Kate Merker

Kate Merker is the chief food director at Hearst Magazines. She has over two decades of experience producing food content for print and digital publications, including Real Simple.

Highlights:
* At Real Simple, Kate worked her way up from editorial assistant to senior food editor
* Served as food and nutrition director at Woman's Day for seven years
* Joined Hearst Magazines as chief food director (2017)
Treat guests to these delicious and downright easy hors d'oeuvres and appetizers.
Advertisement
Here's how to make a Bloody Mary using homemade Bloody Mary ingredients (read: no Bloody Mary mix).
Couscous-Stuffed Peppers
Rating: Unrated
7
Place the assembled peppers in the baking dish and refrigerate, covered, up to a day in advance. When ready to cook, cover with foil and bake according to recipe instructions, adding 10 minutes to the cooking time. Try more recipes with couscous:
Garlic Oven Fries
Rating: Unrated
4
These easy fries roast to crispy goodness in the oven, which means less oil and less mess in your kitchen. Smashed garlic cloves infuse the potatoes with flavor without overpowering them.
Glazed Cocktail Meatballs
Rating: Unrated
New!
Coated with sweet currant jelly, these easy-to-make broiled meatballs are perfect for a party. The combination of ground beef, finely chopped red onion, bread crumbs, and ground nutmeg makes for a sweet but savory base. If you’re not serving the Glazed Cocktail Meatballs right away, throw the bites in a crockpot, on to the “warming” or lowest setting, and set a box or bowl of toothpicks nearby, so guests can nab their own meatballs as they’d like. But note that the sticky coating means these treats require more than a cocktail napkin; provide small plates nearby so guests can nibble away with ease.
Orange-Chili Shrimp Cocktail
Rating: Unrated
New!
Guests can dip a tortilla chip in this sweet-and-spicy chili-inflected shrimp cocktail—or spear a shrimp on its own, with a toothpick. It’s a surprising, flavorful finger food that will certainly wow friends and family. If you’re planning a bash and aim to cut down on prep time, you could start with pre-cooked, thawed shrimp here, but for maximum tenderness, we began with raw peeled and deveined shrimp. After simmering the shrimp in salted water until cooked through, we tossed them with jalapeno, red onion, chopped cilantro, orange juice, lime juice, and salt. Let the concoction marinate in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, and it’s ready to serve.
Advertisement
Crispy Cornmeal Shrimp
Rating: Unrated
New!
You need just seven ingredients to throw together these delicious fried shrimp: flour, cornmeal, Cajun seasoning, shrimp (raw peeled and deveined, medium or large), eggs, canola oil, and tartar sauce for dipping. Cajun seasoning, a spicy mix of cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, and more, tastes slightly different than Old Bay, but either one works in this recipe. The process, detailed below, is complete in 20 minutes; have family members chip in, assembly-line style, and you’ll finish in less. And fair warning: These crispy fried bites might induce a craving of hushpuppies, grits, fried okra, or red beans and rice—or all of the above.
Orange-Chili Shrimp Cocktail
Rating: Unrated
New!
Guests can dip a tortilla chip in this sweet-and-spicy chili-inflected shrimp cocktail—or spear a shrimp on its own, with a toothpick. It’s a surprising, flavorful finger food that will certainly wow friends and family. If you’re planning a bash and aim to cut down on prep time, you could start with pre-cooked, thawed shrimp here, but for maximum tenderness, we began with raw peeled and deveined shrimp. After simmering the shrimp in salted water until cooked through, we tossed them with jalapeno, red onion, chopped cilantro, orange juice, lime juice, and salt. Let the concoction marinate in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, and it’s ready to serve.
Crispy Cornmeal Shrimp
Rating: Unrated
New!
You need just seven ingredients to throw together these delicious fried shrimp: flour, cornmeal, Cajun seasoning, shrimp (raw peeled and deveined, medium or large), eggs, canola oil, and tartar sauce for dipping. Cajun seasoning, a spicy mix of cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, and more, tastes slightly different than Old Bay, but either one works in this recipe. The process, detailed below, is complete in 20 minutes; have family members chip in, assembly-line style, and you’ll finish in less. And fair warning: These crispy fried bites might induce a craving of hushpuppies, grits, fried okra, or red beans and rice—or all of the above.
Advertisement
Plum Tart
Rating: Unrated
New!
Parmesan Meat Loaf
Rating: Unrated
5
For the most flavorful results, use 80 to 85 percent lean ground beef. You can also substitute ground turkey, pork, or lamb. Try more meatloaf recipes:
Serve this incredibly easy one-pot meal with flour tortillas for a delicious brunch or creative dinner.
Advertisement
Basic Quiche
Rating: Unrated
11
The quiche can be prepared, cooled to room temperature, and refrigerated a day in advance. Warm in a 300° F oven before serving. Try more brunch recipes with eggs:
Mixed mushrooms cooked in wine lend lots of earthy depth to this crowd-pleasing side. The dried cranberries add a refreshing sweetness and give the dish a festive flair.
Toss the seeds with sugar, butter, salt, and cinnamon for a crunchy, sweet-and-savory addictive snack.
Upgrade your usual pizza with this grown-up variation. Make extra for a future night when you don’t feel like cooking—you can freeze the cooked flat bread, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 months.
Whisk together whole-grain mustard, red wine vinegar, honey, chopped parsley, and olive oil to create a tasty sauce for the salmon and vegetables.
Dress up penne with an earthy mix of sliced mushrooms, garlic, and onions simmered in red wine. Wilted greens add a slight bitterness that contrasts well with the sweet tomatoes.
Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti
Rating: Unrated
8
Meaty, cheesy, and delicious, this ziti will please the entire family (and even includes spinach for a healthy boost). The unbaked dish can be refrigerated for up to 2 days—just add 10 minutes to the baking time.