Tasting parties prove that less is more when it comes to this big trend in small food.
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As winter rolls in, our thoughts turn to the holidays—and food. Although we look forward to celebrating with friends and family, the holidays often overwhelm us with party plans. But you don’t have to prepare an elaborate feast to feed your loved ones. One of the hottest culinary trends this year is tasting parties—where bite-sized meals are served buffet-style. This year, serve tradition with a twist with these party palate-pleasers.
Sweet Potato Casserole
1 large can sweet potatoes, mashed
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup sugar
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
6 tablespoons butter
½ cup crushed cornflakes
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup coconut
Preheat oven to 400°. In a casserole dish, combine sweet potatoes with egg, butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Mix well. In separate bowl, dissolve cornstarch in milk. Add milk to casserole and mix well. Bake 15 to 20 minutes.
For topping, melt butter and stir in cornflakes, brown sugar, and coconut. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and sprinkle with topping. Return to oven and bake 15 minutes more. Serve as a casserole or spoon individual servings into serving spoons or mini casserole dishes.
Individual Lettuce Cups
1 head romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce
¾ cup bottled blue cheese salad dressing (tested with Ken’s Steakhouse)
½ cup blue cheese, crumbled
½ cup tomatoes, diced, or cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup real bacon pieces
Yield: 12 servings
Cut head of romaine lettuce crosswise 4 inches from top or slice head of iceberg lettuce in half and use interior leaves. Separate individual lettuce leaves. Place 12 leaves on a serving platter to use as cups. Shred remaining lettuce. Fill lettuce cups with shredded lettuce, salad dressing, cheese, tomatoes, and bacon.
Black Bean Pumpkin Soup
3 (15½-ounce) cans white navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
1¼ cups onion, chopped
½ cup shallot, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin, plus 2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ stick unsalted butter
4 cups beef broth
1 (16-ounce) can pumpkin purée
½ cup dry Sherry
3 to 4 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a food processor, coarsely purée beans and tomatoes. Over moderate heat, sauté onion, shallot, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper in butter, stirring until onion is softened and beginning to brown. Stir in bean purée. Add broth, pumpkin, and Sherry until combined and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 25 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Just before serving, add vinegar. Simmer soup, stirring, until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in small glass bowls or shot glasses.
Maple-Glazed Chicken Sausage Bites
1 (12- to 16-ounce) package apple chicken sausages, cooked
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
2 tablespoons fresh sage, or ½ teaspoon dried sage, crushed
16 to 20 pretzel sticks
Yield: 12 servings
Preheat oven to 375°. Cut sausage into 1-inch slices and place in a shallow baking pan. Combine maple syrup, mustard, and sage; set aside. Bake sausage 8 minutes. Brush generously with maple glaze. Bake 8 minutes more or until sausage is glazed and heated through, stirring once. Use pretzel sticks as edible toothpicks to serve sausage slices.