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Appetizers or hors d'oeuvres Options are Endless

Appetizers or hors d'oeuvres options are endless. With careful planning and advanced preparation, mouth-watering appetizers can be made. Be sure to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.


Christmas parties with friends and family usually means games, presents and food. For me, it means games and appetizers or hors d’oeuvres at the party this weekend I will be attending.

Appetizers or hors d’oeuvres options are endless. I am sure you probably have a go-to favorite that you always make. For me, I love to make a spinach artichoke dip in the crockpot or  sausage balls. With careful planning and advanced preparation, mouth-watering appetizers can be made with minimal time and effort.

If you are hosting the party, plan a wide variety of appetizers. Decide if you will serve them hot or cold. Hot foods have to stay hot and cold foods cold. Make dips and spreads in advance; many times their flavor improves if stored in the refrigerator two or three days before serving. If serving hot appetizers, serve in stages so as one batch is emptied another piping hot one is ready. Electric plates, slow cookers or chafing dishes are convenient for keeping hors d’oeuvres warm. Hot foods should be held at 140 degrees or warmer. Cold foods should be held at 39 degrees F or colder. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice. Otherwise, use small serving trays and replace them often.

When serving more than one kind of appetizer, offer a variety of contrasting colors, textures and flavors. A cool, creamy yogurt dip with fresh vegetables, a rich cheese fondue, a dish of sweet and sour meatballs, and curried chicken spread is a multi-taste and texture combination. For calorie conscious guests, try to provide a few low-calorie choices.

In general, the number of appetizers needed will depend upon the length of time the guests will remain. For a four hour party, plan on about eight appetizers per person during the first two hours and four appetizers per person for the remaining two hours.

Make the appetizers appealing by using the food itself as decoration. Huge crackers make novel display platters for molded spreads or sliced meat and cheeses. Festive containers for dips and spreads can be made by scooping out squash, eggplant, tomatoes, green or red peppers, apples, pineapples, melons or avocados. Braided or shaped bread loaves can also be hollowed out and filled with dips or spreads. For elegant finger sandwiches, use cookie cutters to cut the bread. Also, instead of spreading the filling on open-faced sandwiches, use a pastry bag to apply an attractive swirl of spread.

As with all food, the two hour rule should be followed: foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Keep track of how long foods have been sitting on the buffet table and discard anything there two hours or more. You do not want to make your guests ill.

Add Chunky Cranberry Spread to your holiday buffet. It makes about one and one half cups. Keep chilled while serving.

Chunky Cranberry Spread

  • 1 8-oz. package low-fat cream cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoons low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds or other nut
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, preferably fresh
  1. Place cream cheese in a medium bowl and soften at room temperature.
  2. Mash and work with a fork until texture is light enough to combine easily with other ingredients.
  3. Gradually add just enough milk so cheese becomes soft and easy to spread.
  4. Mix in remaining ingredients.
  5. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 days ahead.
  6. Flavors will blend and mellow if this recipe is made ahead of time and allowed to refrigerate at least a few hours before serving.
  7. Spread on slices of a whole-grain bread or Melba toast.

Nutritional Information per serving: 36 calories, 2g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat), 3 g. carbohydrate, 1 g. protein, less than 1 g. dietary fiber, 29 mg. sodium.                                                          

For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse.


By Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Miller County Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609

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