My Last Holiday Party

Well it wouldn’t be December without my holiday party, although this was my last one for reasons I’ll explain.  My Pinterest board shows the menu.  You can see it by clicking here.

I had to make those amazing meatballs again, the ones I served at the baby shower.  They disappeared, again.  I also did some old favorites—goat cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates.  The Columbia restaurant’s 1905 salad.  And an international cheese board. 

The new dishes I tried.  One was mini stuffed twice-baked potatoes.  Very easy and holiday-bakedtatersvery inexpensive to make.  You buy those little creamer potatoes at the warehouse club in a big bag, bake them in the oven, then scoop out the insides with a small spoon.  The rest of the story is just like full-sized twice-baked potatoes.

holiday-cheeseballAnother new dish was the jalapeno popper cheese ball.  I did not make it look like the football that’s shown on Pinterest, I just did it like a non-sports-related cheese concoction.  It was pretty well-consumed.

I also tried my hand at Cuban sliders.  Basically you take a package of King’s Hawaiian Rolls and you use them to make a pan of ham and swiss cheese and pickle sandwiches.  Then you melt some butter, stir in some mustard and drizzle it holiday-slidersover the sandwiches, then bake and serve warm.  They are equally good when they cool off.

For dessert this year I made a fruit galette.  I made it with apples, holiday-galettepears and blackberries and it was also a big hit.  It was easy as pie (no pun intended… well, maybe a little).  I took a packaged pie crust, I put in sliced apples and pears, with a few blackberries, a little sugar and some lemon zest.  Baked it.  Sliced it.  Served it.  Watched most of it disappear.

I also served a Christmas sangria that was a big hit.  It’s basically white wine with some holiday-sangriasparkling cider, granny smith apples, halved fresh cranberries and sprigs of rosemary.  It was also a big hit.

My best friend came in from out of state for the weekend and helped me with food and clean up.  We had a great time together.

But, I was disappointed in the turnout.  I set the date months in advance and tell people when it is for them to put it on their calendars.  And, without fail this year, lots of my regulars made other plans and then said, “Oh, we have a conflict.”  I wanted to say, “No, you don’t have a conflict.  You don’t want to come to my party so you made other plans.  There’s a big fucking difference.”

And that, my dear readers, is why I’m done hosting a holiday party.  I had the worst turnout in 8 consecutive years.  The people who were there were a lot of fun, and I was honored by their presence, but I just don’t think I want to spend $300 on food and décor next year to have people find “conflicts.”  Either my party isn’t as fun as I thought it was, or the food isn’t as good as I thought it was, or maybe both?  Either way…there’s a certain amount of freedom that comes from knowing I’ve let myself off the hook for next year.

I am, however, a social creature.  So that doesn’t mean I won’t want to do something.  I’ve already decided that IF people request a party or event, I will possibly organize a community dinner, in which everyone brings something and makes a commitment to attending.  I’m not doing days of food prep only to have half the food I make go in the trash.  But we’ll see if there are any requests.

Anyway, I want to wish all my readers a happy everything.  Happy Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa!  And of course, Happy New Year!  May the turnout for all your holiday functions exceed your wildest dreams!  Thanks for reading BWAV!

 

 

Holiday Party 2015: Your Thoughts?

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Dessert shooters. I wonder how hard it will be to make mine look like this?

Well, it’s time again.  Time for me to plan my holiday party for my office pals.  I love doing it.  I look forward to it all year long, but don’t really start the serious planning until November 1.   The evites have gone out already and now it’s time to think about menu items.

I wanted to just start fresh this year.   Every year I do certain “standard” items and this year I just refuse to do them.  So, take a look at my Pinterest board and see what you think. Keep in mind it’s a work in progress but as I am writing this I’ve tentatively decided on the following:

Rosemary Roasted Cashews for a unique munchable.

Fig and walnut cheese ball for something both sweet and savory.

1905 Salad for some delicious veggies (I usually do veggies and dip but this year I can’t stand the thought of doing that again).

Individual 7-layer dips with homemade chips and salsa.  I am ordering the cutest little 2 ounce disposable shot glasses for these!

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Deviled egg bar. How many cool toppings can I come up with for these?

A deviled egg bar, where people can build their own deviled eggs!  I will make a couple of fillings and put them in the eggs, these will be pretty bland and basic, then put out toppings–bacon, chives, capers, olives, cheeses, peppers, etc–that people can top them with.  I got the idea from a recent episode of “The Chew.” I thought it was kind of different, and unique, and best of all pretty cost-effective.  Eggs are super cheap compared to most proteins, and the amount of various toppings required will be miniscule.

Mini grilled cheese sandwiches.  Again, very cost effective and I can always fancy it up by adding some ham and calling it “mini croque monsieur.”

Finally, for dessert, I’m going to make some dessert shooters in those little disposable shot glasses (hey, I have to buy a case of 240, so I might as well use some of them).   I love key lime pie, I think it’s the best thing ever!  So one will be a no-bake key lime pie concoction, with layers of graham cracker and lime coulee.  The other will be something chocolate, and I’m thinking about going out of my comfort zone and doing maybe a chocolate mousse with a hint of chili in it.  Layer that with whipped cream and maybe some toffee bits?

What do you think?  Will you come to my party?

 

 

A First Date Menu

first-dateI love to cook and I love to have the first or second date with someone around a meal of my choosing.  I’m pretty skilled in the kitchen and so it’s my chance to show off one of my strengths.  It’s also my chance to see if they know how to use a knife and fork, and, if they appreciate good food.

Here’s my favorite first date menu.  Hope it works for you:

Shrimp kabobs

  • 1 pound of FRESH shrimp, jumbo size, peeled and deveined.  Do NOT get frozen shrimp.  You might as well just substitute in chicken breasts if you’re going to do that.
  • Three cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 1/4 cup of Persian lime-infused olive oil (available at www.beaufortoliveoil.com)
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. Fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of Sriracha Sauce
  • The zest from one lime, finely minced

Combine all these ingredients in a ziplock bag and leave them for at least four hours.  Overnight is even better.

Then get

  • 4 slices of thick cut bacon, cut up into 2″ long pieces
  • 1 large vidalia onion, cut into 2″ pieces.
  • 4 to 6 wooden skewers.
  • Pam or other cooking spray

Soak wooden skewers in water for an hour, then spray with cooking spray.  Thread a piece of onion, then a shrimp, then a piece of bacon, and repeat until you’ve threaded up all the goodies.

This is best served grilled over charcoal, but for heaven sakes do NOT get the shrimp overdone or you’ll be serving your date little rubbery things to eat.  Get the bacon nice and hot and you’re DONE.  About 3 or 4 minutes on each side and if the shrimp are nice and pink then they are done.  Onions will still be firm to the tooth, but that’s okay!

 

Fresh Salad with Homemade Dressing

Do not skimp on salad stuff, and do NOT use storebought dressing.  Nothing screams “I’m lazy” like that Krapt in a bottle.  Homemade dressing is super easy to make and tastes much better than the junk in a bottle.

For the salad, get some nice mixed baby greens, some shredded carrots for color, a fresh cucumber diced small, and some good heirloom cherry tomatoes sliced in half.  I love Trader Joe’s for salad stuff, if you have one near you that’s the place to shop.

For the dressing, it’s easy.   I swiped this ingredient list off of www.rachelray.com but there are a ton of simple vinaigrette recipes out there online.

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small shallot, grated
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together thoroughly.  Then slowly whisk in the olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Just before serving the salad pour the dressing over and mix to combine thoroughly so the dressing coats all the lettuces and veggies.

Finish it off with some freshly grated parmesan or some nice feta cheese.  Avoid blue cheese because you don’t want everyone to have funky breath later in the evening if you get lucky (you’ve already got onion and garlic… stick to that for your breath enhancements).

For dessert… well, I’d have some really good ice cream and fruit waiting.  Whether you eat it out of a bowl or off his chest is entirely up to you.  Bon Apetit!