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Fancy appetizers

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Bite-Size Cheeseburgers





Makes 50

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 recipe Basic Bread Dough
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Ketchup
  • 14 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 head lettuce, torn to fit buns
  • 1 package American cheese, 12 ounces, thinly sliced and cut to fit buns


Preheat convection oven to 375 degrees or conventional oven to 350 degrees. Coat parchment-lined baking sheet with cooking spray. Roll dough into 3/4-inch balls; place 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Let stand in a warm place until dough doubles in bulk, 20 minutes.

Brush egg wash over dough; sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Cool buns on rack.

In bowl, mix ground beef, salt, and pepper. Shape 1/4 ounce at a time into 1 1/2-inch patties. Broil or grill 1 minute per side.

At serving time, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice buns in half. Layer ketchup, tomato, and lettuce on each bottom half.

Place burgers on baking sheet; top each with a slice of cheese. Bake until cheese melts, 2 to 3 minutes Place in buns; serve.


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Macaroni and cheese becomes an elegant passed appetizer when served in dainty ramekins. Our version features sharp white cheddar and Gruyere.




Makes 84 one-ounce servings

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus more for ramekin
  • 6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts trimmed, torn into cubes
  • 5 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked 2 to 3 minutes less than package

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter 84 one-ounce ramekins. In a small pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter; toss with bread in a medium bowl.

Heat milk over medium heat until just steaming. Melt remaining butter in a deep skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, stir in flour; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in hot milk, bring to a boil, and cook until thick enough to coat back of spoon.

Remove from heat. Stir in nutmeg, cayenne, 3 cups cheddar, 1 1/2 cups Gruyere, salt, and pepper. Stir in macaroni.

Pour into ramekins. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses and breadcrumbs. Bake until browned, about 30 minutes.

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My fiance will love this idea - I will try it on him before the wedding:))



"Potted" Chocolate Pudding



Celebrate the season of buds and new beginnings with pretty seedlings for guests to admire -- and savor. Composed of flowering herbs nestled in chocolaty "soil"-covered pudding, the decadent desserts are a sweet, witty symbol of your fresh start.




Makes 20 three-ounce servings (5 1/2 cups)

  • 3/4 pint sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 14 chocolate cookies, ground fine
  • 20 sprigs edible, organic flowering herbs


Whisk sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt in a medium pan. Combine cream, milk, and vanilla in a large measuring cup. Whisk 2 cups liquid into dry ingredients until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Whisk in remaining cream mixture until smooth.

Place pan over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, 7 to 8 minutes. Add chocolate; cook, whisking until melted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in butter until melted. Divide pudding between glasses, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top. Refrigerate until completely set, about 1 hour; chill until ready to serve.

Just before serving, top each with 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed cookies, and "plant" an herb sprig. Serve cold.

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This will be just great for any salad:



Heart Crisps



Replace the boring crouton cubes in your salads with savory heart-shaped versions. These crisps consist of three layers of phyllo dough filled with Asiago cheese and ground pine nuts. The layers are seasoned with thyme, shaped with a cookie cutter, and then baked. They go well with any mixed green salad or even soups.




Makes about 30

  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup Finely grated Asiago cheese
  • 3 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Finely chop pine nuts in a food processor; transfer to a small bowl, and stir in cheese. Lay one phyllo sheet flat on a clean work surface. Generously brush with butter; sprinkle evenly with half the nut mixture. Top with second phyllo sheet; repeat process. Top with third phyllo sheet. Brush with butter; sprinkle with thyme.

Using a 2-inch heart-shaped cutter, cut out hearts; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Lay a sheet of parchment over hearts, and bake until lightly browned and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.

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Goat-Cheese Appetizer



Give your wedding or bridal shower a Mediterranean flair with these simple hors d'oeuvres. Balls of fresh goat cheese are coated with chopped pistachios; beds of baby spinach leaves make them easy to lift and eat




Makes 48

  • 11 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 4 ounces coarsely chopped pisatchio nuts
  • 48 washed and dried baby spinach leaves


Bring goat cheese to room temperature. Using your hands, roll forty-eight 1/2-inch balls, and place them on a piece of parchment paper. Shake the nuts in a fine mesh sieve to remove dust, then place in a small, shallow bowl. Roll each cheese ball in the nuts to coat evenly.

The cheese balls can be prepared the day before the event. Store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to serve.

To serve, arrange the spinach leaves on a serving tray, and place each cheese ball on a leaf. Serve immediately.

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For the sea food lovers - not me (but I need to think about my future husband):



Spicy Shrimp and Avocado





Makes 2 dozen

  • 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • Coarse salt
  • 6 slices of white bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons achiote paste
  • 24 medium shrimp (about 1/2 pound), peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 ounce golden fish roe
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Scoop avocado flesh into the bowl of a food processor. Add lime juice, and season with salt; process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet, and bake, turning once, until dried out and slightly toasted, 10 to 14 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and achiote paste, and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add shrimp; cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and let shrimp cool slightly.

Using a small offset spatula, spread 1 tablespoon avocado puree on each bread slice. Using an 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 4 rounds from each slice. Top each round with a shrimp; top shrimp with sour cream and fish roe. Garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately.

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Baby Greek Salad




Makes 12 three-ounce servings

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered or halved if large
  • 2 baby cucumbers, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, some halved, some quartered
  • 1 1/2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/3 cup)


Whisk together mustard and vinegar in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss vegetables and olives in a medium bowl, and toss with vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Divide salad among 12 three-ounce paper nut cups, top each with some feta, and serve immediately.

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Love the idea of serving it:



Ice Cream Hearts with Arrow Tuiles



Acknowledge Cupid's work with ice cream hearts in which his arrow has made its mark. Soften strawberry ice cream in a mixer on low, spread onto a rimmed baking sheet, and refreeze. Bake arrow-shaped tuiles (See recipe and ingredients below). Just before serving, cut ice cream with a cookie cutter and place arrow.

To make the arrow stencil, print an arrow symbol from a computer; enlarge, if necessary, and trace it onto thin foam board, or draw it by hand. Using a straightedge to guide the blade of a utility knife, cut out the shape and remove the inside of the stencil.

a99337_sum02_icecreamheart_xl.jpgMakes about 3 dozen



  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Using a mixer, beat egg whites and superfine sugar on medium just until combined and frothy, about 30 seconds.

Beat in flour and salt. Beat in butter, cream, and vanilla. Place stencil on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat (French nonstick baking mat). Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons batter inside stencil, spread batter over stencil with an offset spatula, and carefully remove stencil. Repeat, placing at least 2 inches apart.

Bake just until golden around edges, 4 to 5 minutes. Working quickly, use an offset spatula to transfer tuiles to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.

Dust with confectioners' sugar.

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Grilled Tomato Bruschetta





Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for grates
  • 1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 4 thick slices country bread
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

Heat grill to medium-high; lightly oil grates. In a large bowl, toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Arrange tomatoes on grill, cut sides down first. Cover and grill until soft and charred, 5 to 10 minutes per side. With a metal spatula, return tomatoes to bowl. When cool enough to handle, use kitchen shears to snip tomatoes into smaller pieces.

To tomatoes, add garlic, vinegar, and red-pepper flakes; season with more salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to medium. Brush bread with remaining oil; grill on both sides until beginning to char, about 2 minutes per side. Cut bread slices in half; divide tomato mixture evenly over each. Top with basil and serve.

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You can make the guacamole several hours ahead, and keep it in the refrigerator. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the surface of the guacamole to prevent discoloration.




2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and lightly mashed

1/2 cup minced onion

1 jalapeno chile, minced (remove seeds and ribs for less heat)

1 plum tomato, seeded and diced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Coarse salt


In a bowl, combine avocados, onion, jalapeno, tomato, cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt, and mix to combine.

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