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the giving season

Recipe: cocktail meatballs

Sunrise is so late these days that I keep missing it because I’m already up and doing things by the time it happens. But this week I’m still at battle with that not-quite cold. It’s right on the threshold, yet I manage to keep it at bay each day. A little extra rest seems to help, which meant that I was able to see sunrise this morning. So glad that I did. Every sunrise is a gift.


fiery color for a few minutes, then the rest of the day was overcast



The winds have been pretty horrible, too. Sometimes we get nice cloudscapes AND nice weather, but usually the most interesting cloud formations occur when the winds are crazy terrible. That’s life on the boundary layer for you. Life on this part of the boundary layer has been all about wrapping up this year and getting ready for the next one. I dropped by the vet after taking four pairs of skis in for tuning (I hope we’re beyond rock season now), to ask about Neva’s microchip. It appears to have migrated to her front leg. Nothing serious, but they want to be sure that the chip is still scannable. While there, I got to hang out with Aspen, the Giant White Dog of Nederland. Aspen could give Jon Snow’s Ghost a run for his money. Neva looooooves Aspen. Actually, I think she loves everyone. In many ways, Neva channels our beloved Kaweah.

aspen knows how to shake

aspen’s mom gives him a treat (he is as tall as her when he stands up)



Lately, I’ve received the best kind of packages in the mail – the ones that aren’t sent for an occasion, but just because. I say packages, but they are gifts. Gifts that were crafted or grown, and shipped because of friendship and love. Gifts from hearts and hands. Jamie was test driving new equipment in her woodshop and cranked out several gorgeous custom bottle openers. And then Todd and Diane sent a box of fresh, fragrant Buddha’s hands from their (ridiculously amazeballs) garden to my doorstep in snowy Colorado.

i don’t even drink, but i opened a pear hard cider just to use the opener

neva peers into the box of california sunshine



Times like these, when my head is a little foggy from congestion, are when I’m most grateful for my cookie distribution spreadsheet. It’s the only way to keep track of how many cookies, which kind of cookies, to whom, when to bake, and when to deliver. Timing is everything because everyone skidaddles starting as early as a week before Christmas, and fresh baked cookies are freshness wasted if they aren’t eaten until after the start of the new year. But my window grows short because I don’t make edible gifts when I’m potentially sick, so I’ve had to work on other things.

You know what I crave most when I’m deep into cookie making season? Appetizers. I love me some savory appetizers. It’s a good thing I don’t attend sportsball parties, because I would dive straight into the appetizers only to require extraction at the end of the game. Some day, when I have the time and brainwaves to plan a party, I’ll have to add these cocktail meatballs to the menu. They are like little meatloaf bites, but with more surface area dedicated to the tangy sauce.


salt, worcestershire sauce, sherry, water, vegetable oil, bread cubes, milk, mace, mustard, red currant jelly, paprika, black pepper, ketchup, eggs, onion, ground beef

prepped for the meatballs



Neva is getting used to the routine when I’m shooting recipes. She likes to come and check out what’s what by doing a walk-by sniffing. If there is beef in the recipe, she’ll walk by six or seven times until I tell her to move it on outta there. But she’s a good girl who only sniffs with the occasional air-lick. She never jumps up to grab what she wants, and more often than not, she’ll curl up and sleep while I work with food.

soak the bread in the milk

squeeze out the excess milk

add the onion, spices, seasonings, and egg

mix in the ground beef



The meatballs are pretty easy to mix and roll. These guys go under the broiler, but if you 1) don’t broil often and/or 2) have a crappy broiler, then you should keep an eye on how things are progressing to make sure the meatballs aren’t getting carbonized or just sitting there without cooking properly. If you don’t have a broiler, I think pan-frying the meatballs is a perfectly reasonable alternative.

line up the meatballs

brush with vegetable oil

broiled (under my crappy broiler)



So the sauce is even simpler to make than the meatballs. The only thing that gave me any trouble was finding red currant jelly. I looked in about four different stores and came up with bupkis. But eventually, King Soopers (City Market) came through for me and I bought three jars because I was so annoyed after driving all over town looking for this jelly. I suppose in a pinch you could substitute apple jelly and a squirt of lemon juice.

heat the jelly, ketchup, sherry, and worcestershire sauce until the jelly melts

stir in the water

add the meatballs

simmer until the meatballs are thickly glazed



These cocktail meatballs are classic 1970s party fare, but really – they are great at any party. If you are looking for quick and easy ideas for make-ahead appetizers, you might should consider these delectable nuggets of meaty goodness. Dress these up or down, but with the holiday season in full swing, cocktail meatballs make a nice addition to the menu.

provide picks for an easy grab

who can resist a cute little cocktail meatball?



Cocktail Meatballs
[print recipe]
from Food and Wine

meatballs
5 slices white bread, cubed
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs, beaten
1 small onion, minced
1 tbsp salt
2 tsps sweet paprika
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground mace
2 lbs. lean ground beef
vegetable oil (for brushing)

sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup red currant jelly
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup water

Make the meatballs: Soak the bread in the milk for a minute. Squeeze out excess milk and place the bread in a large bowl. Add the eggs, onion, salt, paprika, mustard, pepper, mace, and ground beef to the bread and mix until combined. Try not to overwork the filling. Grease a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Form 1-ounce balls (about 1 1/2-inches in diameter) and place on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the meatballs with vegetable oil. Broil the meatballs 10 inches from the broiler for 10 minutes until they are sizzling and browned. My broiler sucks, so I placed my meatballs on the very top rack so that the tops were 2 inches from the broiler. Remove from the oven.

Make the sauce: Combine the ketchup, red currant jelly, sherry, and Worcestershire sauce in a deep skillet over medium heat. Stir until the jelly has melted. Add the water and bring the sauce to a simmer. Transfer the meatballs to the skillet. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes until the meatballs are glazed and the sauce is thickened. Serve hot or warm. Makes about 48 meatballs.


more goodness from the use real butter archives

chinese fried pork meatballs italian meatballs lion’s head meatballs alb√≥ndigas (mexican meatball) soup

10 nibbles at “the giving season”

  1. Kristin says:

    These do look yummy! My gas oven doesn’t broil well at all. I kind of want an industrial torch so I can make garlic bread and creme brulee with that (my kitchen torch died, but I think my mom is getting me a new one for Christmas). We’ve had glorious sunrises this week and, before yoga on Monday, I made everyone go outside to look at the unbelievable color of the sunset. Aspen is beautiful. What kind of dog is he? He looks more trim than any Samoyed I’ve ever seen.

  2. Christine says:

    These look so great! I don’t know if I’ll be able to find the currant jelly (without going online) but I bet lingonberry jelly from the local IKEA will do.

  3. Theresa says:

    I’ve heard of similar recipes that uses grape jelly instead – but it’s a lot less refined than your version! I’m going to bookmark this one for next time I have a party :)

  4. ellen says:

    wowza! thank you for making the meatballs…actually making them (and the sauce!) – not buying frozen premade balls. it amazes me when people say so excitedly that they are “making” the ubiquitous appetizer meatballs and all they do is buy a box of frozen balls and open a jar of bbq sauce and a jar of jelly and throw it all in a crockpot. *gackkyface*
    i LOVE making homemade meatballs, silly me!

  5. ellen says:

    …and i forgot to say how excited i am to see what you make with your fresh Buddha’s hands!! OH MY!

  6. Mary Karen says:

    I hope you’re feeling better, Jen? I think we’re in for more snow tonight and I know you all won’t want to miss that! Meanwhile I’m drooling over your sumptuous meatballs + I can you tell me where you found the cool picks?

  7. Jill Hyde says:

    As always, your photos are extraordinary! You must share what you do with the Buddha fingers. I see them at WF, but have never tried. Be sure to call the good doctor when you are nearby…he has something for you too, besides a hug. You have his cell right? I told him you would. If he can’t answer, he won’t.

  8. jenyu says:

    Kristin – Aspen is a quarter wolf and probably Great Pyrenees and Malamute? I forget what his owner told me because I’m always so smitten with Aspen when I see him :) He’s definitely over 100 lbs.

    Christine – oooh, that is a GREAT idea! Although IKEA is even harder for me to get to than King Soopers ;)

    Theresa – I saw some recipes that used grape jelly, too. But it is so much sweeter that I think the apple jelly/lemon juice would be a better alternative.

    ellen – ha ha ha! What people consider cooking these days is a little scary (and they blog it, no less). But everyone here is of like mind and tummy :) That’s why we all get along so well! Oh, I’ll probably just break them down and make a vodka infusion because I have no time to do anything fancier this year. Here is the recipe: http://userealbutter.com/2010/03/11/buddhas-hand-citron-vodka-recipe/ as well as one for candied citron: http://userealbutter.com/2013/12/18/candied-citron-recipe/

    MK – yes, feeling better! Thank you! The picks came from… Crate and Barrel? Yes, I think that’s right. I tend to get a lot of things there because they have nice clean lines and simple designs for not outrageous prices.

    Jill – vodka infusions this year with the Buddha’s hands. I’ll let the good doctor know when I’m in the building! xo

  9. angelitacarmelita says:

    Every sunrise IS a gift…. I love that and what a beautiful shot. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. Around the holidays, I can’t take all the sweets, but give me some savory apps and I’m good to go! I can’t wait to make these, and the Chinese pork fried meatballs for a little meatballs madness. And those Buddha’s hands are ridiculous…. I’ve seen them on the East Coast, but they look like regular lemons compared to the one’s Todd & Diane grow! holy cow! Hope you feel better soon, and Happy Holidays to you, Jeremy and Neva!

  10. Kristin says:

    Oh wow…what a combo! I can imagine that you are smitten with him. Beautiful!

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