Tammy’s Top Ten (t3 report) Easy Holiday Appetizers

I’ve had many comments from readers who thought the idea of knowing how to prepare one easy appetizer really well was a great idea. It’s that time of year when we’re invited out and it’s nice to take something along to share. So, I sat out to make a list for us with the rule being that I can’t link to a recipe. Rather if it’s truly simple, I can explain it in a few words and you can replicate it.


1. blue cheese and figs – Mentioned in an earlier post as my old standby. Slice a baguette lengthwise. Brush both sides with olive oil. Lay sliced blue cheese, sliced figs and basil on one half. Put them back together. Wrap the loaf in foil and warm at 300.

2. cheese board – Although I’ve claimed the first one as my regular, I actually do more cheese boards than anything. Select three different varieties of good local cheese. Go for three that are visually different. Unwrap them and put them on a board with a smattering of fresh fruit such as grapes or berries.

3. cherry tomatoes with pesto – from Hannah, the Wayfaring Chocolatier, a great suggestion. Hollow out cherry tomatoes. Fill them with a good pesto. Serve.

4. deviled eggs – Grandad’s favorite. Boil 8 eggs. Meanwhile mix together 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbs mustard, 1 Tbs vinegar, some diced shallot, and a few dashes hot sauce. (I also like horseradish) Peel eggs, and halve lengthwise. Remove yolks and mix with mayo mixture. Season with salt and pepper.  Mound yolk mixture into whites. Sprinkle with paprika and refrigerate.

5. hummus – This is another standby. Put beans, tahini, a couple cloves of garlic, olive oil and perhaps some parsley into the blender. Done. Be creative and use everything from black beans to garbanzo to tepiary. At Thanksgiving I used parsnips for a delightful result.

6. quesadillas – Slice or grate some cheese. Place it between two tortillas. Warm it in a pan with a bit of butter. Use corn or flour and try a variety of cheeses. Serve with fresh salsa that you dreamt up or purchased locally.

7. guacamole – Mash the meat of 3 avocados with the juice of a lime. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp cayenne. Add 2 chopped roma tomatoes, 1/2 onion chopped, 1 minced garlic clove and chopped cilantro to taste. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

8. olives – We are fortunate to have six olive trees but this is not about curing them. Buy some but buy a variety. Stuff them with almonds or blue cheese or chili peppers and service. I’ll post later on about olive trees.

9. salmon spread – have left over salmon and some cream cheese. Spin it in the processor and serve with bagel chips or crusty bread. Will work with other fish equally well.

10. roasted garlic – preheat oven to 375. Using a sharp knife, slice 1/2-inch off of the pointed end of a garlic bulb so that the individual cloves of garlic show. Pour 1/2 tsp olive oil over the top and wait 2 minutes for it to sink in. Repeat. Place on a baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Bake approx. 50 minutes.

There are so many other simple fruit and vegetable trays with tasty dips.  What’s your favorite? Add it in the comments.

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  1. Excellent list, with most of my favorites. A few more:

    * raw veggies (celery, carrots, red pepper, and blanched broccoli or cauliflower) with dill dip or curry dip.

    * layered bean dip with sour cream, salsa, lettuce, tomato and olives, served with fritos or tortilla chips

    * nachos with melted cheese and salsa for dipping

    * cheese ball (cream cheese, pineapple, nuts, onion, red pepper) with crackers

    * cheese fondue or cheese dip served in a hollowed out bread bowl

  2. John

     /  December 17, 2010

    You might want to balance the list out with an animal protein based dish. One you might add to your list would be Broiled Spam Cubes – a real party favorite!


    1 (7-ounce) can SPAM luncheon meat, finely cubed
    1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
    1/4 cup finely chopped celery
    1/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
    1 tablespoon chopped parsley
    1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
    Toast triangles, party rye slices, or crackers

    Directions: In bowl, combine all ingredients (except toast). Spread mixture on toast or crackers. Place on baking sheet. Broil 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes 32 appetizers.

  3. Sally Mom

     /  December 17, 2010

    I always have prepared pastry dough in the frig or freezer. It is easy to layer with colorful left overs like roasted vegetables to fresh spinach, etc. Sprinkle cheese and or spread cream cheese and left over meat, like chiken, lamb, seafood,whatever, including beans, add favorite appropriate spices roll up and bake then slice in pin wheels. While it is baking you get ready and it is hot and perfect, for a spur of the moment or good with soup! EASY!
    Spam? John!

  4. Oh gosh, I’m so honoured that my easy-peasy idea made it onto your list! 🙂 Quesadillas is a fantastic idea, and something that I’d never have thought of myself (Australia is lacking in good Mexican cuisine, so I tend to forget about it). I still love the blue cheese and fig idea best 🙂

  5. Rena

     /  December 18, 2010

    I love the simpliity of it all….no drama, just fabulous ingredients assembled and savored….sort of like elements of a great life too…

  6. A SUPER easy last-minute thing to do: cover an 8-oz. brick of cream cheese with a jar of green or red pepper jelly. Serve with crackers. It’s lovely at Christmas time to use both colors. A good pepper jelly is both sweet and hot!

  7. Tammy – I’ll pop by for instant hors d’oeuvres any day! This is so yummy and it’s my bed time. I’ll drool my way to the quickly brush my teeth! 🙂

  8. Hurrah! Perfect timing for our lantern party this evening, Tammy. Many thanks, what a festive post!

  9. Lovely ideas, I like a French loaf stuffed with smoked oysters, sliced vertically until almost to the bottom; cover in tin foil and just heat through.

  10. I also use a brick of cream cheese but cover it with cocktail sauce and chopped up shrimp or lobster. I will have to try the blue cheese and figs next summer, maybe add a layer of prosciutto.

    • Welcome Martha. Yes, I should’ve mentioned that the source of the recipe actually does call for prosciutto. I’m not a big meat-eater but others love it. I like your idea also. Have seen the brick of cheese although usually with a sweet-hot sauce.

  11. I’m a big fan of caramel corn – pop some corn, toss with caramel and maybe some salted nuts. Yum!

    My other go-to appetizer/snack is homemade caramelized onion dip (with or without bacon, depending on the crowd). It foes like this: caramelize onions. Mix into sour cream or crème fraîche. serve with bread, chips, crackers and/or crudités.

    • I wouldn’t have a clue how to do the popcorn but I can handle the onions. A couple of great readers taught me to carmelize them in a crock-pot.

  12. Kath (Eating for Living)

     /  December 18, 2010

    Oven-roasted winter sqaush is great! I use kabocha or kuri squash (butternut will also work, I think), remove the seeds, cut it into slices, and put it into the oven on a baking tray, spread with spices like cinnamon, black pepper, dried basil, etc. Simply bake at 200 °C / 390 °F for around 30 minutes. So good! 😀

  13. thehungryscholar

     /  December 18, 2010

    That roasted garlic sounds fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

  14. What thehungryscholar said. Unroasted garlic is great. Roasted, it’s just incredible. Also, cheese trays in general don’t get the love and appreciate they deserve. These are all excellent suggestions!

  15. These are so great!!! Thanks for sharing, especially since I do love garlic so much 🙂

  16. Lisa H

     /  December 20, 2010

    Great list Tammy! I will definitely try the cherry tomato with pesto. I like to put out candied pecans or just bowls of different types of nuts. Never thought of quesadillas as an appetizer, but what a great idea!

  17. I would not take one thing off this list! The blue cheese and fig one sounds positively DREAMY. Mmmm. I would add a new fave at my house lately…brie and green apple tartlets. I posted them if you want to peek (make sure to scroll down) http://sweetandcrumby.com/2010/11/07/suit-up-hot-dogs-youre-going-to-a-party/

  18. These are great ideas and they all sound delish. I can’t wait to try number 1…it sounds interesting. I look forward to hearing about your olive trees!

  19. Oh my god. That sounds so delicious. 🙂 Happy Holidays to you and yours, Tammy!

  20. Naomi

     /  December 26, 2010

    Ooh, too delicious, Tammy. You have a bunch of my favourites in here, as well as Nancy’s nachos. Enjoy!

  21. All great & tasty appetizers. The 1st one , I also make from time to time!

    MMMMMMMMMMMMM,..I hope you & your family had a lovely Christmas!

  22. Great cheatsheet when in dire straits, thank you!

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