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Affordable apps for holiday gatherings
Make tasty treats on the cheap to jazz up your party
From book clubs to Sunday School classes, everyone wants to have a holiday party. There are a lot of easy-to-make appetizers that are tasty, but not too pricey. - photo by Tom Reed

Affordable, easy appetizers

BLT Bites

1 5 oz box Melba Toast (around 25 pieces)

5 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced lengthwise

13 cooked pieces of bacon, cut in half

1 cup of shredded lettuce

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/3 teaspoon fresh, cracked black pepper

1/3 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, pepper, garlic powder and salt.

Lay out the Melba Toast pieces on the intended serving tray. Place 1 slice of tomato on top of each piece of toast. Next add a small dollop of the spiced mayonnaise mixture, followed by a few shreds of lettuce. Top each, with a piece of bacon.

Sweet Potato Moons

3 large sweet potatoes, thinly sliced into half-circles

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine the sugar, nutmeg and ginger.

Place the sweet potato pieces in a shallow dish. Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes, followed by the sugar mixture. Toss the potatoes, to evenly coat with the oil and spices.

Place the potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Be careful not to over-crowd the pan, there should be space between each potato. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until crisp. Serve warm.


Sausage Balls

1 pound ground sausage

1 cup baking mix

1 cup finely, shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1/3 teaspoon black pepper


1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the sausage, cheese, baking mix, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well with your gingers, The mixture will be crumbly. Form into 1-inch balls, squeezing the mixture so it holds, then roll it between the palms of your hands to form the balls.

Place the balls on the baking sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

To make the dip, combine the mayonnaise, mustard and honey in a bowl. Serve with the sausage balls. 


The celebratory season is in full swing and that means one thing: holiday parties.

From book clubs to Sunday School classes, everyone wants to have a holiday party, but not everyone wants to host it.

If you've volunteered to host the bunch, but are afraid that you'll be trapped in the kitchen forever, don't fret. If nothing else, the economic downturn has taught most people to do more with less. Why shouldn't that lesson carry-over to holiday parties?

Instead of trying to wow everyone with the most complicated recipes in your repertoire, why not focus on a few simple dishes? Keep in mind that simple isn't synonymous with boring.

Throwing a tapas party is a perfect opportunity to showcase that very principle. For the uninitiated, "tapas" are smaller servings of food; think single bites and appetizers.

Although the word sounds fancy, the food doesn't have to be.

For instance why not make up a platter of BLTs for your guests. But instead of sandwiching everything between two slices of bread, jazz up the presentation and layer the ingredients open-face style on a piece of Melba toast.

Who doesn't love warm bacon, juicy tomatoes and crisp lettuce? And if you happen to have non-pork fans on your hands, feel free to use turkey bacon instead.

Another easy tapas remedy is sausage balls. Our recipe, including a dip, has fewer than 10 ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your kitchen. Although pork sausage is typically the main ingredient, the dish would be just as tasty with alternatives like turkey or even chicken sausage.

The beauty of sausage balls is that they can be formed in advance and stored in the fridge until you are ready to serve them. If you do decide to go that route, be sure to let them reach room temperature before you bake them — otherwise, they may dry out in the oven.

If you can't fathom having a shindig without the all important vegetable tray, there's a way to jazz that up too. Try purchasing carrot chips, instead of carrot sticks. The fun, wavy pattern may even entice the kiddies to up their vegetable intake for the day.

And instead of using the traditional salad dressing as a dip, why not make an actual dip that has a little more weight to it?

Simply mix in a packet of dry, ranch dressing mix into a 16 oz container of sour cream. The sour cream adds a little extra tang and gives your dip more of a presence.