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Sterling starters: Quick, tasty appetizers are a holiday favorite for this great cook


Janey Stubbs of Starkville is pictured in her kitchen with buffalo chicken dip warm from the oven and, in the smaller dish, marinated cheese cubes bursting with flavor.

Janey Stubbs of Starkville is pictured in her kitchen with buffalo chicken dip warm from the oven and, in the smaller dish, marinated cheese cubes bursting with flavor. Photo by: Tanner Imes


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Janey Stubbs of Starkville is pictured in her kitchen with buffalo chicken dip warm from the oven and, in the smaller dish, marinated cheese cubes bursting with flavor.



Jan Swoope



Janey Stubbs of Starkville may be a gourmet cook, but she''s also a fan of delicious appetizers that can be made up in quick order, with just a little planning. Today, she shares recipes for three of her favorites -- buffalo chicken dip, marinated cheese and a festive ham spread.  


Stubbs grew up in Starkville, but spent 25 years seeing much of the rest of the country -- and Germany -- thanks to the United States Army and the career of her late husband, retired Lt. Col. Richard C. Stubbs. 


"We lived in places all around the world, so we entertained a lot," she shared, relaxed in her gracious home whimsically populated by a charming collection of rabbit figurines. 


Stubbs has ample opportunity to flex her culinary creativity. 


She''s active in not one, but two, bridge clubs, as well as First United Methodist Church in Starkville, where she taught pre-school for several years. 


"And I have a group of friends who get together; we don''t miss a single thing that goes on at the university," she stated, referring to cultural events at Mississippi State University. All that, combined with her proud role as mother of two and grandmother of three, gives her plenty of excuses (as if she needed them) to indulge in one of her other interests -- cookbooks.  


"I''m a cookbook junkie," she admitted, indicating her collection, which includes an impressive row of Southern Living''s annual recipe editions. "Probably my favorite cookbook is the Jackson Junior League''s ''Southern Sideboards,''" she noted. 


Stubbs has been a member of several gourmet clubs in different locales.  


"There used to be eight of us here in Starkville who got together; we''d meet monthly, with two hostesses planning and making the menu. We''d get out the china and crystal," she recalled. "And we''d let the husbands come in May -- they loved it," she added, with a grin. 


Did she begin picking up all this prowess in the kitchen as a child? 


"Oh, no," she chuckled. "This was strictly OJT -- on-the-job training."  


Whether you''re having just a few friends and family over, or hosting a full-blown party, try these recipes from Janey Stubb''s kitchen this holiday season. And find plenty of other quick bites online. You may want to start at sites such as, or Happy cooking! 








Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds) 


One 12-ounce bottle Frank''s Hot Sauce 


Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese 


One 16-ounce bottle ranch dressing 


1/2 cup chopped celery 


8 ounces shredded Monterey jack or sharp cheddar cheese (or a combination of both) 




  • Boil, drain and shred the chicken; you don''t want any remaining chunks. 


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, combine the shredded chicken and the contents of the bottle of hot sauce and spread to an even layer. 


  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream cheese and bottle of ranch dressing. Stir until the cheese melts and the mixture is smooth and hot. Pour over chicken and sprinkle with celery. 


  • Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Then, sprinkle cheese on top and bake 15-20 minutes more, until bubbly. (Do not let the cheese brown, or it will be hard.) Let this sit for about 10 minutes before serving with Tostitos scoops.








1/2 cup olive oil 


1/2 cup white wine vinegar 


1 teaspoon sugar 


Three cloves garlic, minced 


3/4 teaspoon dried basil 


1/2 teaspoon salt 


1/2 teaspoon black pepper 


One 2-ounce jar diced pimentos, drained 


3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 


3 tablespoons green onions, chopped 


One 8-ounce block sharp cheddar cheese 


One 8-ounce block Monterey jack cheese (hot or mild) 


One 8-ounce block cream cheese 




  • Combine the first 10 ingredients in a jar. Cover and shake well. 


  • Cut cheese in half lengthwise. Then cut each half crosswise into 1/4-inch cubes and arrange the cheese alternately in a shallow dish. 


  • Pour the marinade over the cheese; cover and refrigerate at least eight hours. Drain the liquid and arrange it on a serving platter, topped with pimento, parsley and green onions. Serve with crackers.








1/2 teaspoon spicy brown mustard 


One can Hormel smoked ham 


One small can chopped ripe olives, drained 


One small jar chopped pimentos, drained 


1 teaspoon minced onion 


1/4 cup sour cream 


1/4 cup mayonnaise 


1/2 cup grated cheese 


One to two dashes Louisiana hot sauce 




  • After draining and separating the ham, mix all ingredients, chill and serve with crackers. (This may also be made with canned chicken. Green olives can be used instead of ripe olives.)


  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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