Oscar entertaining made easy? It's formulaic!

ALISON LADMAN
The Associated Press
Modified: February 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm •  Published: February 18, 2013
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photo - In this Jan. 28, 2013 photo, using our building block approach to Oscar party canapes, diners are able to select from a buffet of ingredients -- from bases and spreads to toppings and garnishes -- to design snacks that suit their preferences as shown on this serving tray in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
In this Jan. 28, 2013 photo, using our building block approach to Oscar party canapes, diners are able to select from a buffet of ingredients -- from bases and spreads to toppings and garnishes -- to design snacks that suit their preferences as shown on this serving tray in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

SPREADS:

— Garlic-herb cream cheese

4 ounces softened cream cheese

2 tablespoons milk

Pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese and milk until smooth. Stir in the salt, pepper, thyme, oregano and garlic.

— Zesty barbecue spread

3 tablespoons barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons spicy red pepper jelly

1/4 cup sour cream

Splash of hot sauce

In a small bowl, stir together the barbecue sauce, red pepper jelly, sour cream and hot sauce.

— Orange sweet potato spread

1 medium sweet potato, microwaved until fork-tender

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Peel the sweet potato, then place it in a medium bowl and mash it. Stir in the orange marmalade and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper.

TOPPERS:

Small cooked and peeled shrimp

Shredded cooked chicken

Halved cherry tomatoes

Crab meat

Small wedges of manchego cheese

GARNISHES:

Shaved Parmesan cheese

Sliced green and black olives

Sliced hot peppers (such as piri piri or Peppadew)

Sliced scallions

To assemble the canapes, arrange the bases on a large serving tray. Top each with a small dollop of one of the spreads. Press one of the topping choices into the spread, then finish each with a garnish.