Cooks Exchange

Crank up food (and music) for retro holiday party

Remember these? Welsh rarebit, spinach dip and sausage balls are inexpensive, easy-to-make appetizers for parties.
Remember these? Welsh rarebit, spinach dip and sausage balls are inexpensive, easy-to-make appetizers for parties. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Want to make the holiday party really rock or swing, depending on your musical era?

Try a retro party complete with music, appetizers and even décor if you want to be that authentic.

An aluminum tree with a color wheel certainly smacks of the ‘60s or popcorn and cranberry strings on a real Christmas tree returns to a kinder, gentler time.

Foods can do the same thing. Remember in the ‘70s when fondues were the main feature from meat ones to Welsh rarebit. I personally liked the Swiss cheese fondues, and Swiss or Gruyere are my favorites. Also a brick of pasteurized cheese, a can of tomatoes and chili peppers, complete with corn or tortilla chips also filled many fondue pots.

Old cookbooks can provide recipe fodder. Most earlier party foods really didn’t require much effort or time. A food editor friend of mine swore by an 8-ounce brick of cream cheese covered with Pick-A-Peppa sauce. She was right; it was delicious. Pepper jelly is another great topper for cream cheese. I prefer crisp wheat crackers with that easy fix.

My recent easy-does-it was Country Girl Creamery’s garlic and onion soft spread cheese topped with pepper jelly. Wow, the flavors of garlic, onion and the sweet heat of jelly were spot on.

Perhaps some readers are too young to remember these party starters but give them a try. The flavors and ease might surprise.

Cheese wafers, sausage balls, pates and, of course, meatballs in various sauces were party staples. These offerings also were fairly inexpensive. Most recipes had no more than six ingredients that could be found in kitchen pantries. Pates or Welsh rarebit were probably the fanciest items on the menu.

Let’s step back to the ‘70s, ‘60s or even earlier with these recipes, and how about pulling out the record albums for a true Christmas past?

Welsh rarebit was on the party table during the cocktail parties of the ‘50s. It is served with crusty bread with cheese sauce. In the ‘60s, it was served in a fondue pot with crusty bread cubes that were dipped in the cheesy sauce.

Hoot Mons Recipe, Please

“The holidays are neat, and my mother and I love those treats,” said Tony Garcia of Bradenton, Florida. “The ones we cannot find anywhere at ‘Hoot mon.’ I don’t know if you know or heard of these before.

“My mother used to have a recipe and made it for the holidays for years. Then suddenly, it went missing. It would be great if you can help us find this recipe in time for the holidays,” said Garcia.

Readers, do you have a recipe for hoot mons? If so, please send it ASAP. All I seem to find is a drink recipe. Please help.


Slices of crusty bread, buttered and browned under the broiler

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/3 cup whole milk

1/2 cup beer

1 teaspoon (heaping) dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

2 dashes Worcestershire

1 1/2 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

1 whole egg yolk

Fresh chives, chopped

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Sprinkle in flour to and whisk together until combined. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes.

Pour in milk and beer, whisking constantly, and cook for an additional minute. Add mustard, paprika, and cayenne and whisk.

Add cheese and whisk slowly, cooking for a couple of minutes or until smooth, melted, and very hot.

Remove from heat and whisk in egg yolk. Serve immediately (while hot) over toast. Sprinkle with chopped chives before serving.

– From Ree Drummond, “The Pioneer Woman” on Food Network


2 cups Bisquick

1 pound hot ground sausage

8 ounces grated Cheddar cheese

Let the sausage set out a room temperature until soft. Mix with Bisquick and cheese. Roll into small balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Cook at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or until done. Serve or place in freezer and warm as needed.

– From “Hush Puppies and Other Gourmet Delights”


1 loaf pumpernickel bread

8 ounces mayonnaise

1 small can water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1 package Knorr’s bread vegetable soup mix

3 green onions, chopped

1 package frozen, chopped spinach, drained and squeezed well.

8 ounces sour cream

Cut middle out of bread using a design, if desired. Save cut-out bread.

Mix ingredients and let stand 2 hours. Fill the hole in the bread. Cut the remaining bread and lay around loaf as part of the “dippers.”

– From “Hush Puppies and Other Gourmet Delights”


1 pound hamburger

1 pound sausage (Jimmy Dean)

1 chopped onion

1 pound box Velveeta cheese

1 clove garlic

1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies

Brown hamburger and sausage with onion and garlic. Simmer until sausage is brown. Drain excess fluid. Add tomatoes and Velveeta.

Cook over low heat and stir. Serve hot as a dip.

– From “Hush Puppies and Other Gourmet Delights”

Andrea Yeager can be reached at and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507.