Monday, December 7, 2009

A Christmas Dinner Party

It doesn't get any better than Susan's Between Naps on the Porch in December! Check her out!I love having my two sets of children... the bigs and the babes...because I still get to make things wonderful for the babes during the holidays with all of our traditions. However, I just love having a grown up daughter to make things special for too! Her kind of special does not require candy sprinkles on houses or cookie baking. For Liza, it was hosting an dinner party for her and her husband and her friends from work! I just happen to love every one of them, so the treat was mine!
On top of my china cabinet there is a little lit menagerie of trees and I thought that it would be to carry the trees over to our tablescape with seven other little trees and, as always, lots of candles!
After Thanksgiving Dinner this year, we decided that our Christmas Village china plates were too small. This wasn't really a fine china menu anyway. So, I kept things simple with my favorite sage green plates, red chargers and a candycane hanging from each goblet.
The menu, kept simple, was delectable!
Fresh Cranberry Salsa and Crackers
Spinach Salad with Craisins, Sunflower Seeds, Mandarin Oranges & Cheeses
tossed in Poppyseed Dressing
Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce & Chicken Ravioli
Buttery Green Beans
Fresh out of the oven Rolls
Peppermint & Brownie Trifle
Pomegranate 7-up on Sonic Ice, the preferred drink of the season in our home
(all recipes can be found here on this blog)
Christmas music in the background. A fresh snowstorm just before the party...special ordered, naturally. (wink-wink!)

Of course, my favorite part of any dinner party is the table talk. For this meal, I made a fun list of questions that brought about many fond memories for us all and, surprisingly, some very loud laughter!

Table Talk Questions
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
What was one tradition from your childhood that you plan on carrying on through generations?
Was there a must have in your stocking each year?
Did you have any special traditions about opening the gifts?
How old were you when you knew the “truth” about the Magic of Christmas? How did you find out?
If money were no object, name three things on your wish list this year?
Is there a gift that you’ve wanted for a long time but never received?
Are you more of a Grinch/Scrooge or Griswold?
What’s your favorite Christmas song?
Share a “feel good moment” from one of your Christmas’.
Do you come from a Conservative during the holidays Christmas family or an over the top Christmas family?
What’s your favorite Christmas movie? Why?
Are you a Last minute shopper or ready months before?
What’s the most special gift you’ve ever given?
If you were to write a brag letter for the past year, what would you include in it?
When you hear the song “Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer”, what memory comes to mind?
After dessert, we moved to the living room for games and laughter and fun! Again, I do love having a grown-up daughter! One of the best parts of a grown-up married daughter is that she's gracious and appreciative... when the party was over, she and her sweet hubby did the dishes!I can hardly wait for the next the next time!

Brownies and Peppermint Trifle

I created this recipe last night and it was a huge hit at our Christmas party. It sounds like quite the task. BUT... Actually, this whole thing can be prepared while the brownies bake and then the whole thing took about five minutes to "concoct". It sounds strange. BUT. It's very pretty, it looks like you spent hours on it and oh sooooooooo nummy!

Here's what you'll need:
1 box brownie mix. (I used Pillsbury Dark Fudge because I knew I'd share this recipe and won't share the brownie recipe.) Besides that, box brownies are more like Lo-Cal brownies compared to mine. We'd have had heart attacks after all the cream in the main dish and then cream cheese in my own brownies.)

Bake brownies as directed. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting. Cut into 1 inch squares.

2 cups cream cheese chocolate frosting. (I keep this frosting made and ready in the refrigerator all the time for brownies and cakes.)

4 cups powdered sugar
8 OZ. cream cheese
1/2 cup softened butter

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa

NEXT, while the brownies are baking:

1 large package instant vanilla pudding
1 regular size Cool Whip
1 tsp. peppermint flavoring
RED food coloring

Mix pudding as directed on the box. Add peppermint flavoring and red food coloring. Whip well. Gently fold in the Cool Whip. Set aside.

1 bag Candy Cane flavored Hershey's Kisses

Unwrap the kisses and place in a double boiler. (or place in a bowl and place it in boiling water.) Stir until softened and melted.

Layer in Trifle Dish as follows:

An inch of peppermint mixture. A layer of brownies completely covering the peppermint mixdrizzle some of the melted Kisses onto the peppermint layerRepeat two more times, noting that the last drizzle of Kisses will set up and harden, giving this an extra crunch when served. Top with crushed candycane if desired. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Festive Spinach Salad

This has to be my favorite salad at any time of the year, but it's especially fun at Christmastime because it's so pretty to look at! Every time I serve it, Doug says, "You can make this salad every day!"

Fresh spinach leaves, torn into bite-sizes
Fresh romaine lettuce, if desired
Can of Mandarin Oranges, drained and sliced in half
about 1/2 cup of salted roasted sunflower seeds (not in the shell) or pinenuts
about 1/2 cup of shredded fresh Romano cheese shredded
about 1/2 cup of Mozzarella Cheese, shredded or thin slices of String cheese (dime size discs)
about 1/2 cup Craisins

Note: My "about 1/2 cups" are very generous! Pour Brianna's Poppy Seed Dressing over salad just before serving and toss well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

7 layer Chicken Casserole

This is a great meal to serve on a night that you don't have lots of time to spend in the kitchen. Ten minutes in prep time and your out of the kitchen while it bakes! Very tasty!

Layer 1: Pour half a bag of your favorite tortilla chips (or Fritos) into a greased 9x13" pan.
Layer 2: Spread about 3 cups of cooked, chopped chicken over the chips.
Layer 3: Pour one can of chicken and Wild Rice soup over that.
Layer 4: Pour one can of Mexcian spiced tomatoes over the soup.
Layer 5: Add 2 cups of shredded cheese. (I use more.)
Layer 6: Cover with the rest of the chips.
Layer 7: Add two more cups of shredded cheese on top of this.

Cover with foil, that has been sprayed with Pam and bake for 40 minutes at 350. Serve with salsa, sour cream and guacamole, if desired. Enjoy!