It was a first for me – hosting the family holiday dinner. Now, lucky for me, I wasn’t really required to do much in the way of cooking. (Thanks to my oh-so-talented and ever-enthusiastic boyfriend who is a whiz in the kitchen!) But since he pulls most of the weight in that area (okay, okay, that’s an understatement), the menu planning falls to me. Which, thanks to Pinterest, was easy! Especially when you don’t have to actually execute anything yourself, just provide the menu and offer words of encouragement to the man behind the apron.
So, enough story-telling (for a few minutes anyway). Let me show you what we did!
We kicked it all off with a cocktail. The way every good party starts, of course. The thing with my boyfriend’s family is that they all drink different stuff. Vodka, gin, or in the kid’s case… virgin! I came up with what I think is a particularly clever idea for this party (using the recipe linked above as inspo, minus the wine) and we created a “mix” of all these beautiful fresh ingredients and soda that everyone could fill their glass with (solo, or accompanied by some boozy fun). Functional and made for such a pretty addition to our decor!
These were definitely the stars of the show in terms of presentation AND taste. Whoa. Were they easy to make? No freaking clue. But that moment when Boyfriend Of The Year drizzled the almond drizzle all over them, resting eagerly in the serving dish, everyone of our mouths watered.
Sure, a potato dish is a classic, but we’ve all seen potatoes 100 times. Boooooring. Until, you find a snazzy little recipe like this that makes them look spectacular and adds a little punch, just to up the game.
This is a favourite of ours, and a recipe my boyfriend is continually working to perfect. It’s based on the above recipe, and then adapted to be his own. He always includes bacon (duh), balsamic reduction, pesto sauce and then something to give it a little kick (which can also be added after the fact in the way of hot sauce if you have hot sauce haters).
We had to do a turkey, because hey, it was Christmas, and we didn’t want to disappoint anyone who wore stretchy pants and was expecting the bird binge. And what goes best with turkey? Well, apparently, stuffing. But I can barely remember the last time I got to lop heading spoonfuls of this scrumptious bread dish onto my plate because–hellooooo–did you hear me say bread? But alas, there is gluten-free bread out there and so, there can be gluten-free stuffing! The boyfriend really brought it home with this one. And honestly I don’t think anyone at the party even realized it wasn’t gluten-free! Always a good sign.
Classic Roasted Turkey
The turkey was, well. I don’t have any idea how you cook a turkey. But my boyfriend does. So that was good news for everyone. And bonus: we got it for free from Superstore because we spent such an overwhelming amount of money on colour-coordinated Christmas decorations for the house (aka 1000sq foot apartment). What? I needed all those throw pillows, okay? They’re so festive.
Now for dessert, I had decided that, as a “hostess with the most-ess”, I would bake cookies! It would be something super fun to do with the kids (I have memories of wearing matching red plaid aprons and baking with my mom when I was little… although clearly I retained none of the knowledge and life skills she attempted to impart to me). In my vision, I would have them coming out of the oven as everyone arrived, so the house smelled of freshly baked cookies without having to rely on a $25 Bath & Body Works candle. And so, I didn’t kick off the baking until just a few hours before, strategically plotting the 10-15 minute prep time the cookies called for against my shower/blow dry schedule so I’d be looking flawless and fabulous come 4PM. Well, let me tell you: it did not go down that way. I forgot to factor in the “I haven’t baked in at least five years” part, which basically doubles your prep time… four times over. By 3:45PM, I was in the kitchen barefoot, covered in flour, furiously cutting through the pan of “cookie” (it was really just one giant cookie by the time they all spread into each other) to get them onto a serving dish and about to begin the second round of it all. My hair was not done. I had not showered. In fact, I will still in pyjamas. What eventually became known as the “black cookies” (no, we’re not racist, they were just super chocolatey if you ask me… and perhaps just a little bit burnt, but I think it gave them pizazz) were plated and looking unimpressive and square-shaped. And the next recipe was pulled up on my laptop (which was also covered in flour, and even as I type this today, still has dust in between the keys).
This was not exactly my vision. But lucky for me, my stepson is an entirely competent 11-yr old and my best friend is all kinds of impressive in the kitchen, so I dialled her in on FaceTime and left them to it while I cleaned myself up.
The good news? Our family was fashionably late… enough so that only one of them witnessed even a portion of the chaos. AND my step-son, with the help of my friend who made them simultaneously on her end, were able to create absolutely perfect sugar cookies. Like mind-blowingly good. I ate at least 75% of the batch myself. Santa got two.
Oh, and I did have some of those candles sitting around.
In conclusion, the menu dazzled and I highly recommend using this for your next holiday meal, or at least a version of. My only advice is START BAKING EARLIER. And don’t ask me to help.
For more gluten-free recipes for the holidays, or any occasion, visit our Pinterest board!
BONUS: In a weak attempt to make up for my lack of kitchen skills (I’ll have to pass on my exceptional planning & decorating skills instead), the day after the party, I used the leftover candy cane crunch to sprinkle atop some eggnog ice cream and voila! Kiddie delight and no ovens required! #JSYK