Photo: Jason Wyche

The Retro Appetizer That Will Elevate Any Cheese Tray
Cheese balls wouldn't have stood the test of time if they were ridiculously difficult to make, as this Mexican-influenced take on the classic shows. Getting this good-looking and tasty hors d'oeuvre ready is a matter of chopping up some herbs, mixing them with cheese and beans, forming everything into a ball and refrigerating until party time.

Get the recipe: Mexican Black-Bean Ball

Photo: Coral Von Zumwalt

The French-Sounding Bruschetta
We know "canapé" may sound a little fussy, but trust us: If you can make guacamole, you can make this. You mix crab meat (which you can buy in the fish department of most supermarkets) with olive oil, shallots, lemon, dill, salt and pepper; then, spoon it onto toasts. (And if you don't want to bother with toasting baguette slices to serve with it, either buy them already toasted or just use sturdy crackers.)

Get the recipe: Crab Toast Canapés

Photo: Johnny Miller

The "How'd You Do That?" Bread Slices
Here's an elegant but supersimple way to present what is basically just 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 voilà: 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

Smarter Stuffed Peppers
Roasted, stuffed peppers look so appealing, but the thought of cleaning peppers, roasting them, removing their skins and stems and then filling each one? Not so much. This one-and-done recipe has you use jarred peppers, which are soft enough to roll up but also strong enough to hold a tuna salad (pick up premade salad if you really want to keep things simple).

Get the recipe: Piquillo Peppers with Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Photo: iStock

Mango Chutney's Newest Partner
It doesn't get any easier than placing a log of goat cheese on a serving plate, pouring a jar of mango chutney over it and garnishing the dish with fresh cilantro and chopped peanuts. Serve with flatbread or papadum, a thin and crisp disc-shaped Indian cracker.

Get the recipe: Goat Cheese Log with Mango Chutney and Cilantro

Photo: Thinkstock

The 3-Ingredient, Salty-Sweet Nibble
Grapes, walnuts and cheese are all you need to assemble these addictive snacks. Just be sure to use walnut halves that are intact (and not broken), since the nuts will form the bottom layer of each bite.

Get the recipe: Grape-Nut Halves


A White Bean Dish That's More Salsa Than Spread
White bean puree has become a popular alternative to hummus on buffet tables. But this chunky dip, which also includes rosemary and chopped tomatoes, leaves the beans whole, which adds texture; guests can scoop everything up with a cracker or pita chip.

Get the recipe: White Beans with Rosemary, Chopped Tomatoes and Olive Oil

The Fruity Snack That's Great with Cocktails
This refreshing one-bite appetizer is actually easier to make than fruit salad, since it only involves one fruit: cantaloupe. You scoop the melon into balls and sprinkle them with chopped mint, a pinch of sugar and freshly ground black pepper, which not only looks striking, but brings some depth of flavor and helps the fruit complement predinner drinks.

Get the recipe: Cantaloupe Balls