Here's one of the best hacks we've seen for a cheap, packaged snack. Carla Ruben, from Creative Edge Parties, which has catered events for Beyoncé and Alicia Keyes, takes thick-cut potato chips and tops each with a small piece of smoked salmon, a dollop of crème fraiche and finely diced chives—offering a glamorous spin on what's basically a 15-minute, no-cook appetizer.
A great Caesar salad is one of the most crowd-pleasing foods you can serve, but it isn't often on cocktail-party menus (ever tried eating a salad while mingling and holding a drink?). Celebrity caterer Peter Callahan has a unique way to make the dish portable: He forms grated cheese into mini tartlets using a mini muffin pan, then fills each with a spoonful of greens and croutons drizzled with the classic dressing.
Cheese on a crunchy piece of bread is a can't-go-wrong party food, and this version from Jennifer Smith, also known as The Traveling Chef, in Springfield, Missouri, is a keeper. You melt a small piece of Brie on a slice of baguette, then spoon fig jam on top and finish with half of a fresh fig and a sprig of pea shoot or watercress. It's fruity and creamy with a bit of freshness from the greens.
Freshly made bacon and popcorn are two foods with irresistible aromas. Put them together and watch out. This addictive party snack from Ruben combines bacon, popcorn and maple syrup for a salty and sweet treat that's guaranteed to go in a flash. You can pop the popcorn ahead of time, just be sure not to dress it with the finishing maple glaze until just before serving, so the popcorn doesn't get soggy.
This fresh slaw, from the catering company Great Performances, is the perfect accompaniment to any food that has some heat, from Buffalo wings to chili. Make it once, and it'll be in your rotation forever. It's as easy as slicing vegetables into thin strips, mixing them together with a salty-sweet dressing and letting the slaw chill in the fridge until you're ready to serve it, in baby Bibb lettuce, endive or radicchio cups.
Instead of putting out bowls of spiced nuts, try this take on brittle from Peter Bonizio of Thomas Preti Caterers, which has operated in New York for almost 30 years. He starts with pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas), boiling them with simple syrup and spices, then roasts them for 20 minutes. The sugary coating forms a brittle you can break into pieces and serve alongside drinks as a nibble with some kick, thanks to chili, chipotle and cayenne powder.
Supereasy to make, these portable and good-looking tortilla roll-ups have become a cocktail-party staple. But Eduard Frauneder, of New York City's Elderberry Catering, fills the roll-ups with a few ingredients we hadn't seen before: avocado and tzatziki. The dip made up of Greek yogurt, garlic and cucumber has just enough zip to make these interesting, and avocado adds color and just the right amount of richness.
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Figs Stuffed With Gorgonzola And Walnuts
Even if you don't love figs, give this appetizer a try. The fruit, cheese and nuts melt into a toasty bite that might just turn you into a convert.
<strong>Get the recipe: <a href="http://www.oprah.com/food/Figs-Stuffed-with-Gorgonzola-and-Walnuts-Recipe-Anne-Burrell">Figs Stuffed with Gorgonzola and Walnuts</a></strong>