The Best Make-Ahead Finger Food

Posted by on Sunday Dec 25th, 2011 | Print

With the holidays near–er, here–holiday party season is in full swing. We’re sure you’ve already labored over festive meals and decadent desserts to serve to your loved ones when entertaining at home. If you’re still hosting, for New Year’s Eve, perhaps, you deserve to take a break. Or at least appear to in front of your guests.

These awesome appetizers require almost no moment-of work or attention. Some need to be pulled out of the oven or gently reheated, but other than that, they’re purely make-ahead. For the most part, they’re easy too, requiring no more than a few hours of work a day or two before.

That means when you throw a finger food party, all you’ve really got to do is relax, dip your pita into some hummus, and toast to the new year with friends.

Will you be hosting or attending an at-home New Year’s Eve party? What are you making (or bringing?)?

**The Best Make-Ahead Finger Food**


1. Cheesy White Bean Dip with Smoked Paprika Toasts
Incredibly gooey, especially considering the main ingredient is beans, this make-ahead, bake-to-order dip is a total crowd pleaser. Loaded onto savory toasts, it’s a good base for a night of drinking.


2. Butternut Squash Latkes
Since we’re almost at the final day for potato latkes, continue the frying season with a change of pace: butternut squash. To great, make-ahead effect, Phoebe usually fries these early in the day, or even the day before, then reheats them in the oven til they’re crispy. To save on prep time, simply provide Greek yogurt on the side for dipping.


3. Deviled Eggs with Lime and Sriracha
You can boil the eggs a few days in advance. Then, a couple hours before the party, halve the eggs, make this delicious filling, which is spiked with spicy Thai flavors, and plate them. Keep them covered in the fridge unti your guests arrive.


4. Pigs in a Blanket with Honey or Whole Grain Mustard
We love pigs in a blanket. You love pigs in a blanket. Your mom loves them and your little cousin does too. So why aren’t they served at every single party? Beats us. They’re also perfect to prep in advance: just roll crescent dough around mini dogs and keep them on baking pans in the fridge. Just before guests arrive, pop ‘em in the oven.


5. Onion Dip

This dip gets better–way better–with time. At first it appears to be just a miscellaneous concoction of onions, sour cream, and mayo. Yes, those are the main ingredients: don’t you want to try it?? But an overnight in the fridge changes this dip to a fresh rendition of an old favorite, Lipton’s Onion Dip.

6. Focaccia Squares
Making bread from scratch never fails to impress. Focaccia has a relatively quick rise time, so you can get it done start-to-finish early in the day. Top appetizers with tapenade, sundried tomatoes, potatoes and pesto, or chopped sausage. Cut the finished bread into bite-sized squares and reheat them before serving.

7. Cheese and Crackers
A foolproof way to feed your buds while spending virtually no time doing prep work or chopping onions, or anything. If you can afford it, go to your local gourmet cheese shop and let the cheesemonger guide you. If not, you can still assemble a great plate from the supermarket: buy your favorite cheddar, a hunk of Jarlsberg, some Parmesan, and whipped cream cheese. Put out the three hard cheeses; mix the cream cheese with tapenade, sundried tomato, or scallions to give it some character. Then arrange crackers and sliced baguette around your platter. Give each cheese its own knife, and you’re good to go. If you’re jonesing to cook after all that, try your hand at homemade crackers.

 8. Green Market Crudités with Lemon-Paprkia Aoili
Arrange your favorite veggies in neat piles around the perimeter of a platter, preferably something circular. Place the aioli in a ramekin or small bowl in the center. Crudités isn’t exactly the most original appetizer, but it gets the job done and is perfect for grazing.


9. Blue Corn Chips with Peach Salsa
Your neutral hors d’oeuvres spread can use a little jazzing up, especially if it’s supposed to be celebratory. Colorful corn chips and bright-tasting salsa are a great staple of course, but the fruit salsa (you can replace peaches with mango or pineapple in winter) gives the standby a leg up.


10. Potato Chips with Crème Fraiche and Caviar
This is just barely a recipe, we know. But the appetizer is greater than the sum of its parts. A salty, crispy chip is topped with cold and creamy crème fraiche and punctuated with caviar. Moments to prepare (or show guests how to assemble their own), this one is festive, even romantic.

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