Looking for an easy holiday appetizer? Here you go! This is one of my family’s favorites and I have friends who still text me asking for the recipe to this day. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser, and seriously think about doubling the batch depending on how many people you are serving, because there will not be leftovers and chances are good you will run out.
You could make your own meatballs if you’re cool like that. But honestly my scarf making season is in full swing right now so I’m taking every shortcut I can when it comes to meal prep because that means more time to crochet. Winter in Wisconsin brings out my inner old lady–my faaavorite thing to do when the temperatures start to dip is watch some cheesy Christmas movies on Netflix, put my slippers on and crochet to my heart’s content!
Of course, my toddler has other ideas. Her favorite thing to do all the time is have me read every single book that we own. And seriously children’s books these days…who comes up with this sh*t?! I could write a better story about the orange and chamomile tea that I had for breakfast today than some of these so called authors. Okay, maybe not really. Maybe it’s just when you are made to read the same story 700 times in one day it starts to suck. This year for Christmas, new books! Good books!
Slow Cooker Peach Whiskey BBQ Meatballs
- 26 oz. bag Italian or traditional style frozen meatballs (feel free to make your own if you have the time and energy, this year I am all about making scarves so I have no time or energy)
- 1/2 cup Peach Whiskey (2 of those cute little bottles)
- 1/4 cup (regular) Whiskey (1 of those cute little bottles)
- 3/4 cup chili sauce
- 1/2 cup peach preserves
- 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Kosher salt
- fresh cracked pepper
Start by combining all sauce ingredients in a large slow cooker. Stir until everything is well mixed. Add meatballs, cover and cook on low for 4 hours (or high for 2 hours) or until meatballs are heated through. Serve with toothpicks, because who doesn’t want to eat meatballs with toothpicks?!
If you’d like to make these ahead of time, combine the sauce, add the frozen meatballs and then refrigerate the whole crock pot insert overnight. This will thaw the meatballs and cut down on the cooking time too. If they are thawed you could get away with about an hour on high before serving, but double check that they are warmed through.
Mmmmmmm. Is there anything better than caramelized onions? Well, yes, actually. Caramelized onions with tangy blue cheese and sweet fig jam atop a flaky, puff pastry crust. This lip-smacking appetizer made an appearance this year at Thanksgiving and it was promptly devoured.
We are lucky enough to have most of our family in town, which means the holidays are extra busy for us! We used to hustle and bustle from one side of the family to the next, house to house, all day long stuffing our faces. But several years ago we started celebrating with my in-laws the Saturday after the actual holiday and what a game-changer that has been. No longer are we rushed and full all day. We enjoy a quiet morning at home, a leisurely dinner at my grandparents and then a rousing game of catchphrase or farkle. Then the following Saturday the fun continues at my in-laws.
Each holiday for my in-laws celebration we pick a different theme–Mexican, Italian, appetizers, pizza, etc.– and everyone brings something, potluck style. This year’s Thanksgiving celebration theme was appetizers which happens to be my personal favorite. I could eat appetizers for every single meal. A wide variety of small plates is my jam.
Speaking of jam, the real winner here is the fig jam. It’s deliciously sweet without being too sweet and it really marries the caramely onions and the bite of the blue cheese. Yes it takes 60 minutes to caramelize those babies, but they are worth every second. If you’re into making things ahead of time, you could easily assemble the tart, then freeze, allow to thaw in the fridge overnight, bake and top with the fig jam.
Caramelized Onion, Blue Cheese & Fig Jam Tart
- 1 package puff pastry (thawed in the fridge overnight)
- 4 large yellow onions, halved, then thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoon butter
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 5 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup fig jam
- Kosher salt
- fresh cracked pepper
Heat butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and and stir to coat in oil. Grab a glass of wine and a magazine and plop yourself in front of the stove because you are going to be here for a while. You will cook the onions for 60 minutes total, stirring every 4-5 minutes or so. After they’ve cooked for 10 minutes add a pinch of salt. After they’ve cooked for 40 minutes add a teaspoon of sugar. After they’ve finished cooking for 60 minutes and are a gorgeous dark brown color, add salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap the puff pastry and cutting each of the sheets into 3 pieces lengthwise, cutting along the folds of the puff pastry. Lightly flour your work surface and roll each piece into a 4″ x 10″ rectangle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, then place 3 tart crusts on each baking sheet about an inch apart. Score the edge of each rectangle about a half inch from the edge, creating the crust.
Spread caramelized onion in an even layer across the puff pastry staying inside the scored edge. Divide the onions evenly between the six tarts. Bake tarts for 15 minutes, then divide crumbled goat cheese between the tarts and baking for 8-10 more minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown as well as the edges.
While the tarts are baking, heat fig jam in a small saucepan over medium high heat. You just want to loosen it up enough that you can spoon it over the tart. Remove tarts from the oven and spoon fig jam in a zigzag pattern across each tart. Serve warm or at room temperature (I actually prefer them at room temp myself).
Everyone in our house is sick. We have all come down with the dreaded cold. We’ve managed to stave off sickness for nearly a year and half so far; would you believe this is the first our daughter’s ever been sick?! It’s so sad to watch her try to sleep at night while whimpering with frustration because her nose is so stuffy that she can’t suck on her nook and breathe at the same time. The other night she propped herself up on her elbow in the middle of the night and fell asleep half sitting up so she was able to breathe through her nose and suck on her nook. It was the most pitiful and adorable thing I’ve ever seen. Of course I scooped her up and snuggled her, sitting up and rocking, until she fell back into a deep sleep and we nestled back into our usual bedtime snuggles.
Speaking of bedtime snuggles…every night we go to bed with our toddler snuggled in between us (in our king size bed). And 90% of mornings I look over to see my husband sleeping on the tiniest sliver of mattress, teetering off the edge, with our daughter snuggled up so tight against him that he must be doing all he can to hang on and not fall off the bed. Usually her head is sharing his pillow and nuzzled into his neck. I bet I’ve taken 50 pictures of them like this. It makes me smile every morning. The other 10% of the time I wake up with her nuzzled up against me. But my husband sleeps like a rock and rarely moves so I think she naturally gravitates towards his stability at night. Also, he becomes a giant radiator the second he hits the sheets so I think she likes to soak up his warmth also. I flop around like a fish every couple hours, getting up to use the bathroom at least once a night. He’s a much more stable, reliable sleeper.
I do wonder when our bed count will be back down to just two. Quite honestly if we have another child in the next couple years it might go up to four for a while! But someday we’ll have an empty bed and think on the days when we’d wake up to our little girl’s giant smile and soft gentle, “HI” each morning. She wakes up in the best mood (most days) and it’s just contagious. She greets you with a smile like she’s missed you so much and she’s so excited for the day ahead. I haven’t woken up “on the wrong side of the bed” for months and I can say it’s thanks to her. She reminds me to greet each day with a smile and a hello. And I am so thankful for that.
I am also thankful for salad. Snuggles and salad. Great segway, I know. This has been one of my favorite meal prep recipes as of late. I am actually considering bringing this to Thanksgiving as dish to pass this year because it just screams FALL to me and because my soon-to-be sister in law loves salad. And most of the time all we have is ham, potatoes, bread and other heavily caloric things. So this year, salad!
Kale, Goat Cheese, Pecan and Pomegranate Salad
- 8-10 cups chopped kale
- 4 oz. goat cheese
- 1 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
- seeds from 1 pomegranate
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- kosher salt
- fresh cracked pepper
Start my combining olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic powder, thyme and a large pinch of salt and pepper to make the dressing. Emulsify either by whisking vigorously or shaking the dressing in a mason jar until well combined. Toss dressing with kale and let sit for 15 minutes. Then divide dressed kale evenly between 4 plates. Divide goat cheese, pecans, pomegranate seeds and quinoa evenly between the plates and serve!
I find that the longer the dressing sits on this salad the better it tastes. I like to dress my salad in the morning before work and then by the time lunch comes around my kale is beautifully wilted and bright green.