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Here’s What’s Cooking

By Betty Bivins Cook
Here’s a collection of appetizers ready to make for New Year’s or other occasions when finger foods are called for. The Spinach Ball recipe was a favorite of my late mother-in-law, Thelma Cook, who made them for all of our special occasions, including family reunions. They were always a hit.
Stuffed Celery Sticks

7 stalks celery, trimmed

1/2 cup shredded Swiss, Cheddar, or smoked Gouda cheese

1/2 cup cooked ham, finely chopped

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon mustard

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Garnish: smoked paprika

With a paper towel, pat celery stalks completely dry; set aside. In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients except paprika; blend well. Spread each celery stalk with one tablespoon of cheese mixture; cut into 3-inch pieces. Arrange celery in a relish plate; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate Sprinkle with paprika at serving time. Serves 4 to 6.

Bacon-Wrapped Sausages

1 pound hickory smoked bacon, slices cut in thirds

14-ounce package cocktail sausages

2 to 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

Wrap a piece of bacon around each sausage. Fasten with a toothpick, if desired. Place sausages on an ungreased 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until sausages are warmed through, and bacon is crisp. Makes about 3 dozen.

Fried Green Beans

½ pound fresh green beans, trimmed

1 egg, beaten

1 cup milk

1 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 cup all-purpose flour

Oil for frying

Garnish: Ranch salad dressing

Add beans to a saucepan of boiling water; boil for 5 minutes. Drain; rinse and pat dry. Whisk together egg and milk in a bowl; mix breadcrumbs and cumin in a separate bowl. Place flour in a third bowl. In a skillet, heat one inch of oil to 350 degrees over medium-high heat. Coat beans with flour; dip into egg mixture, then into crumb mixture. Fry beans until golden; drain on paper towels. Serve warm with ranch dressing. Serves 4.

Sausage Taco Balls

1-pound mild pork sausage

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1-1/4-ounce package taco seasoning mix

1-1/4 cup biscuit baking mix

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Add all ingredients to a large bowl. With your hands or a heavy-duty stand mixer with a dough hook, mix until well combined. Roll into one-inch balls; place one inch apart on ungreased rimmed baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Makes about 4 dozen.

BLT Bites

16 to 20 cherry tomatoes

8 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

½ cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup green onion, chopped

3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato; scoop out and discard pulp. Invert tomatoes on paper towel to drain. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl; mix well. Spoon mixture into each tomato; refrigerate for several hours before serving. Serves 6.

Spinach Dip

2 packages frozen spinach, cooked

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1 package Knor-Swiss Vegetable soup mix

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup real mayonnaise

Drain spinach well. Chop to eliminate long pieces. Combine with remaining ingredients; refrigerate overnight. Serve with crackers or chips.

Deviled Ham Cheeseball

16-ounce block cream cheese

Chopped pecans

2 small cans deviled ham

Soften dream cheese to room temperature. Mix cream cheese and deviled ham. Chill, form ball, and roll in chopped pecans.

Dried Beef Ball

16-ounce (2 cakes) cream cheese

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 jars dried beef, cut into small pieces

1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise

8 green onions, chopped

Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce and onions. Divide dried beef into thirds. Put 2/3 beef into cheese mixture and mix well. Roll into ball. Roll ball in remaining 1/3 dried beef.

Fruit Dip

2 (8-ounce) tubs whipped cream cheese, softened to room temperature

8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained (reserve juice)

¼ cup powdered sugar (according to taste)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix and add a tablespoon or more of reserved juice. Serve with sliced apples or any other fruits for dipping.
Fruit Dip
8-ounces cream cheese
1 jar marshmallow crème
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Use as a dip for fruit tray containing melon chunks, strawberries, apple slices, etc. Furnish fancy toothpicks for spearing.

Microwave Chex Trail Mix

3 cups Corn Chex cereal

3 cups Rice Chex cereal

3 cups Wheat Chex cereal

1 cup mixed nuts

1 cup bite-size pretzels

6 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 -1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

¾ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, nuts, and pretzels. Set aside; In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter, uncovered, on high about 40 seconds. Stir in seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture, stir until evenly coated. Microwave, uncovered, on high 5-6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

Pimento Cheese Spread

1 package cream cheese

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup mayonnaise

Green olives to suit taste

Small jar chopped pimentos

Let cream cheese soften to room temperature. Mix in shredded cheese, pimentos, and mayonnaise. Add olives and mix. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Spinach Balls

2 (10-ounce) packages chopped spinach, thawed and drained well

2 cups Pepperidge Farm herb seasoned stuffing

¾ cup margarine, melted

½ cup Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon Accent or seasoned salt

5 beaten eggs

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 medium onion, finely chopped

Mix and form into balls. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes on a greased baking sheet. May be frozen to cook later; just thaw before cooking.

Spinach Dip

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach

8-ounce package cream cheese

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup green onions, chopped

1-1/2 teaspoon dill weed

1 teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1 package Knorr’s vegetable dip mix

Cook spinach according to directions and drain well. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, except spinach and onion. Blend until smooth. Fold in spinach and onion. Refrigerate.

Taco Dip

2 (8-ounce) cakes cream cheese

1 small carton sour cream

1 onion, chopped fine

1 package taco seasoning mix

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 head lettuce, shredded

1 can black olives

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Mix cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning. Spread on platter. Sprinkle tomatoes, onions, black olives and lettuce in layers. Sprinkle layer of Cheddar cheese on top. Serve with nachos.

Tortilla Pinwheels

8-ounce sour cream

8-ounce real mayonnaise

1 bunch green onion tops, finely chopped

10-ounce package frozen spinach

1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dry dressing mix

1 package extra-large tortillas

Defrost and completely drain spinach. Squeeze to make sure all juice is out of spinach. Place all ingredients in bowl and mix well. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Spread on tortillas and roll up. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours. Slice and serve.

Yummy Fruit Dip

8-ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed

7-ounce jar marshmallow crème

3-ounce package cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup sweetened condensed milk

In mixing bowl, combine whipped topping, marshmallow creme, and cream cheese. Mix until smooth. Add vanilla and sweetened condensed milk. Mix well. Store chilled.


1 large Velveeta block of cheese

1 package sausage

16-ounce container sour cream

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can Ro-Tel

1 stick butter

 Melt butter and Velveeta until creamy. Add sour cream, Ro-Tel and cream of chicken soup; stir well. Add sausage.
Seasoned Crackers
1 box saltine crackers
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon red crushed pepper flakes
1 package Ranch-style dressing mix
Mix dry ingredients in oil. Pour over crackers in a large resealable bowl or container. Turn container over several times first day and second day (for a total of 48 hours from start). Eat and enjoy.
Mini Cheese and Onion Pastries
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 (8-ounce) cans Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 teaspoons oil
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, combine cheese and onions. Separate dough into 16 triangles; cut each in half diagonally to make 32 triangles. Place rounded teaspoonful of cheese mixture on center of each triangle. Bring corners to center over filling, overlapping ends; press gently to seal. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Brush each lightly with oil; sprinkle with dill weed. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. 32 appetizers.

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