I love having "go to" meals and appetizers, special things that I make when I am entertaining or celebrating. Lately, I am going more towards finger foods and apps when we are having people over. It is less work and people seem to really enjoy having a spread to dig into. It seems like a lot of work, but it really isn't, and most things can be made ahead of time so that you aren't doing a lot of work in the kitchen while everyone is enjoying themselves. It also tends to be kid-friendly and you can have a mix of healthy and indulgent choices.
Here is my standard appetizer spread that I have been serving lately. No, I don't always do everything here, but I usually do most of it. I mean, c'mon, variety is the spice of life, right?! What do you like to serve people?
Baked brie with sliced apples (I wrap and dress the brie that morning, and then just pop it into the oven about fifteen minutes before people arrive. The smell is intoxicating. I slice the apples the morning of as well and lightly toss them in lemon juice to keep them from browning.)
White bean dip (goes with the crackers and veggies) (The dip is best when made a day or two before to really allow the flavors to meld.)
Assorted whole wheat crackers and sliced cheeses
Black bean salsa and tortilla chips (I make the salsa, minus the avocado, the day before and add the avocado right before the party so it doesn't turn brown.)
Assorted raw veggies and a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing (the veggies also dip into everything else) (Again, this dressing is best made at least a day before.)
Spinach Dip* (the crackers and veggies both are great dippers, you can also do thin slices of baguette) (Another dip that is best when made a day or two in advance - sense a theme here?)
Mini meatballs in a sweet n sour sauce (I love these meatballs, they are amazing and it makes serving so easy - just add the sauce (and I have also totally cheated and used bottled sauce before, too) and warm them in the crock pot. Done. But, if you want to make your own, you can make them and then freeze them to use when you need them. Equally easy.)
Steak Canapes (You can make the steak and onions ahead of time and then assemble the canapes and have them waiting on a baking sheet when your guests arrive.)
Assorted fruits and a fruit dip (if I am feeling really fancy, I will make fruit skewers)
I also like putting out dishes of truly kid-friendly things like chex mix, goldfish crackers and raisins. I find that the adults indulge, too!
So, as you can see, pretty much everything can be made the day or two before. . . and just put it out, warm it up, and dig in. I am now officially hungry.
*I do play with this recipe, but it is my favorite "base" recipe. The dash of hot sauce makes the dish. I use double the spinach listed and I also use marinated artichoke hearts. It gives it that extra yum!