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Hors d'Oeuvres: Dozens of Quick and Easy Appetizers

Rose Mary's mother and all of her aunts are great Southern cooks. She likes to think she's not so bad herself.

My mom and I have spent hours over the years discussing appetizers and party foods, especially when she was an active member of the Women’s “Circle Group" of her church. Once a year she hosted, and it was like a competition the way these ladies tried to outdo each other with new and surprising treats.

These are some ideas I put together for quick easy appetizer recipes. Many are so easy, they don’t really need a recipe, or can be bought ready-made.

Food Table with Party Appetizers

Variety of food platters

Variety of food platters

Even for a small gathering it’s still nice to have several dips or spreads for tortilla chips, potato chips, wheat thins or raw vegetables. Dips are relatively inexpensive, and most are quick and easy to make. In college, my internship roommate and I would have coffee table junk food smorgasbords. We'd buy multiple kinds of chips and dips, and feed our school stress.

If you’ve never bought avocados and made your own guacamole, don’t be intimidated! I’m not encouraging you to bruise the produce, but the avocados should be slightly soft, and “give” a little when you hold them firmly.

  • 2 large or 5 small avocados
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • salt

1. Cut the avocados in half. The seed is large and very hard. Run your knife lengthwise around the avocado, then give it a twist and one side should pull away, leaving the seed on the other side. Remove the seed.

2. Use a spoon to remove the soft flesh of both halves. Mash the avocado with a fork.

3. Add chopped sweet onion and a little salt. Stir to combine.

4. You can add chopped, drained fresh tomato, but we like it with just the onion at our house.

5. Serve with tortilla chips.

How to Select and Prepare an Avocodo

Add a Homemade Touch to Your Salsa

I use On the Border salsa, which has a nice cilantro taste, and add chopped Texas Sweet onions

I use On the Border salsa, which has a nice cilantro taste, and add chopped Texas Sweet onions

Buy a jar of your favorite salsa. Then add a bit of something fresh. This is quick, but seems a little more homemade. Serve with tortilla chips. Sam’s Member’s Mark Bruchetta is really good with chips too.

  • 1 jar favorite salsa

Mix in one or more of the following:

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  • 1/4 c chopped sweet onion
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1-2 T chopped cilantro
  • 1 small can Ro-Tel tomatoes, 10 oz
  • 1 block Velveeta Cheese, 16 oz

1. Melt Velveeta. Most do this in the microwave, but you can melt on the stovetop in a non-stick pan. Stir frequently until completely melted.

2. Add Ro-Tel tomatoes. Stir to combine.

3. Transfer dip to a small crock pot to keep warm for your gathering. Serve with tortilla chips or other favorite chips.

Refried Bean Dip

Refried Bean Dip

Refried Beans

  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/4 cup sour cream, optional
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese

1. Heat beans. Add water if necessary until creamy.

2. Mix in a little sour cream if desired.

3. Place in serving dish. Top with cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese. Heat to melt cheese.

4. Serve with tortilla chips or other favorite chips.

Fresh Herb Dip

Dip made with fresh snipped chives

Dip made with fresh snipped chives

  • fresh herbs, such as dill or chives
  • 2 cups sour cream, or 1 cup sour cream & 1 cup plain yogurt

1. Wash, then spin or pat herbs dry. Finely chop and measure about 2 taplespoons.

2. Thoroughly mix herbs into sour cream (or sour cream and yogurt mixture).

3. Serve chilled with chips, crackers, or raw vegetables.

Spinach Dip in Bread Bowl

Spinach Dip made with Knorr soup mix.  Served with sourdough bread and carrots.

Spinach Dip made with Knorr soup mix. Served with sourdough bread and carrots.

This dip is always a crowd pleaser. If you want to really make an impression, buy a large round Hawaiian bread and hollow out the center for the dip. Cut the bread you removed into cubes to use with the dip. Also good for chips, crackers, and raw vegetables.

  • 1 envelop Lipton or Knorr dry Vegetable Recipe mix
  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach, well drained
  • 1 c mayonnaise
  • 1-2 c sour cream (depends on which mix you buy)
  • 1 can water chestnuts, chopped

1. Mix ingredients together.

2. Chill at least 4 hours before serving. Serve with chips, bread cubes, or vegetables.

Ranch Dip

Ranch Dip served in a pepper bowl

Ranch Dip served in a pepper bowl

  • 1 pkg ranch mix
  • 2 cups sour cream, or 1 c sour cream & 1 c yogurt

1. Mix one package of Ranch Dressing or Dip mix with sour cream or half sour cream and half Greek yogurt.

2. Serve chilled with chips or raw vegetables.

Chili Con Queso Dip

Country Home Creations Chili Con Queso Dip Mix made with Horizon Organic Sour Cream

Country Home Creations Chili Con Queso Dip Mix made with Horizon Organic Sour Cream

This is a mix I started buying from Hampe House in Gruene, Texas, 10 years ago. Hampe House is now out of business, but my brother tracked down the company who packaged the dips, Country Home Creations. That's where I order my dip mix, but you can also get Chili Con Queso mix at The Old Mill. I make my queso dip with 1 ½ cups plain yogurt and ½ cup sour cream or mayo. I try to always have packages of this mix on hand.

  • 1 pkg chili con queso dip mix
  • 2 c sour cream

1. Blend dip mix into sour cream, or yogurt and sour cream.

2. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

3. Serve chilled with chips or vegetables. I'm partial to baby carrots.

Sweet Dips and Spreads

Country Home Creations also sells sweet dips and spreads, made with cream cheese, or cream cheese and sour cream. I can personally vouch for the cherry almond and blueberry walnut spreads. Serve on something like Town House crackers.

Fruit Plate

Fruit Plate

Make a fruit plate, and serve with one or more of these for dipping:

Yogurt: Blend in a little softened cream cheese into vanilla yogurt to make it a bit thicker.

Pudding: Try chocolate pudding for dipping. Stir in some powdered sugar if you want to make it a little sweeter and more textured.

Caramel Dip: Combine 8 oz softened cream cheese with one container of caramel apple dip.

PBJ Dip: Blend together approximately equal amounts of peanut butter and jelly.

Cream Cheese: Blend together 1 cup mayonnaise and ¼ cup lemon juice. Then blend in 8 oz softened cream cheese. Add more lemon juice if needed for desired consistency.

Cucumber Spread

Turkish Cacik

Turkish Cacik

Cucumber spread or topping is popular in Mediterranean culture. The Turks call it Cacik and the Greeks call it Tzitziki. Since I lived in Turkey for 3 ½ years, my version is Turkish-inspired. To most Turks, cacik is actually more like a cold soup. The "American version" served in restaurants near the base is very thick and spread-able, and served with pita bread.

  • 2 baby cucumbers with skin
  • 2 cups thick Greek yogurt, like Fage, or 1 cup yogurt and 1 cup sour cream
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • salt to taste

1. Chop cucumbers very small, or coarse grate. They should be relatively dry if chopped, but pat off excess moisture with paper towels. If grated, they will be very wet. Spread onto several layers of paper towel, and place towels on top as well.

2. Combine cucumbers with yogurt or sour cream.

3. Add garlic, dried mint, and salt to taste. Combine thoroughly.

4. Serve with pita quarters. Flour tortilla quarters would do in a pinch.

Hummus topped with Warm Oil with Cumin

Hummus with cumin in olive oil

Hummus with cumin in olive oil

Buy your favorite commercial hummus flavor and serve with pita or tortilla quarters. You can make your own with canned chickpeas, but I prefer to used dried chickpeas. I find the canned chickpeas are too firm. I also use garbanzo powder and follow the package directions for hydrating.

  • 2 c dried chickpeas
  • 2 T tahini paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • salt to taste
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

1. Soak chickpeas 8 hours. Cook until soft, and drain.

2. Break apart chickpeas in a food processor.

3. Add tahini, garlic and lemon juice. Process until smooth. Salt to taste.

4. Heat oil in a skillet. Add cumin and heat until slightly browner.

5. Empty chickpea mix onto plate. Pour cumin oil over the top of your hummus. Serve on pita or tortilla quarters.

Cheese Ball with Water Crackers

Cheese Ball with water crackers