Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Appetizers/Finger Food

This time of year usually means parties, family get togethers, church gatherings, and countless other reasons for you to have to come up with a quick, easy, and delicious finger food. My mom always use to fix 2 different dishes and the best part of them was that the sauces were totally interchangable with the meats. You could use which ever you liked best with whatever meat you liked. For me, that's a double win. Neither of these are your normal "finger" foods as you'd need a toothpick to eat them with but that's still a good thing for holiday parties. Just get yourself some super cute seasonal toothpicks and you can create an eye pleasing platter or dish of delicious, warm, yuminess.

First is my mom's meatballs. There's nothing super special about these. She use to spend hours slaving over making her own meatballs and while they were so incredibly delicious, that just doesn't fit into my busy hectic schedule. With that said, I've used frozen bagged meatballs and it's tasted just as good. The difference? The bagged meatballs are smaller and therefore, better for parties. This sauce she simply referred to as a Sweet and Spicy Chili sauce. It's really good and you can honestly use a ton of different meats with it. You can even experiment with using meatballs from meats other than beef. Chicken, turkey, bison, and pork. I've tried the pork and it was SOOOOO good!!! So here's the sauce recipe:

1 jar Chili Sauce (this can be found down the ketchup aisle and it's found in a glass bottle. Usually on the top shelf out of my reach...figures)
1 jar Grape Jelly (now here's the REALLY cool thing...I've experimented and used Blackberry Jelly, Strawberry Jelly, and Black Cherry Jelly and they all worked PERFECTLY and gave a sort of different twist. Be sure you use Jelly though and not preserves)
Chili Powder, Salt, and Pepper to taste

All you have to do is mix up the ingredients together, throw em in a crock pot, add the meatballs, and allow it to simmer on low until the meatballs are heated through. Vuala! Done!

Up next is my mom's Sweet and Sour Sauce. She would usually put Lil Smokies in this sauce (either plain, all beef, or all cheese...the cheese is my fav). Again, the meat can totally be tweaked to your liking. Use sausage slices (go for the oblong cut as it's visually more appealing), try chicken or turkey meatballs, or go for anything really. You can totally experiment. It's what makes cooking fun!!! This is again a SUPER easy recipe. Here's what you need:

Pineapple Juice
Apple Cider Vinegar
Dried Mustard

I usually put the smokies in a pot and then ALMOST cover them with the pineapple juice. Don't fully cover them or you'll have tons of sauce. Then add the vinegar, mustard, and paprika to your taste. I like a bit more vinegar in mine than others as I prefer the sour side over the sweet but not everyone is the same so find the proportions that work best for you!! Then just slowly simmer them on the stove over low heat for roughly an hour and BAM!!! YUMMY!! I like to put them in a dish that is sort of deep. So the sauce stays with the weiners. Then I just set a cup of toothpicks next to them and usually within minutes they're GONE!!!! I've never ever had ANY of these or the meatballs left over. I always have everyone begging for the recipes by the end of the night and I use to stay pretty tight lipped about the how to's on this. With my life getting incredibly hectic with a toddler, my own business, and the military aspect of it all I find these are the best things for all the get togethers we go to. I hope they're as big of a hit at your gatherings as they are at mine and have been!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spaghetti Sauce/Marinara

I've been asked for a long time for my Spaghetti Sauce recipe. To be entirely honest, I don't have a set written recipe for it. I made it up on my own out of my head. I have nothing more for the recipe than a list of ingredients. These can actually be tweaked to your liking. You can remove them, add others, etc. Here's the following list of ingredients.


Vinegar (can be either balsamic, red wine, or white wine. You can experiment and see which you like best)
EVOO (this is another ingredient that you can experiment with. You can try sweet almond oil, olive oil, peanut oil, apricot kernel oil...any number of vegetable oils)

Whole Pepperocini Peppers (how many you put in will depend on how much you're making, how spicy you want want it, and how much of a vinegar flavor you want)
Bell Pepper
Black Olives

All of the vegetables can be altered to your liking. You can experiment with adding different types of olives, different flavors of olives (marinated etc), and different types of peppers.

These are what I put in mine but are NOT necessary. I just love the taste of my sauce with cheese in it.

Spicy Italian Sausage
Sweet Italian Sausage
Ground Beef
Ground Lamb (especially delicious)
Ground Buffalo

For the base I use canned crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce depending on it's use. For example: If I'm using it for spaghetti I use crushed tomatoes to help keep the sauce light and not as heavy/rich. For baked ziti or lasagna I use tomato sauce. If you prefer a thicker sauce across the board always use tomato sauce. You'll also want at least 1 can of petite diced tomatoes or 2-3 large fresh tomatoes diced small.