10/18/2012 08:33 EDT | Updated 12/17/2012 05:12 EST

Three Easy Appetizers For Fall

I entertain more in the fall than any other time of the year. I adore an intimate indoor setting complete with good music, flickering candles and comforting aromas escaping from the kitchen, and I would lying if I didn't also admit that fall food is among my favourite to eat.

During the cooler months I tend to go with one format when it comes to entertaining: lots of small nibblies to start the evening, a main course compromised of nothing but the most comforting foods and a rich, homemade dessert to round out the meal.

The small appetizers are often the part of the meal that confounds most hosts. After years of serving hummus and veggies, and a cheese platter that boast the same triple cream brie year after year, it can be challenging to come up with new ideas that are easy to put together and don't break the bank when it comes to the entertaining budget.

Here are a few ideas designed to bring new life to your entertaining menu this season:


Three Appetizers for Fall

1) Popcorn

I know it sounds pedestrian, but here's the thing: when jazzed up with a chill-lime spice blend or infused with a little cumin, cinnamon and brown sugar, this childhood favourite takes on a new life. It also pairs well with most beer, wines and spirits and if there are kids on hand they'll be pleased to see something familiar at the snacking table.

2) Spicy salami and pickles

It's nice to offer something that it isn't too starchy and a platter of spicy cured meats and crisp pickles fit the bill perfectly. Pick up a package of each at your favourite deli and arrange casually on a platter.

3) Soup

Served in shot glasses or demi-tasse mugs, soup shooters have been on catering menus for decades, and for good reason: they makes use of seasonal vegetables, can be made days, and even weeks in advance, and are fun to eat, especially when accompanied with a little piece of toast. Purées work best for this application, and the more colourful the soup the better.

What are some of your favourite appetizers for in-home entertaining?