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Help with make ahead appetizers to transport (no heating/refrigeration at destination)

I'm hosting a small gathering (15-20) people and plan to serve wine and a few appetizers. The event is at a whimsy painting studio, so most of the time, people will be busy painting - but, I wanted to have some food on hand.

I won't have any time to prep on the day of, so anything that needs preparation would have to be done the night before and then stored in the fridge til the next evening.

I'm also transporting the food to the event location - where there is no heating or refrigeration.

So far, I'm thinking:
-- Crackers, a few different cheeses, a couple different salami's
-- Hummus, pita triangles, baby carrots

I'd like to have a couple more options - any ideas for something transportable yet tasty?

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  1. To go along w/ your crackers, you could do Nigella's pesto terrine. Transport in loaf pan and turn over when you get there. It's better at room temperature.


      1. bruschetta - topped with anything your heart desires. Just be sure to cover them tightly under refrigeration.
        Some ideas:

        1. If you slice up some baguettes, brush them with olive oil and then bake them until really crisp, you could pair them with a mix of fresh chopped tomatoes, mozzrella and basil as well as a nice pate.

          1 Reply
          1. re: escondido123

            I always love the bocconcini/tomato/basil on a stick, drizzled in olive oil. so easy and yummy. Wrap the basil leaf around the cheese, looks nicer IMO.

            I am also a big tapenade fan, great on crackers or bread.

            You could also do roasted or even better grilled vegetable antipasto such as asparagus, zucchini and eggplant, cold with olive oil drizzled on top.

            blanched asparagus wrapped w proscuitto and boursin cheese.

          2. Instead of (or in addition to) regular hummus, I love this roasted carrot and garlic hummus. I've made it twice and it's great.


            I also love the caprese on a stick, like cleopatra999 mentioned, or this summer I kicked it up and made antipasto on a stick, sort of like this. I used sundried tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes. And if the basil is not good, you could always skip it. You could assemble and drizzle with balsamic glaze right before you out them out for your guests.


            1. cheese straws
              room temp tart
              spiced chick peas
              dolled up olives

              1 Reply
              1. re: LaLa

                We used to put out a few different quiches (the salmon/peas combo was the best). I'm making a zucchini lattice tart from Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts book (page 304) for tomorrow - it's easy but fancy-looking.

              2. Marinated vegetables
                Spiced nuts
                Mango wrapped with proscuitto
                Dried fruit (apricots?) topped with an herbed goat cheese and a Marcona almond

                1. Medjool dates stuffed with goat cheese and dusted with chopped candied walnuts.
                  Variation: Wrap the stuffed date with a piece of basil and prosciutto ~skewer with fancy toothpick.

                  Your favorite chicken salad stuffed in french endive leaves.

                  1. The last time I was the designated appetizer-person for our regular dinner group I took pickled shrimp from Amanda Hesser's "Essential NYT Cookbook," some roasted chickpeas seasoned with smoked paprika, and lightly steamed asparagus. Everything went over well, and all could be cooked ahead of time.

                    1. I go to a lot of potlucks and I always have the same challenge. It has to be easily transportable, can't need heating, and must be fine sitting on the table.

                      I make these and people rave. You'll need to spoon the crab salad into the cups before/at the gathering, but that doesn't take long.

                      You can't go wrong with cheese and salami, as you've planned. I like the roasted veggies suggestion--those are great at room temp. And I agree with the bruscetta ideas. Anything you'd find on an antipasto tray would be good.

                      The only thing about hummus--well, it depends on your crowd I guess. It's just soooo ubiquitous here. There is always hummus and always those bagged baby carrots. I'm really sick of these. But if it's not as common where you live, it could be a crowd pleaser.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: christy319

                        those crab cups look awesome, I putting them in my rotation for my next party!!

                        1. re: christy319

                          Thank you for your thoughts! I will definitely rethink the hummus. I've been on a hummus kick lately, which is why it came to mind.... it's definitely common around here, and I think my guests may prefer something else.

                          Quick question on the crab salad. Do the empty wonton 'cups' keep if made the night before? My concern is that they would get soggy by the next evening - even if stored sealed.

                          1. re: The Oracle

                            Use these mini phyllo shells--so easy and better than baked won ton cups. Put the salad in a zip lock bag and then snip a corner and fill the cups when you get there.


                            1. re: The Oracle

                              white bean dip, black bean dip, lentil dip, lentil-nut paté, baba ghannouj, spiced roasted carrot dip, tapenade, ratatouille, pesto dip...would all be good alternatives to hummus.

                          2. mixed nuts with chopped dates and dried apricots - it's a little sweet and a little salty and a little tart. easy to eat by the handful or a nibble. spread it on a flat plate and it's inviting.

                            1. Roasted Beets and Sweet Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Chives - i lightly steam the beets and potatoes, then put cuts almost all the way through them, fill the slits with a sprig of rosemary each, and roast til they're soft. peel the beets; season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with chopped chives and dollops of goat cheese. Always a hit. Great at any temp.

                              Spring rolls in small cuts with dipping sauce

                              Bite-sized salmon croquettes with dipping sauce

                              Deviled eggs

                              Cucumber Cups filled with Sesame Roasted Baba Ghanouj

                              Bite sized frittatas or quiches


                              Homemade lime tortilla chips and homemade black bean and roasted corn dip

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Emme

                                those roasted beets sound divine.

                                Homemade rondele cheese slathered with pesto and sundried tomato tapenade
                                beat 1 # cream cheese in mixing machine until soft and whipped
                                add chopped fresh garlic about 1-3 teaspoons or to taste - don't use prechopped garlic
                                add dried oregano and dried basil - a generous sprinkle of each (can always add more later)
                                and a pinch of hot pepper flakes.
                                Layer in a pretty glass bowl about 1/3 the way up
                                add a layer of pesto or sundried tomato tapenade
                                another layer of cream cheese
                                and so on
                                on the top we like to spread the sundried tomato tapenade and make a hole in the middle for the pesto which tends to be runnier and needs to be surrounded.

                                Sundried tomato tapenade
                                - this is great on sandwiches, crostinis, slices of veggies, etc

                                in food processor whiz together
                                sundried tomato, raw chopped garlic (not pre chopped jar stuff please)
                                generous amount of shredded parmesan or dry aged cheese
                                and just a few splashes balsamic vinegar (enough to make it into a paste.
                                It's addictively delicious and great with the rondele.

                                you could use the same recipe and take a baguette cut it long ways through the middle
                                spread with the sundried tomato tapenade on one side, and either grilled chicken or rondele cheese on the other side, cover with arugula and place two halves back together and wrap well. When you get to the party, slice into finger size sandwiches (maybe stick with toothpicks) and serve as a delicious appetizer.

                              2. Since its an artsy party why not get a paint can of black paint and make sure there is paint dripping down the sides for effect. Find a bowl that fits over the mouth of the empty can and make black olive tapenade. If the budget permits fill it with caviar instead. Make sure it is filled with ice to keep it cold and serve with the usual accompaniments. That could look kinda cool.