Nothing gets a party started like a table top filled with platters piled high of appetizers and plentiful treats.
Remember that well-chosen appetizers can really set the tone of a great get-together with friends and family. If entertaining includes kids or health conscious visitors, make sure you have lots of small healthy bite-sized goodies available.
On the appetizer table, include trays of fresh cut vegetables, whole-wheat crackers, a cheese ball, and dips including cheesy spinach artichoke dip.
Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Dip
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup ranch salad dressing (I use Hidden Valley Light)
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, Ramono, or Asiago cheese
- 1 can (14 oz) or 1 jar (12 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
- 1 box (9-10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeeze to drain
- 1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I use a combo of Colby & Monterey) for topping
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix mayo, dressing, and Parmesan cheese in a bowl.
- Stir in artichokes and spinach.
- Spoon into a 1-quart casserole.
- Sprinkle with Monterey cheese.
- Cover and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
- Serve warm with baguette slices, crackers, or veggies. Refrigerate unused portions. This can easily be reheated in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
Planning on serving a few hot hors d’oeuvres, don’t forget to include spicy meatballs, shrimp wrapped in bacon, and cordon bleu bites.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Bites (courtesy of Hungry Girl)
** each cut cordon bleu will make 4-5 hors d’oeuvres on toothpicks
Ingredients (per cordon bleu):
- One 5-oz. raw boneless skinless lean chicken breast cutlet
- 1 wedge The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese
- 1 oz. (about 3 slices) 97 – 98% fat-free ham slices
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Put chicken in a large sealable plastic bag, squeeze out as much air as you can, and seal. Using a meat tenderizer or a can, carefully pound chicken through the bag until it is about 1/4-inch thick.
- Remove chicken from the bag, and season to taste with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Lay the chicken flat and spread the cheese wedge over it.
- Evenly layer the ham slices on top of the cheese.
- Starting with one of the longer sides (or any side, if it’s square), tightly roll up the chicken breast cutlet, and secure with toothpicks.
- Place chicken roll in a baking dish lined with foil and/or sprayed with nonstick spray, and then cover the baking dish with foil.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Carefully remove the foil covering the dish. Continue to bake (uncovered) for an additional 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
- Cut into 4-5 pinwheel slices and add toothpicks.
A party would not be complete without a sweet table. Cut up bite sized pieces of cake and serve them on cupcake liners. Have plenty of homemade cookies, fudge, and a special chocolate chip cheese ball with graham crackers or vanilla wafers.
Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball (courtesy of blue ribbon winner Anne Nunez)
- 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup butter, softened (do not use margarine)
- ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup miniature chocolate chips
- ¾ cup chopped pecans
- In mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy.
- Add sugars and vanilla and mix until well-combined.
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Gather cold mixture into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Chill another hour.
- Roll ball in pecans just before serving.