Here are some photo highlights from this year's party, starting with the photo collage above. SavoryGirl's 2014 cookies! I always make 3-4 cookies for my party but typically 2 of them are old family traditional cookies. This year, however, I decided out with the old and in with the new and mad all new cookies! So I made Chocolate Pistachio Thumbprints with Chocolate Ganache which I thought were a delicious combination of salty sweet and while they look fancy they're actually quite easy to make. I also made Tahini Cookies rolled in black sesame seeds and demera sugar. I was pretty excited about the idea of these but they underwhelmed me in texture although others seemed to like them. Lastly I made Chai Spice Cookies which were divine...and they just happened to be gluten free too. These actually won the informal "tastiest cookie" award at the party so they're definitely a keeper. Super easy and really delicious!
Next up, Jacob and Chad's cookies...they had to go and match the host and bring 3 cookies! Love it. Jacob's Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies gave my Chai Spice Cookies a run for their money in the "tastiest cookie" contest. Don't worry...I'm working on getting the recipe! They also brought along BirdNests which you see in the middle there. These were quite yummy but really decadent so after a bite or two I was done! Their third cookie was a classic, buttery icebox cookie.
Tortilla Española...truly no tapas party is complete without this (above). It is a signature Spanish tapa that you will find at every single tapas bar throughout the country. While it doesn't sound particularly exciting (essentially a potato & onion omelet), trust me on this one...it's always a huge hit. This one always feels a bit scary for people to make, review the step by step photo recipe attached in the linked recipe...it's really pretty simple and straightforward if you take it one step at a time. And just be bold with the flip...own it and it will go perfectly! Traditionally it's served on top of a thin slice of bread but you can eat it on it's own as well (which I prefer).
Shrimp, Salmon and Egg Pintxo - this was my favorite of the entire spread! Not surprising since it's a pintxo which is the Basque version of tapas and I studied abroad in Basque country. So this was more reminiscent of the tapas that I ate while living abroad. Slightly more complex and often including amazing seafood. The viniagrette that you make for this pintxo is to die for and I've been putting it on everything else since (it makes a ton though so you could 1/2 it if you want to). KILLS me that I've lost my pictures of my favorite tapa...guess that means I need to make it again ASAP so I can share the photo!Pancetta Fig Crisps - ok, I took some liberties with the word "tapa". This technically isn't Spanish but it is an appetizer that I've made several times and is always a huge hit so I decided to include it. Delish as always.
So next time you're having a party or even just feeling festive (or the opposite and need some cheering up!), try adding a few cocktail animals to your drink and enjoy your own little dose of happiness. Tropical tiki drinks entirely optional.
Now to go pester my mom to see if she still has that tin of cocktail animals...I need to grow my budding happiness collection!
Ok...so I'm not super excited about the Superbowl this year. I mean my Pats were only one game away from making it in, and let's be honest, it wasn't a very respectable loss. So while I certainly go big for the Superbowl when the Pats are in it, this year I'm trying my best to keep it a bit simpler and healthier. My Pats are worth the calories and effort...the Niners and the Ravens, not so much. So I thought I'd include a few more veggies in our spread this year. Yes, some will be smothered with cheese, but hey, it's a start.
So first up...those delicious looking Spicy Broccoli Rabe & Provolone Grinders above. Yes, Grinders. I'm from MA, after all...no Subs or Hoagies here!. I made these for the first time this year and while they may slightly disappoint that guest who sees them and excitedly asks if they're Cheesesteaks, they are pretty fabulous.
The soft french rolls are slathered with a homemade spicy white bean spread (store-bought spicy hummus will do in a pinch), piled high with crispy oven roasted broccoli rabe, smothered in melty provolone and sprinkled with red jalapenos. Yum. I know I certainly didn't miss the meat. The original recipe can be found here...but, like I said you can simplify buy using store-bought spicy hummus instead of making your own spread (although the homemade stuff is yummy). I also simplified by oven roasting the rapini rather than cooking it the way they suggested. I think it works even better (adds some crisp!) and dirties way fewer dishes, which I always like. C'mon...you know you want to grab one!
Next up...some snack-y finger food without all the calories of nuts. Pan fried shishito peppers! These little peppers are relatively easy to find these days since they've really grown in popularity. They're not spicy peppers, but slightly sweet and so delicious when cooked up this way. So simple and easy...they're best warm, but they go fast so cook up a big batch!
|Sunday:||Mini Buffalo Chicken Meatballs & Broccoli Rabe Provolone Grinders for the Pats Game!|
|Monday:||Halibut on Mashed Fava Beans with Mint and Roasted Red Pepper Salad|
|Tuesday:||Leftovers: Mini Buffalo Chicken Meatballs & Broccoli Rabe Grinders|
|Wednesday:||Curried Red Lentil & Swiss Chard Stew|
|Thursday:||Leftovers: Lentil & Swiss Chard Stew|
|Friday:||Breakfast for Dinner|
The rest of the week we'll get back in our healthy groove with a new fish recipe...Halibut on Mashed Fava Beans with Mint and a Roasted Red Pepper, Spinach Salad. Then on Wednesday we'll make one of our old winter standbys, Curried Red Lentil & Swiss Chard Stew. We'll finish off the week with an easy breakfast for dinner as we head into our weekend.
Most importantly...Go Pats!!!!!!!!
Every good house party, particularly on New Year's Eve, has at least one specialty cocktail. On this special night, those cocktails should definitely include champagne so I thought I would share a couple of my favorite champagne cocktails to help you start 2013 off right. Most are very basic...but the basic yet delicious cocktail is the best friend of a party hostess!
The Henricksen Holiday Cookie Party is a long-standing, fabulous tradition. Christian's mom has been hosting her own holiday cookie party since the mid-90s and I was introduced to it back in 2002 when I started dating Christian. I thought it was such a fun idea and Christian loves cookies so much that we decided to continue with the tradition for our own little family of friends. It's a fantastic way to gather friends together, sample a dazzling array of cookies and imbibe in festive drinks while listening to the Carpenters croon Christmas carols. Be forewarned though, it's a party that almost guarantees a sugar hangover!
So, what's on the menu? You'll be happy to see it's super easy and low key!
- Cookies of course...some of your own and a batch from every group of guests!
- A savory table with decadent cheese & charcuterie platters along with all of the requisite accompaniments such as nuts, olives, figs, etc...
- A crudité platter
- Homemade Gløgg (mulled wine)
- Warm spiked apple cider with homemade whipped cream
But first, let's talk about the cookies. This is a cookie pot luck, if you will. So I usually bake 3 cookies and guests are required to bring 1 dish of cookies of their own as well. It's fun because you often get a peek into their family traditions or discover a fabulous new cookie for your own repertoire. Since we've been doing this for so many years and have many repeat guests, our party tends to get a bit competitive...those who show up with store-bought cookies are ridiculed a bit :)
The Fourth of July has been one of my favorite holidays for as long as I can remember...but the funny thing is that it's one of the few holidays that I love that isn't all about the food for me. Thanksgiving? Definitely about the food. Christmas Season? Cookie Party, Fondue and Roast Beast. Easter? A delicious brunch. New Year's Eve? Osso Bucco. New Year's Day? Black Eyed Peas. You see, the thing that keeps me up the night before most holidays is child-like excitement over what I'm going to be cooking and/or eating the next day. Of course it's about family and friends (and let's be honest...presents) as well but food always plays a central character on holidays for me and it has since I was a child.
The Fourth of July, however, was always a bit different. I grew up having a big family picnic in a local park every Fourth of July...so it was the one holiday where my mom and I weren't cooking at home and weren't responsible for the entire meal. Sure we'd make a few nice dishes to bring along but other members of the family chipped in too so it was casual, easy and really more about being in the park and hanging out with family that we really only saw on this one day a year. Well, it was also about my Aunt Nixa's amazing Puerto Rican rice that she made every year...but I've yet to wrangle that recipe from her!
|Sunday:||Superbowl! Mini Spicy Buffalo Chicken Meatballs|
|Monday:||Vegetarian Cassoulet with Roasted Red Pepper & Spinach Salad|
|Tuesday:||Grilled Halibut with Lemon Sauce, Bulgur & Mustard Greens|
|Thursday:||Coriander Chicken Tostadas with Grilled Fennel|
|Saturday:||Leftovers: Chicken Tostadas|
So for Super Bowl Sunday I'm making some ridiculously good (and somewhat healthier than wings) Mini Spicy Buffalo Chicken Meatballs since I can make them in advance and then just cook them off at the last minute. I'll also probably make a slow cooker Mac & Cheese, chips and homemade guacamole decorated like a football field and put out a veggie plate. Add some beer, bubbly, Pat's gear and good friends and you have yourself a Super Bowl party!
To make up for the Sunday indulgence we're trying to keep the rest of the week relatively light. So instead of a traditional meat-laden cassoulet we're making a vegetarian version and then a nice, simple fish dinner with healthy grains and greens. Then we're finishing the week off with a bit of Mexican flair....this recipe calls for homemade refried beans, which are easy enough and yummy but feel free to use low-fat canned ones if you're in a rush.