Saturday, November 26, 2011

Foodbuzz 24 X 24: Winter Classics, Elegance, and Friends!

Winter Classics, Elegance, and Friends:
Most recently, I have been given the best opportunity possible:  
To host a dinner party for Foodbuzz's 24 X 24!  

What this means, in 24 food blogs are selected to host 24 different parties all on the same day:  November 26, 2011.  Totally Awesome right!?  And so, the moment I heard I was chosen, my house became a place to celebrate good food, friends, and foodie love.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to share my meal with friends and followers alike!

 And so I thought about all the ways I could present this, and chose to have an elegant winter party with classic flavors made into delicious sides and desserts that together made a fabulous meal....

The holidays are a perfect time for family and friends.  Through good food, wine, cocktails, and laughter the season is full of stories to tell and jokes to laugh about!

With this great year coming to and end, and a look back on all our accomplishments and goals, my Husband and I thought it perfect to host an elegant dinner party with friends and colleagues, that accented the love and heartiness of the season.  

Our featured meal would focus on classic winter foods with a delicate touch to transform the ordinary, into extraordinary -- creating new recipes that fit the season and guests.

Candy Cane Martini
(drink responsibly.. and by that I mean have at least 2!)
The setting would be simple and homey.  A play on the holidays with Red and Green silk place mats, pine cones and needles, candles and spice.  Our dishes included green tinted Martini Glasses, and simple black ceramic plates.  I also kept the "Bargain Theme" and utilized christmas bulbs, cinnamon sticks, and potpourri as table accents.
"An apartment often forgotten on a busy road would soon be transformed into an elegant restaurant with a 5 course meal and laughter."
The menu for this dinner fare had guests talking before the party even began, which set the bar high and the preparation left me anxious to start... The week of my party I wanted to start all my prep, but knew I had to wait to make sure everything was fresh and fabulous... to be quite honest, though embarrassing to say, I almost lost sleep over all my excitement for this party just as kids do the night Santa is coming!!  But it was worth it for a meal like this:

The Menu:
Candy Cane Martini
Adorable Martini with all the fun of a candy cane
Milk and Cookies Martini
Sinfully delcious.. Santa may want one too!
Cocoa Dusted Guinness
For those who are not into the hard stuff, this beer has an orange and cocoa twist!

Hors d'oeuvres
Feta Walnut Date Cigars
A fun appetizer shaped like cigars and filled with a delicious treat
Chevre stuffed Bacon Wrapped Figs
Winter themed figs with a twist of bacon and french chevre drizzled with Honey

Winter Citrus, Feta, and Mint Salad with Chives
A light fun dish that is refreshing, light, and beautifully elegant

Honey Maple Glazed Ham
A slow roasted Honey Maple Glazed Hame, spiced with clove, nutmeg, and brown sugar.

Vegetarian Option
Winter Stuffed Acorn Squash
Balsamic  and Rosemary roasted winter vegetables stuffed attractively into squash

Pommes Duchess Gratin
Creamy potatoes with a winter hint of nutmeg and cheer
Green Bean Almandine with Cranberries
A healthy side with a winter surprise!
Beets and Fresh Horseradish (excellent on fresh baked Ham)
A family tradition to spread on your fresh baked ham

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake
Chocolate Peanut Butter combination served with peanut butter whipped cream
Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake w/ Mocha Ganache
Four words that belong together and disappear quite fast!
Pumpkin and Acorn Squash Pie
A simple fall desert for a refreshing dessert flavor.

(Recipe links at end of post!)

And so began the time to Prep...  Slowly my kitchen became a busy restaurant... and my husband a wonderful, and good looking, sous chef!
Prepping the Figs so they could be wrapped in Bacon!
And stuffed with Chevre...
Dates, Feta, Cream Cheese... OH MY!
Marinated Ham ready for hours of slow roasting and Glaze...
Mocha Ganache melting on the stove...
Phyllo Dough for the Cigars...

To celebrate a house well prepared, I started early and enjoyed a private candy cane martini... it was PERFECT!!  It was the best way to finish a wonderful day of prep!

Finally it was time, and guests began to arrive!  We all decided to dress up and live the high life.  The house smelled like ham and chocolate (awesome!)   Instantly everyone started peeking to see what was ready to eat, and were asking when they could dig in!  I even caught a few sneaking in some ham!

And so we started with drinks and finger foods, stories and laughter.  I love watching friends enjoy food and drinks that I have prepared... and these winter classics brought a whole new element of fun and elegance to the party.  In fact, the date and feta cigars.... let's just say both appetizers never stood a chance!

Bacon, Honey, Goat Cheese.... if tooth picks were edible they would have been eaten too!
Of course a few cocktails down and only a few appetizers left, it was clear everyone was ready and anxious to dig into the next courses to come.  And so we all sat down and started wonderful winter classic escapade:

To compliment both the Ham and the Squash, two sides found themselves onto our table:  Pommes Duchess Gratin, a delicate french classic, and Green Bean Almandine w/ Cranberries, a winter twist on a traditional american side.  I also incorporated a family favorite, perhaps it came from the Ukrainian and Russian influences of my grandparents.... at any rate it's awesome: Beets and Horseradish (to compliment the meat).

Those potatoes never stood a chance...  The Ham too!
We carved the ham and laid it on silver platters, placed the salad and green beans in glass bowls surrounded by pine needles and atop small silver rounds, and served the acorn squash to those who wanted to dabble with the meat free side of meal time.  

The maple and brown sugar caramelized and the Ham was so juicy... 
Finally, full on life and drunk on food, the main course was over.  The Ham, though still gorgeous, was nearly eaten to the bone... the sides sparsely left on the serving platters and casserole dishes...  And all of us ready for a nap.  Of course this was no problem, I had pillows, candles, and coffee to share!

After a good bit of digesting and cleaning up the dinner plates, our final journey was to enjoy dessert, and of course more cocktails!  I don't know how we do it, but no matter how full everyone is, there always seems to be a way to fit in a slice of dessert.

Dessert was so quickly eaten, I couldn't get a good picture of the action!
Because winter classics was the theme of tonight's meal, our desserts played on three huge winter concepts:  Peanut Butter and Chocolate, Pumpkin and Cinnamon, and a personal favorite Hazelnuts and Coffee.

This is actually even better than it looks!
Can this be any more amazing!?
And so a day of labor paid off.  Friends and colleagues were able to sit down and enjoy a huge meal without any stress.  I am so thankful for all I know, and this was a great opportunity to bring all the adults over, leaving kids with sitters and pets with treats, to enjoy the simplicity of a cocktail and dinner party with friends and loved ones

Only 2 slices left of the Cheesecake... breakfast??
I hope that you try if not all, then at least some of tonights recipes.  If you were close by, I would send a plate to your door!

"Happy Holidays, and Seasonings Eatings!  It's the best time for good food and Cheer! (and a run!)"

Here is the Recipe Link List (hope something finds it's way to your kitchen!)
I hope the meal brings you happiness and full bellies!

Thank you so much for the 24 X 24 opportunity.  It was honestly a fabulous opportunity that left guests talking, full on life, and interested in learning Foodbuzz!  Win Win Win ;)

Happy Dinner Parties!


  1. everything sound fantastic! Great menu, and I can see it was great party too!!! Have a happy Holiday season!

  2. Thanks Sandra! I am amazed at how a tight budget can be transformed into such a gorgeous spread... not to mention there are hardly any leftovers... so it was tasty too!! Happy seasons eatings ;)

  3. So delicious and SO MUCH FUN!!! Thanks for the invite. PS everyone the cheesecake was even better as a late night snack ;)

  4. This was great fun, reading about/seeing this all the way from planning to prep, then watching your guests enjoy the food and merriment at an honest to goodness, grown-up holiday party! What an elegant evening -- and a well deserved half-time martini. :) "Celebration" is written all over this -- thanks for the recipe links, too!

  5. Thank you so much! This was truly a blessed dinner party. I am so happy that everyone was able to come, and that the food was just so delicious!!! I hope that some of these recipes find themselves to your house... the yall were fabulous!!!

  6. I didn't know it was 24x24..Congrats girl!!!

  7. lol thanks! Did they post those?! I am so honored to have been able to take part in it. I LOVE to throw parties, so this was a natural event for us... and a good reason to have people over ;)

    And Kimby, though quite an effort, I am SO proud of all those links!!! Now I just need to figure out how to make them super print friendly!

  8. What a fabulous holiday celebration! Fullo of libations and great food! Great menu and impressive that you did it on a budget!

  9. Thank you so much for that! Really, I am so happy to hear your comment.

    I appreciate you stopping by!


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