Party Apps in a Snap

'Tis the season...for celebrating with friends, families, co-workers and neighbours. It's a busy time of year - shopping, Christmas concerts, dance recitals, talent shows and, as I've learned, even soccer tournaments. It seems like celebrations of all kinds are plenty but time is not. I enjoy all these gatherings but that usually means I need to bring food of some sort. Who's got the time? Or energy? It's taken me several holidays but I've finally come up with a few appetizers that taste good, look appealing, don't break the bank and are fairly quick to put together.
Prep time for these appetizers ranges from about 10 to 20 min. I usually keep ingredients for these on hand during the holidays so I can put together a few different appetizers in little time. I prefer these ideas to the typical appetizers you get in a box that, in my opinion, cost much more than they're worth.
The first two are the easiest ones to make.
First up, shrimp with dip. Maybe not too exciting but always a hit. No matter the holiday season, shrimp is always on sale. I buy a couple of bags of the pre-cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp with the tail on. I prefer the frozen bagged shrimp to the frozen shrimp ring with cocktail sauce. The bagged shrimp is usually less costly and besides, after the shrimp is thawed, I always rinse it and dry it really well which means I have to take it out of the ring anyways. You don't have to serve the shrimp with cocktail sauce. Google 'dip for shrimp' and you'll find lots of ideas...lemon garlic, thai, even some bottled salad dressings pair nicely with shrimp.

Change up the presentation by making individual portions of shrimp and dip.

Next in terms of easy to make is tortellini with pesto dip. Keep a bag of fresh tri-colour cheese tortellini in the freezer. It takes 5 min. to cook. Rinse in cold water, drain well and toss with oil. To make the pesto dip, add some pesto sauce to plain yogurt. Start with 1/2 cup of yogurt (or mayo or sour cream or a combo) and 2 tbsp pesto, taste it and add more pesto or yogurt to suit your taste. I buy a jar of pesto sauce and freeze small portions in ice cube trays. Once frozen, I pop it out of the tray and put the pesto cubes in a freezer bag.

 You could also serve pasta salad on a stick with the pesto dip. I used pasta, olives, halved cherry tomatoes and cucumber but there are many variations to put together...feta cheese, red and green peppers, mushrooms, steamed cauliflower and broccoli...

Another easy one to put together is a platter of cheese, crackers and sliced pepperrettes.

I added peppers to the plate because I thought the red colour made the plate look festive but I think the platter without the peppers would be fine too, and less work! I use a mix of regular pepperettes (made with beef or pork) and turkey pepperettes. The cost of the regular and turkey pepperettes is about the same but the turkey ones are much lower in sodium and fat (less than half the fat and sodium compared to the beef or pork variety). I recommend the spicy flavoured turkey pepperettes.

Something to keep in mind when you're bringing food to a party - you don't have to bring enough servings to feed the whole crowd. No matter the number of people at the gathering, the amount you usually need to bring is servings for 8 - 10 people. Remember, everyone is bringing something to eat.

Check out next week's post for more 'apps in a snap' to bring to your celebration.

Michele, RD