December 18, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Georges Duboeuf. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that so
generously help The Sweetest Occasion keep on keepin’ on!
Some of you may remember that last year we hosted nearly thirty people for Christmas dinner. While we’re not going all out in quite that fashion this year, we are hosting family and friends at our home on Christmas evening. Which is why today I’m sharing a few delicious and easy holiday dinner appetizers with you! Whether you’re just inviting a small handful of friends over for wine and snacks at some point this holiday season or hosting the whole extended family, these yummy little bites will keep the hunger at bay without dramatically increasing your workload in the kitchen. We love that! Plus, if you’re preparing a big dinner, having wine and snacks for nibbling on at the ready takes the pressure off a bit as you’re finishing up the meal. Win-win!
Here I paired my favorite spinach balls (which are basically super delicious vegetarian-friendly bite-sized balls of awesome) with a very simple cheeseboard and fresh roasted chestnuts. Open up a bottle of Georges Duboeuf Beajoulais Nouveau, and you’re ready for guests in a flash. The spinach balls are deceptively delicious and they’re perfect for preparing in advance. You can mix them up and prep everything several days beforehand and then freeze them. From the freezer, just pop them right onto a baking sheet (no need to thaw), bake them and you’re in business! When I made this batch to share with you, more than half of them went right into the freezer so I can pull them out on Christmas. That’s my kind of entertaining, just saying. I like to the serve them with sriracha aioli on the side. You can use your favorite pre-made aioli and just add a dash of sriarcha, more or less to suit your taste, and it makes the easiest, quickest dipping sauce ever.
Makes approximately 60
- (2) 10 oz. packages of frozen, chopped spinach
- 1 medium white onion finely diced
- 3 cloves of fresh minced garlic
- 6 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 3 cups seasoned stuffing bread
- ¾ cup melted butter
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Salt + pepper to taste
Begin by preparing the spinach according to the package directions in salted water. Drain, cool, and squeeze out all of the liquid. Melt the butter over low heat, then transfer to a mixing bowl and combine with all ingredients except the eggs. Once combined, add the eggs and mix well. Let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.
Form into balls roughly 1/2″ in size. Bake at 350° for 20 – 25 minutes on a lightly greased baking sheet until slightly golden brown on top. Alternately, prepare in advance to bake later! To do so, place the balls on a very lightly greased baking sheet in the freezer for approximately 1 hour. Then transfer to a freezer bag or container and place back in the freezer until you’re ready to bake. To bake from frozen, remove from the freezer and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 325° for approximately 1 hour or until slightly golden on top.
Preheat oven to 350°. Then, begin by using a sharp knife to make a cut around the width of each chestnut. You want to just go through the shell and cut most of the way around the shell, without cutting it all the way around. Place chestnuts in a single layer in a cast iron skillet or shallow baking dish. You can lightly drizzle the chestnuts with a bit of good olive oil and a pinch of coarse sea salt if you’d like, but it’s not necessary. Roast at 350° for 30 – 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. While still warm, remove the shells and enjoy!
- Crackers and/or crostini bread
- 1 – 2 dried fruits (cranberries, figs, apricots, etc.)
- 1 – 2 hard cheeses
- 1 – 2 soft cheeses
- Nuts (almonds are always my go-to)
Select a pretty platter, cheese or cutting board. Arrange cheeses, crackers, dried fruit and nuts in a fashion that pleases you. Serve! I told you this was easy.
If you’re not familiar with Beajoulais Nouveau, it’s a special wine with a pretty awesome holiday tradition. Under French law, each year at 12:01 on the third Thursday in November, Beaujolais Nouveau wine is uncorked and big, glamorous celebrations ensue. It marks the start of the holiday season with a bang! I’m a huge fan, because it’s a rich, red wine that’s fruity and light enough to appeal to a wide range of wine drinkers. It’s best served slightly chilled and it pairs beautifully with cheese, of course, and these spinach balls I love so much. Plus, it just tastes festive. And, yes, you know wine can taste festive. With a bottle of the good stuff and these quick and delicious appetizers in your party-hosting arsenal you can’t go wrong.
[Photos, recipes + styling by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]
This post was sponsored by Georges Duboeuf. Read more about our editorial policies.
December 17, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
I can’t believe it, but today we’re wrapping up The Gift Guide for this year, and we’re talking about stocking stuffers! Currently these retailers all still have shipping options available to get you your goodies in time for Christmas. That said, most of these are also available locally if you want to snag them in person. Stocking stuffers are my favorite gifts to give and receive. They’re just those awesome little extra gifts that are so fun to open. Stockings are the perfect place to stash the gifts that are bit more quirky, unique or humorous. They’re also perfect for hiding away tiny little luxuries that you know your family will love. There are picks here for the ladies, the gents, kids and teens. Of course, don’t forget the orange in the toe! In our house we honor that classic Christmas tradition and the kiddos know to expect it each year. So, spill the beans. What are your favorite stocking stuffers to give or receive?
p.s. If you missed them, be sure to check out my picks for hostess gifts, fabulous gifts for inlaws, awesome gifts for guys, pretty gifts for girls, fun gifts for boys and lovely gifts for her!
[Stocking Stuffers | 1: Henri Bendel earbuds | 2: Kate Spade iPhone case | 3: Too Faced Melted lipstick | 4: Naked 2 Basics palette | 5: Kiehl’s Men’s Starter Kit | 6: Coal gum | 7: Sriracha 2Go | 8: Steakhouse rub | 9: Sephora mini eye brush capsule | 10: Star earrings | 11: Mobile charger | 12: Eos lip balm | 13: Geometric Band-Aids | 14: Yeti socks | 15: Bamboozler puzzle | 16: Elastic hair bands | 17: Mixology dice | 18: Burt’s Bees lip balm | 19: Travel tumbler | 20: Tattly floral temporary tattoo set.]
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December 16, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
Just opening the Pinterest app on my phone these days is about all it takes to make me smile. My feed is just full up of beautiful holiday imagery from decor to wrapping ideas to recipes and cookies galore. I’m in heaven! Naturally I’ve been pinning up a storm over the last month or so and my Christmas board is filling up by the day. Or by the hour. Don’t judge me. Today I’m sharing just a glimpse of the things I’ve been pinning and loving recently. I’m loving a classic country, European Christmas vibe this year for sure. If you’re going coocoo for all things holidays at the moment, too, you can follow me over there, because this train shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
[Row 1: Emma Dime | Ernie Enkelaar | Row 2: Joanne Pio for Freutcake | Pop and Soda | Row 3: Tu Eres el Chef | Sincerely, Liz from The Glitter Guide.]
December 16, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
Tis the season to indulge in all things peppermint! Or so it seems anyway. And I’m certainly not complaining. I love just about all the peppermint things, which is why today I’m bringing you 10 of the best peppermint recipes. Peppermint cookies, peppermint cocktails and even peppermint donuts! We’re talking Christmas approved peppermint treats that your friends and family will love. Tuck them into pretty little jars to give your friends at the office or put out a spread at your holiday gatherings. Either way, I promise these are guaranteed to be a hit.
Ready to start drooling? Click through for 10 totally festive and delicious peppermint recipes!
December 15, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Lindt. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that so
generously help The Sweetest Occasion keep the party rockin’!
Friends, today is a good day, because we’re talking about three of my favorite things: baking, chocolate and Christmas gifts. Hooray! One of my favorite gifts to give during the holiday season is a great gift basket. Today we’re making the ultimate Christmas cookie gift basket! Loaded with yummy treats, a few pretty little baking accessories, baking mix, and a favorite cookie recipe, it makes a perfect hostess gift or an amazing present for a co-worker or neighbor. So let’s do this, shall we?
- A small basket
- Lindt LINDOR Milk truffles
- Assorted mason jars
- Christmas Chocolate Truffle Cookies with Lindt LINDOR truffles (recipe below)
- Kraft paper and a fine point marker
- Wooden mixing spoon
- A recipe card with cookie recipe
- Wooden measuring spoons
- Small candles, paper straws, an ornament, or other small trinkets
Begin by picking out a pretty little gift basket. I love finding them at Michael’s this time of year where they’re often 40% off. Next, pen the recipe for my Christmas chocolate truffle cookies on a pretty recipe card and tuck it into the basket. Bake a batch of Christmas chocolate truffle cookies. Made with Lindt LINDOR truffles they are irresistibly yummy! That smooth, melting chocolate center just takes these cookies over the top. Once cool, place several in a mason jar for including in the basket. In a separate mason jar, measure out the dry ingredients from the recipe. Then label each jar by cutting a piece of kraft paper to fit the lid and labeling each with a marker. Tuck the mason jars and a bag of Lindt LINDOR Milk truffles into the basket.
Next, add a couple of pretty baking accessories like a wooden spoon and a set of wooden measuring spoons. (These are from Pier 1 Imports and they make such a nice gift!) Finally, add a couple of fun sparkly trinkets like a couple of pretty votive holders, a Christmas ornament, or a bundle of striped straws. I love adding a little something unexpected just to make the gift’s recipient smile.
And it’s that simple, friends! A pretty and super-thoughtful gift basket that’s perfect for just about anyone on your list this Christmas season. Bonus! It’s loaded with yummy treats and features an easy cookie recipe that’s insanely delicious. The cookie recipe is actually adapted from one of my mom’s recipes that has been a favorite of mine since childhood, so it’s entirely tried and true. Adding the Lindt LINDOR truffles on top only makes them that much more delicious!
Enjoy and happy gifting!
Makes 30 cookies
- 15 Lindt LINDOR Milk truffles
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup white sugar, reserved for rolling
Preheat oven to 375°. Then, in a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), cream together the white and brown sugars, peanut butter, egg, vanilla, milk, and shortening. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed sugar mixture and mix until well combined. Form the dough into small balls by rolling it in your palm. Then roll in white sugar to coat evenly. Bake for 10 to12 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
While the cookies are baking, unwrap the Lindt LINDOR truffles. Then cut each one in half to form two small domes of chocolate. Once the cookies are baked and still just barely warm, place a truffle half on top of each cookie. Make sure your cookies aren’t too warm when you place the truffle on top or they’ll melt completely, which results in some pretty messy cookies. (Although they’re still super delicious!)
Check out both LindtUSA.com and Lindt Chocolate on Facebook for more indulgent chocolate recipes.
[Photos, recipes + styling by Cyd Converse.]
This post was sponsored by Lindt and was originally posted on Momtastic. Read more about our editorial policies.