Awesome Easy Appetizers

by M.H. Dyer

Unexpected guests or surprise dinner party invite? It's always a good idea to have a few easy appetizer recipes in your back pocket. When you don't have a lot of time to prep, make every minute count! These recipes take less than 15 minutes to prepare but are impressive, visually appealing and fun to eat.

Toothpick and Skewer Apps

Who doesn't love mini kebabs? Toothpicks and skewers are ideal for holding a variety of imaginative, easy-to-eat appetizers. For example, slide small balls of fresh mozzarella on a skewer with grapes, cherry tomatoes or chunks of green peppers. Serve skewered chunks of pears with bacon or melon balls with thinly sliced deli lunch meat or prosciutto. Tiny cooked meatballs, sausage balls, chunks of roasted pork or chicken, or roasted vegetables -- such as cauliflower or asparagus -- are tasty and easy to serve on toothpicks or skewers. Place bowls of dressing or dip nearby.

Dips

The perfect party food, dips allow for so much more creativity than most appetizers. Dips are easy-to-create and versatile accompaniments for a variety of foods. Vanilla pudding mixed with sour cream makes a refreshing dip for fruits. To add a tropical flair, stir in drained pineapple and shredded coconut. For vegetables or chips, use creamy bottled salad dressings or dressing and dip mix as a base for your original creations. Combine basic ranch dressing with softened cream cheese and your favorite herbs, spices and chopped vegetables.

Crackers

It's hard to go wrong with a snack that's a perennial favorite with both kids and adults. Cut pita bread into quarters, then brush the quarters with olive oil and bake for crispy, effortless pita crackers. Make simple, attractive appetizers by topping any type of crisp crackers or chips with sliced kalamata olive and feta cheese or brie and fresh spinach. Spread crackers or tortilla chips with cream cheese or goat cheese, then top each with a green chile, jalapeno pepper or chipotle pepper. Make a cracker spread by mixing grated cheddar cheese with pimentos, creamy dressing and a drop of hot sauce.

Small Bites

Finger foods are almost as much fun to serve as they are to eat! Dried apricot or peach halves topped with blue cheese, chopped nuts and a drop of honey make an easy but impressive appetizer. For a casual party or a teen get-together, dress up popcorn with melted butter and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, dry salad dressing or dip mix, cinnamon or cumin. Top crackers with a radish slice and a thin cut of roast beef or smoked salmon. For an attractive bite-sized appetizer, purchase ready-made potato or macaroni salad, then serve a spoonful of the salad on a leaf of purple cabbage or kale.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.