Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Party Season

The holidays bring families together for parties that celebrate the magic of the season. Each year my dad's brothers and sisters get together at one of their homes to have a nice evening without the kids and grandkids. My dad has 10 brothers and sisters so when everyone gets together, the parties can get quite large. I think the latest count I came up with is: 26 first cousins, 14 significant others of those cousins, and 23 kids of cousins:) So doing just the brothers and sisters allows for them to talk and share about what their families are up to without the distractions the kids can bring.

This year my parents hosted and I helped them put the party together. Being the planner that I am, I helped my mom with the menu and she came up with the theme. I offered my assistance to them the day of the party, so they could both spend more time socializing and not worrying about the food coming out on time.

Here is the menu and recipes that I used to put the meal together. From what I heard first hand and from my mom after the party, the meal was very well received. My grandma loved the stew and was able to take a big container of it home.

Southwest Egg Rolls with a tex-mex dip (made mini versions with wonton wrappers)
Cooked Shrimp with cocktail sauce (from my aunt)
Cold-packed cheese, crackers and sausage
Gardetto's snack mix

The Meal:
Beef Stew (recipe below) with garlic mashed potatoes
Wild rice stuffed chicken breasts in gravy (From Ray's Butcher Shoppe)
Green beans with bacon and onions
Cran-raspberry jello (recipe below)
Sweet salad (recipe below)
Dinner rolls (from the store)

Kringles (From O&H Danish)
Oreo cream stuffed brownies
Assorted cookies from the family

Once the meal went on the buffet table (only 3 minutes off from the scheduled time - quite impressive I believe), I quickly changed my clothes and headed out the door to my own party with my friends.

The family had a really great night together. My aunts and uncles stayed really late and it was even suggested that they should get together more than once a year because it was so enjoyable.

Instead of giving gifts to each other in the family, the collection of gifts at the party has been for a needy family in the local community. My parents chose to collect for the Veterans Assistance Program out of Union Grove, WI. My dad  and grandpa are both vets and they chose this organization due to their military ties. Many great gifts were given by my family and some families will be very happy to receive them in the New Year!

Oven Baked Stew - from the kitchen of my mom
edits in ( ) because we omitted the potatoes for the party version

2 pounds beef chuck cut into 2 inch pieces
6 carrots, 2 inch pieces
4 potatoes quartered (With the mashed potatoes on the side, we didn't add the potatoes)
4 small onions, quartered
1 c celery cut in 2 inch pieces
3 T Minute Tapioca (might not need as much because of no potatoes)
1 t. salt
1⁄2 t. garlic salt
Dash of thyme
1 c water (might need more)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 T. vinegar
1 Bay leaf

Mix and bake 250° for 4 hours. Just let it bake, but can stir every 1⁄2 to 1 hour.

Cranberry/Raspberry Gelatin - also from my mom

6 oz red jello
1 1⁄2 cups boiling water
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
16 oz. can crushed pineapple with juice
10-16 oz container of frozen raspberries (with juice) - thawed

Add boiling water to jello and dissolve. Add cranberry sauce and use a spoon or whisk to break and up and blend into jello. Add can of crushed pineapple with the juice and the frozen berries with the juice. Blend and refrigerate at least a couple of hours.

Sweet Salad - an original creation from yours truly
This is for a party size bowl-full

2 bags of bagged salad mix
1 bag of spinach leaves
1- 6 oz. container feta cheese
1/4 purple onion sliced thinly and then cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup dried cranberries (Craisins)
3 small tomatoes, quartered

Mix all ingredients except tomatoes together in a large bowl. Place the tomato quarters on the top. We supplied a Soy Ginger, Raspberry Vinaigrette, Ranch and French dressings as choices.

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