After all the effort you put into Christmas dinner chances are that you really do not want to have to start all over again and prepare a huge amount of fancy food for your New Year’s celebrations.

But you still have to offer guests something to eat. That is why an appetizer party can be such a great idea for New Year’s gatherings. Everyone gets fed, there is plenty of food available to help people mop up some of that alcohol and you can have your guests help you by contributing an appetizer of their own to the evening’s fare. But just what should you serve? Here a few ideas and tips to get you started.

The best appetizer only parties still offer the same variety of food as a big sit down several course dinner would, just in bite size portions that make socializing and mingling do much easier. To that end you should serve food from each of several “food families”

Garden: Veggies and salads go into this group. Fruits are also included.
Starches: Finger sandwiches, pizza bites, breadsticks and other simple canapes all fall into this category.
Proteins: This category covers bite size meat and fish offerings, often best served on cocktail sticks or skewers for easy eating.
Snacks: What buffet would be complete without nuts, crisps and crackers, as well as a selection of dips to complement them?
Desserts: Snack size chocolate bars, slices of cake and tempting biscuits will all help round of an appetizer meal in style.

What you serve is really up to you, there are a great many options to choose from. But here are a few great recipes to get you started:

Caramelized Salmon Bites:


purchased caramel-flavored ice cream topping
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 pound salmon fillet, skinned
Lime wedges (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

At least 30 minutes before grilling, soak twelve 6- to 8-inch wooden skewers in water. Drain; set aside. For sauce, in a small bowl stir together caramel topping, soy sauce, mustard, and lime juice; set aside.
2.Rinse salmon; pat dry with paper towels. Cut salmon fillet in half lengthwise, then cut each piece crosswise into 6 pieces (12 pieces total). Sprinkle pieces with salt and pepper. Thread one salmon piece onto each wooden skewer.
3.For charcoal grill, arrange skewers on the greased rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Brush generously with sauce. Grill for 3 minutes. Turn; brush with remaining sauce. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes more or until fish flakes easily with a fork. (For gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Arrange skewers on greased grill rack. Cover; grill as above.) Serve with lime wedges and sprinkle with pepper. Makes 12 servings.

Teriyaki Beef Lettuce Wraps

1 large head iceberg lettuce
4 large carrots, shredded
2 green sweet peppers, cut into thin strips
8 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pounds lean ground beef
6 tablespoons roasted-garlic teriyaki liquid meat marinade
2 fresh jalapeno chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped*
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons roasted-garlic teriyaki liquid meat marinade
Green onions

1.Remove and discard core from lettuce. Carefully remove at least 16 whole lettuce leaves; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine carrot, sweet pepper, 6 tablespoons vinegar, and salt; toss to combine.
2.In a large bowl, combine ground beef and 6 tablespoons teriyaki marinade. Shape beef mixture into 1/2-inch meatballs.
3.Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add one-fourth of the meatballs to hot skillet. Cook for 3 minutes, turning meatballs to brown on all sides. Transfer meatballs to a bowl. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
4.Return all meatballs to the skillet. Stir in chile pepper, water, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and 2 tablespoons teriyaki marinade. Bring to simmering. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.
5.To serve, fill lettuce leaves with vegetable mixture and meatballs; roll up. Garnish the platter with green onions. Makes 16 servings.

HomeMade Wine Crackers

4 oz all-purpose flour
Desired herb/spice option*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons desired wine*
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. In a medium bowl, combine flour, desired herb/spice option, salt, and pepper. In a small bowl, combine desired wine and oil; gradually add to flour mixture, tossing with a fork until combined. Form dough into a ball. (Dough will appear dry, but will come together when gently worked with hands. Avoid adding more liquid, as this will make the crackers tough.)
2.Transfer dough to a floured surface; flatten into a rectangle. Roll out into a 12×9-inch rectangle (trim uneven edges, if necessary). Prick dough all over with a fork. Cut dough into 3×1-1/2-inch rectangles. Transfer rectangles to an ungreased baking sheet; sprinkle with  salt.
3.Bake about 18 minutes or just until crackers start to brown and are firm to the touch. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely.
4.Wine and herb/spice combinations: Sauvignon Blanc and Basil: 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil and 2 tablespoons pine nuts, finely ground. Riesling and Tarragon: 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon and 1/4 teaspoon paprika Cabernet Sauvignon and Rosemary: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary Champagne and Mustard: 2 teaspoons dry mustard. Chardonnay and Fennel: 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed; use the 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

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