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CYNTHIA STONE: Punch up the party nibbles

These are not your average cocktail weenies
These are not your average cocktail weenies

The holiday coming up is like two separate events, so I have two evenings’ worth of nibbles for you to consider. First, let’s get our party legs under us with easy, homey and filling snacks that will make everyone happy to celebrate at your house.

Honey, garlic and BBQ flavours punch up the impact of these party nibbles.

Honey Garlic BBQ Cocktail Weenies

Smoked cocktail sausages give the best results but I can’t tell a lie. This recipe is delicious with ordinary hot dog wieners cut into 1-inch lengths. Two packages of little smokies — about 18 to a package — make a perfect party-sized bowl.

Have lots of bottled pickled onions and gherkins on hand, and maybe some cubed cheddar.

Yes, we’re channeling those toothpicked treats from the 60s that started with canned Vienna sausages. And so that you know the 60s are alive and well in my house, those vintage cocktail forks in the picture were my parents’ and they were well used. Still are.

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. olive oil

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup liquid honey

1 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. sriracha hot sauce

36 cocktail sausages

Fry garlic in oil in a medium-sized pot for a couple of minutes, until it softens and is fragrant. Stir in ketchup, honey, soy sauce, mustard and hot sauce and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until sauce has slightly thickened and starts to darken. Stir in the sausages and cook another 10 minutes, until hot through and well coated in the sauce.

You can make these a day ahead because they reheat perfectly in the microwave.

So you have the Jalapeno poppers ready to go? Read on for the lowdown on a dip to go with them that’s sure to please.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Deep frying party snacks is a royal pain. Unless you have one of those high-tech fryers, your house smells like a fish and chips joint and you’re a stove jockey while everyone else is having fun. But who doesn’t love crunchy, spicy, hot, dippy stuff?

If you’re a fan of jalapeno poppers — jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, breaded and fried — you will love this dip. This is a party-sized dish that makes plenty for a crowd. Serve with tortilla chips or pita triangles and extra pickled jalapenos for the heat seekers.

6 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

1 small onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tsp. vegetable oil

2 8-ounch packages softened cream cheese, any fat content you like

1 cup mayonnaise, not salad dressing

1/2 cup bottled salsa verde (tomatillo salsa)

1/2 cup each shredded old cheddar and Monterey jack cheese

1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeno peppers

2 tbsp. melted butter

1 cup crisp breadcrumbs, panko style

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Fry jalapeno peppers, onion and garlic in vegetable oil in a non-stick pan until everything is soft and just starting to take on a little colour. Scrape into a large mixing bowl and cool for 10 minutes. Add cream cheese, mayonnaise and salsa verde and beat with a big spoon or a hand-held electric mixer until smooth. Stir in cheeses and pickled jalapeno pepper sand pour into a greased 9-inch casserole dish.

Melt the butter in the same frying pan and add the breadcrumbs. Stir until they are starting to brown. Add Parmesan cheese and sprinkle this mixture on top of the casserole. Bake at 400 F for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling hot.

 

Ham ’n’ Egg Frittata

Frittata isn’t just for brunch. Cut into squares, still slightly warm or even at room temperature, it is perfect for juggling with a cold beverage. You can even make this a day ahead and reheat in a 350 F oven until warmed through.

If you prefer bacon or sausage, go ahead and substitute for the ham. You can even leave the meat out altogether and use cooked asparagus, mushrooms, drained spinach or pretty much any other vegetables you like.

This dish isn’t exotic or spicy and it doesn’t contain anything out of the ordinary, but it sure is delicious.

3 eggs

1 cup whole milk

2 tsp. grated onion

1 tbsp. melted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

2 cups grated Swiss cheese, or whatever melting cheese you like

1 cup baked or thick-cut cooked ham, finely diced

Beat together eggs, milk and onion. Stir in butter. Whisk together flour, baking powder, pepper and salt and stir all at once into egg mixture. Mix until there are no streaks of flour.

Stir in grated cheese and ham and pour into a well-greased 9-inch by 11-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 F 40 minutes or until the middle doesn’t jiggle and tester comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for at least half an hour. If you try and cut it while it’s molten the pieces won’t hold together. Cut into about 30 squares.

Happy Holidays everyone!

 

Cynthia Stone is an information manager and writer in St. John’s. Email questions to her at cynthia.stone@nf.sympatico.ca.

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