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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Bowl, Super Tasty

I was prepared for a boring super bowl night at home, as no one seemed to be around and Hubby was going to a fireMEN party. With plenty to do and no interest in the outcome of the game, that was fine but Sunday morning a few of Tim's friends called and an impromptu Super Bowl "couples" party was suddenly planned for our house that night. EXCELLENT! I was very excited to pick a few tasty appetizers, get out my hot plate and see what we could come up with.

With a few hours notice, I had an idea of what I wanted: mini BBQ bacon cheeseburgers, mini Reubens, and whatever else caught my eye at Nino Salvaggio's, one of the local specialty/international markets. It was the weekend and I knew Nino's would have samples, YES! Another score for my team.

I had already put a box of pathetic looking "chicken fries" (those taste samples always snag me...) in my hand basket when Tom called to say they're stopping at Freeway Fritz on the way home from up north and would bring us some fabulous Frankenmuth Fried Chicken. I set the floppy chicken fries aside, the one thing I had been "unsure" about.. and I had the fixings for the Reubens, Burgers, and a sweet tree: fancy long-stem strawberries which will be dipped in chocolate, and maybe some white chocolate drizzles if time permits.

Back home, the house was ready for guests and I started prepping. The Reubens were a huge hit and a second batch were made later in the game. The mini burgers also tasted great and I just loved them. With the chicken and coleslaw, strawberries.. it was a tasty day and we were all full while we waited for an actually decent commercial (what was the deal this year?????) I was so glad Tom, Gwen, Pat and Amy came over, it was great to catch up.

Anyway, I highly recommend these quick and easy appetizers for any party, especially one that has many manly patrons (these aren't your dainty tea-party apps!)

I apologize for the few and not great pictures... I didn't let taking pictures get in the way of my eating! These little diddies really do look great all together on a platter and I'm sure I'll make them again, and hopefully take more photos then!

Mini Reubens with Homemade Sauce
Makes approximately 3/4s of the Rye Bread package.

1 Mini Loaf of Square Rye bread
4-5 Tablespoons of Grey Poupon Country-Style Dijon
1.5 lbs of sliced Corned Beef (fresh sliced from the deli if possible)
1 package of Sliced Aged Swiss Cheese
1 Can of Sauerkraut, drained
Optional: Coleslaw instead of sauerkraut (about half of us prefer Reubens this way)

Sauce Ingredients (amounts are approximate, mix and taste for correct consistency)
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons Sweet Pickle Relish
2-4 Tablespoons Ketchup

Pre-heat the oven to 450. On a cookie sheet lined with foil (for easy clean-up), lay out as many of the slices of rye that you can fit. Squirt (or spread) a small bit (teaspoon or more if you like) of the tangy dijon mustard on each of the rye slices. I am not sure if you could taste this by the time you eat the final product, so I'd consider increasing the amount to your liking. Top each rye bread with a small folded pile of corned beef. With the thickness of my slices (thin and small), I used about 1.5 slices per bread. Top with a portion of a slice of swiss cheese (cut to fit and use excess from one on other slices) For those who want sauerkraut, fork a small pile on top of the cheese - as much as you want, and can fit up there.

Pop into the oven and bake for 7-12 minutes or until the cheese is melty, bottoms of the toasts are crispy, and the saurkraut is browning.

While baking, combine the mayonnaise, relish and ketchup until you reach the preferred consistency and taste of your Thousand-Island / Russian Dressing. Make more if needed. If too tangy, add ketchup.. if too bland, add relish, and to cream it up or make more, add Mayo.

Serve Reubens hot, and I kept mine on a heated serving platter. Spoon coleslaw on top of the non-saurkraut versions for a creamy, tangy delicious twist. Serve with mustard for those who don't like Mayo (like Hubby) and otherwise, you might want to make extra sauce... it's delicious spooned over top or used as a dip on an appetizer plate. Enjoy!

Mini Bacon Cheeseburgers

Makes 12 mini burgers (sliders)


1 Package King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (this is very important - can be found in most stores in the red bag)
1 lb of Ground Sirloin
1 large sweet onion
1 package bacon
1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (original).. could use your own BBQ favorite
1 pkg Thick-sliced Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1-2 Splashes of Worcestershire Sauce
1-2 Shakes of Montreal Steak Seasoning
Fresh ground black pepper
Fresh ground coarse salt
2 tsp Garlic Powder

Cook up the bacon until it's cooked through and slightly crispy, it'll crisp as it cools. I always cook a full pound of bacon because it'll always get used or eaten for something else.. some how bacon never makes it to the "leftovers" category in my house. You will probably only use 8 or 9 slices ,if you're wondering.

Next, I took the sirloin and mixed it with the seasonings - worcestershire, garlic powder, pepper, salt, and whatever other seasonings you like in a tasty hamburger. I rolled the hamburger in to 12 equal-sized balls. I was a little worried they'd be too small but it was the perfect size for the hawaiian buns. I chilled the hamburgers until I was ready to grill them, I thought a fresh burger would be best so I cooked them during the game.

Next, I sliced the onion extremely thinly and sauteed it in some of the bacon grease until it was soft and slightly browned. Another do-ahead step is to slice all the Hawaiian buns through the middle to make hamburger bun tops and bottoms.

One you're ready to get this show on the road, pre-heat the oven to 400 or so. On a cookie sheet lined with tin foil, lay out the bottoms of all of the hawaiian buns. I used the same pan (had some bacon grease still) and after flattening the balls of hamburger into little burgers, I fried them over med-high heat. These won't take too long to cook, but cook to your liking: I tried to keep mine a little pink on the inside, especially since they'll go into the oven for a few minutes later to warm the full-package up.

Once your burgers are cooked, place one on each of the bottom buns. Top with a square of cheese (tear to fit and use extra pieces of 1 slice for the next burger) and then bacon and then fork over some onions. Squirt your preferred amount of BBQ sauce (1 tsp or so) underneath all the bun tops and place the tops onto the burger stacks.

Bake in the oven 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melting down the sides. The hawaiian bun will be slightly crisp on the bottom and the top of the bun will have a small film of delicious buttery goodness all over the top, a bonus that I didn't know would happen in the oven. YUM. I threw these onto my heated serving platter - feel free to serve with mini toppings or at least additional BBQ sauce. They were so delicious, my stomach is grumbling just thinking about it. These little guys are just as delicious ... if not more so... as a greasy-spoon diner's "Sliders" yet no ill after-affects will occur as they sometimes do after a visit to your local Slider establishment. The grease is at least somewhat in check when you control it yourself!

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