Have a Little Fun with Holiday “Bites”

I simply adore the whole Holiday Season if for no other reason than the food – especially all the “party” food – and in particular Hors D’oeurves (appetizers) – those savory little bite-size morsels of wonderful delights. If I had it my way, we’d eat appetizers all the time! Variety is the spice of life, and Hors D’oeurves offer a sampling of endless possibilities. I love endless possibilities, don’t you? Festive buffet tables and assorted trays passed with oodles and oodles of tiny bites of glorious goodies. Yum!

party for parentsMy love affair with appetizers began at an early age. Every year during the Holidays, in addition to hosting the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, my parents threw open the doors to our home for a Holiday Cocktail Party. Men came dressed in their Sunday Best and the women wore beautiful, shimmering dresses that sparkled like jewels. There was a table set up at one end of the room with all sorts of interesting bottles of magical elixirs that were mixed with things such as 7-up or Colas. These bottles must have contained magical potions, for the more the grownups consumed, the more child-like they became. Our dining room table was moved to the living room, covered in a floor-length linen, and was filled with tray of pretty little foods to be passed around the room. The men tended to gravitate to the elixir table to talk politics while the ladies huddled together and spoke in hushed voices of the latest neighborhood gossip. Mingling of the sexes only occurred on the back patio, when a song from the record player beckoned them to twirl together, with the ladies generally taking the initiative and the men reluctantly followed. That is until later in the evening, when the drinks had taken hold, and the men insisted on dancing, much to the embarrassment of their wives. These gala events were off-limits to us kids, but that did not stop me from hiding in a darken hallway, watching and longing to be a part of the music, the magic and the glitter of bygone cocktail parties. Sometimes, when I close my eyes and look back upon those times, I can almost hear the glasses clinking and muffled voices of the Ghosts of Cocktail Parties Past.

Before getting to the goodies; I’d like to take a moment to share a few tips and pointers. Having attended and hosted my share of cocktail parties over the years, through observation and experience (successes as well as failures) I’ve learned a few basic Dos and Don’ts along the way.

  • 18707593-Set-di-tipi-di-bevande-alcoliche-e-cocktail-birra-martini-bibite-champagne-whisky-vino-cola-cocktail-Archivio-FotograficoCOCKTAILS: It would be wonderful to serve made to order drinks with an endless array of choices and specialties. As tempting as that is, unless you ARE a bartender (and wish to spend the entire evening behind a full-stocked bar) or hire one that comes with a fully-stocked bar, endless possibilities may be a sure ticket to failure. If your party has a particular underlying theme, tailor the drink selection accordingly. Otherwise something bubbly (champagnes or sparkling wines), a selection of red and white wines and a few basic mixed drinks will keep the magical elixirs flowing without breaking the bank or making you too crazy. When you can, circulate the room and offer refills. However; set up the bar as a self-serve refreshment table. Don’t forget the ice cubes!
  • dessert-table-setting-table-decoration-ideasBUFFET TABLE SETTING: Different size trays add definition to the buffet table. Multi-tiered platters and varying heights are always an eye-pleasing touch. Here are a few ideas that won’t require much expense. Do you have footed or raised cake plates? These can be used as a base for other trays or as platters themselves scattered around the table to give a little lift here and there. You could even stack two or three together to create a multi-tiered serving set – and if they don’t match, all the better – layering with different “styles” and cuts is another great way to strut your stuff. Do you own a trifle bowl? Why not fill it with flowers or colorful balls and balance a tray on top? The same can be accomplished using drinking glasses. Shoe boxes wrapped in pretty paper can elevate platters. Bricks or hunks of wood not only add height, they bring additional texture to the table. Old suite cases make wonderful bases for a “vintage” look. Long breadsticks  placed in inexpensive vases are equally appealing. You could even arrange boxes on the table, then drape over them with pretty linens before placing your platters on top. Look around your home and rummage sales – you will be surprised at what you can find.
  • images (12)THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX: Use a variety of non-traditional items as serving vessels. Chocolate mousse piped into martini glasses lends a splash of sophistication. Inexpensive mirrors transform into reflective serving trays. Over-sized coffee mugs filled with assorted nuts, pretzels or candies show off a level of whimsical flair. Hollow out an interesting gourd, line it with plastic wrap and fill it with your favorite vegetable dip for a unique serving bowl. Use your imagination and have fun!
  • tvs8858_xlHOW MUCH IS TOO  MUCH, HOW LITTLE IS TOO LITTLE: If I had to choose a single downfall of mine, it would be that I always make too much. Most of us probably fall into this trap, fearful that we aren’t providing enough. According to the experts, a good rule of thumb when Hors D’oeurves alone are served is to plan about 8-10 pieces per person for a 2-4 hour event; 12-15 pieces for events longer than four hours. (And wow – that’s a long cocktail party!) When serving space is an issue, remember you don’t have to put everything out at once. Refill trays can be stored in another room, to replenish the trays on display as the evening progresses.
  • Teeter Totter 06REMEMBER TO BALANCE, BALANCE, BALANCE: When narrowing down your menu selections, it’s best to serve an equal number of cold, warm and room temperature tidbits. This is easier said then done. Location and access to a kitchen are also factors to take into consideration. A cocktail party in your home, kitchen access is a no-brainier. But what if you are the appointed “caterer” for an office gathering? Been there, done that. Crock pots are great for things like Little Smokies served in a barbecue sauce or meatball appetizers. Chafer dishes can be used to keep some foods warm, such as Lasagna Roll-ups or Japanese Chicken Wings. Heat lamps and carving stations are also an option. Many warming dishes and “extra” equipment can be easily obtainable through a Party Rental Company, and most caterers utilize these options.
  • images (13)Space! If your home or room is large enough, move the some of furniture to the garage or another room (if only for an evening) and utilize the newly created space with a few well-placed cocktail tables to allow flow, encourage mingling and conversation while varying the food stations. If not, use what you do have. Coffee tables, the tops of low book shelves and counter space can all be transformed into buffet tables – look around, you’ll be surprised.

When the pocketbook allows, and the desire to be a guest in your home rather than a host, by all means hire people. Bartenders, caterers and waitstaff are great ways to free yourself, although not always practical or affordable. Besides, if you are like me, DIY parties bring you a sense of accomplishment and great joy. When my kids were teenagers, they made a great waitstaff. Utilize what you have and have fun with it. Besides, a DIY cocktail party doesn’t mean doing it all yourself. During the holidays, places like Costco and Sam’s Club stock a wide variety of heat and serve appetizers in their freezer sections. You can always add a few quick, pop-it-in-the-oven delights that flatter your budget and entertaining style.

***** Fistful of Nibbles *****

Brown Sugar Candied Walnuts
2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp butter

Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat butter in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat until butter is completely melted.

Add brown sugar and walnuts to the frying pan and mix.

Cook, stirring every 30 seconds, until the sugar is completely dissolved (about 4 minutes).

Remove candied walnuts from the frying pan onto a baking sheet. Put the walnuts on parchment paper in a single layer and spread them apart so they are not touching and don’t stick together. Let them cool for 30 minutes.

After the candied walnuts are completely cool, put them in a bowl and serve. If desired, use several small bowls throughout the room.

Adapted from Original Recipe: melaniecooks.com

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Baked Popcorn Chicken with Garlic Dipping Sauce
Popcorn Chicken 
2 chicken breasts, cut into little bite sized pieces
1 1/2 cups Plain Cornflakes
1 cup of Breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon  Sweet Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper
1 egg
1/3 cup All-Purpose Flour
Olive oil

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.

Pour the cornflakes into a large Ziploc bag and lay flat on work surface. Using a rolling pin, break cornflakes into smaller pieces. Add the breadcrumbs, salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and pepper to the bag. Shake well to mix everything together. Pour into a large bowl and set aside.

Pour the flour into a large Ziploc bag and add the chicken, shake until the chicken is fully covered in the flour.

Lightly whisk an egg in a bowl large enough to accommodate chicken bites. Stir to coat chicken well with egg.

Transfer chicken bites to the cornflake mixture and stir to coat well.

Spread the chicken out onto a baking tray covered with foil and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until crisp and golden.

Garlic Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
1 tbs of lemon juice
1 tsp of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

In a pretty serving bowl, mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper together. Cover dip and place in the refrigerator to chill while the chicken is cooking.

To serve, place Popcorn Chicken in a napkin-lined warm bowl and serve alongside garlic dip. Be sure to place a small spoon in the dip for serving.

Adapted from Original recipe: theculinarymama.com

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Panko-Parmesan Zucchini Fries with Dill Dip
Panko-Parmesan Zucchini Fries
2 large or 3 medium Zucchini
3 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Salt
3 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup melted Butter

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Fit a baking rack inside the foil-lined baking sheet and set aside.

Remove the stem from either end of zucchini, then cut zucchini through the middle into two equal halves.  Slice each piece lengthwise in half again.  Lay zucchini on the cutting board, flat side down.  Cut into 1/4-1/3 inch French-Fry slices.  It’s important that the final pieces be the same width and length so, the fries will cook evenly.

In a pie plate, mix together the panko, Parmesan, Italian seasoning and garlic salt until well blended.

Pour beaten eggs into a casserole dish or other dish large enough to dredge zucchini fries.

On your work area, arrange the dredging ingredients in this order:

  • Zucchini fries
  • Egg wash
  • Panko-Parmesan crumbs
  • Baking pan with rack

Liberally spray the baking rack with cooking spray to prevent sticking.

Dip the zucchini in the egg wash then into the panko-Parmesan breadcrumbs.  Place side by side on the baking rack leaving equal space between each piece.  Drizzle each with the melted butter.

Place into the preheated oven and bake for 16-18 minutes or until golden and crispy.

Allow to cool on the rack for a couple of minutes before removing to a serving plate.  If desired, create “cones” from parchment paper to serve Zucchini fries upright in tall glasses.

Adapted Original recipe: melissassouthernstylekitchen.com

Creamy Dill Dip
1 cup (8 ounces) Sour Cream
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon dill weed
3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 Bell Peppers – any color for serving

In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Set aside.

Cut tops from bell peppers and remove seeds. Wash and pat dry. Place each bell pepper on small plate. If necessary, trim bottom of pepper so that it stands up without falling over.

Fill peppers with Dill Dip. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour until well-chilled.

Adapted from Original Recipe: tasteofhome.com

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Additional Suggestions:

  • Plain and/or flavored Popcorn
  • Checks Party Mix
  • Chips and Dips
  • Bowls of Black Olives

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***** Things to Serve Cold *****

Antipasto Kabobs
(Amount depending upon number/length of kabobs)
Tortellini
Zesty Italian Dressing
Marinated Mozzarella balls
Cherry Tomatoes
Pepperoni (rolled or folded for threading)
Basil
Salami (rolled or folded for threading)
Marinated Olives
Marinated Mushroom Caps
Cocktail Skewers for making kabobs

Cook tortellini as directed on box. When finished cooking, and drain well. Toss tortellini with enough Italian dressing to coat well without saturating. Place tortellini into a Ziploc bag, seal and lay flat in refrigerator overnight.

Thread kabobs as follows:

  • Tortellini
  • Mozzarella Ball
  • Cherry Tomato
  • Pepperoni
  • Basil
  • Salami
  • Olive
  • Mushroom Cap

Arrange kabobs on serving platter, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Adapted from Original Recipe: Apeseat.com

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Avocado-Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
36 cherry tomatoes
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Dash garlic powder
Fresh cilantro or parsley, if desired

Cut top off each cherry tomato and reserve tops. Scoop out tomatoes with melon baller, leaving enough for a firm shell. If necessary, cut small slice from bottom so tomatoes stand upright.

In blender, place avocado, lemon juice, onion, salt, chili powder and garlic powder. Cover; blend until smooth. Carefully spoon 1 teaspoon avocado mixture into each tomato.

Garnish filled tomatoes with a little cilantro or parsley. Lay tops at an angle over filling. Arrange on a serving platter, cover and chill until ready to serve.

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Canapés à l’Amiral (Shrimp Canapés with Shrimp Butter)
Ingredients – Canapés
20 slices (about 1/2-inch thick) baguette
1 teaspoon lime juice
10 small cooked shrimp, halved lengthwise
20 fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons caviar

CANAPES: Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast under broiler for 1 minute per side or until lightly golden. Remove from broiler and set aside.

SHRIMP TOPPERS: Drizzle lime juice over cooked shrimp halves; stir and reserve.

Ingredients – Shrimp butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large shallot, peeled, ends removed, minced
1 clove garlic, peeled, ends removed, minced
8 ounces shrimp in shell, rinsed
1/4 cup brandy
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (regular or reduced fat)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash of vanilla

SHRIMP BUTTER: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until softened. Increase heat to high and add the shrimp. Sauté shrimp for 4-5 minutes or until the shells are pink and the flesh is opaque. Remove the shrimp and cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and discard shells.

Transfer shrimp mixture to a food processor fitted with the steel blade and set aside.

Return skillet to the heat and add brandy. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds or until the brandy is reduced to a glaze. Scrape the glaze into the shrimp mixture in food processor. Pulse shrimp mixture until it is coarsely chopped.

Add the cream cheese, butter, tomato paste, salt, pepper and vanilla. Process until almost smooth and set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE: Place shrimp butter in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tube. Arrange toasted baguette slices on serving platters. Decoratively pipe the shrimp butter onto the baguette slices. Top each with a cooked shrimp half, parsley leaf and a small amount of caviar.

Cover LOOSELY and store in a cool place until ready to serve.

Canapés à l’Amiral was part of the First-Class appetizers served aboard the Titanic on her final night at sea.

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Checkerboard Cheese Antipasto Platter
Marinade
1/2 Cup olive oil
1/4 Cup white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Red wine vinegar
Liquid from Marinated Mushroom Caps (reserve caps in air-tight container and refrigerate until just before serving)
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 Tablespoons minced green onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced pimento, drained
1 Roasted Red Pepper, from a jar, Chopped
1 Teaspoon sugar
3/4 Teaspoon dried basil
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground pepper

MAKE THE MARINADE: Open jar of marinated mushroom caps. Drain marinating juice from mushrooms into a larger jar, place mushrooms in a bag and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Combine all the remaining ingredients for the marinade into the jar; cover tightly and shake vigorously.  Set aside for 1 hour for flavors to marry. Vigorously shake again just before using.

Checkerboard Cheese
1 (16 oz.) block sharp cheddar cheese
1 (16 oz.) Block Mozzarella Cheese (or other mild white cheese, including Cream Cheese)

MAKE THE CHEESE CHECKERBOARD: Make sure cheeses are well-chilled. (Place in freezer for 15 minutes).  Cut block of cheddar in half lengthwise; then cut each half in half again lengthwise. Cut crosswise into squares.  Set aside.

Cut Mozzarella cheese (or other white cheese) following same procedure. (Use sliced cheddar cheese as a guide)

ASSEMBLE PLATTER: Arrange half of the cheese in a checker board patter on a square rimmed serving platter.
Spoon half of the marinated over top of cheese.

Arrange remaining half of cheese in a checker board patter, making sure that white cheese rests on top of yellow cheese.

Spoon remaining half of marinate over top of cheese.

Drizzle with liquid from marinate, just enough to soak cheese well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving: Remove from refrigerator. Using several paper towels folded together, mop up any excess liquid from rim of serving platter. (You will be amazed as to how much liquid has gathered around the rim of your platter, leaving behind a concentrated “herb” dressing for the cheese).

Antipasto Garnish
1 small jar marinated mushroom caps
Green Olives as desired
Salami as desired

FINISHING GARNISH: Arrange mushrooms around cheese. Tuck green olives as desired around and between mushroom caps to give eye pleasing contrast.

Fold salami in half, then in half again. Tuck pointed end under mushrooms and green olives to help hold the folds. Cover and refrigerate.
Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to serving. Serve with decorative colored cocktail forks.

Originally posted in Rosemarie’s Kitchen December 2014

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Classic Shrimp Cocktail
½ cup ketchup
½ cup chili sauce
2-3 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 lb medium shrimp, cooked with tails, well chilled

In small bowl, combine ketchup, chili sauce, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well; chill until ready to serve. Rinse shrimp under cold water briefly. Place cocktail sauce in center of serving dish, arrange shrimp around sauce, tails pointed outward. Serve immediately.

Alternative: place cocktail sauce in champagne coupe glasses (not flutes) or martini glasses. Arrange shrimp around rim of glasses, tails over edge. Place glasses on dessert plates, garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

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Cold Cut Platter Roll-Ups
Roast Beef Roll-Ups
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 to 3 tablespoons minced banana peppers
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked roast beef

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, cilantro, peppers and garlic. Spread about 2 tablespoons on each slice of beef. Roll up tightly and wrap in plastic wrap.

Ham & Turkey Roll-Ups
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
4 teaspoons dill weed
1/2 pound thinly sliced fully cooked ham
1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked turkey

For ham and turkey rolls, in another bowl, combine the cream cheese, carrot, zucchini and dill. Spread about 2 tablespoons on each slice of ham and turkey. Roll up tightly; wrap in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate overnight. Unwrap rolls and slice into 1 1/2 inch 2-bite pieces. Arrange on a serving platter and serve with pretty cocktail picks nearby.

Adapted from tasteofhome.com

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Mini Caviar Parfaits
1 cup sour cream
2 medium avocado, diced
4 tablespoons minced red onion
5 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste
2 small plum tomato, seeded and finely chopped
2 large hard-cooked egg, peeled and finely chopped
1 (2-oz.) jar black caviar, chilled and drained
Thin breadsticks, assorted crackers

Spoon sour cream into a 1-qt. zip-top plastic bag. Snip 1 corner of bag to make a small hole; pipe sour cream into 12 (2-oz.) assorted shot glasses.

Combine avocado red onion, lemon juice and dill in a bowl. Mash with a fork, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon avocado mixture over sour cream in shot glasses. Top each with tomato, egg, and 1/2 to 1 tsp. caviar. Reserve remaining caviar for another use.

Place parfaits on a serving platter, serve with breadsticks and assorted crackers.

Adapted from myrecipes.com

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Yukon Gold Roast Beef Crostini
10 small (about 2-inch) Yukon gold potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
Dash white pepper
1/4 lb. shaved London-broil roast beef (from deli)
30 slices pimiento-stuffed green olives

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off ends of each potato; discard ends. Cut potatoes into 3/8-inch-thick slices (about 3 per potato). Place slices on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush slices with oil; sprinkle each with garlic salt.

Bake in preheated over for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and golden brown. Cool 20 minutes or until completely cooled.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine mayonnaise, horseradish, garlic and pepper; mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve, place potato slices on serving platter. Top each with about 1/2 teaspoon mayonnaise mixture. Top with roast beef. Garnish each with olive slice.

Adapted from tablespoon.com

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Additional Suggestions:

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***** Dish it up Hot (or at the very least Warm) *****

Bacon & Cheddar Puff Pastry Crisps
1 package (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
1 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup prepared ranch salad dressing
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Unfold 1 pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 12×12-inch square. Using a 2-inch square cutter, cut into 36 squares. Prick the pastry squares with a fork. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet, making 72 squares in all.

Place the squares onto baking sheets and pop into the oven for about 8 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from oven. Using the back of a spoon, press down the centers of the hot pastries to make an indentation. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon each cheese and bacon onto each pastry. (Can be made to this point and held until ready to finish)

Return filled pastries to the oven and bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.

Transfer pastry crisps to a serving platter. Top with the dressing and chives. Serve warm.

Adapted from recipelion.com

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Bacon, Ham & Gruyere Sliders
Ingredients for Sandwiches
24 Hawaiian rolls
24 slices Deli honey ham
12 sliced Bacon, crisp and cut in fourths.
24 slices Gruyere cheese
Mayonnaise as needed

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Fry bacon crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Cut bacon into four pieces. Set aside.

Split Hawaiian rolls in half. Spread inside lightly with mayonnaise. Set aside.

Place 2 pieces of bacon on 1 slice of ham. Fold ham over to encase bacon.

Place on bottom of Hawaiian roll. Top with a slice of Gruyere cheese. Place on high-rimmed baking sheet.

Repeat with remaining rolls, bacon, ham and cheese until all the rolls have been filled. Set aside and make the sauce.

Ingredients for the sauce
1½ tablespoons yellow mustard
1 Stick butter, melted
1 Tablespoon finely minced onion (or 2 teaspoons DRIED diced minced onions)
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Poppy seeds, for garnish

Whip together ingredients for sauce. Drizzle sauce over tops of slider buns. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Cover sliders and bake 10 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Uncover and bake 2-3 minutes longer, to crisp tops.

Remove from oven, arrange on serving platter or serve directly from baking tray.

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Baked Brie with Apricot Preserves
1 jar apricot preserves
1 can crescent roll dough
1 Brie Cheese Round (4-6 oz) brie cheese
Sliced Apples, if desired *
Assorted Crackers, if desired

Preheat oven according to crescent roll directions.

On a baking sheet or baking stone, roll out the crescent dough to create one large piece, overlapping and gently crimping sections together where needed.

Spread a thin layer of the preserves all over the dough.

Carefully remove casing from brie round. Place brie in the middle of the dough.

Carefully wrap the brie with the dough, delicately crimping the edges to keep in place.

Bake in preheated oven according to crescent roll directions (about 15 minutes) or until crescent dough begins browning.

Transfer baked brie with a spatula to a serving dish. Surround baked brie with apples and/or crackers. Serve warm.

* Note: To keep sliced apples from discoloring, cover with a little 7-Up until ready to use. Blot dry with paper towels before arranging on platter.

Adapted from shewearsmanyhats.com

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Basil & Feta Cheese Triangles
1 lb feta cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh or 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 package (16 oz) frozen phyllo sheets (18×14 inches), thawed
1/3 cup butter, melted

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease cookie sheet and set aside.

Crumble cheese into small bowl; mash with fork. Stir in eggs, basil and white pepper until well mixed.

Cut phyllo sheets lengthwise into 2-inch strips. Cover with plastic wrap, then with damp towel to keep them from drying out.

Place 1 phyllo strip on work surface. Place 1 level teaspoon cheese mixture at the end of the strip. Fold strip over cheese mixture, end over end in triangular shape, to opposite end. Place on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining strips and cheese mixture. Brush triangles lightly with butter.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm.

Expert Tips – Finely shredded Monterey Jack cheese can be used for the feta cheese. Cover and refrigerate unbaked triangles up to 24 hours before baking; bake as directed. Or freeze tightly covered up to 2 months; increase bake time by 5 minutes.

Adapted from Betty Crocker

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Burger-Waffle Potato Bites
16 large frozen French-fried waffle-cut potatoes (1/3 of a 22-oz. pkg.)
1 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons Hamburger grilling seasoning blend
4 slices cheddar cheese, cut into quarters (4 oz.)
4 cherry tomatoes, sliced
Dill Pickle Chips and sliced red onion for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Evenly space potatoes on baking sheet. Bake potatoes for 18 to 20 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned. Remove from oven. Adjust oven racks and preheat broiler.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine meat and seasoning. Form into sixteen 1-ounce mini burgers (about 2 tablespoons). In a 12-inch skillet cook burgers, uncovered, over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until cooked through, turning burgers once halfway through cooking. Drain fat.

Top each potato with a burger, cheese quarter, and tomato slice. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and tomato begins to brown.

Transfer to serving platter and serve with pickle chips and thin slices of red onion for garnish.

Adapted from bgh.com

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Crab Napoleons
2 sheet Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry
2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened*
2 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (6 ounce) can refrigerated pasteurized crabmeat, drained
8 green onions, sliced
1 cup sliced almonds

Thaw pastry sheet at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Unfold 1 pastry sheet on lightly floured surface. Cut into 12 rounds, using 2-inch cookie cutter. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.

Repeat with second sheet.

Bake 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire rack.

Stir cream cheese until smooth. Stir in milk, horseradish, pepper and crabmeat.

Split pastries into 2 layers, making 48 layers in all. Spread crabmeat mixture on 24 bottom layers. Top with onions, almonds and top layers.

If desired, sprinkle with paprika for added color. Makes 24 Napoleons.

Adapted from m.allrecipes.com

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Stuffed Baby Bella Mushroom Caps
8 oz package baby Bella mushrooms
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped tarragon
3 scallions, finely minced
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/8 cup grated Asiago cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil for brushing

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Carefully remove the stems from the mushrooms, and finely chop in a mini food processor. Place chopped stems a dry saute pan over medium-low heat, cook until juices have release and evaporated.

Place the stems in a bowl, add remaining ingredients. Mix well until filling forms a smooth mixture.

Brush each mushroom cap with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Lay caps on a sheet pan, fill generously with a spoonful of filling.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the stuffing has browned.

Adapted from fifteenspatulas.com

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Wild Mushroom Brochette
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 (1.25 oz) Package dried Porcini Mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Garlic clove, minced
1 (8 oz) package FRESH Baby Portabella mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
32 (½-inch thick) slices baguette French Bread

Bring broth to a boil in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in porcini mushrooms; let soak 30 minutes to soften. With slotted spoon, remove porcini mushrooms from broth, place on cutting board. Strain soaking liquid through coffee filter into small bowl; reserve. Coarsely chop mushrooms.

Heat butter and oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add garlic; cook and stir 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add sliced FRESH mushrooms, cook 4-5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Add porcini mushrooms and reserved cooking liquid; cook 4-6 minutes or until all liquid has evaporated. Stir in salt and pepper. Spoon into decorative crock or bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Heat oven to 400-degrees. Arrange bread slices in ungreased rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until bread is thoroughly heated and slightly crisp.

To serve, place toasted bread in a basket and serve alongside warm crock of wild mushroom spread.

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Additional Suggestions:

  • Assorted Grilled Sausages with Plum Sauce
  • Heat and Serve Pigs in a Blanket with assorted mustards
  • Little Smokies in your favorite barbecue sauce (little crock pots work well to heat and keep warm)
  • Swedish Meatballs (these serve up nicely in a round Chafing dish)

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One of my passions, although be it time consuming,  is to create menus for entertaining. It was difficult to narrow down the selection of Hors D’oeurves to only 20 recipes and 12 addition suggestions. Whenever possible, I have given credit where credit is due for the wonderful recipes and great inspiration. My goal was to offer a mixture of simple and sophisticated recipes If I have inspired you to move outside your comfort zone and get creative with your entertaining style, then this post has served its purpose.

Wishing you all a joyous Holiday Season and a prosperous New Year. 

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