8 Quick And Easy Party Appetizers Slideshow

1. Puff Pastry

This flaky, butter-rich dough isn't just for sweets. It's a tasty alternative to traditional pizza dough, too. Roll defrosted pastry out to about a 1/8-inch thickness. Top with a thin layer of pesto and roasted tomatoes. Bake according to package instructions until edges are golden. Garnish with a grating of Parmesan and serve warm.

2. Tart Shells

Found in the freezer section of most grocery stores, these one-bite shells (either made of filo or pastry) are a host's best friend, as they can be filled with a variety of fillings — from shrimp salad to lemon curd. They're particularly good when filled with some sautéed Swiss chard mixed with dried cranberries and topped with fresh crumbled feta.

3. Buttermilk Biscuits

When you're short on time, why make biscuits from scratch when you can grab a roll of Grands? All the work is done for you — all you need to do is bake them off. Slice the warm biscuits in half and spread with honey mustard, a slice of deli black forest ham, and a chunk of Cheddar. A Southern specialty that comes together in minutes.

4. Mac and Cheese

This meal in a box isn't just for little kids. Make a batch or two of this comfort-food favorite a day or two before the party. The day of, mix an extra cup of grated cheese (pre-grated from the store works) in for every three cups of pasta. Pack into greased mini muffin tins and bake until the cheese is bubbly. Warning: These are so good your guests will continue to come back for more... and more. So make plenty.

5. Canned Beans

Why buy a container of overpriced hummus at the store when you can customize your own at home in a matter of minutes? It's one of famed Irish chef Clodagh McKenna's go-to tricks. Simply mix together a can of beans and some seasonings like rosemary, chili powder, chopped garlic, or tahini. Thin the mixture with olive oil until it reaches the desired consistency and taste.

6. Roasted Peppers

On the shelf, these brine or oil-packed red vegetables last forever (or so it seems) and are a great way to dress up an otherwise bland ingredient into a tasty and eye-catching snack. Wrap scallops with a slice of pepper, skewer with a toothpick, and broil until just golden. Or stuff small piquillo peppers with a lemony-herb flavored cream cheese.

7. Pancetta

It's hard to say no to bacon, but dealing with the greasy, thick-cut stuff can be a pain (not to mention smelly) when guests are less than an hour away. Thinly sliced pancetta, easily available at the deli counter or pre-sliced in packages is a cleaner alternative, and it forms perfect cups when baked off until crisp lining the cups of a mini muffin tin. Fill with a mixture of finely sliced endive, chunks of pear, and chopped pecans and it's like salad in a cup.

8. Mini Mozzarella Balls

Don't underestimate these bite-sized treats. Dress them up with a wrapping of prosciutto and melon, or pair with a basil leaf and watermelon. A favorite? Matched with a wild mushroom tortellini and served on a rosemary sprig.