High-Volume Appetizer Squares


I hate making appetizers.

(Keri White)

This position stems from two rationales. First, apps are generally followed by dinner, which is the main event and which I work hard to make delicious. If people dig into the apps, their appetite and enjoyment of dinner are diminished. Second, many appetizers are fussy to make — canapes that require a lot of cutting and folding and artfully arraying on a tray are just not my jam.

However, when I discovered the recent treasure trove in my husband’s dear departed Aunt Beulah’s recipe file, two appetizers landed in my repertoire.

Both recipes involve a flour and cheese mixture that is baked in a rectangular pan and cut into bite-sized squares — this avoids the individual fussing with each piece often required by dumplings and other high-effort hors d’oeuvres and provides an economy of scale.

The recipes called for Bisquick — that retro baking mixture that formed the basis for pancakes, biscuits, coffee cakes, waffles and other carbs in my childhood. I did not have Bisquick on hand but was able to make a homemade version of it that was fine — the recipe follows. The squares will come out either way.

Homemade “Bisquick” | Dairy or Pareve

Makes a little over 2 cups

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons margarine, butter or Crisco
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Mix all the ingredients well. Use it immediately or store it in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Zucchini Squares a la Aunt Sarah | Dairy

Makes about 4 dozen, depending on how you cut the squares

These squares are an excellent way to use excess zucchini — especially if you are a gardener and your crop is bountiful this year. You can tweak the seasoning as desired. I skipped the seasoned salt and instead used a generous sprinkling of salt, garlic powder and chipotle powder.

  • 1 cup Bisquick (or the homemade mix)
  • 3 cups grated zucchini (unpeeled)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (Lowry’s, Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt, Old Bay, etc.)
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup oil
  • 3 eggs

Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13-inch-by-9-inch rectangular pan with oil.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Spread it evenly in the pan and bake it for about 25 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Cool it slightly and cut it into bite-sized squares.

These are best served warm, and they keep well stored in sealable containers in the refrigerator. We heated them in the toaster oven and enjoyed them for lunch the next day.

(Keri White)

Cheese Onion Squares ala Aunt Beulah | Dairy

Makes 36-48 squares depending on how you cut them

Aunt Beulah’s recipe calls for mild cheddar, but I prefer sharp. Cook’s choice on this one!

  • 1½ cups Bisquick (or the homemade mix)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 stick butter, divided
  • 10 ounces grated cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons poppy or sesame seeds, if desired

Heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 13-inch-by-9-inch pan.

Melt ½ stick of butter in a small skillet and add the onions. Sauté until fragrant and soft, about 5 minutes.

Mix the Bisquick, milk and egg in a bowl. Add the salt and pepper to taste, along with the sauteed onions and half of the cheese. Spread this mixture in the pan. Melt the remaining half stick of butter, drizzle it over the mixture and top it with the remaining cheese and seeds, if using.

Bake for 15 minutes until it is golden and cooked through. Cut while still warm and serve it immediately.

Keri White is a Philadelphia-based freelance food writer.

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