Shhhhhhh!

Shhhhhhhh!  My friend Holly is turning 40 (I hope this is not a secret) and her husband, Jeff, is throwing her a surprise party (this is the secret).  He asked me to make a few things for the party and although I’ve been Tweeting pics all day, I haven’t indicated why I am cooking.

The house smells amazing as hundreds of meatballs cook. Today I am making two types of meatballs and tomorrow I will be skewering hundreds of grape/cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls and basil leaves.

My contributions to the party include:

  • Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Blue Cheese Dressing

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

  • Greek Meatballs with Eggplant & Feta with Tzatziki Sauce
  • Greek Meatballs with Eggplant & FetaCaprese Skewers with Basil Pesto

Caprese SkewersThe recipes for the meatballs are at the end of this post.

As for the Caprese Skewers – they’re easy.  In fact, you’re only limited by your imagination.  Classic Caprese Salad includes sliced tomatoes, sliced fresh mozzarella and basil leaves drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper.  The skewers I’m making for the party are a portable version of the classic salad with homemade basil pesto for dipping.  But you can change things up and include artichoke hearts, salami, provolone, cooked tortellini, olives, etc.   Anything you’d put on an antipasto platter would be good skewered.  Of course, then you’d probably name them Antipasto Skewers instead of Caprese Skewers, but you get the idea……

I think meatballs are great for a crowd.  If you make them cocktail size, then they’re portable on picks, easily eaten in one or two bites and don’t fill people up too much (unless they decide to eat a lot of them).  You can also offer more than one flavor for variety.

Don’t get boxed in when thinking about meatballs…..although classic Italian meatballs in tomato sauce are fantastic, think outside the box like the two varieties I’m making for the party or others such as Spicy Asian Beef Meatballs, Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Orange Sauce, Cheese & Prosciutto Stuffed Meatballs, an old entertaining standby Swedish Meatballs, and on and on and on……..

If you aren’t feeling particularly creative and don’t have time to pore through cookbooks, a quick trip to Pinterest and a search of ‘meatballs’ will return more recipes with more flavor combinations than you thought possible.

The following are some pics of my prep:

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By the time you read this, the party will be over.  You didn’t really think I was going to spoil the surprise by posting about the party before it happened, did you?

The pre-party party (to throw off the birthday girl) was at Sapporo East for sushi.  Then we moved onto the home of one of the birthday girl’s brothers, which was the perfect venue for a party – a beautiful private property with an inground pool and party pavillion. Holly arrived blindfolded so she couldn’t see where she was going.  She told me she was truly surprised!!! Way to go, Jeff!

Although my post is being published after the party and after Holly’s birthday, my sentiments are no less sincere.

Holly, I hope you had a terrific birthday and that your year is filled with everything God knows is right for you.  You are wonderful friend and a great mom.  You are funny (ok, really you’re hilarious) and kind and beautiful and wise.  You never fail to make me laugh and you “get” me.  You love me for who I am, even though who I am is less than perfect and sometimes grouchy, forgetful, and self-absorbed.  You encourage me and are one of my greatest cheerleaders.  YOU COMPLETE ME!!!!!  I less-than-3 you!!! Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I no longer have to shhhhhhh!

Take a look at some pics from the party:

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Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Original recipe is from ibreathimhungry.com.

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1lb ground chicken breast (I grind my own)
  • 2oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 2 tablespoons celery (chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons blue cheese (crumbled)
  • 1/3 cup panko
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (a hearty pinch)

Sauce

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce

Directions

Sauce
1. Combine the Frank's Sauce and butter in a small sauce pan.
2. Place over medium heat and stir until butter is melted.
Meatballs
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
4. Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl. DO NOT ADD SALT (Frank's Sauce and blue cheese will be the salty elements).
5. Stir to combine. Mixture will be sticky - that's normal.
6. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. (Can be done a day ahead).
7. Form into 1 inch balls and place on half sheet tray lined with a baking mat.
8. Bake for 10 minutes in preheated 350 degree F oven.
9. Remove the meatballs from the oven and carefully (they will be delicate) dunk each one in the sauce to coat.
10. Place the coated meatballs back on the tray and bake for an additional 12 minutes.
11. Remove from the oven. If you have leftover sauce you can either pour it over the meatballs or serve it on the side.
12. Serve with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks. Enjoy!

Greek Meatballs w/Eggplant & Feta

The original recipe is from Donna Hay 'Seasons' cookbook.

Ingredients

  • 1lb eggplant (finely chopped)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4lb ground beef
  • 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (grated)
  • 1/2lb feta cheese (crumbled)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Directions

Roasting Eggplant
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Spread chopped eggplant on a half sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
3. Roast on middle oven rack for 30 minutes, removing from oven and tossing at 15 minute mark.
4. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Making Meatballs
5. Place all the ingredients (including the cooled eggplant) into a large bowl and stir until well combined.
6. Roll meatballs using 1 to 2 tablespoons of the mixture and place on a half sheet pan lined with a baking mat.
7. Drizzle each meatball with a drop or two of olive oil.
8. Bake in a 350 degree F oven until browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.
9. Serve with Tzatziki Sauce. Enjoy!

One thought on “Shhhhhhh!

  1. Jan, thank you for the wonderful food, kind words and amazing friendship! You and Jeff have been such a blessing to me and my family. To me, you are the “perfect fit”….a low maintenance friend, funny, smart, beautiful, honest and a wonderful hostess and cook (you know I love to eat!). For sure, “YOU COMPLETE ME”!!!! Love you tons and thank you so much for being a part of my very special birthday.

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