It is hard to believe that November is already here.

In my life, these first two weeks have been a whirlwind. In addition to teaching, writing and the beginning of basketball season, we have had a girls basketball tournament at our school. We have a hospitality lounge on our stage for school officials to enjoy. I prepare all the food for the three days that we play. We also had our beauty pageant, Veteran’s Day program and our school harvest carnival. I’m also planning to have a lunch with several of my high school girlfriends. Whew!

I have really been scouring my cookbooks and recipe files to come up with some fresh ideas. People often ask me what are my favorite kinds of recipes. That is a bit like asking which child is your favorite.

If I had to choose one, it would probably be appetizers. They are so versatile, and you really can make a meal of them. With the upcoming holidays, we often need a little something for home or to take to church or a friend’s or family member’s home.

Today, I have quite a few ideas to share with you. I’m also starting to plan our family Thanksgiving meal here in our home. We love to begin with a variety of appetizers. Some of today’s recipes will be on my hors d’oeuvres table.

Hope you will give some of these a try. Thanks for reading.

ARTICHOKE SALSA

2 (10-ounce) cans Ro-Tel diced tomatoes, drained

2 (4-ounce) jars sliced mushrooms, drained and chopped

1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 (4-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained

½ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon garlic salt

Dash of hot sauce

Combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving with tortilla chips.

JALAPENO POPPER MUSHROOMS

24 whole button mushrooms

2 cloves minced garlic

1 (4-ounce) can diced jalapenos, drained

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ pound bacon, chopped and cooked

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a rimmed baking rack on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Remove stems from mushrooms. Combine garlic, jalapenos, cream cheese, cheddar cheese and bacon. Spoon into prepared mushroom caps. Place on baking rack, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

SWEET AND SPICY MEATBALLS

1½ cups brown sugar

½ cup hot sauce

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons water

2 pounds frozen meatballs (½-inch size)

In a large skillet, combine brown sugar, hot sauce, butter and water. Cook until sugar dissolves. Add frozen meatballs, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often.

WHISKEY GLAZED LITTLE SMOKIES

2 (14-ounce) packages little smokies smoked sausages

1 cup ketchup

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup whiskey or bourbon, may also use apple juice

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and cook for 15 minutes.

ARTICHOKE PARMESAN BITES

3 (6-ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon garlic salt

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 (15-ounce) packages mini phyllo shells

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, garlic salt and cream cheese. Scoop into shells. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

• Contact Lee Ann Flemming at lafkitchen@hughes.net.

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