Live Real. Eat Real.

Menus, Milestones and Mayans

Well.

I just hit the ground running this morning and have not had a moment to breathe up until now, so I’m a tad late posting.  (We’ll ignore the fact that I might just have been slightly at a loss as to what to blog about.  That works for me, how about you?)  At any rate, since I’ve used up my self-imposed quota of recipes for the week, I thought I’d bore regale you with some end-of-the-year minutia.

As I’d mentioned a time or three, we are hosting our annual company holiday party this Saturday in our home.  You may think we’re bonkers for doing so – okay, we are, but that’s not the point.  The point is, our house would never truly get cleaned if we didn’t.  Why do we never truly look at our homes until we realize that others will be looking at it too?  I mean, it’s not as if we’re living hip deep in trash and clutter or anything, but we may have eventually been slowly suffocated under a blanket of ever-increasing dust and Scooter hair.  To say nothing of what we’d be walking on if we didn’t have our cream-colored carpets shampooed every year.

At any rate, every year I find myself stressing over what to serve at our party, and this year is no different.  We don’t serve a meal, but rather a bunch of nibbles and tidbits that our guests can pile on a plate and walk around with, while the dog sits on their feet and stares at them pitifully.  The last few years this has been even more difficult because of the wildly divergent diets we all eat – one of us is very low carb (out of necessity), a couple of us eat no grains or dairy, the spouse of one of our employees eats very little meat, and there’s a few that wonder where all the cookies and Chex Mix are.  It takes some planning, but I’ve managed to come up with something that I think will suit everyone.

Mixed Nuts

Shrimp Cocktail Platter

Meat and Cheese Platter.  I order this from the Honey Baked Ham people and buy small rolls/sandwich buns for the bread-eaters to make sandwiches out of.  I’ll put out an assortment of pickles I’ve canned myself – bread and butter, garlic dill, pickled beets and watermelon pickles – as well as condiments (mustard, mayonnaise, and ketchup)

Crudité Platter with Dairy Free Ranch Dressing for dipping

Fruit Platter with Creamy Poppyseed Dressing for dipping

Cocktail Meatballs – these are just my Barbecue Glazed Meatballs, only smaller

Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms.  If these are any good, I’ll post the recipe next week.

Strawberry Cheese Ring.  This is a hold over from “the old days” but is always wildly popular.  As a concession – mostly to myself – I will serve these with gluten-free crackers.

Bacon-Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes.  These are good.  So good there are never any left at the end of the party.  I’m going to make two batches – one with cheese, and one without for us non-dairy folk.  If I tweak them a lot, I’ll repost the recipe.

Apple Pie.  I cannot have the party and not make this.  Our head programmer adores apple pie – MY apple pie.  So I make it every year, and he takes whatever is left home and eats it for breakfast every day, then returns my pie plate.  It’s become one of those holiday tradition things.

Chocolate Cupcakes.  Yes, the grain-free ones.  I may go buy one of those mini-muffin pans and make  them bite-sized, and add some peppermint extract to the buttercream.  Again, if I tweak the recipe much, I’ll repost the recipe.

And that’s what I’m serving.  If it seems like a lot of food for a dozen people, well…it is.  But, like Thanksgiving, means I won’t have to cook the next day, because I’m not above eating leftover cocktail nibbles for dinner if that’s what it takes to get rid of them.

As for the milestones, there will be two this year:  Saturday I turn 50, and Sunday marks the 5th anniversary of the day I quit smoking.  My mother, a lifelong heavy smoker and committed yo-yo dieter who loved junk food and carried all of her extra weight in her upper body, developed an aeortal aneurysm at 46 that went undiagnosed.  It burst and she had emergency surgery to repair it before she died of internal bleeding.  Five years later she died of a massive heart attack, just 2 months after her 51st birthday.

For the last 16 years, every doctor I’ve told that to has had an apoplectic fit.  And really, by the time I was 45 I could see myself heading down that same path.  It scared the bejesus out of me, and it should have.  So I quit smoking.  Two years later, I changed our diet.  Am I still overweight?  Yeah, I am.  But there have been no aeortal aneurysms, and I’m feeling fairly confident that I will live to see 52.  And hopefull 62, 72 and 82, and that I’ll remain in reasonably good health, unmedicated and with my wits intact, to the end of it all.

Which may very well be tomorrow, if you believe the nutjobs and fruitcakes picketing in downtown Podunk today, waving their signs declaring things like “The End Is Nigh” and “Prepare to Meet Your Maker.”

Oh, Mayans, you’ve given us so much amusement this year.

But, just in case I’m wrong and the end IS nigh, this is for everyone who hasn’t seen it yet:

The Chandelier Tree

The tree in our dining room.

That hangs from the ceiling.





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