If you’re having a holiday party, these recipes may help

Planning to entertain for the holidays?

Whether you’re planning a small gathering with “finger foods” or a full meal, these ideas may help you get started.

Hors d’oeuvres  — which literally means “apart from the main work/meal” — can be a great way to feed your guests during a cocktail hour, or, can take the place of a meal.

Ready to eat, or give away. (Betsy Crisp)

In the United States, we often refer to these foods as “appetizers.” They are small bites of food items meant to be eaten mostly by hand and typically served before the main course.

There’s another French word — Canape — that refers to a particular type of hors d’oeuvre.

This one-bite treat, which is small and decorated, and usually salty or spicy, also is meant to be eaten with the fingers.

Canapes are usually constructed on a base or “couch” of bread and cut into fancy shapes, and then decorated (piped frosting or cream cheese and garnished).

When it comes to sweets, there are tiny decorated cakes called petits fours (“small ovens”). These date back to the 18th century when these were made in a small oven, next to the oven, to use the heat that was still present as the main oven cooled down.

Petit fours can be savory or dry.

Any of these following recipes can help you make your entertaining elegant and memorable.

Bon Appetit — which means, enjoy your meal.

Happy Holidays, too.

Betsy Crisp is a Professor Emeritus, UF/IFAS Extension – Family & Consumer Sciences.


Pepperoni Cheese-Bread
1 loaf (1 pound) French bread

3 Tablespoons butter, melted

1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

3 ounces sliced mini-pepperoni

3 Tablespoons finely diced green pepper (optional)

3 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut loaf of bread in half width-wise and cut into 1-inch slices.

Brush butter on both sides of each slice.

Sprinkle each slice with shredded cheese.

Top with pepperoni, green pepper, and parsley (in that order).

Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes to 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms
16 medium/bite-sized fresh mushrooms

¼-cup shredded Swiss cheese, shredded

1 Tablespoon Parmesan, grated

2 Tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs

2 Tablespoons butter, melted

¼-teaspoon minced garlic

1/8 teaspoon salt

Italian seasoning (or dried oregano) to taste

Butter-flavored cooking spray

In a small bowl, combine cheeses, bread crumbs, 2 Tablespoons butter, garlic and salt; set aside.

Rinse, wipe clean, and remove stems from mushrooms.

Place mushroom caps, hollow side down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Broil 4 inches from the heat for 4 minutes to 5 minutes, or just until tender.

Turn over; stuff caps with cheese mixture and sprinkle lightly with Italian seasoning (to taste).

Spray tops lightly with cooking spray.

Broil 2 minutes to 3 minutes longer or until lightly browned and heated through.

Yield: 16 appetizers

Pretty Little Petits Fours
1 pre-prepared pound cake (make one in advance or pick one up from the grocery store to save time)

2 pounds confectioners’ sugar           

2/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons water

2 teaspoons orange extract

6 Tablespoons butter, softened

2 Tablespoons solid shortening

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 Tablespoons to 4 Tablespoons milk

Food coloring (gel, liquid, or paste)

Cut cake into 1 ¼-inch squares.

Place cake cubes ½-inch apart on a rack in a 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch pan.

Glaze: In a large bowl, combine glaze ingredients and beat on low speed just until blended then on high until smooth. Apply glaze evenly over tops and sides of cake squares, allowing excess to drip off. Let dry. Repeat if necessary to thoroughly coat squares and let dry completely.

Frosting: In a small bowl, cream the butter, shortening and vanilla. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Makes approximately 3 cups of frosting.

Decorating and colors depend of the occasion: For example, if for an afternoon tea, bridal or baby shower, you might place ½-cup each in two bowls; tint one red/pink/blue and one green. Cut a small hole in the corner of a pastry or zip-top plastic bag to decorate. Using a No. 104 tip, fill with pink frosting; pipe a rosebud on each petit four. Insert a No. 3 round tip into another pastry or plastic bag; fill with green frosting. Pipe a leaf under each rose. (Variations: For Fall/Thanksgiving you might do orange pumpkins or fall leaves, for Christmas you might do green wreaths with red bows, etc.)

Yield: 2 ½-dozen

Published November 28, 2018

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