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What are your favorite appetizers to serve?

  • v

Having another group of friends over for wine and again I'm feeling uninspired in terms of what to serve as finger food. Looking for great, tasty, hopefully not too complicated ideas. Thanks!

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  1. Two or three different kinds of olives; slices of prosciutto piled up; little fresh mozzarella balls; cherry tomatoes in various colors. Maybe some baguette slices and olive oil on the table. That's it, you can just arrange it and have a nice chat with your friends.

    3 Replies
    1. re: brendastarlet

      + Asparagus Wrapped in Crisp Prosciutto

      + Lamb Sausage in Puff Pastry with Laurent du Clos Mustard

      + Mini Crab Cakes encrusted in potato chips with Rémoulade Sauce

      + Pan-Fried Onion Dip, with slowly car-amelized shallots, maytag blue & fresh sour cream/mayo served along with Olive Oil (brand name) Crispy Classic Potato Chips

      1. re: JayVaBeach

        Jay....where can i find the recipe for the mini crab cakes encrusted in potato chips? It sounds great and I do love a good crab cake.

        1. re: YMO

          i can't help you with Jay's recipe, but this one sounds pretty darned good to me...


    2. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/441499
      Responses to this recent thread about appetizers might help you along. Enjoy!

      1. One of my faves, is a mix of swiss and cheddar cheese, with garlic, onion and frozen spinach (about a cup of cheese and 1/4 -1/2 onion per package of spinach) and some mayo to bind. Toast english muffins with a little butter, spread the mixture on the muffins, cut into fours. I do this ahead of time, place them in the fridge or freezer ona cookie sheet. When guests arrive I heat at 350 for about 10 min. I like that I can do them in advance, and although it's such a "70's" recipe, everyone always seems to love them.

        2 Replies
        1. re: SweetPea914

          We do this in my family too -- slightly different topping, same crispy crunchy gooey cheesy 70's delight! YUM. I always grab English muffins when Thomas' goes on sale so I can make a huge batch and freeze some. Then, if anyone stops by, I just pop a bunch in the oven! :)

          1. re: foxy fairy

            add bacon and garlic sometime. It is pretty tasty!

        2. When I'm tight for time I like to do an antipasti platter; marinated artichoke hearts, mushrooms, assorted olives, Italian meats, cheeses, crostini for meats and cheeses. All this can be purchased. Just arrange beautifully and you're set.

          1. Stuffed mushrooms always a hit, and I love them
            Shrimp Diabla-with avocado and red onion on a stick with pico de gallo
            Cocktail Tamales
            Hot Garlicky Artichoke Dip
            Shu Mei - with sauces
            Spring Rolls - with two dipping sauces
            Thai Lettuce Wraps
            cheese tray with lots of fruit- or fruit with bamboo picks with different grapes, melons, apple and pear, also fresh herbs like basil and mint
            Salmon served cold - so many good sauces - just a great appetizer
            chicken drummies with bleu cheese

            30 Replies
            1. re: chef chicklet

              >>>Cocktail Tamales<<<

              Where are you finding these? I love them and haven't seen them in years.

              1. re: Gail

                oh i had these years ago at very hoity toity party. They are just the cutest things, a little tricky to eat, but such a fun thing to have at a party. I usually make an oinker out of myself with these. Alot of work though!

              2. re: chef chicklet

                I was just thinking today how my relatives are going to go crazy for your hot garlicky artichoke dip! We ate it again last night... mmmmm... this time with naan and baguette. YUM. thank you again. Such wonderful goodness. I really like how it's not greasy the way most artichoke dips are -- I wonder why not? Maybe blending the dips helps avoid that, plus I think it contains a higher percentage of actual artichokes than many dips.

                1. re: foxy fairy

                  Yes I think that the artichokes in there adjust for that. I told you it would be good!
                  Oh I wanted to ask does it sort of souffle up also?

                  It would be good as the base of a pizza, with asparagus and procuitto....doncha think?

                  1. re: chef chicklet


                    would you be kind enough to share the recipe for this spectacular dip...?

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      For you guys.....anything!

                      So here it is.
                      2 cans of artichokes cut fine or 2 boxes frozen Artichoke hearts
                      1 8oz pkg. Cream Cheese or Mascarpone
                      1 cup mayonnaise
                      2 shallots sautéed – see above add the garlic after the shallots
                      5 garlic gloves cut into pieces and sautéed with the shallots to golden color
                      ½ lemon- juice only
                      ½ cup grated parmesan
                      Salt and cracked pepper to taste

                      Drain the artichoke hearts well and rinse, put that and all but the lemon juice and the Parmesan cheese to a blender or food processor, and with short bursts mix, not pureeing but smallish pieces to make for easy spreading.
                      Pour into a nice baking crock or dish (one you can serve out of)
                      Parm goes on the top..

                      I took an old standby and just messed around with it. I think the lemon does something along with whipping it in a blender. Sometimes I just get lucky!


                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        I was also thrilled with the lemony tang. The flavors just dance here.

                        It did puff up when baked -- it looks so cute! I can't wait to serve it to guests. I will always keep an extra stash just for us the next day though. I like your pizza idea, too. My sweety makes delicious pizzas and we're definitely going to try spreading this on our next one -- with prosciutto maybe, caramelized onions, mmmm, a little ricotta.

                        1. re: chef chicklet

                          How long do you bake and at what temp? When to add lemon juice? Sounds delicious!

                          1. re: Sarah

                            Oh I don't know, I bake it until it bubbles and puffs, at 350. Stir the lemon juice in after you mix everything and then add the parm to the top.

                            I have made really rustic croutons for this one, crunchy you know take bread tear it put some olive oil on it or not, and then bake it till its nice and hard, Guests like that they can really scoop and get dip with it. I always make two of these, this just seems to be a favorite at my house. ( I have also used lite cream cheese too)

                            1. re: chef chicklet

                              what's the taste difference when using the mascarpone? I couldn't justify splurging since it cost 4 times as much as the cream cheese, and it's already so divine that I don't need/want to change it. Curious, though, abt the flavor difference. Can you tell?

                              1. re: foxy fairy

                                oh I'd say, creamier and it does taste a little different. I was in the Sierra Foothills and bought mascarpone and some great olive bread in Murphys a year ago, I think I was trying to impress some friends and the spread on the olive bread and it was a huge success. However I agree with you we love it with the cream cheese just fine. It's all about the artichoke and garlic anyway. So good steamy hot!

                              2. re: chef chicklet

                                Hi there,
                                I made the artichoke dip tonight for my friends-only I added a can of lump crabmeat bacause I have this problem with just leaving a good recipe alone. It was excellent!! I don't think the crabmeat had any affect on the recipe-it would have been good without it. Anyway, thanks for the recipe! Maybe next time I'll add mushrooms to my scallions as they camelize to see what else I can do.....

                                1. re: chocchipcookie

                                  Wow crab! I've been making this for so long and often improvised. Scallions are allowed in there with my family (love them). They really get sideways when I mess with the regular artichoke. They look forward to it, and will eat it what I make but grumble loudly. I wish they would lighten up, I do enjoy experimenting with different ingredients..just remember to drain well the newly introduced addition...

                                  I've made it with shrimp and scallions before and I really loved it, such a versatile base.

                                2. re: chef chicklet

                                  I made this over the weekend and it was great! I used mascarpone cheese and the two of us demolished the dip over a couple of days. I think next time I'd like just a bit more "tang" from artichokes so I might cut back on the mascarpone or add a little more lemon juice. Great recipe, I'll be making it again!

                              3. re: chef chicklet

                                you're such a doll...can't wait to try it.

                                thanks so much!

                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                    Wow that sounds great and I was looking for an app. to serve at a PartLite party that I got hooked in to doing!!!

                                    Very timely!!!

                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  chef chicklet, this sounds wonderful, thank you.
                                  This entire thread is a keeper.
                                  The Christopher Wren Gems from The Silver Palate Cookbook are a tussle, but they are heavenly.

                                  1. re: dolores

                                    The Christopher Wren Gems? I go look it up, thanks.

                                    I'm searching the Good Times and the Silver Palate Cookbook, are they in tthey in there? I'm not able to find it? or is it a new book?

                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                      Wow, now I can't find them myself. I may be very wrong about the location of the recipe. Sorry, chef chicklet.

                                      I'll have to look through my recipes in a bit and will post it here.

                                      No luck yet, but this is close:

                                      Date Stuffed Gorgonzola Cheese Appetizer

                                      Makes approximately 48 sweet appetizers

                                      1 (8 ounce) package dates, pitted
                                      4 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese, creamy style
                                      2 tablespoons walnuts or almonds or pecans toasted and chopped

                                      Slit dates open lengthwise. In a small bowl mash together gorgonzola cheese and toasted nuts, stuff 1/2 teaspoon inside dates making smooth oval shapes.

                                      I remember prosciutto and filberts in my recipe, though.

                                      1. re: dolores

                                        I see stuffed dates alot, I don't think I have ever eaten one. I've always associated them with those gift boxes at holidays and also I'm put off by the look of the date, ok now I'll eat a prune... go figure. I need to seriously get over myself. I have a wonderful danish blue I am dying to do something exotic with. I love blue cheese I would love to try this, procuitto wrap too? I'm like it more and more!

                                      2. re: chef chicklet

                                        Canned artichokes are on sale this week at Stop and Shop, as is cream cheese. You know what that means -- time for more dip!!! (ha -- like I need a reason). Yesterday, after grabbing SIX cream cheeses, I had to stop myself from buying every can of 'chokes on the shelf. You know, in the past I always used the little jars of artichokes -- maybe that's another reason why my dips came out oily. I much prefer the cans. :)

                                        Can't thank you enough for that dip, chicklet. Yay! I think we have friends visiting us for Waterfire, from out of town one evening this weekend, but I'm not sure when. No problem -- as soon as I find out they're en route (an hr away) I'll whip up the dip to surprise them upon arrival!

                                        1. re: foxy fairy

                                          What is a stop and shop? I only have a grocery outlet, and a dollar store that has the discounted artichokes. I have used them and there is nothing wrong with them that a little garlic and lemon juice won't take care of!
                                          Don't make yourself sick of it like I did on my salsa,the one that I finally figured out the Rubios recipe!

                                          NO marinated artichokes! I like them in salads, but not in this dip. I have had then at other's partiesin a cream cheese base dip, that could be the reason for the oil....you're right!
                                          You're friends will think you are a gourmet cook with this dip, everyone enjoys it. I really wish I could remember when where or how it came to be...

                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                            Stop and Shop is a New England thing I guess -- it's not a grocery outlet, just a supermarket... maybe like an Albertson's or Ralphs on the West Coast?

                                        2. re: chef chicklet

                                          chef chicklet, I just today remembered how to find the Christopher Wren Gems! Sorry for the tardiness.

                                          They're in The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, page 329.


                                        1. re: pilotgirl210

                                          You can toss the lemon around with the artichokes after you've drained them off. Or as you lastly mixing the parm in. I gotta say I usually toss it on the chokes, I guess I feel it will keep them from turning color? or brighten the flavor up there. Old habit is all.

                                    2. re: chef chicklet

                                      Hey! Very soon, I am going to try this as a pizza :) with asparagus and prosciutto, as you suggested... long ago, cc!

                                      1. re: foxy fairy

                                        hey there! I can't believe I JUST saw this today, sorry about that!
                                        Good luck with your pizza!!

                                        It's pretty hot right now, but perhaps if we get a cooler day I'll make pizza, I've need my fix. Larger quarted artichokes (where they will crisp up too) for the top , roast chicken, olives, red onions, and this spread.... oh and maybe some very thinly sliced lemon circles..with the mandoline...

                                2. some may be a bit more complicated or time-consuming than you'd like, but i always get raves...

                                  homemade dips & spreads - smoky black bean with cilantro; white beans with garlic, rosemary & sundried tomatoes; roasted red pepper hummus; lentil-walnut paté; spinach, artichoke & herbs; yogurt cheese, garlic & dill - with an assortment of crackers and crudités

                                  crab or smoked trout salad in lettuce cups [endive works well]

                                  broiled, stuffed mushrooms or cherry tomatoes

                                  bruschetta with various toppings [tomato 'checca,' marinated beans, etc.]

                                  baked buffalo-style chicken or fish tenders

                                  skewered chicken, beef, shrimp and/or veggies with dipping sauces [i.e. satay, peanut, thai chili]

                                  homemade baked potato chips or fries with your favorite seasonings...make 'em sweet, spicy, savory...i love sweet potato with a sweet & spicy curry flavor

                                  great alternative to wasabi peas or snack/nut mixes...crunchy roasted chickpeas, again seasoned however you like them

                                  you might also consider whipping up an easy frittata and slicing it into finger-friendly cubes or wedges

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    hummus and pita
                                    Baba ganoush and pita
                                    green goddess dip and crudites
                                    spiced almonds or cashews

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      ghg, smokey black bean??? dip? mmmmmm. do you have a special recipe you would share. I love bean dips, this would be a good one for the fall!

                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                        here you go, chicklet. it's ridiculously easy...

                                        GHG'S HEALTHY & HEARTY SMOKY BLACK BEAN DIP

                                        1 19-oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
                                        2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
                                        2 Tbsp.coarsely chopped onion
                                        ½ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro [leaves & stems]
                                        1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
                                        2 Tbsp. low- or nonfat sour cream or yogurt
                                        1-2 chipotle chiles in adobo, coarsely chopped [amount depends on heat preference]
                                        1 tsp. ground cumin
                                        ½ tsp. red chili powder
                                        ½ tsp. smoked paprika [pimentón de la vera]
                                        salt and freshly ground pepper

                                        in a food processor, combine all ingredients except salt & pepper. process until smooth. taste for seasoning, add salt & pepper to taste, and blend thoroughly. if you prefer a thinner dip continue processing and add water 1 Tbsp. at a time until desired consistency is reached.

                                        transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with 2 Tbsp. of chopped cilantro if desired, and serve with baked tortilla chips, homemade whole-grain pita chips [dusted with cumin, paprika & salt], and/or crudités.

                                        a couple of notes:

                                        re: consistency...i like my dips VERY thick, so depending on your preference you'll probably want to add some water to loosen it up a bit

                                        re: heat...i love it, so i always go heavy on the pepper & chiles...but if you're not into spicy, start off with just a little. you can always add more.


                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          Thanks! I got the black beans yesterday hoping you'd see my request, I LOVE the sound of this. Something different, I have serranos so it will be HOT, I can't wait til the weekend!

                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                            just be aware that you'll lose a little of the 'smokiness' factor if you use serranos instead of the chipotles. if it's not smoky enough for you, try increasing the cumin & paprika very slightly...or you can cheat & sneak in a few drops of liquid smoke if you happen to have it lying around ;)

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              OH I am Sorry!! I missed that.Thanks for catching me before I made it!
                                              I have those too, I will definitely use the chipotle chilies in the adobo sauce. I don't know what I was thinking! Sounds absolutely yummy though!

                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                actually, the serranos would be perfect in a regular [non-smoky] black bean dip too. just omit the chipotles, cilantro, paprika, chili powder & sour cream...add a serrano [or two], 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, and a little bit of water.

                                                let me know how it turns out!

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  I will it's happening this weekend, and I so appreciate the instructions and tips. I love beans anyway I can get them! I like the idea of the smokey part.

                                    2. Note: these are all mix and match for different cocktail parties I throw... and I throw plenty!

                                      salmon or tuna tartare
                                      Carne asada gorgonzola egg rolls
                                      spicy tuna cut rolls (note, this raw stuff doesn't last long so no worries about it going bad)
                                      cheese platters with some mild and wild cheeses
                                      adult grilled cheeses (big loaf cut in half and vary the cheeses going across it. Grill pan it with a brick on top and squish the heck out of it. Cut into little wedges and have a condiment bar with mustard, pickled onions etc)
                                      hot and sweet chicken wings and a crunch salad
                                      flank steak on baguette with horseradish sauce and lettuce cut in strips
                                      roast beef blue cheese rolls
                                      cedar plank salmon with crackers and cheese
                                      basic chicken drumettes with six or seven dipping sauces (garlic sauce, homemade honey mustard, Chinese bbq sauce, a vinegar/chili pepper sauce, sweet and sour)
                                      gulf shrimp in garlic and ginger in a wok (this goes very quick, though)

                                      This is all I can think of from the latest round of cocktail parties, I'm sure I'll remember more later. Maybe if I have a cocktail that'll jog the old memory! Righto!

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: holy chow

                                        Egg roll recipe, please, if you wouldn't mind??

                                        1. re: foxy fairy

                                          You'll be the talk of the town and I expect my cut. ;)

                                          Large egg roll wrappers
                                          Cooked asada (homemade or market brand)
                                          Sprigs of cilantro
                                          Thinly sliced red onion

                                          Sweet and sour (store bought or homemade)

                                          Slice the cooked asada and cheese to equal sized chunks. Put a piece or two of them on the diagonal of the egg roll wrapper. Add cilantro sprigs and onion and wet the three edges of the wrapper. Roll like a burrito, making sure to seal tight.

                                          Fry in 375* oil (I use a wok) until brown. Remove to papertowels and season with a good cajon mixture like Tony's or homemade crab boil. Cut on the diagonal and serve one laying down and the other half standing up with a nice drizzle of sweet and sour.

                                          Enjoy the praise. These go very fast, be prepared.

                                        2. re: holy chow

                                          i love your name,holy chow!
                                          Will you elaborate on the Carne Asada Gorgonzola egg rolls, (not a chimichanga right?) using and egg roll wrapper? Ingenious!

                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                            Thanks for the compliment!

                                            See post on the 24th, directly above yours for the "recipe". Nothing is set in stone as I cook "by ear" (which sounds horrible). The asada, blue and sweet and sour all counter each other nicely. I made this recipe while experimenting for a wedding meet and greet I was hosting in Hawaii and the people I was experimenting on loved it. It has become a staple and people rave...

                                            My $0.02 can be mailed. ;)

                                            1. re: holy chow

                                              Thanks for showing me the way to the recipe. Sometimes not all the posts open up...I am so glad to be getting some new ideas here, the smoky black bean dip and these sound like they will go nicely together at a cocktail party with a pitcher of margaritas!
                                              Hot, salty, spicy, sour, sweet - crunchy-cilantro-YUM!
                                              I know what you mean cook "by ear" - guilty as charged most of the time.

                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                as another one who cooks 'by ear,' i have to say i think it's more authentic than just always robotically following a recipe someone else mapped out for you.

                                                don't get me wrong, recipes are great - obviously i do use them, and i love that we can all share/trade them as we've done here...and as i'm also an avid baker, i know that sometimes it's essential to be precise and to 'follow the rules.' but for me, the most rewarding and fun [and often the most successful] aspect of cooking comes from the creativity...and the sense that i can trust my intuition/judgement to guide me to a delicious result.

                                                plus, every time you make something by winging it, it's bound to turn out at least a tiny bit differently...and that can keep things fresh & interesting, even with the most basic dishes.

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  Yes or cooking within the pantry and fridge, a beautiful thing. No disrespect intended to anyones recipes, just sometimes my heart wants to go with it, and my taste buds over-ride the decision to stick with the recipe. I do like to try it first, and then maybe make my own out of it, and sometimes, it does not always work in my favor!

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    Hey this dip is really good!! It's almost all gone, I think we got another winner recipe GHG! Thanks for sharing. I did put some of the Serrano chilies in there also. We all love spicy and this has got great flavor made a nice addition to the appetizer table today!

                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                      i'm so glad you like it! nothing makes me happier than spreading joy with my food.

                                                      now if only i could finally make a living doing nothing but that.

                                                      i swear, someday....

                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                        Write it. It did disappear quickly. And no kidding, nice touch with the chili adobo, and uncooked yet. I wanted to grab a spoon, and heat this up but I resisted.

                                                        I am willing to bet that you could make this the filling of a tamale?

                                          2. depending on the event:

                                            - homemade pigs in the blanket
                                            - shrimp cocktail
                                            - prosciutto wrapped melon
                                            - And the biggest hit of all, something Maida Heatter taught jfood in the 80's. Trim the crust off wonder bread. Press down a slice into muffin tins. fill with diced gruyere, tomato and basil. bake until brown and gooey. Major hit every time.

                                            1. I love dukkah (or dukah or duka or dukka) the Egyptian mixture of seeds, nuts, and spices. Small pieces of good bread, dipped in good olive oil and then in dukkah is always a big hit. Very simple. There are lots of recipes online.

                                              I also love a marinated olive app. that I got off of Epicurious. It involves orange peel, feta, lots of different olives and a bunch of spices all mixed with a bit of olive oil and marinated for a day or so. It's simply delicious. I think if you search for feta orange peel olives or spicy, you'll find it. If you can't, I have the recipe around somewhere. It's probably on this board somewhere.

                                              FOUND IT. It's called Herb-Marinated Feta and Olives.

                                              1. I have been cooking very retro lately, so here goes some golden oldies but goodies:

                                                on another thread, a poster asked what to do with thick cut bacon - fab appetizer when you twist around pretzel rods and bake in 400 oven for 15 - 20 min. If you really want to be decadent, dip bacon slices in brown sugar first.

                                                make or buy pimento cheese and serve with assorted crackers

                                                beaten biscuits served with ham and chutney

                                                gravlax, very easy to make, see Ina Garten's recipe, served with rye crisps or mini bagels and cream cheese

                                                Cheese straws, these freeze great and you can make in advance and bake at last minute

                                                Use cheese straw mixture and cover large stuffed olives, again freezes great

                                                Spinach stuffing balls made with parmesan cheese

                                                1. For people with a sweet tooth (or who love salty-sweet combos) I always like to put out a few chocolate-dipped pretzel rods. Super simple- good dark, milk and white chocolate, some solids, some drizzled....they also are good leftover, though they hardly ever are. ;)

                                                  Another salty/sweet idea- cut a date almost completely and half, but leave a hinge. Take out the pit, replace with a dab of blue cheese and an almond. Cap back on, place on platter- done. Good combo of flavors and textures.

                                                  1. quite a few people have mentioned stuffed mushrooms, which are definitely at the top of my list. i always get *raves* over this recipe. i usually stuff criminis and there's enough stuffing for WAY more than 8 mushrooms; i can usually get about two dozen stuffed off of this. the filling is excellent, but doesn't require nearly as much oil as stated inthe recipe, 2 Tbsp. is more than enough.

                                                    my second fave hors d'oeuvre is bacon wrapped dates. i stuff an almond into a pitted date. wrap with half a slice of bacon and seal with a toothpick. bake at 450-degrees for 5 minutes; flip with tongs and bake another 5 mins more or until crispy. they're also great stuffed with blue cheese (as someone else recommended). they're little flavor-filled bombshells.


                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: funkymonkey

                                                      Most of my favorites are similar to the ones already suggested here. But one of my new absolute faves that is easy and makes a great presentation--tuna skewers with wasabi mayonnaise. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                      1. re: funkymonkey

                                                        On Saturday I combined the ideas from 4Snisl and funkymonkey... split open a date, filled it with blue cheese, wrapped it with bacon, and baked.

                                                        A friend commented, as she was scarfing them down, "what did you put in these... crack?"

                                                      2. My three favourite appetizer categories:

                                                        1. Things on sticks
                                                        2. Mini things
                                                        3. Crudités (aka veggie things)

                                                        For the first category, I like to skewer cheese ravioli, baste in pesto and bake; or thread mini-bocconcini and grape tomatoes on rosemary branches and serve with balsamic vinaigrette to dip; or pair a falafel ball, a chunk of roasted eggplant and half a hard-boiled egg = a deconstructed sabich

                                                        For the second, I love all kinds of mini-scones, plain or as sandwiches; mini-stratas (in mini-muffin cups); mini-omusubi; mini-arancini; mini-stuffed potatoes (roast new potatoes, scoop out the middle, mash with sour cream and herbs, stuff back in).

                                                        For the third, I prep all sorts of veggies (long beans, jicama, fennel, etc.) and serve a few veg dips (peanut sauce, babaghanoush, etc.) and one non-veg dip (usually bagna cauda).

                                                        Note: I don't always use all three types. That would just be waaaay too much trouble.

                                                        1. My most popular recent appetizer has been a variation of an epicurious recipe for bruschetta with goat cheese, honey, rosemary. Thin slices of baguette, each spread with some goat cheese and sprinkled with chopped walnuts. Cook on baking sheet until cheese just starts to look a bit brown and bread is toasty. Remove and drizzle each with some warmed honey. Top with fresh chopped rosemary.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: girlwonder88

                                                            a bit of fresh fig sliced or fig jam in place of the honey is really good too!

                                                          2. Baked figs, stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with honey. Seems that everyone loves them.

                                                            Crab stuffed mushrooms. Next to baked figs, they're my personal favorite.

                                                            I've served shrimp before, but it just gets decimated too quickly. Bad for $ and doesn't look very nice, so I keep that off the table. I would serve it if I was hosting an event where the hors were getting passed, though.

                                                            The simple cheese tray leaves one plenty of room to exercise inspiration, too. Sometimes, I just load up the table with assorted selections, bread, fruit, crackers and olives and call it good.

                                                            1. My favorite recent appetizer is Caramelized Onion and Feta Bites
                                                              Phyllo dough made into cups in mini muffin pans. Fill with some feta mixed with a little marscarpone or cream depending upon the consistency of your feta. Top with a dollop of chopped caramelized onions. Bake til phyllo cup is baked and golden.

                                                              Mini quesadita bites-- bbq chicken, cilantro, red onion, mozzarella, gouda for a twist

                                                              Parmesan frico cups filled with a little caesar salad

                                                              Teriyaki skewers

                                                              Baguette slices topped w/ eggplant tapenade or ratatouille and a little parm then broiled

                                                              Strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar and black pepper

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Emme

                                                                For what it's worth, Trader Joes sells exactly the Carmelized onion feta bites in their frozen section. I mean the exact same ingredients you listed. they're terrific, too.

                                                                1. re: vvv03

                                                                  I know, and I started making them at home... that's where I got the idea!

                                                              2. oooo... Shrimp & Snow Pea Hors d'Oeuvres - with the sauce that will drive people crazy! Couldn't be easier and nobody ever guesses what the sauce is. Believe me, it disappears like magic and tastes as if you're indulging in cream!

                                                                36 snow peas
                                                                36 medium to large shrimp, cooked in shell, cooled and peeled

                                                                Currant-Mustard Dip

                                                                1/2 Cup red currant jelly
                                                                4 TB Dijon Mustard


                                                                Shrimp: Cook and cool shrimp. Blanch peapods in boiling water for 45 seconds. Drain immediately and ice. Wrap each shrimp in a peapod and secure with a toothpick.

                                                                Sauce: Combine jelly and Dijon and whisk, whisk, whisk until smooth. Small flecks of jelly might remain, but if so, let the mix sit for about 5 minutes and whisk until smooth. (You can do this in a blender, but I find it difficult to get all the yummy goodness scraped out of a blender.)

                                                                Serve all slightly chilled.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: dhberry

                                                                  Wow, that sounds wonderful! Do you ever make it using frozen snow peas? Fresh ones that look decent are very hard to come by around here.

                                                                  1. re: ExercisetoEat

                                                                    do you have trader joe's by you? the ones out here in california carry bags of snowpeas with the other refrigerated produce. just be sure to remove those strings along the sides - that's the one annyoing thing about them. snowpea dental floss :)

                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                      I have sent countless email requests to TJ's pleading with them to open a store in the nearest large city, but so far the closest one is over four hours away. I get to go there about once every three or four months and usually do an obscene amount of shopping to last me until the next time =). I'll try the recipe with frozen snow peas and maybe just cook them for a minute longer. At least I can find frozen shrimp and peas!

                                                                      1. re: ExercisetoEat

                                                                        four hours??? you poor thing!

                                                                        good luck with the frozen ones...hope it turns out okay.

                                                                2. Checca. I almost forgot. This is a standby at our house.

                                                                  Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil.
                                                                  Softly saute a few cloves of garlic pressed/minced right into the oil.
                                                                  Put 1 large can of petite diced tomatoes, drained, into a bowl.
                                                                  Add the olive oil/garlic mix to taste.
                                                                  Drizzle some balsamic vinegar to taste and add freshly ground salt and pepper. (Don't exclude the salt, it brings all the flavors together)
                                                                  Add about 1/4 cup (or more) finely chopped fresh basil.
                                                                  Let rest for about 20 minutes.
                                                                  (You can process this mixture for a finer texture, but using diced tomatoes from the can is fine with us.)

                                                                  This mixture is excellent as a pasta sauce, or as a spread/dip on fresh Italian bread, but we prefer it this way:

                                                                  Use a rustic loaf of bread.
                                                                  Cut into 1 inch slices
                                                                  Brush each side with some of the garlic oil
                                                                  Broil or charcoal grill (grilling is better, but not always possible) until nicely toasted on both sides.

                                                                  Now, you can serve the bread seperately and let the guests heap on the Checca or, as we prefer, heap the toasts with the checca just before serving, cut into finger slices. The sauce seaps into the toasted bread and makes a really wonderful, chewy, flavorful bruschetta that can actually sit for a while without getting soggy.

                                                                  1. I know this is a very 70's idea, but I did one recently and my guests loved it! What was it?...the Pu Pu Platter! The food was delicious and prompted great conversation and reminiscing (if your of that time, if not the food is still good :) You can find recipes and ideas by googling "pu pu platter recipes"...about.com has a big selection. One recipe that is not on this site is the rumaki that I make using chicken livers and/or scallops..you can find this recipe at several places on the web ( at Epicurious or greatpartyrecipes.com...which also has other appetizer recipes). Another favorite is the Char Siu, a rich, red asian sparerib..recipe on about.com and other places on the web. I use combinations of pineapple, mango, papaya, kiwi, kabobs with a fresh yogurt dip to add a light flavor. The addition of fondue pots with dips and sauces goes over well. Everyone enjoys the food and the presentation. You can do just a few of the simpler appetizers and still get raves. None of this was hard to do and the recipes are simple. The rumaki is a tad time consuming, but they are done in advance, so all you have to do is pop them in the oven right before guest arrive. Tip: make plenty because they get gone fast...especially the scallop rumaki, although you would be surprised at how many people love the chicken liver! Hope your party is successful and all have a great time!

                                                                    1. Deviled crab cakes
                                                                      Coconut shrimp
                                                                      Crab rangoon
                                                                      Pork spring rolls
                                                                      Cocktail meatballs in saffron sauce

                                                                      1. *My mom's famous always-requested dips, plus:

                                                                        *Phyllo snackies -- I love to experiment with fillings. Invariably, guests are impressed that you know what phyllo is, how to pronounce it, and how to prepare it (!)

                                                                        *mushroom turnovers -- phyllo triangles (like spanakopita or folding a flag) with a cream cheese/sauteed mushroom and onion filling

                                                                        *little phyllo logs with asparagus/swiss filling (chop the asparagus small and mix in with filling -- you're not wrapping individual spears, but the filling. Log shape is cute b/c it mirrors the asparagus shape.

                                                                        *leeks and prosciutto and cheese
                                                                        etc etc etc

                                                                        You need melted butter, a pastry brush, a clean surface, a damp towel to protect the delicate sheets of phyllo (drape it over the stack to keep them moist as you work) and a LOT of patience!

                                                                        1. Someone somewhere on this board awhile back posted a suggestion for green grapes rolled in chevre and then in finely chopped pecans. I did this for a party last year and they were a big hit, and are now a regular offering when entertaining. Granted, it is a bit labor-intensive, but not terribly difficult. Depending on the quality of the goat cheese, it might have to be "watered" down a bit with a little milk in order to roll it. And I also suggest wearing latex gloves for the rolling part!

                                                                          1. There's a terrific recipe for a red pepper and onion dip in one of the Silver Palate books--it's basically 2 large onions and 2 red peppers sliced very thin and caramelized in olive oil for 45 minutes or so. Fresh basil and garlic are added towards the end--it's such a sweet and delicious dip--perfect for leftover sandwiches with mozzarella cheese.

                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                            1. re: ketchupgirl

                                                                              I've heard that Ina's pan-fried onion dip is excellent too. Anyone vouch for it? I'd like to try that one this weekend.


                                                                              1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                I'm sure you will get several other "vouches"...but I made it for the first time for a party and it was a huge hit. (although my friends are also the type who couldn't believe I'd made it from scratch) The only complaint I got (from somebody who was shoveling it into their mouth) was that it wasn't as flavorful as the MSG enhanced dip you buy in the store. Take that for what it's worth...

                                                                                One note is that it was thick enough to crack any chip or cracker unless you let it come up to room temp and give it a good stir before serving.

                                                                                It was also delicious in several strange leftover uses...including a flatbread/pizza type concoction with the onion dip layered with halved cherry tomatoes on flatbread and toaster-ovened.

                                                                                1. re: wawajb

                                                                                  Thanks for those tips, wawajb! The onions are simmering right now, in that luscious-looking red broth (red from the cayenne!) I can't wait to try it. I'm hoping we won't devour the entire thing so we can try your flatbread idea (I just bought cherry toms today!) for lunch tomorrow. Mmmmmm.

                                                                                  1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                    (later) Hmmm. I must say -- I wasn't wild about Ina's onion dip. Perhaps I only have eyes for chef-chicklet's garlicky hot artichoke dip after we began our fervent affair last week(see above). Somehow Ina's onion dip is too rich for me -- the onions themselves, slow-sauteed with the cayenne/butter/oil would be excellent on crostini, or as a pizza topping, or even as a caramelized onion marmalade on sandwiches. But combined with the cream cheese, mayo, and sour cream, I found this too intense. I won't make it again.

                                                                                2. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                  I make the Barefoot Contessa's Pan Fried Onion Dip. It is great. My mom actually requests that I make it for any and everything. We like it with the Salt And Pepper Kettle Crinkle Chips or stuffed in the mini sweet peppers (the red, yellow, and orange ones). Yum!

                                                                                  1. re: KellBell

                                                                                    It's turning into my staple dip too KELLBELL, only I carmelize shallots instead & I add Maytag Blue. I too serve it along with hard crispy Olive Oil Potato Chips. It's awesome!

                                                                              2. My new faves...

                                                                                fetta stuffed olives, dipped in flour/egg/seasoned breadcrumbs and deep fried for about three mins until golden.

                                                                                And here are some baked ricottas I'm dying to try...


                                                                                1. for impromptu get togethers i just do some yummy cheeses, cured meats, olives, and some breads. in the summer i might add some fresh fruits and veg. i know cheese always makes me happy!


                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: coconutgoddess

                                                                                    Cut a baguette into half inch slices on the bias. Brush with good extra virgin olive oil. Broil until lightly golden brown. Flip all pieces and repeat. Top each with a dollop of homemade or quality jarred pesto. Top with a half inch slice of vine ripened roma (plum) tomato and a half inch slice of good mozzarella. Slide under the broiler again until the cheese is melted.

                                                                                    I've gotten raves over these at parties (and at some gatherings they can appear sophisticated next to the dips and other offerings). And they go great with a nice glass of red wine.
                                                                                    Caveat: You must use a baguette and not a French, Italian or sourdough, etc. loaf. The baguette is crunchy and small enough to make each a bite (or two bite) sized morsel. Also, always use roma tomatoes; they are more flavorful and contain less water than other varieties.

                                                                                  2. I'm just tagging this thread so I can make some of these yummy dips too. Well, I may as well give my 2 cents....My go-to dip is an awewsome hot crab dip served with triscuits. It is in the Three Rivers Cookbook #1. Another easy thing to do is salami and cream cheese triangles. Just mix some chives with a brick of cream cheese. Spread the cc between about 5 layers of salami leaving the top unspread. Refridgerate then slice each round like a pizza. Everyone gobbles them up and they are finger friendly.

                                                                                    1. *** Lamb Sausage in Puff Pastry - aka good old-fashioned Pigs-in-a-Blanket

                                                                                      *** Mini Crab Cakes encrusted in potato chips with Rémoulade Sauce

                                                                                      *** Pan-Fried Onion Dip, with slowly car-amelized shallots, maytag blue & fresh sour cream/mayo

                                                                                      1. For any wine get-togethers, I make gougeres. They are savory little pastry puffs. Search Leite's Culinaria for a great recipe for Cheddar-Chive Gougeres. They are really easy to make and hot out of the oven, they are totally addictive. You can vary up the type of cheeses too, depending on your taste. I bought a little scoop, a bit smaller than an ice cream scoop to portion out the dough on the baking sheet, which makes things easy. You can always split them too and fill them with crab salad, chicken salad, or any type of spread. I also give a vote for bacon wrapped dates stuffed with manchego cheese. Easy to assemble ahead of time and then throw in the oven before your guests arrive.

                                                                                        1. my trademark is now Tyler Florence's sausage-stuffed mushrooms. it's the easiest recipe to get right and lends itself to countless variations. basically, all you have to do is combine these ingredients
                                                                                          - sausage
                                                                                          - raisins
                                                                                          - parsley
                                                                                          - green olives
                                                                                          - grated parmesan
                                                                                          - almonds
                                                                                          and stuff the mushrooms. bake anywhere between 425 and 500. I used the recipe the first time, but soon realized that it's not necessary to be precise...the salty olives & sausage, the sweet raisins, and the crunchy almonds all seem to combine in a magical way without the necessity of a measuring cup.

                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Sophia.

                                                                                            I tried two versions of stuffed mushrooms in the last week.

                                                                                            #1 Parmesan-bacon stuffed mushrooms -- sautee onion and shroom stems, add 4 oz cream cheese, 4 oz Parm, crumbled bacon, bread crumbs, parsley, lots of black pepper. A little salty/heavy for me but my sweety lapped these up. (based on an epicurious recipe which uses spinach and feta -- I made that version for Thanksgiving one year and I also like it that way).


                                                                                            #2 very simple, very-delicious - shroom stems and onion and garlic sauteed. Add fresh dill, fresh parsley lemon juice, 4 oz cream cheese, 3 Tbsp mayo, bread crumbs to bind, lots of black pepper. I like this crrrrreamylicious filling better -- it's also so old-school, which I somehow really enjoy lately. Don't skip the mayo, as it takes the edge off the cream cheese. I also use this filling (with the mushrooms sliced and sauteed) inside phyllo dough triangles, and they disappear in a nanosecond when I bring them to parties.

                                                                                            1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                              I'm going to try a Jamie Oliver recipe with ricotta tomorrow...I'll let you know how it turns out. both #1 and #2 sound really great, though--the stuffed mushroom is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. love the idea about making them into phyllo triangles!

                                                                                              1. re: Sophia.

                                                                                                Hey --- I just bought ricotta! $3 for the big tub of Dragone at Stop and Shop this week... long live ricotta! (If you have some left after your mushrooms, try spreading it on good toast, drizzle olive oil, a few juicy slices of tomato, a little basil, s and p. Mmmmm.)

                                                                                                For the mushrooms - is the recipe below the one you're using? Looks like ricotta, red chili, lemon, parmesan, fresh herbs, S and P. YUM!

                                                                                                What does he mean by "good, crumbly ricotta?" He doesn't mean ricotta salata, does he? Hmmm.


                                                                                                1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                                  yes, that is the exact recipe. I wasn't sure what he meant by "good, crumbly ricotta," because it sounded somewhere between regular ricotta and ricotta salata. I think I'm going to strain some of the liquid out of mine to get a more crumbly consistency. I'll let you know if it works out...

                                                                                                  I also love it on toast with marmalade...

                                                                                                  1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                                    ok, reporting back: ricotta shrooms were good, but paled in comparison to the sausage ones (I used really great sausage, and I think that made the difference). consistency of the ricotta was fine.
                                                                                                    what I really enjoyed was having ricotta on toast this morning with figs and prosciutto...breakfast of champions.

                                                                                            2. Large bowl of seasoned shrimp with cocktail and remoulade sauces. Crabmeat Maison in puff pastry shells.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: JazzyB

                                                                                                Jazzy - there's nothing better than classic shrimp cocktail, but in lieu of traditional cocktail sauce, I serve peanut sauce on the side.

                                                                                              2. I know this probably sounds simplistic to a fault, but my friends and I end up eating red pepper hummus, more than anything else...It is absolutely a party favorite...You can make your own, or go to a Whole Foods, it there is one near you, as they have several delicious brands....

                                                                                                1. Onion Toasts. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                  Good on baguette slices too. Easy, tasty, a little retro. I slightly prefer with cocktails over wine, but either way they're delicious.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                                                                                    I love these - haven't had them in years - thanks for reminding me!

                                                                                                    1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                                                                                      Amuse - I forgot all about these - they remind me of being a child & sneaking some when my mother was preparing for her monthly supper club...early 70s - these were always featured at the wet bar along with an array of cocktail nuts that she tossed with spices like ground ginger, cayenne and cumin, and toast them briefly in the oven - what fun retro memories!

                                                                                                    2. Simplistic to a fault?

                                                                                                      How about little wedges of chorizo (Mexican or Spanish) toothpicked to a wedge of onion? They have proven very popular in all kinds of circumstances.

                                                                                                      They are very easy to prepare: once you assemble them, throw them in a cast iron pan, I guess any fry/saute pan would work, over low heat. The low heat ensures that you needn't keep a particular watch over them.

                                                                                                      1. i like to make bacon wrapped dates. they are so easy to make and everyone loves them.

                                                                                                        1. I saw on Good Eats the other night where AB took all the bits and ends of the cheeses ( a tribute to cheese) and put them into a blender, with butter, white pepper ( I love) and white wine. Blended it all up and used it as a decadent spread.

                                                                                                          Are there any of you that has done this?

                                                                                                          1. I really like tarts - leek-cheddar are my favorite! I also like sweet and sour meatballs ( you could put a jar of toothpicks next to the platter to make it "finger food."

                                                                                                            Other than that, fresh cut vegetables and hummus is also really good. I find these things the easiest to serve.

                                                                                                            1. These are very easy and quick and great ifnger food. Slice Turkey sausage - I usually use the precooked flavored kind - cut up pieces of marinated artichoke hearts & sundried tomatoes. Place a slice of sausage, a piece of artichoke and a piece of sun dried tomato on a toothpick. Throw them into a pan - heat for 15 min in a 350 oven - watch them fly.
                                                                                                              Great to make ahead and not take up a lot of your time on the day of the party.

                                                                                                              1. My easiest appetizer recipe that ALWAYS seems to please: Boursin Cheese stuffed mushrooms.

                                                                                                                Use only the mushroom cap, saute for a few minutes in butter or olive oil.
                                                                                                                Place mushrooms on a baking sheet (put foil under for easy clean up).
                                                                                                                Fill with boursin cheese (there are so many wonderful flavors, take your pick).
                                                                                                                Put under the broiler until cheese is melted and slightly toasted.

                                                                                                                Everyone always raves about these, even when I insist it was the easiest thing to make!

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: kmills9408

                                                                                                                  Yum - I'm going to serve these this weekend! THX.

                                                                                                                2. Dates stuffed with almonds and wrapped in bacon. Served on endive with blue cheese.

                                                                                                                  Almost anything on puff pastry.

                                                                                                                  1. Wow, I guess the September wine party is history, but since the thread has taken on a life of its own on what to serve at cocktail parties, here are a couple of my faves, one an old stand by for heaven knows how many decades, the other one of my own creation published here for the very first time.

                                                                                                                    The old stand-by: Escargot in mushroom shells with garlic butter and a dash of Burgundy. I could eat a plateful!

                                                                                                                    And this is a fresh fruit dip that may sound like strange grazing for a cocktail party, but it''s always the first empty bowl when I serve it.

                                                                                                                    Fruit Dip

                                                                                                                    16 ounce container sour cream
                                                                                                                    1 gently rounded tablespoon whole coriander seeds
                                                                                                                    1 gently rounded tablespoon creamed horseradish
                                                                                                                    1 gently rounded tablespoon sugar

                                                                                                                    Crush the coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle, then pulverize. Sorry but pre-ground coriander just doesn't taste the same. Combine with all ingredients and mix well. Age in refrigerator at least 2 hours. Serve with firm pear slices, orange sections, Jonathan apple slices or any cold fresh firm fruit.

                                                                                                                    I think part of the reason the fruit with dip may go over so well as it's such a break from the traditional meat/cheese/savory fare of most finger food layouts.

                                                                                                                    1. For a fall/winter wine party, I had a platter with roasted apples basted with maple syrup and Apple Jack, a small bowl of NZ honey, assorted cheeses (Tilburg went nicely), and rolled Virginia ham slices. I let the guests assemble their own apps, but you could just as easily assemble ahead of time on a toast or cracker.

                                                                                                                      I also had a tepid grilled veg plate with red peppers, pasilla chiles, mushrooms, yellow squash, garlic cloves, marinated olives. The veggies were tossed in olive oil, seasoned, and when done a bit of sherry vinegar and lemon juice was spritzed over them. In the center was a red lentil/roasted onion dip swirled with yogurt and olive oil. I roasted the veggies & made the lentil/onion base ahead of time. On the day I laid out the platter and swirled some yogurt and olive oil into the dip to thin it out.

                                                                                                                      Accompanied by baskets of warm pita wedges, garlic crostini, and crackers.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: mlgb

                                                                                                                        In fall - I do a cheese plate -- I do three cheeses (typically a gouda (Grand Parano, Rembrandt, Beemster); cheddar (Widmer 6 yr or Hook's 10 year or less expensive - Extra Sharp Cheddar Tillamook); and a quality blue/gorg (Mountain, Shaft or Bleu D"Auvergne) with crostini or garlic chips or crackers-sliced granny smith apples and candied walnuts.

                                                                                                                        Other favorites: reuben dip is always a hit.

                                                                                                                        OR goat cheese stuff dates wrapped in bacon. This too is always a winner.