It’s hard to believe that Christmas is a less than five weeks away. So many parties, so little time! When I was at Michael’s Salon on Wednesday, I was trying to decide on a topic for this Holiday Gift Guide column. When in doubt, ask your hairdresser. “Michael, should I write about hostess gifts or Christmas appetizers?” “Appetizers!” he said almost immediately. “My clients ask me all the time if I know a good recipe that they can take to parties. Besides, hostess gifts are usually bottles of wine that someone took them last year and they didn’t drink.” See? The man knows what he’s talking about. Taking Michael Petorock’s most excellent advice, these are some of the appetizer recipes that I came up with. All three can be made ahead and baked just before serving. Happy Christmas partying!

Festive Pigs in a Blanket with Spicy Honey-Lime Ketchup

These are great to make ahead and reheat just before serving. I like them better the second time around.

½ cup ketchup

1 teaspoon buffalo wing sauce

1 tablespoon honey

Squeeze of fresh lime juice

1 (13.8-ounce) roll refrigerated pizza crust

1 (14-ounce) package cocktail smokies, drained

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Fresh rosemary, optional

Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and let sit for at least one hour to allow flavors to meld. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Unroll pizza crust on a cutting board. Slice pizza crust into 36 strips. Wrap each cocktail smokie in a slice of pizza crust and place, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Brush each appetizer with beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake in preheated oven for 17 to 20 minutes, or until appetizers are puffed and golden. Serve warm with Spicy Honey-Lime Ketchup. Garnish with fresh rosemary. Makes 36.

Tuna Melt Poppers

I prefer the tangy zip Miracle Whip but plain old mayonnaise will work, too.

1 (12-ounce) can wild caught albacore tuna in water, drained well

1 stalk celery, diced

2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

Zest of 1 lemon

¼ cup Miracle Whip or mayonnaise

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 (1.9-ounce) packages frozen phyllo shells, thawed

Shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Jalapeno slices

In a medium bowl, mix drained tuna, celery, red onion, chopped fresh Italian parsley and lemon zest with Miracle Whip or mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper. Spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill each phyllo shell with a spoonful of tuna mixture. Top with shredded cheese and a slice of jalapeno. Place appetizers on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 17 minutes or until cheese is melted and appetizers are crispy and heated through. Serve warm. Makes approximately 48.

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Tender Bites with SC Mustard BBQ Sauce

If you don’t have time to make this yummy homemade BBQ sauce, store-bought yellow mustard BBQ sauce will work just as well.

½ cup yellow mustard

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons brown sugar

¼  cup apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons chipotle pepper in adobo, minced

2 teaspoons ketchup

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Black pepper, to taste

½ pound sliced bacon

1 pound chicken tenders

Chopped fresh Italian parsley, to garnish

Mix first 9 ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to use. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut each slice of bacon and each chicken tender in half. Wrap chicken tenders with bacon and place seam side down on prepared baking sheet. Pour 1/3 cup bbq sauce in a small bowl. Brush each bacon-wrapped chicken tender generously with bbq sauce. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until bacon is browned and crispy and chicken is cooked through. Place appetizers on a serving platter and garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley. Serve with remaining 2/3 cup SC Mustard BBQ Sauce. Makes approximately 18.

The writer owns Catering by Debbi Covington and is the author of three cookbooks, Celebrate Beaufort, Celebrate Everything! and Dining Under the Carolina Moon. For more great recipes and to view her cooking demonstrations, visit and subscribe to Debbi’s YouTube channel. Debbi’s website address is She may be reached at 843-525-0350 or by email at