Easy Appetizers for Your Holiday Festivities

‘Tis the season to party! Whether you’re having a small get-together with a few family members or you’re throwing an all out bash for 80 of your closest friends, you need food.

Here are some yummy apps, sure to impress, that you can whip up quickly and without a lot of fuss.

Easy shrimp cocktail. Thaw cooked frozen shrimp (or if you have time, steam, sauté or boil your own raw shrimp). Place bowls of dipping sauces (such as tartar or cocktail sauce or aioli) on a platter, then surround the bowls with the cooked shrimp. A squeeze of lemon adds zest.

A new twist on salsa. Here’s a delicious salsa variation that’s almost a meal in itself. Combine 1 drained canned black beans, thawed frozen corn, chopped roma tomatoes, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, chopped green pepper and chopped avocado. Toss the mixture with some lime juice, salt and pepper. If you want even more flavor, throw in some chopped garlic, sliced black olives or diced jalapeno peppers. Delicious with tortilla or pita chips.

Tortilla roll-Ups. Spread a thin layer of your favorite cream cheese on large flour tortillas. Top with thin layers of turkey, ham, chicken or roast beef from the deli; thinly sliced tomato; and baby spinach leaves. Roll the tortilla up very tightly, similar to a jelly roll. Chill rolls for about 30 minutes, and then slice into bite-size pieces.

Roasted grapes. Sounds funny, but this is delicious with cheese and crackers! Grease an ovenproof skillet with 2 T. butter. Add 1 pound seedless grapes and 3/4 cup walnuts, then sprinkle with 2 T. sugar. Roast about 25 minutes in a 500-degree oven. Transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Simmer the juices with 1 T. honey on the stove until syrupy, 6 to 7 minutes. Turn off the heat, add a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of pepper, and pour the syrup over the grapes.

Serving suggestion: Top crackers with Brie or blue cheese and a dollop of roasted grapes.

Cucumber and salmon slices. With a pastry bag, pipe flavored cream cheese (like chive) on cucumber slices. Top each cucumber slice with a small piece of smoked salmon. If you’d like, garnish with fresh chopped chives.

Sausage balls. With your fingers, combine a 1-pound package of ground sausage; 3 C. baking mix (like Bisquick); 4 C. grated sharp Cheddar and 1/8 T. pepper. The mixture will be crumbly. Form into 1-inch balls (squeeze mixture so it stays together) and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes at 375 degrees. To prevent sticking, move the balls with a spatula halfway through the cooking. For a delicious dip, combine 1 C. mayonnaise with 1 T. mustard.

Bon appetit!