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Christmas Eve Hors d'oeuvre Buffet

Every year we have an hors d'oeuvre buffet with friends. I serve the colloquilal fruit, cheese and veggies with an array of of lovely hors d'oeuvres. This year family members will be joining, and they're not the kind of people that will eat my duck confit and goat cheese canapes...if you get my drift. I need to add some items they'll eat. I really don't want deviled eggs (I hate eggs) or pigs in a blanket.

I'm looking for some fun and not too "over the top" ideas that your typical meat and potoatoes crowd will enjoy.

Thanks so much for your fabulous ideas!

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  1. I get your drift and I truly think we "foodies" have to think Ockham's razor when it comes to things like finger foods and desserts for a crowd. Sometimes the more familiar things are, the more they are enjoyed. Even I want my port cheese rolled in nuts!
    This morning, I was clipping coupons from the paper and came across so many holiday recipes that of course use prepared products, but you know? They are easy and quick and many are quite tasty.
    I was particularly smitten with Pillsbury "pinwheels". You can stuff them with just about anything!
    Here's a link. I think I'm going to make a version or two for the holidays, too.

    1. Warm some mixed nuts and toss them with whatever kind of seasoning you think fits the occasion. Maybe a Southwestern spice blend for the meat and potatoes folk.

      Or these Herb Roasted Olives are good and easy: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/he...

      Dorie Greenspan's Cheez-It-Ish crackers can be done ahead and just baked off for the occasion: http://thegingersnapgirl.blogspot.com... I'm doing them in blue cheese for Thanksgiving but if you think your group would prefer cheddar they'd also be good that way or with Greenspan's gruyere.

      Speaking of blue cheese I like a really yummy creamy one spread between 2 pecan halves like an Oreo. Simple but a flavor blast.

      1. Small meatballs done in one of many sauces--or maybe you could offer a trio: Swedish, Italian and American (currant jelly and mustard?).

        2 Replies
        1. re: escondido123

          Meatballs are always a good idea. Recently we attended a camp out with a chili cook off but a few people brought different dishes. One wife made meatballs from veal, beef and pork which were very light and delicious in a marinara type sauce. Do a good meatball not just the grocery store pre-made kind. Or a good sausage.

          My mother used to make chicken salad stuffed savory cream puffs.

          1. re: dfrostnh

            I think the meatball idea is fabulous. I'd never do grocery store meatballs...yuck!

            Now that I think about it, I was considering buying the Meatball Shop cookbook...this gives me a good excuse for the purchase.

        2. Mushrooms stuffed w/ crab. Mmmmm. If they're small enough, you could spear them with toothpicks.

          1. rainey made a great call on the spiced/seasoned nuts. i don't know if the spices in this one will be too exotic for your crowd, but perhaps the bacon will distract them ;)

            there's also the ever-popular recipe for the bar nuts at Gramercy Tavern:

            other thoughts:
            - gougeres
            - broiled mushroom caps or cherry tomatoes stuffed with herbed ricotta
            - balsamic white bean dip with roasted garlic & sun-dried tomatoes
            - crab salad in lettuce cups
            - arancini
            - beef tenderloin crostini with horseradish cream
            - hot spinach-artichoke dip or crab dip
            - mac & cheese bites - made in mini-muffin tins
            - homemade potato chips with dip
            - baked potato puffs

            1. I recently attended a reception where they served some upscale versions of "downscale" favorites - they were delicious and elegant-looking, but not so foreign as to scare off less adventurous eaters. They did small sausages (I think Lil Smokies or something similar) wrapped in puff pastry and dusted with poppy seeds for upscale pigs in blankets, fried mac n' cheese balls (just make your favorite mac and cheese, let it solidify, scoop up balls, bread and fry), a little "carbonara" quiche sort of thing, which was angel hair pasta with bacon and parmesan, stirred into a quiche base and baked crustless, and little crostini with non-frightening toppings (sliced rare filet mignon, etc.).

              1. Going retro for a few of your choices could be fun. Some of those recipes are still favorites because they taste pretty good. You could update them and still make them recognizable to your less adventurous guests.

                Mini crabcakes are loved by all, but you could serve them with a tiny dollop of an updated remoulade. Those baked (delicious) olives with cheddar pastry could be updated by changing the cheese in the pastry or the stuffing in the olive. Puff pastry with anything you put with it will be loved (puff pastry rules the food universe ;)). Chicken wings that aren't Buffalo style (Ming Tsai has a red wine and pepper version that I love). A cheese fondue with cool ingredients might work, as well.

                Hopefully you will be surprised at how much you relatives love the more creative dishes you serve. Good luck!

                1. Think sliders but elevated. Sandwiches on small brioche rolls - roast beef with argula and aoili, curry egg salad with chutney, sliced turkey with cranberry relish.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Dcfoodblog

                    If your relatives are like my relatives (okay, SOME of my relatives), shrimp=equals=fancy. You can serve them chilled (on ice) with cocktail sauce, or skewer two on a toothpick and grill them. We've also had a nice response to thinly sliced pork tenderloin (roasted simply with a heavy salt & pepper & garlic crust), and little corn muffins (grate a little cheese into the batter and toss in some red pepper flakes).

                    1. re: tonifi

                      Great thread. I don't know how I missed this a week ago when it started. Anyway, for our Xmas eve open house last year we did a roasted shrimp cocktail from Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics. It was very easy, really good and elevated the basic shrimp cocktail just a bit. It was gone in about 20 minutes.

                  2. Chicken satay is generally well received.

                    1. My parents hosted our family's Christmas party from 1967 til my dad's passing in '93. Sort of a mixed southern Italian and meat-and-potatoes crowd.

                      Cheese tray--sharp, mild, hard, soft...add grapes, figs, dates, olives, pickles on the side. Selection of good crackers---different textures and tastes, from water crackers to rougher stuff.

                      Good kielbasa (a hit, warm or cold)

                      Spiral cut ham

                      Shrimp cocktail (I was in charge of peeling/deveining from age 5 on. A heavy task. Plus side...I could eat mistakes) arranged in a lovely fashion.

                      Cold cut platter with good white and good pumpernickel bread, good mayo, mustard, etc.

                      Stuffed mushroom caps

                      Stuffed shells

                      Assortment of Italian cookies, or cannoli, or finger desserts.

                      My parents always used real plates and silverware, too...never the plastic stuff. They were green before it was fashionable....actually, I remember them doing dishes til 3 in the morning, happily chatting while I dozed in my footie jammies, because to them, the holiday called for real plates. Weird what you remember.

                      3 Replies
                        1. re: LaLa

                          Third on the ham, they are always a huge hit I think because everyone likes them but not too many want the commitment of all that meat. When I have a neighborhood party, everyone from the foodies to the picky unadventurous eaters swarms over the ham. I serve it with brioche or potato rolls and a selection of mustards and chutneys. People can take cheese off the cheese platter if they want ham and cheese, I just make sure there is plenty of good cheddar.

                          1. re: GretchenS

                            Fourth on the ham..a spiral ham with really good small chewy rolls or miniature rye breads and a variety of mustards fits everything...apps or main dish, Plus you've got leftovers for brunch the next day. I think a big caesar salad with great croutons would also be a great addition, but it does require forks, but for those non-app oriented it'll be a full meal. Other option is a turkey breast sliced thin with could bread and condiments.

                      1. I make a puff pastry bite that is always popular, no mater where I take it.

                        In a mini muffin pan place squares of puff to just reach the top of the cup. Pipe or spoon in a bit of jam (I like Trader Joe's Boysenberry for this, but whatever you like will work) top with a small piece of brie. Bake until golden brown and delicious at about 400F for about 10 minutes.

                        1. I think you might be surprised what your family will eat....I threw a 50th anniversary party for my "traditional eater" parents and their provincial, elderly friends. You know what was the only thing we ran completely out of? Manchego triangles topped w/ a smaller triangle of quince paste. People told me they had no idea what they were eating, but they liked it!

                          On the other hand, I've learned that cold soup (gazpacho) is just crazy talk ;-)

                          that said, I think you could have a lot of fun with comfort food scaled down to hd size. Mini mac and cheese cups, tiny pulled pork sliders, little grilled cheese sandwiches, etc.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: danna

                            well, gazpacho in december is indeed krazee talk. :P

                          2. "Stuff on Toast" is always a good way to go. You can do very familiar things on them like a reuben, or a muffaletta, or just turkey and cheese. . . . .

                            But, I do love mini-stuffed potatoes. I buy baby potatoes, bake them, cut in 1/2, use a melon baller to scoop out a center hollow. Use the scooped out stuff and mix it with cheese and jalapenos (if you like spicy) or just cheese and bacon . . . . fill hollow with mixture (can do a day ahead easily) and rebake to heat and get the top a little browned.

                            They go quickly for my "football" crowds

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: thimes

                              thimes, that is a great idea, because who DOESN'T like potatoes?

                              little country ham biscuits are a popular southern combo.


                              also, an easy tasty snack is the baked sausage cheese balls, and you can add some chives too. http://www.deepsouthdish.com/2008/12/... ooh, and i just thought of a dipping sauce for them -- some melted pepper jelly! not high brow, but i ga-ron-tee that these will disappear like magic.

                              this smoked oyster roll is so delicious and mysterious (no one can really identify what it is, but they love it): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6098...

                              1. re: thimes

                                This is so brilliant. Twice baked potato poppers!

                                1. re: thimes

                                  That is a great idea with the little potatoes! I think I'll make a few for my dinner later on.

                                  1. re: thimes

                                    LOVE the mini potato idea! That is a perfect idea!

                                  2. They sound like my kind of people. ;-) I suggest Rumaki (I think they call it) Water Chestnuts wrapped in bacon. Another suggestion would be Jalapeno poppers. Perhaps stuffed potato skins.

                                    Another great idea would be chicken yakitori -- just call them marinated chicken skewers.

                                    Chicken fingers or wings are always popular. Nachos would be great but it will get on your carpet.

                                    Hey! What's wrong with deviled eggs?

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                      I can't eat just one! They go down soooo easy.

                                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                                        "What's wrong with deviled eggs?"

                                        They taste bad, and they stink. hey, you asked! ;-)

                                        I like your chicken skewers idea. People like stuff on sticks.

                                        1. re: danna

                                          Personally I don't care for deviled eggs but I notice that when I serve them two things instantly happen: 1) First, somebody makes a snotty remark about deviled eggs and then 2) they are all quickly eaten up, gobbled, totally absorbed. They are nostalgia: comfort food reminiscent of every childhood picnic.

                                          1. re: Querencia

                                            It's a testament to your hospitality that you serve something you don't like!

                                            1. re: Querencia

                                              "Personally I don't care for deviled eggs but I notice that when I serve them two things instantly happen: 1) First, somebody makes a snotty remark about deviled eggs"

                                              You are a better person than I am. I would not host people that would make snotty remarks about the food I prepared and served them.

                                              1. re: Fowler

                                                Well, I'd only serve them once. I probably wouldn't be all that polite with my response the first time either.

                                                I treat my guests very well...right up until they don't deserve it.

                                          2. re: Hank Hanover

                                            Love the rumaki idea...I hate eggs! ;-)

                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                              Hank, respectfully, rumaki has chicken liver in it as well! And it is delicious.

                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                Ok... Call them really good bacon wrapped water chestnuts sans disgusting chicken liver. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

                                            2. Rumaki (sans the liver) usually pleases just about everyone at a party. It is also very, very easy to make. It also goes well with honey based dipping sauces if you are so inclined.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Fowler

                                                Rumaki without liver is........unheard of!

                                              2. Mashed potato bar...make mashed potatoes and keep warm in a chafing dish, and then supply all the accoutrements (i.e. bacon, sour cream, cheese, chives, etc.).

                                                1. Some great ideas here I will also steal! And can you post a couple of your favorite fancier apps you serve?

                                                  Here are two everyone loves and they are terrific. And you can prep them in advance.

                                                  Very retro and yummy Baked Cheddar Olives:


                                                  Then, these baked wontons filled with sausage are really, really good. You can make these a week in advance, freeze them before baking, and then just throw them in:

                                                  SAUSAGE WON TONS - these are extremely easy and people go nuts over them.

                                                  1 lb sweet italian sausage
                                                  1/2 cup grated mont. jack cheese
                                                  1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
                                                  1 4oz. can chopped green chilis
                                                  1/2 cup unchuncky salsa
                                                  pre made won ton wraps (here, they are found in the refrigerator section


                                                  - brown the sausage without the casing
                                                  - drain the fat, then break the sausage up into crumbles with a fork
                                                  - mix everything else in and and cook for 5 minutes
                                                  (can be prepared 3 hrs. before)

                                                  when ready to serve :
                                                  - place dollop of sausage mixture on center of Won Ton wraps. pull four corners of the wrap together to enclose mixture. Place them on a cookie sheet and cook @ 350 for 10 minutes.

                                                  - serve hot with sour cream for dipping. GREAT !

                                                  1. Here is another I love, Ina's savory cheese wafers... they taste great and, like the others I posted, you can make them a week or so ahead of time:


                                                    1. shrimp salad on endive spears
                                                      sliders on individual waffle fries
                                                      wedge of blue cheese, pour maple syrup over, top w/toasted walnuts or pecans, serve w/mini bread or crackers
                                                      brie spread w/fig jam and topped w/sliced almonds and baked until oozy
                                                      dates stuffed w/shard of good parmesan

                                                      1. Your post was over a month ago, and I'm new to the site, but thought I would pass along these two items: Roasted Garlic with Ricotta is amazing and can be served with bagel chips, crackers or bread, Roast a head of garlic with a little olive oil and brown sugar Add the roasted garlic to a container of ricotta and mix with either food processor or mixer. Sweeten to taste with confectioners sugar. Sometimes the garlic can taste bitter, therefore the sugar. Sorry, but I cook by the "pinch of this, some of that" method, so I cannot offer measurements. Use your taste buds. So amazingly easy! Served at Fornelettos in Atlantic City and is delicious! Second...a variation on the taco layer dip..use a tub of barbecue shredded pork, a half a can of corn, a small can of black beans (drain both) chopped tomato and onion and sliced black olives. Layer than heat in the micro the pork, topped with the corn, beans, tomato and onion and of course, cheddar cheese. Sprinkle sliced olives when the cheese on top is melted. Serve with taco chips...another super easy, and a hit with football fans...which sounds like your type of crowd?

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: devfan

                                                          Me, too, devfan. I never saw the original post but feel this would work.

                                                          Tree of Goodies for the Party

                                                          A 18 inch styrofoam cone
                                                          Package T-pins
                                                          Package of frilled toothpicks
                                                          2 Bunches of curly-leaf parsley
                                                          Various appetizer items cut into squares or bite size pieces (may include)
                                                          Cubes of your favorite cheese
                                                          Cubes of ham, turkey or beef
                                                          Radishes cut to size
                                                          Carrot curls (thin slices curled, fastened with a toothpick, and fridge in water overnight)
                                                          Cherry tomatoes
                                                          Broccoli, cauliflower, green pepper, cukes, etc. cut into chunks

                                                          Submerge the parsley in ice water, swish to remove any dirt, remove from water, put in plastic bag and refrigerate overnight. Using the T-pins and starting at the top, attach the de-stemmed parsley to the cone, making it look like a tree. Then take the frilled toothpicks to attach the cut-up food to the tree, making them look like ornaments. Use a plate that gives you about 6” clear all around the base of the cone. Place in the center of the tray and add extra bites with the toothpicks in them for backup.

                                                          1. re: MartiniGenie

                                                            Great idea, MartiniGenie, may use that one myself. Nice holiday change up on the traditional vege platter!

                                                            1. re: devfan

                                                              Thanks, devfan. Read your next post, sound like a wonderful holiday party. I've added all kinds of things as long as they are toothpick size. What about one for cocktail garnishes? An assortment of stuffed olives comes to mind...:) lemon and lime wedges, twists.

                                                          2. You've had a lot of great suggestions. I also think roasted shrimp is a great, fast and easy addition. O and I also make a mini potato knish that is always a hit with everyone, young and old.

                                                            1. Tiny biscuits, split and buttered, with a little slice of country ham inside. Took these to a potluck last night, and they were inhaled.