A Menu for a Perfect Holiday Soiree!




Tis the season for lots of different kinds of parties non better than the “Holiday Open House”.  This kind of party can seem overwhelming to many but not for you, not now, because you’ve found this menu with make ahead options to make pulling off the party of the season so much easier!

Holiday Open House Menu

Separate small bowls of Marcona Almonds, assorted olives and shards of hard cheeses such as Parmesean or Manchego placed on tables throughout your party space.

Savory food station:

Spinach and Feta Phyllo Cups

Goat Cheese Bites

Baked Brie, Pear and Pecan Bites

Smoked Salmon Pops

Lamb and Pistachio Meatballs

Mini Twice Baked Potatoes

Dessert Station:

Favorite Family Holiday Cookies (You’ll find a recipe for one of my personal favorites the Beurre and Sel Jammer below)

Specialty Chocolates

Baked Chocolate Pudding (If you only make one thing from this menu it should be this….you can thank me later)

To simplify the bar, serve a signature drink like the “The Mrs. Claus”  wine, beer and soda.   Have plenty of bottled water on hand for guests during the party and when they leave for the ride home.


The Recipes are Below:

Spinach and Feta Phyllo Cups  Makes 15


1 package mini phyllo cups (15 cups), defrosted

½ cup frozen spinach, defrosted

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons fat-free cottage cheese

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Pinch of kosher salt

Pinch of fresh black pepper

1 egg


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set the phyllo cups on the baking sheet.

Squeeze all of the water out of the spinach by twisting it in a clean towel over the kitchen sink. The half cup of spinach will shrink by half, to approximately ¼ cup. Roughly chop the spinach on a cutting board.

Toss the spinach and remaining ingredients into a mixing bowl., and use a wooden spoon to combine (you’ll have to break up the ingredients a bit to get everything incorporated).

Evenly distribute the filling in the phyllo cups; a teaspoon works well for this.  Filling can be made the day before and put in cups just before baked.

Bake for 12 minutes, until the filling is set.

Serve hot.

Goat Cheese Bites


8 ounces goat cheese (softened)

1 tablespoon of mascarpone

1 tablespoon of chopped pistachios

1 tablespoon of sesame seeds

1 tablespoon of poppy seeds

1 tablespoon of chopped chives

1 slice of smoked salmon

6 halved cherry tomatoes

1 slice of honey ham


Mix the softened goat cheese and the mascarpone together and then roll the mixture into 16 small bowls. ( a tiny bit of water on your hands may help)

Roll 4 cheese balls into the pistachios, 4 into the sesame seeds, 4 into the poppy seeds and 4 into the chopped chives.

Cut the smoked salmon and the ham into 4 pieces, slice the tomatoes in half .

Spear a piece of each and a goat cheese ball. Serve.

These can be made the day before and taken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before the party.


Baked Brie, Pear and Pecan Bites


1 package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Cups

8 oz Brie cheese, cut into 24 pieces

1 large Bosch pear, diced

24 whole pecans toasted

balsamic reduction (recipe follows)


Prepare the puff pastry cups according to the package direction.

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

Place one piece of Brie cheese in each pastry cup, and place the filled cups on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Let the pastry cups cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Top with diced pears and a whole toasted pecan Drizzle balsamic reduction over the top.   These need to be made just before the party begins.

Balsamic Reduction


1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar


In a small saucepan, combine vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally and simmer 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and let sauce thicken as it cools.


Smoked Salmon Pops


8 oz of cream cheese

¼ cup crème fraiche

Fresh chives

Smoked salmon

Combine 8 oz of cream cheese, ¼ cup crème fraiche and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives . Roll into 12 to 16 small balls. Cut 8 oz of smoked salmon into slices and wrap around balls. Insert lollipop stick. Sprinkle on more chives. Serve.  These can be made the day before, take out just before the party begins.


Lamb and Pistachio Meatballs


¾ pound ground lamb

½ small onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

3 tablespoons pistachios, toasted and chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs

1 egg whisked

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¾ teaspoon coarse salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¾ cup pomegranate juice

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil



Mix lamb, onion, garlic, pistachios, parsley, breadcrumbs, egg, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl until just combined. Using a teaspoon, shape into small balls; place on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.   Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm , about 30 minutes.

Simmer pomegranate juice over medium-low heat until reduced by half, about 25 minutes, stir in sugar.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add about 20 meatballs, and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 ½ tablespoons pomegranate juice and heat, swirling pan to evenly coat meatballs. Transfer meatballs to a plate; keep warm. Repeat with remaining meatballs. Serve immediately.

These could be made the day before and simply reheated in more pomegranate juice before serving.


Mini Twice Baked Potatoes


1 ½ pounds medium Yukon gold potatoes (12 to 14 potatoes)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 ounces bacon, chopped fine

1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

¼ cup chopped fresh chives

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 tablespoons

¼ cup sour cream, at room temperature

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon heavy cream at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon salt. Bake until a knife inserted into the potatoes goes in with little to no resistance, about 1 hour. Allow to cool slightly.

In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy, about 10 minutes. Drain well and place half of the bacon into a bowl. Add the panko, 2 tablespoons chives and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Mix to combine and set aside.

In another bowl, combine the sour cream, butter, heavy cream, the remaining bacon, ¼ cup Parmesan, 2 tablespoons chives and ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside.

When the potatoes, are cool enough to handle but still warm, cut off the top third of each potato. Remove the skin from the tops. Using a 1 teaspoon measure or a melon baller, scoop out some of the insides of the cooked potatoes, leaving ¼ inch borders around the edges. This creates little boats. Place the scooped insides and the peeled tops of the potatoes in a medium bowl and mash using a potato masher or the back of a fork. Add the reserved bacon and sour cream mixture. Using a rubber spatula, mix together the filling until well combined. Spoon the filling back into the potato boats until slightly overfilled and mounded on top. Top with a sprinkling of the panko mixture and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake until the filling is heated through and topping is golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve warm or a room temperature.

To make the potatoes ahead simply assemble the potatoes up to sprinkling the panko mixture and drizzling the olive oil on top.  Place the potatoes in the refrigerator until ready to sprinkle, drizzle  and bake before the party.

Beurre and Sel Jammers


Cookie Dough

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup sugar

¼ cup powdered sugar sifted

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 large egg yolks, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour


¾ cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

5 ½ tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract3/4 cup thick jam, such as apricot, orange marmalade and or blackberry


Cookie dough:

Using an electric mixer at medium speed, butter in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add both sugars and salt; beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low; beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour and mix just to combine. Dough will be soft and slightly sticky.

Divide dough in half. Place each half between sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Flatten dough into disks. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough, occasionally lifting paper on both sides for easy rolling, until ¼ inches thick. Freeze dough on paper until firm, at least 2 hours.


Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, rub butter and vanilla into dry ingredients until no large lumps remain and the butter is well incorporated. Streusel will be sandy and hold its shape when pressed between your fingers. Cover and chill.


Arrange a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350 degrees

Using cookie cutter cut out rounds of frozen dough from freezer. Place rounds in bottom of muffin cups and gently pat flatten. Continue cutting frozen dough into rounds; gather scraps and repeat process of rolling out and cutting to make 34 rounds. Cover muffin tins with foil and chill in freezer until dough is firm about 30 minutes.

Spoon about 1 teaspoon jam into the center of each round of dough. Using your fingers or a small spoon, sprinkle 1- 1-1/2 tablespoons streusel around edges of each cookie trying not to get any in the jam.

Bake cookies until sides and streusel are golden, 20-22 minutes. Let cool in tins for 15 minutes. Run a small knife around edges of muffin cups; gently remove cookies and let cool completely on a wire rack. Store air tight at room temperature.


Baked Chocolate Pudding


4 cups whipping cream

3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

6 egg yolks

½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

dash kosher salt

sweetened whipped cream


In a medium heavy saucepan, heat cream over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat. In a large bowl pour 1 cup of the warm cream over the chocolate. Let stand until chocolate is melted. Beat until smooth. Stir in remaining cream.

In another bowl beat together egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg yolk mixture a little at a time. Strain the mixture, skimming off any foam.

Arrange four 6 ounce oven proof ramekins, custard cups, or coffee cups in each of two shallow baking pans. Divide cream mixture among containers, Pour boiling water into baking pans around ramekins to a depth of 1 inch. Cover each dish with foil, tenting foil to allow space for pudding to rise. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 to 60 minutes or until pudding is set around the edges when gently shaken. Each serving should have an area in the center about the size of a quarter that will not be completely set.

Remove cups. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill until serving time or up to 24 hours. If desired, top with whipped cream. 8 servings














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