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Holiday Tree Trimming - Menu Suggestions.

Hi all, I'm hosting a holiday tree trimming party for about 10 people. The party is on a weeknight, so I'd like a menu that can be made ahead of time and heated up or thrown in the crock pot that morning. I am thinking to make a bunch of small but filling apps so that people can eat as they please and not have a formal sit down.

I am thinking of:

Gourmet pigs in blanket (sausage in puff pastry)
Cheese/Pesto dip that I've already made and frozen.

I'm stuck on what else will be easy and filling? Suggestions? Also, any good holiday drink recipes that I should include?

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  1. I made gravlax from salmon as an app for Thanksgiving and it was a HUGE hit. The only hard part is remembering to do it 4-5 days in advance of the party so it will have time to "brine/cure" the flesh. I used the seasoning recipe from Julia Child & Jacques Pepin. Have done it in the past using vodka as a the spirit, this time we did it with Cognac, man, that was some good eats. Arranged my most beautiful silver serving platter with the salmon, assorted flatbread crackers, creme fraiche, capers, and finely diced red onion. Part of the fun was having everyone (12 people) arrange their own crackers.

    For drinks, we served pitchers of Cosmopolitans and Whisky Sours.

    1. shrimp cocktail - the chilled cooked shrimp can be made ahead
      cold antipasto w/ various meats, cheeses, olives, endive, etc. - if you have room, the platter can be set up a little early
      deviled eggs - can be done early

      1. I'm doing a turkey and ham and biscuits and deviled eggs

        1. I'll be a third vote for devilled eggs, people love them. Prep the night before and store whites and yolk mixture separately and fill at last minute. Stuffed mushrooms also always go over big and there's a great thread here on doing them ahead: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/674281 For parties like this I like to have a pot of soup on the stove and a stack of bowls (or mugs) and spoons next to it and people can help themselves. People go nuts over homemade soup and that's a classic make ahead thing. The other easy thing to do is a spiral-cut ham (stuck all over with whole cloves), rolls and an assortment of mustards plus cheese if you like -- I sound like a broken record on the ham but people always love it and it's so easy -- just throw in a low oven face down and covered in foil for an hour while you pull everything else together than turn up the oven for the stuffed mushrooms and pigs in blanket. Oh, one more crowd-pleaser is this cheesy artichoke bread, you could make the filling a day or two ahead: http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/201...

          5 Replies
          1. re: GretchenS

            Thanks - all great suggestions! Soup is such a no-brainer, can't believe I didn't think of it. I LOVE Emeril's garlic soup recipe, if you haven't tried it, you must.

            I also love the idea of a ham, it's a natural holiday thing to do, will have to think on that (I was thinking more about an assortment of apps, but a ham would be easy).

              1. re: richmondfoodie

                Chestnut soup is a natural and easy and good. It also has the virtue of being easily made vegetarian if there are such people in your crowd. I also love this creamed mushrooms on toast recipe; easy, very elegant.
                http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/12/cre...

              2. re: mawnyc521

                To make the soup portable (and no need for a spoon) do a pureed soup in shot glasses. In fact, I had folks bring their own with the requirement that it be as cheesy as possible.

                1. re: Dcfoodblog

                  I love that -- cheesy shot glasses. Everyone has at least one of those around, right?

                  (And come up with a few extras for those who don't.)

            1. I made roasted garlic soup for a Xmas party a few years ago and served it in cute glass snowman mugs (Crate & Barrel). A little sprinkle of parmesan cheese & smoked paprika & parsley (for the red & green) on top and there was no need for spoons. Everyone walked around sipping it & loved it.

              1. For a holiday drink, I like to make a simple syrup with cranberries. Use a couple of tablespoons of it in champagne like a mimosa--it's really pretty w/ the cranberries.

                As apps go, meatballs are always a big hit, no matter what else is served. So easy to do ahead and keep warm in a crockpot.

                1. Sharp cheddar/dill biscuits served with a glazed spiral-cut ham....
                  Crostini with brie and rare roast beef, herb sprigs
                  Small prakes (sweet/sour cabbage rolls, or stuffed grape leaves)
                  Ricotta/spinach stuffed chicken breast with pine nuts and herbs, sliced and served in rounds.

                  1. If you live in a place where your can good ones (since they are a PITA to make) tamales.