Finally a craft entry into the Food Blog!
It took me a little extra time to blog about this because I delayed taking a picture of the invitations that I created - see above and below! They were really fun to make. (Note: I normally would back-date this to December but I'd rather have it front-and-center for a while and will do that later so it doesn't get lost.)
For two years now I have hosted a party near the holidays - the first one was a Gingerbread House making party (will post blog about that eventually, or go to "Blissful Fun" album collection and this latest one was a wreath centerpiece making party. Both turned out great and everyone involved left feeling a little more creative than they had previously thought they were! Who knows what we'll do next year, but it will surely include something crafty, food, drinks, and great ladies.
The wreath idea was originally my mom's and at first I didn't like it but I threw the idea out there and got 1 other person interested so I went ahead with it. It actually turned out to be fun though a little unruley wrestling all those pokey evergreen branches.
I invited 6 ladies and had the help of my mom who showed me how to create a wreath and my dad went out and picked a ton of evergreen branches from assorted trees: Pines, Blue Spruce, Cedar, etc. I took care of the food and refreshments and had all the wreath supplies prepared: the wreath form, wire, hot glue, and decorative berries, pine cones, and glitter.
It was the final event of a whirlwind holiday season, from the Christmas Log, Cupcake-cake , Cookie Exchange, hosting adopt-a-family, looming Christmas shopping and working a ton of overtime ... I had specifically planned this party to occur the night of my last day at work. I had 2 weeks of vacation including that afternoon off so I was elated and very excited to ring in the Holiday season with this party. I appreciate having the guests take time out of their busy weeks too - not everyone had a generous holiday vacation like I did! (but I think they were all ahead of me on Christmas shopping!)
I picked out some appetizers and had others bring some as well. My mother-in-law brought a tasty Texas Caviar which was a bean dip with chips, yum! I had never had this and still need to get the recipe.
Andrea brought a tasty.. not sure what you call it.. Cucumber Dill Sandwiches?
See below for the exact recipe but it's basically the little rye breads with cream cheese topped with sliced cucumbers and fresh dill. Sounds simple but the flavor combination blew me away! Last but not least, Cindy brought a pumpkin roll which was delicious!
The appetizers I had were spring rolls from Trader Joes (yum) with a homemade dipping sauce of ginger jelly, red currant jelly, mustard, and soy sauce. I also had some phyllo triangles "wild mushroom" flavored from Trader Joes, also yummy.
I made a Spinach Artichoke Dip from All Recipes but I should've gone with Andrea's... mine was yummy but not the restaurant-style as hers sounded like. I also made "Mini Crab Puffs" from http://www.puffypastry.com/ which I would never make again (fishy).. ( though maybe it was the brand of crab I had. )
For a sweet ending I had the results of my cookie exchange which I was happy to share! I decided to make a fun drink - the Flirtini - which also was quite tasty! See below for the recipe of that!
Now on to the crafting.....
I showed everyone how to make little bouquets of various greens, use wire to make them a little "package", and then afix those to the wreath with more floral wire. With that technique, you simply continue around the wreath form, filling in. We started running out of White Pine and Blue Spruce so I hopped outside and snipped some fresh specimens from some of our trees! They were a little snow-covered but they made it into our wreaths just fine.
Since I didn't ask permission to post photos... the ones with other people are small or they are cut out!
There was an assortment of red, silver, white, and gold berries for decorations from the craft store and we also had miniature pine cones with assorted glitter to apply on them. I loved those glittery pine cones!
Also from the craft store, I purchased the glass vase and candles to go in the middle of the centerpiece. Just because of all of the supplies, I decided to ask for a nominal donation to help cover some of those costs - so if you are thinking about trying this party but you've spent all your dough on holiday shopping, think about that and/or asking for a dish to pass! A centerpiece for $5 or $7 (even though it looks homemade) is a good deal plus we all get to blow off steam from the holiday planning with a little pre-partying.
Everyone did a great job!!! Here are some of the final results of the Ladies Holiday Craft Night:
Natalie and Meredith were the first to finish!
Here's Cindy's Wreath!!! Beautiful!
Here's Chris and Megan's stunning wreaths!
Here's Andrea's wreath, which met all of her german husband's specifications! Way to go!
And finally, here is Andrea giving my wreath a Thumb's Up! Thank you!!
Even though creating floral arrangements is not exactly my thing (like it is for my mom), I still think it was a fun party to try something new and everyone walked away with a wonderfully fresh pine smelling centerpiece that they could use or give away (to a pesky neighbor if they didn't like it!) We all learned something new, I think. Thanks for all of you who could make it!
How To Host a Holiday Centerpiece Wreath Making Party
1. Plan date, Send invitations
2. Obtain supplies: wreath forms, floral wire, decorations (berries, glitter, pine cones, ornaments, etc), glue gun and glue stick, candles and candle holders, floral push pins (look like big Us)
3. Plan for food and drinks
It's that easy!
Mini Dill Cucumber Sandwiches
Recipe from Andrea, fellow Cooking Club Member!
1 Package of small rye or pumperknickle square sliced bread
1 or 2 cucumbers sliced
1 bunch of dill
8 oz cream cheese
1 pkg dry italian dressing
3 tbsp mayo
spinkle of hot sauce
Mix dip and spread on small rye or pumpernickle bread slices
Place sliced cucumbers on top of bread slices and spread
Place one or two dill sprigs on top
(sorry, I didn't take a specific picture of this drink.. this is just in the background of another photo)
1 oz raspberry vodka
1/2 oz Cointreau liquor
1/2 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz cranberry juice
1 dash of fresh lime juice
1-2 raspberries and lime slice for garnish
1. (Oops I just realized I didn't follow directions). Muddle raspberries in bottom of glass. (i just used mine for garnish. haha)
2. Mix everything except champagne in shaker and strain into glass
(again, I didn't do this, we just mixed and poured)
3. Top with champagne, garnish with mint (oops I didnt do that either.)
To make matters worse, I served mine on ice... yes champagne and ice sounds illegal.. but it was still delicious and at least it was cold for a long time. Often I'd prefer to water down a martini anyway...
Spinach Artichoke Dip
from www.allrecipes.com "Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip II" (Ithink this is the one I used)
I thought this was "OK"... it was not what I was shooting for. I wanted the bubbly gooey stuff like you'd get at TGIF's or Chili's,... this was more of a warmed up version of a cream cheese cracker spread (also delicious).
Andrea says she has the killer recipe and next time I will take her advice and try it!
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a small baking dish.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, garlic, basil, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.
3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in the preheated oven 25 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.