Cozy Appetizers and Small Bites for Your Next Holiday Party

The holidays are a time that will always elicit warm memories of home; fuzzy socks sliding on wood floors, the sound of classic Christmas movies coming from the living room, and mouthwatering scents of comfort food wafting throughout the house. In other words, magic.

The best kind of food warms your soul. And, I may be a little partial, but the women in my family are pretty stellar when it comes to holiday cooking. Food is the glue that brings families together during this special time of year, and I’d love to share a few of my favorite Christmas small bites with you that are close to my heart.

Apple Cheddar Triscuit Bites

1 box of Triscuits, Original flavor

1 container of pre-sliced cracker cut extra sharp cheddar cheese (Substitute an 8-10 oz. block, cut into slices of desired thickness, if you can’t find pre-sliced.)

1 Granny Smith apple


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, place Triscuits in a single layer. Place one slice of cheese on each cracker. Cut apples into wedges, medium thickness, and then cut wedges in half. Place a half wedge on each cheese-topped Triscuit, and sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon. Bake five minutes or until cheese is slightly melted. Serve warm and enjoy!

Baked Stuffed Clams

15-20 clam shells (We use real shells, but you can also use aluminum clam shell tins.)

½ lb. unsalted butter

1 large onion, diced small

1 stalk celery, diced small

3 cloves garlic, minced

5 6.5 oz. cans minced clams

2 tbsp fresh parsley (Parsley flakes will also work if you don’t have fresh.)

⅛ tsp cayenne pepper

1 sleeve of Ritz Crackers, crushed

4 slices bread (any kind), shredded

Bread crumbs, original

Paprika, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add diced onion, celery, and garlic, and sauté until tender. Remove from heat and add five cans of minced clams. (Note: two cans should be added WITH the juice, three cans should be drained prior to adding.) Stir in parsley and cayenne and mix until combined.

On the side, crush one sleeve of Ritz crackers. (Tip: place crackers in a gallon sized Ziploc bag and use your hands to crush.) Shred four slices of bread with your hands (or a cheese grater) and work both Ritz and bread pieces into the clam mixture. There will be excess liquid. Add small handfuls of breadcrumbs slowly, combining until mixture is more solidified, but not completely dry.

Spoon mixture into clam shells and sprinkle tops with paprika. Place shells onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Recipe will make 15-20 shells, depending on size of the shells.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin

1 cup sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 tsp milk

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir dry ingredients, along with dissolved baking soda, into pumpkin mixture and mix well. Stir in chips and vanilla until just mixed. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake for 9 minutes. Cookies will be small and fluffy (and delicious!) Yields 5 dozen.