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!

Our Christmas Eve Bash 2015

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This year, 2015, was our second annual Christmas Eve bash!  Last year my husband asked if I’d like to have a big party with both of our families on Christmas Eve.  It was a no brainer.  We love hosting parties and truly LOVE Christmas!

Growing up we both had big family holidays at our grandparents with all of our cousins and LOTS of delicious food.  Christmas Eve was never about presents.  We may have left with one gift each.  That night was always about spending time together as a family.  Those memories will never be forgotten and they are forever cherished in our hearts.  As life goes on our grandparents that hosted those parties are now in heaven.  We went a few years with nothing to do on Christmas Eve because our parents had big parties on other days.  This lead us to start a new tradition… the “Annual Christmas Eve Bash!”  It’s one of the best decisions we’ve made.  Our daughters now talk about this party for months!  It brings an immeasurable amount of joy to our hearts to know that what we set out to do is being accomplished.  That our daughters will forever have these memories of family togetherness.   We have every other day of the year to be alone as a family with “just us”.  In my heart I know that I am making my grandmother proud by carrying on her tradition and keeping her memory alive.  She was the sweetest little Italian woman, the best cook, and so full of love.  Though I miss her dearly, I am sure she is heaven smiling down on us for upholding her traditions.

So, about this Bash!  We try to come up with a new fun theme each year.  Last year we chose “Frozen” and made the house look like an ice castle.  This year we went with an Ugly Christmas Sweater Bash!  The winners (as voted by the group, (one adult, one child)) received a very nice prize!!!  There was the annual white elephant gift exchange which brought a whole lot of laughter!  Our hardcore euchre tournament brought two new winners this year!  And not to go unnoticed….all. the. food!   So much food.  Almost all Paleo too.  We did have a few treats that weren’t strict Paleo, but everything was gluten free.

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Hubs (in his Buddy the Elf sweater) with our nephew who won the childrens ugly sweater contest for his singing, glowing, pic of hubs, sweater!

The main reason for this post is to outline the menu and share the recipes with everyone.  Hubs and I were just discussing earlier how we always make an overabundance of food.  It has to stem from a party we’ve attended at some point that the hosts ran out of food and we swore that would never happen.  So now we have enough leftovers to feed a small army, or freeze for when I’m feeling lazy!

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Party Time!

MENU

APPETIZERS

  • Rosemary wreath filled with grape tomatoes and a variety of olives; green, black, kalamata, and almond stuffed green olives. Fresh marinated mozzarella was set in the center of the wreath.
  • a variety of cheeses such as cheddar toffee, a cranberry goat cheese,  pepper jack and roasted red pepper cheese, cranberry cheddar, a smoked bacon cheese, herb goat cheese, smoked gouda, and a red wine nitrate free salami (TraderJoes), and all sprinkled with dried cherries and cranberries
  • a selection of gluten free crackers
  • organic rainbow baby carrots and organic sweet mini peppers
  • shrimp with cucumbers cut and scooped to use as dippers for cocktail sauce (purchased from Trader Joes and free from artificial colors and preservatives)
  • a fruit tray with berries, organic grapes, and melon with a vegan, paleo caramel dip set next to a bowl of clementines
  • and the biggest hit was the Bacon Wrapped Sausage Stuffed Dates from my blog (click here for the link)
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Bacon Wrapped Sausage Stuffed Dates

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Appetizer table

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Rosemary Wreath with assorted olives, grape tomatoes, and fresh marinated mozzarella

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Meat and cheese board with dried fruit

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Fruit Tray with vegan paleo caramel dip

MAIN COURSE

  • Slow roasted pork chops seasoned w/ BBQ Rub from Make It Paleo II by Primal Palate
  • Pulled BBQ Chicken (organic chicken cooked in a pressure cooker) served over Bacon and Caramelized Onion Mac and Cheese from Brittany Angell.  The recipe says it can be made ahead and baked the next day but everyone that tried it agreed it was amazing the first day and not as great (still good!) after it was baked. So next time I make it, I’ll be sure to leave the crumb topping off, not bake it, and serve the day of.
  • Kielbasa (nitrate free, very clean ingredients, from Costco), sautéed in avocado oil with peppers and onions and seasoned with sea salt, ground dry fennel and black pepper.
  • Sweet potato puree made with ghee, grade B maple syrup, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and coconut milk.
  • Purple, pink and white new potatoes (all organic and locally grown) fried in ghee, seasoned with adobo then roasted in the oven to finish cooking.
  • Steamed organic green beans (organic and frozen) tossed with ghee and seasoned with sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder.
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Top left: Pulled Chicken with Mac and Cheese. Top Right: Slow Roasted Pork Chops. Bottom Left: Fried New Potatoes and Steamed Green Beans. Bottom Right: Sausage with Peppers and Onions and Sweet Potato Puree.

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Bacon and Caramelized Onion Mac and Cheese

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Kielbasa with peppers and onions

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Pulled Chicken with Paleo BBQ Sauce

DESSERTS

  • Peanut Butter Pie from PaleOMG, Julie Bauer’s Paleo Cookbook, left off the whipped cream and topped it with melted enjoy life chips.
  • Gluten Free Fudge Brownies from a Trader Joes box mix with an added Caramel swirl (from the vegan paleo caramel dip for the fruit).
  • Soft Batch Green Tea Chocolate Chip Peppermint Cookies from Brittany Angell.  I added Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil (5 drops) and an extra egg because my dough was too stiff. They turned out to be utter perfection!  Recipe made a little over 2 dz cookies and they were all devoured!
  • Paleo Pecan Pie Bars from the cookbook Paleo Happy Hour.  I made these on Thanksgiving and loved them so I decided to make them again and wasn’t surprised to see the whole pan was gone!
  • Paleo Nutella Fudge made two ways both with homemade hazelnut butter, one was topped with chopped hazelnuts and mini chips and the other had a crunchy hazelnut butter mixed in instead. Recipe to come to the blog soon!
  • A few purchased desserts: gluten free chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting from Trader Joes, Gluten Free (GF) Fudge Brownie cookies and GF snickerdoodle cookies both from Aldi’s! (while none of these are paleo my biggest goal was to have everything gluten free and the majority of the meal paleo.  That was achieved!
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Gluten Free Caramel Swirl Fudge Brownies

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Snickerdoodle Cookies, Green Tea and Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies, Fudge Brownie Cookies

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Paleo Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate

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Nutella Fudge, two ways

BEVERAGES

  • Aside from Berkley Filtered Water we had Natural Milk (non homogenized), Chocolate Milk and Eggnog (free from the chemical storm most are made with) from our local dairy farm.
  • Coffee Bar with the milk listed above
  • Hot Chocolate from Trader Joes
  • Gluten Free Beer, and craft Belgium Beer
  • Organic Red and White Wine

That about sums up the menu and party!  There is always so much work that goes into having parties, especially for 25 people, but when its all said and done its worth it!  We had so much fun and loved every minute of our Christmas Eve.  Heck, we’ve already started planning for next year!