Food

Mini mac n' cheeses, plus 3 more easy last-minute holiday appetizers

Justin Chapple, host of Food & Wine's Mad Genius Tips, shows off four easy last-minute appetizers prepared with pantry staples.

1. Salami Bundles with Cream Cheese and Pepperoncini

These salami-wrapped cones make an irresistible party snack.

Ingredients

• Thinly-sliced salami

• Cream cheese

• Pepperoncini

Directions: Just spread softened cream cheese on thinly sliced salami and sprinkle with thinly sliced pepperoncini (yes, those cheap pickled peppers often used on sandwiches). Roll up the salami and transfer to a platter.

2. Mini Mac N Cheeses

Anything big made small makes the ultimate party appetizer. You can start from scratch with these Three-Cheese Mini Macs or you can hack your favorite store-bought boxed brand.

Ingredients

• Annie's boxed Mac n' Cheese

• 1 cup shredded cheddar

• 1 egg, beaten

• Parmesan or breadcrumbs

Directions: Prepare the mac and cheese according to the package directions, then stir in 1 cup shredded cheddar and 1 beaten egg. Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into greased mini muffin cups, packing them gently. If you have Parmesan cheese or breadcrumbs, sprinkle a little on the macaroni for a crispy top. Bake at 425 degrees until set. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a platter and serve.

3. Pigs on a Blanket

You've heard of pigs in a blanket, but this is an elevated version that's reimagined with smoky chorizo and tangy sauerkraut. The secret to making this recipe insanely easy is using leftover or store-bought piecrust.

Ingredients

• Store-bought pie dough

• Crème fraîche or sour cream

• Brown mustard

• Sauerkraut

• Egg wash (1 egg beaten and mixed with a little water)

• Spanish chorizo

• Chives

Directions: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle and transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Fold the dough edge over itself to form a 1/2-inch border all around and pinch the corners together; refrigerate until firm.

In a small bowl, whisk 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream with 1/4 cup brown mustard, then spread it evenly on top of the dough. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup drained sauerkraut and brush the edges of the piecrust with egg wash (aka egg beaten with a little water). Bake at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes, then sprinkle with 3 ounces of cured chorizo cut into thin matchsticks and bake for about 10 minutes more. Garnish with snipped chives, cut into squares and serve.

4. Mini White Bread Calzones

These are the perfect way to use up extra white sandwich bread and shredded cheese.

Ingredients

• White sandwich bread, like Wonder Bread

• Shredded mozzarella

• Pepperoni

• Water

• Egg wash (1 egg beaten and mixed with a little water)

Directions: Cut off the crust of white sandwich bread-think Wonder Bread or Hostess-and flatten it with a rolling pin. Pile a rounded tablespoon of shredded mozzarella cheese and a little chopped pepperoni. Moisten the edges with water, then fold the bread over the filling to form a triangle. Cut the edges to form a half moon, then crimp the edge with a fork. Brush with egg wash and bake at 450 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

For more party appetizer ideas, check out our Pinterest board!

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