Simple recipes for eating with honors after graduation

Simple recipes for eating with honors after graduation

After the graduation ceremony, families typically invite family and friends back to the house or to the nearest park for a celebration.

Sometimes the grill's the centerpiece, with burgers and all the sides, and sometimes the after-graduation parties focus on nibbles. If you're interested in the latter – to preclude having to wash dishes and silverware – consider some of these recipes for party foods. They range from light snacks like sweet, spicy nuts to meatballs and veggie pizzas.

The recipes were selected because of easy accessibility to all the ingredients and because many have been tried and come highly recommended. We photographed the cocktail meatballs, and the leftovers earned raves from newsroom folks.

Hope you find a few that work for you and have a great celebration with your graduate.

Maple Pepper Pecans

Source: Nigella Lawson

½ stick unsalted butter

½ cup maple syrup

1½ teaspoons table salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 1/3 cups pecan halves

Melt the butter with the syrup, salt and cayenne pepper in a pan over gentle heat. Add the pecans and stir to mix, leaving them on the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Spread the pecans on a foil to cool. Arrange in a bowl to serve.

Pickles in a Blanket


12 thin slices Genoa salami

1/3 cup whipped cream cheese

12 jarred mini gherkin pickles (also called cornichons), drained

Spread each salami slice with thin layer of cream cheese to within ¼ inch of the edges.

Place a pickle or two in the center of the salami slice. Roll up each salami slice, jelly-roll style.

Cut each roll into thirds; pierce each third with a toothpick and arrange on a serving platter. Makes 36 rolls.

Tomato and Basil Finger Sandwiches


4 slices whole-wheat bread

8 teaspoons mayonnaise, divided

4 thick slices tomato

4 teaspoons sliced fresh basil

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Cut bread into rounds slightly larger than the tomatoes (a biscuit cutter works well). Spread each slice with 2 teaspoons mayonnaise. Top with tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper.

Tiny Taco Tarts


30 individual frozen mini phyllo shells, thawed

¾ cup mayonnaise

6 tablespoons sour cream

¼ cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons from a packet of taco seasoning mix

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Toppings: grated carrot, shredded lettuce, minced cilantro, minced green bell pepper

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the phyllo shells on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake the shells until they turn light golden, about 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them cool.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, seasoning mix and lime juice. Spoon the mixture into the cooled phyllo shells.

Garnish with topping of your choice. Arrange on serving platter and keep chilled until ready to serve. Makes 30.

Baked Onion Dip


2 cups sweet onion, peeled and chopped

2 cups mayonnaise

2 cups Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, onions and cheese. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes, until the top is slightly brown. Serve hot with buttery, round crackers.

Cocktail Meatballs with Jelly

2 pounds frozen fully cooked turkey or Italian meatballs

1 12-oz jars chili sauce

1½ cups apricot jelly

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Place meatballs in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add chili sauce, jelly and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Let simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until meatballs are warmed through. (Editor's note: other recipes call for substituting the apricot jelly for grape jelly. The meatballs can be kept warmed in a crockpot on low.)

Bacon-wrapped Water Chestnuts


1 cup ketchup

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

16 ounces sliced bacon

2 (8 ounce) cans whole water chestnuts, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, combine ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce; heat just to boiling. Cut bacon slices into thirds. Cut some of the bigger water chestnuts in half. Wrap chestnuts in bacon and secure with toothpicks; place in a 9-by-13-inch pan. Pour sauce over bacon and water chestnuts. Bake until bacon is completely cooked, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Veggie Pizza Appetizer

Source: MasterCook

1 can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

½ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon dill weed

½ teaspoon onion salt

1 cup broccoli flowerets

1 cup chopped green pepper

1 cup chopped seeded tomato

¼ cup chopped onion

½ cup sliced pitted ripe olives, optional

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll dough into four rectangles. Press onto bottom and sides of a 15-by-10-by-1-inch pan jelly roll pan to form crust. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown; cool.

Mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, dill and onion salt until well blended. Spread over crust. Top with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate. Cut into 24 squares.

Chiles Relleno Puffs

Source: MasterCook

¼ cup butter, room temperature

1¼ cups flour

2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 4-ounce can diced green chilies, drained

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Combine butter and flour in a food processor bowl or blender. Process until well mixed. Add the cheese, chilies and garlic powder. Process until well-mixed. Form dough into ¾-inch balls; roll in Parmesan cheese. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Makes 36

To make ahead, form dough into balls, place on a baking sheet and freeze until form. Place in freezer bag. Store up to two weeks. To bake, place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 375 for 18 to 20 minutes.

Marinated Mozzarella


1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon minced chives

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 pound cubed part-skim mozzarella cheese

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the first seven ingredients; add cheese cubes. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish; serve with toothpicks.



1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1 cup chopped seeded tomatoes

6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

1 tablespoon chopped green onion, optional

Assorted crackers

In large bowl, combine all except green onion. Refrigerate until serving. Garnish with green onion. Serve with crackers or potato chips. Makes 3 cups.