Robin's Healthy Take: Last-Minute Appetizers

Looking for hostess gift for a holiday party? Or are you hosting your own gathering and need quick, easy nosh ideas? I was just faced with an impromptu gathering at my house and needed refreshments for a hungry crowd. Here are 5 festive ways to feed your friends and family, fast.

Every December, my husband and I take our boys and a bunch of friends on a pontoon lake ride near our house. Most of the lake-front homes are fully decorated and it’s awesome to see the shimmering lights from the water. I always bring snacks, but since the ride is just 45 minutes, I don’t go "overboard" if you know what I mean. This year, 30 minutes before the ride, we were canceled because of rain. Never one to miss a party, I invited everyone to my house.  I threw together a bunch of fun and easy appetizers that everyone loved -- I think you will, too.

Stuffed Peppadew Peppers: Fill peppadew peppers (from a 14-ounce jar) with herbed goat cheese, black pepper goat cheese or herbed cream cheese. Or, make your own herbed goat cheese by folding fresh parsley, basil, dried oregano and black pepper into regular soft goat cheese.

Caprese Tartlets: Spoon a little basil pesto into the bottom of mini puff pastry shells (sold in the freezer section with the regular puff pastry) and then top with a cube of fresh mozzarella and a few thin slices of oil-packed sundried tomatoes; bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes, until the tarts are crisp and the cheese starts to melt.

Orange-Soy Glazed Shrimp: Combine 1 cup of orange marmalade, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil in a large skillet and bring to a simmer. Add 1 pound cooked large or jumbo shrimp (peeled and deveined with the tails on) and simmer until the liquid reduces the shrimp are covered with the glaze. Top with chopped fresh cilantro before serving.

Pesto Twists: Unroll a thawed sheet of frozen puff pastry onto a flat surface; spread basil pesto all over the dough; fold in half, covering the filling. Cut into 16 strips and twist each strip into a spiral. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown.

Brie and Pear Quesadillas: Coat a large skillet or griddle with cooking spray and preheat to medium-high. Spread Brie on flour tortillas and place the tortillas on the hot pan, Brie side up; top one side with thinly sliced pears and a drizzle of honey. Fold the tortilla in half and cook until golden brown on both sides. Cut into wedges before serving.

Now tell me some last-minute appetizers you’ve pulled out of your hat!

Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.

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