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Merry Christmas from A Simple Celebration!

Santa Loves to Cook!

Santa Loves to Cook!

Wishing you the Merriest of Christmases filled with love, laughter, and good food!

Potato & Smoked Salmon Starter

Smoked Salmon and Fingerling Potatoes

Smoked Salmon and Fingerling Potatoes

Instead of serving salad as a first course, try this potato and smoked salmon dish.  Jumbo cooked shrimp easily substitutes for the salmon if one of your guests does not care for smoked salmon.

  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes – variety of colors
  • 8 oz. smoked salmon, sliced thin
  • 8 ounces creme fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon minced dill
  • 1 teaspoon drained capers

Boil fingerling potatoes until fork tender, about 15 minutes.  (At this point you can place potatoes in a warming tray or low temperature oven to keep warm until your guests arrive.)

Fingerling Potatoes

Fingerling Potatoes

Mix together the creme fraîche, herbs and capers in a small bowl.

To assemble, cut each potato in half and place 4 halves on a salad plate.  Top each potato with a spoon full of the creme fraîche mixture.  Then take a piece of smoked salmon (or shrimp), fold it in half and put on top of potato and creme fraîche.  Top with a sprig of dill.  Serve warm.

Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon

“We’ll do it Every Hour” A Creative Way to Host a Party

Here at The Simple Celebration, we believe that “at home” entertaining is the most economical and fun way to enjoy your friends and families.  New Year’s Eve is fastly (too fastly) approaching and we came up with an idea for a party that will not only involve your guests in a unique way, but will also ease the job of playing host.  You can use this concept all year for any type of party you can imagine!

To invite your guests, we suggest using the free website Punchbowl.com. You can customize the virtual envelope, stamp, stationery, and wording to fit your event’s theme.  It’s a really fun way to do E-Vites.  Here is the one we did for New Year’s:

Punchbowl Invitation

Punchbowl Invitation

How it works:  Every hour of your party, assign a guest/couple (or two if it is a large party) an ingredient or concept for a cocktail, appetizer, side dish, dessert, etc. to serve at the party. Keep the concept a mystery for a while.  A couple of weeks before the party, explain the concept and assign times/dishes as the event date approaches.  Your guests can pre-make the item, or create it in your kitchen.  As they say at Outback, no rules, just right.

This is the “menu” for our New Year’s party:

8:00pm – Savory tart

9:00pm – Dish with lobster

10:00pm – Dish with beef

11:00pm – Dessert with chocolate and raspberries

12:00 – Breakfast dish

We will follow up after the new year on how this concept worked for us.  Why not give it a try and let us know how it goes – we would love to hear from you!

Creamy Moose Milk Cocktail

Moose Milk Cocktail

Creamy Moose Milk Cocktail

Moose Milk has been served at our neighborhood holiday parties for years and everyone loves them, but BEWARE –  this is a very potent cocktail and if too many are consumed, there will be consequences and repercussions!  One more word of advice, if you want to make another batch, but have run out of vodka and/or rum, please don’t substitute with a bottle of Jack Daniels – been there, done that, not good.

In large punch bowl :

  • 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (slightly softened)
  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1 c dark rum
  • 1 c Kahlua
  • 1 c vodka
  • Nutmeg garnish

Mix all ingredients and serve with a sprinkling of nutmeg on top.  To keep cold, make an ice ring by freezing water in a bunt pan and float the ice in the punch bowl.

Mom’s Party Mix

Vicki's Mom

Vicki’s Mom, Ann

Party Mix in a Christmas Tin

Delicious Party Mix

Vicki writes … For as long as I can remember, the holidays always included my Mom’s party mix.  She makes this in November and hides many tins in the closet until we beg her to please bring out more.  It is one of those holiday memories that will always stay with me.  What is watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation without a big bowl of party mix??  So from my family to yours – sit back, relax and enjoy those wonderful old Christmas movies, made so much better with my Mom’s party mix.

This makes a lot.  Make sure you have plenty of Christmas tins on hand (available at the dollar store).  Line your tin with paper towels and store them in a cool dark place – like your closet.

  • 1 1/4 pound salted butter
  • 2 T. garlic salt
  • 1 T. + 1 t. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1 T. + 1 t. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 12 oz. bag of thin pretzel sticks
  • 12 oz. bag of mini pretzels
  • 8.9 oz box of Cheerios
  • 14 oz. box of Corn Chex
  • 12.8 oz. box of Rice Chex
  • 14 oz. box of Wheat Chex
  • 4-10.3 oz. cans of mixed nuts
  • 3-8.3 oz. cans of whole cashews

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Melt the butter and add the salts and Worcestershire Sauce.  In two very large bowls combine the rest of the ingredients.  Pour butter mixture over dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Place party mix on as many baking dishes or cookie sheets that fit in your oven.

Bake for 2 1/2 hours stirring every 15 minutes.  Be sure and rotate pans among the oven shelves.

Take party mix out of oven and pour on paper bags (grocery bags from the store).  You can use paper towels, but the bags work just as well.

Store in tins.  This will keep for a month or so.

Eggnog Cookies with Rum Frosting

Eggnog - Rum Cookies

Eggnog Cookies with Rum Frosting

This is our final cookie blog.  We hope you are inspired to make a few batches of each type for your holiday festivities.  Vicki’s husband, Skip, likes this eggnog cookie the best during the holidays.  Why?  Well, the rum of course!

  • 1 c. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 t. dark rum
  • freshly ground nutmeg

In a large mixing bowl, beat 3/4 c. butter until fluffy.  Add both sugars and beat well.  Add egg, vanilla, and salt and beat again.  Add the flour and beat until well mixed.  Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven for 350 degrees.  Shape the dough into 1 inch balls.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart (step 1).  Press down in the center with your thumb (step 2). Bake for about 12 minutes.  Cool on wired racks.

Step 1

Step 1

Step 2

Step 2

To make the filling, add 1/4 c. butter in a small mixing bowl and beat until softened.  Add the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add the run and beat well.  Spoon the frosting, about 1/2 teaspoon, into the middle of each cookie (step 3).  Sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg and chill until firm.

Step 3

Step 3

Makes about 50 cookies.

Florida State Santa serving Rum Cookies

Florida State Santa serving Rum Cookies

Buckeyes – So Easy, Let the Kids Make Them!

Santa Loves Buckeyes!

Santa Loves Buckeyes!

For all of you non-bakers, this is the Christmas cookie for you!  If you are short on time, and who isn’t this time of year, you can get these cookies together in no time.  Better yet, have your kids make them for you (maybe with a little supervision).

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup creamy style peanut butter
  • Dash vanilla
  •  1 12-ounce chocolate bar melted or keep it simple by using Baker’s Heat & Dip Chocolate Dipping Sauce

Mix sugar, butter, peanut butter, and vanilla together with mixer.  Form dough into one-inch balls, place on wax-paper lined cookie sheet and refrigerate for approximately 45 minutes.  Melt the chocolate or use the dipping sauce, then, using a toothpick, pick up each cookie and dip into the chocolate.  Return to cookie sheet  and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.  Ready to eat!

Hidden Cherry Fudge Cookies

Hidden Cherry Cookies

Hidden Cherry Fudge Cookies

This week we are going to blog a few cookie recipes.  Bringing homemade cookies to a holiday party as a hostess gift, to a neighbor, or co-worker is a thoughtful and inexpensive way to wish them a happy holiday.   These recipes are tried and true from Vicki’s kitchen and we are sure they will become your family’s favorite (and Santa’s too)  year after year.

  • 1 large, or 2 smaller jars of maraschino cherries
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. unsalted softened butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1 6-oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk

Drain the cherries and reserve the juice.  Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Place butter in a separate mixing bowl and beat until fluffy.  Add sugar to butter and beat until mixed, then add egg and vanilla and beat again.  Finally add flour mixture in batches and beat until mixed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Shape the dough into 1 inch balls. (Step 1)  Place 2 inches apart on several  ungreased cookie sheets.  Press each cookie with your thumb to make a well.  (Step 2) Place a cherry in the center. (Step 3)

Step 1

Step 1

Step 2

Step 2

Step 3

Step 3

In a small saucepan, cook the chocolate chips and milk over low heat until chocolate is melted.  Stir 4 teaspoon of reserved cherry juice in chocolate mixture.  Stir until smooth.  With a spoon, carefully place a teaspoon of frosting over the cherry until completely covered, or hidden. (Step 4)  You can always add additional reserved cherry juice if frosting gets too thick.  Once all cookies are frosted, bake for about 10 minutes.  Makes approximately 30-40 cookies.

Step 4

Step 4

A Quick Quiche Lunch

Spinach, Mozzarella, and Tomato Quiche

Spinach, Mozzarella, and Tomato Quiche

If you are having friends over for a gift wrapping party, a pie making party, or just a get-together to catch up, this Quiche will make a great lunch that won’t keep you in the kitchen!  The reason we call it Christmas Quiche  is because of the festive red and green colors.  You can substitute the spinach with sliced zucchini and mozzarella with any cheese you like.  Serve a simple green salad on the side, and your holiday lunch  is complete.

  • 9-inch baked pie shell
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced thin
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup half-and-half or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano or basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Chopped fresh basil leaves and black pepper for topping

Bake pie shell as directed on package.  In large skillet over medium heat, saute onion and spinach in butter for about 5 minutes.

Place half of the tomato slices on bottom of pie shell.  Sprinkle spinach mixture, cheeses, and flour into pie shell.  Beat together remaining ingredients until well blended and pour over vegetables and cheeses.  Top with remaining tomato slices, fresh basil leaves and pepper.  Bake in pre-heated 375 degree oven until knife inserted near center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.  Serves 6

Citron Cosmo – Cheers!

Kris Kringle Kosmo

Citron Cosmo

One of our favorite parts of the holidays is enjoying a festive drink or two.  We recommend this cocktail not only because it looks festive and tastes great, but it is lower in calories than the original cosmo recipe.  So go ahead and eat that extra Christmas cookie without guilt!

  • 2 parts Absolute Citron Vodka
  • 1 part triple sec
  • 1 part diet cranberry juice
  • Splash of lime juice

Shake vodka, triple sec and juices with ice in a cocktail shaker.  Strain and serve in a martini glass with a twist of lime.

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