Entertaining

Food with a twist: Let pretzel sticks give your party a lift

 
 
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Edible handles:</span> Pretzel sticks can hold savory or sweet bites.
Edible handles: Pretzel sticks can hold savory or sweet bites.
Bill Hogan / MCT

Chicago Tribune

Pretzel sticks don’t get much respect. They’re neither burly like rods nor twisted like knots.

They deserve more than a toss into the snack bowl. Make them a key player at your next gathering: Employ them as edible pickup sticks, replacing toothpicks. Think of the time you'll save not fishing errant toothpicks out of the sofa or shag carpeting.

And think of pretzel sticks as conversation starters. Here are some ideas to get you started.

When dealing with firmer foods – cheese, peanut butter cups – use a wooden skewer to poke a hole for the pretzel.

With savory foods such as meatballs and sausage chunks, serve with dipping sauces (mustards, barbecue sauce, chutney, etc.).

Meatballs

Mix 1 pound ground beef with 2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon beaten egg, 1 tablespoon minced onion (or use a favorite recipe).

Using a scant 1 tablespoon of meat mixture, roll into a ball and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Shape remaining mixture into balls.

Bake at 400 degrees, about 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Drain meatballs on paper towels. Cool slightly. Spear each with a pretzel stick.

Cheese

Let cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Muenster) come to room temperature; cut into 1-inch cubes. Spear with pretzel stick. Small, fresh mozzarella balls (bocconcini) also work.

Sausage

Cook or grill Italian, bratwurst or Polish according to package directions. Allow them to cool enough to handle, then cut crosswise into 1-inch chunks. Spear cut surface with pretzel stick.

Olives

Choose larger blue- or feta-stuffed olives. Anchor pretzel in the cheese.

Sweets

Truffles are chic, but miniature peanut butter cups are much simpler. Remove foil wrapper, add pretzel, remove paper cup.

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