This week has been all about sharing the Honey We’re Home Christmas Experience! On Monday, we saw the first floor of our home all decorated for Christmas! Yesterday, I talked about the gifts and fun of our Second Annual Favorite Things Party! Today let’s talk about the GOOD stuff, the food!! You guys know I have my tricks for avoiding holiday weight, but that doesn’t mean I don’t indulge some too!
For our Favorite Things party, everyone brought three gifts to share and a food or wine of their choice. If you followed along on Instastories, you know that we were not lacking in wine! Well have no fear, we weren’t lacking in food either! There was no sign-up or category list, everyone just brought a favorite or an old stand-by.
A HUGE shout out to my sweet friend Ali-Shaun and her Heart Pajamas for co-hosting the Favorite Things Party and for being such an amazing friend! I ♥ you!
I committed to making three appetizers and three desserts #facepalm #whodoithinkiam. As we got closer to the party, I realized that I might not be able to MAKE all six items – there may have to be a little FAKING to get things done! I wish I had gorgeous photos of my food to show you, but I did snap iPhone pics so you could see how they turned out in real life (for better or worse)!
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
MAKE IT : I mixed up this recipe a little – leaving out some of the ingredients that I MAY have forgotten to pick up (or thought I had more of) – but these still turned out great!! We’ll call those items “optional,” for lack of a better term.
- 16 extra-large white mushrooms, caps and stems separated
- 5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
- 2½ tablespoons Marsala wine or medium-dry sherry (optional)
- 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 3/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (6 scallions)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
- 5 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese (optional)
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2½ tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Trim the mushroom stems and chop them finely. Set aside. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and the Marsala. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it’s completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the scallions, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine with the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan and parsley and season to taste. Cool slightly.
Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold them all in a snug single layer. Bake for 50 minutes, until the -stuffing is browned and crusty.
I actually did some of this prep earlier and covered my mushrooms in plastic wrap and let those and my meat mixture cool in the fridge overnight. Then all I had to do was fill and bake before the party!! These stuffed mushrooms were delish! They’re a good party appetizer because they’re a quick bite (or two), but still very filling.
FAKE IT : Don’t have time for all of that? Trader Joe’s has a Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Mushroom that has received rave reviews!!
Spinach Artichoke Dip
MAKE IT : This is my go-to Spinach & Artichoke Recipe for many reasons. There are only a few ingredients and it doesn’t take a lot of time. There’s also an option for popping this in the slow cooker, which I’ve never done, but I bet it stays nice and warm!!
- 1/2 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed, drained and coarsely chopped
- 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
- 1/4 cup mozzarella, shredded
- cayenne or hot sauce to taste (optional)
Mix everything, place it is a baking dish and bake in a preheated 350F/180C oven until the sides are bubbling and the cheese has melted and turned golden brown on top, about 20-30 minutes.
I served it with Pretzel Chips and Pita Chips.
FAKE IT : There are some delicious store-bought Spinach & Artichoke Dips out there. There’s this Trader Joe’s Version and for anyone local to Texas, the HEB Spinach Dip is SO good – even on veggies AND a nice pita or tortilla chip!!
Fig & Goat Cheese Crostini
MAKE IT : Full disclosure – I did NOT follow through with this recipe. It didn’t seem intimidating until I started to schedule out my time before the party and realized that purchasing Fig Jam might be more convenient!
- 9 ounces dried Black Mission Figs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup chopped orange segments
- 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 25 slices French baguette
- 10 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
Place figs, sugar, orange segments, rind, juice, rosemary and black pepper in a small saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover pan and reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 5 minutes or until fig mixture thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Place baguette slices on a sheet pan. Evenly divide fig mixture and goat cheese on slices. Top with chopped walnuts. Broil for 1-2 minutes or until nuts look toasted. Serve warm or at room temperature.
FAKE IT : Admittedly, my version with the store-bought fig jam is not as beautiful as the one pictured. However, it was really good. I’m one of those people that can’t turn down goat cheese and this combo on a toasted slice of bakery bread was a crowd pleaser! I would recommend this party snack to anyone and also still look forward to making the real thing one day!
Chocolate Covered Toffee
MAKE IT : My go-to recipe for chocolate covered toffee is so easy to make and only requires a few ingredients. I posted about it in 2010! here. Since then, I’ve learned that, after you pour the toffee into the molds, you can use a rubber spatula to quickly scrape all the excess toffee into the molds before it dries on the side.
FAKE IT : The chocolate covered toffee at Trader Joe’s is the BEST! It comes in a pack of half dark and half milk chocolate. Both versions were served at the party… and both we very good!!
Salted Caramel Chocolate Mousse
MAKE IT : I found the recipe at The Tough Cookie and actually got lost in her amazing cooking blog for hours! She doesn’t update the blog anymore, but there are tons of recipes on the site with really great detailed comments about each recipe.
- 100g (or ½ cup) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 80g (or ⅓ cup + 1 teaspoon) unsalted butter, cubed
- 180ml (or ¾ cup) heavy cream
- a pinch of table salt
- 120g (or 4.2 ounces) dark chocolate*, chopped
- 3 large eggs (about 150g total, or 5.3 ounces), divided
In a spotlessly clean, light-colored saucepan (with a capacity of at least 1.5L, or 6¼ cups) combine the sugar and water. Place over low heat, stirring with a metal spoon until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has become clear. Stop stirring. Crank the heat up to medium and allow the syrup to come to a boil. If you want to, you can gently wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, to prevent stray sugar crystals from caramelizing or burning on the sides of the pan, and to keep the syrup from crystallizing.
After about 5 minutes of cooking, the syrup will start to color at the edges. Using a whisk, gently whisk the caramel occasionally while allowing the caramel to reach a dark amber color. If you’re nervous about burning the caramel, you can crank the heat down a bit once the caramel starts to caramelize at the sides of the pan.
Once you’re happy with the color of the caramel, add the cubed butter and whisk until incorporated, 1-2 minutes. The caramel will sizzle and bubble once you add the butter. This is normal.
Crank the heat up to medium high and slowly drizzle in the cream, whisking continuously. Again, the caramel will bubble and sizzle, so be careful. Once all the cream has been added, whisk in the salt. Once the salt is incorporated, turn the heat down, stop whisking and allow the caramel to cook for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat. Pour 120g (or 4.2 ounces) of the salted caramel in a small bowl and set aside. Pour the remaining caramel in a medium-sized heatproof bowl and add the chopped chocolate. Allow the mixture to sit undisturbed for a minute to let the chocolate melt, then whisk until smooth and shiny. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In the meantime, divide the reserved caramel over 6-8 serving glasses. Place the glasses in the fridge to allow the caramel to cool. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled to room temperature, whisk in the egg yolks.
In another medium-sized bowl, beat the egg whites using a hand mixer fitted with the whisk attachments (or a whisk, if you’re bad ass) until they hold stiff peaks. Using a big metal spoon, gently fold one third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Once the mixture looks smooth, fold in the remaining two third of egg white, taking care not to knock too much air out of the mousse.
Divide the mousse over the prepared serving glasses. I used a piping bag for this, but you can use a couple of spoons if you want to. Chill in the fridge for at least two hours. The mousse is even better the next day, so if you have the time, make it the day before you want to serve it. Right before serving, top with (unsweetened) whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
By the way, how GORGEOUS is her photo of the dessert?! I’m seriously drooling!! I found my little cups at the Dollar Store and they worked perfectly! I used spoons to divide the mousse, which is the reason I’m telling myself they aren’t as pretty. But HOLY COW was it tastey!
FAKE IT : with this delicious pre-made Salted Caramel Pot that is sold at HEB grocery store and I’m sure other places. It’s so good and comes in a reusable ceramic pot. The downside is that it’s pricey at $4 per jar.
The last of what I provided were some Cake Pops that we made with our new cake pop maker! For a full run down of how to make these, check out my December Loves post!!
FAKE IT : Have you ever treated yourself to a Cake Pop from Starbucks?! So good! My mom fed one to Jordan not too long ago and she’s obsessed!! James loves the birthday cakepops the best!
The favorites of what people brought were:
Mini Baked Brie Bites
MAKE IT: This recipe was pulled from a Food Network Magazine (old school, I know).
- 1 dozen mini pastry shells
- Brie Cheese
- 1 jar apricot preserves
- chopped pistachios
Arrange mini pastry shells on a baking sheet. Fill each with a cube of brie cheese (rind removed) then top each with 1/2 teaspoon of apricot preserves.
Bake at 375 dregrees until bubbling (5 – 10 minutes). Top with chopped pistachios.
FAKE IT : If brie is your thing, but cubing fresh cheese makes you nervous… you can always get a frozen treat like these Brie Bites.
Strawberry & Tomato Salsa
MAKE IT : This recipe is so good and the salsa is a light refreshing bite with some tortilla chips!
FAKE IT : If you’re more of a store-bought salsa person, I found this Strawberry Salsa online. I’m sure it can be found at a local farmer’s market as well!
Candy Cane Dip
MAKE IT : This recipe is pretty close to what my friend made – I don’t think she used the coffee creamer, but I think it’s probably a great addition (to dips AND coffee).
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 5 Tablespoons International Delight® Peppermint Mocha Coffee Creamer
- 7 oz Marshmallow Creme
- 8 oz container of whipped topping, thawed
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips