Simple, Cheap Appetizer: Cheesy Olive Puffs

Following yesterday’s post about planning your Thanksgiving menu early, Bucksome Boomer asked me to post the recipe for the Cheesy Olive Puffs. These are not only delicious and cheap, but they can be made ahead and refrigerated until it’s time to serve them. The biggest problem? Trying not to eat them all before your guests arrive. If you’ve got a big group coming, consider doubling the recipe.

The Recipe

4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup flour
dash cayenne pepper
1/2 cup stuffed olives, drained and chopped
5 ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 egg lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to  400 degrees.

Use a nonstick baking sheet or prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat.

Blend cheese and butter, then mix in everything else. It will be lumpy.

Place rounded tablespoons onto the baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until firm and golden. Let cool slightly and serve.

Makes 25.

If you refrigerate them ahead of time, let them cool slightly and then stack them on a plate covered in plastic, in a zipper bag, or in reusable plastic containers. They can be reheated in a microwave, but I usually pop them in the oven for five minutes until they’re warm.

I usually use the pimento-stuffed olives, but you could use any kind that would taste good with cheddar. You could probably also substitute another cheese as long as it melts well. If you need to make it gluten-free, you can substitute superfine rice flour, a mix of tapioca starch and potato starch, or a non-bean flour mix.

Unfortunately, I can’t source the recipe for you. My mom found it in one of those holiday traditions recipe books they sell at the grocery store checkout sometime in the 1980s.

Buy the Ingredients on Sale

If you buy these ingredients at full retail price, it will cost you about $6-$7 to make this appetizer. If you plan ahead, you can get most of the ingredients really cheap, if not almost free.

I frequently see olive coupons in the Sunday paper. Cut out as many as you can find, then watch for a sale on olives to combine with your coupon. The jar will keep for months if you don’t open it.

Cheese also goes on sale regularly. I often get coupons, and see it on a 2 for $4 sale at the grocery store for the shredded packages. You can also buy it in a block and grate it yourself. If you buy the bags of shredded cheese, pop them in the freezer until you need them. Use what you need for the appetizer, then serve the leftovers over chili, tacos, or nachos.

Water chestnuts are usually pretty cheap, but you’ll also see coupons and sales for these around the holidays. Watch your flyers and circulars.

Butter, eggs, flour, and cayenne are pantry staples, but also go on sale around the holidays. Stock up if you’ll be using these ingredients in other items.

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