What Are Your Favorite Party Nibbles?

plllogMay 17, 2014

I hope you all can help me. I'm in the planning stages of a party for up to four dozen people in half a year. If I don't start now, I'll never pull it off. I'd like to do it open house style, where people can wander around and graze. I'm all set on crudites, dips, chips, etc., plus fruit and dessert, but I'm trying to think of hot bites that please people, which can be made ahead and frozen, and heated on the night. Served buffet style on the dining table, with the dip stuff on the coffee table, and drinks in an adjoining room.

So far, I have borekes (like spanikopita--filo wrapped spinach pies, as well as cheese filled), stuffed puffs (chou pate), and gluten-free, mushroom stuffed, arancini (rice balls), but that sounds like three versions of the same thing. ;) I'm looking for something that isn't some kind of filled pastry. I would love to do something like sfingi (ricotta balls), but I don't think it would work under these circumstances.

I'm also going to do meatcubes in sauce (meatballs that don't fall off the plate and look fun). And I was thinking of fried wing drummettes (to please certain guests), if I can figure out a good recipe that will freeze and oven heat well. I can't see frying them on the day...

Caveats: I'm allergic to fish, so don't cook it, but I'd be happy to include a cold fish dish if you have a great one, and I would prefer to stay away from coconut, mango and papaya for the same reason. This won't be a kosher meal, per se, but there will be people who will only eat the dairy/fish/vegetarian because they keep kosher. No pork or seafood or dishes that are meat and milk together.

So, given all that... what are your favorites? Or even your favorite flavors? How do you feel about skewers vs. plates?

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Crispy pork crackilns are easy to make and quite enjoyable.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 10:39AM
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Um, but, um, DCarch, that doesn't quite fit the " No pork or seafood or dishes that are meat and milk together" part of the question. :)

Pretty though. When I first saw the picture I thought they were fiddleheads, which won't be in season, are too expensive (I can't forage nearly enough), and need to be made a la minute.

Maybe some pan fried fennel? I wonder if that would be good room temp?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 2:29PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Spanikopita with spinach and various cheeses can be made ahead and cooked straight from freezer. Very popular and I love them.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 2:40PM
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I dislike skewers, since you asked, unless it is a sit down meal with table. Otherwise, it is awkward to remove/bite off food from skewer. You have the spinakopita-like dish already covered. What about something sweet and sour? Pineapple cooks nicely and can be reheated. So a pineapple-meat or pineapple-chicken dish with small, bite sized pieces that can be made ahead and reheated?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 4:34PM
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That's a great idea! Totally different kind of flavor than anything I'd thought of. I could even roll it in leaves, mini stuffed cabbage style, but with more of a Polynesian style flavor. Taro leaves might be hard to get, but I could use chard or something. Though I doubt any of the color in rainbow chard would survive the cooking. And might be too kitsch. :)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 4:56PM
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"Um, but, um, DCarch, that doesn't quite fit the " No pork or seafood or dishes that are meat and milk together" part of the question. :)-----"

So what is the problem? The pork is not cooked with milk, as per your request.

However, if you had said, "No pork, no seafood, and no dishes that are meat and milk together." or " No pork or seafood, or dishes that are meat and milk together", that would be a different story.

I demand a lawyer! LOL!

All kidding aside, chicken skin cracklins are even better. Baked, fatless.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 6:06PM
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LOL! I do know the rules of punctuation, but tend to write more discursively online. And the Brits are right that we use too many commas. :)

So, what's your method on the chicken skins? I know of the Jewish kind that come out of the fat while it's rendering, but that's not something I would serve. Yours look a lot better. :) I don't suppose those make curlicues like the first ones?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 6:11PM
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The chicken skin cracklin is easy to make.

1. Dehydrate
2. Bake at 400F
3. Season ( I use powdered lemon salt)
4. Enjoy!. Wonderful appetizer. Habit forming.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 9:02PM
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I love latkes and sour cream, some latkes made small might be a very nice bite of food, maybe picked up with a toothpick.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 9:09PM
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I like a savory cheesecake with hot pepper jelly as a topping, I usually serve it whole with crackers but it went nicely at a co-ed bridal shower when I scooped the baked cheesecake into mini phyllo cups and added a dab of my homemade Habanero Gold.

How about a vegetable filled mini spring roll or egg roll, with peanut dipping sauce?

I made 600 mini-quiches without crust for my stepson's wedding "appetizer reception" and they froze and thawed nicely. Some were sausage and cheese, some were crabmeat and some were mushroom and spinach. All were good, made weeks in advance and frozen, then thawed, reheated and served.

I also made homemade cheese wafers, although they couldn't be made more than a couple of days in advance and Elery made wontons, which did freeze nicely.

I do like tiny sandwiches and fill little rye puffs a cream cheese/sauerkraut/corned beef mixture for "reubens", but they lend themselves nicely to chicken salad too. I've had good luck with "sliders" too, small sweet potato biscuits or rolls with just a sliver of meat as a filling, served cold.

Small calzone, just a bite or two, can be filled with anything you like, baked, frozen and reheated. My kids like them with pizza filling but I lean more toward a broccoli/cheese or sausage/mushroom filling. Pasta freezes and reheats well too, like ravioli or tortellini, filling with whatever you choose.

Have fun. I did the food for both of my daughters' weddings, 300 plus people for both, and appetizers for 600 for my stepson's wedding, as well as wedding cakes for 5 or 6 weddings so far. I'm sure glad I'm out of children, they're all finally married after my stepdaughter and her cupcake tower last year!


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 9:19PM
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ROTFL!!! " I'm sure glad I'm out of children" Oh, Annie, I'm laughing to tears over that one! Good of you to cater the weddings. I'm trying this for the (considerably smaller) party because I want to actually talk to people. :) I'd be happy to hire someone to run the kitchen, and do some things a la minute, but I haven't been able to find anyone experienced. They either want to cook their own menus, or they're only in it as temps and can't be booked enough in advance/taught the setup, etc.

Thank you so much for all the great ideas. Would you believe I didn't even think of mini quiches? And I just pulled a quiche (leftovers) from the freezer to thaw this morning? The filo cups are a great idea too. The restaurant supply near me has them in catering sized lots. :) I wouldn't have to make 'em (easy enough, but boring and thankless). That opens up all kinds of ideas. The other things you suggested are inspiring too!

Lucille, I love the idea of mini latkes. Like canape sized. I could even pipe the sour cream. No. Wait. Then the latkes would cool. But they'd be so cute with hats! I'm going to try the mini-latkes for sure. Oh! Maybe have a squeeze bottle so guests can sort of pipe their own, rather than flinging bits of sour cream around because it sticks to the spoon...

DCarch, I love that presentation. it looks like a hula dancer, shimmying. :) Please explain "dehydrate". Also, about how long in the oven? I don't know if it's five minutes or an hour.

(Edit: Okay, I'm pretty sure they'd catch fire within an hour, but I really have no idea how long to aim for. I can figure it out if they're not done enough, or over, but I need a ballpark.)

Thanks to all! And I'm open to all new suggestions (except pig's trotters, see reasons above).

This post was edited by plllog on Sun, May 18, 14 at 23:33

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 11:31PM
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Yum, I like latkes too, and I also like little new red potatoes, roasted or steamed, then cut in half, a small indentation made with a melon baller/etc, and the indentation filled with sour cream and a sprinkle of chives. Good at room temperature but amazing right out of the oven if roasted. And, well, I sprinkle mine with crumbled bacon, of course, but you could maybe use the chives, LOL.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 11:46PM
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I have chives in my garden. :) They're all purple headed right now. If they don't go flat at the end of Autumn, they're certainly a contender.

I love the idea of the potato cups. I have a few gluten frees to plan for. I could even do whatever is going in the filo cups in some potato cups for the GF crew. :)

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 2:11AM
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"----DCarch, I love that presentation. it looks like a hula dancer, shimmying. :) Please explain "dehydrate". Also, about how long in the oven? I don't know if it's five minutes or an hour.---"

I use my dehydrator, set temperature at highest to dry and render some fat out. 24 hours later, they will be dry enough for the oven.

Preheat oven to 400F, layout chicken skin on rack fat side down and watch carefully.

The skin will be done in a few minutes.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 7:23AM
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I have posted my cream cheese stuffed mushrooms recipe here several times in the past. They are always a big hit at parties.

I'm not sure whether the posts are still findable here though. If you are interested I'll post it again.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 10:42AM
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Two easy nibbles:


1/4 cup margarine, softened
2/3 (5 ounce) container sharp processed
cheese spread
8 ounces cooked crabmeat or the faux crab, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
8 English muffins, split

1. Preheat oven on broiler setting.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together margarine and cheese spread. Stir in crabmeat, mayonnaise, garlic powder, and parsley. Spread the mixture on the split English muffins. Arrange on a cookie sheet. [ At this point you can cut each split muffin into 4 small wedges and freeze flat on a baking sheet, then when frozen, but all the wedges in a freezer zip bag. ]
3. Broil until the cheese mixture is bubbly. Can be broiled straight from the freezer.

Monterey Stuffed Mushrooms

1 lb. medium fresh mushroom caps
Monterey Jack jalapeno pepper cheese

Clean mushrooms and twist out stems. Fill with cubes of the cheese. Bake at 350 for 5-10 minutes until the cheese melts. Serve hot. Makes about 30.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 11:09AM
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Thanks, Dcarch! I understand now. I think the company might really like that, so I'll give it a try. Sounds easy enough. :)

Bob, I found it! Searching on your screen name found me a whole thread on the same topic from a few years ago. I haven't had a chance to read through thoroughly, which I will do later. It seems like the thread of cheese! But I'm sure to get some great ideas there.

Two ideas I got just from reading was to use those molded tortilla chip bowls they make the same way as filo cups for gluten free alternatives. And to top artichoke leaves with some kind of glop as an alternative to so many high carb options. :)

Theresa, thanks for the recipes! I wonder if I can get away with cooking fish in the oven? I can't do it in an open pot, but I might be able to do it in the oven...

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 2:34PM
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pllog, the chive blossoms are edible too, and make a nice garnish on the tray, if you still have blossoms then.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 9:49PM
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So I found what sounds like a good recipe for the chicken wing drumettes. It uses flour instead of crumbs for the coating, which I think will be better for the size. But the recipe calls for the oil to be 300ð F. Frying 10 at a time for about 7 minutes.

I thought it was supposed to be 375ð to cook at 350ð. I get it that the drumettes are small, but 300ð?

Could that be right?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 11:24PM
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This is probably my most requested hot appetizer. Unfortunately you can't freeze it but I have made it the day before and stored in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap, until ready to bake,

7 sheets phyllo pastry
1/2 Cup butter melted
7 Tbl freshly grated parmesan
1 1/2 Cup grated mozarella
1 sweet onion sliced thinly, And Separated Into Rings
5 -6 roma tomatoes, sliced
1 Tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste ( I don't use
-any I find the parm salty enough and I
forget about the pepper!!!)
fresh herbs sprigs thyme, oregano or rosemary

Preheat oven to 375. Follow package instructions to thaw phyllo. Place 1 sheet of phyllo on baking sheet, brush with butter and sprinkle with 1 TBSP of the parmesan cheese. Repeat until all layers are used. Press down firmly so layers stick together. Sprinkle top sheet with mozerella. Place onions on top then place tomatoes on top. Season with oregano. Bake for 20-25 minutes until edges are golden, and the bottom is cooked. Decorate with fresh herbs and cut into squares (squares can be cut in half to make two bite trinagles)

Notes: I slice the onions and then cut the circles in half to arrange on top. I also try and line the tomatoes up in a diagonal pattern, I don't place them randomly, and then when I cut it I cut the squares so each piece has 1 roma slice. I also don't measure anything anymore I just sprinkle the cheese. I use rosemary but I cut the leaves off the stems. I've often cooked it with the rosemary on it. I also line my baking sheet with parchment paper.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 7:37AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Sorry, that was a senior moment earlier. So many good ideas!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 8:58AM
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Chase beat me to the...

Lots of good phyllo ideas. That looks yummy.
The rolled ones can be prepped ahead as well, then sliced and baked.
Anything in season at the time can be used. It is nice when guests can see the ingredients rather than a fold like the empanadas i make sometimes.
Sounds like you have so many things planned already and well in advance...
(i'm just getting this coming weekends menu started)

Other things i've made in advance and frozen are tamales and porcini risotto balls.
And recently the mixed grain spinach/kale cakes. Tamales can go straight into the pasta pot/colander frozen and steamed for an hour and kept at a low simmer. Can be vegetarian also.
Many horderve 'bites' are piggy-backed with meals we have sometime the month before...like the risotto balls. For all the bother i make a big batch, then chill over night.
Roll into balls around a bit of mozzarella and a few peas...then in rice flour and parm.

I do like the mini skewers. Using those little knotted bamboo tooth-pics. Using just a combo of three misc ingredients. Like Annie mentioned, the halved baby new potatoes scooped out and something stacked on top, and/or cucumber cups, then stacked and skewered. Cherry tomatoes...olives, radish slices.

My most requested are spring rolls. But that is what i usually bring to others parties.
I make the usual veggie, herb, rice noodle Thai style, a rice cuke avocado nori wrapped
version and a smoked salmon dill cuke spinach. Never the raw fish ones for a party. Mostly veggie. Takes forever but appreciated. I split the task and prep day before. Wash, dry, slice, vermicelli soaked tossed in toasted sesame, sticky rice done...dipping sauces made...assemble day of.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 10:24AM
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No worries, Bumblebeez! It was a good idea. :)

Chase, that does look great! I'm definitely going to try it. It should work well with the kind of strudelly filo we get nowadays. We used to get it fresh, where the ingredients list said "flour, water and skill". The thick stuff they sell now has all kinds of glue in it and is tough! It would definitely hold up to all that parm though. I will be glad to have a dish where I'm not cursing it, since I'm not nearly good enough to make and stretch my own.

Sleevendog, good point about being able to see what it is. Most of the company know borekes, and love them, but I think, without knowing why, that's why I was attracted to the idea of cups and the like.

Your piggy-backing to meals comment sounds just like something my mother said when I was a teen: "Julia Child left an important step out of this paté -- it should say, 'Feed pot roast to your family' right here." :)

I bet your spring rolls are awesome, but there's no way I'm going to be able to try something like that for this. The mini-skewers are an interesting idea, however. When I mentioned skewers at the beginning, I was thinking something like a satay, but thought Kitchendetective had the right of it on the eating. I might be able to do a mini-satay on an ended tooth pick, as well as the kind of combo you were talking about.

Re planning, I don't know what's getting made this week either, or even if there will be company or not. :) But if there is company, it's probably not more than half a dozen people with small appetites. If I don't plan now, and start cooking and freezing over the summer, however, I'm not going to be able to do it myself. I have a good caterer, but home made is so much better than "out" food, and I have good freezers that don't ruin the food. :) So I'm gathering ideas, and in a few weeks I'll start to write menus, and do trial runs on new recipes.

I appreciate all the ideas more than I can express.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 1:55PM
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I will be making stuffed boneless chicken wings for this weekend.

Not sure what recipe yet. All bones removed already. Marinating in the fridge.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 2:49PM
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I skimmed through the list, so I don't think anyone else posted this...

I went to a party once that served little bites of salad in phyllo cups. I think her's used Caesar salad, but you could do anything. Prepare the phyllo's ahead. Mix/toss the salad, and just before serving add a spoonful into each phyllo. Served cold and you seem set on that, but something different and elegant.

I was also going to mention mini-quiches - so many possibilities!! crusted or crustless.

another item I like are mushrooms stuffed with spinach, rice, and cheese (the recipe calls for fontina and uses drained frozen spinach and cooked rice).
they are usually a big hit. I'm not sure if I still have the recipe (it came from an old Weight Watchers cookbook) but can recreate something like it if need be.

Sounds fun!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 5:42PM
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bizzo's suggestion about Caesar salad in phyllo cups reminded me of this recipe - no worries about soggy pastry - served in endive leaves. I also have a recipe saved that uses baked parmesan cups, but that might be too labor intensive?

Here is a link that might be useful: Caesar salad spears

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 8:00PM
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Thanks, Bizzo!

My big factor is make ahead. There will be plenty of hot things. I like the idea of salad cups. That might be too fiddly at the last minute for this party, but it's something I'm definitely tucking away for future use. It would be great at a Summer standing around party when everyone wants salad but no one wants to deal with a fork.

I also see a theme party developing. :) Cups and balls, anyone?

I've done mushrooms like you mentioned, with different cheese. They were very good.

What it comes down to now, is a series of delivery systems:

⢠On the bone (drummettes, lamb lollipops, etc.)
⢠In a pastry cup/shell/crust (filo cups, mini-quiche, etc.)
⢠In a vegetative cup (filled cucumbers, mushrooms, etc.)
⢠On a leaf (stuffed endive, artichoke petal, celery stalk etc.)
⢠On a skewer/toothpick (satay, three ingredients, etc.)
⢠Turnovers (empandaditas, borekes, raviloi, spanakoptia)
⢠Balls (meatballs, arancini, etc.)

There are also shooters and spoons, but I refuse to get into crockery. :) Though, come to think of it, I have a plethora of assorted mugs, and maybe some kind of soup would be nice? NO. Spills and breakage. Ugh.

Edit: Spoke too soon. There are plenty of non-breakable, semi-disposable shooter glasses and amuse bouche spoons. Something more to think about. :)

I think with this outline, and all the ideas, I can come up with a balanced menu. Cool!

This post was edited by plllog on Sat, May 24, 14 at 20:24

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 8:17PM
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I know you originally asked for hot nibbles but now that you mention cups here is a great make ahead cold/room temp treat that is seriously easy.

Line small muffin tins (appetizer size) with pieces of prosciutto and bake at 375 just until crisp........maybe 5 minutes..watch them.

When cold remove from tins and place in are tight container.

Chop a few Granny Smith apples into small pieces and mix with a few tablespoons of applesauce....basically to keep the apples from browning. Keep chilled

When ready to serve place a dollop of the apple mix into each cup.

I've also used olive tapenade as a filling or chopped tomato mixed with olive oil , basil and balsamic...it's all good

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 11:48AM
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Thanks, Chase. Meat cup is an interesting concept. Any chance it would work with thinly sliced fillet mignon or something else non pork?

I was mostly looking for hots, which the filo cups, potato cups, etc., can be. :) Maybe not the cucumber...

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:09PM
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