When I tell you the story of our holiday party, you will forgive the fact that I didn’t have time to pose pictures and take multiple shots of each dish in order to get a decent one. Just trust me on this one…
For the last two years, we have had JR’s residence life holiday party at our house. It’s a big ordeal that takes at least a month of planning, a day of shopping, a week of food prep, and a full day of cooking, at minimum. I have been planning this primal tapas menu since October. In all honesty, we went through at least four different menus before I finalized this one just hours before we went shopping. We went out, bought all the food (buying this much stuff takes a very organized shopping list–my list rivals the plans for the Normandy invasion, I’m convinced), and once at home I immediately started with the prepping. Oh wait, did I mention the prepping schedule? I have a full sheet of checklists to scribble on. The list includes every dish on the menu broken down into every step. After each step, I have a day and time of day that it can be completed. Everything has to be done via an incredibly specific time frame (obviously I can’t be prepping crab a week before I’m going to cook it) that I spend at least a week working out.
I followed my schedule and had everything under control–just to give you an idea of what kind of undertaking this is…the menu itself is basically an 11-course tasting menu for 10 people. In a tiny kitchen. In an apartment. On a college campus. Are you getting the idea of how much space we don’t have? Okay, back to the schedule. I prepped Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (we even skipped choir practice on Wednesday). I was able to fully cook a few dishes that would only require reheating on Thursday (the day of the party).
I woke up Thursday morning and the first thing on my list was to make the cake. I started the water, put chocolate and butter in a double boiler, and turned the oven to 340 to preheat it. Not an incredibly hot temperature, right? Apparently it was hot enough to set the coil on fire. Yes, the coil in our oven was shooting flames. I turned everything off and called JR. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Hi, are you busy? Our oven is on fire. You should call maintenance.
JR: Um…are you serious? Are you okay?
Me: Yes, we’re fine, but you should call maintenance.
JR: Do you need to use the fire extinguisher? It’s right under the counter there.
Me: I don’t have time to clean up the mess of a fire extinguisher. Tell maintenance to hurry.
Maintenance came over, pulled the oven away from the wall and unplugged it (apparently it was still shooting sparks and such from the very fact that it was plugged in). We went through this big ordeal of trying to figure out what to do for an oven. They said they couldn’t bring a new stove to the apartment until Monday. That wasn’t going to work. Another maintenance guy came in, looked at it, and said, “oh, you don’t need a new oven. We just need to replace the coil.” Great! This is something that takes like 10 minutes, right? Yes…assuming they have a coil with them. It took four hours to track down a coil, bring it over, and replace ours.
Now it’s 1:30 and the party starts at 6:00. I hauled a$$ for those 4.5 hours and managed to have 10 of the 11 courses ready for the party. I was basically cooking and practically throwing plates at JR as he would loop back and forth from the kitchen to the table. By the time he took pictures, half of the food had been eaten, but whatever. I have never cooked that much, that quickly in my entire life.
Oh…and they loved the food!
Blue Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates
1 pound bacon (approximately)
5-8 oz blue cheese
1.- Preheat oven to 400.
2.- Slice dates, lengthwise. Remove the pits. Cut bacon in half, making two short pieces from every one slice.
3.- Put a small chunk of blue cheese into each date and press the sides closed. Wrap with a piece of bacon.
4.- Put dates on a foil-lined, lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 15-30 minutes, depending on how done you want your bacon.
You can count on each person eating 30 trillion of these, so adjust the recipe accordingly.
16-20 large white mushrooms (or 12-15 mini portobellos)
1 Tbsp Kerrygold butter
1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning (optional)
16 oz lump crab meat
3-5 Tbsp cream cheese
oil in a mister
1.- Preheat oven to 400. Wipe off mushrooms and remove stems. Dice the stems and set aside.
2.- In medium skillet, melt Kerrygold over medium-high heat. Add mushroom stems, bell pepper, and green onions. Saute 3-4 minutes (until tender). Add garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, thyme, oregano, cayenne, and Old Bay. Saute another 1-2 minutes.
3.- In large bowl, mix crab and cream cheese. Add in mushroom mixture and stir until well-combined.
4.- Spray 9×13 glass casserole dish with oil. Stuff each mushroom cap with crab mixture and place in the dish. Bake 15-20 minutes. Serve on paper towel-lined dish to absorb the extra oil.
I’ll post more recipes when I get a chance (you’ll love the hot chocolate!)…but until then, have a very happy holiday season!