December 29, 2011 at 8:45 a.m.

Easy to make New Year's party appetizers


I hope you had a joy filled Christmas celebration. When you have 23 people for the afternoon and evening you're sure to have good foods, games and a lot of laughter, and that makes for a wonderful day of togetherness. We have a lot of very good cooks in our family and they all contribute to the meal. I am grateful for that as I can sit back and watch them doing things that I did. Sandy would always bring up the fact that I "moved around" a lot as in shaking the back of my body when stirring the gravy. "Do you remember when mom used to do this when she was making gravy?" And the girls would break out in uncontrollable laughter. That goes into the memory book!

And now we are heading into a new year and there will be a lot of parties and a lot of appetizers and now you know what it's about today. The recipes are easy to make and don't take much time preparing them.

CREAMY SHRIMP DIP

1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. mayonnaise

4 green onions chopped, using most of the green part

1/2 t. each, celery seed and garlic powder

2 - 6 oz. cans tiny shrimp, rinsed and drained

Dippers: Potato chips, crackers, or fresh veggies

In a bowl, combine first five ingredients; mix well. Stir in shrimp. Refrigerate, covered for 3-4 hours. Serve with the dippers.

Makes two cups.

+++++

HOT PIZZA DIP

1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 t. Italian seasoning

1/4 t. garlic powder

2 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese

1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 c. pizza sauce

1/2 c. each, minced red sweet pepper and green pepper

Chips, or crackers

In a bowl, combine first three ingredients; spread on bottom on a 9" pie plate or other ovenproof dish with an edge. Combine cheeses; sprinkle half over cream cheese layer. Top with pizza sauce and peppers. Sprinkle with rest of cheeses. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve warm with chips or crackers or both.

Makes 3-1/2 cups.

+++++

This dip probably doesn't sound too exciting but it's quite good for you. Easy, quick to make and something different.

PEANUT BUTTER DIP 'N' APPLES

1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 c. each, peanut butter and packed brown sugar

1/4 c. milk

3 to 4 apples cut in wedges

In a mixing bowl, combine first four ingredients; mix well. Serve with different colored apples for a festive look.

Makes 2-2/3 c. Note: You can use chunky peanut butter if you wish.

+++++

This beverage is a spicy hot drink that I serve every year at holiday time. There are several versions but I concocted this drink and everyone really likes it.

HOT WASSAIL

5 c. apple cider

2 c. cranberry juice

1/3 c. orange juice

10 whole cloves

4 - 3 to 4" long cinnamon sticks

2 Heaping Tablespoons brown sugar

1 T. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a 3 qt. saucepan. Bring to a slow boil; simmer 15 minutes. Serve in mugs. If you have a big pump-style coffee server this works good to keep the wassail hot, or you could pour it into a crock pot to keep it hot.

About all the dips using cream cheese... you can use reduced fat or "lite" cream cheese. I don't think you will be disappointed with these recipes.

Thought for the Day: Be smart if you're partying on New Year's Eve. I'm guessing you know what I'm going to say. Serve hot Wassail as the beverage of the night. Can't get drunk on that and you won't be stuck with a monstrous headache on New Year's Day.

It's been a good 2011 for us and I hope it has been for you. Look in the mirror and smile. It's a good way to start the New Year. I hope I was able to add some new recipes for you to try over the past years. "The good Lord willin' and if the creeks don't rise" (one of my favorite sayings), I'll continue to write this column as long as I have readers like you who might say, "I like the recipe for, (whatever) in your column Alice. Thanks folks, it puts a smile on my face. Alice.

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