Recipe Roundup

Christmas opened up so many opportunities to bake and cook. I still pack up my bags and travel home to my parents’ house for the stretch of time between Christmas and New Years. By the time we’re done entertaining my mom’s huge side of the family, my dad’s moderate side of the family, and then just cooking for ourselves, I lose track of how many times the dishwasher has been run. And, I definitely do not even try to keep track of the calories.

Here’s a quick run down of a few of the recipes that I made to contribute to the pile of dishes and calories. I’ll start tonight with revivals of old favorites and save the brand new experiments for another day. I’ll be adding to that group when I make my New Year’s Eve food.

Buckeye Brownies
First on the list are buckeye brownies. It sounds so simple, a layer of brownie, a layer of peanut butter dressed up for the occasion, and a thin layer of chocolate icing. But, somehow when those three layers combine, the flavor is out of this world. If you like chocolate and you like peanut butter, go make these now. If you are making a new year’s resolution to lose weight, make these, eat a small piece, and pawn the rest off at a party. If you leave them in your house, you will eat them all. Cut them into small squares because they are so rich that they are reminiscent of fudge.

I gave you that recipe first to win your trust because the next two recipes are going to have ingredient combinations that might turn you off at first. But, trust me. These are tried and true recipes that have come through for me on many occasions. They make me wonder what other good recipes I’m missing out on when I turn up my nose at outlandish ingredient combos.

Swedish MeatballsI don’t know where this recipe originated, but I know I learned it from my uncle a long time ago, who has long since forgot how to make them. He raved about the meatballs but wouldn’t believe me when I told him that this is his recipe.

For the actual meatballs, I have a recipe, but I never make the meatballs from scratch. I’m not a meatball purist. I just go get frozen meatballs from the grocery store. The sauce is delicious; only food snobs would notice that homemade meatballs aren’t smothered in it. For our Christmas gathering, I got four pounds of meatballs and tripled the sauce recipe below. There was tons of sauce left over, but I think it freezes pretty well, so that was ok. Ready for that strange concoction of ingredients?

14 oz ketchup10 oz grape jelly
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp white vinegar

Just combine all the sauce ingredients until they are boiling and the grape jelly melts. Then add the meatballs. If they are frozen and you’re keeping this warm in a crockpot, I recommend heating the meatballs through in the sauce still on the stove top. Then, you can transfer everything over to the crockpot. This recipe isn’t rocket science either, so if your containers of ketchup and grape jelly are off by a few ounces just eyeball it. No sense in adding measuring cups to the dishwasher if it’s not necessary.

Mustard – onion Pretzel DipThis recipe passed the test. You know the one I’m talking about — the test where people ask you what you put into the dish because they want to recreate the yummy goodness for themselves. Compliments were given to this dip at both parties where I served it, and the good news was I only had to make one batch because it makes a TON of dip. Even my dad who’s not much of a mustard fan came back for more. Trust me. Do not let the eclectic mix of ingredients turn you off. I never would have made this recipe if a friend hadn’t made it once, but yum, yum, yum, I’m glad I was at her party.

1 cup sour cream1 cup mayonaisse
1 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dried minced onion
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
1 tbsp prepared horseradish (the kind on the shelf by the ketchup and mayonnaise)

So, just mix all the ingredients together, and you’ve got dip that will get you invited back to the next party. As I said before, this does make quite a bit of dip. I used my 1 1/2 quart pyrex bowl, and the dip didn’t fill it to the top, but if I’d used anything smaller, I’d have made a royal mess mixing up the dip. If you’re just having a small get together, you might want to halve the ingredients.

As with the meatballs, I just buy frozen pretzels. They are inexpensive, and if my readers have time to knead pretzel dough right before a party, then more power to them. At my parents’ house, we’re generally juggling space in the oven, juggling who is going to take the next shower, vacuum, make the cheese tray, mix up the punch and about a million other things that need to be done. There is no time or counter space to make pretzels. I just sneak the frozen pretzels into the oven, tear up the warm pretzels into one or two bite chunks, and heap them high on a platter next to the dip.

Really, if you’re sitting there reading this post and wondering what to make for an appetizer tonight for your New Year’s Eve party, I just solved your problem. You’re making mustard-onion pretzel dip. You’re welcome.