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Sep 29, 2009

Ideas for Entertaining

Easy to Eat
It’s especially important for game night — when guests might be jumping up and down with excitement — that your appetizers are:

•Easy to pick up with the fingers
•Edible in one bite, without a fork
•Prepared without messy ingredients that might drip

Score Points With Variety
Every crowd is different. Some people eat a lot and enjoy everything; others are picky and only nibble.
Think about your friends’ habits, and combine that information with the following guidelines used by many caterers:

•Assume 12 appetizers per person per hour for a party that’s two to three hours long
•Serve three types of appetizers for eight to 10 people; four to five types for 14 to16 people

•Have both hot and cold appetizers so that while one is heating in the oven, cold ones are ready to be eatenThere are so many kinds of appetizers — from delicate baby quiches to mini hamburgers and kebabs to hearty Buffalo wings and beef-and-spinach pinwheels. It’s really up to you to choose!

Homemade vs. Store-Bought
If time is short, buy prepared appetizers to mix in with those you’ve made. Personalize them for a homemade touch:

•Add dried parsley to quiches
•Sprinkle pimiento strips and bits of chive on deviled eggs
•Top open-faced salmon sandwiches with a sliver of lemon peel or sprig of fresh dill
•Put a dollop of sour cream on cut-up roasted red potatoes
•Decorate small, individual pizzas with sliced black olives
•A thin slice of cucumber, carrot shavings or half a walnut all make attractive garnishes

Half-Time Favorites
Vegetable platters and fruit-and-cheese platters are always good to have on hand. Wash veggies or fruit, then peel and cut into bite-size pieces if needed. Arrange like this:

Veggie Platter

•All green: Use zucchini, celery, broccoli, green beans, snow peas, green bell peppers and asparagus
•Red, white and green: Use radishes, red peppers, mushrooms, turnips and cauliflower plus some of the green veggies listed above
◦Arrange the veggies around a bowl of dip. Or put the dip into hollowed-out red or green bell peppers or a small cabbage. Try some of the more flavorful ones you can buy or make such as:
•Hummus: creamy and tangy, the main ingredient is chick peas
•Guacamole: the Mexican dip of avocado, tomatoes and onions
•Beans: choose from white, kidney or black beans
Fruit-and-Cheese Platter

•Select a variety of fruit — strawberries, pineapple, red and green grapes, and an assortment of cheeses — soft like Brie, hard like Swiss and Cheddar
•Take the cheeses out of the fridge and unwrap at least an hour before guests arrive to soften cheese and unlock their flavors; put toothpicks in a small bowl on the platter
•Accompany the cheeses with crackers or slices of French bread
Keep It Neat
Put the appetizers on a large table.

Be sure to include:

•Paper plates
•Lots of napkins
•Knives to cut the cheeses
•Bowls of condiments such as sour cream, mustard and ketchup
•Spoons for dips and condiments
•Large trash can (lined with a plastic bag) that is decorated with crepe paper streamers in your team’s colors