Friday, December 20, 2013

Parties and Party Sweets

My fingers have been oh-so busy in the kitchen this Christmas season.  Why are there so many tantalizing options at this time of year?!  I'm glad for the many, many Christmas events we have attended and a few that are still coming up.  Otherwise I would either a) be tempted to eat all this food myself or b) have to shelve a few of the recipes until next year (and who wants to do that?)

What follows is part-photo dump, part-peek into our family life, and part-recipe inspiration. Maybe you'll find a treat among my chit-chat. 

1) When we hosted some friends for a Christmas craft project, we made what my kids like to call Grinch cookies.  In reality, they are sweetened and colored with lime Jello, but they do turn out quite vividly green and kid appealing! The consistency reminds me of a shortbread cookie, but with a fruity flavor twist. 

2) Brian's Christmas party at work was a breakfast event so I sent along some bread machine cinnamon rolls
for the guys (and two girls) to enjoy. 

I did most of the prep work the day before, refrigerated the dough overnight, and popped them in the oven first thing in the morning.  I fixed them up on a pretty tray (sorry, forgot the photos), but the kids and I saved a few for our breakfast at home.  I do not pass up a warm cinnamon roll! 

late night (blurry) preparation of the cinnamon rolls

3) Event #3 was our annual Survivor finale viewing party.  Go, Tyson! This year was a small affair with only one guest, but it's not a party without good food.  We did take-out subs, but this chocolate chip cookie pie came out of the oven piping hot, just in time for dessert.  I served it with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Word to the wise: cut small slices because this pie is rich!

4) We made a few batches of cookies this year to keep in the freezer for drop-in company.  Of course, I've not frozen them all.  I've left some out for the kids to nibble on, too. The highlights this year have been chocolate cut-out cookies and our very best chocolate chip cookies.  This time we added a mixture of semi-sweet chocolate chips and mini-M & Ms.

5) Our next Christmas event was an easy one for me.  Maddie was invited to a Christmas luncheon at my grandmother's house.  It is an annual event for these girls.  Maddie did not have to contribute any food to the party, but says that Gammy's "famous" grilled cheese sandwiches and the strawberry cheesecake ice cream were scrumptious. 

Bekah, Gammy, and Maddie
Note the unplanned coordinated party attire!

5) Because we spend Christmas Day mostly away from home, we set aside an evening before Christmas for a special dinner with just the seven of us.  This year, Gavin took charge of the chicken, Maddie made the corn pudding, Owen baked the sweet potato biscuits, Brian peeled and mashed the potatoes, and the microwave steamed the peas.  That left me with dessert prep.  I made a version of this chocolate pie in mini-graham cracker crusts.

6) We have a Christmas dinner party to attend tomorrow evening.  I thought about throwing together a platter of cookies from the freezer (see #4), but Owen requested a chocolate cake so I'm putting him in charge of making it.  He's using this chocolate cake recipe which starts with a basic cake mix, but has enough add-ins that it doesn't taste fake when you're done. 

7) The next day we are going to my parents' house for an annual before-Christmas tradition.  Every year on the Sunday before Christmas, we make hot lunch meat wraps

I'm in charge of dessert and I'm planning to whip up some 3-ingredient Oreo cheesecake truffles.  Actually, I asked if I could be in charge of dessert just so I could have an excuse to try them!

8)  I plan to take a kitchen break the week of Christmas (aside from our Christmas morning cinnamon rolls-- see #2), but we are having guests on New Year's Eve.  I haven't come up with an easy dinner menu yet, but I do know I'm making  Reese's fudge

Have your been crazy in the kitchen this year?  Any star recipes to share? 

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