cheese and roll around in your favorite dried herb(s) and serve with crackers. Takes 30 sec and looks very classy on a fancy and/or colorful plate.

                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: PamelaD

                                                                                          We enjoy herbed goat cheese as well. We also roll the goat cheese logs in paprika, crushed nuts, diced dried fruit, edible flowers and citrus peels. As you said, this presentation makes a wonderful cheese plate and we've found that guests who mentioned not liking goat cheese give it a try.

                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                            Love the citrus and/or flower idea!

                                                                                          2. re: PamelaD

                                                                                            I'm thinking that minced, fresh herbs would work better than dried. Most dried herbs that I use are in cooked dishes it seems.

                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                              Excellent point on fresh vs dried herbs. It's a preference tho. Many (the brie wheel in my refrig. for instance) cheeses sold in shops are coated with dried herbs.

                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                The dried herbs work well because they give a nice powdery thin layer, ala ash, to the goat cheese. I actually use my home dried blend from my own herb garden: rosemary, thyme, sage, and a bit of lavendar.
                                                                                                I do agree fresh herbs would be great too, though...

                                                                                                1. re: PamelaD

                                                                                                  On the fresh herbs, one of our home favorites is pineapple sage. And the fresh herbs, edible flowers make the cheese look duly attractive.

                                                                                                  Exactly what I meant re your "ash" reference. For instance, the paprika provides a colorful redish-orange ash.

                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                    I do like the paprika idea! Maybe hot or smoked paprika? or would that overpower the goat cheese I wonder.....

                                                                                                    1. re: PamelaD

                                                                                                      Whatever you enjoy in the paprika dept. would work. I like sweet paprika w/goat cheese and smoked with melted cheese; just a personal preference.

                                                                                                  2. re: PamelaD

                                                                                                    Ah, I didn't realize you were talking about powders. Sounds great.

                                                                                              2. Bake whole eggplant(s) in hot oven till very, very soft. Slit lengthwise & drizzle with prepared tehina. Serve warm, cold or in-between.

                                                                                                1. There's always Jezebelle sauce over cream cheese. Sooo easy. Make it ahead of time, have left-overs for another party. Keeps forever.

                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: basketwoman

                                                                                                    What, pray tell, is Jezebelle <sic> sauce? :)

                                                                                                      1. re: Emme

                                                                                                        yes, that's the same recipe I use, except that i use a small container of dry mustard instead of just one spoonful. sorry, i should have posted the recipe.

                                                                                                        1. re: basketwoman

                                                                                                          Could you elaborate on "a small container of dry mustard" please?

                                                                                                  2. sliced cucumber rounds topped with a smear of cream cheese and flakes of smoked salmon

                                                                                                    very good, look fancy, and taste great! Low carb as well!

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: danionavenue

                                                                                                      Dani, and I've seen pretty cucumber and radish nibbles if smoked salmon is not used...really great colors especially if you leave some stripes of peel on the cucumber.

                                                                                                    2. Here are two that are similar and so easy. Every time I serve these it goes quickly and everyone wants the recipe!

                                                                                                      Cheese & Onion Mold
                                                                                                      2 c chopped pecans
                                                                                                      2 c shredded sharp cheese
                                                                                                      2 c chopped sweet onion
                                                                                                      2 c mayo
                                                                                                      1 jar seedless raspberry jam

                                                                                                      combine cheese, onion, pecans and mayo. spoon into mold (I line it with saran wrap to make it easier to release). If you don't have a mold you can form it into a ball. Refrigerate until firm (2 hrs) or until serving time. Unmold it on a platter. Microwave raspberry jam until pourable. Pour over spread. Serve with buttery crackers.

                                                                                                      Onion Dip
                                                                                                      2 cups chopped sweet onion
                                                                                                      2 cups mayo
                                                                                                      2 cups shredded swiss cheese

                                                                                                      Pour into a oven safe dish. Bake at 350 until bubbly and slightly browned - about 30-45 min.
                                                                                                      serve with bread or crackers

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: sunsuze

                                                                                                        Hmmm. That onion dip is catching my eye... looks easy and yummy. I guess one could throw in some spinach too perhaps?

                                                                                                      2. This is probably one of the easiest to make out there...It literally takes 2 minutes of prep, It is a go to for me for when I have the gang over to watch the game, and I always get compliments and recipe requests! I just start it the night before just before going to bed, so it is ready for kickoff at noon.. I get 3 packages (or more if there is a larger crowd) of the best quality mini hot dogs I can find, place them in a crock pot, top with a large bottle(16 oz?) of Kraft Catalina dressing, stir to coat, cover and turn on high. then just walk away. (if you have a larger than standard sized crock you may have to increase the amount of dressing and hot dogs).. I serve it right in the crock people spoon some out onto a plate and eat with toothpicks. Don't worry about how they look, they are supposed to get all wrinkled...

                                                                                                        I have made many other appetizers, some quite fancy/gourmet and high brow....but no matter how sophisticated the guest, this is the one that everyone loves and compliments me on. (which can be pretty discouraging to a real foodie like me!)

                                                                                                        1. Crock pot sausage dip

                                                                                                          --8 oz block of cream cheese
                                                                                                          --1 can tomatoes and green chiles (aka Rotel), drained
                                                                                                          --1 lb breakfast sausage, browned and drained

                                                                                                          Brown the sausage on the stove, and drain on paper towels.

                                                                                                          Unwrap the cream cheese, and put it into your crockpot. Chop up the sausage and add on top. Add Rotel. Stir until combined.

                                                                                                          Cover and cook on low for about 90 minutes. Stir well and eat with tortilla chips.