Need some quick appetizers or snacks for a party? We have some great ideas for you!
Sweet and Savory Puffs
Keep a few packages of puff pastry in your freezer, and in no time you can have Salmon Cream Cheese Pinwheels, Dill Puffs, Parmesan Herb Straws, and Apricot Triangles or countless other treats.
Look in the freezer section of your grocery store for frozen puff pastry. Thaw for about 40 minutes at room temperature. (Important: Do NOT use microwave to try to speed the thawing or you could end up with folds that stick together or partially cooked dough.)
Cut into squares or festive shapes, fill with a small amount of your favorite things like jam, flavored cream cheeses, or finely chopped cooked meat, mushrooms and herbs. Pinch together the edges, and then bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper at 400 degrees until golden brown. (Parchment paper works much better than greasing the cookie sheet. They slide right off!) Watch carefully so that neither the puffs nor the paper burns. They are usually done in around 10 to 15 minutes.
While we won't pretend that the finished products are anything resembling healthy, if you have to make something at the last minute, they will save you sleep, and that is healthy for you!
Don't worry if you don't fold it or cut it perfectly. The puffing changes the shape a little anyway, and they're still delicious and tempting in any shape. You might just find the kid inside you as you experiment with different shapes and fillings!
An easy starting point is to cut three inch squares, fill with about 1 tsp. of filling and fold to form a triangle. Seal so that the filling doesn't escape. (Resist the urge to overfill.)
Even easier, sprinkle with dill, cut into 1 inch squares and bake without filling for airy "Dill Puffs." (Use cookie cutters to cut them into Christmas trees during the holidays.)
Sprinkle with herbs and parmesan cheese and cut long strips for "straws." (Cheese burns easily so watch carefully.)
Pinwheels are also fun, easy and impressive. There are more detailed instructions included on the package, but essentially you spread the filling of your choice on a sheet of thawed dough, roll, chill until firm enough to cut into slices, and then bake. (Salmon cream cheese spread is one of our favorite fillings for these.)
Fruit and Cheese Trays
Bunches of red and green grapes with cheese cubes make attractive trays and require no prep beyond washing the grapes.
Dips, Spreads and Crackers
If you need to fill out your party table, nothing is easier than a variety of dips and spreads along with crackers. Small slices of marbled rye or french bread are also good for spreads and look pretty on the table.
To save time, you can purchase the dips and spreads when you buy the crackers and bread, but if you want to make some yourself, here are a few easy ones.
Unwrap and melt one package of lowfat cream cheese in the microwave for less than a minute in a microwave-safe dish. Stir in 1/2 can of whole cranberry sauce.
Combine a small can of boneless, skinless salmon with a package of low fat cream cheese or yogurt in the food processor along with dill and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
Stir 1 to 2 tablepoons dried onion flakes into a small package of low fat sour cream. Add dill, parsley or other herbs if desired. (Great alternative to onion soup mix and purchased onion dip which often have MSG.)
1 small package frozen chopped spinach, washed, thawed and cooked just until crisp tender. Add just enough lowfat mayo or lowfat yogurt until it gets to "dip" consistency. Dice canned water chestnuts and add to dip. Season to taste.
Vegetable trays are a popular party feature. Save yourself a lot of work by selecting vegetables that don't require chopping, such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, black and green olives, pea pods, etc.