We have an annual Christmas party at work which involves a lot of great food, good friends, and a chance to celebrate the end of the semester. While the party itself lasts a few hours, there are a few traditions which continue:
1. The ice sculpture is stolen and taken to the sculpture garden on campus at the end of the night
2. We then head to a local establishment since the students are gone and indulge in another drink or two
3. The party closes down at the home of the individual who lives closest to campus.
This year, the person living closest to campus happens to be me. I’m living a friend’s place while he’s trying to sell it and exploring his next option in life. While living here is a lot of fun, the end of the evening event tends to focus on drinking coffee, cider, and making sure we are all ready for what is happening next. With this in mind, I’ve started planning the menu for tonight to help us stay in our holiday mood, but also to recognize the ways we’ve indulged earlier in the night.
I am planning to have on hand:
- rosemary caramel corn
- apple cider
- spinach artichoke dip
- cranberry orange dip
- crackers & chips
1 quart apple cider
1 pint cranberry juice
1 pint orange juice (pulp free)
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp whole all spice
1 tsp whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks broke in half
Mix first three ingredients and pour into a 12 c coffee maker. Put remaining ingredients in coffee maker basket. Brew as usual.
Rosemary Caramel Corn (via the lovely Healthy Green Kitchen blog)
*2 tablespoons organic coconut oil
*1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels
*1/2 stick organic unsalted butter (the original recipe calls for a whole stick)
*1/2 cup maple syrup
*1 1/2 tablespoon rosemary leaves
*3/4 teaspoon flaked sea salt (I used a smoked sea salt; start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more to taste)
*1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
2. Place corn kernels and oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and cover. Once kernels begin to pop, shake pot frequently; when popping slows to about 3 seconds between pops, remove from heat; uncover. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Cook butter and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture starts to turn amber (225 degrees F., if you have a candy thermometer).
4. Remove from heat. Stir in rosemary, salt and baking soda. Pour over popcorn mixture; toss to coat. Spread out onto baking sheet.
5. Bake about 45 minutes or until dried. Allow to cool and then break up into chunks before serving. This popcorn can be stored in an airtight container for about 3 days.
Cranberry Orange Dip (via the A Year of Slow Cooking blog)
–8 oz cream cheese
–2/3 cup shredded swiss cheese
–2 T apple juice
–1/2 tsp orange zest
–1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
Plug in your Little Dipper to get it started warming up. Shove the block of cream cheese down into it. You may need to squish it in with a spoon. I promise it will fit. Shred the swiss, and add it. Grate the orange and add the zest. Add the apple juice. Cover and let it cook for 45 minutes to an hour. When the cream and swiss cheese have fully melted, stir in the dried cranberries.
Serve with your favorite crackers or apple slices.
Spinach Artichoke Dip (via Cooking Light)
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
- 1 (13.5-ounce) package baked tortilla chips (about 16 cups)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, sour cream, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and next 6 ingredients (2 tablespoons Parmesan through spinach) in a large bowl, and stir until well-blended. Spoon mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Serve with tortilla chips