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Matthew Mead FR170582 AP
Roasted shrimp cocktail, pinapple chicken lettuce wraps, and Elvis phyllo cups. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Ditch the formal dinner; do apps

Not up to putting on a formal dinner party for New Year’s Eve? Can’t blame you. And who cares? Most people would prefer the more casual atmosphere of lots of appetizer-sized nibbles, anyway.

To help you pull it all together, we assembled an easy menu that recasts some classic appetizers in fresh ways. Start off with a roasted take on the traditional shrimp cocktail. Make it funky by serving the shrimp and roasted grape tomatoes in individual spoons. We also have a quick and east pineapple chicken salad that’s served in lettuce wraps.

And for fun, we offer up “Elvis cups” — mini phyllo pastry cups filled with bacon, peanut butter and banana slices.


Start to finish: 30 minutes. Servings: 8.

1 quart grape tomatoes, halved

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar glaze

1 tablespoon horseradish

1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

Salt and ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 400 F.

Set the halved grape tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Toss together and let sit over a bowl or in the sink to drain for 20 minutes.

After the tomatoes have drained, spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Roast for 15 minutes. Stir the horseradish and the shrimp into the tomatoes on the baking sheet, then return to the oven and roast for another 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Can be served on individual spoons or in a wide, shallow bowl with toothpicks.

Nutrition information per serving: 70 calories; 10 calories from fat (14 percent of total calories); 1 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 85 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 12 g protein; 210 mg sodium.


Start to finish: 10 minutes. Servings: 8.

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

2/3 cup pineapple salsa, strained

2 tablespoons chopped cherry peppers

Soft lettuce leaves, such as Boston or bibb

In a medium bowl, gently mix together the chicken, salsa and cherry peppers. Arrange the lettuce leaves in a single layer on a serving platter. Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture into the center of each lettuce leaf, leaving enough room on each leaf for guests to grab the leaves and wrap around the filling.

Nutrition information per serving: 60 calories; 10 calories from fat (17 percent of total calories); 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 30 mg cholesterol; 1 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 11 g protein; 30 mg sodium.


The mini phyllo cups can be found in the grocer’s freezer case near the other pastry and dessert items.

Start to finish: 10 minutes. Makes 15 cups.

1/3 cup natural peanut butter

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large banana, cut into 15 slices

1.9-ounce package phyllo cups (each package contains 15 cups)

3 slices crisp-cooked bacon, each cut into 5 chunks

In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Place 1 slice of banana in the bottom of each phyllo cup. Top the banana slices with 2 teaspoons of the peanut butter mixture, then garnish each cup with a chunk of bacon.

Nutrition information per serving: 70 calories; 40 calories from fat (57 percent of total calories); 4 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 2 g protein; 80 mg sodium.

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