How To Make 10 Instant New Year's Appetizers

Whether for a crowd of hungry guests or a single rumbling stomach, you're never more than 10 minutes away from a satisfying small bite. Preparing for a New Year's Eve Party can be a breeze if you are the host or if you are a guest who is bringing a dish to the festive event.

Below is a list of 10 bite-size treats that will have your fellow partygoers licking their fingers in delight and praising you for your glorious efforts, slaving away in the kitchen (they will be completely fooled)!

1. Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates: Make these for your next party, and watch them disappear. If you're not a fan of blue cheese, you can stuff the dates with soft goat cheese or a vegan cream cheese for those who don't eat any animal products.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Slit dates down one side, and remove pits. Place nutritional yeast on small saucer. Stuff each pitted date with 1/2 tsp. blue cheese, pressing sides together. Dip slit side of dates in nutritional yeast to coat cheese. Place on baking sheet slit side up, and bake 5 to 10 minutes, or until dates are hot and cheese is soft. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

2. Toothpick Treats: A piece of cheese sandwiched between almost anything is a sure delight. An easy and delicious crowd pleasing spread is to sandwich a hunk of mozzarella or Swiss between two olives on toothpicks and top it off with a pesto drizzle.

3. Bean Dip: Fill the bottom of an oven-safe bowl with refried beans. Top with salsa, scallions, and a thin layer of Jack Cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted, then crown with chopped pickled jalapenos. Serve with toasted pita or black bean chips.

4. Truffle Popcorn: I got into the habit of making this on a regular basis and now movie watching is not complete without a bowl of truffle popcorn by my side. Many of my guests will put in a special request that I make some for them, so trust me- your friends will go for it in a big kind of way.

It can be done very simply- Just pop a bag of plain popcorn. Remove from the bag and toss with truffle salt and olive oil (adding finely grated Parmesan and a truffle oil drizzle is optional).

5. Stuffed Peppadews: If a few bites of these fiery peppers get your palms sweaty and your heart pumping, chalk it up to capsaicin-the ingredient that gives chiles their heat. "Hot peppers are a significant vasodilator, enhancing circulation to the small and large blood vessels," says Chris Kilham, author of Hot Plants: Nature's Proven Sex Boosters for Men and Women. Result: A circulation surge that primes organs for romance. Find Peppadews in jars in the pickle section of the canned food aisle or at supermarket olive bars. This is a fun appetizer to get the party started!

Stuff Peppadew peppers with tiny balls of mozzarella, called boccoccini or with feta cheese. If using feta cheese, you can slide 1 mint leaf into cavity of 1 Peppadew. Fill with 1 or 2 cucumber cubes and then stuff it with 1/2 tsp. crumbled feta. Chill until ready to serve.

6. Kale Chips: Try eating just one of these- I bet you can't. They are crunchy and delicious and take a very short time to prepare from start to finish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the stem from each head of kale and tear into large bite size pieces. Toss in a large bowl with one part olive oil and 3 parts vinegar. Lay kale on prepared baking sheets in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 minutes or until crisp. Let cool.

7. Watermelon + Cheese: If you can find a good watermelon this time of year, this dish is always a hit. Place pieces of watermelon, pieces of fresh feta cheese, and leaves of basil on a bed of arugula. Drizzle aged balsamic vinegar on top.

8. Savory Wraps: Wrap slices of melon or cantaloupe with good prosciutto or Spanish ham.

9. Mangoes with a Kick: Peel a mango and cut it into spears. Top with fresh lime juice and chili powder.

10. Goat Cheese Crostini: These toasts are fast and easy because they're all assembled the same way. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice Italian or French bread. Combine goat cheese, fresh lemon juice, fresh thyme, and a clove of minced garlic into a small bowl and stir to combine. Place bread slices in a single layer on a jelly roll pan. Bake them at 425° for 5 minutes or until toasted. Turn slices over; spread cheese mixture evenly over bread. Bake 5 minutes or until toasted. Serve immediately.

Photo: Michele Wolfson

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