Keep appetites at bay with these holiday appetizers


Family Features

While the main course is in the oven and guests mingle in anticipation this holiday season, tide them over with simple appetizers the whole crowd will enjoy.

That sometimes tall task may be easier said than done depending on the size of your get-together, but you can make it less daunting with quick starters that incorporate dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt, which can serve as helpful on-hand ingredients that also provide flavor and nutritional value. Since dairy foods are readily available in many family kitchens, they are ideal for creating recipes for last-minute noshes and nibbles, especially perfect for holiday entertaining. ANTIPASTI HOLIDAY SKEWERS

Prep time: 45 minutes

Yield: 16 skewers

1 package (9 ounces) cheese-filled tortellini, cooked al dente and cooled

1/2 cup fat-free Italian dressing

1 block (8 ounces) reduced-fat Swiss cheese, cubed

2 cups baby spinach leaves

32 pieces turkey pepperoni

31/2 cups cherry tomatoes

16 wooden skewers, 9-10 inches each

In large bowl, marinate tortellini in Italian dressing 30 minutes in refrigerator.

To assemble skewers, start with two pieces tortellini, one cheese cube, two spinach leaves, one pepperoni slice (folded in fourths), one tomato and repeat. Each skewer will have total of four pieces tortellini, two cheese cubes, four spinach leaves, two pepperoni slices and two tomatoes.

Repeat until skewers are complete. Refrigerate until serving.

Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Servings: 8

1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach frozen, thawed and drained

8 ounces plain low-fat yogurt

1 cup shredded, low-moisture, part-skim Mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons red pepper, chopped

Heat oven to 350 F.

Combine artichoke hearts, spinach, yogurt, cheese, onion and garlic; mix well.

Pour mixture into 1-quart casserole dish or 9-inch pie plate. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until heated through.

Sprinkle with red peppers.

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