Our 2017 Christmas Eve Party

This was our 4th Annual Christmas Eve party!  This years theme was Flannel and Fur.  Guests were asked to where some form of flannel, fur or plaid…pajamas count too!  People that participate are entered in the contest to win a prize which varies each year.  We also have a White Elephant Gift Exchange and a Euchre Tournament.  I’m not sure which one brings out the competitive side of people more, the exchange or Euchre?!

One of the tables and place settings

Our kitchen table and kitchen Christmas tree

Woodland theme tree and mantle

Mingling at the party and my favorite Santa pic!

The menu this year was geared around our theme for the party.  Wild game meats like Elk and Bison were some of the main dishes.  We also had the entire house decorated in a woodland theme.

Below is our menu, EVERYTHING was gluten free!  Some of the items have links for the recipes.  The ones without links I made on a whim.  A good majority of the items can be made ahead and reheated.  The breads and many of the desserts came from a gluten free bakery about an hour from us.

Menu

Appetizers 

  • Bacon wrapped dates (some were stuffed with cream cheese)
  • Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms  (I used gluten free breadcrumbs and streamed in olive oil to the processor to bring the filling all together)
  • Various flavors of Gluten free breads cut into quarters and served with compound butters we made with Kerrygold.
    • Butters:  Red Wine and Shallot, roasted garlic, honey sriracha, Italian herb, vanilla and cinnamon
    • Breads: cinnamon raisin, Rye, onion and poppyseed, caramelized onion and cheese, and olive
  • Assorted cheeses
  • Salami’s, prosciutto and soppressata
  • Selection of gluten free crackers
  • Three kinds of jams/jelly
  • Spiced almonds and walnuts
  • Grapes, black, green and kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, and cocktail cucumbers

Drinks

  • Berkey filtered water infused with frozen organic mango and cherries
  • LaCroix
  • Coffee (decaf and regular) with almond milk peppermint mocha creamer, organic eggnog, Kahlua, and cinnamon
  • Organic Hot chocolate with organic marshmallows (both from Whole Foods)
  • Beer and Organic Wines
  • Plus a few other bottles of liquor

Main Dishes

  • Elk Sweet Potato Chili
  • White Chicken Chili
    • Chili’s served with bowls of cheese, green onions, and organic sour cream
  • Pastured Smoked Ham
  • Bison Meatballs in BBQ sauce
  • Kielbasa with peppers and onions

Side Dishes

  • Green Beans with lemon zest, garlic and butter
  • Cherry, Pecan, and Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf
  • Loaded Mashed Potatoes (Cheese, sour cream, butter, milk, bacon, and Chicken broth)

Desserts

The appetizer area and waters

Bacon Wrapped Dates and Goat Cheese stuffed mushrooms

Gluten free breads, compound butters, and jellies

Assorted cheeses, meats, and crackers

Wine, beers, and liquor station

Coffee and hot chocolate station

Mango and cherry infused filtered water

Food Station

We like to use Chafers to keep the food hot so guests can graze all night if they’d like to.  It also makes prep easier because it opens up oven space by being able to make the food and keep it hot before the party starts.

Elk and sweet potato chili

I used 2 pounds of ground Elk that my husband hunted himself in Montana.  It also had tomato paste, chicken bone broth, sweet potatoes, pumpkin salsa, lots of seasonings, onion, and bell pepper.

White Chicken Chili

This had organic chicken I cooked in my pressure cooker to make it super tender in no time at all.  Coconut milk to make it creamy, chicken bone broth, red bell pepper, onion, cumin, oregano, chili powder, organic canned corn, and potato starch to thicken it.

BBQ Bison Meatballs

Three pounds of ground wild bison meat mixed with gluten free chickpea breadcrumbs, pastured eggs, fresh parsley, fresh garlic, dry white wine, salt and pepper.

Smoked ham

This was a pasture raised ham from the whole hog we purchased this last summer.  I simply baked it in the oven because it was smoked when we had it butchered and nothing else was added to it.

Sausage, peppers and onions

I bought these Kielbasa at Costco and love them because not only do they taste good but they are also free of unnecessary junk like nitrates and nitrites.   Tried a new way of cooking all of it to not have to stand over the stove and it turned out perfect!  I stuck the sausage on a rimmed baking sheet and baked at 350 for about 15 minutes or so.  The peppers and onions I drizzled with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a roasting pan and baked at 350 until desired level of doneness.  Totally hands off and cooked perfectly!

Winter Wild Rice Pilaf

I cooked organic wild rice and long grain brown rice.  Roasted some butternut squash (pre-cut, frozen, organic from Costco!), and browned some onions in Kerrygold.  Then I mixed together the rice, squash, onions, chopped pecans, roasted garlic infused avocado oil, butter, dried cherries, pepper and italian seasoning.

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Loaded Mashed Potatoes

These babies were delicious according to the guests but a total pain to make!  They almost destroyed my new Vitamix!  I used organic russet potatoes and had the help of my really amazing dad to peel and cut 20 pounds of them.  Yes, 20 pounds!  (I used the leftover mashed potatoes to make creamy ham and potato soup.  I just chopped up leftover ham and mixed the potatoes with extra milk and broth to thin it out. Added some extra cheese and voila!)   The mashed potatoes were extremely difficult to puree but eventually we managed to get them smooth with the use of a a hand held blender and lots and lots of broth and organic milk.  They also had tons of cheese, sour cream and butter.  Topped it all with some chopped uncured bacon and more cheese!

Lemon and garlic green beans

Frozen, organic green beans steamed then coated in Kerrygold, garlic powder, freshly grated lemon zest and a sprinkling of sea salt.

This party takes a ton of work but it’s something we look forward to every year.  Our girls say it is their favorite thing we do, and building memories and traditions is what life is about.  My husband is my ultimate teammate and we work side by side for all of it.  He does the setup and I do the cooking.  This year my parents offered to come help, to which I am so appreciative and couldn’t have accomplished it all without them.  My girls got to cook with their Mimi and Pipi and laughed and giggled all day long.

I pray you have a blessed New Year and many more to come!

Bacon Wrapped Dates-Your Way! With Roast Brussels Sprouts


It’s tailgating season and before we know it the holidays will be here!  This recipe is perfect for both of these occasions.   These babies are always a huge crowd pleaser and so simple to make!  In fact my 8 year old is usually put in charge of assembling them for me.  They are bite sized and packed with so much flavor that people keep coming back for more.  Trust me!

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Part of the beauty of this recipe is that it makes two dishes in one.  However, feel free to omit the brussels sprouts if you’d like.  When I’m making food for holiday parties I am always looking for ways to cut down my work load in the kitchen, save time, dishes, and save oven and stove space.  This recipe does just that!  AND you’re left with two awesome dishes to serve. BOOM!


The best part about this recipe is that it’s hard to screw up.  You can get creative with it too and stuff them with anything that floats your boat.  I will give you a few options but you are only limited by your creativity.  Once you have the base recipe down, you can do your thang and run with it.

Bacon and Jalapeño Stuffed Date

A Few Tips:

  • The Brussels Sprouts turn out best if the pan is full.  You really need the fat from the bacon to cook and flavor the sprouts.  So be sure to use an appropriately sized pan for the amount your making.
  • Be sure you’re using the highest quality bacon you can source.  Meaning, uncured, nitrate/nitrite free, and preferably organic, pastured.  Toxins from animals are stored in their fats.  Since bacon is a fatty cut of meat, if you’re using conventional bacon it is loaded with all the toxins from a non-organic pig.
  • If you’re not a fan of brussels sprouts, feel free to swap them out for another veggie like shredded cabbage lining the tray.  Asparagus would be great too, but it takes less time to cook so add halfway through the cooking of the dates.
  • Another variation is to wrap the dates in a quartered, seeded, jalapeño, then wrap in bacon.  Not digging the spice?  Use mini bell peppers!
  • Medjool dates are a larger variety of dates than the deglet noor dates I call for in the recipe.  So if you use them you will get much bigger pieces to serve.  Make sure to cut the bacon in half not thirds if you use this variety.


Bacon Wrapped Dates with Roast Brussels Sprouts

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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A flavor packed, easy recipe, great for tailgating and parties.

Ingredients

-1 package, uncured bacon

-deglet noor dates (about 30)

-1 package fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces

-all purpose seasoning

-Fillings of choice: ground pork sausage (raw), goat cheese, dairy & soy free cream cheese, cashews

-*optional: jalapeños, quartered, seeds and ribs removed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Lay brussels sprouts on baking sheet.
  3. Cut bacon into thirds or in half if wrapping dates in jalapeños too.
  4. Stuff dates with the filling of your choice.
  5. If using jalapeños place on stuffed date.
  6. Wrap stuffed dates in bacon and nestle between brussels sprouts.
  7. Spray the dates and Brussels Sprouts with avocado or coconut oil cooking spray and sprinkle generously with all purpose seasoning.
  8. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Then increase heat to 375° and bake an additional 5-8 minutes until bacon has fully cooked.