Easy Holiday Appetizer Challenge!

I’m in a serious recipe rut. 

I have a couple of never-fail, very easy appetizer and side dish recipes that I invariably trot out when we’re invited to holiday parties or gatherings, but really. I’m starting to bore myself.    

And that’s where you come in!  Dig through your recipe boxes, pull out those vintage church cookbooks, or recall from memory an old family favorite.  Post the recipe here, in Comments. 

The commenter who posts my favorite appetizer or side dish recipe by  11:59 p.m. Sunday night Dec. 11  will win an autographed copy of my debut urban fantasy romance, conveniently and coincidentally called TASTE ME.  As an added bonus, by the end of the weekend we’ll have amassed a faboo set of recipes for anyone who finds themselves in a similar bind, or who wants to try something new. 

Factors I’ll consider when selecting my favorite: 

  • Fussy quotient: LOW. It’s gotta be easy, peasy lemon squeezy
  • Ingredient count: six or fewer 
  • Easy cleanup! I loathe doing dishes

I’ll post the name of the winner in Comments Monday morning Dec. 12. 

Making no claim that the following recipes are the least bit healthy, here are four of my favorites:  

Tammy’s Artichoke Dip

1 can artichokes

1 c. shredded parmesan cheese

1 c. Miracle Whip

1 c. sour cream

1 tsp. minced garlic

Optional: real bacon bits to taste (dangerous!)

Instructions: Drain artichokes, squeezing out all that nasty can juice. Coarsely chop artichokes, place in a medium-sized bowl. Add all other ingredients. Stir until mixed. Heat in crockpot, microwave or oven until bubbly.  Serve with crackers or bread. 

Kari’s Nacho Dip

1 lb. hamburger

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 jar of salsa

1 small block Mexican Velveeta cheese

Instructions: In large pan on stovetop, brown hamburger. Drain. Add soup, salsa, and Velveeta. Stir until Velveeta is melted and all ingredients blend. Voila! Serve with tortilla chips.  

I realize that the cream o’ chicken soup seems like a really random ingredient (“One of these things is not like the other…”) but trust me – you’ll love it. 

Parmesan Cheese Crisps

8 oz. shredded parmesan cheese (ONE INGREDIENT! ONE!!)

Instructions: heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high heat. Spoon 1 tbsp. of cheese into skillet. Let it melt, browning slightly, approx. 2 minutes. No need to turn. Using spatula or similar tool, scoop crisps out of the pan onto a cooling rack. Repeat until all chesese is crisped.

I know! You can thank me later. 😉

Sheila’s Cheesy Potatoes

2 lb. bag of frozen cubed hash browns, thawed

2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1 stick melted butter

1 pint heavy whipping cream

Instructions: Spread thawed hash browns in a 9 x 13 pan. Cover with mozzarella cheese, mix until cheese is evenly distributed with hash browns. Pour melted butter and whipping cream over the  potato/cheese mixture. Bake uncovered in 350′ oven for one hour or until brown and bubbly.

Whether you post a recipe or not, I’d love to hear about your family’s favorite holiday dishes!   

Ready? The Easy Holiday Appetizer Challenge…starts…now! 


Tamara Hogan’s debut urban fantasy romance, TASTE ME, was released earlier this year by Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Look for Underbelly Chronicles Book Two, CHASE ME, in June 2012!

 “Utterly stimulating…sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll the paranormal way.” — Dark Diva Reviews

“One of the best debut novels I have read…” — Sizzling Hot Book Reviews








40 responses to “Easy Holiday Appetizer Challenge!”

  1. Tamara, I make the best guacamole. It’s not bragging if it’s true, right? *grin* Eat it with tortilla chips or fresh fruits and veggies. Sometimes I use it as a spread on sandwiches. SO GOOD.

    1 avocado
    lime juice
    minced garlic
    black pepper

    Cut the avocado in half, get rid of the pit, then dice it in the peel before squeezing it into a bowl. Add the seasonings and mix it all together. I can’t tell you how much because I don’t measure. One twist of the black pepper, one shake of cilantro, half a teaspoon of minced garlic. The one you really have to watch is the lime juice. There’s no recoving from too much, unless you add another avocado and some more seasonings. Maybe half a teaspoon? Put some in and mix it around, then taste it and add some more if needed.

    It tastes good at this moment, but if you can refrigerate it for at least 20 minutes, it will be FANTASTIC.

    The original recipe also called for onions and tomatoes, but that never worked for me. And sometimes I add cilantro.

    Happy eating!

    • Fresh FRUIT? I meant to just write veggies. 🙂

      • I adore guacamole, but every time I’ve tried to serve it to to my Brazilian friends they kind of flinch. They eat avocados as a sweet dish (raw and sprinkled with sugar for breakfast or pureed into a mousse for dessert), so using it as a savory seems strange to them.

        It’s funny how various cultures prepare the same food in totally different ways.

        Anyway, this recipe has made me crave guacamole…I’m going to try it!

    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Oooh. I LOVE avocados! One of my favorite wintertime splurges is to buy an avocado, slice it, and eat it on a green salad. It makes me think about something other than snow. 😉

    • I come from a guac-mad family, and this is exactly how I like to make it, too. But when I’m in a real pinch, I’ll just mix avocado with lemon juice (even the bottled stuff will do) and garlic powder and shovel it into my mouth.

      I’ve never been a big fan of tomatoes in my guac, nor lots of onion. I wonder if shallots would work well? I do hate the lingering taste of uncooked onion on my tongue.

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Sounds yummy!!!

      It’s 9 in the morning here, but you’re making me want to go straight to the closest tacqueria and chow down.

    • laurie kellogg says:

      I love guacamole, too! I make mine the same way, but I’m a salt-aholic, so I add salt to mine and some fresh finely chopped cilantro.

  2. Cat Schield says:

    Okay, as long as you don’t bring it to the MFW Christmas party this Sunday, I’ll share the easiest recipe ever.

    1/2-1 roll Jimmy Dean’s sausage
    1 can Rotelle tomatoes
    1 8oz package cream cheese.

    Cook sausage. Throw all incredients into a small crockpot and stir as cheese melts. Serve with Scoops tortilla chips.

    Easy easy.

  3. Kathy Altman says:

    Tamara, that nacho dip sounds fantastic! Actually, all of the recipes you listed do. Here’s one of my favorites–only thing is, you have to cook the chicken, so this might not count as easy-peasy. But it really is delicious!

    Buffalo Chicken Dip

    Five boneless/skinless chicken breasts
    12-16 oz shredded mozzarella
    8-oz package cream cheese, softened
    Jar of Marzetti’s Bleu cheese salad dressing
    3/4 cup Texas Pete

    Par-broil chicken breasts in water for 30 minutes, rinse in cool water, and chop. Using a mixer, combine chicken with remaining ingredients and pour into a 9×13 casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until top is slightly browned.

  4. Beth Langston says:

    Here are two easy appetizer recipes:

    Graham Crisps

    12 graham crackers, broken into individual pieces
    1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
    1 stick of butter
    1/2 cup sugar

    Arrange the graham cracker pieces into a cookie sheet. Fit together snugly. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly onto crackers.

    Melt butter in saucepan. Add sugar and boil 1 minute. Drizzle syrup over crackers. Bake in 325 oven for 5 min. (Syrup will bubble.) Let cool before serving.

    Shrimp Spread

    8 oz cream cheese, softened
    3 Tbsp milk
    2 Tbsp grated onion
    1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
    1 small can shrimp, drained

    Mash shrimp with fork. Mix all ingredients together. Chill before serving.

  5. Not really a “recipe,” but this is my go-to dish:

    Dried or fresh fruit
    Chocolate chips or honey
    Hearty crackers

    Arrange on a plate. Watch it disappear. The key is to make sure each ingredient is high quality, and to be selective about what you include. Don’t just throw everything in your pantry on the plate.

    Try matching the brie with craisins and white-chocolate chips; pears, honey, and walnuts; or strawberries and chocolate chips. The latter goes quickly!

    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Craisins are kind of a wonder product, aren’t they? I made some almond sugar cookies the other day and added some minced pomegranate Craisins. They look beautiful.

  6. A friend gave me this recipe for Salmon Pate (sorry about the missing accent mark) several years ago and I make it every holiday:

    8 oz pkg cream cheese
    1 can pink salmon
    2 Tbsp lemon juice
    2 tsp minced onion
    dash liquid smoke
    dash horseradish sauce (or to taste)

    Mix it all together and refrigerate until needed. Wonderful spread on crackers or crusty bread!

    • Beth Langston says:

      This is so cool. I was looking for that very same recipe in my recipe box and couldn’t find it. Thanks for including here. If you like salmon, that is the best recipe ever.

  7. Elisa Beatty says:

    A friend of mine serves this for dessert, but it’s a really nice appetizer plate too:

    Slice up some good-quality goat cheese into thin rounds and drizzle gently with a fruit-source honey (like blackberry honey or orange blossom honey). Let the honey set into the cheese for an hour in the fridge. The cheese gets a wonderful sweetness.

    Serve it alone or with crackers and some fresh sliced figs.

    Dang, I just had breakfast and now I’m totally hungry.

  8. Oh, wow, these sound sooo wonderful!!! Now I’m hungry. lol

    Great post, Tammy! I am totally trying these.

  9. I’m too lazy to make appetizers. I just want to dive right into the main course! 🙂 So, no recipes to share. But these all sound so good, especially since I haven’t unglued my butt from the chair to go make lunch yet. LOL

    Thanks, Tammy!

  10. Leslie says:

    I have a fruit salsa and chips that goes over well and is a fresh take on chips and dip.

    Fruit Dip:

    In large bowl combine:
    2 kiwis peeled and diced
    2 apples peeled and diced
    1 lb strawberries diced
    2TBP white sugar
    1TBP brown sugar
    3TBP raspberry preserves

    Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 15 min.


    10 (10inch) flour tortilla
    Cinnamon sugar mixture

    Butter one side of tortilla and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cut into 6 wedges and bake at 350 degrees Farenheit on greased baking sheet for 8-10 minutes.

    Allow chips to cool completely and serve with chilled fruit mixture.

  11. Rita Henuber says:

    >Boiled shrimp with Minorcan hot sauce. Minorcan hot sauce is equal parts of ketchup and mayonnaise a couple of drops of lemon and a dash of Dattle Pepper sauce.
    >Smoked salmon with sour cream and capers.
    >Premade frozen meatballs heated in your favorite barbecue sauce.
    >My very favorite is to call the restaurant that has my favorite appetizers and get takeout for 10.

    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Calling for restaurant appetizers is scathingly brilliant!

    • laurie kellogg says:

      Rita, I love the sounds of the smoked salmon, sour cream, and capers. How much of each to you use and how do you serve it?

      • Rita Henuber says:

        I get one of those deli packages and slice it into strips drain the capers and pretty much cover the salmon. Leave the sour cream on the side so people can take what they want. it works with about any smoked fish, that is if you like smoked fish.
        Oh! I forgot. You can mix it together. A cup of sour cream, about three tablespoons of capers and maybe a tablespoon of dill and season with salt pepper to your taste. If you do it that way you can put the sliced salmon on crackers with a dollop of the sour cream mixture on top.
        I tend to make up stuff as I go along.

        • laurie kellogg says:

          So do I. I thought maybe you put the smoked salmon into the sour cream like a spread. I LOVE smoked fish. I make smoked salmon pinwheels with cream cheese, diced cucumber and chopped fresh dill. Yummm.

  12. Kylie Griffin says:


    6-8 large potatoes
    1 tin cream of chicken soup (I prefer the Campbells brand)
    4 rashers of bacon
    1 large onion
    a couple of handfuls of grated tasty cheese
    a dash of milk (to make the cr.chk soup go further)
    a shake or two of pepper

    1.Slice and cook potatoes.
    2.Chop onion & bacon (remove rind) and fry until just cooked.
    3.Layer potatoes, onion & bacon in casserole dish. Season with pepper.
    4.Mix soup & milk & pour over potatoes.
    5.Sprinkle on cheese.
    6.Bake in moderate oven (180 Celsius) for 30-40mins, until cheese has melted or browned.
    7.Serve while hot.

  13. laurie kellogg says:

    How about cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon

    Easy-Schmeezy and super delicious–everyone raves about them.

    Stuff dried pitted dates with a small sliver of any kind of sharp hard cheese you like, such as: Blue cheese, White Cheddar, Manchego, Fontina, Provolone, etc.

    Render strips of bacon part way in the microwave between paper towels and then wrap a 1/3-1/2 strip (depending on the size of your dates) around each date and secure with a toothpick.

    Bake at 400 degrees on a cookie sheet with sides (you don’t want bacon fat dripping off)for about 20 mins., turning each one over halfway through the cooking time.

    Let them cool a few minutes before serving so the cheese isn’t too runny.


    Baked brie with raspberry sauce with pita chips

    Wrap a whole wheel of brie in a package of thawed frozen puff pastry and bake for 20 mins. Microwave a jar of high quality seedless raspberry jam until it melts (I like Dickenson’s) to serve on the side with pita chips.

    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Puff pastry makes just about any dish seem fancier and fussier, doesn’t it? It looks like you slaved for hours!! Good one, Laur. I love hearing what others do with it.

  14. Tamara Hogan says:

    It was tough to pick a ‘favorite’ when there’s so much goodness here! I finally had to choose the recipe I think I’ll try to make first.

    The winner of TASTE ME is Beth Langston, for her Graham Crisps recipe!

    Thanks so much, everyone! I’m printing them all.

  15. […] 12/9/11: My friends and family are bored, bored, bored! Do you have any easy appetizer recipes?  […]


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