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Recipes for Holiday Side Dishes and Quick Appetizers

Updated on September 4, 2012


While the turkey is roasting and its aroma fills the home, family members must wait for their glorious holiday feast. Some people won't eat a bite all day because they want to save room for extra helpings. Then there are others, like me, who will eat all day. Since waiting to eat can be agony for us food lovers here are a few simple appetizer recipes for your holiday gathering:


I love homemade hummus because it can be seasoned exactly how you like it. This is the season when people begin worry about their waist line. Hummus is great because it's a healthy holiday snack that pairs well with a variety of foods. Plus, it is incredibly simple to make if you have a food processor. Don't worry if you don't have a processor it is possible to make it by hand. After all isn't that how they used to do it? It will require a bit of muscle strength, but a potato masher or a firm spoon will get the job done. My basic recipe is:

  • 1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • a pinch of salt
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds
  • olive oil

Add the first 5 ingredients to the processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until it's about the consistency of peanut butter. Have a taste test and adjust the seasoning if needed. Cumin and/or cayenne pepper can be added if you want to spice it up a bit.

Underwood Chicken Spread
Underwood Chicken Spread | Source

Chicken Cheese Ball

Growing up we had a neighbor who always made this cheese ball. It's not the orange ball covered with nuts you may be imagining. (A friend of mine was shocked when I arrived at her cookout without the orange ball.) I'm not sure where Marsha found this recipe, but people always fall in love with it.

  • 2 packages of cream cheese
  • 1 can of Underwood Chicken Spread
  • 2 or 3 chopped green onions
  • a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

Combine the above ingredients in a mixer, or by hand, and shape it into a ball. We've always eaten it on Ritz crackers, but I'm sure most crackers will work.

Simple Apple Cheese Ball

This recipe is a sweet alternative to the recipe above. I think it is perfect for kids who wouldn't like the onion flavor in the chicken cheese ball. Plus, if you regularly buy cream cheese it is possible that you could make it right now.

  • 2 packages of cream cheese
  • 1 finely diced Granny Smith Apple
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix the ingredients together and use it as a spread on graham crackers or vanilla wafers.

Rye Bread Stuffing
Rye Bread Stuffing | Source

Side Dishes

Rye Bread Stuffing

I've never seen or heard of this recipe outside my family. My great great grandparents came to America from Germany and I grew up in a very German city called: Cincinnati. I'm not sure if they brought the recipe with them, but I remember making it with my great grandmother. If you love rye bread I highly recommend trying it sometime.

  • 2 loaves of rye bread
  • 1 diced medium onion
  • 3 or 4 stalks of celery diced
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • chicken broth

Tear the loaves of bread into bite sized pieces the night before it's made. Spread the pieces on cookie sheets and let them dry overnight. The next day, saute the onion and celery in butter until the onions are translucent. Combine the bread with the onion mixture and moisten with chicken broth. The bread shouldn't be soaking wet or dry and crunchy, but somewhere in between. Put the stuffing into a baking dish and cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. If you want a bit of a crust on top, uncover the dish and put it back in the oven for 20 minutes or so.

*There is an herb garden on my patio so my tradition has been to add fresh thyme and sage to the recipe.


Mom's Cranberry Sauce

I've only tasted cranberry sauce out of a can when it was served at someone else's house. Trying to be polite I thought I'd give it a try. It wasn't completely horrible, but it did leave me longing for the sauce mom made during the holidays. Mom's recipe has a fresher and sweeter flavor without the metallic aftertaste.

Puree the following ingredients in a food processor, apple seeds, and orange peel included. Let the mixture sit until it begins to look juicy.

  • 1 bag of cranberries
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 whole Granny Smith Apple
  • 1 whole orange

In a separate bowl combine the Jello with boiling water and stir to dissolve.

  • 1 small box of cherry Jello
  • 1 cup of boiling water

Mix the gelatin with cold water and let it sit until it thickens.

  • 1 tablespoon of Knox gelatin
  • 1/4 cup of cold water

When all 3 steps are complete add the gelatin to the Jello and then combine with the cranberry mixture. It can be topped with nuts or marshmallows, but I've always preferred it just as it is.


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