Sweet, savory fill table

Published 12:58 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2009

By Staff
Holidays pose dilemma’s for cooks everywhere. The hardest part of the holiday season is preparing for parties and potluck events. My dilemma has always been trying to come up with a dish that won’t be imitated 40 times at the gathering but still be interesting enough for attendees to try and enjoy.
As I looked around at some of the party fare I have been offered over the past weeks, I’ve considered the possibilities of something new, different, tasty and inviting. I’ve searched through recipe collections and have found a few things that might liven up the table filled with cheese dips, cookies and pimento cheese sandwiches.
For a little something sweet, this first recipe should be a hit. I’ve prepared a similar version of this in the past and those who tried it reviewed it nicely.
Caramel Apple Dip
16 individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
1/4 cup water
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, or in the microwave, melt caramels with water, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, cream together cream cheese and sugar. Fold in caramel mixture. Serve with apple wedges.
Another variation on this recipe calls for grated apple in the dip. That may be a better way of serving this type of dip since apples can turn brown quickly after they have been sliced.
Apple Dip
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
2 apples, cored and grated
Whip cream cheese until creamy. Stir in vanilla, brown sugar and grated apple. Serve with butter cookies or cinnamon graham cracker squares.
If you’re looking for a savory dish to carry to the next holiday gathering you attend, you may want to get away from the ordinary. If that’s the case, you could give this next recipe a try. My friend, Karen, is a big fan of the Reuben Sandwich, so this one may be a hit with her family. This dip is best served with a somewhat bland chip. Try a variety of pita chips or toasted bread points.
Reuben Dip
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing
16 ounces sauerkraut, rinsed and squeezed dry
8 ounces shredded corned beef
16 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and dressing. Spread sauerkraut into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Layer corned beef, Swiss cheese, and the mayonnaise-dressing mixture on top of the sauerkraut. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Finally, if you want something with a little more body than just a dip, hearty dishes with meat are always welcome. This recipe for meatballs is a really good one. Keep in mind that if time limits what you are able to do, most grocers carry pre-made meatballs in the freezer section. You can use the Italian meatballs for this recipe, but the original, plain meatballs are the best.
Sweet & Sour Meatballs
3 pounds ground beef
1/3 cup dried onion flakes
1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 cup cider vinegar
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons mustard powder
1 cup water, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
To make meatballs: In a large bowl, combine beef, onion flakes, bread crumbs, salt, nutmeg, eggs and milk. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls, and place into a 9×13 inch baking dish; bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Lower heat in oven to 350 degrees. To make sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix vinegar, sugar, mustard and 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Mix cornstarch and 1/2 cup water; add to saucepan, and boil for one minute more. Add sauce to cooked meatballs, and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, basting occasionally.
I hope you get an invitation to at least one party this season. If you aren’t invited to a party throw one yourself and try a couple of these recipes. You’ll certainly be invited back again. next year!
Happy holidays and happy cooking!

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