Carnival of the Recipes #72

Welcome to the first Carnival of the Recipes for 2006! (Well, it was technically supposed to be the last one for 2005, but I have no concept of meeting deadlines. I am also a journalist. Go figure!) 😉

Before we begin, I wanted to make the place look festive for company. And thus, I’m sharing my recipe for Pretzel Wreaths, as my mom and I used to make these together a hundred years ago, and now they’re something I do to feel close to Mom even though she’s 250 miles away. These are great to give away in festive little baggies to neighbors and colleagues.

Pretzel Wreaths

You’ll need:

Mini pretzels
Almond bark
Heavy whipping cream
Long, thin strands of cherry licorice

I prefer to use a fondue pot to melt the almond bark (you can use it at the dining room table, as opposed to a double boiler on the stove, where you have to stand while you assemble). I also insist on almond bark — I used white chocolate pieces this year and am disappointed in the consistency.

Use the occasional drop or two of heavy whipping cream and a whisk to ensure the bark stays smooth. If it gets lumpy, add a drop of vegetable oil and whisk away.

What you’ll do is use two layers of pretzels — I like to use six in each row. Arrange them on waxed paper with the tops of the pretzels touching but not overlapping. Dip the top halves in the bark and return to the waxed paper.

Repeat with a second row of pretzels, only this time alternate the positioning (i.e., the top row of pretzels should span two pretzels on the bottom). While the bark is still soft, use red and green sprinkles to decorate your wreath.

Finally, take licorice (I love the cherry Pull ‘n Peel Twizzlers) and thread through the ends of the pretzels. For this size wreath, I used three strands — two for threading and one to attach a licorice bow to the top of the wreath.


In any event, I was thinking about the holiday season and realized that you just can’t have it without circles like wreaths, and also balls. (Get your minds out of the gutter, people!)

But think about it — we make tons of cookies and appetizers and side dishes, and everything starts as a lovely, one-inch circle before it bakes up all bubbly and chewy and tasty. We put glass balls on our Christmas trees. Even mistletoe comes in a ball (although the sprig is prettier, but you get the idea).

And let’s not forget the most important ball of all — the one we eagerly await to signify the proverbial “out with the old, in with the new” — the New Year’s Eve ball! (OK, so it’s an apple — more on apples later. …)

So, without further ado, I invite you to kick off your party shoes, grab an eggnog and have a — you guessed it — ball with these scrumptious recipes submitted by our various chefs in honor of the occasion!

Let the countdown begin …


As traditional as lighting candles and buying presents, most everyone looks forward to having Cocktail Meatballs, which kicks off our list, courtesy of Nic over at Shoes, Ships and Sealing Wax. She gives away the “secret sauce” that always stuns people when they find out that it only has two ingredients. 🙂

Beth, who’s also online here, gives us a variation on the theme — she uses cranberry sauce instead of the grape jelly:

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

1 can jellied cranberry sauce
1 bottle chili sauce

Heat together, dump in cooked meatballs (I really cheat and buy the precooked frozen meatballs) and heat together.

From someone who knows how much I love this particular cooking category, we get Meatballs a la Victor over at Publius & Co. Mmm, spinach.

In Mad about Meatballs, Riannan gives us another variation on meatballs — this reminds me of my grandmother’s recipe, because the beef broth really pumps up the flavor.

Personally, I can’t wait to try Tiff and Tom’s lamb meatballs in a tomato-curry sauce. Yum!

Not everyone eats meat or, if we’re all resolving to eat more healthily in the new year, a good place to start is with Spaghetti and Mock Meatballs, contributed by my buddy Bill, who keeps those healthy resolutions through tasty dishes like this.

Be still, my heart — Savory Cheese Truffles from Everything and Nothing. Seriously, cheese — who doesn’t love a recipe with cheese?

Coon (Procyon lotor) Balls from KeeWee’s Corner. The name intrigued me — it sounded like something out of a Smithsonian exhibit at first. But sausage fans rejoice — it’s a recipe you’ll love!

Like it a little less spicy? Silver Blue’s Sausage Balls will hit the spot instead. John’s spicy enough without the hot sauce. 😉

Not into sausage or ground beef? Try salmon, courtesy of Beth:


1 15 ounce can salmon
1 whole egg
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
� cup flour

Drain salmon reserving juice. Combine drained salmon, egg, and mix with fork. Add flour and mix. Add salt to taste. Measure out � cup salmon juice and discard the rest. Add the baking powder to the juice and beat with fork until it foams. Mix into salmon. Roll into small balls and deep fry.

Meat and chocolate are the main staples of Caterwauling, so recipes for Holiday Meat and Chocolate Balls from Martin are a perfect addition to the list!

Several of you have asked me for my mom’s world-famous Stuffing Balls, for which friends and relatives from all over will drop by the house after stuffing themselves silly at their OWN dinners to snack on because yes, they’re THAT GOOD!

Mom’s Stuffing Balls

Celery (mince ’em up well)
Onions (mince ’em up well)
1 loaf fresh bread (Mom uses bakery bread; I prefer Italian)
Celery seed
Dried parsley
Dried sage
2 eggs
Chicken broth
As much butter as you can stand

My grandmother was Italian, and one thing we always learned was to count NOTHING — not measurements, and CERTAINLY not calories.

Line a cookie sheet with foil. Cube the bread and spread it along the foil. Sprinkle with all the seasonings except for sage. Melt some butter and drizzle lightly along bread. Toast till slightly browned.

Meanwhile, saute the celery and onions (in butter). When the onions are translucent and the bread has been toasted, combine in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together two eggs and add to bread/sauteed mixture. Add sage here.

Combine all, form into 2″ balls.

In a large skillet, break out the butter and carefully line up the balls. Be careful when flipping/rotating them — they are prone to fall apart early on in the cooking cycle.

Fry until they’re to your desired level of doneness (I like them slightly crispy), all the while adding tiny drops of chicken broth and milk (go easy on those — less is definitely more, else you’ll lose that yummy butter flavor and crispiness) to keep the balls from drying out.

And for as good as they are when you cook them, they taste 10 times better the next day!

My good (non-blogging) friend Angie gives us a recipe for Parmesan Spinach Balls, which uses stuffing for consistency:

Parmesan Spinach Balls

2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 cups Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 small green onion, finely chopped
4 eggs, lightly beaten salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. In a medium bowl, mix the frozen chopped spinach, Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, butter, green onion, eggs, salt and pepper. Shape the mixture into 1 inch balls.

3. Arrange the balls in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Yields: 10 servings.


No, I’m not talking about forgetting to invite your redneck relatives to the party (they show up uninvited anyway because they know there’s food in them-thar kitchens!). I’m talking about those centerpiece-quality spreads that transform ordinary crackers into little tiny plates of joy.

I’m going to invite myself to Silver Blue’s house, because someone needs to sample all of these great recipes! John will let us help ourselves to a Tasty Ham Ball, Chicken Ball, Veggie Ball and Dried Beef Cheese Ball.

And in my house, I feel it is my right as hostess to laugh when the biggest (human) cheese balls at the party dig into the cheese balls on the pretty platters. Because it’s proof positive that you ARE what you eat!

Beth would make my mom proud with this one:

Salmon Spread Cheeseball

1 small can of salmon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese

Drain salmon and pick out bones and skin and discard. Mix salmon, lemon juice and cream cheese together. Form into a ball and sprinkle with chives. Serve with crackers or rye rounds.

Editor’s note: My Mom makes it with that new pre-packaged smoked salmon that’s in the canned fish aisle, and she swears by adding fresh parsley to it.

I make tons of dips throughout the year, and I’m one of those people who NEVER remembers how I made it the last time because I don’t write it down. So bear with me, I’m giving you my horseradish dip ingredients and telling you to use as much as you like to fit your tastes:

Cheesy Bacon Horseradish Dip

Cream cheese, softened
Bacon, crumbled (*real* bacon, fried up in all its greasy glory)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Horseradish (I use extra hot)

Cream all ingredients together — toss into the freezer for an hour. Form into a ball; roll in crushed pecans and surround with crackers.


As a way to cope with dysfunctional family gatherings, nothing’s better than whipping up a few batches of what I like to call “booze balls.” It’s always fun to feed them to the teetotalers who need a drink more than any of us. 😉

From Angie, we have Chocolate Chip Eggnog Balls, which are no-bake cookies with cream cheese, spiced dough, chocolate chips and an outer coating of pecans:

Chocolate Chip Eggnog Balls

2 (3 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon brandy
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups finely chopped pecans

1. In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar. Beat in the heavy cream and brandy. Combine the salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, stir into the cream cheese mixture along with the mini chips to form a smooth dough. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Chill for 5 minutes.

2. Roll the chilled dough into balls and roll them in the chopped pecans to coat completely. Yields: 42 servings.

Missouri Mud Balls from Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea. These are kid-friendly and use oats. I am going to have to try these because, seriously, yum.

Rum Balls from Punctilious. It’s neat how these have become such a tradition in so many families, yet we all make them in a variety of different ways. I’m also fascinated by the stories behind how our recipes came to be, and you’ll find one of those here.

Chocolate Rum Balls (and Chocolate Bourbon Balls) courtesy of John at Silver Blue.

If you ever want to shut me up, you can feed me Chocolate Truffles. Thanks to Tink for the submission!

Beth shares with us her recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies:

Mexican Wedding Cookies

1 cup soft butter
� cup sifted confectioners sugar
� teaspoon salt
1 � teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons water
2 � cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts

Cream butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Blend in water and vanilla. Stir in flour and nuts. Chill dough for 30 minutes for easy handling. Shape chilled dough in small balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until cream colored. While still warm roll in confectioners sugar. Cool and roll again in confections sugar.

I’m going to share my own personal recipe for “Dirt Balls,” as I like to call them. My grandfather loves these:

Dawn’s Dirt Balls

17 Oreo cookies (regular, no double-stuffed)
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons Kahlua
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1.5 teaspoons vanilla
A few dashes of cinnamon

Toss the Oreos into a Ziploc bag (and the pecans into a separate bag) and crush ’em. Some people use food processors; I personally like to hammer the bags with a meat tenderizer to take out my frustrations. Cooking is fun!

Measure out 1.5 cups of the crushed cookies and mix with the remaining ingredients.

Optional: I like to refrigerate the dough for an hour — it’s easier to work with.

Form into 1″ balls.

Roll balls in remaining cookie crumbs OR dip in melted chocolate OR roll in sprinkles/jimmies. I use orange/black around Halloween and roll them in finely crushed nuts when I want them to be “healthier.” Hah. 😉

Store in airtight container with waxed paper between the layers.


All you have to do to change the recipe is to change the liqueur and type of cookie. I also love Amaretto Balls — in which case the 17 Oreos become 29 Vanilla Wafers and the Kahlua becomes Amaretto. Either cookie type is lovely with Bailey’s Irish Cream, too.

I actually developed my Dirt Balls recipe after tasting my friend Angie’s Kahlua Balls. I never asked for the recipe (until this Carnival), so I present (first) her Amaretto round-cookie recipe as well as her Kahlua Balls and Rum Balls. (Yes, we loves us some spirits!)

Amaretto Butter Balls

1 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup amaretto liqueur
3/4 cup finely chopped almonds (optional)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar for rolling

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Stir in the flour and salt until well blended, then mix in the Amaretto liqueur. Fold in chopped almonds if desired. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Roll cookies in remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar while still warm.

Yields: 24 servings

Kahlua Balls

2 1/2 c Oreos; crushed
1 c Nuts; chopped fine
1 c Powdered sugar
1/3 c Kahlua
2 tb Dark corn syrup
Powdered sugar

Combine crushed oreo cookie crumbs, nuts and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add Kahlua and corn syrup. Mix well. Shape into 1″ balls; roll in powdered sugar. Place in airtight container and chill overnight.

NOTE: Creme de cacao may be used in place of Kahlua.

Yields: 36 servings

No-Bake Rum Balls

A holiday favorite! Try using brandy in place of the rum.

2 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1/4 cup rum

1. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the vanilla wafers, cocoa and sugar. Stir in the chopped walnuts, corn syrup and rum. Mix until well blended.

2. Form dough into 2 inch balls and roll in confectioners’ sugar. Store in covered tin. Yields: 36 servings.

My buddy Beth submitted a similar Rum Ball recipe, which I won’t duplicate but I do have to share my favorite line from it: “Calories: Unknown, and after about 10, who cares? ;)” Beth also notes that you can roll the balls in cocoa or in ground chocolate. I like the way she thinks!

Beth also has a family-friendly recipe using Oreo cookies:

Oreo Cookie Balls

Crush 1 package of Oreo Cookies in a food processor
Transfer to mixing bowl
Mix in 8 oz cream cheese
Form into balls and refrigerate
Dip in white baking chocolate (I added 1 Tablespoon of shortening to the white chocolate and then melted in microwave.)

Refrigerate prior to serving. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen. Enjoy!!!

Now that we’ve gotten the ball (ha!) rolling, Beth knows a thing or two about the Buckeye State, and she submits one of my FAVORITE cookies, Buckeyes:


1/2 cup butter melted
1 cup peanut butter
1 3/4 to 2 cups powdered sugar
1 16 ounce pkg. chocolate chips
1/4 bar paraffin wax

Mix butter, peanut butter and sugar and roll into small balls. Chill for a few hours or overnight for better results. Melt the chocolate chips and wax in a double boiler. Using a toothpick, dip peanut butter ball into the melted chocolate leaving a small area at the top of the “buckeye.” Place on waxed paper until firm. May be stored in the refrigerator.

SilverBlue has a different recipe for Peanut Butter Balls, which sounds good because all this working with hot chocolate dipping sauces just keeps you from eating the cookies, and these are ready-to-serve almost immediately!


Now that we’ve made enough bite-size appetizers and desserts for our guests to snack on while they’re roaming and networking with the other fabulous guests you’ve invited, we can move on to other holiday-themed dishes. Pin up your hair and breathe in the fragrance of fruits, spices, coffees and various other dishes that you’d prefer your guests be sitting down to enjoy. 😉


Apples go hand-in-hand with the holidays as well. People flock to the Big Apple to freeze their behinds off and to watch the big, apple-shaped ball drop. For those of us who avoid the crowds, staying at home and cooking with apples a lovely way to add festive fragrance to our kitchens as those treats disappear in less time than it took us to prepare them!

You can almost taste the pie in the photo provided of Lattice-Top Apple Pie from Blonde Sagacity!

Apple Pie Cake and Rum Butter Sauce from The Bitch Girls sounds like music to my taste buds.

Ginger Gingerbread Bundt Cake from Triticale will unquestionably add some spice to your life.

It has fruit, so it HAS to be healthy, right? 🙂 All hail the Raspberry Souffle from Mensa Barbie.


Black-Eyed Peas aren’t just a great pop group, but they’re also a longtime new year’s tradition in the South. Dubious Wonder ensures we will have good luck for the year to come.

It’s always good luck when you can breathe life into holiday leftovers with Split Pea Soup, as prepared by Sun Comprehending Glass.

In my family, we eat Italian foods for luck (and because they’re tasty). So, fire up some Friday Night Pizza a la Life in a Shoe!

This is a 3-for-1 recipe collection (Berghoff Sour Cocktail, Creamed Spinach and Ragout a la Deutsch) at The Glittering Eye, from the soon-to-be-closed Berghoff Restaurant in Chicago.

Wayne’s Mom gives us recipes as well as a video fill our tummies and warm our hearts this season.

In her words: “During his four-day pass for Christmas, Sgt. West started the round of holiday visits with Myron and me at the home of Blair and Leslie Bingham, my brother and sister-in-law who live in Jackson, Miss.

“In honor of Wayne�s homecoming, the Binghams served our traditional Christmas breakfast on the morning of the 23rd.

“Click here to watch a short video of Wayne introducing our favorites: Padow’s Country Ham and Les’s Famous Christmas Cream Cheese Braids.”


Sure, we talked about apples earlier, but these drinks deserved a category of their own:

Mulled Cider from Meanderings will make your season bright.

Everybody’s Irish with a Cup o’ th’ Irish as created by Blog d’Elisson.


I saved Kevin at Techno Gypsy for last so I can segue into promoting the next carnival, because he’s graciously agreed to host it. (I’m just clever like that. Ha.) 😉

He and his mom have been cooking up a storm this holiday season, so he has lots of goodies to make and stories to tell.

First comes Mom, Apple Pie and Lamb. (Editor’s note: Now, for those of you whose minds are planted squarely in the gutter like mine, Mom is not an ingredient. 🙂 This is a 2-for-1 recipe deal for Lamb Roast and for Kevin’s Mom’s Apple Pie.)

They also made Kolace (cookies with cheese filling and cherries), Tourtierre (meat pie), Chergies (fried dough) , and Venison Bulgoi.

And they’re making more for next week, so stay tuned!


Fear not, kids — the circus is leaving town but it’s a traveling one. Next week, we’ll be celebrating “Russian Christmas” over at Techno Gypsy. To make a submission, send it to recipe-dot-carnival-at-gmail-dot-c0m. The deadline is noon Central on Saturday.


And with that, I am handing over my apron and chef’s hat to Kevin and making myself a cocktail (or 10). The best part about these carnivals? That there’s no cleanup afterward. 🙂

Have a joyous and prosperous 2006, and thanks for playing. See you when we wake up from the food coma!

One Lonely Response to Carnival of the Recipes #72

  1. Tiff :

    The beautiful thing about the lamb meatballs is that ground lamb generally costs about the same as ground beef.