#FRIDAYFOOD: Holiday Party Foods

bacon-tomato-cupsI love holiday party foods! Some families have party snacks throughout Christmas Day, while others have “finger foods” to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and the many, many Christmas parties throughout December. What a wonderful time of the year!

I asked a few Facebook and Twitter friends to tell me their favorite holiday appetizers, and I had a wide variety of responses.

Pat Boatman and Marcella Moore said they loved spinach dip with Hawaiian bread. Wanda Roche’ love queso dip and chips, but also is a big fan of spinach dip and Hawaiian bread.

Reba Thompson loves confetti, made by her sister Judy. While I don’t have Judy’s recipe, I have one for Chocolate Confetti Squares that I have been wanting to try.

Chocolate Confetti Squares

¼ cup butter or margarine

½ cup of peanut butter

1 cup of chocolate chips

1 (250 g) bag of large marshmallows

Melt butter and peanut butter. Stir in chocolate chips. Cool. Add marshmallows. Press in a 9”x9” pan and refrigerate. Cut into squares.

Kevin Hitt likes sausage balls over the holidays. It is also a favorite at the home of Janie Spraberry, along with “white trash.”

White I didn’t get her recipe, I am sure Janie would approve of this recipe for “White Trash:”

White Trash Snack

2 cups of Chex cereal

2 cups of Cheerios cereal

2 cups of peanuts or 2 cups of salted pretzel sticks

2 cups of M&M’s

3 (16 oz.) bags of white chocolate chips

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave and then pour into the bowl with the cry ingredients. Lay the mixture flat on cookie sheets and refrigerate until hardened. Remove from refrigerator and break the mixture apart. YUM!

Ann King loves the crackers you make with canola oil and ranch dressing and red pepper flakes.

“Easy and delicious,” King said. “I make them sometimes with oyster crackers instead of saltines when I’m feeling fancy.”

Christie Bailey Colvin said she also loved the crackers, but also adds dill weed in hers for extra tartness.

Colvin also like a dried beef cheeseball and pepper jelly and cream cheese. She also makes Cheesy Bacon and Tomato Cups for special holiday events.

Cheesy Bacon and Tomato Cups

4 slices bacon

12   slices firm white sandwich bread

2   green onions

3-4   firm ripe plum tomatoes, divided

4 oz (125 g) Swiss cheese (1 cup/250 mL grated), divided

1/4 cup (50 mL) light mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook bacon in (8-in./20-cm) Sauté Pan over medium heat 4-5 minutes or until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Roll up bacon in paper towels and squeeze to crumble; set aside. Meanwhile, remove crusts from bread with a utility knife. Press one bread square into each well of the brownie pan. (The Brownie Pan maintains the shape of the bread squares while baking.) Thinly slice green onions; set aside green tops for garnish. Place remaining onions in a bowl. Cut two of the tomatoes in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Dice tomatoes; add to bowl and set aside.  Slice remaining tomatoes into 12 slices. Grate cheese.  Add ½ cup (125 mL) of the cheese, bacon and mayonnaise to batter bowl; mix well. Using a scoop, fill each toast cup evenly with tomato mixture. Top each with one tomato slice. Sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese.  Bake 7-8 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with green onion tops.

Colvin likes a good appetizer, and one she uses regularly was taught to her by her Aunt Tillie.

Candied Smoked Sausage

Slice a lb of smoked sausage thin (Christie loves Country Pleasin). Fry it in a black skillet until it’s just starting to brown. Sprinkle 1/3 cup white sugar over the sausage and then a drizzle of water (just enough to get it to start melting) stir over medium high heat until it becomes thick and glossy/caramel-ly/sticky. Serve warm with toothpicks & a good mustard.

Colvin also likes to take her favorite bacon dip to holiday parties and events.

Bacon Dip

1 16 oz. carton of sour cream

1 jar Hormel bacon bits

1 8 oz. pkg. of softened cream cheese

2 cups of shredded cheese

1 green onion

Mix all ingredients together. Pour in baking dish and bake 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees covered. Dip with chips or crackers.

Patti Drapala loves a very tasty cheeseball along with spicy cheddar cheese straws.

Rachel Woods loves shrimp dip during the holidays, and Patty Draper agrees!

“This is a favorite with all our friends,” Draper said. “I HAVE to make each year for New Years!”

Layered Shrimp Spread

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 cup seafood cocktail sauce (Patty uses 1 bottle of Heinz regular cocktail sauce.)

Horseradish to taste (Patty usually doesn’t use this. She puts pepper on the cocktail sauce for extra flavor)

2 cups (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese

1 or 2 cans (4 oz. each) of shrimp, rinsed and drained (Patty sometimes uses crabmeat and she doesn’t rinse it, just drains it very well.

3 green onions, chopped or as many to taste (great for color)

½ cup of finely chopped tomato (Patty said she usually doesn’t use this unless tomatoes are in season because they make the dip watery. If you do decide to use them, seed them and let them drain on a paper towel for several minutes before placing in dip.)

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise until smooth. Spread on a 12 inch round serving platter. This can be dones in advance or even overnight and refrigerated until party time. It helps to keep the dip from getting “watery.” Mix horseradish with cocktail sauce as desired. Spread over the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with cheese, shrimp or crab, onions and tomato. Cover and chill. Serve with corn chips, toast rounds or other crackers.

You can use “light” or reduced calorie versions of mayo, cream cheese and/or sour cream if you would like. Draper said she never uses light mayonnaise, because she has not found one that her family enjoys. She also uses the finely shreadded Colby min cheese found at the grocery store, if she doesn’t have finely shredded mozzarella. She said any mild cheese is good with this recipe.

Dollar General usually has either canned crab or shrimp for about $1.50 so this isn’t really expensive to make, but it makes a great impression!”

Draper said she is experimenting with the zesty cocktail sauce that has just come out on the market this year.

“You can also used chopped shrimp that you boiled (for this recipe) if you ever have any leftover,” Draper said. “That is a problem at our house!”

But one of the more unusual responses came from Paul Russell. He said for the holidays he loved Pig candy, smoked cheese, and corn flake chews…just to name a few. Which lead me to ask, “What is Pig Candy?” Lucky for me, he brought some by the office this week so I could have my own “Pig Candy” experience.

Russell said he uses a recipe from howtobbqright.com.

“Malcom Reed is a championship griller and has numerous recipes,” said Russell.

Paul’s Pig Candy

2 cups Sugar in the Raw

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

Garlic rub/garlic powder or butt rub to taste.

Coat thick sliced bacon (Wright’s thick sliced bacon) on both sides then into smoker at 230 degrees for 3 to 3 1/2 hours with Apple wood or wood of your choice. Let cool ( if possible ) then cut into bite size pieces.

The recipe from howtobbqright.com. for Pig Candy or Candied Bacon includes:

Candied Bacon or “Pig Candy”

3 lb. of Thick Sliced Smoked Bacon (Wright brand is what Reed uses)

½ Cup Brown Sugar

¼ Cup Bbq Rub (The BBQ Rub. of course)

½ teaspoons of Cayenne Pepper

Reed uses a cookie sheet and a full size cooling rack to make clean up easy. Just cover the cookie sheet with aluminum foil, sit the rack on the sheet, and spray the cooling rack with cooking spray. The mess won’t be bad at all and it keeps your smoker clean too.Combine the Brown Sugar, Rub, and Cayenne in a bowl and pour into a shaker bottle. Lay the strips of bacon out on the wire cooling rack and dust each side with a generous amount of the sugary mixture. Reed goes extra heavy. Fire up the cooker to 350 degrees and place the pan on the center rack. The total cook time is about 45 min. – 1 hour. Flip each piece of bacon over half way through the process. The sugar mixture caramelizes over the bacon and gives it a sticky, candy coating. The bacon strips should be bendable not crispy. After they cool for 30 minutes, it will harden a little. Just leave it on the wire racks and leave it alone, if you can.

What is better than candy-covered bacon? Paul says this appetizer is never around long. It may or may not make it to a party. What a great way to celebrate!

If you have recipes you would like to share, email Gwen Sisson at gwenwoodssisson@yahoo.com.



This column was published in the December 29, 2016 edition of The Winona Times.

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