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Appetizers Usher In the New Year : Simple-to-Prepare Tidbits Made in Microwave Oven

December 28, 1986

After the hectic days of Thanksgiving and Christmas have come and gone, many hosts and hostesses are likely to find they lack the energy for one more holiday celebration. And, despite their efforts, there is just no getting around that New Year's Eve party with family and friends.

If you are one of these less-than-eager cooks, you're probably already on the lookout for some simple-to-prepare yet delectable tidbits that can be served before your special dinner or party.

Put aside your old favorite hors d'oeuvre recipes and wind up your 1986 entertaining with style. Surprise friends with this new selection of appetizers made fast and fresh in the microwave oven.

Add Sparkle to Finale

Assemble and arrange your holiday snacks on the plates on which they are to be microwaved well before the guests arrive. Then, when the doorbell rings, whisk them from the refrigerator or freezer into the microwave oven for piping hot, fuss-free treats that will add sparkle to your year-end grand finale.

The appetizers suggested here are miniature sandwiches, skewered tidbits of meat, fruit and vegetables, mini-meat roll-ups marinated in delightfully different sauces and stuffed vegetables. Each is an excellent candidate for your appetizer trays; guests will enjoy eating them, and you'll be pleasantly surprised by just how easy they are to make. REUBENS ON RYE ROUNDS

1 cup finely chopped cooked corned beef

1/2 cup finely shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup sauerkraut, rinsed, drained and snipped

3 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing

4 dozen round slices rye melba toast

Combine corned beef, cheese, sauerkraut and dressing. Spoon heaping teaspoon on each Melba toast round. Arrange 12 rounds on plate and microwave on HIGH 45 to 50 seconds. Repeat. Makes 4 dozen appetizers. FRUITED HAM PICK-UPS

12 pitted prunes, halved

1 cup water

2 pears, peeled and cored

3/4 to 1 pound ham

3 tablespoons corn syrup

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Place prunes and water in 2-cup microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH 2 minutes, drain and set aside. Cut each pear into 12 pieces and set aside. Cut ham into 3/4-inch cubes and set aside. Combine corn syrup, honey and lemon juice. Place 1 ham cube and 1 pear piece or 1 prune half on wood pick. Repeat with remaining ham and fruit.

Brush each with syrup mixture. Place on rack in microwave-safe dish and microwave on HIGH 4 minutes, rotating dish 1/2 turn after 2 minutes. Makes 48 appetizers. BEEFED-UP MINI TOSTADAS

1 pound ground beef

1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup salsa

1 ripe avocado, mashed

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

24 round tortilla chips

Place ground beef in ring in all-plastic sieve or small colander. Place in bowl and microwave on HIGH 2 minutes. Stir. Combine beef with cheese and salsa. Set aside. Combine avocado, sour cream and lemon juice, blending well. Place heaping tablespoon beef mixture on each of 12 tortilla chips.

Place on microwave-safe dish and microwave on HIGH 2 minutes, rotating dish 1/2 turn after 1 minute. Repeat with remaining chips. Serve with avocado sauce. Makes 24 appetizer tostadas. BEEF ON A BAGEL

2 1/2 cups chopped cooked corned beef

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

1/4 cup salad dressing

1 tablespoon horseradish

12 miniature bagels, split

Combine corned beef, cheese, green pepper, onion and relish. Combine dressing and horseradish, stir into corned beef mixture. Chill 1 hour. Spread about 2 tablespoons corned beef mixture on each bagel half.

Place 12 halves in circle on microwave-safe pizza plate or other large round plate. Microwave on HIGH 4 minutes, rotating dish 1/2 turn after 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining bagels. Makes 24 appetizers. MEXI BEEF AND BEAN MINIS

1 pound ground beef

1 tablespoon instant minced onion

1 (8-ounce) can refried beans

1/2 cup taco sauce

4 dozen round tortilla chips

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Combine ground beef and onion and arrange in a ring in microwave-safe dish. Microwave on HIGH 5 minutes, stirring and breaking meat after 2 1/2 minutes. Stir, cover with wax paper and let stand 2 minutes. Pour off drippings. Stir beans and taco sauce into meat, cover with wax paper and cook on HIGH 4 minutes. Stir after 2 minutes.

Place 1 heaping teaspoonful beef and bean mixture on each of 12 tortilla chips. Place on microwave-safe serving plate. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute 15 seconds. (Increase time if beef and bean mixture has been chilled.) Top with cheese and microwave just until cheese melts. Makes 4 dozen appetizers. MUSHROOM APPETIZERS

1 pound mushrooms

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup bite-size crispy corn cereal squares, crushed to 1/4 cup

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Paprika

Parsley

Stem mushrooms, setting caps aside. Finely chop stems. Place butter in 1-quart shallow casserole and microwave on HIGH 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in chopped mushroom stems and onion. Microwave on HIGH 4 to 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir 2 or 3 times during cooking.

Stir in salt, garlic powder, nutmeg, pepper, cereal and cheese. Fill mushroom caps with mixture and place half on paper towel-lined plate. Cook on HIGH 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through. Repeat with remaining caps. Arrange on serving platter and garnish with paprika and parsley. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

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