Great party starters can be yours in an instant. Just because you're short on time doesn't mean you must skimp on quality.

By Ginger Ann Clark
April 23, 2003
Charles Walton IV

Top a block of cream cheese:

  • Tomato chutney or pepper jelly
  • Pesto sauce and chopped dried tomatoes
  • Chili sauce, chopped cooked shrimp, and sliced green onions
  • Mango chutney, sliced green onions, and toasted shredded coconut

Dress up a wheel of Brie:

  • Spread with honey; microwave at medium high (70% power) 1 minute. Sprinkle with toasted chopped walnuts.
  • Top with mango chutney; microwave at medium high (70% power) 1 minute. Sprinkle with chopped cooked bacon.
  • Score into pie-shaped wedges. Decorate each wedge with chopped dried fruit, toasted sesame seeds, and toasted sliced almonds.

Stir together:

  • Soft cream cheese, lump crabmeat, horseradish, salt, and pepper
  • Cream cheese, chopped smoked salmon, horseradish, and chopped fresh dill weed
  • Drained plain yogurt, diced seeded cucumber, sour cream, fresh lemon juice, chopped fresh dill weed, garlic, and salt

Bake it easy:

  • Spoon marinara sauce over feta cheese. Bake at 350° until bubbly; sprinkle with chopped fresh basil.
  • Brush triangles of pita bread with melted butter; sprinkle with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° until golden. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

Toss together:

  • Diced tomatoes, feta cheese, kalamata olives, salt, freshly ground pepper, olive oil, and red wine vinegar
  • Fresh lump crabmeat, diced avocado, fresh lime juice, salt, and pepper

Roll it:

  • Spread salmon or crabmeat dip on a flour tortilla; roll up, and slice into pinwheels. Secure with a wooden pick.
  • Combine goat cheese, dried basil, and cracked pepper. Spread on thin strips of smoked salmon; roll up, and secure with a wooden pick.

Wrap it:

  • Wrap strips of prosciutto around chunks of honeydew or cantaloupe; secure with a wooden pick. Drizzle with fresh lime juice.
  • Wrap partially cooked slices of bacon around oysters or scallops; secure with a wooden pick. Grill or broil until seafood is fully cooked.
  • Sprinkle 8 ounces of cream cheese with garlic powder and fresh or dried dill weed; wrap in 4 ounces of refrigerated crescent dinner rolls. Bake at 350° until crust is golden.

Drizzle it:

  • Drizzle goat cheese rounds with balsamic vinegar; sprinkle with herbes de Provence.
  • Drizzle olive oil over grilled fish. Add fresh lemon juice, capers, and chopped fresh thyme.
  • Drizzle a log of goat cheese with olive oil. Sprinkle heavily with cracked pepper.