Surprise Cocktail Meatballs

12 ounces lean ground beef
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (1 slice)
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup shredded carrot
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons low-fat (1% milkfat) milk
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground sage
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 large egg white (lightly beaten)
18 water chestnut halves, pecan halves, pineapple tidbits, and/or small sweet green pepper squares
For the Sauce
1/2 cup apple juice
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Makes 18 meatballs.
Preparation time: 20 minutes.
Cooking time: 23 minutes.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°. To prepare the meatballs, in a large bowl, mix the beef, bread crumbs, onion, carrot, parsley, milk, marjoram, salt, sage, pepper, and egg white. Divide into 18 pieces (tip, below). Wrap each piece around a water chestnut half. Place the meatballs in a 13- x 9- x 2-inch baking pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the meatballs are no longer pink. Transfer to paper towels and drain well.
Step 2: Meanwhile, to prepare the sauce, in a medium-size saucepan, whisk together the apple juice, brown sugar, vinegar, cornstarch, soy sauce, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring often. Stir the meatballs into the apple juice mixture and simmer for 3 minutes or until the meatballs are heated through. Place in a small chafing dish or shallow serving dish. Use cocktail forks or toothpicks to serve.
Stuffing Meatballs:
Pat the meat mixture into a 6- x 3-inch rectangle. Then, with a knife, cut the meat into 18 1-inch squares. Separate the squares and flatten each square slightly.Wrap each square around a water chestnut half or one of the other fillings. Be sure the meat is completely sealed around the filling so it doesn’t poke out during baking.


2 (8 oz.) cream cheese
9 oz. crushed pineapple, drained
Seasoned salt
2 tbsp. onion, chopped
2 tbsp. green pepper
1 c. nuts, crushed
Mix and refrigerate overnight. Form into ball. Roll in crushed nuts.

Bite-Size Crustless Quiches
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onion (white and green parts)
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 ounces Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Makes 18 bite-size quiches.
Preparation time: 10 minutes.
Cooking time: 20 minutes.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease one tray of 24 mini muffin-pan cups (1 3/4- x 1-inch).

In a small saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat. Add bell pepper and onion; saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.
Step 2: In a medium-size bowl, combine eggs, milk, cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir in the bell pepper and onions. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each muffin cup. (The mixture will fill 18 to 22 cups.)

Step 3: Bake until the centers are set, 8 to 10 minutes. Let the quiches cool for 1 minute. Using a knife, loosen the quiches around the edges and remove from the cups. Arrange them on a platter and serve.

Yule Food Recipes

Yuletide Slaw

4 cups Red Cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, coarse ground
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Green Onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Sugar
1/4 cup Salad Oil
2 tablespoons Parsley
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped

Combine and toss the vegetables together. Mix salt, pepper, salad oil, lemon juice, sugar and parsley and pour over the vegetable mixture. Refrigerate for 1 hour, Toss briskly before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Cucumber Raspberry Salad
1/2 C. light, fruity olive oil
3 T. raspberry vinegar
3 T. creme fraiche
salt and pepper
Whisk the oil into vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in the creme fraiche. Taste for balance of flavors.
4 cucumbers peeled and thinly sliced
3 T. fresh chopped chives
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
Arrange the cucumber slices on individual plates in a slightly overlapping pattern. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with the chives. Top with a few of the berries.

Chocolate chestnut log

Serves 6-8

  • 100g dark chocolate about 70 per cent cocoa solids
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 x 435g tin unsweetened chestnut purée
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 100g extra thick double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • chocolate leaves optional see note below
  • icing sugar or gold cake decorating powder for dusting
  1. Break up the chocolate and dice the butter. Melt these together in a bowl set over a pan containing a little simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth and combined, then remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. In a food processor, whiz the chestnut purée, sugar, cream and vanilla until smooth and creamy, then add the melted chocolate mixture and whiz until you have a silky purée. This should be the consistency of whipped butter icing, firm enough to form into a log. If necessary, chill the mixture until firm enough to shape.
  3. Next you need a base to sit the log on (such as a serving plate or cake board), measuring at least 20cm x 8cm. Pile the chocolate chestnut mixture into a log shape on the base. Decorate using the tines of a fork to create a wood effect (including some knots and spirals at the ends). Finish with chocolate leaves, if using, and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight until set.
  4. Serve about 30 minutes out of the fridge. Dust with icing sugar or edible gold powder just before serving. A spoonful of crème fraîche sweetened with a drop of liqueur is brilliant alongside.
  5. CHOCOLATE LEAVES You may find these at specialist cake shops.
  6. For home-made leaves, as in the picture, brush melted dark chocolate on to the back of bay leaves. Allow to set for a few hours then peel the bay leaves off.

Chocolate Yule Log

20 min
20 min
8 to 10 servings


Filling and frosting:
Forest Mushrooms:


Special equipment: 10 toothpicks

Lay cake on a clean work surface. Mix the whipped topping and vanilla extract together until combined. Spread white frosting over the top of the cake to coat completely. Roll up the cake, jelly-roll style, and then cover the outside of the cake with the frosting. Drag a fork along the length of the cake to form a bark design. Dust with cocoa powder and refrigerate.

For the forest mushrooms, insert 1 toothpick through each marshmallow and then into the flat side of the chocolate kiss to form “mushroom.” Group chocolate mushrooms along cake by inserting toothpicks into surface of cake, at intervals to resemble growths of forest mushrooms. Dust chocolate kiss candies with confectioners’ sugar. Slice and serve.

Chocolate and Coffee Yule Log

3 hr 40 min
1 hr
2 hr
40 min
1 (15-inch) yule log


Coffee-based liqueur simple syrup:
Biscuit Roulade:
Coffee buttercream:
Chocolate ganache:


For Kahlua simple syrup:

Add the granulated sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and add the liqueur.

Stir to combine and allow syrup to cool completely.

For Biscuit Roulade:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour a 15 by 10 by 1-inch jelly roll pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter and flour the paper.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and cocoa in a small mixing bowl, set aside.

Beat egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and lemon colored, about 5 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar, beating on high speed until the sugar is dissolved. Thoroughly wash and dry the beaters. Beat egg whites in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, beating on medium speed until stiff peaks form.

Carefully fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites, using a rubber spatula. Once all of the egg yolk mixture has been incorporated, sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg mixture and fold in gently, just to combine.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared jelly roll pan. Bake until the cake springs back when lightly touched near the center, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Lay out a clean, thin cotton kitchen towel on a work surface; dust the top with confectioners’ sugar and set aside.

Immediately after removing the cake from the oven, loosen the edges of the cake from the pan using a knife.

Turn cake out onto the sugared kitchen towel, parchment paper side up. Carefully pull off the parchment paper.

Fold towel over the longest side of the cake and roll up the cake with the towel inside.

Cool on a rack with the seam side down.

For Coffee Buttercream:

Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat and add the coffee grinds; allow to steep for 5 minutes. Strain through a coffee filter into a small bowl and set the coffee concentrate aside.

Mix the remaining 1/2 cup of water and sugar in a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Clip a candy thermometer to the pan and heat to 240 degrees F, soft-ball stage, 18 to 20 minutes. Keep the edge of the saucepan clean by brushing it with a pastry brush moistened with water, as needed.

Once the temperature reaches 240 degrees F, remove the candy thermometer and remove the saucepan from the heat.

Beat the egg whites in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Gradually pour the hot mixture, in a thin stream, over the whites while continuing to beat for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed and continue to beat until a meringue forms.

Add the butter all at once, and beat on medium speed until incorporated. Increase speed to high and continue beating until smooth and shiny, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and coffee concentrate and mix for 1 minute until combined. Set aside.

For Chocolate Ganache:

Put the chocolate, butter, and honey in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Heat the whipping cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to boil, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour the cream into the chocolate mixture. Whisk until smooth.

Set aside and allow the ganache to come to room temperature.

To Assemble:

Unroll the cake and remove the towel. Using a pastry brush, “baste” the cake with the coffee-based liqueur simple syrup.

Evenly spread the coffee buttercream over cake to within 1-inch of the edges. Reroll the cake to form the “log.” Arrange, seam side down, on a serving platter.

Spread the chocolate ganache over the top and sides of the cake. Score the ganache with the tines of a fork to resemble the bark on a log. Decorate as desired and refrigerate for 1 hour to let the ganache set.

Cook’s Note

Make sure you butter and flour the parchment paper after putting it on the jelly roll pan. This will make it easier to remove the paper from the cake when baked. Always thoroughly clean and dry your electric mixer beaters before using them for another procedure-especially when working with egg whites. If the beaters have any residue or water on them, the egg whites will not form as needed. You can decorate the yule log with meringue mushrooms, flowers, and leaves.

No-Bake Chocolate Mocha Yule Log

5 hr 30 min
1 hr
6 to 8 servings



Whip together 1 1/2 cups of the heavy cream, the confectioners’ sugar and espresso powder in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes.

Spread a heaping tablespoon of the whipped cream onto one side of 39 chocolate wafer cookies (wipe the spoon clean with a rubber spatula between dollops). Spread the whipped cream out on the cookies with a small offset spatula. Stack 5 cookies on top of each other. Repeat with the remaining cookies (including the one without whipped cream) so that you have 8 stacks total. One of the stacks will have a cookie on top with no whipped cream; this stack will be the top stack.

To build the log: Lay out a piece of plastic wrap about 20 inches long on the countertop. Working across the entire length of the plastic wrap, lay one of the cookie stacks on its side. Gently press the remaining 7 cookies stacks together, end to end, finishing with the top stack, to make one long cookie log that’s about 15 to 18 inches long. Wrap the log up in the plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

While your stack is chilling, make the ganache: Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the remaining 1 1/2 cups heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 10 minutes, then stir until completely melt. Pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer and refrigerate until completely cool, about 30 minutes. Just before frosting, whip the ganache until it just begins to loosen up, turns lighter in color and is spreadable, 30 to 45 seconds. It’s important not to overwhip or it will become grainy.

Cut a 2- to 3- inch diagonal piece from the top end of the log and place it on top of the log at an angle; this will be the branch. Spread the ganache over the log to cover it completely. Heat a metal fork. Use the tines and the back of a the fork to draw a bark pattern in the ganache, running it along the surface in short strokes.

To make the mushrooms: Shave the tops of 6 of the meringues with a rasp grater until they are smooth and round and resemble mushroom caps. Smooth the tops with a wet finger. Mix together 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar with 1/4 teaspoon water in a small bowl to make a glue. Smear a little of the sugar glue on the bottom of each meringue and stick a marshmallow to it to make a stem. To make a shorter stem, simply cut the marshmallow in half with kitchen shears. Let the mushrooms sit for 30 minutes until the sugar water has hardened. Dust the tops with cocoa powder.

Decorate the cake with the mushrooms, rosemary, mint and cranberries. Shave the remaining meringue over top of the cake to make snow. Slice the cake on a diagonal for serving.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake with Beurre Noisette Buttercream for the Yule Log Tree Stump

40 min
10 min
30 min
8 to 10 servings


Beurre Noisette Buttercream:


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease two 9-inch round cake pans.

In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the pumpkin puree.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter between the pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before flipping onto wire racks to cool completely. Spread the Beurre Noisette Buttercream on the top of one of the cake rounds and top with the other.

Cook’s Note

Melt the butter in 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally and watching closely, until the butter turns golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cool completely. Combine the browned butter, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl. Beat at medi-um speed, gradually adding enough heavy cream for the desired spreading consistency. Yield: filling for one 9-inch cake