December is certainly the merriest month in my opinion, even in the Finnish language December literally translates into Christmas-month, Joulukuu. I absolutely love the holidays because of what I have learned it to be from the Hallmark channel. Growing up, Christmas with my family wasn’t as traditional as you see in the movies, we’d do nice things and get cool gifts but the idea of a Hallmark holiday has always seemed so exotic and amazing to me. So I thought I’d try a couple aspects of the perfect holiday season this December. We got a real Christmas tree this year and decorated it the Scandinavian way (with our countries flags on it), lit advent candles every Sunday, sent out Christmas cards (which I do every year regardless), opened chocolate advent calendars every day till Christmas, and of course had many dinner parties.
Christmas Cards: As I do every year I sent out cards to all of my friends and family. For my Bass friends I made the annual Bassmass card (A card with a bass incorporated into the design). Then for the official card we took a couples photo as our card so I also sent them to Bjarni’s friends and family in Iceland. In total I sent out 200 cards, and only spent $130 in postage & printing! Not bad. In return we received 18 holiday cards which beautifully decorated our fireplace.
As I said before, this holiday season we hosted several dinner parties for our friends and family, we tried many new recipes spending quite a few hours in the kitchen. And I definitely think those recipes are worth sharing!
When I was planning each dinner I tried to keep in mind the colors. Making sure each dinner plate had a beautiful color pallet, and a variety of textures and food groups. That’s a lot to think about when planning a dinner party. So let me take you through each dinner…
Dinner Party Club Menu: Cauliflower Soup, Green bean Casserole, Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries, Karalian Pies, Gingersnaps and Eggnog. The soup was made by our in-house soup chef, Bjarni, and then we made the rest together. Our first time trying the Green Bean Casserole was at Thanksgiving at our friend’s place. It was a hit there and at our dinner party. The recipe for that is best found on the back of a fried onion can. The Roasted Butternut Squash recipe is from Pinterest and I might add is a beautiful color pop to any dinner. Also, go light on the cranberries because even though you glaze the dish with honey, they are still as tart as ever. The Karalian pies were made with potato filling (traditionally they are filled with rice in Finland). They are time consuming but totally worth it. For dessert I served hot eggnog with spiced rum and gingersnaps. The Eggnog , which was perfectly served in our Muumi mugs, was Southern Comfort brand (the best tasting eggnog, believe me I have tried every brand out there), and gingersnaps I found on a Finnish website.
Then we invited my parents over for dinner when the Argosy Christmas Ships came to our Madison Park Beach. We walked a block to the beach and listened to their concert and nice lights. Then we came back to our place for appetizers and dinner. First we had veggies with dip while we admired the adorable veggie house Bjarni made (he’s an excellent engineer) and Pulla. Pulla is a Finnish sweet cardamom bread. The dinner menu was: Cucumber salad, Karalian pies, and Garlic Cauliflower. Cucumber salad is basically shredded cucumbers with yogurt, garlic, and salt. The garlic cauliflower recipe was found on Pinterest and was fantastic.
Christmas Eve Dinner was spent with my parents and brother. The menu: Rice Porridge, Pear Salad, Red Cabbage, Caramelized Potatoes, and again Butternut Squash. Bjarni made most of the dishes and therefor I don’t have those recipes but they are all Icelandic Christmas dishes (minus the butternut squash). As tradition in Scandinavia we opened present after dinner on Christmas Eve and ate way too much chocolate!
Christmas Day we invited our friends and my family over for dinner and board games. The menu: Hot Chocolate (melted down the real way), Arugula Salad, Roasted Butternut Squash, Green bean Casserole, Creamy Potato Casserole, Pear Salad, Pear Tart and Blueberry Soup. Many of these dishes are repeats from earlier this month but the new one Creamy Scalloped Potatoes was a hit! My mom made the blueberry soup and the pear tart recipe is from our first Dinner Party (in an earlier blog post).
Finally we get to the last event of the season, our Bjarnakot Holiday Bash! I made mini pecan pies, which were amazing, and I decided to take a chance and found a cranberry walnut spiral appetizer that looked good on pinterest, well this one didn’t turn out that well. First of all it called for pie crust then you roll up cranberries and chopped walnuts with sugar, this turned out to be super dry. And therefor not that good. Okay, so then I got super lazy and tired of cooking all these different things… so I bought Trader Joe’s spinach yogurt dip and creamy onion dip with crackers. And that was it. Oh, plus fantastic Glöggi. I feel like every time I make Glöggi it keeps getting better! That is one recipe you need in your life! So here it is: 4 bottles of wine, peel of one orange, 2 cinnamon sticks, 10 cloves, 10 cardamom pods, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup brown sugar.
Now we’re off to a New Years retreat with friends at a cabin in Lake Chelan. I’m so excited to spend 3 days in the forest, out of the busy city, with good people, and I DO NOT HAVE TO COOK ANYTHING!!!
I hope you all have a wonderful New Years!
Roasted Butternut Squash Recipe: http://peasandcrayons.com/2014/11/honey-roasted-butternut-squash-cranberries-feta.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/Xsbcc+(Peas+and+Crayons)
Veggie (gingerbread) House: http://wonderfuldiy.com/wonderful-diy-creative-mini-veggie-lodge/
Garlic Cauliflower Recipe: http://ifoodreal.com/roasted-garlic-parmesan-cauliflower/
Creamy Scalloped Potatoes Recipe: http://www.chef-in-training.com/2012/12/creamy-scalloped-potatoes/
Pear Tart Recipe: http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2014/09/pear-tart-recipe.html
Mini Pecan Pies: http://houseofyumm.com/pecan-pie/#_a5y_p=2222951
Cranberry Pinwheels: http://diethood.com/cranberry-and-walnut-pinwheels/