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Three Simple Appetizers that Go Great with Cocktails

With these cocktail appetizers as part of your repertoire, you need never settle for bagged snacks again. Treat yourself and your friends to the one or more of these recipes--and toast your good fortune.
Cocktail snacks in a bowl

It's late afternoon . . . the end of the working day is in sight, and with it comes that magical respite--cocktail hour. Who doesn't look forward to taking a break at the end of a hard day, before taking on the evening chores of getting dinner ready, cleaning up, and preparing to do it all again the next day?


Cocktail time is a welcome reward that eases the transition from day to night. Mix your favorite libation, pull up a comfy chair, and sigh with relief. All that's missing is that little nibble to take the edge off your hunger and to keep that cocktail from doing the mambo in your empty stomach.


It's true. It's not just the booze that makes cocktail hour so special--it's the delicious little bits of this or that you set out to tempt the palate and complement your beverage that make all the difference. Why settle for a handful of chips when you can serve up an irresistible, yet easy-to-make cocktail-time treat?

Here are three simple recipes to get you started.


Shortcut Warm Nuts

At the end of a long day, who has the time or patience to fire up the oven and painstaking watch raw nuts brown? Not you! Here's a quick version that lends itself to endless variations: it's more a method than a recipe per se.


Ingredients

2 cups of your favorite roasted nuts, salted or unsalted (cocktail peanuts, mixed nuts, cashews)

2 teaspoons butter or olive oil

¾ teaspoon of one flavoring: choose chopped dried rosemary, chili-lime seasoning, coarsely ground black pepper, or Worcestershire sauce

Directions

Place nuts and butter in microwave-safe pie plate.

Microwave 20-30 seconds, remove and stir to coat nuts evenly with melted butter or olive oil

Microwave 20-30 seconds more, or until hot.

Remove from microwave, stir in optional seasoning, cover with a paper towel and wait one minute.

Serves four.

Bacon Crackers

Bacon isn't just for breakfast! This tidbit is a throwback to the 1950s, when folks elevated cocktails and the cocktail hour to an art form. You can make ahead up to the point of broiling. If making ahead, refrigerate wrapped for up to 24 hours, covered. The bacon must be thinly sliced.

Ingredients

10 soda crackers with unsalted tops

5 strips thinly sliced bacon, cut in half

Directions

Preheat broiler (toaster oven is fine), if preparing immediately.

Wrap each cracker with half-strip bacon. Tuck in the ends of the strips.

Broil two inches from heat until brown, flip and broil the second side until brown. (about two minutes each side--but watch carefully throughout)

Drain briefly and serve hot.

Serves two.


Olive Puffs

This recipe makes enough for a crowd. Serve when entertaining.

Ingredients

1 small tube refrigerated crescent roll dough

¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese or 1 small (4 ounces) block cream cheese, softened

½ cup finely chopped pimento-stuffed green olives

Dash hot sauce

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Shape crescent dough into two squares.

Combine cheese, olives, and hot sauce.

Drop 1 tablespoon-sized dollops onto one square, leaving approximately ½" between dollops.

Cover with second square of dough, pressing lightly to seal.

Cut into individual pieces, and shape into balls.

Place on ungreased baking sheets, about 1" apart.

Bake until lightly brown, about 10-12 minutes.

Cool briefly, and serve.

Yield: About 32 puffs.


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