"There are distinct flavors and tastes that we get excited about as we leave summer," says Barbara Sieger, assistant director of catering at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. "You get cozier with bolder flavors, soothing soups (in shot glasses, naturally) and smoked ingredients."

Small bites served in innovative vessels are some of Vanderbilt's catering calling cards: mini cast iron skillets for cornbread, cute little cups of beets and ceramic spoons for a peanut butter concoction that's straight-up fall fabulous.

Here are some autumn appetizer ideas from Sieger: