Super Bowl Food: Pigs in a Blanket

Hot dogs and crescent rolls.  What’s not to love?  I make these without the cheese because, you know, who needs all that fat?  Heh, heh — oh.  Dang!

Anyway, no matter how you make them, make a lot.  They’ll go fast!

Crescent Dogs from Pillsbury.com.

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Super Bowl Food: Cocktail Meatballs

It sounds like an odd combination, but meatballs simmered in grape jelly and chili sauce are delicious!  Low brow maybe, but ach! Who cares? It’s Super Bowl season!

Depending on how much time I have, I either make my own meatballs or buy a frozen bag.  Either way, this is really tasty party food and they’re ridiculously easy to make.  I always hope for leftovers because the longer the meatballs sit in the sauce, the better they taste.

Cocktail Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1  16 oz jar of grape jelly
  • 1  8 oz jar of chili sauce
  • 1 bag small frozen meatballs (40 – 50 count)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare meatballs according to package directions and drain on paper towels, if needed.
  2. While meatballs are cooking, pour grape jelly and chili sauce into a large pan over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until jelly is melted.
  3. Add meatballs to pan and stir until coated.
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes.  The longer the meatballs simmer, the more flavorful they get.

If using a crockpot, put everything in the pot and cook on low 6-8 hours. You can also make your own favorite homemade meatballs if you prefer.  Here’s a recipe I just discovered from Stove Top Stuffing.  It’s nowhere near an authentic Italian meatball, but it’s great for this recipe and much cheaper than store bought.

Stove Top Stuffing Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 6 oz. pkg. Stove Top Stuffing (Chicken flavor)
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 2   eggs

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 400ºF.  Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Mix ingredients until well blended and shape into 1-inch meatballs.
  3. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until done.
Easy, pleasy, tasty, done!

One final note, skip the meatballs altogether and use those adorable little mini-wienies.

Sharing the Love with Oreo Truffles, et al.

Sharing the Love with Oreo Truffles

Oreo Truffles
Oreo Truffles, bite-size bits of love

Maybe I should title this post, “Aweigh with Words,” because often when I’m deep into a writing project that isn’t going my way, my mind wanders to Oreo Truffles, and I start daydreaming about treats. If I weren’t a writer, I’d be a treatelier. I just made that word up, it’s a combination baker, chocolatier and candy-maker. I love making desserts. The simple ones that don’t challenge my brain or monopolize my time too much time. I think of them as after-school snack kind of treats: double fudge brownies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate mint bars, the aforementioned Oreo Truffles.

Fancy, complicated desserts scare me. First, I don’t have a lot of time to make them. Second, my kitchen is a minimalist’s dream. I don’t have any (space for) special equipment, so I reserve my all time favorites: Crème Brûlée and Apple Tart Tatin (notice that I love them so much I am compelled to capitalize them) to restaurant visits.

Love of cooking is a genetic trait. I got it from my mother, she got it from her mother and so on. I believe the roots of it trace back to an early Cenozoic era, when an Italian mama got up early one Sunday morning and started making her meatballs and sauce. We’ve passed the tradition on through the generations, and what we’ve learned is that cooking is love. It’s a wonderful, heart-warming, belly-filling way to show someone you care.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, at lot, for me anyway. When my mind becomes too jumbled with thoughts and words, and I can step into the kitchen and get lost in the zen of cooking. It’s meditative and it works to clear my head. Afterward, I go back to my studio and get back to work … plate of cookies in hand.

In this category, I’ll be sharing some recipes that I, as the world’s first treatelier, think you might enjoy. They’ll be fast and easy, like some of my best friends, and they won’t require special equipment. At the most, you’ll need a food processor, but even that is easy to work around.

Please feel free to add your own recipes, or if you try one of mine, let me know what you think. I’ll start this ball rolling, with a ball of a different sort:

Oreo Truffles
These treats are also called cookie balls, but I giggle too much when I say that, so I just call them Oreo Truffles. Sounds more elegant.

  • 1 lb. Oreo cookies (standard 3 sleeve size)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 tubs Baker’s Dipping chocolate (7 ounce each)

Crush the cookies in a food processor until there are no large chunks. You can also crush them in a resealable bag using a rolling pin, meat tenderizer or the back of a frying pan.

Add softened cream cheese and mix until ingredients comes together and there are no lumps of cream cheese.

Roll the mixture into 1″ balls and place on cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

Follow directions on package to melt chocolate. Dip truffles in chocolate and place on wax paper-covered baking sheet.* Refrigerate until firm.

Cover truffles and store in fridge for up to two weeks. (But they’ll be gone LONG before that!)

*If you’ve never dipped truffles before, the first time can be a little tricky. It’s easiest when truffles are well chilled, so take out only a few at a time to dip. Have two forks on hand. Use one fork to dip the truffle into the chocolate. If needed, use the other fork to roll truffle and help lift it out. Allow extra chocolate to run off, or wipe bottom on the edge of container. Place on wax paper. Good luck, it’s not hard, it just takes a little practice and it is SO worth it!

VARIATIONS: Nutter Butter cookies are also delicious in this recipe. Add a drop or two of mint extract to the Oreos for Mint Oreo Truffles. For the coating, you can use white, dark or milk chocolate. Most markets now carry almond bark and dark chocolate bark. You can also gourmet it up, by drizzling chocolate across the tops once they have been dipped. If you add any crushed toppings, be sure to add them immediately after dipping otherwise they won’t stick.

Chocolate Pretzel Bites
Chocolate Pretzel Bites are cute, colorful and oh, Mmm, yum!Sweet and salty are a great combination, and these little buggers bring it home fast! They’re cute, quick, and so stinking good it’s hard to keep them on hand!

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

  • 24 unwrapped Hershey’s Kisses
  • 24 waffle-type square pretzels
  • 24 M&M’s

Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper and lay pretzels in a single layer on lined cookie sheet.

Top each pretzel with a Kiss.

Bake for 4-6 minutes or until the chocolate feel soft when touched with a wooden spoon (or your finger, if you’re me).

Remove from oven and press an M&M into the center of each Kiss. (This adheres all the layers)

Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then put in refrigerator to set for about 20 to 30 minutes. Once they are set, shove as many in your mouth as you can because once everyone else tastes them, there will be none left.

Notes:

You can make more or less than 24 at a time. I found trays of 24 to be the most manageable. Make a lot, though. They go fast.

To make in microwave: Make 6 pretzels at a time. Microwave for 45 seconds and test by pressing an M&M into the center. If it’s not melted, microwave 15 seconds at a time and test each time.

VARIATIONS:

  • Top the Kiss with Reeses Pieces, which are the perfect colors for fall and Thanksgiving.
  • Use your favorite nut in place of the M&M.
  • Use different flavor Kisses or even the striped Hugs, but be careful because the some fillings melt faster.
  • You can adapt this for the holidays by using Red & Green M&Ms or Pastel.