Saturday, December 24, 2011

In the kitchen

Why is it that when you have a party everyone ends up in the kitchen?   It never fails.  We had our house warming party last weekend.  About 20 people, lots of new neighbors and great fun.  We cleaned the whole house, had a ton of food in the dining room, nicely arranged the chairs and tables in the living room.......  And everyone ended up in the kitchen.  Its probably because it allows for the most table room to set glasses, or the most mingling because people are standing and moving.  Or, most likely, because that is where the drinks are.  In a nod to our previous Christmas's in Germany we served hot Gluhwein.  Plus mulled cider.

My big accomplishment for the party was my mom's chocolate coconut balls and a completely invented eggnog cheesecake in chocolate cups.  Trey's big accomplishment was cleaning up the enormous mess I left in the kitchen from above mentioned treats.  I also made the savory cheesecake with caramelized onions that I think I've blogged about before.  The rest was pretty standard crudites with a garlic and dijon dip, ham with sandwich fixings, cheese plate, meat plate, cookies, a few more cookies, and last but not least more cookies.  As a matter of fact, I think there are so many cookies, cakes, pies, and candies in this house that I'm getting a sugar high through osmosis.

And then follow that up with family in town so of course I had to make a gingerbread cake with cream cheese icing.  Its pretty sad when the cashier at the grocery store recognizes you, looks in your basket, and shakes her head disapprovingly.  And then you remember that she was the one that checked you out earlier in the week, when you again had 5 lbs. of sugar and 2 lbs. of butter in your cart.  Sigh.  Even the cashier at the grocery store thinks I have too much sugar in my house.

So, here are some of the recipes I've made lately.  Please, please, please come take some of this off my hands!  And when you do, could you bring a candy thermometer?   My bourbon caramels just aren't coming out right......

Eggnog Cheesecake Candies
Pre-made chocolate shells (about 2 dozen)
1/2 C Store Bought Eggnog
3/4 C Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/4 C Powdered Sugar

Place eggnog, cream cheese, and sugar into a bowl.  Pour an extra glass of eggnog.  Whip eggnog, cream cheese, and powdered sugar until thick.  Refill glass of eggnog.  Stiff peaks should appear and hold their shape.  If too wet, add more cream cheese and powdered sugar.  If too thick, add more eggnog, and refill glass of eggnog.  Pipe into chocolate shells.  Chill.  Contemplate the amount of eggnog you just drank.  Wish it had more alcohol in it.  (or if you aren't pregnant, drink the stuff with alcohol)

Mom's Coconut Chocolate Balls
1/2 lbs. butter
2 lbs. powdered sugar
1- 14 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1- 16 oz bag of shredded coconut (sweetened is fine)
1  tsp vanilla
Cream the butter and add the remaining ingredients.  Roll the mixture into small balls and place on foil lined trays. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Melt in a double boiler:
1/2 block paraffin wax (about a 2 x 2 1/2 piece) used for canning (I don't use this, but it is part of the recipe)
24 oz semisweet chocolate chips
Dip the chilled balls into chocolate and place on foil sheets and cool.  Pretend that you are going to put them into pretty tins and give them as gifts.  Then realize that between you and the other people in the house you have consumed half and don't really want to give the rest away.  Give gift certificates instead.

Gingerbread Cake recipes from Epicurious.  I didn't do the pistachios, but the rest was awesome.