I'll be honest: I've never really understood the appeal of "happy hour." As an introvert and tee-totaler, the idea of sitting on a barstool in a loud tavern with a soda and a paper bowl of peanuts or stale popcorn in front of me is not high on my list of good times.
It's only recently that I discovered that 1) happy hour doesn't have to be a public affair; and 2) delightful appetizers can replace junk food on the menu. Count me in!
Tastefully Simple's Happy Hour Kit allows me to entertain a very select group (my mom and siblings) right here at home with a nice variety of sweet and salty apps that are quick and easy to make. I might whip up one or a few of the recipes to snack on before or after dinner (or sometimes, let's face it, AS dinner). Here's the luscious line-up:
Spinach & Herb Dip with Assorted Veggies. Spinach & Herb Seasoning does heavy duty in our household. We sprinkle it on or into eggs, casseroles, meatloaf, even pizza. Made as a dip with sour cream and mayo, it's a cool and creamy delight with chips, crackers or – as recommended here – crispy raw veggies.
Artichoke & Spinach Warm Dip with Crostini. Crispy, little slices of Bountiful Beer Bread slathered with warm, cheesy dip are my idea of appetizer heaven. Fun fact: No matter how much Artichoke & Spinach Warm Dip there is, there is never enough Artichoke & Spinach Warm Dip (at my house, at least).
Bayou Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts. This must be the quintessential fancy-schmancy appetizer. That is, it looks fancy and seems sophisticated, but it's amazingly easy and so delicious! If water chestnuts are hard to come by where you are (as they are in my small town), it's easy to substitute cocktail meatballs, chicken cubes or even pineapple chunks.
And to wash it all down …
Long Island Frozen Iced Tea. If you're into frosty cocktails, this slushy version of Long Island Iced Tea is the perfect summer accompaniment to these yummy appetizers. At our house, we use this drink bucket to mix up a pitcher of refreshing iced tea, made with sparkling water and served in tall glasses.
It seems to me that any 60 minutes spent with friends and family is a happy hour. With these scrumptious appetizers and delightful drink, it can be a delicious hour, too!