St. Paddy’s Day green appetizer bites

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and who can resist the celebration? It’s all about honoring the Irish with parades and everything green, from green beer to green hair. If you’ve outgrown the bar crawl you can still show your spirit by gathering friends and family for a party where the food is green and little, like a leprechaun.

Basil pesto, broccoli and spinach are the perfect choice for naturally green and yummy appetizer bites. You can also add a few drops of green food color to you own favorite dips, canapes and pastries to suit the theme.

Pesto Parmesan Spread

6 fresh basil leaves, or basil in a jar

3 medium cloves garlic

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup olive oil

Fresh basil leaves for garnish, optional

Directions: In food processor, process basil and garlic until finely chopped. Add cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, walnuts and olive oil and process till smooth. Transfer mixture to serving bowl and garnish with basil leaves. Serve with assorted crackers or sliced French baguette.

Broccoli and Cheddar Minis

Pie crust for 2-crust pie, tinted green with a few drops food color if making homemade, if desired.

2 T. butter, melted

1 cup cooked chopped broccoli

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

3 large eggs

1 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 cup half-and-half

Directions: Grease and flour mini muffin pans. Roll pie crust out to about 1/8-inch thickness. With biscuit or cookie cutter cut out 2 1/2-inch rounds. Fit into the muffin cups and brush pastry with melted butter.

Spoon about 1 teaspoon cooked broccoli into each cup. Top with a small amount of shredded Cheddar cheese.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Spoon about 1 tablespoon egg mixture into each cup, filling just short of the top of pastry. Sprinkle each with a little green onion. Bake in 400 degree oven, 20 to 25 minutes, or until set. Makes 36 minis.

Spinach Tortilla Spirals

1 cup soft tub-style herb and garlic or garden-vegetable flavored cream cheese

2 (10-inch) spinach tortillas

1 (4.25-ounce) chopped ripe olives

1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

6 to 8 thin slices smoked turkey or ham

2 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves

Directions: Spread cream cheese over tortillas to within 1/2-inch of edges. Mix olives and bell pepper and spread evenly over cream cheese. Top with turkey and spinach leaves. Roll up tortillas tightly. Wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut each tortilla roll into 12 (1/2-inch) slices, discarding ends. Makes 24 appetizers.