Nothing says ringing in the New Year like an array of terrific appetizers. We’re here to help with a crowd-pleasing and easy-to-make spread.
This will help you get a jump start on planning your party and give you inspiration for bringing a few nibbles to share. We take our appetizers serious because nothing shines at holiday parties more than a tray of scrumptious bite-size snacks.
Our collection of 10 crowd-pleasing and easy-to-make appetizers offers something for everyone. There’s spicy Thai-inspired shrimp to mini-pull apart lobster rolls to cheese-covered grapes. And it wouldn’t be an appetizer round-up if we didn’t include something with trendy bacon. For that we have bacon-wrapped chicken bites seasoned with spicy black pepper and brown sugar.
These appetizers are also festive looking from the whipped Feta topped with a mix of tomatoes and parsley to the simple Italian Skewers with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil. And finally, say what you want about deviled eggs, but there are never any leftovers of this classic. Today’s twist is the addition of pimento and Dijon mustard for a tangy flavor.
So we hope you enjoy the selection.
Adapted from www.bonappetite.com. In this recipe, spinach and feta are bundled in tiny puff-pastry packages.
1 package (10-ounce) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup minced onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped dill
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3-ounce package), thawed, rolled out to a 12-inch square, kept chilled
Have ready a 12-cup mini muffin pan.
Using your hands, squeeze spinach until dry, forcing out as much water as possible (too much water will make for a soggy filling; you should have about 2/3 cup well-drained spinach). In a medium bowl, mix spinach with feta, mozzarella, onion, olive oil, dill and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg to blend; fold into spinach mixture.
Cut the puff pastry into 12 equal square pieces. Place a square in each muffin cup, pressing into bottom and up sides and leaving corners pointing up. Divide filling among cups. Fold pastry over filling, pressing corners together to meet in center. Spinach puffs can be assembled 3 hours ahead. Cover puffs and chill.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Beat remaining egg to blend in a small bowl. Brush pastry with egg wash (this will give the pastry a nice sheen). Bake until pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let puffs cool in pan for 10 minutes. Run a sharp paring knife around pan edges to loosen; turn out puffs onto rack to cool slightly before serving.
Crostini With Whipped Feta And Tomatoes
From “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter, $35).
6 ounces good-quality feta, crumbled
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup good olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
2 ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, 1/2-inch-diced
3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving, optional
20 to 25 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal baguette slices, toasted
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, place the feta and cream cheese. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2teaspoon salt, and 1/4teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.
For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you’re serving, combine the shallots, garlic and vinegar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/3cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasonings.
To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.
Makes: 20 to 25 appetizers.
Pepperoni And Cheese Caprese Bites
Adapted from several recipes at www.pinterest.com.
24 mini mozzarella balls
24 basil leaves
24 pepperoni slices (about 2 inches in diameter)
24 cherry or grape tomatoes
24 small (3- to 4-inch) skewers
1/2 cup or more as needed Italian vinaigrette
Thread the mozzarella ball first, then fold the pepperoni in half and half again and thread onto the toothpick. Next add the basil leaf and finally the tomato. Place on a serving platter and drizzle with the vinaigrette.
Spicy Thai-Inspired Shrimp
Adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Appetizers” by Martha Stewart (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, $27.50). Chili paste and fish sauce give these shrimp a Thai-inspired flavor. Both are available in the ethnic food aisles at most grocery stores.
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes)
1 tablespoon Asian chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro, optional
36 large shrimp (about 3 pounds), peeled and deveined (tails left intact; optional)
18 wooden skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes to prevent charring
To make the sauce: Bring sugar and lime juice to a simmer in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lime zest, chili paste and fish sauce. Season with salt, and stir in chopped cilantro if using.
Preheat the grill to high or preheat the broiler. Brush grill grates with oil. Thread 2 shrimp onto each skewer; season with salt. Divide sauce in half; reserve half for serving. Grill or broil the shrimp for 1 minute; brush with sauce. Flip, and grill for 1 minute more; brush with sauce again. Flip, and grill, brushing occasionally with sauce, until opaque, 1 to 3 minutes more or until shrimp are cooked through. Serve with reserved sauce.
Sweet And Salty Chicken Bacon Bites
Adapted from several recipes. You can season the chicken pieces any way you like in this recipe.
2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, cut into 1 inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1 pound regular (not thick) sliced bacon
3/4 to 1 cup dark brown sugar, or more as needed
Fresh chopped Italian parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up. Place a wire baking rack on top of the baking sheet.
Place the chicken cubes in a bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. If desired, season with the garlic powder and red pepper flakes.
Cut the bacon slices into three pieces.
Place the brown sugar in a bowl or shallow plate.
Wrap each piece of seasoned chicken with a piece of bacon. There is no need for toothpicks, the bacon will stick to the chicken. Roll the wrapped chicken into the brown sugar, making sure each piece is nicely coated. Place the chicken, seam side down, on the wire rack on the baking sheet.
Season again with more freshly ground black pepper.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until bacon is nice and crisp. Remove from the oven to a serving platter and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
Pimento Stuffed Deviled Eggs
Adapted from “The Good Housekeeping Christmas Cookbook: Recipes Decorating Joy” (Good Housekeeping Cookbooks, $30).
12 large hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup sliced pimientos
1/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
2 green onions, minced, plus additional for garnish
Fresh herb sprigs for garnish
Slice each egg lengthwise in half. Gently remove yolks and place in small bowl; with fork, finely mash yolks. Stir in pimientos, mayonnaise, mustard, cayenne pepper, salt and minced green onion until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Using a paring knife, remove a small slice from the bottom of the egg whites so they don’t roll around on the platter. Spoon yolk mixture into egg-white halves. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving garnish with additional minced green onion and herbs if desired.
Italian Antipasto Cups
From “Wheel of Fortune Collectible Cookbook” (Mr. Food Test Kitchen; $21.95).
24 slices Genoa salami, 1/8-inch thick (see note)
1 cup artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish, optional
1/2 cup mini fresh mozzarella balls, cut into quarters
1 can (2.25 ounces) sliced black olives, drained
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Italian dressing
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using two 12-cup muffin tins, place one salami slice in each cup. Press salami into cups so it lines the cup. Bake 6 to 8 minutes, or until salami is crisp. Remove from oven and let cool, then place on serving platter.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, basil, mozzarella, olives, Italian seasoning and Italian dressing. Fill salami cups with artichoke mixture and garnish with extra basil. Serve immediately, or chill until ready to serve.
Cook’s note: The thickness of the salami is important; if it’s too thick or too thin, it won’t hold its shape once it’s baked.
Baked Brie With Maple, Walnuts And Dates
Adapted from “Maple: 100 Sweet And Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup” by Katie Webster (Quirk Books, $22.95). The original recipe called for 3 quartered fresh figs, but they are not widely available, so we substituted sweet dates.
1 wheel brie (8 ounces), well-chilled
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
5 medjool dates, quartered
3 tablespoons warmed maple syrup
Crostini or crackers for serving
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a small ovenproof dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut the rind off the top of the brie and place the cheese, cut side up, in the prepared dish. Press walnuts into the cut side. Arrange the dates over the top.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until warm and just starting to ooze around the edges. Remove from the oven, let cool about 5 minutes, drizzle with syrup and serve with crostini or crackers.
From “Farmhouse Rules” by Nancy Fuller (Grand Central Life & Style, $30). The only trick to this recipe is making sure the grapes are very dry so the cream cheese mixture sticks. You can easily cut the recipe in half. The grapes keep for several days in the fridge.
1 1/2 pounds seedless red or green grapes, or a combination
2 cups toasted walnut pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
8 ounces block cream cheese (regular or reduced-fat), softened
4 ounces Roquefort or other crumbly blue cheese
4 to 5 tablespoons heavy cream
Remove the grapes from the stems (you should have about 4 cups). Wash and dry the grapes very well, placing them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a kitchen towel to dry completely.
Finely chop the walnuts by hand so they are chopped, but not pasty. Put the chopped nuts in a shallow bowl, stir in the parsley and set aside. With a hand-held mixer, mix the cream cheese and Roquefort in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the heavy cream, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is the consistency of softened butter.
Using a fork or spoon, roll the grapes in the cream cheese mixture a handful at a time until they are completely coated, then roll in the nuts. Place the grapes on a parchment-lined baking sheet while you roll the remaining grapes. Chill the grapes until the cheese is firm, about 1 hour.
Pull-Apart Lobster Rolls
From “Martha Stewart’s Appetizers” by Martha Stewart (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, $27.50).
1 pound cooked lobster meat (from 3 lobsters or 4 good sized lobster tails), chopped (21/4 cups)
1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh chopped chervil, plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning or more to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 pull-apart sweet dinner rolls, such as King’s Hawaiian Sweet (do not separate)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together lobster, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, chervil, 1 teaspoon salt, Old Bay and cayenne in a large bowl.
Split rolls across tops; brush generously with some of the melted butter. Heat in oven on a baking sheet until warmed through, 3 to 5 minutes.
Divide lobster salad among rolls, drizzle with remaining butter, sprinkle with more chervil and serve.