Start to finish: 30 minutes
Canapés are the ultimate in ease when it comes to party food. They can be combined in endless ways to suit any taste. Each spread recipe makes enough to top 24 canapés. If you opt to use 24 of each canapé base (for a total of 96 canapés), supplement the three spreads below with a purchased choice, such as hummus, tzatziki or flavored cream cheese. Recipe from the Associated Press.
For the bases:
24 multigrain crackers
24 thin slices of seedless cucumber
24 toasted baguette slices
24 purchased phyllo cups (found in the grocer's freezer section)
For the spreads:
Garlic-herb cream cheese
4 ounces softened cream cheese
2 tablespoons milk
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese and milk until smooth. Stir in the salt, pepper, thyme, oregano and garlic.
Zesty barbecue spread
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons spicy red pepper jelly
1/4 cup sour cream
Splash of hot sauce
In a small bowl, stir together the barbecue sauce, red pepper jelly, sour cream and hot sauce.
Orange sweet potato spread
1 medium sweet potato, microwaved until fork- tender
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Peel the sweet potato, then place it in a medium bowl and mash it. Stir in the orange marmalade and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper.
For the toppers
Small cooked and peeled shrimp
Shredded cooked chicken
Halved cherry tomatoes
Small wedges of manchego cheese
For the garnishes
Shaved Parmesan cheese
Sliced green and black olives
Sliced hot peppers (such as piri piri or Peppadew)
To assemble the canapés: Arrange the bases on a large serving tray. Top each with a small dollop of one of the spreads. Press one of the topping choices into the spread, then finish each with a garnish.