Holiday parties are a great time to spread out festive finger foods that will impress your guests as they mingle.
Appetizers are easy to adapt to any size party and allow you as the host to accommodate many different types of diets.
Whether your guests are die-hard vegetarians or just wanting to limit the meat in their diet, there are plenty of festive vegetarian options for finger foods:
• Cranberry brie tarts. Use frozen pre-made mini pastry cups and add a small square of brie topped off with cranberry sauce. Heat and serve.
• Parsnip pig-in-the-blankets. A variation on the hot dog or sausage options, this uses a finger of parsnips wrapped up in crescent roll dough.
• Gorgonzola polenta bites. Cut a tube of polenta into slices and heat in a skillet. Then top it with gorgonzola cheese and your choice of marmalade or preserves and dried currants or dried cranberries.
Gift the meat-lovers among your guests with any of these savory appetizers:
• Sausage pinwheels. This appetizer has been around for decades but never loses its popularity. Roll out some biscuit dough, spread the ground sausage, roll up and bake. For variety, you can sprinkle different kinds of shredded cheese on the sausage before rolling it up.
• Ham and pickle roll-ups. Another perennial favorite, perhaps because it is so easy to make and so very tasty, all you have to do is spread cream cheese (try a salmon or veggie flavored cream cheese for some extra flair) on a rectangle of thinly sliced ham and wrap it around a gherkins pickle and cut into bite-size pieces.
• Bacon-date almond bites. Buy pitted whole dates and stuff each one with an almond. Fry up your bacon and then wrap them around the date and secure with a toothpick.
Whether any of your guests have an extreme gluten sensitivity or it just causes them discomfort, there are plenty of tasty options that will keep them feeling good and the rest of your guests will snap up as well:
• Bacon-wrapped pineapple. Drain some pineapple chunks and then sprinkle gluten-free soy sauce on them. Wrap them up in bacon and broil until the bacon is cooked.
• Bacon-wrapped sweet potato bites. Cut sweet potatoes into cubes and sprinkle them with ginger and caraway. Wrap the cubes in bacon and bake in the oven until the potato is tender and the bacon is crisp.
• Goat-cheese dipped grapes. Mix a soft goat cheese of your choice with heavy cream and honey. Heat and stir until smooth. Toast the finely chopped nuts of your choice (hazelnuts and pecans both work well). Put a toothpick in a grape, twirl half of it in the cheese mixture and then roll it in the nuts.
Will there be kids at your party? Try such finger foods as mac and cheese donuts, ham and pineapple spears (with a maraschino cherry to add color), peanut butter and jelly roll-ups, cream cheese penguins or strawberry Santas.