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For us, Christmas is all about spending time with your family, being comfy and cozy in your Christmas pajamas and relaxing with a big, fat plate of your favorite foods. New Year’s, on the other hand, is all about glitz and glamour. It’s the time to put on a sparkly outfit, curl your hair and paint the town red. The perfect accessory to compliment your New Year’s Eve outfit? One of our favorite bite-sized appetizers! (And don’t forget your drink!)

Just when you thought there were no more presents left to open, we give you the best gift of all: five festive appetizers and two of our favorite NYE beverages. We hope you’ll pop our pizza delights into your mouth on the way to the dance floor, pair our spinach and artichoke toasts with your sequins, munch on our meatball sliders after too much champagne, watch the ball drop while dipping some shrimp into the Barefoot Contessa‘s classic cocktail sauce and bite into an ooey-gooey brie bite once the clock’s struck midnight. Wash it all down with a beer margarita (doesn’t get much classier!) or celebrate like Parisians do with a classic Kir Royale. Whatever your plans are, we wish you a happy new year from Blended Kitchen!

Pizza Delights
Pizza Delights, Party Pizzas, Rye Bread Pizza – whatever you call them, they’re delicious! Chances are, if you’re from South St. Louis, you grew up having these at every single party. For those of us who grew up outside the boundaries of “the South Side,” we have one question: why did we have to wait 20 years to find these delectable squares of cheesy sausagey rye yumminess? Well wait no longer – thanks to Cindy, the recipe for Pizza Delights is here!

1 pound pork sausage
1 pound Velveeta cheese (or more, if you want it to be über cheesy!)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 loaf (1 pound) sliced party rye bread

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage until no longer pink; drain. Add the cheese, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and seasonings.

Add the Worcestershire sauce.

Add the ketchup.

Stir until cheese is melted.

Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons hot mixture on each bread slice.

Nugget spreads the cheese mixture on the rye bread.

Place on ungreased baking sheets.

Freeze pizzas or bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.


Spinach Artichoke Toasts The Red Spoon Blog | April 2011
Spinach and artichoke dip has always been one of our favorite appetizers, so when we found a recipe that turned it into bite-sized toasts, we were all over it. There’s nothing we don’t love about melted cheese, garlicky spinach and warm artichokes on crispy toast. Just one bite of these toasts and you’ll be speechless – they are so good! We think you’ll love this recipe as much as we do, so we suggest making a big batch.

This dish is definitely adult-friendly, but nugget wasn’t wild about all the “green stuff,” so he didn’t eat any. We didn’t mind – that just meant there was more for us! The recipe makes 25 pizza-ish crostini toasts.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
10 ounces fresh spinach
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups asiago cheese, grated
1 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
1 16-oz can artichokes – drained and chopped
8 ounces creme fraishe
1 baguette, cut diagonally into 1-inch thick pieces

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Melt two tablespoons butter in a large pot. Once melted add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Remove from pan and set aside.

Cook the onion and garlic.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and add spinach. Cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove spinach from pan and drain of excess moisture.

While spinach is draining, drain and chop the artichoke hearts.

Squeeze out any excess moisture that has not drained from spinach and place spinach in the bowl with artichokes. Add onion mixture and mix together. Add the asiago and parmesan and mix well.

Add creme fraishe mixing until everything is incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Brush both sides of bread with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Place on center rack for 5 minutes per side, or until both sides are golden brown. Remove toasts from pan and repeat process until all bread slices have been toasted.

Place oven rack in upper most rung. Preheat broiler.

Line sheet pan with parchment paper (foil works just fine too – but don’t skip this part or you’ll be soaking your pans for weeks trying to get the cheese off!)

Line toasts on sheet and pile with spinach artichoke mixtures on top.

Sprinkle mozzarella on top and place directly under the broiler for 1 – 2 minutes or until the cheese has melted and started to blister and brown.

Remove from oven and repeat process until all toasts have been broiled.

Watch the ball drop while noshing on one of these!

Meatball Sliders Live Love Pasta | August 2011
There have been so many times when we’ve been to parties with appetizers and drinks where we eat too much but don’t feel satisfied. Bites of spinach and artichoke dip or party pizzas are tasty, but they’re just not that filling. When you’re toasting with glasses of champagne and celebrating past midnight, you need something heartier to keep you going all night long. These meatball sliders are the perfect app to keep you on the dance floor through the new year. Watch out for your party dress, though – these sliders can get a little messy!

These meatballs are super kid-friendly. What kid doesn’t love a meatball sandwich? Especially one that’s stuffed with mozzarella cheese!

We doubled the batch and made 2 sets of the meatball mixture – one with the fresh basil and one without (we wanted to make it more kid friendly.) We used a Le Crueset Dutch oven for the first set and it was sticking a little, even after adding more olive oil. The only upside to this sticking was when we added the sauce to simmer with the meatballs, all the delicious bits of stuck meatball came off and enhanced the flavor even more! The second set (without basil) was cooked in a nonstick skillet. The appearance was better and the meatballs didn’t stick, but they still tasted the same. If we did this over, we’d suggest using a nonstick pan – it’s just easier to handle than the Dutch oven.

For the Sauce:
1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

For the Meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
½ onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes (as many cubes as meatballs you’re making)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Pesto:
4 cups fresh basil
¼ cup pine nuts
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup olive oil (more or less depending on thickness)
1-2 tablespoons water, if pesto needs thinning

For Assembling:
10-12 soft dinner rolls
3 tablespoons butter, softened
10-12 slices provolone cheese
grated parmesan cheese, to sprinkle on top of the rolls

Start by making the sauce. In a large sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onion and  sauté until they’re fragrant and the onion just starts to become translucent.

Pour in the can of tomato sauce and 3 tablespoons of tomato paste.

Season with salt and pepper then add the dried parsley and basil. Continue simmering the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally.

To make the meatballs, combine the ground beef, egg, onion, garlic, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, fresh basil and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Use your hands to combine all the ingredients being careful to not overwork the meat.

Form the meat into balls, about 3 tablespoons of meat in each ball. Press a small cube of mozzarella into the center of the meatball  and form the meat back around the cheese making sure the meat completely covers the cheese.

In another large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Place the meatballs in the pan and allow them to brown slightly before trying to flip them over.

Cook for about 3 minutes per side. They don’t need to cook all the way through because they will finish cooking in the tomato sauce. Add them to the sauce and continue cooking on low heat for about 20 minutes.

To make the pesto, add fresh basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, pine nuts and salt and pepper to a food processor.

Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing. You can add a tablespoon or 2 of water if you want to thin out the pesto.

Place a meatball onto the bottom half of a roll. Top the meatball with a spoonful of sauce and a slice of provolone cheese.

Put in the oven for about 4 minutes keeping the tops of the buns separate from the bottoms. Once the sliders are out of the oven top with a spoonful of pesto, place the top on the roll and serve.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail The Barefoot Contessa | 2008
Shrimp cocktails are one of those classic appetizers found at almost every party. Forget boiling flavorless shrimp for this dish. The Barefoot Contessa punches the flavor up by roasting the shrimp and making a cocktail sauce from scratch. Once you taste this shrimp cocktail, you’ll never boil your shrimp again.

We used a small silicone brush to brush on the olive oil. It gives us more control over the amount of oil used. The shrimp can be made hours before they are served and are better after they’ve cooled. We always add more horseradish to the cocktail sauce – but we like things spicy! To make our lives easier, we use already deveined “Easy-Peel” frozen shrimp from Sam’s. We suggest you do the same!

For the shrimp:
2 pounds (12 to 15-count) shrimp
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:
1/2 cup chili sauce (The Barefoot Contessa recommends Heinz)
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in 1 layer.

Roast for 8 to10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

For the sauce, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.

Add horseradish.

Add Worcestershire sauce.

Add lemon.

Serve as a dip with the shrimp.

Baked Brie Bites Plain Chicken | September 2011
Every winter, Cindy used to host an appetizer party for all of the women in her family. Each woman would make her favorite appetizer and bring it to share with all the guests of the party. Lindsey’s favorite thing to make? Brie with honey and preserves, baked in puff pastry. The cheese would get all melty and gooey and the sweetness from the honey and preserves made it almost like a dessert. The only problem with the brie was that it could get very messy – cheese and honey would ooze out everywhere! So when Cindy found the recipe for baked brie bites on Pinterest, we knew we had to try it. And it was even better than we anticipated.

These bites were so good that we’ve already made them twice over the holidays. The first time we used just honey, the second we added preserves instead of honey. The next time we make it, we think we’ll add some of both. This will be one of those recipes you save and pass on to your kids and grandchildren. They are that good!

Mini phyllo tarts (you can buy these premade at the grocery)
Wheel of brie, cubed
Brown sugar
Chopped pecans
Fruit preserves (we used Raspberry, but peach, apricot or strawberry would all be delish!)

Preheat oven to 350.

Place a cube of brie in each phyllo tart. (Really load up the tarts with the cheese – it will melt down!)

Sprinkle each tart with approximately 1/2 tsp brown sugar.

Top with approximately 1/2 tsp chopped pecans and a dollop of honey.

Drizzle with honey.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until brie is melted. (use more or less of each ingredient according to your preference.)

Brie bites with raspberry preserves. Mmm!

Classic Kir Royale
Kir Royales are one of Lindsey’s favorite drinks. They remind her of having apéritifs at Paris bistros with her dad while she studied abroad. They are the perfect drink for celebrating the New Year with bubbly champagne and sweet crème de cassis. So pop a bottle of champagne and ring in the New Year in Parisian style.

6 ounces champagne
1/2 ounce crème de cassis

Pour the champagne and cassis into a champagne flute. Stir.

Beer Margaritas
Be careful! These margaritas are dangerous – they’re so smooth you can hardly taste any alcohol in them. Cindy loves making these margaritas for girls’ nights and get-togethers with friends. They’ll loosen you up and get you out on the dance floor before the ball drops!

Frozen Limeade
Diet Sprite
Corona or Corona Light

Four simple ingredients!

Empty the frozen limeade into a pitcher.

Using the limeade container as a measuring device, fill remaining ingredients into the limeade container and pour into pitcher.

Equal parts of every ingredient should be measured out in the limeade container (12oz, limeade, 12 oz sprite, 12 oz beer, 12 oz tequila.) Any beer can be used and any white soda can be used.  We usually make it about an hour before serving.

Happy New Year from Blended Kitchen!

Nom. nom. nom.