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Foods to party with

Readers weren't as enthused about finger foods as they were about cookie, candy contests of years past, but the handful of entries were well worth it
by: Carole Archer, Kathy Seidel was a winner in the candy contest last year. Here, she gets cracking on her cookies at her Gresham kitchen on Monday, Dec. 17. She makes many batches every year, doling them out to family and friends. Although she didn’t place in this year’s Outlook finger foods contest, her “Yummy Beans” were a close runner up with newsroom judges.

Oh, those Outlook cooks are a contrary bunch. We asked for finger foods in this year's shameless bid for homemade goodies. There is no denying that we managed to eat every offering with our fingers, but some of them tasted suspiciously like cookies.

Having spent the least three years soliciting sweets, we aimed for the savory side of the menu in this year's competition. It turns out our readers must be as stumped as we are about what to put on the hors d'oeuvre table besides cheese and crackers.

Or it could be that our readers have a persistent sweet tooth and know that we do too. So our submissions in this year's event were part savory and part sweet, and we just kicked all our rules aside and enjoyed.

We found some tasty stuff, a lovely cheesy sausage ball that you can make ahead and freeze. An easy turtle candy that is just the right size and right flavor. So what the heck, we'll share the recipes anyway, with thanks to those who entered this year's contest.

Without further ado, here are the winners and the recipes:

Jim Sutton, of Gresham, who complains that he comes in second in every contest, claims a first place this time in the savory food classification with Pepperoni Pizza Roll, from him and his wife, Mary Lynn.

This was a clear 'boy' favorite in The Outlook newsroom.

Second place goes to Ruth Vandenbos' Sausage Balls. Vandenbos was a previous winner in our cookie contests.

Judges thought her sausage balls would a crowd pleaser at any party.

And in the sweets division, even though we didn't think we were going to have one: First place goes to Imogene Wilner of Gresham for her clever, easy to make Fake Turtles.

In second place is Bob Horswell of Rockwood for his fluffy Holiday Macaroons with cornflakes, coconut and pecans.

Winners will receive small prizes and a lunch with Outlook Publisher Mark Garber and other staff members.

Sausage Cheese Balls

Ruth Vandenbos

3 cups Bisquick

1 pound uncooked pork sausage

1 pound cheddar cheese grated

Have all ingredients at room temperature, then combine and knead into a ball. Roll into one-inch balls.

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serve warm.

To store in freezer, freeze separately on sheets, then store in container. When ready to bake, 400 degrees for 20 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Yummy Beans

Kathy J. Seidel

The other real 'filler' came from Kathy Seidel, a winner in last year's candy contest, a hot Crock Pot of mixed beans flavored with hamburger and bacon that she serves with scooper corn chips and cheese.

'We serve it on Christmas Eve, and people just keep coming back and scooping up more until it's gone,' she says.

Kathy has modified another recipe so that her version has many more bean varieties. Don't forget the liquid smoke, she adds.

'Very tasty for something so easy,' says Janie Nafsinger, editor of Boom!

Reporter Lance Kramer calls it the perfect Super Bowl food.

1 pound ground beef

1 pound bacon, cut in small pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cans pork and beans

1 can kidney beans

1 can butter beans

1 can white beans

1 can black beans

1 can chili beans

1 cup catsup

1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon Wrights Liquid Smoke

3 tablespoons white vinegar

salt and pepper

Brown beef and drain. Brown bacon and onions.

Put everything in slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Serve with scooper style corn chips and shredded cheese.

Deviled Eggs

Kathy J. Seidel

While she was at it, Kathy Seidel brought in everybody's favorite, deviled eggs, but hers come with the twang of horseradish.

'Love the horseradish kick,' said Kari Hastings, news editor. 'One of my favorite finger foods.'

6 hard-boiled eggs

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon horseradish

1 teaspoon dijonnaise

salt and pepper

Slice eggs and remove yolks. Mash yolks with rest of ingredients and return to whites.

Pepperoni Pizza Roll

Jim and Mary Lynn Sutton

Jim and Mary Lynn Sutton came up with Pepperoni Pizza Rolls, a recipe they shamelessly stole from their daughter, who sometimes slices the pieces thicker and serves it for dinner. These are pretty on the plate, contain only three ingredients and are fast.

'It's pepperoni pizza turned into finger food. What could be better?' asked Ben Myers.

1 can Pillsbury Pizza dough

2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

About 50 pepperoni slices (1 package)

Place pizza dough on an oblong cookie sheet and pat out to fit cookie sheet. Place pepperoni slices side by side to cover the dough. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top of the pepperoni. Roll like a jellyroll and brush the top with melted butter. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool. When cool, slice in 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices, place on a plate and serve. Note: If you add too many pizza goodies, it becomes difficult to roll.

Ham Rolls

Kirnan Family (David and Paula, and sons Kyle, 7, Carter, 4, and Joey, 2)

Just under the wire, the Kirnan family brought by Ham Rolls at 4:59 p.m. on the deadline day. Both Kyle, 7, and Carter, 4, claim to have helped their mother, Paula, fix up the bite-size morsels, although Kyle says he doesn't like them, because he doesn't like pickles or mayonnaise. Carter, 4, says they're easy to make. 'Just roll the ham up, then poke the toothpicks through,' he says.

David, who works nights, brought the two older boys in, while Paula stayed home with the baby - Joey, 2.

12 slices of deli ham

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup cream cheese, softened

2 dill pickles (cut into spears)

Whisk together mayonnaise and cream cheese until smooth. Spread mayonnaise/cream cheese mixture thinly on each slice of ham. Place pickle spear along one edge. Roll the ham slice up around the pickle spear. Insert toothpicks evenly spaced through ham roll. Cut roll into bite-size pieces.

And on to the sweet side of the holiday table:

Chewy Walnut Squares

Suzanne Boyer

Suzanne Boyer of Gresham, even recovering from surgery, got up to make us some of her Walnut Squares, a recipe she has kept around since 1979. Like a nut pie, but without the crust, these gooey goodies are finger-licking good.

1 egg, unbeaten

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Grease an 8-inch square pan. Stir together the egg, brown sugar and vanilla. Quickly stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Add walnuts. Spread in pan and bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. (Cookies should be soft in center when taken from oven.) Leave in pan; cut into 2-inch squares. Makes 16 squares.

Kruczciki

Cindy Lodato

Most fascinating culturally were the Angel Wings prepared by Cindy Lodato of Troutdale. Sweet and crispy, fried and coated with powdered sugar, Lodato's angel wings are a recipe from her Polish grandmother, and Cindy says it is not Christmas without them. Crispy and light, they are a reminder that each culture has managed to deep-fry cookie batter, coat it with powdered sugar and come up with a winner.

Not unlike the Mexican churro or the Swedish rosette, this goodie reminded Reporter Lance Kramer of funnel cake on the boardwalk, 'but miniaturized so that each piece is perfectly sized for the digits.'

Lodato's angel wings, other than wafting a little powdered sugar on your shirt, are angelic.

3 egg yolks

1 whole egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

1 tablespoon brandy or rum

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour (sifted)

1 3-pound can Crisco (without butter)

Heat Crisco to 375 degrees in an electric skillet. Beat egg yolks, whole egg and salt together until very stiff (about 10 minutes). Beat in confectioner's sugar and flavoring thoroughly. Add flour all at once, mix well. Turn dough onto well-floured board and knead until surface of dough is blistered in appearance (about seven minutes). Divide dough in half and roll out each half until very thin, the thinner the better. Cut dough in diamond shapes or rectangles. Make a slit in center then draw a long point of dough through center. Fry about 1/2 a minute on each side. Drain on absorbent paper (brown paper bag preferred). Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar through sifter. It's best to double the recipe. Store in covered box with tissue paper, which keeps it fresh for two weeks.

Fake Turtles

Imogene Wilner

Just about the easiest and tastiest of the snacks to come in the door came from Imogene Wilner of Gresham who calls her offering 'Fake Turtles.' Using Rolo candies, a pecan and a square pretzel, the kind with a grid in the interior, she turns up a tidy and perfectly-sized turtle that is improved by the smack of salt on the pretzel.

About those Rolos, she says. The first time she made these, she bought a bag of individual candies and had to unwrap each one. Instead she watches for the rolls of eight, waiting until they are on sale, three for a dollar.

Miniature pretzels, the inch-square kind with grid in the middle.

Rolo candies

pecan halves

Line a cookie sheet with foil. Place miniature pretzels on foil. Put a Rolo candy on each pretzel. Bake at 250 degrees for 4 minutes - candy will be softened but retains its shape. Immediately press a pecan half on each Rolo and push down. Cool slightly. Refrigerate for 10 minutes, or until set.

Nutty Cheese Fudge

Victoria Sargent

Velveeta Cheese is the secret ingredient in Victoria Sargent's Nutty Cheesy Fudge. 'It isn't real cheese, but it is cheese, at least it says so on the box,' she says. The cheese issue aside, the resident of Boring, says Velveeta gives the fudge a consistency that's not grainy, but smooth as silk.

A sweets aficionado, Victoria decorated cakes for a living for 10 years and now uses her skills to create wedding cakes for friends and acquaintances. Her family and friends are the recipients of treats of all kinds during the holidays, she says, and the Nutty Cheese Fudge is always high on their list.

1/2 pound. Velveeta Cheese sliced

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts

2 pounds powdered sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

Melt cheese and butter over medium heat. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Sift together sugar and cocoa in large bowl, add cheese mixture. You can use a wooden spoon but it mixes better if you use your hands. Using a 9-by-13-inch pan, coat with butter or spray with a non-stick spray. Spread fudge evenly in pan and cover with the chopped nuts. Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer before serving.

Holiday Macaroons

Bob Horswell

Bob Horswell, who is the cookie baker in his Rockwood household, stayed up late the night before our contest's end to whip up (literally) these macaroons. Topped with a cherry, they make a pretty Christmas cookie. 'I love cookies,' he says, 'and my wife doesn't make them. Of course, she may not make them, because I do. I don't know.'

4 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup shredded coconut

3 cups corn flakes cereal

Optional glazed cherry pieces

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Stir in vanilla and cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff and glossy. Fold in pecans, coconut and corn flakes.

Drop mixture by rounded measuring tablespoon onto cookie sheet sprayed with vegetable cooking spray. Place a piece of cherry in center of each cookie if desired.

Bake about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove immediately from cookie sheet. Cool on racks.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Reporter Sharon Nesbit can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 503-492-5120.