Quick cook appetizers means minimal preparation with some cooking. You won’t be spending hours in the kitchen rolling out dough or some such nonsense… You should be able to pull all these together within 20 minutes of active time in the kitchen. Some require a bit more cooking time, but that part is hands-off. So take your appetizers up and your stress down.
1. Warm Dips and Crackers
Buffalo chicken dip, spinach-artichoke dip, warm Tex-Mex style bean dip, cheese dip, baked seafood dip: you could have an entire appetizer spread of nothing more than hot dips and food to eat it on. Offer at least one non-meaty dips and have plenty of crackers and chips.
2. Roasted Garlic and Baquette Slices
Slice the very top off of each whole head of garlic, place on a cookie sheet, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Bake at 400 for about 1 hour, until very tender. Gently halve or quarter each head and serve warm or room temperature with slices of baquette.
3. Asian Vegetable Tray
Gather your favorite Asian vegetables: snow peas, radishes, daikon, edamame, Chinese kale, Oriental cucumber, kohlrabi, baby corn, or whatever you like. You don’t have to offer a huge variety. Blanch the “harder” vegetables, and offer the kale or other greens in small rolls on toothpicks. Make a dip out rice wine vinegar, minced Thai basil, Chinese parsley (cilantro), and mint.
4. Chicken Satay
Cube raw chicken breasts and thread onto skewers. Salt and pepper, then bake or grill until cooked through. Serve with a peanut satay dip.
Top tortilla chips with slightly mashed beans and grated cheese, and bake until cheese has melted. Add (or serve on the side) diced tomatoes, jalapenos, sour cream, salsa, fresh cilantro, and lime wedges.
6. Individual Stir Fry
Finely dice your favorite stir fry vegetables. I like carrots, green peppers, onions, and squash. Heat oil in a wok or skillet, stir fry the vegetables until crisp tender, and dip into individual bowls or lettuce pieces. Offer a variety of sauces for topping.
7. Beef Skewers
Cube skirt steak and let marinate in Worcestershire sauce or Italian dressing for 30 minutes at room temperature. Skewer the beef cubes with cherry tomatoes and pearl onions, then grill or bake until meat is cooked to your choice of doneness (I recommend medium as a general crowd-pleaser).
8. Mini BLTs
Cook thick-sliced bacon and cut each slice in half. Wrap each half-slice around a cherry tomato, pin with a toothpick, and serve on a firm piece of lettuce topped with a drizzle of garlic mayo or ranch dressing.
9. Cheese Toast
Assemble ahead of time, and then broil at the last minute. Use a variety of bread and cheese. Cut the bread into small rounds or squares, spread with butter, and top with a slice or two of cheese. Broil until cheese melts. Serve with apricot jam or a fruit chutney on the side.
10. Baked Apples
Slice firm, crunchy apples. (Peeling is optional.) Spread in a baking dish, dot with butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon, a dash of salt, and a splash of vanilla. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until tender. Serve these out of a bowl with warmed caramel dip on one side and warmed brie on the other.