Even Shop Cheap needs to take time off to go shopping. And that's what is happening this week. If you want to know what's on sale, check out last week's blog because most of the prices have remained the same.
Before heading to the store, I asked recipe researcher Sheila Kern to help out with those last-minute ideas, dishes you can make ahead - especially when the surprise guest shows up. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!
Cocktail Meatballs I
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup shortening
12 fluid ounces tomato-based chili sauce
1 1/4 cups grape jelly
In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, milk, egg, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and ground black pepper. Mix together, and shape into meatballs.
In a large skillet, heat shortening over medium heat. Add meatballs, and cook until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from skillet, and drain on paper towels.
Add chili sauce and jelly to skillet; heat, stirring, until jelly is melted. Return meatballs to skillet, and stir until coated. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
1 cup white sugar
1 cup apricot jam
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Combine cranberries with sugar in a 2 quart baking dish with a lid, stirring well to coat all the berries. Bake in the preheated oven, covered, for about 30 minutes, until the cranberries pop and release their liquid.
Remove from oven and stir in the apricot jam and pecans. Refrigerate overnight to blend the flavors. To serve, allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature, and pour dip over the block of cream cheese on a serving dish. Serve with buttery round crackers or small pretzels.
Citrus Marinated Olives
Yield: about 3 1/2 cups
1 pound large green olives with pits, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
Cover the olives in cool water; soak for at least 5 minutes or up to 5 hours.
In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart container, combine all the remaining ingredients. Add the olives and stir or shake to combine. Make sure the olives are submerged in the marinade. Let sit in a cool, dry place for 1 day. Refrigerate for 1 or 2 days before serving.
Show: Party Starters Episode: Bridal Shower
Yield: 20 servings
1 (7 to 8-inch) wheel brie cheese
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 sheets (12 by 18-inch) puff pastry
2 eggs, beaten
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using a warmed sharp knife, or unflavored dental floss (See Cook's Note 1) cut the wheel of brie in half horizontally and separate the top half of the wheel from the bottom half. Sprinkle the bottom half of the brie with the dried cherries, toasted almonds, and brown sugar. Replace the top half of the brie and apply pressure to secure the stuffing. Working on a well-floured surface, roll out the puff pastry so that it will fully cover the brie. Place the brie in the middle of the puff pastry and fold the excess pastry around the wheel. Put the wheel aside. Roll out another piece of puff pastry and cut out a circle the same circumference as the top of the brie. Save the trimmings for decorations. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg on top of the brie in the puff pastry and place the circle on top. Brush the top of the circle with egg. Cut out decorations using cookie cutters or a small knife on top of the brie. Brush the entire top side of the brie with the egg and place the brie on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the pastry begins to turn golden brown, then turn the temperature down to 325 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve on a pretty platter. See Cook's Note 2.
Cook's Note 1: Instead of using a knife to cut the brie, use a piece of unflavored dental floss. Make an initial cut half way down, along the outer side of the brie with a pairing knife. Then, take a long piece of dental floss and wrap it around both hands. Starting at the front of the wheel at the initial cut, work through the wheel with the floss, separating the top half of the wheel from the bottom.
Cook's Note 2: The brie can be made, wrapped securely and stored in the freezer up to a month ahead of time.
Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onion Appetizer
Makes 16 appetizers
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
3 medium onions, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
16 slices (1/2-inch-thick) baguette-style French bread (from 10-ounce loaf)
3 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Melt butter in 7-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook onions, brown sugar and vinegar in butter 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown.
Set oven control to broil. Place baguette slices on ungreased cookie sheet. Broil with tops 4 to 6 inches from heat 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly toasted.
Spoon about 1 teaspoon caramelized onions evenly onto each baguette slice. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the cheese. Broil about 1 minute or until cheese is melted.
Gorgonzola is a cow's-milk cheese with bluish-green veins, similar in flavor and appearance to other blue cheeses. If you don't have Gorgonzola, any other blue cheese, such as Roquefort, Stilton or Maytag, would be a good substitute.
The onions can be cooked and refrigerated up to 48 hours ahead of time and reheated in a microwave oven. Assemble the appetizers just before broiling.
Arrange these tasty appetizers on a pretty platter, and garnish with fresh parsley or another favorite herb. Add a variety of marinated olives from the deli.
1-2-3 Snack Mix Recipe
Yield: 6 cups
1 package (6.6 ounces) miniature cheddar cheese fish-shaped crackers
1 package (6 ounces) dried cranberries
1-1/4 cups salted cashews
In a large bowl, combine the crackers, cranberries and cashews. Store in an airtight container.
Cheesy Green Chili Artichoke Dip
1 block (8 Oz.) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cups shredded parmesan
1 tablespoon grated parmesan
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 jar (14 Oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 can (4.25 Oz) green chilis
3 dashes hot sauce (such as Tapatio)
1/4 cups shaved parmesan, for topping
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and mayonnaise with a hand mixer until smooth.
In a small bowl, mix all cheeses together (except the 1/4 cup of shaved Parmesan). Add cheese and remaining ingredients (except the shaved parmesan) to the medium bowl and stir until combined.
Transfer into a shallow oven safe serving dish. Top it off with the shaved Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Then bake 5 minutes under a low broil.
Sweet Pumpkin Dip
Yield: 15 servings (5 cups total)
2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY'S 100% Pure Pumpkin
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Beat cream cheese and pumpkin in large mixer bowl until smooth. Add sugar, cinnamon and ginger; mix thoroughly. Cover; refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve with fresh fruit, bite-size cinnamon graham crackers, gingersnap cookies, toasted mini-bagels, toast slices, muffins and/or English muffins.
Note: For a lower-fat version of this recipe, substitute light cream cheese (Neufchatel) for cream cheese.