Throwing a holiday party can induce a bout of seasonal stress, so Consumer Reports' test kitchens came up with five tasty, easy appetizer recipes.

If you're hosting dinner, make one or two to nibble on before your meal. If you're having people over for drinks and appetizers, make all five.

Don't feel like cooking? Consumer Reports has tasted heat-and-eat finger food, vegetable chips, and Greek yogurt dips, guacamole, hummus, and other dips. Set up a bar with soft drinks and wine, and all that's left for you to do is celebrate. We can also help you take the stress out of gift shopping, but—sorry—you'll have to come up with your own strategies for handling your in-laws! 


Go to Consumer Reports' 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more. Be sure to check our Daily Gift Guide, and sign up to get an e-newsletter with top picks, trusted product reviews, and the latest news from Consumer Reports.
 

Caramelized Onion Dip With Chives

Caramelized Onion Dip With Chives is an easy appetizer
Photo: James Worrell

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds Vidalia onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup Greek nonfat yogurt

4 ounces Neufchatel cheese

¼ cup chopped chives

Vegetables for dipping, such as endive, radicchio, and red and orange pepper strips

Pita chips for dipping
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, salt, and pepper, and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes until onions are browned and caramelized. Cool.

2. Place yogurt and cheese in a large bowl and mix well. Add cooled onions and chives, and stir until blended.

3. Serve with vegetables and pita chips. 


Cheese Straws With Fennel Seed and Rosemary

Photo: James Worrell

1 cup grated Asiago cheese

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 sheets (one 17.3-ounce box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted overnight in the fridge

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon crushed fennel seed

1. Heat oven to 375° F. In a small bowl, mix together cheeses and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle cheese mixture on work surface; top with puff pastry and roll out into two 10x13-inch rectangles, pressing dough into cheese to adhere.

2. Sprinkle one sheet of dough with the rosemary and the other with the fennel seed; press gently with a rolling pin to adhere.

3. Using a pastry cutter, trim sides to form two 9x12-inch rectangles. Cut puff pastry in ¾-inch-thick strips. Twist each strip and arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

4. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until golden and puffed. Cool on a wire rack and serve at room temperature. 


Baked Apricot Brie

1 small Brie cheese (7 to 8 ounces)

2 tablespoons apricot preserves

2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

2 tablespoons pistachio nuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 365° F. Place Brie in an ovenproof dish; heat 10 to 15 minutes, until warmed through. Mix preserves and mustard in a small bowl.

2. Remove cheese from oven and turn broiler to high. Spoon apricot mixture onto the center of the cheese and top with pistachios; broil 30 to 45 seconds (nuts should be slightly browned). With a spatula, carefully transfer the cheese to a serving plate. Serve immediately.


Not-Your-Usual Veggie Platter With Greek Yogurt Dip

Photo: James Worrell

Store-bought Greek yogurt dip

Assorted vegetables:
Radishes, cut off tops and leave whole
Baby artichokes, marinated in herbs and olive oil, then grilled
Fennel, stalks trimmed and bulb sliced into ¼-inch wedges
Kohlrabi, peeled and cut into thin crackerlike rounds
Jicama, peeled and cut into long, thin sticks (drizzle with lemon juice to prevent browning)

1. Spoon dip into a small decorative bowl. Place in the center of a large platter.

2. Arrange the vegetables around the bowl of dip. Serve.


Baked Salmon Croquettes With Lemon-Mayonnaise Dipping Sauce

Photo: Getty Images

1 can (14.75 ounces) Alaska Salmon, drained, bones and skin removed

¾ cup panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons light mayonnaise

¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper

2 green onions, finely chopped

1 egg white

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1. Heat oven to 425° F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine salmon, ½ cup panko breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, red pepper, green onions, egg white, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, and Dijon mustard. Stir gently until well-combined.

3. Shape mixture with hands into 16 1½-inch patties. Coat gently in remaining ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs. Place on prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake 12 minutes, turning once until heated through and lightly browned.

Lemon-Mayonnaise Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pinch salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in small bowl until combined. Serve with Salmon Croquettes.