Sunday, November 4, 2012

Appsgiving

Bob and I have been planning this party since the day after our wedding and we had a chance to assess just how much liquor we had leftover. It had also been almost a full year since our last party (a housewarming holiday party last December). After missing a year of our starting-to-be-annual Harvest Dinner Party, we decided to increase the size of that squash, pumpkin and apple themed dinner to a bigger bash. And so Appsgiving was born. With the help of Pinterest and my "Let Me Entertain You" board, we culled together a list of Thanksgiving themed apps.

The bar area was set up with an extra table of mixers - I did not take into account how many times these bottles of soda have been moved since we bought them, and learned the hard way after not one, but two explosions and sticky messes to clean up.
I used another Pinterest idea to save ice while keeping the mixers cold. Frozen water balloons mixed in with the bottles also added a bit of color to the bin!
We spent the last couple days cleaning up the place and arranging to entertain. This included buying pumpkins ON Halloween (for a discount!) and Bob trying a new carving. Not sure how we decided on an alien octopus attacking the John Hancock Building, but after adding some paint to accentuate the creature we were proud to display.
 I added 2 strands of orange lights to the interior of the gas fireplace and used an extension cord to reach a nearby plug. It offered a wonderful glow to the library all evening, without having to worry about tending to a real fire or our place heating up too much with so many people!
Okay, on to the food. Here's the run down:
Crisp Pear with Pancetta, Goat Cheese and Honey
Turkey Dinner Tartlets
Squash Soup Shooters
Mini Pie Pops
Sweet Potato S'Mores
and Cheese, Cheese and more Cheese.

Crisp Pear with Pancetta, Goat Cheese and Honey
This one came straight from an early Pinterest post. I learned how to core a pear, sliced them thin and kept the slices in a lemon water bath until ready to set out. Cooked pancetta slices topped with goat cheese, drizzled with honey. Great tastes when put all together.
 Turkey Dinner Tartlets
Bob gets full credit for this one! We picked up phyllo dough mini cups, the same type used last year for blue cheese and pear tartlets, and filled them with a bit of turkey, a dollop of Stove Top Stuffing and a 1/2 teaspoon of cranberry sauce.
 At the last minute (meaning 1 hour before the party start time), we freaked out on the number of shells we had and I was worried about the number of pears I had for the previous app. So Bob ran to the store for the second time that day and we ended up with 90 of these little guys. We had 10 left over this morning so I would definitely say they were a hit.

Squash Soup Shooters
I have made at least three different squash soup recipes over the years, but wanted to find something different for this time around. The appetizer version of this was planned to be served in small cups or shooters and I thought I had the perfect answer....
 We bought 84 votive candle holders for the wedding. I could clean them all out, washing them multiple times and following directions from Pinterest on how to get all wax out of the holders, and use them as the individual servers. However, after burning them all off and starting to clean them out, I was frustrated to learn that the metal ring at the bottom of each votive candle had burned into the bottom of the votive holder, leaving a rusty looking mark I couldn't clean off.....so I did not feel good about serving guests out of these!

Our liquor store had party packs of 5 oz. plastic cups that were the next big thing for us. I put in two ladle-fulls into the cups and garnished with a bit of thyme.
 Mini Pie Pops
Definitely the most intensive of the apps we tried out, partly because we made our own pie crust instead of buying pre-made Pillsbury Crust. I mixed several recipes found on pie pops, pie crust and filling options.
 After using a circular cookie cutter to make the crusts, I laid them out on the baking sheet, attached a lollipop stick (found a package at Bed, Bath and Beyond) and added the filling. I did half of them with pumpkin pie filling - with less evaporated milk added to thicken it up - and the other half were done with strawberry preserves.
 An egg wash and some fork action to crimp the edges, these went in the oven for 10-12 minutes. I was disappointed with the strawberry pies. The fruit spilled out of several of them, bubbling and burning on the pan. Also, the sticks did not stick in  for these, I can't figure out how other people have gotten them to stay. So instead of all pie pops, half were just "mini-pies."
All in all, I'm not sure if I would put the time in to make these again. They were cute, but you can't get a whole lot of filling in, so they ended up being pretty crust heavy.
 Sweet Potato S'Mores
We thought we had made this concept up, but I was certainly glad to find a blog post out in cyberspace because I wasn't sure where we were going to take this one! Roasted sweet potato + marshmallow fluff = tasty filler. 
We used our new toaster oven to heat these for 5 minutes at 325 degrees., the filling being wedged with 3 squares of a Hershey bar in between 2 honey graham crackers. I have never had a toaster oven before, but gotta say it is winning me over.
 Cheeses
When I found this photo on Pinterest, I was instantly intrigued and wanted to re-create the look.
We gathered the prettiest apples, a few extra pears and bunches of grapes to surround our cheese choices. A stack of plates, a bouquet of fall flowers and backed by wine bottles and glasses. I called the set up, "Abundance."
We picked up a couple hard cheeses and a half wheel of brie to set out along with many types of crackers, crostini and breadsticks. The brie was baked for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, topped with dried cranberries, thyme and toasted walnuts.
The pear and pancetta slices were added to this mix, partly to add to the "abundant" look but mostly because I ran out of room on the table! Needless to say, this display was pretty much demolished by the next morning. Who doesn't love cheese?
We loved having everyone over, getting ready to ring in the holiday season. One tradition from last year's housewarming party I plan on continuing for future parties is asking guests to bring a donation for the Lakeview Pantry, stationed just a few blocks from our house. The box we set out was quickly filled with peanut butter, whole grain cereals and canned goods. We ended up with over 50 items to bring in so a big thank you goes out to our guests!

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