Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Open House

This past Sunday Matt and I hosted our first Christmas Open House. We have always wanted to have some sort of Christmas party at our house but have always decided against it b/c our house isn't very large. This year we decided, who cares! We thought an open house would be nice for one since people were able to come over when it was convenient for them and also we thought it might help with the space issue.

Here is what I had on the menu:

hot chocolate
ice water

mini red velvet cupcakes
cranberry orange bars
pumpkin, choc. Chip,oatmeal cookies
peanut butter cookies, w/ kisses
Andes mint brownies
Christmas sugar cookies

crackers w/ hot peach cream cheese dip
Sweet Pepper pinwheels
BBQ meatballs
veggie tray w/ dill dip
summer sausage, cheese
assorted crackers
spinach and artichoke dip w/ tortilla chips

chocolate covered pretzels

I have to admit, come Saturday I was feeling a bit overwhelmed! I think I was in the kitchen baking for about 6 hours! Everything came together though and we had a great time! Even with poor weather we had 45 people come over! It was a really nice time to catch up w/ everyone. Now Matt says we need to do this every year:)

Ok.. and I have to admit one more thing.. I didn't make EVERYTHING from scratch. For instance, these red velvet cupcakes above.. I used a mix:( BUT, I did make the cream cheese frosting which was soo easy and sooo good!

Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Confections of a Foodie Bride, adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
8 oz cream cheese (no need to soften)
5 Tbsp butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Cream cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on med-high speed. Sift the powdered sugar after measuring. Add the powdered sugar to the bowl in batches, beating on low until just combined and then beating on high until desired consistency is reached. For a stiffer icing, add more powdered sugar.

I did make both the fudge and pretzels and both are so easy! I sat them out in the living room for something extra to munch on.

CARNATION Famous Fudge

Estimated Times:
Preparation - 10 min | Cooking - 6 min | Cooling Time - 2 hrs refrigerating | Yields - 24 servings (2 pieces per serving)


1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup (5 fl.-oz. can) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

LINE 8-inch-square baking pan with foil.

COMBINE sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

STIR in marshmallows, morsels, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until marshmallows are melted. Pour into prepared baking pan; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 48 pieces.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels:


Almond Bark- white or chocolate or both:)

Easiest Directions Ever:

Melt almond bark. (Careful not to burn! Follow directions for melting on package!) Dip pretzels and lay on wax paper or foil to dry. If you want to add sprinkles do so rather quickly b/c almond bark dries very fast!


Spinach and Artichoke dip is one of my favorite appetizers and now that I know how easy it is to make, I will be making it at home a lot more often!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip:

-recipe given to me by a lady at work (Thanks Janet!)


12 oz. frozen chopped spinach
1 can artichoke hearts
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup mayo (not miracle whip)
1 1/2 cup shredded parm. cheese
Garlic powder to taste

While still frozen chop spinach and artichokes into small pieces. Put in bowl and defrost for just a few minutes. Mix cream cheese, mayo and 1/2 of the parm. cheese and garlic powder. Combine the spinach and artichokes with the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining parm. cheese. Bake at 350 until heated through, about 20-40 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or bread chunks.

Here are a few other recipes that I used:

Dill Dip (for veggies)
- Taste of Home Magazine, Country Woman Christmas

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dill week
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
Assorted fresh veggies

Combine first six ingredients; mix well. Cover and refrigerate. Serve with vegetables. Yield: 1-1/2 cups.

** For the peach jelly cream cheese dip I bought a jar of hot peach jelly at a speciality baking store and then mixed a few blocks of cream cheese in. It was quite tasty w/ crackers!
The Sweet Pepper Pinwheels were also made from a mix that I bought at the baking store.

Andes Mint Brownies

This is my favorite brownie recipe. I just adapted it a bit by adding in some Andes Mints. Once I had the batter poured into the pan I sprinkled some crushed mints all over the top.

Then once the brownies were done I sprinkled some more over the top to make them a little prettier:)

** You can either buy the mints whole and crush them yourself, or you can buy them already crushed in the baking section
** I did not make the frosting that is in the recipe. They are still wonderful without it!

We really did have a great time and like Matt, I'm exited about hopefully doing something like this again next year!


Katie said...

you go girl! that sounds ridiculously awesome. If you decide to do it again, me and the boyfriend might need to trek to KC!

Jessica said...

thanks katie! come on over!:)