Bite-Size Comfort Food Is Exactly What Your Christmas Party Needs

Do you know what guests go crazy over when I'm hosting a party — even when I serve oysters, caviar and foie gras? The kiddie comfort food, like maca­roni and cheese. Especially when people are drinking — please! It's what they want.

Ultimately you want to put a smile on your guests' faces, and these recipes do it. They look so cute in their mini versions, and of course they're absolutely delicious!

Orzo Mac & Cheese

Serves 8

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 6 sage leaves, torn
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons truffle oil
  • 1 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1¼ cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 16-ounce box orzo, cooked
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1¼ cups fresh breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, then add the sage and wine; cook for 2 minutes more. Increase heat to medium-high and add the cream, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low for about 5 minutes, still stirring. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in the lemon juice, nutmeg, truffle oil, cheddar cheese and 1 cup of the Parmesan. Mix with orzo; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide the mixture into eight 5-ounce ramekins. Mix breadcrumbs with remaining Parmesan and sprinkle over each, then bake until bubbling and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Taco Tartlets

Makes 24


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
  • 2 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mild hot sauce
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons green scallions, sliced
  • 1 cup crushed Doritos
  1. Preheat oven to 425º Fahrenheit. In a bowl, mix beef, taco seasoning mix and ice water with hands. Press into bottoms and sides of a mini-muffin pan.
  2. In another bowl, mix all filling ingredients together. Place a spoonful of filling into each shell, mounding slightly. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
  3. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until meat is cooked through (if using a regular muffin pan, bake for 15 minutes). Remove tartlets from pan with the tip of a knife. Serve warm, or let cool and freeze for later use.

Lamb Sliders

Makes 30

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • Canola oil spray
  • 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
  • 15 mini brioche buns, halved and toasted
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  1. In a bowl, mix together the lamb, mint, garlic, cumin, Parmesan, red pepper flakes and lime juice. Using a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon, form 30 sliders.
  2. Heat a grill pan to medium-high and spray it with canola oil. Grill sliders for 2 minutes per side, or until done.
  3. Brush cooked sliders with pomegranate molasses, place on brioche buns and garnish with feta and pomegranate seeds.

Cashew-Blackberry Toasts

  • Sourdough bread or French baguette
  • Cashew butter
  • Blackberry jam
  • Fresh blackberries, sliced into rounds
  1. Slice bread 1/4 inch thick, toast and spread with cashew butter while hot.
  2. Drizzle with jam and garnish with blackberry rounds.