Give your stuffed mushroom appetizer a makeover with a little kick and a dab of tart-sweet cherry to contrast with salty bacon. From Elizabeth Hernandez, Prepared Foods, Willowbrook, Illinois

The sweet and savory flavors of caramelized onions, bacon and butternut squash make this rustic tart a winner. If you'd like to make it ahead you can refrigerate it whole or in portions and reheat it in a 300°F oven.

These tasty small bites are just the right combination of salty and sweet. Garnish with toasted walnuts or pecans instead of the almonds, if you like.

Braising in flavorful ingredients is the secret to making lesser-known (and right-priced!) cuts of beef impressive. The beef can be cooked and shredded up to three days ahead and then gently reheated with a splash of water.

Enjoy this savory dip, a mixture of delicious crab and artichokes in a creamy base, with crostini, pita chips, crackers or crudités.

Rich, crispy puff pastry makes an elegant wrapper for cocktail franks, and the easy sauce of cranberry and Dijon mustard is a wonderful seasonal accompaniment.

Which came first, the chickpea or the egg? These rich and tangy deviled eggs with chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans) are inspired by hummus, yet have an irresistible appeal all their own.

Smoky almonds and pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika) are a particularly good match for sweet potatoes.

These refreshing hors d'oeuvres are equally delicious made with salmon, trout, shrimp or crab, so pick a seafood that's best for your budget. For vegetarians, a slice of baked tofu is a perfect substitute for the seafood.

This makes an excellent dip for carrot or celery sticks, or blanched green beans and asparagus. It easily doubles as a creamy salad dressing, too.

These succulent two-bite crab cakes are excellent as an appetizer with the pepper sauce passed on the side or, for cocktail parties, give each one a small dollop of the sauce just before serving.

These meatballs are a common find in tapas bars all over Spain. Wet your hands before forming the meatballs to keep the pork mixture from sticking to them.