Quick and Easy Holiday Appetizers

By: Kate Andersen

Holiday season is, for all intents and purposes, party season. Cocktail parties, dinner parties, black-tie affairs and galas, casual get-togethers, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa gatherings -- all of these events can tax even the most imaginative of hosts and hostesses. Can't come up with any new nibbles for friends and family to nosh on? Have no fear! Cooking Channel has you covered with new ideas for tasty appetizers. Here are five deliciously easy last-minute options.

Giada’s Pecorino Crackers are flaky and cheesy, and incredibly easy to make -- mix the ingredients together and bake for 15 minutes! A little cayenne adds a special kick.

Mario prepares a colorful array of crostini (pictured above), perfect for parties thanks to their endlessly variable toppings and basic components. These are topped with a red onion and pepper combo, a cabbage and prosciutto mix, leeks tossed with mint, a garlic white bean mash and sautéed mushrooms with sage.

Rice balls are always a hit --  if you downsize these from David Rocco and they make great hors d’oeuvres. Even better, you probably already have all of the ingredients in your kitchen – risotto or rice, mozzarella, and a little olive oil, egg, and bread crumbs and you’re ready to go!

This refreshing dip from Giada is a blend of garlic, spinach and cannelloni beans pureed to a creamy consistency. A little fresh lemon juice and balsamic vinegar brighten it up and make it an exciting change from more average spreads.

This plate is about as simple as it gets – a pretty display of thinly sliced salty Serrano ham and earthy manchego cheese, drizzled with olive oil and finished off with freshly ground black pepper – but it just goes to show that simple ingredients done right never let you down.

For even more appetizer choices, check out our Holiday Appetizer photo gallery!

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