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Help...need ideas for one or two bite appetizers for Christmas Party

I host a Christmas party every year for about 60 neighbors and friends. I like to provide food that can be eaten with one hand while holding a drink in the other hand so appetizers need to be small and not messy. I avoid dips and other stuff that will be all over my floors after the party. I am looking for food to make ahead (2-3 days ahead) that does not have to be cooked/warmed at the last minute. I always provide nuts, chips throughout the space so the food I'm looking for would be presented on the buffet table.

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  1. Stuffed mushrooms, can do both a vegetarian and meateaters stuffing and deviled eggs. Both dishes are always the first to go at parties I've been to.

    1. A recent favorite is to use puff pastry, cut in circles sized to fit mini-muffin tins - line them, add a few cubes of brie cheese, bake them until they're melty but not melted, and top with some type of chutney or fruit/spice relish.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mamachef

        I was going to suggest similar. I just make a rectangle tart then cut it into smaller pieces. Goat cheese and tomato, zucchini and ricotta, many combinations...

        1. re: mamachef

          Another riff on the puff pastry mini-muffins: fill with a bit of chopped pecans & pecan pie goo filling--terrific baby pie bits.

        2. Sushi - doesn't always come out best when homemade though

          Bite size pieces of bread or crackers topped with smoked salmon and creamcheese or hummus and an olive

          Grilled veggies wrapped around goat cheese, served cold

          Marinated mushrooms

          Mozzerella, cherry tomato, and basil on a toothpick

          Fruit salad on a toothpick (cantaloupe chunk, pineapple, grapes, etc)

          1. mini quiches/savory tarts-good at room temp and easy to make in advance

            shrimp cocktail-serve on a bed of ice, can be cooked the day before and chilled

            scallop ceviche-could be iffy if done too far ahead. Another option is scallops wrapped in bacon thought that is best hot/warm

            bruschetta (combos are endless)

            mini honey mustard palmiers-can be made days in advance and kept in an air tight container

            Cheese straws (same as above for storage)

            Bowls of seasoned popcorn-truffle, salt and pepper, parmesan, etc

            bite sized lasagna-I make them in mini muffin tins. Pesto ones are fine at room temp

            deviled eggs- can be made the day before

            You might want to do a search on here is as well. I am sure there a similar inquires that could give more ideas.

            5 Replies
            1. re: foodieX2

              I love cheese straws too..easy yet impressive
              Ham on tiny beaten biscuits is great at room temp or you can make regular biscuits with bits of ham in them!

              1. re: foodieX2

                Tell me more about the popcorn truffle.... I am intrigued and a popcorn lover!

                1. re: maggiecookshot

                  I pop the corn in a neutral oil and while still hot sprinkle liberally with truffle salt. Let cool and store in an airtight container. It's gets gobbled up at all my cocktail parties.

                  1. re: maggiecookshot

                    I make a version by adding a little (a very little!) bit of truffle oil to melted butter before drizzling over the popcorn. Then toss the whole thing with grated parmigiano reggiano.

                    1. re: TorontoJo

                      I don't have truffle salt but do have truffle oil. I will give it a try. THANKS!

                2. I'm a big fan of small veggie items that can be stuffed. Cucumber cups, endive leaves and cherry tomatoes are all easily prepped ahead of time. I've done cucumber cups with egg salad, and cranberry hummus mixed with chopped dried cranberries--very pretty and seasonal. Slice off the very top of cherry tomatoes (opposite the stem end), hollow them out and fill with tiny pasta mixed with chopped artichoke salad, herbed goat cheese or pesto--also pretty for the season. Endive leaves are also easy to do, and try to find the red ones. Upscale shrimp, chicken or Thai beef salad, herbed cheese, diced beets & goat cheese, all are good and easy to do.

                  Skewered items are also easy to prep and don't have to be reheated ahead of service. Caprese (buffalo mozzarella, basil, grape tomatoes), roasted veggies, name-your-flavor chicken, shrimp, or beef all work well.

                  Crostini--there are endless toppings for this. The bread can be done ahead and topped as needed. My favorite is goat cheese topped with fig jam, chopped prosciutto and chopped/candied (or toasted) walnuts.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Some great ideas already. I'd add:
                    - bacon wrapped dates
                    - Charcuterie plate
                    - there's a zillion recipes out there for items made in mini muffin tins, many of those are just fine at room temperature.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                      Bacon wrapped scallops lightly tossed in mango chutney once removed from oven.

                    2. grinches
                      green grape/banana slice (dipped in lemon)/strawberry/mini marshmallow on a skewer

                      1. Mini duck confit rolls. Like sausage rolls but spread cherry or plum jam on the puff pastry and fill with shredded ready made duck instead of sausage meat.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Paprikaboy

                          I'm definitely trying this over the holidays. Yum.

                        2. unfortunately, all these have to be made same day, but can be made early in the day:

                          dates stuffed with goat cheese and pecan half

                          from the primal cravings cookbook: mini sweet peppers, cut in half, slathered with guacamole, and a big chunk of cooked bacon on top. Man! these are the easiest, most delicious apps i've had in ages! i recently took them to a party and they were a huge hit.

                          proscuitto wrapped around grissini, or with a fruit such as fuyu (crunchy) persimmon, heirloom apple, or asian or other pear

                          brazilian cheese bread (made in mini muffin tins)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: rmarisco

                            Rather than dates, halved dried figs stuffed with goat cheese or Boursin or some other soft cheese. Then press a walnut half or pecan half onto the cheese. These look exactly like nuts in their shell.

                          2. These are some of the apps I want to try:
                            Mushroom pate
                            Chicken rillette
                            Served with cranberry sauce

                            1. One of my favorite fairly hearty bites is a riff on antipasto: olive, grape tomatoes, baby mozarella balls, marinated mushrooms and artichoke hearts, skewered. You could play with this one a whole lotta ways.

                              1. Gilda. An olive, an anchovy and a guindilla pepper on a toothpick. Curvaceous, a little salty and a little spicy, like Rita Hayworth's character.

                                1 Reply
                                1. I think that anything with puff pastry, crostini/brushetta or topped crackers would be a bad idea for making in advance - the bread part gets soggy if you make it too far in advance. I'd also avoid doing raw cut fruits or vegetables that far in advance if they aren't dressed, as the quality won't be great after that long (I'd eat leftovers myself after that time period, but I wouldn't serve them to other people).

                                  Cheese straws are an excellent idea - they're delicious, easy to make, and can be made ahead without any loss in quality.

                                  Marinated mushrooms/olives/vegetables/cheese could work well - the marinade will keep the ingredients moist. What about marinated feta and olive skewers, or feta and mushroom skewers? Cherry tomatoes could work in a marinated skewer as well. You'd need to figure out how to store the assembled skewers so the handle doesn't get greasy, though, or simply drain them before serving and provide toothpicks.

                                  Deviled eggs would keep, if you make sure to keep them in an airtight container so they don't pick up odours from anything else.

                                  I think I'd balk at stuffed mushrooms/cherry tomatoes etc, for 60 people - that's a lot of finicky work.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                    I love the idea for marinated mushrooms with Feta or mozzarella.

                                  2. I always do one or two bite appetizers for big parties and have made many of the suggestions listed by others. Here's what I did this year for Thanksgiving (pic below):

                                    Picks with cubes of manchego cheese and membrillo rolled in crushed almonds (though in reality, the membrillo mostly just got dusted in almond powder)

                                    Picks with tequila shrimp: shrimp sauteed with tequila and lime juice, then sprinkled with lime zest

                                    BLT cherry tomatoes: carved out cherry tomatoes stuffed with chopped bacon, lettuce and scallions bound with a bit of mayo.

                                    Other times I've made: grapes rolled in soft goat cheese then rolled in chopped almonds, stuffed mini potatoes, stuffed cucumber cups, stuffed wonton cups, goat cheese stuffed figs, bacon wrapped dates stuffed with a piece of cheese, etc.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: TorontoJo

                                      Popcorn! With little cups, it'd be a great few bite snack, grab and go.

                                    2. Honeydew with prosciutto - I saw one plate that had cubed honeydew with a scoop out of the top for the prosciutto to go in. Very attractive and tasty

                                      1. Polenta squares- pour the polenta onto a baking sheet with an edge so it's about 1/2" thick and cool a few hours in the fridge. Cut into small squares and serve at room temp topped with a little tomato jam and parmesan or a dab of pesto

                                        Swedish meatballs always disappear quickly

                                        Roasted spiced chickpeas

                                        1. I don't know what your budget is but I would imagine providing sushi, although it sounds good, for 60 people would be a bit much. Are you wanting the items to be cold, hot or a combo?

                                          My suggestions include small red, fingerling or other tiny potatoes, boiled or roasted then halved. Scoop part of the center out of the halves and fill with smoked salmon paste, top with dill. So many variations with these: tiny salad shrimp with lemon; cream cheese mixed with smoked gouda and topped with bacon or sour cream & chives...you get the idea. They can be cooked & pre-scooped a couple of days ahead. The day of, you could put them in a deep fryer or under the broiler or even just serve them cold. Use a pastry bag or zip top bag with the corner cut off filled with whatever you're using to quickly top them off. These can sit at room temp for a long while or fill and place in chafer with the bottom filled with ice.

                                          I'm a huge advocate of large platters of pickled & marinated veggies: pickled fresh green beans and carrot sticks or baby carrots; small beets quartered & roasted, blanched & marinated broccoli and/or cauliflower florets, multi colored bell pepper strips, celery bites cut on the bias & filled with a roasted veggie or roasted eggplant puree, pickled grape or cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, etc. Note I said pickled & marinated; IMO, plain veggies need a dip, which you don't want to do so this option gives the veggies flavor without the dip.

                                          Most of these are easy to do a week ahead (the pickled veggies). Add slices of cukes, yellow squash and or zucchini and a bowl of orange olive oil marinated black olives (also easy and do ahead). Keep these in zip lock bags in the fridge cut on the day of and it will be a breeze to assemble the platters and to keep re-filling them.

                                          You can do soup ahead & freeze then thaw and warm up on the day of serving. You can set up a soup urn (if you don't have one, check into rentals), slow cooker or even use a large quantity coffeemaker like this 42 cup one here: http://www.sears.com/shc/s/t_10153_12... to keep the soup warm & for easy serving (you'll need the soup to be a smooth bisque such as butternut squash or cream soup to be able to pass through the spout but it will work). It could be set up with shooter cups & bowls of toppings.

                                          I also like to do oven dried prosciutto and salami chips; lay out the meat onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the oven until they dehydrate like potato chips then pat them on paper towels and stack on platters. These will be popular so you might want to make a ton...can be made a day ahead and stored in zip top bags.

                                          Cheese logs or balls rolled in chopped herbs or nuts; whole wheels of brie or other cheese baked in the oven, topped with a chutney or some oven roasted grapes then served with crostini (made the night before)

                                          1. Stuffed cherry tomatoes (with a soft cheese mixed with horseradish)
                                            Deviled eggs sprinkled with bacon
                                            Bacon-wrapped roasted Brussels sprouts
                                            Proscuitto-wrapped melon
                                            Korean-style meatballs
                                            Grilled sweet potato slices topped with cheese and chives
                                            Shrimp cocktail
                                            Smoked salmon mousse on cucumber slices
                                            Cheese straw breadsticks or Parmesan spirals

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              Could you share your recipe for Korean-style meatballs?

                                              1. re: prima

                                                I can't find the original recipe, but it was something like this. I used a chili-garlic paste, and omitted the sesame seeds. I also cut back a bit on the amount of chili paste in the meat mixture, as I wasn't sure how spicy it might be once the glaze went on the meatballs.


                                            2. Cheesy olives.

                                              Sorry if they have already been mentioned. Just my idea of the perfect "cocktail party" snack-o.

                                              1. loving all these suggestions- throwing a party of about the same size in a few weeks, so this is perfect. I'm thinking of making mini buttermilk biscuits with pulled pork for sliders as my "heavy" app this year...

                                                1. Our standards have always been:
                                                  bacon-wrapped dates
                                                  saurekraut meatballs (meatloaf mixture mixed with sauerkraut and broiled/baked then add spicy mustard dipping sauce)
                                                  caprese sticks (baby mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes, basil on a toothpick)
                                                  blue cheese stuffed olives

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. I always get compliments over meat or vegetable calzone. They are good hot, warm or, room temperature. I usually do spinach, broccoli and, cheese for the veg one and Italian cold cuts with cheese for the meat.

                                                    1. Lots of servings for cheap:

                                                      Make one or more frittatas - large and fairly flat. Eggs combined with whatever inspires you. After cooking and cooling, cut into whatever number of pieces you need.

                                                      1. I'm hosting a cocktail party this holiday season. I, too, tried to choose items I can make in advance. Here's what is on my menu.
                                                        Gougeres (cheese puffs) and mushroom puffs... I've already made these... frozen & waiting.
                                                        Little links wrapped in puff pastry, sausage stuffed mushrooms...made in advance and baked the day of.
                                                        Blue cheese shortbread with fig preserves, black pepper parmesan biscotti... made 3 days in advance.
                                                        I'm also putting out a cheese plate and holiday cookies.

                                                        1. I've always had success with the mini filo cups. Already made so you just need to fill them. Got raves when I would fill them with curried chicken salad and top with a dab of mango chutney. If you don't want to make your own chicken salad you can buy it at the deli, it just can't have huge chunks of chicken or it won't fit in the cup. Just stir in some curry powder to taste.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Jpan99

                                                            Similarly, corn scoops - one of the big totilla chip makes makes them, and they hold about 2 - 3 T. Like the phyllo cups, they can't be made far ahead or they get soggy. Think things that go with cornchips: Tex/Mex, chili, etc.

                                                            I also like to put seafood in them: crab/cucumber salad or tuna/avocado tartare.

                                                            Another suggestion: for canapes that are a change from bread or crackers, we use toasted polenta slices (could be topped like bruschetta). Also, salmon mousse on cucumber slices and smoked trout mousse on radish slices.

                                                          2. Thanks everyone. The party was a smashing success and best of all, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Several friends brought generous food offerings. Everything was devoured. Final menu: baked ham, two baked brie wheels, turkey meatballs, Italian meatballs, guacamole + chips, cheese, hummus, olives, tzatziki, mac + cheese, pesto pasta salad, spiced nuts.... Cheese cakes, cookie assortment, spiced layer cake, chocolates. We sang for hours and had a fantastic pianist. THANKS!