Okay, raise your hand if you like yourself a hot and juicy Italian sausage (and yes, double entendre fully intended). If food can be sexy, this innocent looking dough pocket and rich red tomato sauce combo is a sex kitten. It’s not the smoldering hot, dark hair, muscular olive tone skin obvious sexy beast. You know how they say you need to look out for the innocent looking one’s? The girls with the freckles and innocent looking smiles – those are the girls that are fire in the bed. Well, these little party appetizers are the food equivalent.
What do homemade pop tarts and cheesy brat bites have in common? They were the inspiration for this party appetizer recipe: Italian Sausage Bites. The dough recipe used in all of these recipes is the perfect companion to whatever filling you choose to put inside of these little pockets. So I started thinking about what other yummy party foods I could make and my brain started churning out ideas for appetizers…hot appetizers. Actually, I wanted something that could be served hot or at room temperature so that this party appetizer recipe could be portable. I’m prone to keeping boxes of goodies from Trader Joe’s in the freezer, but lately I haven’t been finding anything that looks good, plus we get bored with the same things over and over again. 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 or to take when going to someone’s home.
I’ve already served this appetizer recipe twice, to very good reviews. The first batch was served as hot appetizers; straight out of the oven with the tomato dipping sauce also warm. Of course, the filling is very hot (when served this way) but everyone was oohing and aaaahing with every bite. The second time I served these was after they had been in the freezer for a little over a month. I popped them in the oven (for about 5 minutes longer then when cooking them fresh) and brought them out to cool. I served both the sausage bites and dipping sauce at room temperature. You gotta love versatile party appetizers!
I wouldn’t classify this as an easy appetizer recipe, but it’s not difficult…it just takes a little bit of time. This recipe offers several perks: it’s delicious (so make plenty), the variations are seemingly endless (sweet and savory) and you can make these ahead of time and freeze them so you’re always ready for impromptu guests. With all of the summer parties coming up, having these Italian sausage bites already made, and in the freezer, are an absolute gift (to yourself). With these in the freezer, you’ll have plenty of time to make up your other party appetizers and drinks. And you’ll probably still have some time to put your feet up and have a drink before your guests arrive. Plus, people will think you were up all night cooking.
Don’t think of these as special occasion party appetizers. Yes, they’re fancier than a bowl of pretzels or chips, but this appetizer recipe is just as comfortable surrounded by sand and volleyball nets as it is with champagne and high heels.
How do your lady bits measure up?
It’s not just the men who are breaking out the rulers. Okay, so women aren’t breaking out the rulers, but they are breaking out magazines and making sure that their feet are adorned with Louboutins and their lady bits are adorned with the same stylish perfection.
Hair: I’ve already covered the hair (or pulled out the hair) before. Your options here include: shave, wax or laser. Yes, you can have your own reenactment of Star Wars as a laser is shot at your tenderest of areas. May the force be with you on that decision.
Decorations: I’m happy that this trend didn’t catch on as much as the whale tail did a few years ago. But Jennifer Love Hewitt tried with all of her might to get other women to follow in her footsteps by emblazoning her bald lady bits with sparkly crystals. There are even kits that include patterns and crystals for you do-it-yourselfers. Of course making your partner’s nether regions bleed from crystal road rash isn’t exactly sexy. Of course you can just go old school and get a piercing down there.
More Hair: Don’t want to go with the pre-pubescent look? Rebellious side coming out? Leave the hair and dye it. For the Martha Stewart in you, match the curtains and the rug. Or get a little crazy and turn your hair neon blue. Just be aware that if you look down while your partner is there it may look like an alien landing.
Plastic Surgery: Your boobs and belly flab aren’t the only thing you can improve with a surgeon’s knife. Things feeling a little loose down there? There’s vaginal rejuvenation to tighten you back up like a brand new virgin. Or you were blessed with big lips, but not the one’s on your face? Why not have a labiaplasty to tuck everything out of sight?
Vagacial: Yes, it’s what you think it is: a facial for your vagina. Your lady bits get exfoliated, scrubbed, pores get evacuated, ingrown hairs plucked and a peel if you like. I suppose after all of that primping you could apply a smooth layer of foundation and dress up your hoo hoo with flawless makeup instead of crystals.
Vaginal Steam: If all that scrubbing and plucking doesn’t sound right for you there’s the more gentle steam treatment. Squatting over a steaming mixture of mugwort tea, wormwood and other herbs your lady parts become stress free, are better able to fight infection, clear hemorrhoids and help regulate your period.
So what do you think? Are you going to run out and get your sparkle on or do you feel like making an appointment to pamper your lady bits with a vagacial?
Italian Sausage Bites Recipe
Makes 3 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)
- 1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons Half and Half (or milk)
- 3/4 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 2 Large Eggs (separated)
Ingredients for Filling
- 1 Pound Mild Italian Sausage
- 1 Small Fennel Bulb (chopped fine)
- 1 Small Onion Grated
- 1 Tablespoon Dry Vermouth (or white wine)
- 2 Teaspoons Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1/8 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Ingredients for Tomato Dipping Sauce
- 1 12 Ounce Can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
- 2 Cloves of Garlic (smashed)
- 1/4 Cup Red Wine
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
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, Italian seasoning 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 the fennel begins to soften.
If there is grease or moisture in the pan, drain it before cooling.
Remove from heat and let cool to the touch.
The filling can be covered and stored in the refrigerator (for up to 5 days or) until ready to use.
Directions for Dipping Sauce
Combine all ingredients in a medium size saucepan over medium high heat.
Cook until liquid is reduced by half.
Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
Remove from heat.
Puree using a stick blender or in a blender. (If using a blender, make sure that it is vented when blending hot liquids or they could cause the lid to blow off and burn you.)
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 3 – 4 times, 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 you are baking multiple pans at one time, make sure you switch the pans half way through.
*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.