Monday, November 21, 2016

Get the Party Started - Holiday Hors d'oeuvres

The gathering season is upon us, and chances are you’ll be hosting a get-together or two over the holidays. The following hors d’oeuvres are substantial enough that your guests will feel satisfied but not overly full. Pair them with an assortment of cheeses and some colorful veggies and you’ll have a meal that’s just right. Happy hosting!

Sausage Polenta Rounds

Meatless Stuffed Mushrooms

Each time my Mom serves these hearty hors d’oeuvres, she is asked what type of meat is in them. Surprisingly none! 

Instead of discarding the mushroom stems, they are diced and mixed with spices to create a savory filling. Makes 6 appetizers.

Meatless Stuffed Mushrooms

6 large white mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup onion, diced
½ teaspoon minced garlic
Salt to taste
Italian bread crumbs
Parmesan cheese, shaved

Snap off the stems of the mushrooms. Set aside. With a teaspoon scoop out a bit of the mushroom cap to create a larger hole for the stuffing. Dice the stems and extra mushroom scooped from the cap.

In a frying pan, melt butter. Sauté onions until they begin to soften. Add garlic, salt and diced mushroom pieces and sauté until soft. Add bread crumbs and heat until mixture thickens. 

Fill each mushroom cap with stuffing. Top with Parmesan cheese shavings. Bake at 425 F for 20-25 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and cheese forms a crust.

Tangy Cranberry Meatballs

This recipe has been in my family for years.  I can remember my grandmother rolling hundreds of these scrumptious little meatballs for her parties. Just a warning – they go fast! Makes approximately 4 dozen meatballs.

Tangy Cranberry Meatballs

3 pounds lean ground beef
2 eggs
1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

12-ounce jar Heinz Chili Sauce
14 ounce can jellied cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Squeeze of a lemon

In a large bowl, combine meatball ingredients. Roll into 1 inch balls. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes or until no longer pink. Drain on paper towels.

In a saucepan, combine sauce ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring to break up cranberry sauce. Add meatballs and simmer 30 minutes.

Sausage Polenta Rounds
I was excited to find pre-cooked polenta at a local grocer, it sped up the process considerably. Also, feel free to spice things up a bit by using sweet, mild or hot Italian sausage.

Sausage Polenta Rounds

¾ pound bulk Italian sausage
1 cup marinara sauce
24-ounce tube pre-cooked polenta
Olive oil for frying
Grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil for garnish

Heat oven to 350 F. In a frying pan, cook sausage until no longer pink. Stir in marinara sauce. Set aside.

Slice polenta into ½ inch thick rounds. With a spoon, gently scoop out a bit of polenta from the center of each round, creating a shallow well. In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and cook polenta rounds a few minutes per side, in batches of 5-6.

Transfer polenta rounds to a baking sheet. Fill wells with 1 tablespoon of sausage mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until polenta is slightly brown and cheese has melted. Garnish with basil leaves.

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