If you are anything like me you hear tapas and instantly go wut-the? Or was I the last one in the world to know that we had a new term for appetizers, hors d’oeuvres and antipasto. Yes, I understand that these words have been around for a long time, but there is a definite fascination with the new way to say the same thing. Join the craze and make some tapas for your friends.
Spain is where this current craze originated, if slightly by accident or, more accurately,as a necessity. The word tapas derives from the word tapar, meaning “to cover.” Some stories say that tapas originated when small pieces of bread or meat were placed on top of glasses of wine. These tapas were placed on the glasses at taverns or restaurants, and replaced there after each sip by the patron. The purpose was to keep the flies out of the drink while providing a snack for the guest. Hmm, slightly weird and yet I get it. Except for the eating the bread part. Although I guess after a glass or two of wine, you don’t care about the flies landing on the bread anymore? lol
These small treats are popular in Spain for other reasons now. It is customary for many families in Spain to eat their evening meal very late, leaving room between lunch and dinner for satisfying their appetite with little snacks, usually while socializing. I know quite a few days this is appropriate at my own house.
At its simplest definition, tapas are little snacks that can be easily enjoyed while mingling. You can make a meal out of them, or eat them as little snacks before a large meal. The best part about tapas is there is no limit to them! Take this simple idea from Spain and make it even better by using your slow cooker to take the work out of making this fun food. Here are a couple quick ideas to get you started with your own tapas adventure:
Always a crowd favorite, mini meatballs are not only simple, they basically take care of themselves in a slow cooker. Of course, that’s the point of using it right? 😉 You can buy frozen meatballs and add salsa, sweet and sour sauce, or even barbecue sauce. We are partial to srirachi chili sauce and grape jelly. Yeah, sounds weird, but it’s amazing. You can use a can of cranberry jelly instead. Just use the chili sauce to your taste. Or you can easily make up a batch yourself if you want to create a more versatile meatball, even including ingredients like chopped vegetables or cheese.
Dipping little pieces of food is a fun experience for all involved. This kind of tapas is a relationship builder. Everyone is around the slow cooker, dipping and talking, then dipping some more. If you want to learn more about your guests, then a dip or fondue is a great way to get everyone in a social mood. There are many dip recipes to try in your slow cooker and just as many foods to try dipping. Let your imagination soar beyond cheese and bread cubes and see what you can create.
Muscles or Clams
There’s nothing prettier or more aromatic than a nice big pot of steamed muscles or clams. It’s easy to do, too. By changing the ingredients you put into the broth, you can make hundreds of different flavor combinations to satisfy anyone. And, not only will your slow cooker make them perfectly, it will also keep them warm for your guests. You don’t have to worry about your guests getting cold food, or the broth boiling away.
Bacon Wrapped Bits
Bacon is a well-loved favorite. Making savory tapas wrapped in bacon is sure to be a crowd pleaser at just about any gathering. Take bite-sized pieces of chicken, steak, figs, pineapple, water chestnuts, or even the old-school classic, Vienna sausages, wrap them in bacon, and let your crock pot do the rest of the work. Set your slow cooker on high, get the bacon browned, then turn down to low and your tapas are ready when your guests are.
Use your slow cookers to create tender, shredded meat for little sandwiches. Add a pork loin, a beef roast, or a chicken to your slow cooker the day before the party, pour in cup of stock, and let it cook for about eight hours. Once it’s cooked, cool and shred the meat and put it back in the crock pot with a jar of salsa or barbecue sauce. Stir it up and set your slow cooker to low. Let this simmer until your guests arrive, then get out little dinner rolls and your mini sandwiches are ready. Your guests will wonder how you ever found the time to cook these succulent hot sandwiches while getting everything else ready.
Take this idea from Spain, but give it your own little twist by using your slow cooker. Why worry over boiling pots when you have family and friends to enjoy?
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