Upgrade Your Appetizers

These crowd-pleasing appetizers are sure to impress your guests, whether it’s for Sunday football or a fancy soiree.
  1. Doctorannie’s Caramelized Onion Tart

    Instead of the usual onion dip, give this simple (but impressive!) tart a try.

    Caramelized Onion Tart from Annie’s Eats
    (adapted from Savory Sweet Life

    2 Tbl. butter
    1 medium-large yellow onion, thinly sliced
    1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
    1 tsp. sugar
    1/4 tsp. salt
    Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    2 Tbl. white wine (optional)
    1/2 cup ricotta cheese
    1 egg yolk
    1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
    1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
    Minced fresh parsley, for garnish

    1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
    2. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sliced onion, thyme, sugar, salt, pepper, and white wine to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have fully caramelized and are golden brown in color, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together the ricotta and egg yolk until smooth.
    3. To assemble the tart, lay the puff pastry sheet on a baking sheet and fold in each edge about 1 inch. Spread the ricotta mixture over the puff pastry. Sprinkle about half of the Parmesan cheese over the ricotta mixture. Layer the caramelized onions evenly over the ricotta mixture. Top with the remaining Parmesan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the puff pastry is golden and baked through. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired. Slice into squares or rectangles and serve warm.

  2. nestinginjapan's Fried Brie on Crostini

    Not your typical cheese and crackers!

    Fried Brie on Crostini from Oishii

    2 white peaches, diced
    juice of 1/2 a lime
    1/4 cup diced red onion
    1/2 red bell pepper, diced
    1/2 a baguette cut into 1/4-inch slices
    Olive oil
    1 egg
    Salt and pepper
    Panko breadcrumbs
    Vegetable oil to fill skillet to 1 1/2 in. deep
    6- to 8-oz. wheel of brie, cut into 6 wedges

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine peaches, lime juice, onion, and bell pepper in a small bowl. Refrigerate about 1 hour to let the flavors mingle.
    2. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until crispy and brown.
    3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl beat the egg with some salt and pepper. Place the breadcrumbs on a plate.
    4. Dip each piece of cheese into the egg and then coat with breadcrumbs. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep skillet, and fry the cheese about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels. Serve on crostini topped with peach salsa.

    nestinginjapan's tip: If peaches are out of season, swap the salsa for jalapeno jam!

  3. theUptownGirl’s Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos Poppers

    A major upgrade from the usual deep-fried version.

    Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers on Erin's Food Files
    (Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

    20 whole fresh jalapenos, each 2 to 3 inches long
    1 8-oz. brick cream cheese, softened
    1 lb. thin (regular) bacon, sliced into thirds
    Freshly ground pepper

    1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
    2. Cut jalapenos in half length-wise. (If you have them, wear gloves when chopping and scraping the jalapenos.) With a spoon, remove the seeds and white membrane. Smear softened cream cheese into each jalapeno half. Sprinkle with pepper.
    3. Wrap jalapeno with bacon pieces. Secure by sticking toothpick through the middle. If possible, place poppers on an oven-safe metal rack over a foil-lined baking sheet to allow the grease to drip down. Sprinkle again with fresh pepper.
    4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Broil for a couple of extra minutes if not brown enough.

  4. Shrimp & Guacamole Phyllo Cups

    Instead of plain ol' chips and guac, liven things up with these bite-sized treats that get an A+ for presentation.

    Shrimp & Guacamole Phyllo Cups from
    Throw A Backyard Bash

    12 Athens mini phyllo pastry shells, thawed
    2 large ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
    1 Roma tomato, diced
    Juice of 1 lime
    1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
    1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
    2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
    1 Tbl. olive oil
    1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    12 large shrimp, peeled (tails on) and deveined
    12 cilantro leaves
    3 grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
    Coarse salt, for garnish

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place pastry shells on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake 5 minutes; transfer to a platter. Increase oven temperature to 450°F.
    2. Meanwhile, combine avocado, tomato, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, and 1 tsp. salt in a medium-sized bowl.
    3. Whisk olive oil, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, and pepper. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Arrange shrimp in a single layer on the same foil-lined sheet. Roast 3 minutes. Turn; roast 2 to 4 minutes or until shrimp are firm and opaque.
    4. Spoon 1 Tbsp. guacamole into each pastry cup. Stand a shrimp in each cup and garnish with cilantro leaves, tomato, and coarse salt.

  5. Spanish Smoked Paprika Wings

    Everybody will love these smoky wings.

    Spanish Smoked Paprika Wings from Great Bar Food At Home

    2 tsp. ground cumin
    1 tsp. granulated (or powdered) garlic
    1 tsp. dried marjoram, crushed
    1 tsp. paprika, preferably Spanish smoked paprika
    1 tsp. salt
    2 lb. chicken-wing pieces
    2 Tbl. olive oil

    1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
    2. Mix together the cumin, garlic, marjoram, paprika, and salt in a small bowl. Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken. Pour the olive oil onto a large baking sheet and spread it around. Roll the chicken pieces in the oil until lightly coated on all sides, then arrange them neatly in a single layer without touching.
    3. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the pieces over and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes. They should be slightly crisp and golden on the outside. Serve hot or at room temperature.