Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mistletoe Madness-A Holiday Party (various cookbooks)

Date I made these recipes: December 6, 2009

Better Homes & Gardens Best Buffets by Better Homes and Gardens
Published by: Meredith Corporation
© 1963
Recipe: Hot Mulled Cider – p. 50

Betty Crocker’s Hostess Cookbook – Guest-Tested Recipes and Party Plans for Every Occasion by Betty Crocker
Published by: Golden Press
© 1967, 1970 – Third Printing 1970
Recipe: Chafing Dish Meatballs – p. 136

Leisure Arts Presents The Spirit of Christmas – Creative Holiday Ideas Book Four by Leisure Arts, Inc.
Published by: Leisure Arts, Inc.
© 1990
Recipe: Layered Crab Taco Dip – p. 136

Always Superb: Recipes for Every Occasion – a collaborative cookbook from the Junior Leagues of Minneapolis and Saint PaulPublished by: The Junior Leagues of Minneapolis and Saint Paul
ISBN: 0-9729882-0-3
Recipe: Martini Dip – p. 36
Other recipes made but not featured: Layered Asian Appetizer -. 45

Betty Crocker Party Food by Betty Crocker
Published by: Wiley Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-470-17349-7; © 2007
Recipe: Roasted Sesame and Honey Snack Mix – 26
Other recipes made but not featured: Southwestern Spiced Party Nuts – p. 14; Chex® Party Mix – p. 24 and Almond Caramel Corn – p. 21

FARM Journal Country Cookbook – Edited by Nell B. Nichols, Food Editor, FARM Journal
Published by: Doubleday & Company, Inc.
© 1959
Recipe: Holiday Fruitcake Cookies – p. 95

Well folks, here it is December 8th and I am already exhausted by the holidays! On December 6th, my husband and I decided it was high time we threw a party and what better way to kick off the holiday season than by throwing a Mistletoe Madness open house for 50 or so of our closest, personal friends!

And so just call me Betty (as in Crocker, my idol) because I was a cooking fool for at least a week making appetizers and goodies to satisfy every taste bud. And yes, I probably made too many things but given that it was our first open house party, I wanted to run a number of things up the flagpole to see how they’d fly. For the most part, all the dishes got accolades so that was good. Sadly, many of the recipes won’t be reprinted here since my own personal rule is to only publish recipes from my own collection and some of the ones I made are from borrowed library books. But I can at least give you a hint as to where I found some of them: Desperation Entertaining by Alicia Ross and Beverly Mills (I have their Desperation Dinners book but not this one); Pillsbury Best Cookies; Betty Crocker’s Christmas Cookbook; Barefoot Contessa Parties! (I already posted this recipe for her pan-friend onion dip on my blog in 2007); Feast by Nigella Lawson (also posted her parma ham bundle recipes on my blog) and a community cookbook from my home town using some of my mom’s cookie recipes.

As to the recipes, let me just say that the yield on each of these wasn’t necessarily what was written. In general, any recipe that stated it made 5 or more dozen was a “liar, liar pants on fire.” On the other hand, recipes that said they made one cup usually yielded two or more. Go figure. Depending on your crowd, one serving may be enough but it’s up to you to determine that.

Finally, and I hate to disparage Betty Crocker, but here’s a little story that I had to email in advance to some of my friends who were attending (which I titled “What the hell, Betty?): one of the recipes I made was Betty Crocker’s Southwestern Spiced Party Nuts. The recipe called for ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon but I knew that one of my guests was allergic to cinnamon and so I called the B. Crocker Hotline for assistance. I asked the woman on the phone what else I could substitute for cinnamon and after putting me on hold, she came back and stunned me into silence by saying that she couldn’t advise me because they hadn’t tested the recipe.

What?! What?! What?! I could see other test kitchens not testing a recipe but this was Betty Frickin’ Crocker for God’s sake - my hero, my idol, the person whose kitchen I would readily die in. WTF? (I made it without the cinnamon and nobody was the wiser).

Lucky for all of you, I got over my distress and made all the recipes without too much ado. For one, brief shinning moment I considered just buying the Chex® Party Mix but then I caught myself and pressed on regardless. There’s too much salt in packaged stuff anyway!

And so here we go with my list of goodies. The Martini Dip was probably the biggest hit, no doubt because of the vermouth marinated olives. I did warn people but they still imbibed at their own risk!

Hot Mulled Cider – makes 10 servings
Before I get into the ingredients, I just have to say that this was found in a chapter called “Something for the boys” – Bachelor’s Feast. Let me just say that the “girls” liked it, too!
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 quarts cider
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves
3 inches stick cinnamon
Dash nutmeg

Combine brown sugar, salt, and cider. Tie spices in small piece of cheese cloth; add. Slowly bring to a boil; cover and simmer 20 minutes. Remove spices. Serve hot.

Chafing Dish Meatballs – makes 5 dozen meatballs (Ann’s note: no freakin’ way! I doubled the meat and spices and only then did I achieve 60 or so meatballs. I also used 1 and ½ bottles of chili sauce and 1 and 1/3 jar of grape jelly).
1 pound ground beef
½ cup dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup minced onion
¼ cup milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon snipped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup shortening
1 bottle (12 oz) chili sauce
1 jar (10 oz) grape jelly

Mix ground beef, crumbs, onion, milk, egg and next 4 seasonings; gently shape into 1-inch balls. Melt shortening in large skillet; brown meatballs. Remove meatballs from skillet; drain fat. Heat chili sauce and jelly in skillet until jelly is melted, stirring sauce and jelly in skillet until jelly is melted, stirring constantly. Add meatballs and stir until coated. Simmer 30 minutes. Serve hot in chafing dish.

Layered Crab Taco Dip – about 5 ¾ cups of dip (which is about right)
My Auntie Mare gave me the book containing this dip years ago. I put it away waiting for the right occasion to use it and here it is! Thanks, Auntie Mare!

2 cans (6 ounces each) lump crabmeat, drained
2 green onion, minced
½ cup diced cucumber
½ cup diced red onion
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup orange juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced
Tortilla chips to serve

Because this makes so much, I recommend skipping the cream cheese and just putting the dip in a bowl to be served with the taco chips. I also recommend skipping the red onion. I diced it as small as I could but at the end of the day, the flavor still can be a little harsh. But by all means, add the avocado!

In a glass bowl, combine crabmeat, green onions, cucumber, red onion, tomato, and parsley. In a small bowl, combines juices. Stir into crab mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Combine cream cheese and mayonnaise, blending well. Spread mixture over the bottom of a serving platter. Spread avocado over cream cheese mixture. Drain crab mixture, pressing out as much moisture as possible. Spread mixture over avocado. Serve with tortilla chips.

Martini Dip – Yield 8 servings (Nope. Try two-martini glasses full of dip-sized servings!)
As I mentioned above, this dip was the big hit. Martinis are my drink of choice and so I just happened to have all the olives I needed on hand along with the vermouth. And some gin although it wasn’t called for in this dip. I also have a set of what I call travel martini glasses—plastic glasses with a green stem with a martini olive “imbedded” in the middle. Naturally, I used these glasses to serve seeing as how the colors fit so well with the holiday. I also decided I’d best let people know there was booze in them there glasses and so I put up little food name tags on my table—one can’t be too careful!

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup mayonnaise
12 ounces vermouth-marinated chopped olives, drained

Combine the cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce and mayonnaise in a bowl and mix until smooth. Stir in the olives. Chill, covered, in the refrigerator until serving time. Excellent served with crackers or vegetables.

By the way, I highly recommend the Layered Asian Appetizer on p. 45 of this book. Yummy!

Roasted Sesame and Honey Snack Mix – 20 servings of ½ cup each
3 cups Chex cereal (any variety)
3 cups checkerboard-shaped pretzels
3 cups sesame sticks
1 cup mixed nuts
¼ cup honey
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons sesame seed, toasted, if desired

Heat oven to 275F. Mix cereal, pretzels, sesame sticks and nuts in ungreased jelly roll pan, 15 ½ x 10 ½ x 1 inch.

Mix remaining ingredients. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated.

Bake 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread on waxed paper; cool. Store in airtight container up to 1 week.

Holiday Fruitcake Cookies – makes 8 dozen (and that’s about right)
Call me sentimental but my mom used to make cookies like these when I was growing up and I loved them. But then again, we are fruitcake people. There wasn’t a time that I don’t remember Jane Parker Fruitcake being on the table. We love Jane Parker. Jane Parker is an A&P store brand but we don’t have an A&P store in my hometown anymore so my sister-in-law has had to find other (black market) sources! Kidding. A few years ago, though, we did have trouble sourcing the stuff but I just looked up A&P online and it said “Click to order your holiday Fruitcake online.” I tell you what, folks the holidays are a great thing.

Anyway, when a friend gave me the FARM Journal cookbook for my collection, it just happened to fall open to the cookie page (I took this as a sign) and decided right then and there (this was October) that this was going on the party list.

Now mind you, I didn’t tell anyone that these were fruitcake cookies because you either like fruitcake or you don’t (and most don’t) but they were still eaten and I didn’t find any balled up napkins after the fact with the remains of the day so I think we’re good. Still, the recipe does make a bazillion cookies so I hope you really do like fruitcake if you make them!

4 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. shortening
2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 c. thick sour milk or buttermilk
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. candied cherries, cut in quarter
2 c. dates, cut up
2 (4 oz.) cans candied fruits and peels (1 c.) Note: I just bought a container of cut up fruitcake fruit and called it a day. Do they even make cans anymore?
Red or green candied cherries for top (optional)

Sift together flour, soda and salt
Cream shortening; add sugar and eggs; beat until light and fluffy.
Add sour milk and flour; then fold in nuts, cherries, dates and candied fruit.
Chill the dough.
Drop teaspoonfuls about 2” apart, on lightly greased baking sheet. Top each with a cherry half if desired.
Bake in a moderate oven (375) 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 8 dozen.

Note: these were slightly on the sweet side although they probably always were and I had just forgotten!

By the way, I just have to put in a plug for one of my favorite organizations, Arc Greater Twin Cities. Arc runs four Value Village Thrift Stores in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and every year starting in November, features a Merry Thriftmas boutique. This year I scored 3 holiday tablecloths, 11 holiday platters, 9 holiday party bowls and assorted table decorations all for about $50. To be fair, as a member of Arc Greater Twin Cities, I do get a 20% discount, but folks, probably the most expensive thing I bought came to $3.95. Most platters and bowls ranged from $.99 to $2.99. Can you say bargain?! To add to the fun, I bought a beautiful top in red silk and black velvet for...are you ready...$7.95. So if you live in the area and are looking for holiday items for your own holiday party,run, do not walk, to your nearest VV Store! Store locations and hours can be found at:


~~louise~~ said...

Amazing post, Ann! In the good ol' days I use to throw an open house party for Christmas. I sure do appreciate the amount of time, energy and consideration that went into planning such an event.

It sure seems like you had enough tastings for each and every person. Kudos to you!!!

I can't believe the test kitchen lady admitted the recipe was actually not tested. It seems so wrong. I don't think corporate would appreciate such honesty, if such were the case. Don't be angry at me but I've never been much of a Betty Crocker fan, there I said it. I do however have a few stray cookbooks around here which darn her name.

Thanks for sharing...

Kim Ode said...

Arghh. Now I feel twice as bad for having to miss your party -- but I DO have the recipes now, so.... Sounds like a fabulous shindig.