If you’re planning a get-together tonight, it’s not too late for some delicious last-minute menu additions. If the big time is to be Monday and you’re building your shopping list now, all the better.
Here are my all-time Top 10 favourite finger foods for parties or for any other snacking purposes. These recipes will serve a crowd, depending on how many dishes you choose to make.
10. Buffalo chicken nachos
2 bags tortilla chips
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot cayenne pepper sauce (or other hot sauce)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup each sliced olives and diced onion
4 cups grated Monterey jack cheese
Spread tortilla chips on 2 baking sheets. Combine chicken, hot sauce and butter and sprinkle on top. Evenly layer on the olives, onion and cheese. Bake at 350 F about 8 minutes or until melty.
9. Prosciutto-wrapped, almond-stuffed dates
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
8 oz. pitted large, soft dates
1/2 lb. prosciutto slices
Push 1 almond into each date. Wrap each in a piece of prosciutto and secure with a toothpick. Broil about 5 minutes, turning halfway through, until hot and crispy around the edges.
8. Perky deviled eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper (or white if you’re a purist)
1/4 cup minced onion
1 tsp. smoked paprika
Cover eggs in cold water and bring to a boil over high heat in a heavy, covered pot. As soon as water boils, turn off heat and allow to sit, covered, 10 minutes. Cool under running water and remove shells. Cut in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and mash with remaining ingredients except for paprika. Spoon into whites and sprinkle paprika on top.
7. Barbecue chicken quesadillas
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1/2 cup bottled barbecue sauce — any brand and flavour
1 small can pickled jalapeno peppers, chopped (in the Mexican food section of the store)
2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
20 small flour tortillas
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
Combine chicken, barbecue sauce, pickled peppers, cheese and cilantro. Divide among bottom halves of tortillas. Top with more tortillas and brush lightly with butter. Bake at 400 F about 10 minutes. Rest 5 minutes then cut into wedges.
6. Spinach and cheese squares
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 10-oz. packages frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed completely dry, and finely chopped
4 cups grated Swiss cheese
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
Beat eggs and milk. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and beat into egg mixture. Stir in spinach, cheese and red pepper and pour into a generously greased 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes or until the middle doesn’t jiggle. Cool slightly and cut into 24 squares.
5. Stuffed crab shells
1 lb. uncooked jumbo pasta shells
1 can crab, drained and picked over to remove any shells
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise (not salad dressing)
2 tbsp. each minced celery, onion, and red bell pepper
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
Cook shells according to package directions; rinse and drain on paper towels. Combine remaining ingredients and stuff into shells. Chill until ready to serve.
4. Jerked chicken nuggets
4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. each onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, chili powder, ground cumin, salt, and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. each ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
Toss chicken with sugar and spices. Drizzle on the oil and bake at 375 F for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with honey or ranch dressing, or both. Try with cubed pork for an equally delicious experience.
3. Turkey meatballs with hot cranberry dip
2 lbs. ground turkey or chicken
1 lb. lean ground pork
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 medium onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
1 tsp. each salt, pepper, dried savoury and poultry seasoning
1 can whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 bottle chili sauce
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Combine turkey, pork, crumbs, milk, onion, half the garlic, salt, pepper, savoury and poultry seasoning. Refrigerate 30 minutes, then form into bite-sized balls. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 450 F for 15 minutes or until completely cooked through.
For the dip, heat together cranberry sauce, chili sauce, mustard and remaining garlic until bubbling hot and thoroughly combined.
2. Rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes
5 lbs. fingerling or small red potatoes, scrubbed and thoroughly dried
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh minced rosemary leaves
Toss potatoes with oil, salt and pepper. Tumble onto baking sheets, leaving as much space between them as possible, and roast at 425 F for 20 minutes or until nearly tender.
Stir in garlic and rosemary and bake another 5 minutes or until cooked through.
1. Fried scallops with maple harissa glaze
2 lbs. large scallops
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. bottled harissa
1/4 cup maple syrup — best quality possible
2 tsp. soy sauce
These are completely addictive, so people will just keep eating as long as you are willing to cook them.
Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper and fry in oil until just cooked through and golden on the outside. Whisk together harissa, maple syrup and soy sauce and drizzle on cooked scallops.
Happy New Year!
Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.