Letter from a reader, appetizer advice…

3

Jan 22, 2010

Hi Mandy,I need your help! I am hosting a retirement party for a staff member next Friday and I was wondering if you had a EASY appetizer recipes I could use?
 
Thanks,
Brooke
I love to serve simple recipes when I am hosting a party, stuff that I can make ahead of time so I can enjoy myself.  Check out the frozen food section at the supermarket, if you have a trader joe’s near by I know they carry lots of premade appetizers, I love their carmelized onion tarts.  It is always safe to cut up veggies and cheese to serve with crackers and simple store bought dips.  I did find some recipes online that I cannot wait to try myself, they look easy and delicious.
Easy Spinach Dip

 Ingredients 
1 10-ounce box frozen spinach, thawed
1 1/2 cups store-bought hummus (from two 8-ounce containers)

Directions
Squeeze the spinach to remove any excess water. In a food processor or blender, puree the spinach and hummus. Spoon into a dish and serve with the pita chips.

Black Bean Salsa
Ingredients
3 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (11 ounce) can Mexican-style corn, drained
2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, partially drained
2 tomatoes, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 bunches green onions, chopped
1/2 tsp. cumin
cilantro leaves, for garnish
In a large bowl, mix together black beans, Mexican-style corn, diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, tomatoes and green onion stalks. Garnish with desired amount of cilantro leaves. Chill in the refrigerator at least 8 hours, or overnight, before serving with tortilla chips.  This recipe makes 3 cups of salsa, you might want to double it.
Picture of Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salsa Recipe

Star Puffs
 I saw this recipe on the food network website and I love the idea.  You could use any cut out you want.  I haven’t tried it yet but I think this recipe would make about 24 servings, depending on your party size you might want to double it.  I would serve them along side a cheese platter.
Ingredients
1 box puff pastry (found in your freezer section, allow enough time to thaw)
olive oil
pepper
grated parmesan cheese
Directions
Cut a sheet of puff pastry with a star-shaped cookie cutter. Arrange the stars on a parchment-lined baking sheet; brush with olive oil and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees until puffed and crisp, about 15 minutes.
Picture of Star Puffs Recipe
Sausage Rolls
These are a little bit more sophisticated that meatballs or little smoky’s in the crock pot.  I think they look delicious and I can’t wait to try them.
Ingredients 
1  pound  raw bulk pork breakfast sausage (16 links)
1/2  cup  finely minced onion
2  teaspoons  minced fresh thyme
1  teaspoon  minced fresh sage
1/4  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
1 (17.3 oz.) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
2  tablespoons  plus 2 tsp. smooth Dijon mustardDirections

Using a sharp knife, cut off ends of sausage casings. Squeeze out meat and discard casings. In a bowl, mix sausage, onion, thyme, sage and crushed red pepper. Set mixture aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Working on a lightly floured work surface, unroll 1 sheet of puff pastry so a long side is near you. Divide dough horizontally into 2 long rectangles. Repeat with remaining sheet of puff pastry.

Brush each rectangle with 2 tsp. mustard. Cut 6 vertical 1 1/2-inch strips from each rectangle and discard any excess pastry. Place 1 Tbsp. sausage mixture in center of each strip and, beginning at one end, roll dough around mixture, pressing seam to seal. Place each roll seam-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining strips and sausage.

Bake rolls until pastry is puffed and golden, 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Makes 24 rolls.

Creme Puffs
Pick up a couple boxes of frozen creme puffs from the grocery store.  Place them on a pretty cake stand or in a trifle dish and drizzle them with chocolate syrup and powered sugar.  They are a no-stress crowd pleaser.
Poppies Belgian Mini Cream Puffs - 70 ct.

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