Appetizers and Party Foods - For your Cookie Exchange  
This page is the start of a good thing! (I intend to keep adding, so check back. I'm going through my old newsletters and looking at my old CE photos to snag.)

20+ Appetizers for your Cookie Exchange Party

  1. Apple and Orange Tree with Cheese, Prosciutto, Pickles, Cherry Tomatoes

  2. Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese in Cucumber Cups with Dill

  3. Marinated Mozzarella

  4. Olive Cream Cheese Penguins

  5. Chocolate Fountain recipe

  6. Chocolate Fondue recipe

  7. Best Cheese Fondue

  8. Hot Artichoke Dip

  9. Baked Garlic Cloves

  10. Olive Tapenade

  11. English Trifle

  12. Chopped Olive Spread on Toast Points

  13. Pineapple Cheese Ball

  14. Hot Chipped Beef Dip

  15. Gorgonzola Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

  16. Rosemary Teriyaki Cocktail Meatballs

  17. 'Hot Cheeses' Cocktail Cookies

  18. Baked Brie (w/ chutney, jam, nuts)

  19. Classic Chex Mix

  20. Beer Cheese Spread Snowman

  21. Basil and Garlic Marinated Mozzarella Balls w/ Cherry Tomatoes

  22. Three Punch Recipes

Apple and Orange Tree with Cheese, Prosciutto, Pickles, Cherry Tomatoes
apple tree centerpiece
The apples and oranges are all 'hooked' together with toothpicks. Starting at the bottom, on a plate, I made a circle around one apple. It was very easy and you'll get the hang of it.
Using toothpicks, spear your choice of any fruit, veg, cheese and/ or meat.
From my 2010 '50's' Cookie Exchange party. (Robin Olson)

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese in Cucumber Cups with Dill
smoked salmon cucumber cups appetizer
You can use cream cheese, sour cream or even greek yogurt.

Marinated Mozzarella
marinated mozzerella appetizer
Do this ahead:
2 (8-oz.) blocks mozzarella cheese, cut into half inch slices - or in bite size pieces skewer on a toothpick to serve.
1 (8.5-oz.) jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained, but save the oil for the marinade.

Finely dice some of the dried tomatoes or just use the oil and then use some of the tomatoes for garnish.
1/4 cup olive oil  (or more if you wish)

Your choice of fresh or dried seasonings:
basil, garlic, parsley, dried red peppers flakes, oregano, thyme

Salt and pepper to your taste

Drain the dried tomato oil into a bowl, add the cheese, tomatoes if you're using those and any spices you choose. Toss a few times and then store in an airtight container or ziplock gallon bag. Refrigerate over night. Good for about 3 days in the fridge.

Olive Cream Cheese Penguins
cream cheese olive penguins cookie exchange
Photo from Tracy O'Connell's 2006 Cookie Exchange

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
18 jumbo black olives, pitted
18 small black olives
Small jar marinated red peppers for scarves
1 carrot
Optional: add spices such as dill or rosemary to the cream cheese

On the jumbo olives, slice straight down on one side, lengthwise.
Pipe softened cream cheese into the olive (body).

For the feet, slice carrot into "coins" about 1/8th inch.  Make a few small cuts for "toes".  Save those tiny carrot leftovers for the beak.  Use a toothpick to create the small hole to stick the carrot in to create the beak.

To build: Take a long tooth pick, thread though small olive, then large and all the way through to the carrot coin (feet).
Line up the beak, the cream cheese tuxedo and the carrot coin feet. Place a "scarf" from marinated red peppers, sliced 1/4 inch. (Dry off with paper towel before cutting.)

Viola, you have an edible penguin!

Chocolate Fountain - Always a big hit!
chocolate fountain
This is from my Winter Wonderland CE, 2010. (Let me just stick my whole face in that! lol)

Chocolate Fountain accompaniments were chunks of pound cake, thick sliced bananas, pineapple.

Basic recipe from inside of box.

2 (12 ounce) bags chocolate chips - (use high quality chocolate!)
3 unsweetened chocolate squares, chopped
3/4 cup canola oil

Melt chocolate and oil in a sauce pan on low while stirring until the chocolate is smooth and creamy. Pour the chocolate into base of the fountain. Run the fountain for a few minutes and then determine if you need to add any more oil to make the machine operate smoothly.  Serve with fruits and pound cake.

Chocolate Fondue
A pint of heavy cream in a pot on the stove, medium low to medium heat.
One bag of good gourmet chocolate chips, not Toll House, buy the best brand you can find.
I also added some Ghiradelli Coco Powder. Stir constantly until melted, transfer to fondue pot.
Chocolate heaven!
Serve with fruit and pound cake.

Cheese Fondue
My 2003 Cookie Exchange was an all Fondue party. We had steak fondue with several savory dipping sauces, this Cheese Fondue, which is too die for and the chocolate Fondue for dessert. It was a fun food theme for a CE party.
cheese fondue

Start preparing the day before...
1 lb. Emmenthal Cheese
1 lb. Gruyere
1 1/2 tablespoons of corn starch for thickening the fondue and it keeps the cheese shreds separated.
1 2/3 cups white wine

Cut cheeses into chunks. Place cheeses and corn starch together in the Cuisinart. Store overnight in gallon bags or ziplock tubs.

When you're ready to make the fondue, use a stainless steel pot on the stove, on medium heat
and add 1 2/3 cups white wine of your choice.

(Optional: I added 1 large minced garlic clove at this point.)

Slowly added the cheese, while stirring until creamy, a touch thick and very fragrant. (You'll know when it's ready because you'll want to start eating it!)

Transfer cheese mixture to Fondue Pot and serve with crusty french bread!  This is "to die for"!

Hot Artichoke Dip
15 ounces artichoke hearts, canned not marinated
2/3 cup mayonnaise
8 ounces cream cheese
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or use equal amounts fresh garlic)

Drain artichokes. Place in mixing bowl, mash, add cream cheese, mayo, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and garlic powder.  Blend well, turn into shallow baking dish. Bake 15 minutes@ 350 or until bubbly.

Baked Garlic Cloves
Baked Garlic Cloves appetizer
Slice of top of whole garlic.
Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Wrap garlic in foil, bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes. (The tricky part is we always make this in our toaster oven, so I'm unsure how long in a large regular oven.)
Present in middle of plate surrounded by french bread slices.  Use a butter knife to scrape out the garlic and spread on the french bread. Ummm.

Olive Tapenade

No recipe for the above photo, from one of my CE's.

this Olive Tapenade recipe below, is from epicurious.


1 cup Niçoise olives, pitted
1 cup small green French olives (Picholine), pitted
1/4 cup Oven-Dried Tomatoes , drained
1 tablespoon capers
1 garlic clove
1 anchovy fillet
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Here's one of my favorite Olive spread recipes.
Chopped Olive Spread on Toast Points (no photo)

2 cans black olives, drained
1 small glass jar green olives (don't add salt to this dish, as the green olives are salty)
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
White bread for toast points

Hand chop finely or in your food processor, just a few pulses, they chop easily.
Add one 8 oz package of softened cream cheese to the food processor for about 15 seconds.
Spread on toast points, which is lightly toasted firm white bread, sliced into 'points', like the shape of a slice of pizza. (This is delicious, addictive and fattening.)
Serve shortly after spreading on toast.
Variations: You could add water chestnuts, parsley, toasted nuts. I just like it plain.

English Trifle

English Trifle
This Trifle is from my 2003 Fondue CE party, however I can't find my recipe at the moment.
Here's a link to Trifle on web. One of the first recipes I saw included instant pudding, I didn't use that, I made the custard cream part from scratch. (Scratch always tastes better.)
There's angel or pound cake at bottom, (can't remember it was 10 years ago) followed by strawberries, custard and bananas and whipped cream topped with sliced toasted almonds and blueberries. I'll post recipe when I find it. Otherwise use this pic as inspiration and feel your way.

Pineapple Cheese Ball
I got this from my mother-in-law, I think it's from the 1950's.  I first tasted this in 1980, it's really good, I make it every year during the holidays. It's a 'fake-out' because everyone thinks there's tuna in it and there's no tuna in it! If you make it, have people guess what's in it. Just for fun.
cheese ball

2 pkg (8 oz) Cream Cheese
1 can 8 oz Crushed Pineapple, drained
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 cup crushed pecans

Optional garnish:
canned pineapple slices
parsley sprigs
assorted crackers

In medium bowl, with fork, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually stir in pineapple, 1/2 cup pecans, the green pepper, onion and salt. Shape into ball, roll in remaining nuts, wrap in plastic film, refrigerate overnight.

Hot Chipped Beef Dip

Ok, the photo I have from one of my CE parties is not appetizing because it was taken after people started eating. With that said I am telling you to make this, sight unseen. It's a crowd pleaser.

2-8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
2 cup sour cream
6 oz dried beef, rinsed and finely chopped
4 tablespoons chopped green pepper
3 tablespoons minced onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon horseradish
Top with sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and then put into a 1 quart baking dish. Bake uncovered, for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Serve with raw vegetables or crackers.

Makes about 4 cups.

Gorgonzola Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
Makes a great little amuse bouche.

Cherry tomatoes
Gorgonzola cheese (a type of blue)
Cream cheese, room temp
Fresh lemon juice,
Dill weed for topping
Crackers for the extra dip

For every 12-15 cherry tomatoes, use 2 ounces of cream cheese and 1 ounce of Gorgonzola. Mash Gorgonzola in a small bowl. Add the softened cream cheese, stir to combine. Add a few drops of lemon juice, stir until creamy.

Take cherry tomatoes, turn over, stem side down. Use a small sharp knife and make an X in middle of tomato. Open it up and scrape out seeds with your finger.
stuffed toms

For every 12-15 cherry tomatoes, use 2 ounces of cream cheese and 1 ounce of Gorgonzola. Mash Gorgonzola in a small bowl. Add the softened cream cheese, stir to combine. Add a few drops of lemon juice, stir until creamy.

Take a small plastic baggie, fill with cheese mixture.

gorg in squeeze bag
Twist top of baggie and snip corner with scissors. Fill slit cherry tomatoes with cheese mixture. Sprinkle a little dill on top. Chill and serve.

*Can use a small, star shaped icing tip. Snip hole and put in corner of baggie before loading cheese mixture.

Rosemary Teriyaki Cocktail Meatballs
Teriyaki Meatballs, Mini Quiche and Puff Pastry Hot Dogs
Puff Pastry Mini-Hot Dogs, Teriyaki Meatballs, Mini Quiche

For the Rosemary Teriyaki Meatballs, I actually created this marinade recipe for slow roasting short ribs, but it also works perfectly for my party cocktail meatballs.

My recipe for large bag of frozen meatballs: (Such as from Costco)

Teriyaki Rosemary marinade sauce
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup mirin (seasoned sweet rice wine, available in the Asian section)
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon garlic powder (or use fresh garlic cloves to your taste, finely minced.)
heaping tablespoon ground rosemary

Add all ingredients together and marinate the meatballs overnight in the sauce, then cook them in a crock pot or in the oven, covered at 325 for 45 minutes.

PS This marinade makes short ribs 'to die for' so bookmark that thought in your head. But I figured it could easily be used on meatballs and it does.

Hot Cheeses' Cocktail Cookies
Hot Cheeses Cocktail Cookies Appetizer

This is the only cookie recipe in my book THE COOKIE PARTY COOKBOOK that doesn’t have sugar in it. It’s cheesy, crunchy, and men just love them!

The story: In 1979, when I was a waitress at a popular dinner house in Santa Barbara, this cute little elderly couple would be the first to arrive every Friday when the doors opened at 5 P.M. They’d drink martinis and the woman would always bring a little plate of these homemade cookies to nibble on while they sipped their cocktails. She would never fail to offer a cookie to me, and each time I’d rave about how great they were as if each time was the first time. This is the recipe she gave me.

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup grated cheddar cheese teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Rice Krispies

Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C.

In a large bowl, using your hands, combine all the ingredients together, adding the Rice Krispies last.

Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased or parchment lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Note: Make then small, they're supposed to be a nibble, not a big bite.)

Flatten with the back of a fork in a grid pattern. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool. Store in a tin or an airtight container.

Note: ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper gives a subtle peppery flavor, which is more noticeable as an after-flavor. If you like kick, add more cayenne.  

Cookies pictured had different spices sprinkled on top such as dill, paprika, sesame seeds and rosemary.
Makes 3 dozen cheese cookies

Hot Cheeses before baking

(Lighting making after baking appear more yellow.)

After baking.

Baked Brie with Chutney or Jam
baked brie with chutney or jam
This is what I call an instant app, if people pop over, as long as you have brie in the house.

Baked Brie topped with just about anything is always 'to die for'.  Top the Brie with any flavor chutney or jam, with my favorite being FIG JAM. I also love Baked Brie topped with sliced almonds and melted butter. Slather Brie top with butter, apply a handful of sliced almonds, bake for 8-10 minutes at 325. Viola.

Classic Chex Mix
Classic Chex Mix

Classic Chex Mix - Served at my 1950's CE Party

3 cups Corn Chex® cereal
3 cups Rice Chex® cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite-size pretzels
1 cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.

2. Microwave uncovered on High 5 to 6 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

Oven Directions Heat oven to 250°F. In large bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside. In ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in cereal mixture until evenly coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.
From: The Original Chex® Party Mix

Beer Cheese Spread Snowman

From Donna Bush's 6th Cookie Exchange, Danville, Kentucky
Winner of the 2008 The Best CE Hostess!

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I like to use sharp)
3 oz. cream cheese, softened (plus more for "frosting")
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley or 2 teaspoons dried
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/3 cup beer

Mix all ingredients together. Add just enough beer to make a nice spreading consistency. If making a shape like the snowman. Form the spread into 1 small and 1 larger disc shape on a flat plate or tray. Cover and chill for a few hours.

"Frost" the snowman with additional softened cream cheese. Use black olives, red bell pepper or other veggies to do the face, scarf, heart etc. Re-cover and chill. Remove from refrigerator 1/2 hour before serving.

Basil and Garlic Marinated Mozzarella Balls with Cherry Tomatoes

I could live off of this in the summer. Eat it plain, throw it in a salad, as a snack with crackers, or smear it on French bread and bake it until the cheese melts. If you take it to a pot luck or BBQ, the bowl will be empty when you leave. Just don't eat it on a first date!

2 cups cherry tomatoes or roma grapes
1 container of 1 inch fresh mozzarella balls (deli section)
1 tablespoon dried basil (Homemade dried basil is the best. If store bought, make sure it's fresh.)
2 whole garlic cloves, crushed and chopped finely
1/4 cup olive oil
Grinder sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
sprigs of fresh basil for garnish

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl and stir. This dish is better the next day when the basil and garlic infuse the mozzarella balls. Dried basil is concentrated. If only using fresh basil the flavor won't be as intense.

(You can double to mozz cheese amount if you wish. I try to train myself to eat more of the tomatoes than cheese.)

Three Punch Recipes
 - just in time for Christmas

Tracy O'Connell's Cookie Exchange Punch
Champagne Punch for Cookie Exchange
Mine is a huge hit! Easy peasy!

2 bottles of 7-up
2 cans of frozen limeade
lemons, limes and frozen whole strawberries

Everyone rants and raves about it. Three people told me they thought about my punch all day yesterday before they got to my party!

For my CE party, I was going to make the Champagne Punch III, then I saw Tracy O'Connell's party punch photo on Facebook so I asked her for the recipe and was going to make that. While at the store I found Cranberry Ginger Ale, so I bought that and ended up making a hybrid of the two punches.

Robin's Cookie Exchange Champagne Punch

My punch was inspired by Tracy's and is a variation. - Robin Olson

1 can pink lemonade, then add 1 empty can of water
1 can limeade, then add 1 empty can of water
1 liter bottle Cranberry Ginger Ale
1 liter bottle 7 Up or Sprite
1 bottle of pink Champagne (To make non-alc and kid friendly, substitute champagne with a second bottle of 7 Up or Sprite)

1 bag frozen strawberries (I only saw one size, wasn't too big.)
1 lime, sliced
1 lemon, sliced

In large punch bowl, combine all ingredients. Garnish with lemon and lime slices and a bag of frozen strawberries.

(I added the water to make it  lighter and less intensely flavored. You could leave that out if you want a stronger flavor.  There's no wrong way to do this.)

Champagne Punch III

1 (12 fluid ounce) can frozen cranberry juice concentrate
1 (12 fluid ounce) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1 (6 ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate
1 (750 milliliter) bottle white wine, chilled
1 liter carbonated water, chilled
2 (750 milliliter) bottles champagne, chilled
1 lemon - sliced, for garnish
1/2 cup fresh mint, garnish

In large punch bowl, combine the cranberry juice concentrate, pink lemonade concentrate, limeade concentrate, white wine, club soda and champagne. Garnish with lemon slices and fresh mint leaves.