Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Satisfying Snacks February 4, 2012

I’m a nerd.  I love playing games.  Apples to apples is probably my favorite.  And my friends back home in Chicago love playing them, too!  So I was delighted when I mentioned getting together for a game night and some of my friends here in Denver enthusiastically accepted the invitation.  Last weekend a bunch of us got together for games and appetizers.  We thought that instead of having it at someone’s house and the host having to do all of the cooking, it would be easy and more fun if we all contributed something and had kind of a ‘grazing dinner.’

We ended up with a slew of various appetizers and side dishes: loaded pasta salad, chips and creative dips, and several finger foods.  Jonathan and I got excited about spending Saturday afternoon in the kitchen, and tried to come up with some fun, satisfying options…

We made mini-versions of the meatloaf muffins I have featured in previous posts (Jonathan loves them, and he’s a firm believer that every party should have some kind of delicious meat dish).  Instead of putting the meatloaf mix in muffin pans, we simply made little patties and (of course) still frosted them with mashed potatoes, but this time with my mom’s ‘secret’ party potato recipe that she finally willed to me since I got my own Kitchenaid mixer.

mini meatloaf appetizers

making 'frosting'

We also contributed a fresh and super easy ‘caprese’ appetizer of little bread squares layered with cherry tomatoes, hunks of fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves.  We put these together on toothpicks and drizzled them with some sweet cherry balsamic that we had gotten at the farmers market.

I decided (always feeling the need to make sure there is a dessert present) that I’d go with the ‘mini’ theme for the night and finally try a recipe from Bakerella’s cookbook Cake Pops that my dear friends Kate and Hollice had sent me as a housewarming gift.  I have been wanting to make them for a while now, but never really had an occasion to!  I started with simple cake balls, since I didn’t have time to go to a craft store and pick up the fancy baking goods.  I was pleasantly surprised that the regular grocery store sells candy coating, because I had feared I may have to substitute it with chocolate chips and then they wouldn’t have turned out quite so delectable.

First you bake the cake like normal (I used funfetti)

Then you cut it off into 4-6 sections and 'crumble' it by rubbing it together in your hands

Then you add 2/3 container of frosting (I chose whipped vanilla) and form the mixture into balls to cool down in the fridge for a few hours

Finally, you coat the cake balls in your melted candy coating and decorate as preferred. (side note: the candy coating kind of melts and settles around your cake balls, but you can cut the excess off once they cool completely)

All of our choices for the evening were a big hit!

And, just for fun, since they say in Apples to Apples that the green cards you receive describe you that game, here were mine for the night:

I think the 'popular' may have been referring to our food 🙂


Meatloaf Muffins September 17, 2011

Last week upon leaving work, I was trying to think about what I should make for dinner.  Since work has been consuming my life lately, my creativity in cooking {or pretty much anything that occurs past 3 in the afternoon} has been stifled.  So I texted Jonathan to see what he had a taste for, and meatloaf was mentioned.  I thought, what a perfect time to try some meatloaf muffins!

Now, y’all know how intense my love for cupcakes is, and how cupcakes make me well…generally very happy.  Therefore, using my cupcake tin as the basis for an entire meal excited me.  I found a recipe from Rachel Ray online {it was the one with the best reviews}, and what really caught my eye about it was the sauce that you include both in the meatloaf muffins and as a garnish on top.  I’m a big fan of BBQ flavors with my meat, so naturally I gravitated toward this recipe. 

Baking...we can't wait!

I like my meatloaf with chunky veggies, so I avoided Rachel’s advice to blend or puree the onions and green peppers.  Instead, I just chopped them and mixed them in with my meat and additional ingredients.  At the end of the recipe is a recommended side dish of mashed potatoes made with vegetable cream cheese that looked yummy.  I decided instead of keeping the potatoes on the side, why not make them into a mashed potato frosting?! I enjoy mashed potatoes with the skins still in {red potatoes, of course}, so I opted to boil them with the skins on to add some color and texture to my ‘frosting.’

Ready to be 'frosted'

When all was said and done, the meatloaf muffins came out great and tasted pretty darn delicious.  It’s amazing what a simple twist of a classic can really spice up a weeknight dinner.  These will definitely be in my repertoire for future dinner favorites.

The finished product!


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