Looking forward to a party

Are you throwing a New Years Eve party or going to one and need a good appetizer? Be safe this year with some non-alcoholic drinks and fun foods. I also threw in some black-eyed pea salsa for some good luck in the New Year. Happy New Year to everyone! – Pat

Taco meatball ring

2 cups (8-oz) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 tablespoons water
2 to 4 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 pound ground beef
2 tubes (8-oz each) refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2  medium head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 medium tomato, sliced
1/2  cup sliced ripe olives
2 jalapeno peppers, sliced
sour cream and salsa, optional

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup cheese, water and taco seasoning. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 16 balls. place meatballs on a greased rack in a shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Drain meatballs on paper towels. Reduce heat to 375 degrees.  Arrange crescent rolls on a greased 15-in pizza pan, forming a ring with pointed ends facing the outer edge of the pan and wide ends overlapping. place a meatball on each roll; fold point over meatball and tuck under the wide of roll (meatball will be visible.) repeat. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown. Transfer to a serving platter. Fill the center of the ring with lettuce, tomato, onions, olives, jalapenos, remaining cheese, and sour cream and salsa if desired. Yield: 16 servings.

Black-eyed pea salsa

1 can (15-1/2-oz) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 can (15-oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (11-oz) shoepeg corn, drained
1-1/3 cups mild salsa
1 cup medium salsa
3/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/2  cup chopped green onions
1 can (4-1/2-oz) chopped ripe olives, drained
1 jalapeno pepper, deeded and chopped
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
tortilla chips

In a large bowl, combine the first 12 ingredients. Serve with tortilla chips. Yield: 6 cups.

White christmas sangria

3 bottles (750ml each) sparkling white grape juice, chilled
6 cups white cranberry juice, chilled
3/4 cup thawed lemonade concentrate

Just before serving, combine the juices and lemonade concentrate in a punch bowl.

Cheddar bacon dip

1 16-oz container of sour cream
1 packet of dry ranch dressing mix
1 (3-oz) package of real bacon bits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for 24 hours. Serve with cracker, chips or veggies.

Chicken bacon bites

12  bacon strips, halved
10  ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 24 cubes
1 can (8-oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2  cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup soy  sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh gingerroot
sweet-and-sour sauce, optional

Place bacon on a broiler rack. Broil 4-inches from the heat for 1-2 minutes on each side or until partially cooked; cool. Wrap a piece of bacon around a chicken cube and water chestnut slice; secure with a toothpick. In a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine the marmalade, soy sauce, garlic and ginger. Add wrapped chicken; seal and carefully turn to coat. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Drain and discard the marinade. Broil the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side or until the chicken is no longer pink and the bacon is crisp. Serve warm with the sweet-and-sour sauce if desired.

Pomegranate ginger spritzer

1/2 cup sliced fresh gingerroot
1 medium lime, sliced
3 cups pomegranate juice
3/4 cup orange juice
3 cups club soda

Place ginger and lime slices in a pitcher, stir in pomegranate and orange juices. Refrigerate overnight. just before serving, strain and discard ginger and lime. Stir club soda into juice mixture.

Food facts: Tea trivia

• When drinking tea, never use polystyrene cups with lemon. The combination of the hot tea and the lemon will corrode the cup away releasing carcinogens into your drink. It will actually eat right through the cup.
• Iced tea was first created at the 1904 Louisiana purchase exposition in St. Louis, Mo.

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