Quick and Easy Apps

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Impressive Appetizer

Image by wallyg via Flickr

I received a desperate text from the hostess of a holiday party I am attending this weekend that read, “Can you bring an app – please???” I’ll admit it – it took me a second before I realized she meant app as in “cheese dip” and not app as in “Angry Birds.”

Once we got that straightened out, I quickly agreed. Only after hitting “send” did I realize what I’d just committed myself to – one more thing to cook this holiday season. Just when I thought I had all of my shopping behind me, it was time once again to head back to the grocery store (which, if you haven’t tried to tackle lately, is chaos).

Typically, my go-to appetizer recipe is bruschetta. It is so easy to make: get a loaf of French bread, slice it into thin slices, bake it slightly to toast, slit the tops, spread lightly with olive oil, top with a thin slice of mozzarella cheese, then add a mixture of chopped tomatoes (I like to use sun-dried tomatoes), chopped garlic, and basil, and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. It couldn’t be easier, is done in just a few minutes, and everyone loves it.

The only problem with bruschetta is it should be served right away or you risk the bread getting soggy. You can make the tomato mixture and keep it in a bowl and allow everyone to top their own bread slices, or if your hostess won’t mind, top the bread there and pop it into the oven for a quick couple of minutes.

For party appetizers guaranteed to stay warm and wonderful all night, nothing beats the slow cooker. Meatballs in a sweet sauce are always a huge hit – make them at your apartment and take them with you, slow cooker and all. Plug them in at your destination and they will stay warm all evening. Dips are also great in the slow cooker – try a basic cheese dip or get creative with something a little more unusual.

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, so for some, the get-togethers start when the sun sets. Try one of these kosher appetizers – they are easy and look impressive. Also, if you’ve never made latkes (or even if you have), here’s a great video on how to make the perfect latkes.

You don’t have to be a great cook to make a great appetizer – you can even cut a few corners by getting refrigerated dough and using that to make some creative dishes that everyone will swear you spent hours on. The easiest and fastest appetizer of all, and one guaranteed to be gobbled up before the night is over? Get some brie, wrap it in a sheet of refrigerated dough (like wrapping a gift), and place it in the oven until the pastry is golden brown. Take it out and serve – perfectly easy and it tastes wonderful. (Dress it up a little if you want by spreading a little strawberry jam over the top of the brie before wrapping it.)