Crowd-Pleasing Appetizers You Can Create in 20 Minutes or Less

December 04, 2015 Entertaining

It's party time, friends! Grab your fancy duds from the dry cleaner and line up the babysitters. Holiday season has officially begun.

You're probably already receiving invitations and are even planning to host a gathering or two yourself. Assemble a playlist of great tunes, put the beverages on ice and stock your pantry for easy entertaining.

No matter how many guests you're expecting, a short list of go-to ingredients will have you all set up for soiree success. Here are some guidelines I follow, and the recipes I keep on hand, to create brilliant bites that are ready in 20 minutes or less.

Easy Cold Appetizers When planning an appetizer menu, it is always important to think about variety — tastes, textures, even temperatures. Cold appetizers are clutch because they can be made in advance, kept in the fridge and pulled out just as guests arrive.

This quick bean dip recipe is especially great. It takes 10 minutes to prepare and ensures guests can gobble up as much or as little as they desire in a self-service fashion. Dip recipes work equally well for gameday spreads and — in glass bowls or trifle dishes — fancy occasions. No matter how casual or swanky the gathering, cold appetizers keep you out of the kitchen and in the mix of the party.

Look forward to the dingdong of the doorbell with a spread of savory treats on the table.

Warmer Fare In fall and winter especially, guests seem to gather in the kitchen and around the oven. As temperatures drop, we seek warmth from friends, family — and toasty little appetizers. In fact, this easy chicken and bean puff recipe does all the work of a welcoming committee as soon as its savory scent starts wafting. Assemble the warm appetizers in advance and pop them into the oven 10 minutes before folks arrive; let them greet your guests at the door.

Heavier Appetizers Impromptu parties, and feeding a crowd in a hurry, can be tricky — especially based on the time of your event. When you open your door to a hungry crew, they'll need to nosh on more than just nibbles. This unique quesadilla recipe is the ultimate app to have on hand for scenarios like this. You can even tweak the fillings according to your guests' tastes. Be sure to have a variety of condiments on hand, such as guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo.

Something for Anyone & Everyone To accommodate the many different food sensitivities, allergies and lifestyles among my friends and family, I always plan at least one appetizer that is free of meat and able to be tailored. I often use this hearty bruschetta recipe as a template and play with ingredients according to the tastes and preferences of my guests. For gluten-sensitive folks, I use gluten-free bread. For those cutting back on salt, I use reduced-sodium canned beans.

With a thoughtfully-stocked pantry, and a collection of 20-minute recipes, the holiday season really can be the most wonderful time of the year. Look forward to the dingdong of the doorbell with a spread of savory treats on the table.

* Tip: Are you looking for something more substantial to serve for the New Year holiday? Our article on blackeye peas has delicious recipes that just might bring you and your guests good luck in the year ahead!

Blackeye Pea Recipes to Bring Good Luck for the New Year

December 04, 2015 Seasonal Tips

It isn’t New Year’s at my house without a blackeye pea recipe — it’s a Southern tradition. My grandmother, who hailed from rural Kentucky, made them with ham hocks. My husband, who’s from Alabama, requests hopping John. Whether it’s for good luck on New Year’s, or for a great meal any night of the week, blackeye peas are a delicious, versatile choice.

A Traditional Favorite

Blackeye peas, New Year’s Day. They go hand in hand. However, nobody wants to spend hours in the kitchen on New Year’s Day. This spicy hopping John recipe is a classic, but it’s also incredibly easy to make. Simply cook the veggies and ham (or bacon), mix in canned blackeye peas and serve over rice. Don’t omit the hot sauce; it adds the dish’s signature heat. Helpful hint: If you’re substituting bacon for ham, use a sauce that includes chipotle peppers for a smoky flavor.

Whether you’re ringing in the New Year or gathering around the table for a weeknight dinner, blackeye peas add flavor and variety to any dish!

A Comforting Soup Warm up and ensure good luck with a delectable soup. This savory soup recipe combines ham, vegetables, blackeye peas and spices to create a hearty, feel-good dish. It makes eight servings, so you could easily freeze leftovers and have them for another meal.

A Unique Supper Want to play around with blackeye peas in a nontraditional way? Try this Greek-inspired recipe, which combines navy beans, blackeye peas and chicken with an oregano-infused, buttery sauce. It’s fancy enough for company, but it’s easy enough to cook on a weeknight.

Whether you’re ringing in the New Year or gathering around the table for a weeknight dinner, blackeye peas add flavor and variety to any dish!

* Tip: Blackeye peas aren’t the only brilliant beans. Learn how to make delicious recipes with black beans, pinto beans and baked beans.

Meet Julie Niesen Gosdin

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4 Delicious Chili Recipes Ready in Under an Hour

December 04, 2015 Chili

With the cooler weather comes a craving for warm, hearty, comforting food like chili. However, we often decide against making it — unless it’s for a special occasion — because we think it will take too much time. After all, to get a truly rich, savory chili, you need to let it simmer for hours, right?


With the right combination of ingredients, you can have a scrumptious chili ready in about an hour. What are the tricks?

  • Use lots of spices. All the recipes in this story include a great mix of seasonings that work together to make a delicious dish.
  • Make it easy on yourself by using some pre-made items. Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store eliminates the time you’d spend cooking meat, and canned chili beans, with seasonings already included, help build that slow-simmered flavor quickly.
  • Don’t forget the garnishes. Tortilla chips, cheese, green onions, diced peppers — the possibilities are endless and make a bowl of chili go from just tasty to a special meal.
  • Chili doesn’t have to take hours. With these tips, you can have a warm, comforting meal any day of the week!

    Flavorful Chicken Chilies Switch up the meat in your chili and use chicken instead of beef. This white chicken chili gets its zest from fresh jalapeño, tomato and diced chilies, and it gets its creaminess from a can of cream of chicken soup. This Buffalo chicken chili is guaranteed to be a favorite. It’s easy and delicious, with rotisserie chicken, hot sauce, blue cheese, cream cheese and a complex spice blend. Throw it together for a tailgate, a potluck or even a weeknight dinner.

    Satisfying Meatless Chilies Maybe you don’t want to include any meat in your chili. Although there is some debate as to whether or not chili should have beans, ignore the doubters and embrace the bean. This easy black bean chili combines canned chili beans, corn and taco seasoning. This spicy three-bean chili is also super simple: It uses Latin-inspired canned beans, which already have a perfect mix of spices cooked in. You get that slow-simmered flavor in just a few minutes. Garnish with some tortilla strips, and you have a delicious, meatless dinner.

    Chili doesn’t have to take hours. With these tips, you can have a warm, comforting meal any day of the week!

    * Tip: We know you can’t get enough chili, especially during the fall and winter. Check out our tips for winning a chili cook-off and guide to making quick, delicious chilies with chili beans.

Meet Julie Niesen Gosdin

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Grillin Tip 1

Get ready for the Gameday spread! Keep the menu simple with flavorful side dishes—like one of our 11 varieties of Baked Beans, or one of our bold Grillin’ Beans® flavors. Pour the beans into a metal or ceramic pan or aluminum tray, then heat them on the grill’s side burners or raised rack.

Gameday Fun Fact 1

Before the Red Sox, there were the Boston Beaneaters, who won the National League pennant in 1897. They later became the Braves and moved to Milwaukee, then Atlanta. Source: “Beans A History”, Ken Albala, Berg, 2007