Blue, Silver & White Christmas TreeThis year we're hosting Christmas dinner at our house. ?In the past that meant twenty five people and a lot of work. ?This year, I'm happy to say we're only expecting fifteen people, yippie! ?I take this task on hesitantly, having a smaller guest list doesn't equate to less cleaning, prepping, or stress, it just means less money spent on food and beverages. ?It also means more quality time with the guests, which is great!
Regardless of the occasion, I always seem to stress myself out when entertaining more than ten people. ?It's one thing to plan a small event for someone else, that's easy I don't stress out over third party budgeted affairs such as; business luncheons, fundraisers, or special events. ?The guest list is a piece of cake with those types of functions, it's just a number when it comes to my career or volunteering. ?The pressure lies within, when I'm entertaining my toughest critics and the sky is the limit financially and creatively. ? I think the stress also comes hand and hand with executing all of my creations in one day and in a timely manner.
Lately all this stress quickly leads to a reminder about the meaning of Christmas. ?The most important part of the holidays is spending time with family and friends and remembering how blessed we all are to be on this earth. ?Shortly thereafter the reality of it all sets in... Christmas is so time consuming and expensive and is basically a glorified Thanksgiving with; wrapping paper, bows, gifts, holiday lights, Christmas trees, and celebrations throughout the month, apposed to one single day of eating.
That about does it, my ranting session has ended! ?Now on to the important stuff, food and beverages!
I've been "pinning" up a storm lately which is a newly welcomed holiday craze for me. ?I have a love hate relationship with Pinterest but, what isn't there to like about having millions of people compile oodles and oodles of fantastic holiday recipes and crafty ideas? ?Take a look at what's on the menu for Christmas...
Specialty CocktailWhat are the holiday's without a tasty cocktail to take the edge off? ?My first priority in Christmas dinner planing was finding a light, yet fun beverage to serve. ?I decided on creative drinks, made with champagne/sparkling wine as a base ingredient! ?I am a bubbly lover, as many of you know and I will say that my go to choice for events such as this is the Asti, it's available at Trader Joe's, follow this link for a brief review and small photo of the label:?http://www.cellartracker.com/note.asp?iWine=29723&iNote=1841145. ?The Asti, aka "sparkling wine" is very affordable ($6.99/bottle) and it tastes great alone or accompanied by pretty much anything. ?I plan to have a variety of juice available for those not choosing to drink and it will double as a great mixer!
The Main Course
In the past, Christmas day meals have been much like Thanksgiving meals, a smorgasbord of tasty food. ?This year I've decided to keep it simple; fun beverages, ?one main course and a semi homemade dessert. ?I have, however, decided to do a main course that is pretty involving, as many home cooks would take one look at the ingredient list and continue the hunt for something else to make. ?The main course will be Juila Childs' Beef Bourguignon, http://cooking.knopfdoubleday.com/2009/07/13/julia-childs-boeuf-bourguignon-recipe/. ? I have made this three or four times in the past, but never for fifteen people and I will be tripling the recipe. ?The main reason I chose this dish was because it's amazingly good and everything can be made the day before and the flavor and quality won't be compromised! ?If anything letting it sit over night increases the flavor of the entree.
The Main Course Meat
Thursday I decided to go buy the meat and unfortunately the first little hiccup in my well thought out plan occurred. ?The meat was on sale for one day only at a hispanic grocery store, meaning my espanol will be put to the test. ?I arrive at the meat department, there isn't any cuts of meat in the designated spot next to the sign. ?I ask the guy behind the counter if there is any left and he doesn't understand my question, I point. ?Oooohhh! Si! The meat department associate holds up a great cut of beef. ?I then say in spanish, I'll take 12 pounds, will you cut the meat into 2" cubes for me please? ?No comprendo... Ugh. ? He then goes and finds another associate, comes back with him and they both look at me with a blank look (I'm waiting for him to speak in english or spanish so I can figure out how to say what I want)...silence. ?I say can you please cut the meat into two inch pieces, OH! Yea, ok the new guy then translates to the original guy. ?Then they come back with a sample cut, 4" x 3", I say in half please. ?I come back when it's all cut to my dismay the meat has bones! ?They didn't cut the meat part into 2" cubes really because some of the cuts were actually all bone! ?I haven't come up with a backup plan yet, I'm going to see if I can salvage the meat tomorrow.
The most important part of the entree is using a good red wine, for this I decided to stick within a budget of $20, I did however need four bottles of wine. ?I made a trip to Big Lots where I was happy to find three, 1.5 litter bottles of Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir! ?I only needed to purchase two bottles and I came in under budget at $19! ?This wine normally sells for $11-$25 a bottle depending on the year and I was able to get the equivalent of four bottles for less than $20, SCORE! I guess you win some and you lose some, win on the wine, lose on the meat.
DessertWe're going to have cannoli's for dessert! ?This is my first time making them and I pondered over ordering cannoli molds and making the shells from scratch or purchasing pre-made shells at an italian deli (both Caesars and Luigis carry them). ?I looked into making them first and after five minutes of research the decision was crystal clear, I would purchase them! ?Check out this video of how to make homemade cannoli shells;?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DuHPdo_qA4. ?Now with Christmas being only a few days away both the delis didn't have enough shells in stock. ?Luckily Luigis said they would be getting a shipment of them in the next day. ?Perfect.
Wish me luck in the coming days, I'm going to need it.