A Super-Easy Appetizer (easy as… 1-2-3!)

So, the Super Bowl is this weekend, and whether you are a fan of the Falcons, the Patriots, football in general, Lady Gaga, commercials, or none of the above, it is an EXCELLENT day for snacks.  I’d like to share with you an old family favorite that is one of the easiest and tastiest things around.

These little delicacies, known as 1-2-3 Hors D’Oeuvres, were a New Year’s Eve staple in my family.  Growing up, I’d spend every New Year’s at my Grandma’s house as a guest at one of the most glamorous parties around.  My sisters, Cabbage Patch Kids and I would all have new outfits to wear for the occasion.  We’d sample food from an elegant, well-stocked buffet all night, and be treated to any kind of pop we wanted to drink, often encouraged by adults to mix them together in a multi-color concoction called a “suicide.”  We’d wear sparkly headbands or hats, choose our noisemakers from an overflowing box, stay up dancing until well beyond midnight and eventually pass out in our sleeping bags among piles of colorful confetti on Grandma’s living room floor.  It was the height of sophistication for elementary school kids.

Of course, as an adult and in the clear light of day, I know that what we were actually doing was eating a bunch of sausage, sour cream and Cool Whip-filled appetizers piled on the kitchen table, drinking off-brand soda, bobbing around with our Cabbage Patch kids in a sea of mildly-to-moderately (perhaps sometimes “heavily”?) intoxicated adults crammed into my Grandma’s wood-paneled basement, all of us throwing around piles of round paper scraps emptied from someone’s office hole punch, the mess of which probably caused my grandma a minor cardiac event every January 1 and may have sent one or two vacuum cleaners to early graves.

However, when I recently made a batch of these hors d’oeuvres, I was instantly transported the enchanted New Year’s Eve parties of my youth.  I think these would make an excellent addition to anyone’s Super Bowl spread – whether or not you are aching to add some 1980s Basement Party Magic to the occasion.

1-2-3 Hors D’Oeuvres

(originally published in the George Worthington Co. cookbook)

This recipe is pretty flexible.  I’m including the original below, along with some footnotes that you can use as variations.  These are best enjoyed shortly after they are made and I can’t really tell you if they’d freeze or keep well, because I’m not sure we’ve ever had leftovers!

  • 1 lb. Bob Evans sausage
  • 2 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 c. Bisquick

Combine ingredients in a large bowl with your hands.  Roll into little balls, about 3/4-inch in diameter, adding water if the mixture is too dry.  Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Serve hot.  Makes approximately 80 balls.

NOTES:

  • I have made this with chicken sausage and vegetarian sausage in place of the Bob Evans pork sausage, and while both versions are tasty, I’d recommend you add some form of fat (a few tablespoons of olive oil, butter, etc.) to the mixture to get the texture right.  The perfect 1-2-3 Hors D’Oeuvres have a crispy exterior with a soft filling.
  • If you, like me, don’t have a box of Bisquick at the ready, there is an easy substitution that I found online.  For every 1 cup of Bisquick (so for this recipe, multiply by 3), use a pastry cutter to combine:
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Careful if you substitute both the sausage and the Bisquick!  The reduced amount of fat could give you dry, less-than-perfect treats that really only taste good the first 10 minutes they are out of the oven (trust me, I speak from experience!).  I recommend subbing only one ingredient at a time.

Some of my favorite cookbooks…

Happy New Year!   The fresh start of a new year is always a great time to get your home in order — and if you think I’m the only one with that idea, just check out the sale prices on home organization products in your local stores — everyone is doing it!  It’s a nice time to go through old holiday decorations, your closets, and cupboards.  And while I can regularly produce big garbage bags full of old clothes and housewares from my home to donate, I have a very, very hard time parting with books… but I don’t have any problem with that!  Books don’t take up a lot of space (well, one at a time they don’t take up a lot of space) and they are amazing time capsules.  Since I have been going through my cookbooks this week, I thought I’d share with you some of the favorites that I’ve used for inspiration on this website, and included links to the two that you can actually buy online (#2 and #6).

  1. The George Worthington Company is no more, but this book from 1990 is a personal favorite.  Thus far I’ve only posted “How to Boil Water” on this site, but all of the other recipes in the book are for real food and I look forward to sharing more of them.  My mom had several contributions published (yes, she was a good cook but… full disclosure: she also had a slight advantage since my father was president of the company).
  2. The Better Homes and Gardens Complete Step-by-Step Cookbook was THE cookbook when I was growing up.  Published in 1978, my mom’s copy was already pretty old and worn when I started to be interested in cooking, and today it’s a stained, dog-eared mess.  It still has little pieces of paper stuck between pages, marking things I wanted to make when I was old enough to read a recipe but young enough to do little more than make a total mess of a kitchen.  However, the techniques still hold up!  It’s a great resource for basics, like how to make pancakes or how to brew coffee.  It’s also full of delightful late-70s photography (seen in my post about Minted Lime Soda).  I was super excited to find a second copy of this very book at a Goodwill store recently, thinking it was a really rare find… only to learn that you can buy it on Amazon starting at $1 (click on the title above).  I highly recommend this addition to your library.
  3. This book has seen better days, but it’s where I found the recipe for Pistachio Delight, so I’m glad I kept it around.  It’s from my aunt’s office in 1992 at Progressive Insurance. Her department used the exact same publisher as The George Worthington Company.  The early 1990s must have been really profitable for Cookbook Publishers, Inc.  (who are still in business today!) and Cool Whip, which features very prominently in this compilation.
  4. This cookbook was gifted to my cousin when she was very young and that label, in her childhood handwriting, is so no one stole it from her!  Woman’s Glory was the very first cookbook published by the Slovenian Women’s Union (SWU), and this is a later edition, printed in 1977.  It’s the source for the post on JFK and Potica, the Mother’s Day Marshmallow Roll, and Graduation Party Special!, among others.
  5. I don’t own Pots and Pans, but that was the predecessor to this one, More Pots and Pans.  This was a 1998 publication of SWU and I have a copy autographed by my grandma!  It’s where I found the recipe for Farina Dumplings.
  6. Sadly for you, most of the books I’ve listed here are hard to get your hands on.  However, you can actually buy this one!  In 2015, the Slovenian Women’s Union became the more inclusive Slovenian Union of America and they published a new cookbook in a new, photo-filled format that is arranged by seasons and holidays.  It’s available for purchase on the SUA website (linked above).  So far I’ve used it for Slovenian Coleslaw and Medenjaki. I look forward to sharing more seasonal recipes.

Please use the comments section below to share any of your favorites that I should know about! (especially if they are still in print and I can add them to my collection!)

 

 

Slovenian Coleslaw

Were you born in a barn?

No, seriously… were you?  If so, I’d love to talk with you and learn more about the lives of people who were born in barns.  In my very suburban upbringing, I did not have much of a frame of reference for barns, and I was raised with a very one-dimensional view of people who were born in them. According to my Grandma, they all adhere to the same three stereotypes.

People who were born in barns:

  1. Don’t pull sliding glass doors closed all the way when entering or exiting the house.
  2. Don’t care about or understand the cost of air conditioning.
  3. Don’t mind insects flying around their homes.

Imagine being an eight year-old girl, struggling to wrangle two Cabbage Patch kids and your sweaty can of off-brand diet cream soda, sliding open the glass door to Grandma’s kitchen on a steamy July day, only to be greeted by a cacophony of adults screaming “were you born in a barn?” My Grandma had several weird catchphrases that she used regularly, but none was as frequently invoked and borrowed by as many family members as this one.  It is a really weird and inefficient way to tell a kid that they forgot to pull the door shut behind them.

But you know what?  Just like kids that are bullied sometimes grow up to bully other kids, and freshman who were hazed by their fraternity brothers age into people who haze underclassmen, I turned into someone that at some point asked my younger siblings and cousins if they were born in a barn.  I’m ashamed to admit this, but these very words were on the tip of my tongue when my five year-old nephew recently left a sliding glass door open.  BUT I TOOK A SECOND TO THINK ABOUT IT AND KNEW THAT A KINDERGARTNER WOULD NOT UNDERSTAND THE POINT OF MY QUESTION.  I am not going to be responsible for subjecting another generation to strange rhetorical questions when I could instead just remind them to please pull the door shut.  Sorry Grandma, but IT STOPS HERE.

All this to say: it is still really, really insufferably muggy outside.  In trying to simply survive the humidity I’ve run out of good summer memories and instead, things like this one are popping into my mind.  Whether you were born in a barn or not, I figured you could use another tasty no-cook, no-mayo summer dish, this one courtesy of The Slovenian-American Table, published in 2015 by the Slovenian Union of America and available for purchase here.

The Slovenian-American Table

I enjoy the organization of this cookbook, because it is structured based on the seasons and holidays throughout the year.  This recipe is from the “Family Picnic” section.  I made a few changes based on what ingredients I had on hand, and have noted those below.  I strongly recommend making this in advance and letting it sit in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours or longer, as the flavor and texture improve with time!

Coleslaw (Zeljeva solata)

*Google tells me that the word for cabbage is “zelje,” so I assume this to mean “cabbage salad”)

I used half a head of cabbage that I sliced very thinly by hand, which yielded about double what this recipe indicates (6 cups vs. 3), so I doubled everything listed below.

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pimento (I omitted this)
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated onion (I love onions so instead used half an onion, sliced thin)
  • 3 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil; the original calls for Mazola Salad Oil)
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 3 cups cabbage
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, chopped (I used a banana pepper, sliced thinly, since it’s what I had.  It added a nice kick!)
  • Sliced olives, optional

Place all but the cabbage and pepper in a large bowl and whisk together.  Add cabbage and pepper and mix well.  Chill thoroughly.  Garnish with sliced olives (which I also omitted).

The seasonings in the dressing (and my addition of a banana pepper) give this a slightly spicy kick, which we really enjoyed in my house.  Perfect for an end-of-summer picnic or cookout, or to just enjoy in the air-conditioned comfort of your home this weekend.  Whatever you do, be sure to pull the door closed behind you, okay?

slovenian coleslaw