Always, Katie: Katie Tested, Kid (and Adult) Approved Christmas Party Recipes

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Katie Tested, Kid (and Adult) Approved Christmas Party Recipes

Every year, Ethan's big group of best friends (+ spouses and kids) gets together for a big family Christmas party.  This is the only time through the year that some of us see some of the others, so it's always a really special time.  :-)  We hosted this year (yay!) and there were 12 adults, 12 kids (under 8, most under 5), and one very intimidated but sweet maltipoo.  It was noisy, busy, overwhelming and SO much FUN!  

Ethan and Charley... before Charley's little mind was blown by 12 kiddies! :-)
We always have a carry-in dinner, and this year Ethan and I provided the main course and a TON of desserts :-)  Since these recipes have all been tested by me, and approved by a bunch of adults and kids alike, I thought I'd share them with y'all.  In case you're still looking for yummy and easy things to bring along to your Christmas gatherings!

All of our yummy desserts on a fabulous Winterberry (by Pfaltzgraff) platter my Grammie gave me <3

Spicy Bacon Chicken - I found this recipe on Pinterest, and thought it looked amazing.  Somehow when I was making it for the first time (as a test-drive before the party), I forgot to add the brown sugar.  Don't ask me how that happens... it just does. ;-)  Anyway, it was still delicious, so when I made it for the party, I left it out again on purpose.  It's basically all "to taste" if you leave it out, too, which makes this a wonderfully simple thing to make!

Pinwheel Cookies - This is the first time ANYthing pinwheel-y has EVER turned out for me!  You have to be very... careful... and deliberate... and patient... while rolling the dough in the sprinkles, and while cutting the chilled roll.  Especially with the cutting part... if you hurry, you will squash the spiral and it will still look pretty, but in a very abstract art kind of way :-)

Mini Muffin Kiss Cookies - There's no link for this one because they're kind of a family variation on the most basic recipe known to man.  You know the cookies where you use refrigerated dough to make a cookie, then while they're cooling, you drop a Hershey's Kiss into the center?  We make ours in mini muffin pans (like this one ).  Mix it up, use whatever kind of frozen dough strikes your fancy, and any kind of bite-sized candy that would coordinate well.  Peanut butter cookies with a tiny Snickers?  Reese cups? Chocolate cookies with yummy, oozing milky ways?  Ooohhh yum!

** Okay, for these next two... you have a cookie press, right?  No?  You need one.  If you love baking, you will love the gazillion different things you can do with them.  If you hate baking, you will love that you can crank out (literally!) 12 dozen cookies in about an hour.  :-)  I have Wilton's highest model (about $40 regular-price, but on sale on Amazon now. Or, I used a 40% off coupon at Michaels), because I wore one of the lower models out.  Wore.It.Out.  But I used it a LOT, so if you're not looking for a big investment or don't know how much you'd use it, one of the entry-level models would be totally fine. By the time mine wore out, I definitely felt like I'd gotten my money's worth!  Anyway... Wilton has about a dozen different spritz cookie recipes, and a few savory cracker-type recipes you can make with them, too.  You need a cookie press!! **

Butter Spritz Cookies - Perfectly delicious, light cookies... perfect for dipping in tea (or as my cousin just taught me - fruit punch!)  They're buttery and crispy, and addictive.  Go crazy with them... add colored sugars or sprinkles before baking, or dip in melted chocolate and chopped nuts... add food coloring to the dough before you press them... whatever!  If you use three cookie sheets, you can have one in the oven, one cooling on the rack (you can remove cookies to another rack after about 2-3 minutes), and one that you're currently squirting cookies onto... you can get a good rotation going, and use each sheet about twice... most cookie sheets will hold about 2 dozen cookies.  DON'T try to use parchment, foil, or waxed paper.  The dough won't stick to it, but the baked cookies do come off the bare sheets very easily.  Just brush any crumbs or stray sprinkles into the sink and pop that sheet back into the rotation! :-)

Gingerbread Spritz Cookies - Another variety of spritz cookies from Wilton's site... I didn't have dark brown sugar, so I used light.  They ended up pretty mild, but everyone liked them.  I want to try them the way Wilton intended soon, though!  I piped melted white chocolate onto these, following the snowflake pattern from the cookie press disk, and on some of them, I added white/clear coarse sugar sprinkles.  Until my hand hurt and I got wimpy and quit.  This was about 20 dozen cookies into my baking spree, so I feel no shame ;-)

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies  - This is a recipe I made mostly for Ethan, who loves all things cherry :-)  The dark pink was close enough to Christmas red to add some pretty seasonal color to the plate, too!  I had trouble with the "slice and bake" aspect, so it was easier to treat it like just a tube of dough, pulling off chunks, rolling it in my hand and pressing it flat on the cookie sheet. 

Cheerios Treats - This is another recipe my family has made forever, and one that I occasionally have CRAZY intense cravings for!  It's a souped-up version of Rice Krispie treats, involving peanut butter and M&Ms... two things that make anything better! 

You need: 
3 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 (10.5 oz) bag of mini marshmallows
1/2 C peanut butter (creamy or crunchy, I use creamy)
5 C plain Cheerios.
1 C Milk Chocolate M&Ms (I grabbed a Christmas colored bag, of course!)

Prep a 9x13 pan with lots of non-stick spray.  Grab a piece of waxed paper or foil, and spray a little on that, too, and have it near the pan.  Melt the margarine over medium-high heat in a big pot (non-stick is preferable).  Stir in marshmallows until melted and smooth.  Add peanut butter, stir to combine.  Remove from heat.  Add Cheerios, tossing GENTLY to coat all of the cereal.  Then, GENTLY (getting the theme?) fold in the M&Ms until they're evenly distributed. Turn the whole contents of the pot out into the waiting 9x13, smoothe it out with your spoon as best you can.  Use the greased foil to scrape off the mixture clinging to the spoon, and to press the treats evenly into the pan.  Let cool for a little while (half-hour should be enough) before cutting. :-)

Let me know if you try any of these recipes, or if you have any questions :-)  
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PS: Disclosure: Amazon links above are affiliate links.  I will get paid if you buy anything after clicking a link on my blog :-)

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