Appetizers For Every One, Two, Three…

Party on! Whatever holiday you celebrate, these appetizers can fit your needs. Or serve several together for a small plate dinner. Have you noticed that even a few restaurants offer small plates on their menu (not as appetizers)? But wait, should we define the difference between small plates and appetizers? 

Here is what Wikipedia says:

“Small plates is a manner of dining that became popular in US foodservice after 2000. Small plates may either refer to small dishes resembling appetizers which are ordered à la carte and often shared (such as tapas), or to the small courses served as part of a more formal meal.”

That brings tapas into the conversation. How are they defined in Spain and in the scope of a meal? 

“In Spain, an appetizer, called an entremése, is a complement to a meal while a tapa is something altogether different. … It is literally the appetizer coming before the first course. Tapas, on the other hand, are not appetizers. They are tiny plates of food served in bars all over Spain to accompany drinks.”

Well, let’s not leave out the French and their well-known name for appetizers.

“The French term hors d’œuvre (pronounced “or-derves”), which literally means “out of work” but translates to “outside the meal,” is a one-bite item that’s either stationary or passed and served separate from or prior to a meal. … Appetizers, on the other hand, appear as the first courses when seated at the table.”

And in Britain where they use the name “starter” when referring to an appetizer: both appetizer and starter mean the same thing. The difference, basically, comes from the distinction between British and American English.

While the Italians use words like antipasto and aperitivo, the general meaning is the same.

So whether you want to make appetizers, antipasto, hors d’oeuvres, tapas, starters, or small plates, here are some recipes that might interest you. 

I love making ricotta cheese and fig jam during the year and this appetizer uses them both, along with a little prosciutto. Yum!

Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto Crostini
Serves 16
Write a review
  1. 1 Baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch thick pieces
  2. 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  3. 1 Clove Garlic
  4. 4 Ounces soft Cheese like ricotta or goat
  5. 4 Ounces Cream Cheese
  6. 1/2 Cup Fig Chutney or Jam
  7. 5 Slices Prosciutto, sliced or torn into 3 pieces each
  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Brush both sides of the sliced bread with olive oil and lay on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Rub the garlic clove over the top of each slice.  Place in the oven and cook until just lightly toasted, about 4-5 minutes.  Remove and cool.  Can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container.
  2. Using an electric mixer beat together cream cheese and cheese until it is whipped light, fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Spread cheese mixture on top of bread slices, top with a small spoonful of fig chutney/jam and a piece of prosciutto.
  1. Recipe for homemade fig jam:
Adapted from Nourished Peach
Adapted from Nourished Peach
Christina's Food And Travel
Do you ever have drop-by guests or another unexpected party to attend? This recipe is so simple – only three ingredients – and goes together in a flash!

Cranberry Cheese Spread
Write a review
  1. 8 Ounces Cream Cheese or ricotta cheese
  2. 1/2-1 Cup Prepared Cranberry Sauce
  3. Chopped Pistachios
  1. Create a dent/well in the top of the cream cheese block. Pour cranberry sauce on top and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
  2. Serve with crackers. (see options below)
  1. You can substitute ricotta cheese for cream cheese if you prefer.
  2. This recipe is also good with shrimp.
Adapted from Nourished Peach
Adapted from Nourished Peach
Christina's Food And Travel

If you are not cheesed out yet, these roasted grape and ricotta cups are a fabulous balance of sweet and savory. The recipe makes 30 cups and while that may seem like a lot, they will disappear quickly when served. 

Roasted Grape & Ricotta Cups
Serves 30
Write a review
  1. • 1 lb. red seedless grapes
  2. • 2 tsp olive oil
  3. • ¾ tsp crushed rosemary
  4. • ¼ tsp salt
  5. • 2 packages (30 total) Athens Mini Fillo Shells
  6. • 7 ½ tbsp. fresh ricotta cheese* (recipe below)
  7. • 1 ½ tsp honey or agave nectar
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. On a baking sheet, toss the grapes with the olive oil, rosemary and salt. Roast until the grapes soften and burst, 20 to 30 minutes (depends on size of grapes).
  3. Fill each fillo shell with ¾ teaspoon fresh ricotta cheese. Top each with 2 roasted grapes and a small drizzle of honey or agave nectar (about ¼ teaspoon honey per 5 appetizers). Serve.
  1. Recipe for fresh ricotta:
Adapted from Dara Michalski
Adapted from Dara Michalski
Christina's Food And Travel

Remember the 7-Layer dips of the olden days? Well, this recipe is a modern version that incorporates Mediterranean ingredients in place of the traditional Mexican ingredients. A healthier version and it’s tasty too! Homemade hummus takes this recipe up a notch (JMO), but it is also good with store-bought brands of hummus. 

Mediterranean 7-Layer Dip recipe

Save RecipeSave Recipe


  • 8 oz. hummus (store bought or homemade.
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 small cans artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 2 roasted red peppers 4 halves, diced
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • Other OptionsPepperincinis
  • Kalamata olives
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Serve WithRaw vegetables, pita chips ,lentil chips, crackers


    Layer the ingredients any which way you like. Here's an optionStart with a layer of hummus evenly spread on the bottom. Top with tomatoes and cucumber over top. (Tomatoes and cucumber can be chopped or sliced. Chopped is easier to pick up when dipping.)
  1. Dollop the yogurt over the vegetables, then gently spread with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the yogurt with salt and paprika.
  2. On top of the yogurt, layer the artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and feta cheese. Sprinkle the parsley over top and garnish with olives.
  3. Serve with raw vegetables, pita chips or lentil chips, crackers.


Calories: 1505 cal
Carbohydrates: 250 g
Fat: 38 g
Sodium: 2471 g
Cholesterol: 36 g
Protein: 78 g
Fiber: 77 g
There are many, many more appetizer recipes on the website. Here are a few of my favorites: Cannellini Beans & Sun-dried Tomato Toasts, Ring A Ding Ding, Garlic Cheese Ring, Sweet Baby Stuffed Peppers, Caramelized Bacon, Pistachio, Parmesan & Fig Pinwheels, and Apricot Ricotta Bites


And what’s a celebration without a few cocktails? Click this link for holiday spirits to liven up any party. Cocktails

Happy Holidays!

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top