Category Archives: Appetizers

Jack-o-Lantern Fruit Cups


These fruit cups were a big hit at my Halloween brunch.  The
example I found online used oranges, but they seemed a bit too big with everything else I was serving, so I used Cuties.

First slice off the top of each Cutie.  Use a sharp edge spoon to
separate the flesh from the peel and  work your way around the fruit, going a little deeper each round.  Finally, the fruit will loosen and you can slide it out as a big ball.  Rinse them (and your hands–very sticky!) and set them on a towel to dry.


It might be easier with an orange than a Cutie, but carving the face was pretty tricky.  It only took one for me to decide to just draw the faces on with a Sharpie.  If I were doing a brunch for just a few
people, I’d probably go ahead and carve them, but for 20, it was just too much work.

Once your cups are ready, load them up with fruit.  I used
blackberries, raspberries and mango, but any fruit will do.

These can easily be prepared the day ahead.  Just cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Treats


Most anything wrapped in bacon would probably be a hit, but these Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Treats are AMAZING!

If at all possible, you will want to use fresh pineapple.  The convenience of canned pineapple just isn’t worth the difference in flavor and texture.  For those of you who’ve never cut up a pineapple
before, let me reassure you… it’s very easy.  I had never done it before either.

Cutting a pineapple:
1.  Slice off the top and discard.
2.  Slice off the bottom to create a flat surface and discard
3.  Stand the pineapple upright and slice down each side, cutting off the spikes and leaving only the yellow flesh.
4.  Now slice down each side and discard the core.
5.  Cut the slices into 1″ chunks.
That’s it.

To make the Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Treats:
Wrap each pineapple chunk in one-half slice of bacon, securing with a toothpick.  Place them side by side on a rack over a foil lined baking sheet.  (You can place them directly on the foil, but they cook more evenly and drain better on a rack.)


Top each treat with a pinch of brown sugar, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so, until the bacon is crispy and browned nicely.  Serve immediately.

Oh so yummy!!






Hot Bacon Crab Dip

Bacon Crab - finished 2

Bacon is always a hit, but this Hot Bacon Crab Dip vanished quickly.  Everyone raved about it.  It would probably taste just as yummy cold, but I doubt it will ever last long enough for me to find out.

Bacon Crab - ingredients

8 oz cream cheese
8 oz crab meat
1 cup crumbled cooked bacon
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 green onions, chopped
Juice of one lemon, about 3 T

Combine first 6 ingredients.  Spread in baking dish.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top.
Bacon Crab - breadcrumbs

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Serve hot.

I doubled the recipe so it filled a 9×12 baking dish.

Print recipe:  Hot Bacon Crab Dip



Ladybug Caprese Bites

Ladybug - finished

Talk about playing with your food! These ladybugs are simple to make and will delight any crowd.

As of yet I have been unsuccessful in tracking down the origin to credit the person who actually invented these.  Kudos, whoever you are!! and thanks to my friends who sent links to me because they knew I would enjoy making these.

So let’s get to the how of it.

1. Clean and separate basil leaves and display them on your serving tray with the pretty, green side up.
Ladybug - leaves

2. Slice mozzarella very thinly, and place one slice on top of each leaf. (Some versions show the leaf on top of the mozzarella, but I found it easier for guests to pick them up when the leaf was on bottom.)
Ladybug - cheese

3. Slice cherry tomatoes in half. Then slice each half about three-fourths of the way through. Lay each half tomato on a slice of mozzarella and spread to look like a ladybug’s wings.

4. Place a black olive slice on the uncut end of each tomato to form the head. The rounded ends of the olives work best.

5. Place a little balsamic glaze in a dish and use a toothpick or skewer to paint dots of the glaze on the ladybug wings.
Ladybug - glaze      Ladybug - dots

That’s it. How easy! and how cute!



Yummy guacamole.  Always a hit and actually quite simple to make.

Let’s start with a disclaimer as to the amount of each ingredient.  I just eyeball it, so my guacamole tastes a bit different every time—sometimes heavier on the garlic, sometimes more oniony, sometimes saltier.  And of course, there are hundreds of varieties of guacamole you can try using various spices and your own secret
ingredients.  But here’s generally how I make my guacamole, and it’s a big hit every time.

4 large avocados
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup mild green chilies, diced
1/4 cup tomato skins, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Lime juice, to taste (start with half a lime)
Salt, to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon)

With guacamole you don’t want the juicy pulp of the tomato, just the skin and a little flesh.  I generally use Roma tomatoes because I like the flavor.  Slice off the ends and cut the tomato in half lengthwise.  Then using a large flat edge knife, separate the skin from the pulp of the tomato.  Pop the wonderful juicy pulp center into your mouth and enjoy as you repeat with the second half.  Then chop the skins.
Guac--chop tomatoes

I generally buy my chilies canned and diced and drain them in a small strainer.
Guac--drain chilis

When I made this batch of guacamole, I suddenly discovered I was out of fresh garlic.  What?!  After the panic subsided, I used freeze dried garlic and soaked it for a minute in a bit of the juice of the chilies.  It was okay, but I definitely prefer fresh garlic.
Guac--chopped ingredients

There are many ways to slice an avocado, but my go-to method when making guacamole is to make small slits lengthwise and then crosswise and scoop out with a large spoon.  Since I like my guacamole chunky, this makes the avocado bits the perfect size.
Guac--sliced avocados

Then I mix all the ingredients and give it a good stir until it’s creamy (but still chunky) and all the flavors are well mixed.  I taste
it—but of course!—and then add whatever I think it needs more of (salt, onion, garlic, lime).  Then I taste it again… and again… and again… until I remind myself I made it for other people, too.

The meat of an avocado turns brown when exposed to oxygen, so if you are not serving your guacamole immediately, put one or two of the pits in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap, smoothing the wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole to keep as little as possible exposed to the air.
Guac--save for later

With all the health conscious people these days, I generally offer veggie sticks for dipping in the guacamole in addition to tortilla chips.  But the tortilla chips still run out much faster.

Print-friendly version:  Guacamole Recipe

Crudités Art & Roasted Red Pepper Dip


Absolutely simple yet so impressive!

You can see that I simply sliced some carrots, cucumber, radishes, celery and green onions, but instead of loading them on a platter around a bowl of dip, I arranged them into a picture.

You could use pretty much any type of veggie to create any scene you want.  One warning though: I had a terrible time getting my guests to eat any because they didn’t want to disturb the picture.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip 2For the dip, I served roasted red pepper dip.  So easy and yummy.  Finely chop 1/2 cup of almonds and one clove of garlic.  Add 1 cup of roasted red peppers from a jar, drained, 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Whisk together and chill.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

There you have it … and very simple yet impressive tray of veggies and dip.

Crudites and dip

Printable recipe:  Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Enjoy this along with many of the easy brunch recipes to come.

Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates

 Bacon dates “Life is too short
not to order the
bacon dessert.”
– George Takei

You’ll never go wrong serving bacon at a brunch, but this appetizer is my absolute favorite bacon recipe.  It’s the perfect blend of
savory/sweet, crispy/chewy and creamy/crunchy with bacon, cream cheese, almonds and dates in every bite.

  1. You’ll save time by getting pitted dates (“pitted” means the pits have already been removed), but in case they aren’t available, no worries.  It’s actually quite simple to remove the pits.  Start by removing the hard, round tip if still attached.  Slice the date from end to end and open it carefully.  Discard the pit.
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  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Coat baking dish with cooking spray.
  4. Spread a dollop of cream cheese inside the date.
  5. Put an almond in the center and close the date around it.
  6. Roll up the stuffed date in a half or third of a strip of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
  7. Arrange wrapped dates seam side down and a half-inch apart in a shallow baking dish.
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  8. Bake until bacon is crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Drain on a paper towel or parchment paper and then transfer to serving platter.


Enjoy this along with many of the easy brunch recipes to come.

Printable version: Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates