Last month I think I spent more time in the kitchen than I did out of it. The Christmas season is filled with parties, potlucks and reunions with family and old friends. I had a great time celebrating, and learned a few new recipes in the process.
My motto in the kitchen is: “the more flavor, the better!” but also And when it comes to potlucks, I try to provide an easy, creative dish that adds to the spread (Who wants a table of sweets, when you can add in something savory?!). So I now present to you a recipe for every holiday event:
Mulled wine has quickly become “my” thing for Christmas parties the past few years. It’s been fun to (a) use the crockpot (because, why not?) and (b) experiment with different sliced citrus fruits for added flavor. I recommend using cabernet sauvignon (Giant had a sale on the Barefoot brand). Two bottles filled the crockpot and fed a party of about twenty. Tip: I used a cheesecloth this year, which helped to more easily remove the spices about an hour into the party. You don’t want your mulled wine to come off too strong!
The Oreo Bites were a bit outside my comfort zone, since I’m used to baking and cooking, as opposed to candies. But I enjoyed that it only involved three ingredients: cream cheese, mint Oreos and Hershey’s chocolate bar for melting and dipping. Just pop them in the fridge before serving. Tip: Use whipped cream cheese frosting instead of Philly cream cheese. It helps for a more smooth consistency.
Christmas Dinner: Hearty Vegetable Lasagna.
My family normally does a ham for Christmas dinner, but this year my sister had to work (she’s a CNA). So instead, we opted for a simple meal: a hearty vegetable lasagna paired with texas toast (shhh, we didn’t even make a salad! I said simple, right?). Modification: I’d recommend two 9×9 pans in case you want to freeze one for later.
Home for the Holidays: Ginger Cookies.
For this recipe, I give full credit to my friend Rachelle, who shared about her Christmas Cookie Party via her blog. I loved her recipe for ginger cookies so much that I suggested making it when I came home. My dad and sister — both cinnamon lovers — absolutely adored this cookie. I think the biggest standout is that the texture reminded me of soft-bake style. Yum! Modification: Per Rachelle’s note, I also abstained from molasses and just used a bit of extra brown sugar.
New Year’s Eve: Caprese Bites.
Caprese Bites are one of my favorite appetizers because they require little fuss, few ingredients, and look great on a plate. I’m also a big believer in making party food that’s easy to pick up and eat (no utensils required!). With mozzarella and tomato on right on a skewer, these are so easy to enjoy!
Happy New Year! The Last Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe You’ll Ever Need.
Hands down this is my go-to recipe that’s perfect for a “welcome to the neighborhood!” or “thanks for the sweet gesture!” or just “I need something delicious with my coffee.” I’ve been using this recipe for over three years now, and since Santa brought me loaf pans, I spent New Year’s Day making ten loaves. My house smelled amazing. Tip: Use bananas that have just peaked — it adds a nice sweetness and great texture to the batter.
In other kitchen news, Santa must have known I was in the market for some gadgets because he brought me a KitchenAid three-speed hand blender and my parents got me hooked up with a starter spice collection. Thanks, guys!