Every year Michael and myself host a Christmas tree trimming party in which we invite our closest friends over to help us decorate our Christmas tree. Every guest brings one appetizer to share and we provide the cocktails and dessert! Our annual party happened last night and Foodbuzz was nice enough to select our party as part of their 24, 24, 24 promotion. Thanks Foodbuzz!
Since this was an appetizer potluck, I have tons of great holiday appetizer ideas perfect for your holiday party!
Christmas is Michael’s favorite holiday, so our tiny apartment gets a radical make-over during this time of year. Vintage Christmas decorations flood every inch of wall space as the infamous video yuletide log flickers on the t.v. screen—it’s quite a sight! The only thing NOT decorated is the Christmas tree. At the beginning of the party the tree is bare and naked, and as guests begin to arrive they each dig into the giant boxes of vintage ornaments that Michael has collected and they begin to slowly decorate the tree. It’s a communal effort, and by the end of the night the tree is shimmering and beautiful!
The star of the night (other than the tree of course) however, is Michael’s classic eggnog. This eggnog is made from scratch and tastes nothing like the store bought jug variety. It’s a revelation. And for the first time this year, I made a Buche de Noel cake as the evening dessert. I was petrified of the rolling, and I did end up cracking the darn thing, but it did taste wonderful, so I guess not all was lost!
Here are some of the appetizers that made an appearance last night:
-Bacon Wrapped Dates
-Hot Crab Dip with Toasted Baguette
-Artichoke Spinach Dip
-Mango and Brie Quesadillas
-Apple and Caramelized Onion Tart with Stilton Blue Cheese
-Crudite Platter with Herb Lime Dip
-Bruschetta of Sauteed Bell Pepper, Capers, and Basil
-Canapes with Prosciutto and Fennel Slaw
The star of last night however was Michael’s Classic Eggnog…..well, technically it’s Martha Stewart’s recipe, and let me tell you, if you’ve never had REAL eggnog YOU MUST make this immediately. This tastes nothing like the jugs they sell in the grocery store but be warned…this little drink packs a punch!
- 12 large eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1 1/2 quarts heavy cream
- 3 cups bourbon
- 1/2 cup dark rum
- 2 cups cognac
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- In a very large bowl, beat egg yolks until thick and pale yellow. Gradually add sugar to yolks. With a wire whisk, beat in milk and 1 quart cream. Add bourbon, rum, and cognac, stirring constantly.
- Just before serving, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into mixture. Whip remaining heavy cream until stiff and fold in. Sprinkle with nutmeg
And of course last but not least, my Buche de Noel cake. I made the Martha Stewart recipe only I made a coffee buttercream instead of the chocolate mousse. It was divine!
Thanks again to Foodbuzz for making last night’s party extra special!
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
I made this recipe last year for Thanksgiving and it was a hit. I thought I’d pull it out of the archives for good measure! Enjoy!
I LOVE Macaroni and Cheese. Although not exactly “classic”, Mac and Cheese exemplifies everything I like about cooking: It’s simple and it’s delicious! This recipe requires making a roux, which seems hard, but in actuality is super simple. Based on the Martha Stewart recipe, this mac and cheese recipe is simply delicious and robust.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe after the jump…
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick)unsalted butter
- 6 slices good white bread, crusts removed and pulsed into coarse crumbs in a food processor
- 5 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar
- 2 cups grated gruyere cheese
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread crumbs in medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour melted butter into the bowl with the bread; toss. Set the bread crumbs aside.
Warm milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Melt remaining butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. While whisking, add hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until mixture bubbles and thickens, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, both peppers, 3 cups cheddar and all of the gruyere. Stir and allow to cool slightly. Place egg yolk in a bowl and add one spoonful of cheese mixture and whisk until well blended. Add egg mixture to remaining cheese mixture and stir until well combined.
Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook macaroni for 2 to 3 minutes (the macaroni will continue cooking in the oven). Drain and run under cold water. Add macaroni to cheese mixture and combine. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and spread until even. Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese and reserved bread crumbs over top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
Homemade Honey Butter
Making flavored butter is a really easy way to spruce up any brunch or breakfast party. Homemade honey butter is my personal favorite, but you can add orange, strawberries, blueberries, or a number of other flavorful ingredients.
For this recipe I made my own butter from scratch using heavy whipping cream. If you want to REALLY impress your guests, check out my previous post on How to make butter in under 5 minutes!
1 pound homemade butter
1/4 cups honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cut the butter into chunks using a dough scraper.
Place butter into a mixer’s work bowl and beat at low speed, using the whisk attachment to loosen the butter. Increase the speed to medium and add the honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract and beat until well combined, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove butter from bowl and spoon onto parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll into a log and refrigerate for 2 hours.
I developed this recipe for Darya of Summer Tomato. Her site is full of amazing healthy food advice, and this recipe is my guest contribution. Check out my guest post on her site, and while you’re there, check out the abundance of information on her website!
Checking my site traffic one morning I discovered that Saveur Magazine chose my Carne Asada recipe as one of their “Best of the Web” picks! I’m super honored and excited to share the news!
If you’re not familiar with Saveur you should stop everything and check out their site immediately…it really is fantastic.
Best of the Web – Carne Asada with Cilantro Chutney – Saveur Magazine