Serving up appetizers that are delicious is probably your first priority, but cute designs make those tasty treats even more fun to eat. Dressed up appetizers are ideal for your child's birthday party or kindergarten graduation, but even adults appreciate the thoughtfulness that goes into creating an eye-pleasing appetizer display. No need to spend hours in the kitchen creating perfect plates -- cute appetizers utilize simple ingredients and techniques without skimping on flavor.
Upgrade plain platter displays with cute designs that play with colors, shapes and images. Turn a vegetable platter into an appetizer garden. Cucumbers, peppers and slices of tomato turn into flowers with shaped cookie cutters. Dab hummus, ranch dip or even hot sauce into the centers of your flowers for flavor. Create stems with thin slices of celery, and make leaves with lettuce or spinach. Sliced spirals of rolled meats or cheeses are also suitable for creating the tops of flowers on an antipasta plate. Tortilla sandwich spirals set atop celery slices or small pickles are friendly garden snails, and sliced cherry tomatoes with spots made from bits of black olive are edible garden ladybugs.
Any round surface is an opportunity to take a simple appetizer to an adorable appetizer. Turn traditional deviled eggs into more playful devilish eggs. Decorate the halved eggs with slivers of red pepper to create horns and make ominous black olive eyes. Serve up English muffin pizzas with friendly, edible faces; use fresh mozzarella balls for eyes, orange cheddar or broccoli for hair, tomato slices for smiles and oregano for freckles. You can also arrange whole platters to resemble faces. Three small round ramekins or bowls filled with creamy dips take up the center of the platter as eyes and a nose. Arrange your color-coded vegetable stalks or curly breadstick crackers around the top edge as hair, and fill in below the bowls with crispy baked kale chips or ripple chips to create a playful mustache.
Bite-sized treats in animal shapes are creative and cute options for starters. Large black olives become the bodies of penguins when you make a slice down the long end and fill with cream cheese or fresh mozzarella. Top the olives with another smaller olive, set the edible birds on a carrot disc, and secure with a toothpick for easy eating. Hard-boiled egg bunnies are as simple as slipping two triangles of carrot into the top of the egg for ears and painting on whiskers and eyes with a toothpick dipped in tomato paste. If you are serving fruit or vegetable skewers, stick them into a round cantaloupe or watermelon to look like the tail feathers of a turkey or peacock. A halved pear arranged stem-side down resembles a bird beak to finish the display.
One of the simplest ways to create cute appetizers is to make miniature versions of appetizers that are traditionally much larger. Miniature tacos served in scoop-style tortilla chips are dainty versions of the real deal. You can even downsize slider burgers by cutting out small discs of bread from larger buns and using a melon baller to portion out the ground beef before cooking. Miniature muffin tins create 2-ounce bites instead of the more standard 4-ounce muffins. Use the small tins for baking individual quiches, crab cakes, or baked spinach and cheese cups. Keep the displays cute and playful using decorative toothpicks with colored foil frills, or tiered display trays for serving several varieties of bite-sized starters on a single platter.
- "Family Fun": After-School Snacks Photo Gallery
- "Cool Fruit & Veggie Food Art"; Nancy Tuminelly; 2010
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