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Get the party started with hearty holiday hors d’oeuvres 
–by Jennifer Ruple


 Jennifer Ruple

Jennifer Ruple








The gathering season is upon us, and chances are you’ll be hosting a get-together or two this month. Instead of a traditional sit-down dinner, try an hors d’oeuvres buffet. The following three recipes, from my grandma, my mom and me, are substantial enough that your guests will feel satisfied but not overly full. Pair them with an assortment of cheeses and some crudités and you’ll have a meal that’s just right for the occasion. Happy hosting!

Tangy Cranberry Meatballs













Tangy Cranberry Meatballs
This recipe has been in my family for years. I can remember my grandmother rolling hundreds of these scrumptious little meatballs for her parties. Just a warning – they go fast! Makes approximately 4 dozen meatballs.

3 pounds lean ground beef

2 eggs

1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons chopped parsley


12-ounce jar Heinz Chili Sauce

14-ounce can jellied cranberry sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Squeeze of a lemon

In a large bowl, combine meatball ingredients. Roll into 1” balls. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes or until no longer pink. Drain on paper towels.

In a saucepan, combine sauce ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring to break up jellied cranberry.

Add meatballs and simmer 30 minutes.

(Recipe from Ann McGrath)

Meatless Stuffed Mushrooms

Meatless Stuffed Mushrooms









Meatless Stuffed Mushrooms
Each time my mom serves these hearty hors d’oeuvres, she is asked what type of meat is in them. Surprisingly none! Instead of discarding the mushroom stems, they are diced and mixed with spices to create a savory filling. Makes 6 appetizers.

6 large white mushrooms

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup onion, diced

½ teaspoon minced garlic

Salt to taste

Italian bread crumbs

Parmesan cheese, shaved

Snap off the stems of the mushrooms. Set aside. With a teaspoon, scoop out a bit of the mushroom cap to create a larger hole for the stuffing. Dice the stems and extra mushroom scooped from the cap.

In a frying pan, melt butter. Sauté onions until they begin to soften. Add garlic, salt and diced mushroom pieces and sauté until soft. Add bread crumbs and heat until mixture thickens.

Fill each mushroom cap with stuffing. Top with Parmesan cheese shavings. Bake at 425 F for 20-25 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and cheese forms a crust.

(Recipe from Carol Alexander)

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Sausage Polenta Rounds









Sausage Polenta Rounds
Finally, here is my contribution to the trio of holiday munchies. I was excited to find pre-cooked polenta at Sautter’s Food Center in Sylvania, which sped up the process considerably. Also, feel free to get a little spicy by using sweet, mild or hot Italian sausage.

¾ pound bulk Italian sausage

1 cup marinara sauce

24-ounce tube pre-cooked polenta

Olive oil for frying

Grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil for garnish

Heat oven to 350 F. In a frying pan, cook sausage until no longer pink. Stir in marinara sauce. Set aside.

Slice polenta into ½ inch thick rounds. With a spoon, gently scoop out a bit of polenta from the center of each round, creating a shallow well. In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and cook polenta rounds a few minutes per side, in batches of 5-6.

Transfer polenta rounds to a baking sheet. Fill wells with 1 tablespoon of sausage mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until polenta is slightly brown and cheese has melted. Garnish with basil leaves.

(Source Jennifer Ruple)

Jennifer Ruple is the author of the blog


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