Easy Appetizers that Easily Pass as Fancy!

This time of year, almost everyone sees an uptick in visitors (whether drop-ins or planned), office parties, and family get-togethers. Life is already hectic for most, between work, school, and kids…that while the festivities are something we welcome, we don’t always look forward to the additional monthly costs of entertaining or the time it takes to prepare.

Here are some simple appetizers that are easy on the wallet, and take very little prep time…just in time for New Year’s Eve!

Toasted Ravioli

TOASTED RAVIOLI

SKIP THE DEEP FRYER AND MAKE IN THE AIR FRYER. YOU’LL GET ALL THE CRISPINESS BUT NOT ALL THE OIL. IT COMES TOGETHER IN NO TIME AND IS SURE TO BE A HIT.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pkg (9–12 oz./300 g) small cheese ravioli, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil, plus more for spritzing
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2½ cups (625 mL) baby spinach leaves
  • 1–2 tbsp (15–30 mL) vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 cup (250 mL) marinara sauce, warmed
  •  Optional: Grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine the ravioli and enough water to cover in a medium microwave-safe bowl, cover, and microwave until mostly cooked, about 3–5 minutes.
  2. Drain. Add the olive oil and bread crumbs; stir to coat.
  3. Spritz the Deluxe Air Fryer cooking trays with oil. Add the ravioli to both cooking trays and place in the top and middle racks; cook on AIR FRY for 8 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through. (For large ravioli, you may want to cook 1–2 minutes longer.)
  4. Toss the spinach and dressing together and place on a large platter. Top with the ravioli.
  5. If you like, top with Parmesan. Serve with marinara for dipping.

Yield:

  • 6  servings

Nutrients per serving:

U.S. nutrients per serving: Calories 200, Total Fat 10 g, Saturated Fat 1.5 g, Cholesterol 15 mg, Sodium 200 mg, Carbohydrate 22 g, Fiber 1 g, Total Sugars 0 g (includes 0 g added sugars), Protein 5 g

Cook’s Tips:

Making your own seasoned bread crumbs is as easy as adding a dash or two of garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, or any of your favorite rubs or seasonings to unseasoned bread crumbs.

Crostini with Lemon-Basil Ricotta Spread

CROSTINI WITH LEMON-BASIL RICOTTA SPREAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1   lemon
  • 2   fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) ricotta cheese
  • 4 oz (125 g) goat cheese
  • 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) each salt and black pepper
  • 1   French demi-baguette, cut into 16 slices, ½” (1 cm) thick
  •  Olive oil for spritzing bread
VariationIngredientsFinish
Walnut-Pear1     crisp pear or red apple, cut into16 thin slices with Simple Slicer on #2 setting, slices cut in half2     tbsp (30 mL) honey2 tbsp (30 mL) dried cranberries2½  tbsp (37 mL) toasted chopped walnuts Overlap two pear slice halves on each bread slice. Drizzle evenly with honey and sprinkle with cranberries and walnuts.
Prosciutto-Fig¼ cup (50 mL) fig spread or preserves  1 oz  (30 g) prosciutto slices, cut in half 1½  tbsp (22 mL) chopped fresh basil leavesSpoon scant 1 tsp (5 mL) fig spread on each bread slice. Arrange prosciutto on top; sprinkle with chopped basil.
Lemon-Pepper Shrimp16  medium shelled deveined cooked shrimp, (see cook’s tip for directions)2  tsp (10 mL) olive oil1 tbsp (15 mL) Lemon Pepper Rub½ cup (125 mL) loosely packed fresh baby arugula Top each bread slice with 1 shrimp. Top with 1-2 arugula leaves.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Choose a variation from the chart above.  
  2. To make the spread, grate 2 tsp (10 mL) of lemon zest. Save the remaining lemon for another use. 
  3. Place the basil leaves in Manual Food Processor and process until chopped. Add the ricotta, goat cheese, lemon zest, salt, and pepper, then process just until blended. 
  4. Place bread on  Large Entertaining Tray; lightly spray the bread with oil using the Kitchen Spritzer. Bake for 5-6 minutes, or until the bread is lightly browned.  
  5. Prepare the variation ingredients. 
  6. Remove the platter from the oven. Using a small spoon, evenly divide ricotta mixture onto the bread slices. Spread. Finish according to chart. 

Yield:

  • 16  servings

Nutrients per serving:

(Walnut-Pear): Calories 140, Total Fat 3.5 g, Saturated Fat 1.5 g, Cholesterol 5 mg, Sodium 260 mg, Carbohydrate 22 g, Fiber 1 g, Sugars 4g, Protein 6 g

(Prosciutto-Fig): Calories 140, Total Fat 3 g, Saturated Fat 1.5 g, Cholesterol 5 mg, Sodium 310 mg, Carbohydrate 22g, Fiber 1 g, Sugars 5 g, Protein 6 g

(Lemon-Pepper Shrimp): Calories 140, Total Fat 3.5 g, Saturated Fat 1.5 g, Cholesterol 15 mg, Sodium 390 mg, Carbohydrate 19 g, Fiber 1 g, Sugars 1 g, Protein 9 g
 

Cook’s Tips:

To cook the shrimp: In a small bowl, toss the shrimp with oil and rub until it’s coated. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp to the pan; cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until the shrimp is opaque and cooked through. 

STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Stuffed Mushrooms

THIS AIR FRYER STUFFED MUSHROOM RECIPE HAS JUST A SPLASH OF RED WINE VINEGAR WHICH IS THE PERFECT BALANCE FOR THE EARTHY MUSHROOMS AND CREAMY CHEESE.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pkgs (8 oz./225 g each) baby bella mushrooms, washed and stems removed
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • ⅛ tsp (0.5 mL) black pepper
  • 2 oz. (60 g) mozzarella cheese
  • 2   green onions
  • 4 oz. (125 g) low-fat cream cheese (Neufchatêl) or goat cheese, softened
  • ½ cup (125 mL) frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
  • 1½ tsp (7 mL) red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) Garlic & Herb Rub (I use this, and I love it).
  • ⅛ tsp (0.5 mL) black pepper
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter, melted
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) plain breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) Garlic & Herb Rub

DIRECTIONS

  1. Toss the mushrooms, oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Place them on the cooking trays of the Deluxe Air Fryer (Highly recommend this one, I use it almost daily).
  2. For the filling, grate the mozzarella. Finely chop the green onions. Add the mozzarella, onions, and remaining filling ingredients to a medium bowl and mix well.
  3. Use a scoop or spoon to stuff the mushrooms. For the topping, combine the breadcrumbs, melted butter, and rub in a small bowl. Dip the mushrooms (filling-side down) into the breadcrumb mixture to coat.
  4. Place the trays on the top and bottom racks of the air fryer. Turn the wheel to select the ROAST setting; press the wheel to select. Turn the wheel to adjust the time to 15 minutes; press the wheel to start. Switch the trays halfway through cooking (you’ll hear beeps as a reminder).

Yield:

  • 6  servings

Nutrients per serving:

U.S. nutrients per serving (based on using cream cheese for filling): Calories 190, Total Fat 13 g, Saturated Fat 5 g, Cholesterol 25 mg, Sodium 390 mg, Carbohydrate 10 g, Fiber 2 g, Total Sugars 3 g (includes 0 g added sugars), Protein 7 g

FLAVORS-OF-THE-WORLD CHEESE BITES

Flavors-of-the-World Cheese Bites

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pkg (8 oz/250 g each) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) mayonnaise
  • 2   green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Worcestershire sauce
VariationMix-Ins
Mexican2 oz (60 g) Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers, grated (½ cup/125 mL)1 tbsp (15 mL) Tex-Mex or Chipotle RubCoating: ½  cup (125 mL) finely chopped unsalted whole pumpkin seeds
French1 oz (30 g) blue cheese crumbles (2 tbsp/30 mL)2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped fresh parsley1 tsp (5 mL) honeyCoating: ½ cup (125 mL) finely chopped sliced almonds or pecans 
Indian2 oz (60 g) sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (1/2 cup/125 mL)2 tbsp (30 mL) mango chutney¼ tsp (1 mL) each chili powder and curry powder1 tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves¼ tsp (1 mL) saltCoating: ½ cup (125 mL) sweetened flaked coconut or finely chopped cashews
Korean2 oz (60 g) mozzarella cheese, grated (1/2 cup/125mL)1 tbsp (15 mL) red chili paste¼ cup (50 mL) kimchi, finely chopped1 tsp (5 mL) lime zest¼ tsp (1 mL) saltCoating: ¼ cup (50 mL) black sesame seeds 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Choose 3 variations (see Cook’s Tips). Prepare the mix-ins. Place the cream cheese into a large mixing bowl; whisk until smooth. Stir in mayonnaise, onions, and Worcestershire sauce until blended.
  2. Evenly divide cream cheese mixture into 3 small mixing bowls (about ¾ cup/175 mL each). Add mix-ins, except for coatings; mix well. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. When ready to serve, place coatings into three small bowls. Using a level small scoop, drop cheese balls into bowl. Spoon crumbs over cheese bites to coat. 
  4. To serve, place cheese bites on a serving board.

Yield:

  • 16  servings of 3 bites

Nutrients per serving:

(Average of all) Calories 167, Total Fat 15 g, Saturated Fat 7 g, Cholesterol 40 mg, Sodium 332 mg, Carbohydrate 5 g, Fiber 1 g, Sugars 3 g, Protein 4 g

Cook’s Tips:

If desired, one variation can be made by tripling the mix-in ingredients.  Cheese bites can be made ahead of time, and refrigerated for up to 3-5 days days, or frozen for up to 1 month.  Kimchi is a spicy pickled cabbage condiment that is a staple of Korean cuisine. It can be found in the refrigerated or ethnic aisle in major grocery stores.

Cheers and Happy New Year!!!!!

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