I often get asked how to make a lot of hors d’oeuvres when throwing a large party.  It can be costly to hire a caterer and making your own light bites is very doable if you follow my tips and plan ahead.  



I always stick to these four tips when I’m making hors d’oeuvres for a large group or even for a small group during cocktails at a dinner party…

  1. Make things that can be served cold or at room temperature (all the recipes below).  This takes the worry of hot things becoming cold out of the equation.
  2. Use recipes that can be made in a large batch and assembled as they are needed.
  3. Make bites that are actually bite-sized!  None of your guests want food dropping on them every time they take a bite, so make sure things are small enough to one or two-bite.
  4. Stick to things that can be prepared in advance.  You don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen when your guests arrive and miss out on all the fun of cocktail hour!

Last week LivCooks collaborated with four other fabulous brands and threw a great event, which included shopping, rosé and of course, yummy LivCooks light bites.  I want to thank and give a shout out to Bronwen Smith of B Floral for creating the gorgeous setting, flowers and crowns, Wolffer Estate for the delicious Finca rosé and Rebecca Cohen of LoveShackFancy and Joey Wolffer of the StyleLiner for showcasing all of their terrific clothes and accessories.  Make sure to check out all of their awesome websites and social media pages!

For the LivCooks light bites, I made three different passed hors d’oeuvres; my great-grandmother’s crab balls, tuna tartare on a rice cracker and white bean puree with pancetta on a crispy crostini.  These three things paired really nicely with the fresh crudité platter and ricotta dip I assembled and placed near the bar!


Hope you’ll try out these recipes and let me know what you think.  Also, don’t forget to post your LivCooks creations with #LivCooks.  I can’t wait to see you own your next cocktail party!


Crab Balls

Serves 20


2 pounds jumbo lump crabmeat

2 slices toasted white bread

2 eggs

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

6 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon hot sauce sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Form the mixture into 40 crab balls. Place on a baking sheet and bake in oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Can be served warm or at room temperature.



Tuna Tartare on a Rice Cracker

Serves 20


1 pound very fresh tuna steak

1 cup olive oil

The zest of 1 lime

¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

½ teaspoon wasabi powder

½ tablespoon soy sauce

½ tablespoon hot red pepper sauce

½ tablespoon kosher salt

¼ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup minced scallion, white and green parts (12 scallions)

1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper, seeds removed

2 ripe Hass avocados

3 packs of small round rice crackers (flavor optional, I use the sesame flavor)

Cut the tuna into 1/4-inch cubes and place it in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi powder, soy sauce, hot red pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Pour over the tuna, add the scallions and jalapeno and mix well. Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour so the flavors blend together. Cut the avocados in half, remove the seed, and peel. In a separate bowl, smash the avocado into a purée. Place the avocado purée into a plastic bag and cut a small opening on one corner of the bag. Lay out the rice crackers onto a serving dish. Put a small amount of the avocado purée onto each cracker. This will act like glue for the tuna. Scoop the tuna tartar onto each cracker and serve.



White Bean Pancetta Crostini 

Serves 20


2 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces pancetta, diced

3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and thickly sliced

Two 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Squeeze of lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 fresh baguette’s, sliced ¼ thick and toasted

Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook until it becomes brown but does not burn. Add the rosemary and garlic, and sauté until fragrant. Stir in the beans, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Smash the beans with a wooden spoon, leaving some of the beans whole for the texture. Slice the baguette into ¼ inch slices and toast until crispy. Serve the beans on top of the toasted baguette. If reheating, simply add some chicken or vegetable broth to the mixture and combine over medium heat.



Crudité platter with Ricotta Dip

Serves 20


Fresh vegetables of your choice

(I like to use a rainbow of colors including tomatoes, orange, red and yellow peppers, carrots with stems, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes with stems, etc)

6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced in half lengthwise

1 cup Marcona Almonds

Cut vegetables in small slices for dipping.  Arrange in groups varying the color around the board.  Place sliced eggs around board and garish with greens.  Place a small bowl of Marcona Almonds (or other nuts) and Ricotta Dip in the center of the board.


For the ricotta dip:

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Beat the ricotta and milk together until the mixture is light and fluffy with a large whisk. Add the table salt, garlic powder, black pepper and mix well. Place into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the thyme and oregano. Top the mixture with olive oil and serve with vegetables or toasted baguette.