Holiday apps

Gotta love the holiday cooking shows where the size two hostess is daintily putting the finishing touches on her holiday cookies in her subway tiled, perfectly decorated festive kitchen filled with hordes of cards hanging from bows on the mantle. So what if yours are Scotch taped to the mantle and are a little sparse this year, begging the question “Are people saving money or do they just not like you anymore?” Paranoid? I digress. (BTW, I’m doing virtual cards this year so yes, I still like you, and yes, I still want your snail mail one.) Point is, your house may not have the ambience of the cooking shows, but you can still pull off some amazing treats (and feats!) in your own style. Why not throw an impromptu soiree while you’re at it? Might as well make the most of two weeks off of school, right? Impromptu ones are the best because everything is unexpected. Which really translates into a green light to be messy because after all, you just threw it together at the last minute and gosh, who has time to vacuum?

Get your Christmas on this year by doing just that. Pick a random night and invite some friends over with their kids. Take out some board games for them and some red wine for you. Throw on a little Christmas music and have everyone bring an appetizer. That way you can call it a Tapas party which sounds cool. As for you, try experimenting with new things you’ve never made before. Or better yet, cheat and doctor up stuff that’s pre-made. Here are a few of those pre-made items that seem to work for me:

  • Brie Wheel– Put some apricot jam on top of a round Brie and wrap and bake in Crescent roll dough (that’s not separated). Garnish with dried cranberries and serve with crackers. Or, if you don’t like it heated, serve a cold Brie with fig spread and french bread. To die for!
  • Swedish Meatballs – You can buy frozen pre-made meatballs at the grocery store and make your own sauce. In the crock pot add the meatballs, one jar of grape jelly and one jar of chili sauce. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. You can serve these right out of the crock pot with a spoon or by adding cute little toothpicks. Or just go to IKEA and eat theirs and tell your kids they’re at Disney World.
  • Chili Cups – Remember that chili that you made (and hopefully froze) on the no snow snow day? Well, defrost it. Heat it up and spoon it into tortilla chip cups and put a dollop of sour cream on top. Put them out on a platter.
  • Coscto Gingerbread Cookies – They’re in the refrigerator section and they’re break ‘n bake. And they’re amazing.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups – Buy the Break ‘n Bake ones and put them in mini cupcake cups. Stick a chocolate kiss or peanut butter cup in the middle immediately after removing from oven and you’ve got a party pleaser!
  • Mulled Wine – You’re taking your daily dose up a notch for the holidays. Pour a bottle of your favorite red wine (dry works best) in a pot and simmer. Add some cinnamon sticks, a few balls of nutmeg, some ginger, allspice and a few teaspoons of sugar. Keep on low for 20 minutes and strain.

*Remember* You can always make a crappy cake look like a million bucks with powdered sugar. Just sprinkle it on anything that looks bad and presto, it’s intentional! Peppermint sticks, chocolate kisses and fresh berries also do wonders.