Photo: Thinkstock

1. The Simply Amazing Chip and Dip
Crunchy chips and creamy dip are a mainstay on the party circuit, but they aren't usually the foods everybody talks about the next day. Two simple recipes will change all that. Homemade, crispy rounds (all you need are potatoes, garlic, oil, salt and pepper) and a garlicky, herby Parmesan spread are so good that you might want to make a double batch.

Get the recipes: Baked Potato Chips and Herb-and-Cheese Dip

Photo: Thinkstock

2. The Cheesy, Crunchy Hot Hors d'Oeuvre
A coating of panko bread crumbs ensures that these showstopping cheese fritters will have a perfectly crusted exterior. When frying, leave an inch between each fritter (if they're packed too tightly, the oil temp will drop and make the panko soggy). The balsamic dipping sauce (recipe included with the fritter instructions) is a lovely go-with, as is basic marinara sauce.

Get the recipe: Smoked Mozzarella and Ricotta Fritters
Mini BLT sandwich

Photo: Thinkstock

3. The Teeny-Tiny Cold Hors d'Oeuvre
Mini anything—meatballs, crab cakes, twice-baked potatoes—are always a hit at parties. They've got the "aww" factor and also allow guests to multitask, i.e., eat with one hand while holding a drink in the other. These micro-BLTs fit the bill with mini everything, from baby lettuce to sliced cherry tomatoes.

Get the recipe: Mini BLT Sandwiches
Chicken pot pie

Photo: Ben Fink

4. The No-Brainer Casserole
The thought of making chicken potpie for a crowd may sound like your basic nightmare (who wants to roll out that much dough—or has that many ramekins?). Not if you follow this recipe, though. Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock, aka the Casserole Queens, tell you to buy rotisserie chicken, mix it with a few basics, cover it with frozen puff pastry dough, throw the whole thing into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and heat until golden.

Get the recipe: World's Greatest Chicken Pot Pie

5. The Colorful Winter Salad
Can a bowl full of raw vegetables possibly compete with a table loaded with indulgent main courses? Yes, thanks to the can't-miss combination of color, crunch and clean flavors. You can easily make this heaping platter of baby spinach, figs, cranberries, almonds and apples ahead of time; just add the apple slices and the pomegranate vinaigrette right before serving.

Get the recipe: Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Photo: Jennifer May © 2011

6. The Unbelievable Dinner Roll
"Oh posh," you say, "I can just pick up a package from the supermarket on my way to the party." And while the authors of The Art of Living According to Joe Beef say these doughy homemade potato rolls may look like "the cheap grocery-store doughy rolls that your grandma serves," they taste nothing like them. Instead, they're smooth and airy—the closest you'll come to fluffy little pillows of baked mashed potatoes.

Get the recipe: Potato Dinner Rolls
Brownie truffles

Photo: Johnny Miller

7. The Rich, Chocolaty Dessert
Quiz: What is the best way to ensure that everyone at the party will eat at least one piece of the dessert you bring?

A) Make brownies
B) Make truffles
C) Make both

The correct answer is C, because no matter what else is being served, a gooey, fudgy treat that is a cross between a brownie and a truffle will wind up on every guest's plate.

Get the recipe: Chocolate Decadent Bites

Next: 7 holiday desserts that decorate themselves


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