Peppermint bark, ginger cakes, Kahlua cakes

Palmiers on left, cheddar thumbprints on right

Cheese tray

Sticky Fingers bars, pecan tarts, cracker candy in bowl

My mother’s sugar cookies in the “cookie room”

For some crazy reason I thought it would be a good idea to have a holiday open house this year so family, people I work with and Steve’s work friends could stop by and share some homemade goodies. Somehow about 75 people were told about the party and I started getting a little worried. Having that many people involved moving some furniture around and making a lot of food, in other words–a big project. I decided on a menu for both savory and sweet items, with the intention of making a lot of sweets to have for gift trays as well. Too bad I waited until Wednesday, 3 days before the party, to start making things. I should have made the cookies way ahead of time and next time (if there is a next time!) I will.

I made:

Cracker candy: butter crackers covered with brown sugar/butter toffee mixture, Belgium milk chocolate, Lindt white chocolate, and San Saba pecans
Pecan tarts: mini version of my Thanksgiving pecan pie
Sticky Fingers bars: Shortbread crust, pieces of Snickers bars, layer of peanut butter, chopped peanuts, drizzled Callebaut dark chocolate. These things are addictive!
Triple Chocolate cookies: the best quality chocolate, unsweetened, semi-sweet, and chips, with the great San Saba pecans
Toffee Cookies: the Fort Worth Star Telegram winning cookie recipe for 2010, a chocolate chip cookie with oatmeal and Heath chips
Christmas sugar cookies: my mother’s recipe with a special lemon flavor and butercream icing
Mini cappucino cheesecakes: chocolate cookie crust and espresso flavored cheesecakes
These disappeared fast and a guest remarked that it was “the best thing I’ve ever eaten”
Peppermint bark: just like the expensive dark chocolate/white chocolate bark Williams-Sonoma sells, still expensive to make with 1 pound of Guittard dark chocolate and 1 pound of Guittard white chocolate, but at $20.00 for 2 pounds, instead of $26.50 for 1 pound of the W/S kind, it’s a bargain.
Mini gingerbread cakes with cream cheese icing
Mini Kahlua cakes with pecans and Callebaut chips glazed with more Kahlua

Ham and pepper roll-ups (filled with olive and red bell pepper/cream cheese)
Spiced nuts
Hot crab dip
Cheese tray with olives, crositini, fruit and dates
Grilled sausages with assorted mustards
Cold shrimp with green mayonnaise and Asian curry dip
Spicy tuna nachos
Cheddar pecan thumbprints
Smoked pork and jalapeno pepper sliders
Smoked turkey

Hits, misses, and recipes:

First of all, I enjoyed making everything and it pleased me so much to hear people talk about how much they enjoyed the food. A friend e-mailed me and said everything was so good and it was the best food she had ever had anywhere. I took that as an extreme compliment because she has traveled all over the world and has a second home in Oregon and I know she gets some really good food there.
As for me, Spicy tuna nachos were my favorite. Fresh tortillas, crisply fried, topped with sushi grade tuna that had been chopped and mixed with jalapenos, chives, chile sauce, and a little mayonnaise, but waiting until guests had arrived to fry tortillas was not smart. I could have made the chips hours earlier and will next time.
Cold shrimp with Asian curry dip and green mayo was really good, but next time I’ll use fresh shrimp from Central Market. The already cooked shrimp I got from Sam’s was not so tasty.
I smoked a pork shoulder and turkey on Friday and served them with brioche and other rolls. I made little sandwiches with smoked pork and red pepper salsa and they were delicious. The turkey was sliced and served next to an assortment of breads. The green mayonnaise tasted great on the sandwiches as well.
The hot crab dip, a Martha Stewart recipe, disappeared quickly and I tasted it and thought it pretty good.
Overall, it was a good assortment of many tastes and not that difficult to make, just a lot of different things to put together.
Misses: A lot of prosciutto and arugula roll ups were left. I think arugula is not for everyone and the goat cheese and herb spread I made was barely touched, but it was really good!

I heard a lot of comments about the Cappuccino Cheesecake with chocolate ganache. In fact, I think I will make it for my family’s Christmas dinner, particularly for my coffee-loving oldest daughter.
The cracker candy was a big hit, unexpectedly, as I didn’t think it looked very good, but it tasted a lot better than it looked. It didn’t hurt that I used really good quality chocolate.
I am experiencing a bit of a food hangover presently and having trouble writing about all this rich food, so don’t be surprised if my next post is on healthier food!