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5 Appetizers to Make for New Year's Eve


What are you doing New Year’s? Every year we think about going out or attending an event and every year it just seems right to stay home. There’s something to be said about a quiet, intimate evening spent with your loved one(s), reflecting on the year that is ending and making plans for the year ahead. Whether you’ve hosted during the Holidays or travelled, there is always a mad rush throughout the month of December and I prefer to end it in a slower pace. If you’re hosting a party or staying in and need some munchies, then read on because I have a few that surpass the usual appetizers.

It’s always been a tradition in my family to have snacks or appetizers, munch on leftover Christmas dessert and order a bunch of Chinese food while watching the ball drop. I’ve carried most of that well into adulthood sans Cheese Whiz and the usual chips and dip. I’ve truly got nothing against the infamous cheese ball or good ol’ buffalo chicken dip but on special occasions I like warm foods that are simple to make and are enjoyable throughout the evening. In this blog post I’m sharing five appetizers that are classic, universally well-loved but with a slight twist on each. Here’s the lineup:



1. Polynesian Meatballs

2. Devilled Eggs

3. Mini Steak and Cheese Stuffed Peppers

4. Sage and Sweet Potato Sausage Balls

5. Smoked Bacon Wrapped Brie in Fig Jam


Polynesian Meatballs

Polynesian Meatballs are an old school recipe in my book and are something I make often. We even make these at times for dinner and eat them over rice. These from-scratch meatballs are made in a tangy sweet and sour sauce with pineapple, pepper, and a hint of spice. They are simple to make for a larger crowd too since they can be prepared ahead of time and simmer nicely in a crockpot set on low. This version is a bit lighter with less sugar and the sauce isn’t as heavy or syrupy.


INGREDIENTS

For the meatballs:


1 ½ lbs. lean ground beef

1 small onion, diced

½ cup plain breadcrumbs (Panko or gluten-free works well too)

¼ cup milk

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil (coconut oil works and adds so much flavor)


For the sauce:

½ cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple,

½ cup water

½ cup rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

¼ cup ketchup

1 teaspoon onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1 green or yellow pepper, diced


DIRECTIONS


In a large bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients minus the oil (this will be used for searing). Mix until just combined and form into 1 to 1 ½ inch sized balls. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add tablespoon of oil and brown meatballs on all sides. Remove meatballs and place at the bottom of a 4- or 5-quart crockpot.

In a medium sized bowl, mix cornstarch and brown sugar. Stir in remaining ingredients, whisking until fully incorporated. Add diced pepper to sauce and pour evenly over meatballs. Cook on low for 4 hours. Makes about 40 to 45 meatballs.




Devilled Eggs

Devilled eggs but with a bit of a kick! You either love them or hate them and I'm not here to argue or convince you but these are the best I've ever made.


INGREDIENTS

7 to 9 boiled eggs.

¼ cup mayonnaise (Can’t go wrong with Duke’s)

2 tablespoons sweet pickled relish

1 ½ teaspoons English or Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon paprika

Salt and pepper, to taste


DIRECTIONS

Slice boiled eggs lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in a bowl. Mash yolks with a fork until finely ground. Stir in mayonnaise, relish, mustard, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Spoon yolk mixture evenly into egg whites. Top eggs with sliced pickle, capers, pimentos or simply sprinkle some black pepper. I also like to place smoked salmon on top and a sprinkle of Everything But The Bagel seasoning on top.



Mini Steak and Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Friends, this is where we’re getting our vegetable intake. These are filled with cheesy goodness and amazing flavor plus steak is involved.


INGREDIENTS

20 to 24 mini peppers

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

16-ounces thinly sliced steak (ribeye)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

8 ounces freshly shredded white sharp cheddar

1 cup freshly grated parmesan chees

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil. Cut and trim tips off peppers, scooping out the seeds and membrane. Place peppers on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast peppers for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. While peppers are cooling, make the filling.

Add olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to large pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes until softened. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add thyme, paprika and Worcestershire sauce. Set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon butter to pan. Add steak to pan, season with salt and pepper and cook until meat is no longer pink.

When meat has cooled, dice steak into small pieces and add to onion mixture. Add cream cheese, cheddar, and parmesan to bowl. Using a spatula, blend cheeses into steak mixture until fully incorporated. Fill each pepper with 1 to 2 tablespoons of mixture. Place back in oven at 425 degrees and bake for 5 to 7 minutes.


Sage and Sweet Potato Sausage Balls

An old-fashioned appetizer that was traditionally made with a baking mix, cheddar, and pork sausage. I’ve made slight modifications for a more flavorful and savory bite, making these irresistible to snack on.


INGREDIENTS

1 pound ground pork sausage

½ pound lean ground beef

8 ounces sharp white cheddar, freshly grated

¼ cup milk

3 cups flour (gluten-free one to one works well)

4 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 cup roasted and mashed sweet potato

Pepper to taste



DIRECTIONS


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, spices, and sage. Add mashed sweet potato and milk, stirring to combine. Add pork sausage, ground beef and cheddar to flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix until blended well. Form mixture into 1 to 1 ½ inch sized balls and place on baking sheets. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve alongside barbeque sauce, mustard or garnish with chives.





Smoked Bacon Wrapped Brie in Fig Jam

Bacon...cheese...need I say more?

INRGEDIENTS

8 to 10 slices bacon

8-ounces Brie cheese

4 tablespoon fig jam


DIRECTIONS


Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Lay 4 to 5 slices bacon next to each other on parchment paper or foil. Place the brie on the center of bacon slices. Spoon about 4 tablespoons of fig jam on top of brie. Using the back of a spoon or pastry brush, spread jam evenly on top of brie and over the sides. Wrap the outer pieces of bacon over cheese. Place 4 to 5 remaining slices crosswise over brie and wrap hanging pieces under the bottom of brie. Transfer parchment paper/foil to a baking sheet and bake for 1 ½ hours. Increase oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake brie for another 30 minutes. Serve with baguette, crostini or artisan crackers.



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