Sunday, December 2, 2007

Come In!

Hi! Welcome!! I'm so happy to see you - thank you so much for coming! What's that? Oh, it looks delicious, let me take your coat. I know! The roads are so icy this morning, I'm glad you got here safely!

Who's that playing on the iPod? Sufjan Stevens! I'd heard of him, but never heard his music until last year, and Charley picked it up as a gift for a friend, and we decided to get it too. It's so festive and mellow, isn't it?

Help yourself to the table - I've made Brie topped with fresh cranberry relish, and there are some dipping crackers next to it on the table, and some yummy chile & cheese spirals. Both recipes are below:

Wheel of Brie
Topped with fresh cranberry relish, it can be store bought (not jellied), or home made. I make mine following the directions on the bag of fresh cranberries, substituting brown sugar for white, using orange juice instead of water, adding apple chunks and some hot pepper flakes. Stop wrinkling your noses - it's delicious! I'm serving it with Milton's Multi-grain crackers, but any sturdy, slightly sweet cracker would be perfect.

Chile & Cheese Spirals
4 oz. Room temp cream cheese
1 small can mild green chiles
1 small can chopped black olives
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup green onions

Mix cheeses, chiles, olives (drained), and onions, spread on lavosh, roll into logs & slice into spirals.

Please, help yourself, there's wine & beer and hot chocolate & spiced cider on the stove.

I'm going to go pour some cider for myself, and see who's at the door....

Edit 12:00 p.m.: Look who's here! It's Lola and Franklin! Lola is getting tipsy on beer, and is promising to make this an interesting party - we're going to play some Apples to Apples, and I've added a salad to the table. Here's the recipe:

AnnieMcQ's Holiday Green Salad

1 bag of mixed greens (make sure there's arugula in there)
1/4 to 1/2 cup of dried cranberries (sweetened is best)
1 apple
1/4 cup toasted pecans or almonds
good aged parmesan, shaved
Girard's Champagne Dressing

Soak cranberries in hot water for 10 minutes, or until soft, drain. Pour enough Champagne dressing over softened cranberries, just to cover. Arrange greens on a large platter, peel and dice apple, sprinkle on toasted almonds, add cranberries just before serving (so it doesn't wilt), top each serving with shaved parmesan.

Make yourselves comfy, I'm going to change the music on the iPod to Vince Guaraldi. I'll be back in a bit!

Edit 4:30

Kari's here, with the Winona Ryder version of "Little Women", and Franklin is burping away in some corner of the house! I think she might take a nap, then party on with us into the night. I'm putting on some chili, because it's raining outside, and the fire is roaring, and chili with sides of sour cream, cheddar, and green onions, with some cheddar cheese biscuits sound pretty heavenly.

From Nestle's Make it Simple Entertaining:
Pumpkin Chili Mexicana

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped red bell pepper
1/2 c chopped green bell pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 lb. lean ground turkey
3 1/2 cups (2 14.5 oz cans) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 3/4 (15 oz) solid pack pumpkin
1 can tomato sauce
1 can kidney beans
1/2 cup diced green chiles
1/2 cup whole kernel corn
1 Tblspn chili powder
1 tspn ground cumin
salt & pepper to taste

heat oil over med-high heat, add onion & peppers & garlic, cook 'til tender. Add meat, cook 'til browned, drain.

Add everything else. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cook covered for 30 minutes. Serve with garnishes. Makes 6-8 servings.

Who wants to chop the onions? It always makes me cry... I'm going to change the music on the iPod to A Merry Affair.

Edit 8:00 p.m.:

I'm hoping Suttonhoo can make it back - she's traveling, as usual, but I've decided that maybe if I post a good eggnog recipe, she might just make it back!

Traditional Eggnog Recipe, from

12 eggs, separated
6 cups milk
2 cups heavy/ thickened cream
2 cups bourbon
1+ ½ cups sugar
¾ cup brandy
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

In a large bowl and using a mixer, beat the egg yolks together with the sugar for approx 10 minutes (you want the mixture to be firm and the colour of butter).
Very slowly, add in the bourbon and brandy - just a little at a time.
When bourbon and brandy have been added, allow the mixture to cool in the fridge (for up to 6 hours, depending on how long before your party you're making the eggnog).
30 minutes before your guests arrive, stir the milk into the chilled yolk mixture.
Stir in 1+ ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg.
In a separate bowl, beat the cream with a mixer on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks.
In yet another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
Gently fold the cream into the egg mixture.
After ladling into cups, garnish with the remainder of the ground nutmeg.

Serves: 8.

Drink up! I'm changing the music on the iPod again: this time it's James Taylor, At Christmas, one of my new all-time faves...


Lolabola said...

I've brought the cold weather so you'll feel extra toasty. Will post a photo in a moment.'

Brie, oooh I wish I had some. But I think I can find some cocoa somewhere in here.

anniemcq said...

Lola! I'm so glad you're here! Thanks for the weather, I'll get the fire going - I'll set up the game table, and if we get enough people, we can play Apples to Apples

Lolabola said...

hey, somethings wrong with your apples link.

in other news, I'm really slow on the posting today but give me a minute.

anniemcq said...

Yeah, I know, I can never get the links to work in my own comments. Here's the url:

Lolabola said...

my brain hurts from trying to understand the rules. but now I get it. sounds fun!

anniemcq said...

I know: the first time someone tried to explain them to me, I crossed my eyes and fell asleep. But it's a blast to play!

Lolabola said...

so on the story front....2 xmasses ago, I got really drunk and harassed one of our friends' friends enough that he will not speak to me now and leaves the room if I enter (thankfully usually only in a public place)

I harassed him about his age because he refused to discuss it and that made a nice big red button that was waiting to be pushed. Unfortunately due to major life stress at the time and just a wee bit too much beer, I kind of lost control on the pushing action. But hey it was only me and him and B (poor B!) and I didn't even insult him, just kept asking why he was so uncomfortable admitting it.

There is no forgiveness in sight, which explains a lot about how he can be in his late 30s and still not be able to admit his age.

fyi, I'm one of those drunks that pushes buttons and tells other people's secrets (because I suddenly think we should all be friends and there's no need for secrets or buttons)

anniemcq said...

Here, here! I'm with you - can I get you a beer?

Lolabola said...

what do you have?

anniemcq said...

Deschutes Jubilale or Full Sail Wassail? If those don't do it for you how about Widmer Snowplow Stout? Or just the Droptop Amber Ale?

Lolabola said...

goodness! they all sound amazing. Full Sail for me thanks.

Last night I had the best coffee porter. It was so rich, the waiter warned us to just try a half pint.

As B put it later, "so 4 pints it is then!"

Franklin5 said...

I'm here! I'm here! I'm late, I know, and I'm in terrible form (in serious need of a nap and even, I am so sorry to say, smelly) but I just couldn't miss this for the world.

Please forgive if I slur my words or say something inappropriate; I may not be the most well-behaved party guest, but I'm the one who always, always stays late to help clean up. So there's that.

Lolabola said...

Hi Franklin!

oh that's good, because I usually fall asleep on the couch before clean up happens and definitely long long after I should have gone home.

I'm off to warm up with a shower. back in a bit.

anniemcq said...

Lola, thanks for stepping in to answer the door - I was in the shower myself!

Franklin! Yay! Welcome, friend! You smell just fine for the internet - how have you been? Help yourself to the food. What can I get you to drink?

suttonhoo said...

delayed at SFO -- please save me an egg nog. hope to make it before too long. ;)

Lolabola said...

damn, the shower woke B up and posting privileges are gone. see you tomorrow

anniemcq said...

Bye, Lola - thanks for stopping by! Have a lovely afternoon.

Franklin5 said...

Alka-seltzer. I think I need some *urp* alka-seltzer.

The Donger need nap, will return soon with a fresh demeanor and a greatly improved disposition. Please tell me this is an all-night sort of soiree. I'm in my best party mode after sunset.

Kari said...

oh my god, it does sound fun! yay! happiness to all. and now i'm hungry...

anniemcq said...

Kari, help yourself! I'm thinking of putting on a pot of chili, too, with sides of sour cream, green onions and grated cheddar.

Your red shoes in that green grass would make the perfect Christmas card!

anne said...

Annie McQ, thanks for the open invitation! I brought the two things I bake for special people at Christmas: pumpkin bread with raisins, and cranberry bread with no nuts. Recipes to follow shortly, if you so desire.

The chili smells wonderful, with exactly the sides I like!

I will have a glass of crisp white wine, if you have it, please.

Like Franklin5, I am a good one to stay late and tidy up - some of the best party conversations take place in the kitchen after the masses are gone!

As for a Christmas story, I have a warm one. Since both my parents and those of my husband R live here in Denver, we were always expected at each families' festivities.

December 1997 was no different: Christmas Eve dinner and presents with my family, and then Christmas morning with my in-laws at 8am for breakfast and presents.

My first pregnancy earlier that year had ended in a miscarriage early on. R and I had ridden an emotional roller coaster for a week then: surprised to be parents-to-be at age 37, scared of how our lives would change, and then even more scared when things appeared to be going wrong.

We were pregnant again right before Christmas; it was confirmed with an ultrasound on Dec 20. We had not told anyone the news, so the Christmas package from all of the kids to my parents on Christmas Eve read, "To Mom and Dad, from M, P, S, J, C and A... and Baby B."

My parents were thrilled for us; my sisters were amazed that I had kept the secret!

As R and I drove home later that night, the big soft flakes of a rare Christmas Eve snowstorm reflected the lights from all the decorations. We knew all was right with the world...

anniemcq said...

Anne! you look beautiful! Thank you so much for coming. I love your story. I was remember earlier this afternoon my first smile from Joe-Henry - he was only a month old, and I was wrapping Christmas gifts underneath our tiny tree, and he was propped up in his bouncy seat, and he gave me the most beautiful smile. It came at just the right time - I was exhausted from the new routine of, well, no sleep, and it was good to see it for the first time. I didn't see it again for about another month, but it held me over.

Alright, it's off to the fridge for some white wine for you, my dear!

Anonymous said...


Day late.
Dollar short.

'Tis my life.

Lisa L said...

Thank you for your wonderful and funny posts :) I've really enjoyed reading your blog. I (and we) also really enjoyed the chili was eaten(..scarfed...inhaled...) by us in about 3 seconds at dinner this past week and its definitely a keeper!