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Simple Yet Impressive Hors D'oeuvres?

Spinoff of luckyfatima's "Simple Yet Impressive Desserts".

I need hors d'oevres ideas for small semi-monthly parties I host at my house. Not usually more than 8 people attend and since I do these after work I would like to spend no more than 1 hour including prep and cook time the day of. However, I am willing to do an hour of prep the night before if needed. I'm running out of ideas. I've done the fruit and cheese boards so many times before that I am burnt out on them (along with most chips, dips, veggie crudites) but I would still like to be able to keep the food out at room temperature for a couple hours without having to compremise the integrity of the dish. i would like at least 2 vegetarian options and visually appealing is a plus here. (Last time I served bacon wrapped shrimp, veggie potstickers and pork shumai. wasn't very pretty to look at. lots of beige and brown) plus it wasn't very good once cold.

Any ideas??

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  1. My go to is an asian theme - cocktail shrimp (I steam my own, only takes a few minutes, with cilantro and garlic but you could buy the precooked kind) with sesame-chilli dip, green onion cakes, and some maki sushi (california/dynamite roll and some avacado or kappa maki) I make my own sushi but you can always pick some up ;)

    For funzies I go to my local asian grocer or the dollar store and pick up some sets of wooden chopsticks (for a buck or two) and tie them together in sets with pretty ribbon or raffia. I've even printed out name tags (to hole-punch and tie) when I'm feeling particlulary creative. Then I get red napkins, and set out white bowls so my guests can eat dim sum style.

    I'd be happy to share my recipies if you're interested.

    1. A couple of suggestions that have been winners for me: Cream Cheese & Scallion won-tons. Use store bought won ton wrappers. Mix a block of cream cheese with a bunch (literally one bunch from the market or store) of scallions, place a tablespoon of filling in each wrapper, and close (I use the Joyce Chen won ton maker). Deep fry and serve on a colorful platter with chives and a few red peppers as garnish. Steamed shrimp with mango rum butter sauce -- put coconut rum in the steaming water for an extra yummy taste -- alternatively, buy already cleaned shrimp, bread in panko bread crumbs, deep fry and use the mango rum butter sauce as a dip. Quesadillas -- put anything on a tortilla with cheese use a paninni maker or large skillet, top with salsa and sour cream. Dee-lish!

      1 Reply
      1. re: soultender

        Do you think you could spritz those cream cheese and onion won tons with a bit of veg oil spray then bake 'em instead of deep frying?

      2. Smoked Salmon Stacks - Buy a loaf of the large rubschlager pumpernickel bread (usually in the deli section of the supermarket) - spread sweet butter or cream cheese on one side of a slice of bread - one layer of smoked salmon, top with another piece of bread, spread butter, repeat about four times - wrap tightly and let sit for a while, over night should be fine - cut off crusts and cut in strips and then cut each strip in half length wise. It's very easy and the colors are great.

        1. I think I've suggested this on the board before and I fixed it last Friday night. An Italian antipasti platter; marinated artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, marinated baby mushrooms, Italian meats from deli wrapped around mozzarella and/or provolone cheese speared with a toothpick, all kinds of gourmet olives. This can be artistically arranged on decorative platters or in lettuce or cabbage cups.

          You didn't say what you are serving for dinner, or if the hors were to be instead of dinner or if this is before you go out to dinner. That would make a difference, of course.

          1. I just had a dinner party and served fresh figs stuffed with goat cheese, drizzled with honey that I'm mixed with cracked black pepper. I just snipped the stem end with scissors to make an X that went about halfway down each fig, and put a little bit of cheese in there. Very simple, very pretty, everyone was impressed.

            1. I like to make vietnamese summer rolls (with rice paper wrappers, either tofu or smoked duck (but any kind of meet/veggie filling would be good) cilantro, mint, basil and lettuce) which can be made the night before and kept in the fridge wrapped in slightly damp paper towels; I also like shrimp sauteed with lots of garlic and oil (spanish tapas style) and spinach and feta triangles wrapped in phyllo (also can be done the night before and wrapped in damp paper towels). Also, although you're tired of cheese boards, baked brie with some apricot jam seems to be always greatly appreciated amongs my friends. I love all these suggestions, i'm definitely going to use some at my next dinner party!

              1. Things I like:

                Meats on sticks
                Anything made in miniture muffin tins
                Things wrapped in prociutto or large arugula leaves
                Stuffed things
                Fried Things
                Things in the shape of balls
                Finger sandwiches
                Things I can cut with my mini cookie cutters
                Things topped with fresh herbs
                Things skewered with rosemary
                Spicy things
                Anything eaten with Sriracha
                Things used with molds
                slice and bake things

                1 Reply
                1. Roasted garlic is incredibly effortless, and it seems to impress... especially when served with a great baguette.

                  Roasted red peppers are nice too.

                  1. Here are three easy ideas that are good warm or room temperature.

                    Asiago or Parmesan Cheese Cups

                    Make cheese cups by placing 1 level Tablespoon Asiago cheese on a non-stick baking sheet. Shape into a circle and flatten just a little bit. Sprinkle with pepper and bake in a 400 degree oven for 3-5 minutes, just until cheese melts and edges turn golden brown.

                    Make only 6 at a time as you quickly need to remove them from the baking sheet and place on upside down mini muffin pans to form into cups. Shot glasses also work well.

                    You can fill these cups in any number of ways.

                    Serve cold with salmon and fresh dill.

                    Serve filled with warm chopped roasted vegetables.

                    Serve with cold or warm chopped marinated artichoke hearts, roma tomatoes, red onion, Italian seasoning.

                    Serve with a cold chop salad of your choice.

                    Just be certain that what ever you fill the cheese cups with is not very liquid.

                    Dijon & Goat Cheese Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms

                    1/4 cup room temperature goat cheese
                    2 tsp Dijon mustard or a little more to taste (can sub horseradish)

                    Combine and fill the cavity of small cremini mushrooms with enough of the mixture to form a "crown". Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes depending on the size of the mushrooms.

                    Polenta Rounds

                    Cook 1 cup polenta according to package directions. Pour into two 8" round or square non-stick baking pans. And let cool, then refrigerate. For service, flip cold polenta onto a cutting board and use any shape cookie cutter to cut out individual pieces. Top with what ever your heart desires (suggestions below), place on a lightly greased baking sheet and heat in a 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes.

                    Can be made in advance, covered with plastic wrap and ket in frig until ready to bake.

                    Topping suggestions:

                    Roasted bell peppers, gorgonzola and drizzle of olive oil - balsamic vinegar is a nice touch
                    Sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, fresh basil, parmesan cheese
                    Sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, capers, shallot, lemon zest, olive oil
                    Sautéed mushrooms
                    Sauteed spinach with garlic, lemon and pine nuts

                    1. If you can get those phyllo cups, there are so many simple appetizers you can make that look elegant. Brie and figs, cream cheese mix w/ smoked salmon, chicken salad, fruit cup (w/ custard or not), sauteed chopped mushrooms (try different types), prosciutto and mozzerella... just use your imagination.


                      4 Replies
                      1. re: chowser

                        Oh wow. This link has soooooo many ideas for those little cups:


                        GREAT IDEA CHOWSER!! I've always wondered if those were any good. Does anyone prefer a particular brand of phyllo cups??

                        Here are a few particular recipes that grab my interest:
                        BEEF WITH GORGONZOLA AND WALNUTS
                        SHAVED BEEF WITH TZATZIKI SAUCE

                        Classic and Chic Recipes!

                        1. re: missmodular818

                          I used the athens phyllo cups recently and filled them with blue cheese and dates. I had an appetizer in Miami at Marks in Fort Lauderdale that was my muse - dates stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in phyllo. They turned out really well.

                          1. re: missmodular818

                            I've only used Athens because that's all that is available to me. I love them--they last in the freezer forever. You can bake them or use them right out of the box. They're really easy to make look fancier (piping bag is helpful), great for savory or sweet. The recipes you've posted sound really good.

                        2. I've had a couple parties lately where I've had to have mostly everything made in advance and served cold. I couple things that went over really well were tortilla espanola bites with toothpicks, which are vegetarian so that's nice. Also these (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...) caramelized onion tartlets. Totally make ahead-able and if you put some chive pieces on top, are pretty. Oh and maybe kind of goofy but tasty and pretty are these caprese edible centerpieces (http://www.slashfood.com/2007/07/18/e... got a week or two on the tomatoes, I think. Lastly, and again, maybe this is sorta dorky, but I did a bunch of wee tiny items for one thing and people went nuts for deviled quail eggs.

                          1. My go-to appetizer after a long day at work: Take two bricks of cream cheese and place them side-by-side on a lovely plate. Cover with one bottle of Heinz cocktail sauce. Rinse and dry one pound of baby shrimp meat and sprinkle over the cheese and cocktail sauce. Surround plate with a large package of Wheat Thins. Once you start eating this, you just can't stop!!

                            1. Really easy, really delicious: oversized olives stuffed with a soft, smelly cheese.

                              1. mini grilled pastrami & swiss sammies
                                spinach fritters
                                rice & veggie stuffed peppers (we quarter a full size into four pieces and serve open faced)
                                pineapple chicken tenders (served on skewers)
                                roasted potatoes with lemon-garlic dip

                                1. Gravlax is very easy to make - you can get it started a day or two before, make the sauce ahead of time, and then slice and serve on canapes before the party. You could also probably slice it ahead of time if you wrapped the slices well in saran wrap. If you want the recipe, I'll find the link - I know I've posted it in the past. I always get loads of complements on it.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    What is Gravlax? Where did it originate from? Yes, share your recipes! :)

                                    Mmmmm..my new favorite: Thai Chicken Pizza Squares.
                                    On Lavash wrap spread a thin layer of chinese duck sauce with a teaspoon of sriracha mixed in. Add a thin layer of shredded chicken. Top with smoked mozzarella and diced red, orange, yellow bell peppers. Cook in oven until cheese melts. Top with shredded cabbage, chredded carrots, bean sprouts and cilantro. Cut into squares and serve with lime slithers.

                                    1. re: missmodular818

                                      Gravlax is Swedish - maybe Scandinavian as well - salmon cured with salt, sugar and aquavit. The recipe I love is from "The New Basics", which included the recipe from Cafe des Artistes (site of my first date with my husband, though it has sadly gone down hill).


                                      I never post the sauce recipe - will try to get around to it!