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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

New ideas for summer entertaining

With summer entertaining kicking into high gear, everyone is looking for some new ideas to serve their guest. I always like to have a few finger foods for people to snack on before the main meal. With that in mind, I want to share today a few dishes that don’t require a fork or spoon to eat.

I have dusted off a couple of tried and true appetizers while sharing one of my newest successes. Today’s first recipe is Jambalaya Bites. I saw on a television show a Jambalaya Corn Dog. With that in mind, I came up with these. My other two recipes are Stuffed Mushrooms and Mona’s Artichoke Squares. Gather up your ingredients and Let’s head to the kitchen!

This is one of my newest endeavors. I was looking for a variation on Boudin Balls, since people don’t necessarily like boudin. The best part of this dish is that you can use whatever jambalaya recipe you choose. It was well received the first time I made them. I used a sausage and shrimp jambalaya.

Jambalaya Bites

Jambalaya (cut your proteins unto a small dice. You want to leave it a little wet, refrigerated for at least 30 minutes.)


4 eggs, well beaten

Italian style Panko breadcrumbs

Creole seasoning

Using two tablespoons of jambalaya, form into balls and freeze for 1 hour.

Season flour and eggs with Creole seasoning

Roll balls in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in eggs, shaking off excess. Roll in breadcrumbs, shaking off excess. Place on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

If you have trouble getting the bites to hold together, dampen your hands with water.

Preheat deep fryer to 350℉.

Fry a few at a time, so that the basket is not overcrowded. Fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.

This is one of my wife’s favorite appetizers. If you are not a fan of seafood, you can use cheese or sausage as a stuffing. Smaller mushrooms make great finger foods. No matter what you stuff them with, they are finger licking good.

Stuffed Mushrooms

1 pound button mushrooms large

6 tablespoons butter divided

Non-stick butter spray

¼ cup green onions minced

¼ cup red bell peppers minced

8 ounces claw crabmeat

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

½ teaspoon Creole seasoning

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese grated

Heat oven to 350℉.

Wash and trim the end of the stem of the mushrooms. Pop the remaining stem out. Chop the stems and set aside. Spray an 8×8 inch baking pan with butter spray. Layer the mushrooms in the pan. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and brush over the mushrooms. Melt the remaining butter in a medium skillet. Add the reserved mushroom stems, green onions and red bell pepper, cooking them until they are tender. Combine the cooked ingredients with the crabmeat, breadcrumbs, garlic, and Creole seasoning. Fill each mushroom and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until hot and mushroom caps are tender.

How could I not include one of my mom’s finger foods? I have made these a few times recently. Now, I am getting request to make them, mostly from my wife. These are great because they are made in advance and served cool. No last minute cooking is required.

Mona’s Artichoke Squares

1 13.75oz-can artichoke hearts

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup olive oil

1 egg

Garlic to taste

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Drain hearts and set juice aside in a bowl. Mash hearts and add bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, and olive oil. Add egg to juice and beat. Add this to mixture and stir until well blended. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate. Cut into squares before serving.

Of course, these dishes are perfect for any gathering. I know that they would go great for my family’s Christmas get together. Instead of a big meal, we all prepare various appetizers to munch on while the presents are being opened. But who wants to wait until Christmas. Put some of these out and watch them disappea

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