My friend Sylvia Spaht mentioned having delicious cheese-stuffed mini pepper appetizers while she was visiting in Washington, D.C. It so happened I had a bag of the small colorful peppers in my refrigerator.

I started out thinking I would jazz up some cream cheese and just pipe that into the pepper halves; and then I remembered how much my family likes that sausage and cream cheese spread you put on party toasts or in pastry.

The sausage cream cheese filling is basically just cooked sausage sauteed with onion, cream cheese and herbs. I used Jimmy Dean’s “hot” variety because it was in my freezer. You also could use ground beef, turkey or chicken, or bulk Italian sausage. These little peppers stuffed with your favorite rice dressing also would be delicious party appetizers.

To stuff, place some of the filling in a quart-size, zippered plastic bag and use it like a piping bag. Snip off just a bit of one of the bottom corners of the bag. Remove about a quarter-inch at first; you can cut more if necessary. The hole should be just large enough to allow for the filling to come through. Squeeze a mound of the meat mixture into the center of each pepper half.

Using a baggie to “pipe” the filling into the center is easier and quicker than trying to fill the small halves with a demi-tasse spoon.

If you don’t want to make this sausage filling, or want them vegetarian, just cut a cube of cheese and tuck it into the pepper half. Sprinkle it with any fresh or dry herbs that you like and bake it until the cheese is softened. You can use any cheese — cheddar, pepper jack, provolone, fontina, Jarlsberg, feta, mozzarella, the list goes on. Herbed cream cheese is another option for an easy filling. Buy it already done or make up your own seasoning/herb blend and stir it into cream cheese for a stuffing.

Corinne Cook is a columnist for The Advocate. Reach her at