Even busy people like to throw a party once in a while, but a crowded schedule is no excuse to serve lackluster appetizers. Thanks to the abundance of fresh, prepared fruits, vegetables, dips and other table-ready foods found in grocery stores today, you can fill your party table with appetizers that are easy to make as well as delicious. The key to creating appetizers is to find simple, fresh, high-quality ingredients that can be easily combined.
Adding a dip to a tray of food makes for an instant party atmosphere. The combinations you can create are almost endless and can be either sweet or savory. Buy prepared dips such as hummus or spinach dip, found in the produce or deli sections of major supermarkets. Sweeten sour cream or plain yogurt with pure maple syrup, honey or fruit preserves and serve fresh pineapple spears, apple and pear slices, fresh strawberries and melon chunks to scoop up the dip. Buy prepared guacamole, black bean and sour cream dips, place them in bowls and serve with corn chips and raw veggies.
Slice a loaf of French bread into rounds, toast them and make a variety of spreads to top them with for a quick-to-make appetizer. You can buy packages of prepared toast rounds, crackers or bagel or pita chips to save even more time in the kitchen. To make a simple spread, start with a can of beans, cooked white or sweet potato or a bag of frozen peas that has been thawed. Drain off the liquid and grind the beans or vegetable into a paste in a food processor or blender. Add some olive oil, fresh herbs, garlic, hot pepper flakes and lemon or lime juice. Spread on the toast rounds and top each slice with a bit of olive, crumbled bacon or a sprig of parsley.
Buy a box of fancy toothpicks or skewers and make appetizers with whatever fresh ingredients look most appealing in the grocery store's produce or deli-section. Fry any type of sausage in casing, slice, and spear for an easy appetizer. Serve the sausage with a selection of gourmet mustards. Make fruit kebabs by skewering red and green grapes, melon pieces, fresh berries and other fruits on bamboo skewers. Make roll-ups by placing a slice of cheese on a slice or two of deli meat, rolling it up and securing it with a toothpick. Make savory kebabs by placing green and black olives, gourmet cheese cubes, grape tomatoes, marinated mushrooms, roasted red bell pepper slices and salami rounds on bamboo skewers.
You can easily bake a batch of crunchy party mix in your oven with a few basic ingredients. Mix together any combination of the following ingredients: Chex cereal, pretzels, peanuts, shelled sunflower or pumpkin seeds, mixed nuts, small cheese crackers, corn nuts, rice crackers and cubed crusty bread. Add a few tablespoons of melted butter, some seasonings such as ginger, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. Bake the mixture at about 300 degrees F. for half an hour. Let the mixture cool and serve it in a decorative bowl with a serving spoon.
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