Little snacks can be packed with flavour

We often serve little bites of food rather than a large meal when we gather with friends and family. Appetizers or hors d’oeuvres are fun to munch on while visiting or watching a game on TV.

As a general rule, offer 10 to 12 bites per person when no dinner is served and half that number if there will be a meal later. For variety, serve at least four to six kinds of appetizers with a mix of hot and cold.

Appetizers may sit out for an hour or two, so it is important to keep them in a safe temperature range to avoid food spoilage. Use a serving dish that has a cold pack inserted in the bottom to keep the cold appetizers cold and a crock pot or warming tray to keep the hot ones hot.

Many appetizers can be pre-made so that they are ready tocook or remove from the refrigerator to serve.

Try to make the snacks low cal and healthy. Use this opportunity to work a few more vegetables into your diet by using vegetables as the main ingredient in the appetizers.

Baked kale chips

Kale is a green leafy vegetable that is full of vitamins and minerals as well as cancer-fighting phytonutrients. A friend introduced me to this easy and nutritious snack.

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil 15 mL
  • sea salt

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Using cooking shears, cut off the kale leaves from the stem and then into bite size pieces. Wash and spin dry in a salad spinner or place between towels to dry. Put dry leaves on the parchment lined cookie sheet.

Drizzle oil over the kale, toss lightly and then sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until edges begin to brown but not burn. Serve immediately.

Try other variations of seasonings such as seasoning salt, cajun or your favourite mixture. Adapted from www.canadianliving.com

Fried chickpeas

I love chickpeas and could probably eat then right from the can as a snack, but this recipe is just one step better. Chickpeas are low in fat but high in fibre and iron.

  • 1 19 fl. oz. can chickpeas 540 mL
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil 15 mL
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • paprika

Rinse and drain canned chickpeas. Dry with paper towels and place in a frying pan with olive oil. Fry until golden brown, about five minutes. Season with salt, fresh ground pepper and paprika.

Stuffed cherry tomatoes

Use little fresh cherry or grape tomatoes as holders for a seafood, rice or pasta salad.

Cut a slice off the top of the tomato and scoop out the seeds. Discard or add to the salad mixture. Place a spoon full of the salad into the tomato shell and press to fill. Sprinkle with seasoning or add a slice of olive or pepper to the top. These can be made ahead and refrigerated until serving. Serve cold.

Crab-stuffed cherry tomatoes

  • 1 4.25 oz. can crab meat 120 g
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. chopped chives 5 mL
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. or less of wasabi paste 1 mL
  • 24 cherry tomatoes

Drain canned crabmeat, combine with mayonnaise and add chives, celery and wasabi paste. Cut the tops off the tomatoes, hollow them out and fill with the crab mixture. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Wasabi is Japanese horseradish grated into a green paste. It has a strong, hot flavour. It is sold in a toothpaste type tube and often mixed with soy sauce and used as a condiment for sushi and seafood.

Sweet potato wedges

  • 1 sweet potato
  • vegetable oil
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sesame seeds
  • chili powder
  • hot sauce or red pepper sauce
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and brush with vegetable oil.

Peel sweet potatoes and cut in half lengthwise and then into long thin wedges. Lay the wedges in a single layer on the oiled parchment paper. Brush the sweet potato with more oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper, sesame seeds and chili powder. Roast until tender and golden, about 30 minutes.

Mix hot sauce into the mayonnaise, adjusting to your own taste. Serve sweet potato wedges warm or at room temperature along with the mayonnaise dip.

The above recipes are adapted from www.montrealgazette.com

Baked zucchini sticks

  • 1 pouch Shake’N Bake crispy coating mix
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh 15 mL
  • parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. water 15 mL
  • 4 zucchini, cucumber size
  • 1/4 c. Ranch dressing 60 mL

Preheat the oven to 400F (200 C). Wash the zucchini and cut the unpeeled zucchini crosswise in half and then quarter lengthwise. Mix the coating mix and parsley on a plate. Beat egg and water in a shallow dish with a fork until well blended. Dip the zucchini sticks in egg and then in coating mixture, turning until evenly coated. Place in single layer on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake 20 minutes, or until crisp-tender and golden brown. Serve with dressing. Adapted from www.kraftkitchen.ca

Crumb coating

Try this crumb coating mixture as an option to the purchased coating mix.

  • 4 c. dry bread crumbs 1 L
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil 75 mL
  • 1 tbsp. salt 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. paprika 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. celery salt 15 mL
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground 5 mL
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. minced onion 1 mL
  • 1 pinch dried basil leaves
  • 1 pinch dried parsley
  • 1 pinch dried oregano

In a large re-sealable plastic bag combine the crumbs, oil, salt, paprika, celery salt, pepper, garlic salt, minced garlic, minced onion, basil, parsley and oregano. Seal bag and shake all ingredients together. Use as a coating for chicken or vegetables.

Source: www.allrecipes.com.

When serving appetizers, add fresh vegetables and dip or garnish the serving plate with frozen grapes or pickled peppers.

We would love to hear about your favourite appetizers or your new favourites. With holiday gatherings approaching, we will share your recipes in a column in early December. From all of the entries received, we will make a draw for an appetizer server.

Send your appetizer recipes to TEAM Resources at team@producer.com or Box 2500, Saskatoon, SK S7K 2C4.

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