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Posted on Tue. Dec. 11, 2012 - 12:01 am EDT

Sweet and tangy meatballs a plus at any party

Cranberry marinara can help turn old favorite into a new festive treat.

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Sometimes failure can end up tasting pretty good. That was the case with these meatballs.

I'd been aiming to creating a solidly delicious, all-purpose meatball suitable for tossing with marinara over spaghetti. The meatballs, while certainly delicious, were both too tangy and too sweet to pair with your basic pasta sauce or Parmesan cheese. But they make great party food.

Cocktail meatballs with cranberry marinara

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Makes 50 meatballs

3 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno slices

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teasp. red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3 pounds ground beef (93 percent lean)

14-ounce can whole berry cranberry sauce

15-ounce can diced tomatoes

Splash of hot sauce

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Coat rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. In large bowl, combine eggs, cilantro, jalapenos, garlic, fennel, oregano, onion powder, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Whisk until well combined. Add ground beef, then mix gently until blended. Divide mixture into 50 balls, using about 2 tablespoons of mixture per ball. Arrange meatballs on prepared baking sheet. Place baking sheet in oven and bake meatballs for 20 minutes. Increase heat to broil and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until lightly browned. In medium saucepan at medium heat, combine cranberry sauce and diced tomatoes. Bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. When meatballs are done, arrange on platter, then spoon cranberry mixture over them. Serve with toothpicks.

Per meatball: 60 calories; 15 calories from fat; 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 30 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 6 g protein; 270 mg sodium.

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