9 Quick New Year’s Appetizers That Let You Enjoy the Party

Hosting a New Year’s Eve party is an honorable endeavor: You’re tasked with providing a group of friends and/or family a perfect cap to the outgoing year and a bright, fun start to the new one. Appetizers and hors d’oeuvres reign, which can be great — meaning fewer dishes and much less silverware to clean up on the first day of the new year — but individual, bite-size apps can be tedious and time consuming. Rather than spending all day and all night preparing for the party by assembling perfectly stacked antipasto skewers, make these appetizers and finish cooking with enough time to enjoy the party before the clock strikes midnight.

Party Snacks, pate, crab, crackers

Source: iStock

1. Skinny Crab and Artichoke Dip with Jalapeño

This dip from Pinch of Yum is a little meaty, a little cheesy, a little spicy, and light enough to tempt guests who are still recovering after the previous week of heavy food, clocking in at 75 calories per serving. It’s less of a “sit in the slow cooker all day” sort of dip than it is a “use the slow cooker to keep it warm and melty” sort of dish, which means you don’t have to remember to do it in the morning and it doesn’t cool and congeal three hours before midnight.

If you have access to fresh crab, use it! Otherwise, packaged is totally acceptable here. Same goes for the artichokes. It’s quicker by far, and covered in cheese (so no one will notice anyway). With prep time, assuming you’re shredding your own cheese, this comes together in about 20 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 14 ounces canned or jarred artichoke hearts
  • 8 ounces canned jumbo lump crab meat
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1¼ cups 2% milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese; Lindsay of Pinch of Yum used a combination of Parmesan and Gruyere
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • chips for dipping, extra cheese for topping

Directions: Remove the ribs and seeds from the jalapeño and the red bell pepper. In a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat, saute the peppers with a little oil. You can also roast them without oil, stirring every few minutes to get a nicely browned exterior, but this will take longer. When they are soft, set them aside. This will take approximately 5 minutes.

While the peppers are cooking, drain and chop the artichoke hearts. Drain the crab. Set aside.

In the same pan from step one, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until a thick paste forms. Let the mixture bubble for about a minute. Slowly pour in the milk; whisking to incorporate. Keep the sauce over low heat, continuing to whisk, and it should begin to thicken. Add the salt, cheese, artichokes, crab, scallions, and lemon juice. Stir gently to combine. Add more liquid if needed. This will take approximately 8 minutes.

Transfer to a small slow cooker or serving dish. Sprinkle with a little extra cheese and replace the crockpot cover so it melts just before party time. If you’re using a regular serving dish, put it under the broiler, watching closely, until it starts to bubble. Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips, or crackers.

casserole, pie, spinach and turnip top

Source: iStock

2. Spinach and Artichoke Dip

If you’re not the shellfish type, there’s always this old standby from Damn Delicious to throw into your slow cooker, because you wouldn’t want to not invite such a superstar appliance to a New Year’s Eve party. This is a dish you’ll need to plan ahead for, but make no mistake: It’s only 10 minutes of prep time. The perfect co-host (your slow cooker) will watch it for you until your party starts.

If you’re getting ambitious and using fresh spinach over frozen, sauté it first. You’re going to need at least 20 ounces of fresh spinach to cook down into the 10 ounces needed for the dip. Be sure to drain sautéed spinach well so your dip doesn’t become watery.

Ingredients:

  • 2 (14-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed

Directions: Place all ingredients except the cream cheese into a slow cooker. Stir until well combined. Top with the cream cheese.

Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours.

Uncover and stir until cream cheese is well combined. Cover and cook on high heat for an additional 15 minutes.

Poppy seed snails, pastry pinwheel

Source: iStock

3. Little Mushroom Pinwheels

This recipe from Food52 takes a little more prep time than the Spinach and Artichoke Dip, but it’s a make-ahead dish that takes only 15 minutes in the oven. You’ll be rewarded for taking the time to really brown the mushrooms and letting the roll chill thoroughly by having elegant little pinwheels with a rich, deep flavor that were really easy to cut from the log. If you make the log more than a couple hours in advance, wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer until you’re ready to bake.

To get the mushrooms really finely diced, we suggest pulsing in a food processor.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces mushrooms of your choice, diced finely
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ⅛ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 sheet puff pastry from a 17.3-ounce package
  • 1 egg beaten with 3 tablespoons water

Directions: In a large sauté pan, melt the butter and add the diced mushrooms, thyme, salt, and pepper. Sauté until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and they become a little brown and caramelized. Set aside to cool.

Roll the puff pastry sheet into a uniform rectangle about 10-by-12 inches.

Spread the mushroom filling over the surface of the pastry and then roll it tightly, starting with the long side, to have a “jelly roll” 12 inches long.

Refrigerate the roll for about 20 minutes before slicing into ¼-inch rounds. If you’re going to freeze the log, do so before slicing.

Place the pinwheels on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush each with a little of the egg wash.

Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes and serve warm.

Brown Candied Spiced Caramelized Nuts

Source: iStock

4. Spiced Glazed Nuts and Pretzel Mix

If you’re headed to the grocery store, cross that bag of Chex mix right off your list. With this quick and easy recipe from David Lebovitz, you can do much, much better. If you have mixed nuts and pretzels hanging out in your cabinets, you may even be able to make this from pantry staples. It’s a little sweet, a little salty, and a little spicy. That’s the ticket.

Lebovitz suggests melting the butter in the same bowl you’ll be stirring everything together in to avoid extra dishes. He has a tiny kitchen in Paris and no dishwasher, so when he finds ways to consolidate dishes, they work and we listen. If you have a microwave-safe bowl big enough to hold 4 cups of mix and fit in your microwave, use it! Also, add the salt after the nuts are stirred so it doesn’t dissolve. Preferably kosher or sea salt, because it has both a better texture and non-metallic flavor. Use any nuts your taste buds desire. David uses cashews, whole almonds, peanuts, pecan halves, and hazelnuts.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mixed nuts — raw, not toasted —  in any combination
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon red pepper, such as cayenne
  • 1½ tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
  • 2 cups small pretzel twists

Directions: Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 350-degree-Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes, stirring once for even toasting.

In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and maple syrup. Add the warm nuts, stirring until coated. Then mix in the salt and pretzels, and stir until the nuts and pretzels are completely coated.

Spread the mixture back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 12 to 18 minutes, stirring twice during cooking. Remove from oven and cool completely, separating the nuts and pretzels as they cool.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

5. Ricotta-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Following the sweet and salty trend, this is a party favorite. Bacon tends to do that. The best thing about this recipe from the Food Network is that if you buy pitted dates, using ricotta cheese and a piping bag means you don’t have to slice, pit, and schmear; you can just fill the bag with cheese and pipe it right in. Much less messy, and it saves a little time, too.

To hack a piping bag, slice a little bit of the corner off a plastic zip-top bag. Easy.

If you can’t find pre-pitted dates, you can cut the tips off each end of the date and use the flat end of a skewer to push the pit right out. Make sure you have toothpicks, because that’s how you’ll keep the bacon from flopping all over the place before it’s cooked. This will take about 30 minutes, depending on how quick your hands are at filling, wrapping, and stabbing your dates.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of bacon, preferably thick cut
  • 25 Medjool dates, about ¾ of a pound
  • ⅓ cup ricotta cheese

Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut the bacon in half to make twice as many slices.

Place the ricotta in the bag — piping bag or zip-top with the tip of the corner cut out — and fill the dates with cheese.

Wrap the ricotta-stuffed dates with bacon and use a toothpick to secure the bacon through the belly of the date.

Arrange all the prepared dates on a parchment-lined baking sheet, allowing at least a little space between each one for good browning. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until bacon is browned and crispy. Remove from the baking sheet and gently remove toothpicks. Serve immediately.

Teriyaki chicken meatballs

Source: iStock

6. Scallion Meatballs with a Soy-Ginger Glaze

Meatballs are great party apps. Deb of Smitten Kitchen has a few party meatball  recipes, but this one with its scallion brightness and sticky, savory soy-ginger glaze takes the cake. This recipe can be made gluten-free if you use a tamari instead of the soy sauce in the glaze. If you’re cilantro averse, flat-leaf parsley can be used instead. It’s worth it to take the time to really reduce the glaze, which took Deb a little more than 30 minutes, but it’s hands-off time. Make the meatballs while the glaze is reducing and feel great about multi-tasking.

The meatballs should be made in two batches. Overcrowding would result in meatballs more steamed than pan-fried, and the crisp exterior is important to the final product. Luckily, the meatballs only take 8 minutes per batch. They can be done, start to finish, in tandem with the glaze.

Ingredients:

Sauce

  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup soy sauce, preferably Japanese or reduced sodium
  • ½ cup mirin, a sweet rice wine, or ½ cup sake with ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup peeled, chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 whole black peppercorns

Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 4 large or 6 small scallions, finely chopped
  • Half bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, preferably toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil

Directions: Start making the sauce first. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves completely. Reduce heat to a medium-low and add soy sauce, mirin, ginger, coriander and peppercorns. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 30 minutes, though it may take you longer to really get a glaze that will stick to the meatballs. Once it has reduced, strain through a sieve.

To make the meatballs, mix turkey, scallions, cilantro, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce and several grindings of black pepper in a bowl. Roll tablespoon-size knobs of the mixture into balls. To help keep the meat from sticking to your hands and deforming the ball, wet your hands first.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, generously cover bottom of pan with vegetable oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding, place meatballs in pan and cook, turning, until browned all over and cooked inside, about 8 minutes per batch. Arrange on a platter, spoon a little sauce over each meatball, and serve with toothpicks. Alternatively, you can serve the glaze on the side, for each guest to dip their own meatballs.

If needed, you can rewarm or keep the meatballs warm in a 200-degree-Fahrenheit oven until ready to serve. The sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Cheese and crackers, pomegranate seeds

Source: iStock

7. White Cheddar, Toasted Almond, and Crispy Sage Pomegranate Jeweled Cheeseball

It may take you longer to say the name of this appetizer than it will to make it. This beautiful, festive, and delicious cheeseball from How Sweet It Is will stun your guests with its beauty and you with its ease of assembly. The only time this really takes is spent in the fridge. Actual “on” time is about 7 minutes, tops.

There are two ways to de-seed a pomegranate. The first is to cut it in half and whack the back with a big wooden spoon until all of the seeds pop out into a bowl. This is fairly effective but can be messy, with the force of a good whacking sending pomegranate arils (the real word for the seeds) bouncing out of the bowl and all over your kitchen. Instead, fill the bowl with a bit of water and quarter the pomegranate. Submerge the quarters and massage the arils out with your fingers. Drain the water, getting rid of the white pith that floats on top, and pat the arils dry, gently.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • one 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 6 ounces freshly grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup sliced, toasted almonds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • crackers for serving

Directions: Heat a skillet over medium heat and add butter. Once it’s sizzling, toss in the sage leaves and cook until crispy – flipping once and cooking about 1 minute per side. Remove the sage leaves and place them on a paper towel to crisp up a bit. Set the butter aside.

In a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, mascarpone and cheddar cheese. Beat until combined, then add in the almonds, sage leaves, remaining butter, salt and pepper. Mix on low speed until combined, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides and the bottom if needed. Remove the mixture from the bowl and mold it into a big ball. Roll it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the arils on a paper towel and pat them completely dry. Let them sit out while the cheese is chilling to remove as much liquid from them as possible. This will keep the red juice from bleeding into the white cheese.

After 30 minutes, mold the cheese into more of a smooth ball. Add the arils to a plate or baking sheet and roll the ball through them, using your hands to press arils into all the cracks and crevices. You will need to gently press so the arils adhere to the cheese. Serve it immediately or keep it in the fridge until ready to use.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

8. Spicy Boiled Shrimp with Creamy Buttermilk-Avocado Sauce

Pretty much every party has some sort of shrimp cocktail. Rather than the typical red cocktail sauce, switch it up a bit with a pretty, light green buttermilk and avocado dipping sauce. Spice up your shrimp, too, with this recipe from Southern Living via My Recipes. To keep the shrimp properly chilled throughout the party (no one likes lukewarm shrimp), Southern Living suggests you put out half and keep the other half in the fridge until you need to replenish. Again, the time this takes is all in the refrigerator; actual time spent involved is however long it takes to boil water plus 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Ingredients:

Shrimp

  • 2 pounds peeled and deveined cooked shrimp with tails
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • one 5-ounce package mixed baby greens, thoroughly washed

Buttermilk Avocado Sauce

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 finely chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions: For the shrimp, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add shrimp and cook for 30 seconds. Drain, rinse under cool running water, and place in a small bowl.

Fill a medium bowl with ice. Place bowl containing shrimp in ice. Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours.

Make the buttermilk avocado sauce. Process buttermilk, avocado, parsley, chopped green onions, and fresh lemon juice in a food processor 30 seconds or until smooth. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Squeeze juice from lemons through a small strainer over shrimp in a large bowl, drizzle with hot sauce, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with Creole seasoning, and toss to coat. Serve shrimp over mixed greens with the sauce.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

9. Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms with Bread Crumbs

Rather than spending the time cooking and draining sausage or peeling and chopping garlic, give your stuffed mushrooms a light tang from fresh goat cheese with this recipe from Food & Wine. The cheese is creamy, the mushrooms earthy and just barely toothsome, and the bread crumbs add a little crunchy intrigue. These take about 30 minutes in the oven for the mushrooms to cook, and about 5 to 7 minutes to assemble once the mushrooms are cool enough to handle.

Ingredients:

  • 24 large cremini mushrooms, about 1½ pounds, stems discarded
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary leaves, plus one 3-inch sprig of rosemary
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
  • 6 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into 24 pieces

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, toss the mushrooms with 3 tablespoons of the oil and the rosemary leaves and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mushrooms to a baking sheet, rounded side up. Roast for about 30 minutes, until tender and browned around the edges. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

In a skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the rosemary sprig and cook over moderately high heat until the leaves are crisp, 30 seconds. Drain on paper towels, then strip off the leaves. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of the rosemary oil and reserve it for another use.

In a skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the rosemary sprig and cook over moderately high heat until the leaves are crisp, 30 seconds. Drain on paper towels, then strip off the leaves. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of the rosemary oil and reserve it for another use.

Gently press a piece of goat cheese in the center of each mushroom, sprinkle with the bread crumbs and serve.

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