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Published: Tuesday, 12/3/2002

Small servings can be perfect for parties

Planning a little get-together with friends or family shouldn't mean you have to bake all week or cook all day. Nor do you have to spend a fortune if you order out.

What's the alternative?

Throw a party on a plate. Serve little plates of great morsels.

Your guests will love interesting flavors, plus they'll think the smaller portions are a healthier way to eat. Serve an assortment of small servings allowing a taste of everything without going overboard.

For a party on a plate, serve Spicy Buffalo-Style Meatballs. For a party on a plate, serve Spicy Buffalo-Style Meatballs.
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Many recipes involve finger-food eating, which appeals to all ages. It even lends itself to an adult cocktail party.

Selections can be simple or complex. Holiday party food can include:

  • Stilton cheese with crackers, baked brie, or an appetizer such as Zesty Beef Roll-Ups made with flour tortillas, layered with fresh spinach leaves, deli roast beef, and shredded cheese or a spicy artichoke dip made with tofu. Tofu is interchangeable with cream cheese.

  • Shrimp cocktail, crab claws, or a crab or lobster dip.

  • An antipasto platter made with smoked meats, olives, aged hard cheese and/or fresh mozzarella, artichoke hearts, and marinated peppers and other veggies. The marinated veggies can be bought by the jar.

  • An appetizer made with prosciutto. Cut slices into long strips about 1 inch wide. Using bamboo skewers or long cocktail picks, weave the strips alternating with ingredients such as canned artichoke hearts and black olives; cubes of melon and white seedless grapes; cubes of smoked mozzarella, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes; cooked shrimp and cherry tomatoes marinated in balsamic vinaigrette.

  • Pastry cups. Use mini hors d'oeuvre cups, phyllo pastry cups, or pastry tartlets. Bake miniquiche, or fill baked pastry with ham salad, crab salad, tuna salad, or chicken salad, each garnished with pickle or olive slice. For Parmesan Walnut Peas in Pastry Cups, prepare frozen petite peas. Add butter, grated Parmesan cheese, and chopped walnuts. Fill hors d'oeuvre cups and serve.

  • Fully-cooked meatballs from the supermarket freezer case. These usually call for just a quick heating before serving. For Spicy Buffalo-Style Meatballs, heat one 18-ounce package of fully-cooked meatballs according to package directions and combine with 2 to 3 tablespoons hot pepper sauce, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1 tablespoon honey to give a sweet-hot glaze. Serve with blue cheese dressing for dipping and celery sticks.

    For Barbecue-Style Meatballs use 3/4 cup apricot preserves and 3/4 cup barbecue sauce. Or make a Thai Dipping Sauce for meatballs with 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, 1/3 cup milk, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper.

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