hummus with meat

Photo: Molly Yeh

The Combination You Never Realized You Wanted
Nachos and hummus are two go-to party snacks, but when you put them together, the result is truly amazing. Molly Yeh calls this combo Hummus with Meat All Over It, and it's actually a lot tastier than it sounds. Here's why: The blogger and author of Molly on the Range sautés ground beef with cinnamon, cumin, allspice and Allepo pepper, which gives it a sweet-spicy taste that meshes wonderfully with creamy, smooth hummus. She garnishes the bowl with toasted pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and a pesto-like herb sauce and serves it with pita chips for a brilliant new twist on two of our all-time favorite party foods.

Get the recipe: Hummus with Meat All Over It
Dried Cherry and Sage Goat Cheese

Photo: Meredith Steele

A Cheesy Throwback That Feels Fresh Again
For many of us, while growing up, holiday gatherings weren't complete without a requisite sphere of cheese covered in herbs or nuts. In her new Effortless Entertaining Cookbook, Meredith Steele reinvents the classic by using a mixture of goat and cream cheeses; the mix-ins are simply chopped, dried cherries and fresh sage. After she presses the mixture into a round form, she spoons cherry preserves and a pinch of flaky sea salt on top for a salty-sweet finish.

Get the recipe: Dried Cherry and Sage Goat Cheese
pumpkin crostini

Photo: Guy Ambrosino

Crostini That Borrows from a Classic Dessert
Canned pumpkin may be indispensable for pies, muffins and breads, but we've found a surprising new use for it: on toast with predinner drinks. This no-fuss recipe involves blending pumpkin puree, brown sugar, pumpkin-pie spice, olive oil and a clove of roasted garlic in the food processor until smooth, then spreading a dollop of the sweet and savory spread on pieces of bread. Garnishes, such as pine nuts, pecans, bacon or Parmesan, are optional touches to take the appetizer to the next level.

Get the recipe: Pumpkin Crostini
Smoky Paprika-Baked Garbanzo Beans

Photo: Thinkstock

A Non-Hummus Way to Use Chickpeas
It's true that chickpeas are terrific whizzed into a puree for dips; but, if you rinse them, dry them and roast them, they turn into addictive snacks: crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. You can flavor them with any spice you like; this recipe calls for smoked paprika and onion powder, but we also like cinnamon and sugar, or cumin, chili and cayenne.

Get the recipe: Smoky Paprika-Baked Garbanzo Beans

Photo: Thinkstock

Homemade Crackers Anyone Can Make (Seriously)
Baked-from-scratch, cheesy crackers not only taste better than store-bought, but they smell fantastic as they're cooking, and look fantastic on an hors d'oeuvre platter, too, even though they're really easy to make. In fact, if you can make and slice cookie dough, you can probably handle this recipe. You pulse flour, cheese, lemon peel, thyme, butter, sour cream and an egg yolk in a food processor; roll the dough into a log; chill (wrapped in plastic); cut and pop in the oven.

Get the recipe: Lemon Pepper Parmesan Crackers
Black Bread and Butter Lattice Recipe

Photo: Johnny Miller

The "How'd You Do That?" Bread Slices
Here's an elegant but supersimple way to present what's essentially buttered bread. You start with a loaf of thinly sliced cocktail pumpernickel. Spread horseradish-spiked butter on one slice, cover with another slice and continue until you've got a stack of six slices. Refrigerate until the layers are well "glued" together, then cut each stack vertically and voila: layer-cake-like slices of bread that are lovely alongside smoked salmon, or sliced cucumber or radish.

Get the recipe: Black Bread and Butter Lattice Recipe