Quick and Easy Nibbles for a Cocktail Party

"Making Ahead" is the Key

When you're planning party, it's easy to get lost in the bazillion recipe ideas you can find on the internet. It's difficult to figure out which ones might work.

The following ideas will please your guests, and leave you plenty of time to mix and mingle.

After all, you want to enjoy the party, too.

How To Use This Information

Please take note that each of these recipes can be doubled, tripled, or more -- it all depends on whether you're having a party for 8 or for 28.

If you're serving hungry people, then you'll probably want to include other things, too. These are just a couple of ideas to help you avoid serving the same-o same-o veggies-n-dips.


Garlic at a Party? Yes!

Roasted garlic, that is.Served with various types of crackers.

If you've never tried roasted garlic, you're in for a real treat. They're so easy to make ahead, and your guests will rave.

Buy as many heads of garlic as you'll have guests. Recently I had a party for 18 people, so I bought 18 heads of garlic.

Slice off the tops -- but keep the heads intact. Arrange them in a single layer in a baking dish (for large parties, I use two of my largest Pyrex baking dishes.)

Spray them with Pam, then put them into a 350 degree oven until the garlic has fully roasted. Usually this takes about a half hour, but if you're doing a lot of them it might take a little longer.

You'll know they're done because they become really soft. Check one before you continue with the recipe.

Let the roasted garlic cool, then squeeze them into a large bowl. Make sure you don't get the paper that surrounds the garlic into the bowl. This is easier than it sounds, since the paper "wrapper" of the garlic gets crispy while in the oven.

Lightly salt them then put them into the fridge.

Divide the roasted garlic into smaller bowls and place them around the party area with platters of crackers alongside them. I buy the large bags of mixed party crackers at Costco.

Roasted garlic is delicious -- and doesn't have the bite, or the odor, of fresh garlic. Get ready for raves -- people who have never tried these are astounded at the rich, sultry, almost nutty flavor that garlic gets from being roasted.

This delicious appetizer can be made up to 24 hours in advance.

Marinated Olives

I love this recipe -- it's so easy, and looks like a million bucks.

Buy three different types of olives -- I always get the large ("Queen") green olives with pimento, kalamata olives, and Nicoise olives (a French salt-cured olive.) Make sure you have at least one green type, and the brown type (kalamata or some of the other Greek olives) and Nicoise, which tends toward a black color.

Chop one large sprig of rosemary, a large sprig of thyme, and thinly slice green onions. Mix the herbs and onions with the olives and a vinagrette made from a third cup of olive oil and a half cup of lemon juice.

Let the olives marinate for at least 24 hours, then place into pretty bowls and put out for the party. They taste great with cocktails, beer or wine (or punch, too!)

You'll love how pretty they look in the bowls.

Directions continue after the ebay information below.

Something Sweet On The Side

Though salty and savory should be the main appetizers I like to serve at least one sweet nibble. The following spread -- a Pineapple/Walnut Dip -- tastes really fantastic and is out of the ordinary. Serve it with Vanilla Wafers and/or butter crackers.

The following recipe can be doubled or tripled, depending on the size of your party.

The ingredient list is easy:

2 cups cottage cheese

1 cup sour cream

1 medium-sized can crushed pineapple, including juice

1 cup shelled walnut pieces

juice of one lemon

Process the cottage cheese in your food processor till it's creamy, then fold in the sour cream, pineapple, walnuts and juice of one lemon. I usually add half a lemon, then add more to my taste. Some people like the taste of more lemon -- use your own judgement.

I think it tastes best if you make it at least 8 hours before your guests arrive. Keep it in the refrigerator, then take it out about one hour before you plan to serve it.

Look at you -- relaxed at your own party!

All of these appetizers can be made ahead and then served cold -- the roasted garlic spread and the marinated olives -- and room temperature for the pineapple/walnut dip.

Your guests will love that you're serving something out of the ordinary, and all of these recipes taste great.

Best of all? They're all done ahead of time, leaving you to relax and chat up your guests. The best parties are the ones where the host/hostess are able to mix and mingle without the stress of managing the appetizers.

After all, a party should be fun for everybody - - and that includes the people who are throwing the party.

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