For the past several years I’ve been posting our menu for the annual White Elephant party that we host at Christmastime. I didn’t post a recipe list in 2016, but here is the 2016 blog post! This year most of the things we served we brand new, with only a few repeats.
Each year we do two kinds of meatballs. This year we made two Asian inspired recipes. We had an “orange chicken” meatball – meaning it had the flavors that orange chicken from a Chinese restaurant would have, but made with meatballs instead of chicken. We also had Spicy Korean-style Gochujang meatballs – which were a huge hit. That crockpot was empty by the end of the night. I had made those meatballs two times during the year to get feedback, and it looks like the positive feedback wasn’t a lie!
As in previous years I made a soup to serve in our shot glass collection. This year I made a butternut squash soup. It was okay, but I doubt I’ll make it again. I may take a break from making soup next year. The best year was the first year (the ginger carrot soup from 2013), but since then I’ve yet been able to find a soup as good as that one.
Repeat dishes from prior years included:
1) Cheesy Brussels sprout bruschetta – this is a repeat from last year’s menu. It’s a tasty way to sneak Brussel sprouts into the mouths of unsuspecting people who would normally say, “I don’t eat Brussel sprouts!”
2) Sweet potato casserole bites – sounds complicated but it wasn’t. Simply slice some sweet potatoes, cook until soft then put on a marshmallow for a minute or two to melt, and then push a pecan into the melted marshmallow. TOTALLY easy and seemed to go over well.
3) Cheesy cauliflower bruschetta – another “give ’em a vegetable they might not ever eat!” This one was yummy and I ate more than a couple during the party, which is saying something because I normally don’t eat during the party because I’m so busy cooking the food!
4) Denis’s tomato stuffed mushrooms – these are a staple at our party. He makes them every year, and every year people gush over them.
5) Steak frites – this was definitely the hit of the night. Modeled after the steak frites served at Citifield in NYC, we made our own version. So good. Even CootieGirl begged for more after the party ended.
6) Brie tartlets – this was almost not on the menu because during our prep time, the puff pastry didn’t rise the way we wanted it to. But we went out and bought those frozen puff pastry cups and voila – a tartlet was born. Chicken, brie, cranberries and crushed pecans. Delightful.
7) Chicken salad on apple slices – this was a nice cold hors d’oeurves that I enjoyed a lot (I had one of these during the party as well). They are literally what they say – chicken salad spooned onto apple slices cut about 1/4″ thick. These will be GREAT to make for book club next summer.
8. Bacon & pineapple – this was a last minute addition because an hors d’oeurves we wanted to make ended up being a horrible choice. Denis made a couple as a test run on Saturday morning and it’s a good thing he did. It tasted amazing, but pulling it off was next to impossible given the fact that during the party I need to be able to just put it in the oven and take it out with minimal work to assemble. So we dumped that recipe and went for a good old standby – pineapple wrapped in bacon. Simple and YUM.
9) Spinach artichoke bombs – just put spinach artichoke dip in crescent rolls.
10) Salmon pops – Denis said he made these last year, but I do NOT remember them. However, they looked fabulous and a lot of folks told me they loved them. Ours did not look like the ones on the website we found, but they were still popular.
11) Lobster rolls – we made this last year, and opted to repeat it. I accidentally made it a bit spicier than intended, but people didn’t seem to mind.
12) Drunk grapes with goat cheese – I soaked the grapes for 24 hours in bourbon, which made for some very happy grapes. The goat cheese was coated in crushed pecans and a nice balance to the happy grapes.
This year the other change we made was that we did NOT make 12-13 different kinds of cookies to give our guests to take home. Instead, this year we made candied pecans/walnuts and homemade peppermint bark. Our gluten-free friends were thrilled with the giveaway this year, and our non-GF friends, too!
The party was another success, with many new folks who had not come before, as well as a few folks that had not been able to come for a few years in a row (including my sister and my best friend from high school, who both drove from Virginia JUST to attend the party). We had some no shows but still had about 28 people swing by to hang out with us for the night.
And so we move on towards 2017…which will be our 19th year hosting! Hard to believe we’ve done this 18 years!