The Perfect Holiday Appetizers – Cheesy Brat Bites

by Pamela

Johnsonville Brats, hot appetizers, party appetizers, hors d'ouvres, holiday appetizers

You survived Whore or ween Halloween and, if you live in the United States, tomorrow is election day 2010.  You are voting…..rrrrrrriiiiiiiiiight?  I don’t know what the political ads have been like in your state, but here in California they’ve run the gamut from normal to bizarre.  We’ve seen the usual “vote for me – here’s why” to someone running with the tag line: “no more bullshit.”  Personally, I can’t wait for the elections to be over…just so these ads, and annoying ringing phones will end.  Oh yeah, living in LA also allows me to receive ‘personal’ get out the vote phone calls from celebrities.  Woo hoo – look at me – a computer celebrity knows my phone number and called me. UGH!  But if you’re wondering ‘where do I vote’, just click the link and find out.

Now here’s something you’ll really like (I love Rocky and Bullwinkle).  Holiday appetizers!  You know you’re already thinking about all of the holiday gatherings that you have coming up.  Whether they’re at your place or you’ve been invited to someone else’s house  you know you’ve got to make or take some kind of hors d’oeuvres…but what to make?  (And for the record, pronouncing hors d’ouvres as whore dervs or whores d’ovaries isn’t funny to anyone but you.)

After making those yummy homemade pop tarts, a couple of weeks ago, I got to thinking about how versatile that dough is.  Then I started thinking about what else I could make with it.  My brain started churning out ideas for appetizers…specifically hot appetizers.  We have people over quite frequently and I’m always caught short when it comes to having any appetizers at the ready.  I used to keep some boxes of goodies from Trader Joe’s in the freezer, that I could just pop in the oven to have something hot.  But I got bored with them because it ended up being the same foods over and over again.  Variety is the spice of life, or so they say.  So I thought it would be great to have some of my own appetizer recipes that I could make up ahead of time and freeze to have on hand for get togethers.

As far as appetizer recipes go, this isn’t the easiest one to prepare (it takes a little time), but it’s not that difficult.  The payoff of this recipe is that 1-it’s delicious (so make plenty), 2-you can vary it about a million different ways and 3- you can make these ahead of time and freeze them to eat later.  When getting ready for holiday parties, in particular, having these cheesy brat bites already made, and in the freezer, are a God send.  Plus, they’re fancy enough to compete with the holiday decorations.  With these at the ready, you can whip up easy holiday appetizers like deviled eggs, brie, shrimp cocktail and the requisite vegetable platter, but these allow you to offer some hot appetizers as well.  Plus, people will think you were up all night cooking.  (To further the ruse, sprinkle a little flour on your clothes.)

Johnsonville Brats hot hors d'ouvres

But don’t think of these as just special occasion party appetizers.  Sure they’re quite a step up from a bowl of pretzels or chips, but these hors d’oeuvres are just as comfortable surrounded by football and beer as they are with champagne and high heels.

You may think that I’m obsessed with Johnsonville Brats, or that I’m on their payroll, but neither is true.  I really like the flavors that the original Johnsonville Brats have.  I also like the versatility of them (of course the same could be said of most fresh sausages).  So feel free to substitute your favorite fresh sausage.

Relationship Advice

Since I started today’s post with a topical subject, no not a cream or lotion, but the topic of voting…it only seems relevant to discuss a very popular topic on the interwebs today.  Steven Fry, a popular (in Britain) British actor was quoted in Attitude magazine saying:

“I feel sorry for straight men. The only reason women will have sex with them is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want.”

He went on pontificating about women’s sex lives, or lack thereof:

“If women liked sex as much as men, there would be straight cruising areas in the way there are gay cruising areas,” he is reported to have told an interviewer. “Women would go and hang around in churchyards thinking: ‘God, I’ve got to get my f****** rocks off’…. It doesn’t happen. Why? Because the only women you can have sex with like that wish to be paid for it.”

Ummm…okay, if you say so…are you sure you’re only 53?  Were you hiding under a rock for the past 20 years?  Fry received so much bashing from women that he ultimately shut off his Twitter account, which had just under 2 million followers.

Fry isn’t the first man to talk smack about women and our sexual predilections, and won’t be the last.  If he is representative of the British, or at least the gay British, male opinion of women it at least appears to be slightly more positive than the American male stereotype of women in that women only have sex to get physical things (like rings, cars, pretty clothes and shoes).

I’m also not too sure that the majority of men (straight or gay) go cruising in parks or graveyards for sex (unless your name is George Micahael).  Of course both men and women go to bars to meet one another and I supposed that could be considered a designated cruising area.  But women have been known to sleep with guys just because we want to – the one night stand – friends with benefits – wham bam thank you ma’am.

Do you agree with what Stephen Fry said?  Do we only have sex because we think we have to or do we have sex because we enjoy it as much as men?


Cheesy Brat Bites

Makes 4 dozen (using a 3 1/2″ round cutter)


Pastry Dough Ingredients

  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Chilled Unsalted Butter – 2 Sticks (cut into pieces)
  • 2 Large Eggs (separated)
  • 2 Tablespoons Half and Half (or milk)
  • 3/4 Cup Finely Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Ingredients for Filling

  • 1 Package Johnsonville Brats – Original Flavor (casings removed)
  • 3 Medium Fuji Apples (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Calvados (or apple juice concentrate)
  • 2 Teaspoons Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Directions for Pastry Dough

In a medium size bowl whisk one egg and half and half together until thoroughly combined and set aside.

In the bowl of your food processor add the flour, salt and the pieces from one of the sticks of butter.  Pulse until butter disappears into flour mixture.  Next add the second stick of butter pieces and pulse again until butter disappears and what is left is fine crumbles.

Pour flour/butter mixture into the egg and half and half.  Whisk to combine (yes, that is enough liquid to do that).  You only need to whisk until the dough is damp and holds together when you squeeze it in your hand.

Add the cheese to the dough and stir to combine.

Knead the dough a few times, in the bowl, until it all comes together into one large piece.

Separate the dough into two equal pieces and wrap with plastic wrap.

Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour or up to 2 days.

Let the dough sit on the counter for 15 – 30 minutes to become workable.  On a well floured surface roll each dough  piece into a 9″ x 12″ rectangle.

Cut that rectangle into 3 1/2″ circles and brush one half of the circle with a beaten egg.

Continue rolling, cutting and brushing with egg with the rest of the dough.

Directions for Filling

In a large saute pan, cook the sausage over medium heat until most of the pink is gone.

Add in the rest of the filling ingredients to the pan and cook until apples begin to soften.

If there is a lot of grease or moisture in the pan, drain it out of the pan before cooling.

Remove from heat and let cool.

The filling can be covered and stored in the refrigerator (for up to 5 days or) until ready to use.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

Place 1 teaspoon of filling onto the dough circle that has been brushed with the egg.  Leave a 1/2″ border around the edges.

Fold circle in half covering the filling.

Press the edges together and then use a fork to press down and seal the edges.

Slide the pastries onto a baking pan that has been lined with a silicon sheet or parchment paper.

Brush the tops of the pastries with the remaining beaten egg.

Prick the top of each pastry, with a fork, to let the steam escape while they are baking.

Chill the pastry for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.

Bake for 25 – 35 minutes.

Pastries are done when the dough is golden brown.


*If freezing the appetizers, follow the directions up to the point of chilling.  Once you are ready to chill, slide the sheet into the freezer.  Let freeze overnight.  Remove the individual appetizers from the pan and put into a freezer bag.  When baking later, remove from bag and line up on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake for 5 additional minutes.  When the dough is golden brown, they are done.

**You will have quite a bit of the filling left over.  You could either make a double batch of dough or use the filling to add to scrambled eggs for a delicious breakfast.


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Brad November 8, 2010 at 9:11 am

Drool! What a great recipe thanks.

Jamie November 3, 2010 at 10:58 am

Well, I think I’d rather spend the evening with a plate full of these little cheesy brat bites than with Stephen Fry. Does that answer the question? And since I live in Europe and vote by absentee ballot I get no robocalls and don’t have to suffer those disgusting ads. And CA had better luck than Fla where I vote, I can tell you that. Ugh! I love these cheesy brat bites!

sippitysup November 3, 2010 at 8:51 am

I got a lot of the robo-celebrity calls too. Glad it’s all over and the results in CA at least please me! Speaking of pleasure these little bites have that written all over them. GREG

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks November 2, 2010 at 7:52 pm

These brat bites look like empanadas to me.

Nancy November 2, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Oh my… my kind of before dinner “nibble”!!! Sausage and apples..heaven!!!

Belinda @zomppa November 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Love these appetizers! Interesting quotations…I think he’s forgetting that MEN also want relationships – the stability, security, safety – they might not want to admit it!

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