Holiday Cheer

After a day of presents for half of New York : ) I love using silver for presents, and I was so excited when I found this tissue paper with stars on it. - LG

Christmas Dinner Traditions

In my family, the holidays are all about food and drink, family, and fun (with emphasis on the food and drink). As is tradition, we are gearing up to head to Long Island to celebrate with my extended family for a few days. The highlight of the trip is always our annual Christmas Eve party, complete with copious amounts of my grandmother’s famous fruited champagne punch.

There was much debate this year over what to serve our party of 16 for Christmas Day Dinner. We don’t have a “traditional” Christmas meal – we switch it up every year. We have had everything from a pork crown roast (gorgeous presentation), filet mignon, standing rib roast, leg of lamb, etc. This year we settled on an Italian theme – anitpasta, Caprese salad, vegetarian lasagna, chicken parm, etc. The Italian stores on Long Island cannot be beat – nothing is better than their fresh pastas and cheeses. The husband and I are looking forward to a change from the usual hunk of meat – which is huge for someone like me who is usually a stickler for tradition.

What is your family’s traditional Christmas meal? Do you stick with one thing from year to year, or go with what strikes you?

What to do when it is sleeting? Eat, of course.

Sunday was a yucky day in New York. There was a lot of sleet the night before, and by Sunday it was sort of a mushy mess. In anticipation of this, I prepared for lazy Sunday by making the least healthy combination of food ever:

Breakfast: Eggs, Bacon, Banana Bread
Afternoon Snack: Feta Pesto Spread (Farrell wasn't kidding- this stuff is amazing!)
Dinner: Macaroni and Cheese, Broccoli

The mac and cheese recipe (basically from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook) is my favorite. It takes a little bit of time, but with the right cheese, it blows other recipes out of the water. The base is a white sauce, which is somewhat hard to master, so don't get discouraged if it doesn't work the first time!

1/2 lb Pasta (although somewhat untraditional, I like rotini b/c it really "holds" the sauce)
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk, heated
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
Dijon Mustard
Cayenne Pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Mix in the flour. Whisk the paste for a few minutes until it bubbles but before it browns. Slowly start adding the hot milk (I keep this heated on a burner on the stove.) The idea is to add a little bit at a time whenever the mixture starts to thicken. Stir constantly or the sauce will separate! Once all the milk is added, continue to stir until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Add one cup of cheese. Continue to stir until cheese is incorporated. Mix cheese sauce, pasta, and remaining cup of cheese in baking dish (a loaf pan usually works well). Add extra cheese, mustard, and cayenne pepper to taste. I find that the recipe can be a bit bland without these additions, so experiment with different cheeses and see what suits you the best!
- LG

Sweet and Salty: The Holiday Edition

I am a big fan of sweet and salty combinations. We received the cutest homemade hostess gift this weekend.

To make them yourself, you will need: parchment paper, small pretzels, chocolate chips (white, dark, milk, whatever) and sprinkles (in holiday colors). Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Dip the pretzels in the chocolate about halfway, one by one, and arrange them in a circle of 4 or 5 on the parchment paper. Then stagger another layer on top to make it look like a wreath. Shake the sprinkles over the middle and wait for it to harden. The ones we received were packaged in a cute holiday bakery box, but the possibilities with that are endless.

Disco Holiday

This weekend I went to a holiday party and a somewhat conservative club. There were cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, with an option to go on to a sit down dinner before dancing. I remarked to the manager that I liked the centerpieces. He said he thought they may have been a little bit too "out there" for many of the members. I thought they were an interesting departure from typical holiday decorations. A room shot would have given a better idea of the overall look, but I only took pictures of the centerpieces. What does everyone think? Are the disco balls a bit much? - LG

Holiday Party Details

We kicked off our own, personal holiday season last night by hosting our holiday party. We had about 35 guests, invited with cute Tiny Prints invitations.
The menu included:
Fruited Champagne Punch, Seasonal Beers, White and Red Wines
Hors D’ouevres
Sesame Chicken Satay, Greek Stuffed Mushrooms, Baked Crab Rangoons, Sicilian Meatballs, Parmesan Pastry Spirals, Goat Cheese-Basil Pastry Rounds, Crudite with Horseradish-Gouda Dip, Cheese Board with crackers
White Chocolate Eggnog Fudge, Mini Fudge Rum Cakes, Holiday Oatmeal Bars, Puppy Chow

It was a great time (until we had to clean everything up this morning).

I’ll post some pictures of the food and d├ęcor soon, as well as some recipes, but for now, I will leave you with a shot of what happens when you put a bottle of prosecco in the freezer “to chill” and forget about it until the morning.


Wedding Wednesday: Reader Query

A reader is wondering:

Do you all have any thoughts on New Year's Eve weddings? I think they would be fun for guests, but a nightmare to plan.

What do you all think?

Let the Parties Begin...

As the holiday approaches, I have been checking out all the options for festive tie and cummerbund sets. It turns out that there are quite a few options, but these four are my favorite (click on the picture to go directly to the website where each can be purchased):

A classic from Brooks Brothers:

Two fun options from Vineyard Vines:

And finally, a great pick from my favorite men's store in Richmond, Peter Blair:

Now if someone could just show me how to tie a bow tie! - LG