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Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Essential Christmas Party

It's a well known fact that
you can't have a Christmas party without a tree,

and Pigs in Blankets,

 and lovely young ladies
sporting fake pink mustaches.

(Having an adorable baby among the guests
is not necessary, but it's a wonderful bonus!)

all of these various elements came together on Saturday, for our annual
family & friends Christmas gathering here at That Old House.

Thank you, Martha of Lines from Linderhof, for your pizza dip recipe.  (Recipe at end of post.)
It was a smash hit; my sister sat down right in the middle of the pie plate to get her share;
ruined her slacks, but she left here a happy woman.
And the corn chips?  The perfect, albeit unlikely, accompaniment.

 On Friday, I featured my mother-in-law's easy but amazingly delicious Cranberry Onion Brisket recipe.
As the pizza dip was the hit of the hors d'oeuvres spread, so the Brisket was the hit of the dinner buffet.
There was enough left over for lunch the next day.  Here it is, reheated, on Sunday,
and mostly it has fallen apart into small chunks so it looks messy, but tastes . . . oh, yeah, it's good.
Tender, with a delicious sauce . . . and no one will guess what's in it, unless they have had it before,
or they rummage through your trash and find the cranberry sauce cans and onion soup mix packets.
In which case . . . get new friends.

I always make sure there are child-friendly foods on a buffet table,
so we had oven-fried chicken cutlet strips.
I don't like fussing with raw chicken, so my daughter Alida and I traded chores;
I dusted, and she cut up all the chicken, dipping the pieces in olive oil, and then in seasoned bread crumbs.

 Into a 450-degree oven for 20 minutes, and you have Chicken Fingers
that are many notches above the fast food variety; even grownups like them.
These are the leftovers, ready for their re-run on Sunday.

 Desserts were simple; cookies and cheese cake slices.
Alida's friend Alyssa baked the cookies in the top left.
The ones in the middle of the plate are amazing; light as air!  I can't pronounce them, but I can appreciate them.

Now where, you may ask, did those lovely young ladies obtain those striking and flattering fake moustaches?
Why, from our cutthroat, down-and-dirty, no-holds-barred Annual Grab Bag, that's where.

You have to experience our Grab Bag to understand.
All year long, family and friends search for the ugliest or goofiest or most useless items
to lovingly wrap and tag "Grab Bag" and put under our Christmas Tree on Party Day,
to lure the unsuspecting pigeon.

This year's gifts ran the gamut from a box of cartoon-printed Duct Tape, to a car sign
in the shape of a ribbon that reads "Support Farting," to a "Doomsday 2012" day-by-day Calendar and
a "Goats in Trees" Calendar, to a toilet paper roll cover crocheted to look exactly like a roll of sushi.
Brilliant stuff.

Mr. Dion DiPoochy was mystified and a little goggle-eyed by all the people --
36 of them -- and all the food.

Yes, he ate well yesterday; kids and soft-hearted adults can be (on-purpose) messy eaters,
and it's a lucky dog who gets in on that!

Martha's Pizza Dip Recipe
8 oz. Cream Cheese
14 oz. jar of Pizza Sauce
1/3 cup chopped onion or scallion
1-1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
Small can of sliced black olives
2 oz. Pepperoni (I cut the slices up into small bits)
Spread the cream cheese into the bottom of a pie plate.
Spread the pizza sauce on top, then layer in the
rest of the ingredients, in the order listed.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, serve with corn chips,
and get out of the way!
That's all folks!  -- Cass

Link Party
Visit Mary at her Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.
Her golden images for Christmas are gorgeous!  Click here.


  1. Looks and sounds like a wonderful party! The recipe for the pizza dip sounds so yummy. Thanks for sharing it! Merry Christmas to you and your family! Pamela

  2. Cass,
    I can just imagine the fun of this party! The food, the beautiful home and best of all the grab bag gifts. You definitely made it sound like the place to be.
    Merry Christmas!

  3. I thought of you cleaning up the non foil lined brisket pans when I was cleaning a non lined roasting pan from our ham last night....
    The pizza dip looks great! Another variation is cream cheese with tiny shrimp and cocktail sauce on top. Yum. And now I'm hungry.

  4. Ah, Cass, that looks like the best sort of party! I love the Grab Bag idea - may steal it!

  5. Glad you liked the dip -- it is good and the corn chips are the perfect dipper! Your brisket looks amazing and I will try that soon! Love the mustaches . . . (And I MAY have something to send you for your grab bag next year!)

    Looks like one fun party!

  6. Oh what fun Cass! You are a grand hostess my dear and your tree is gorgeous!

  7. Sounds and looks like the party was a success. Very pretty tree.

  8. Great post..made me smile...your conservatory filled with your gorgeous Christmas tree is wonderful!! Merry Christmas!
    Miss Bloomers

  9. Excuse me while I wipe the drool off of my chin.

    You know how to COOK, PARTAY and DECORATE.
    If I was a man, I'd marry you. ;0)


  10. the food looks so good! My cousins and I had the pink mustaches for my birthday last year...something so silly we had fun with.
    Your tree is gorgeous, just the perfect setting.

  11. Haha..."get new friends" you are too much Cass. Love the funny props. We recently did much the same for for church photos and I may or may not post them cause my grey hair is awfully short. We love silly photos and would fit right in with yous guys.

  12. What a party, wish i could have been invited, I would have died my hair pink! Your tree is TDF. Richard from My Old Historic House

  13. It sounds like a fabulous party! Love the grab bag idea. And isn't it great having leftovers to eat the next day? No cooking!

  14. Oh boy...I just found my dip for my NYEve sounds delicious and easy.
    Thanks so much, Cass...
    Hope you and yours have the best Christmas ever...and I want one of those FART signs...:))

  15. What a fine looking group of pink-mustached people! It certainly sounds like you all had a wonderful time!
    -Karen ❆

  16. Looks like a Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night to me!!!

  17. Yum Yum. Looks like good eats at your party. Merry Christmas. V

  18. Ha! What a great Christmas party! Coming from a long run of stuffy-family parties I can relate with Mr. Dion. Thank goodness for good-natured folks with great senses of humor!! Cass, you throw
    a delightful and FUN party!

  19. I think I know who had the most fun at this party...

  20. Looks like a wonderful party. Lucky guests to have such good food! Nancy

  21. Okay - I came here yesterday and read this- I can't believe I didn't comment. Anyway...I guess I am too late to make the party and eat my share of goodies, huh? You do it up just right~ Merry Christmas. xo Diana

  22. Fun times for all. Great dip recipe too.


  23. Sounds like a great time Cass! I love the pic with the moustaches and that sweet little face - just want to grab those cheeks! Merry Christmas to you my sweet friend!

  24. When I look at your beautiful conservatory tree, I can't help but recall the time you lost all your beautiful ornaments in the flood. Your house looks beautiful - Merry Christmas to you all. Winnie


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