Making impressive appetizers doesn't mean spending hours in the kitchen. With a little imagination and a few simple tricks, you can make tasty and unusual appetizers that turn any get-together into a special occasion. Prepare most appetizers ahead of time, then relax and enjoy your party. To keep your guests interested, serve appetizers in a variety of colors and textures, and a blend of mild and strong flavors.
Fruits are flavorful, colorful and ready to eat, making them just the thing for unusual appetizers. For example, cut an apple into slices, then use your paring knife to cut out the core. Stuff the hole in the center of the slice with peanut butter and honey mixed with raisins, chopped nuts or chocolate chips. You can also serve fruit chunks and pretzels with a sweet dressing made of ingredients such as apple preserves, peanut butter and cinnamon, or cut fruits into interesting shapes, then stack the shapes on a wooden skewer.
Use a variety of fresh vegetables to make unusual appetizers. During the summer, put tender zucchini or cucumbers to good use by cutting them into 1-inch chunks. Use a spoon to remove the insides, then stuff the little chunks with a mixture of cream cheese and chives or grated parmesan and blue cheese. Decorate each appetizer with a sliced cherry tomato. Serve mashed sweet potatoes in disposable champagne glasses, or scoop vegetable dip into a hollow red, green or yellow bell pepper. Experiment using creamy dressing or dip mix to add extra zip to your vegetable dips and fillings.
Nearly anything is good piled on top of refrigerated crescent rolls. Top the dough with pizza fixings such as cheese and chopped vegetables, or make a fresh fruit pizza. Serve the appetizers hot or cold. Fold a crescent roll around grated provolone cheese, sauerkraut and corned beef for miniature Reuben sandwich, or wrap a crescent around a piece of sweet potato wrapped around a pecan. Fold a crescent around a sliced jalapeno pepper, grated cheese and bacon for southwestern-style appetizers, and serve with a cool, creamy dressing or dip.
Creative serving is often all you need to create stand-out appetizers. For a summer get-together, serve fresh fruit in a hollowed-out watermelon. During the autumn, place appetizers in a hollow pumpkin. For a whimsical effect, carve it into a jacko-lantern first. Make interesting cold appetizers by floating foods such as chopped vegetables, cherry tomatoes or shrimp in an ice ring filled with juice or water. Garnish serving plates with bite-size appetizers such as stuffed olives or grapes, or surround your appetizers with purple kale, cabbage, or lime and lemon peels. Fill a hollow bread bowl with dip for vegetables, fruits or chips.
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