Having a selection of quick appetizers in your cooking toolkit keeps you out of the kitchen before parties or when unexpected guests stop by. Easy, kid-friendly recipes encourage children to help create their own taste combinations for the first course at dinner, or for snacking during movie nights.
Make quick crostini by slicing a baguette and topping one side with a slice of ham and a piece of cheese. Microwave just until the cheese melts. Make variations on the crostini by using Melba rounds and topping them with crumbled bacon, cheese, chopped pepperoni or salami, sliced cauliflower, or broccoli florets. Create quick nachos by piling tortilla chips with cooked ground beef, grated cheese, Southwest-seasoning creamy dressing and sliced jalapenos. Microwave until the cheese melts. Remove the gills from a portobello mushroom cap and stuff it with prepared packaged stuffing mix. Microwave until the mushroom heats through and slice it into servings.
Your supermarket probably sells crudites platters made from raw vegetables complete with dip. Make your own economical alternative and use only vegetables your family enjoys. A bowl of creamy salad dressing makes a tasty dip. Create a stuffing for cucumbers or zucchini with cream cheese and seasonings of your choice. Use a seasoning mix for zesty flavor with less fuss. Peel the cucumbers, slice them lengthwise, and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Add your stuffing and cut the cucumbers into individual servings. Add a touch of elegance by topping them with capers or fresh dill weed. Thread cubed fresh fruit onto wooden skewers for a sweet counterpoint.
Spread small flour tortillas with cream cheese, salsa and chopped avocado. Roll them up and chill. Slice them into thin rounds and store them in a plastic bag until it's time to serve. A similar preparation uses refrigerator crescent rolls spread with a savory filling and baked. Pop them in the microwave to reheat before serving. Fill miniature pastry cups with a quiche mixture and bake. These are tasty served cold. Some preparations like fruit fillings won't hold up as well in the refrigerator because the shell will get soggy, so make those just before serving.
Chilled Dips and Spreads
Make an easy dip for crackers by combining chopped spinach, sour cream and ranch dressing. Make a simple flavored cheese spread with ricotta or farmer's cheese, chopped garlic, dip mix and fresh herbs. Blend the mixture and let it chill. Salsa is a favorite at casual parties and on Tex-Mex night at home. Instead of pouring it out of a jar, make your own quick salsa so you can adjust the heat to suit your family's tastes. Combine tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers in the food processor and chill before serving.
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