Eila Johnson
| December 26, 2012

New Year’s Eve is right around the corner.

READ: Little Black Dresses For New Year's Eve

If you plan on hosting a festive gathering at home this year, take some of the hassle out of entertaining with these crowd-pleasing appetizers.

We tracked down three no-fuss options that are easy to make and sure to impress your fellow revelers. Enjoy!

Emily Schuman
Crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Salami

Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere says that when it comes to holiday entertaining, the simpler, the better. In keeping with her advice, this crostini appetizer requires little effort, yet makes a big impact. The pesto calls for sun-dried tomatoes and Marcona almonds in place of traditional pine nuts, so you get a slightly different, smoky flavor. If you’re not a fan of salami, no problem — simply swap it out for burrata. Bon appetite!


  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons Marcona almonds, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 to 1 cup olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
  • 1 baguette, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 1 stick of salami (we like the Orange-Wild Fennel from Boccalone)


Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown, flipping the slices midway through cooking. Remove from oven and let cool. In a food processor, add the sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, basil, almonds and garlic. Turn on the processor and begin mixing the ingredients until a slight paste forms, then slowly pour in the olive oil to form a thicker sauce. Once the oil has been added, turn off the processor and add salt and pepper to taste. Spread about a teaspoon of pesto on each crostini and top it with a thin slice of salami and a chiffonade of basil. Lightly drizzle some quality olive oil on top.

Skinny Warm Artichoke Dip

Another fun and festive holiday recipe, this dip is always a crowd pleaser and a healthy alternative to most appetizers you'll find at the holiday buffet table. Katie Farrell, founder of “Dashing Dish” says, “This dip is so easy to make, and can be made in advance! Simply prepare, and don’t bake until guests arrive!”


  • 1 (12 oz)   Package frozen artichokes (or about 2 cups canned), de-thawed and squeezed dry/ or drained
  • 1/4 cup    Low-fat plain Greek yogurt (or low fat sour cream)
  • 1/2 cup    Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup    Low-fat cottage cheese (or low-fat cream cheese, softened)
  • 1 pinch     Salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp     Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp     Minced onion (or 1/4 tsp onion powder)
  • 1/2 tsp     Garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup    Mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a small baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Roughly chop artichoke hearts. In a small bowl, microwave cottage cheese for 30 seconds, and stir. Mix cottage cheese and everything else together in a medium-size dish bowl, until everything is well combined. Scoop dip into oven safe dish. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until dip is heated through and cheese is golden brown on top. Serve warm with pita chips, or veggies.

Eila Johnson
Feta-Fig Tartlets

This recipe featured on Eila Johnson’s “The Full Plate Blog,” is a quick and easy dish for anyone wanting to make a festive appetizer with simple ingredients. Eila recommends keeping a box (or three) of phyllo shells in your freezer so you can easily whip this up in a pinch. For the extra cheese mixture, save for scrambled eggs the next morning or even add to a pasta dish later in the week for a creamy and delicious sauce.


  • Phyllo shells (found in the freezer section of most supermarkets)
  • 8 oz block of organic cream cheese
  • 4 oz tub of organic crumbled Feta
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan
  • Dried figs
  • Fresh rosemary (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 F. Pop the shells out of the plastic tray and onto a rimmed cookie sheet and put them in the oven for 3 minutes, just so they crisp up. Let them cool. In a small bowl, blend the tub of Feta with the block of cream cheese and Parmesan (using a hand mixer to make it easy). Scoop a little blob into each phyllo shell, and top with a slice of dried fig and sprig of rosemary. Bake them for about 10 minutes, just so they were warm and a little golden brown.