Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Party Tip

It is the eve of Christmas Eve, and most of you have already hosted or been guests at your holiday parties. This party tip blog comes a little late to the party, so to speak, but I suppose it is better late than never. Originally, I considered listing all the things you could do to make hosting a party easier, but after thinking about it, I decided that my one tip should be the one that I had to learn the hard way, even though it is so very simple.

Every holiday season, my husband and I have hosted a get-together with friends. Sometimes, it is before Christmas; sometimes, it is after. We try to fit our party in around all of the other hustle and bustle and make it a time to just relax and enjoy the community of friendship. As the hostess with the mostess, I put together an elaborate buffet of appetizers. There have been upwards of 20 different kinds of nibbles and snacks spread across my kitchen for guests to come and go and nosh on as they please. Needless to say, this takes A LOT of preparation.

I usually rise early on the day of the party and hit the kitchen running. I mix and mash and scoop and stir. I simmer and bake and roast and roll. Slicing and dicing and whirling countless ingredients into edible munchies is a full day's work. And, I do it

This means that every spatula, spoon, knife, fork, pot, pan, bowl, plate, and platter has to be

I hate washing dishes. In non-holiday times, I have been known to put it off until there are no dinner plates left in the cupboard. I once owned a second set of mixing bowls just so that I wouldn't have to wash dishes during a large baking session. And, once upon a time, while prepping for my holiday party, I would leave all of the dirty dishes to wash at the end.

And then I was caught.

One holiday, I had been frantically cooking all day. I barely had time to shower and dress between sliding pans of dainty appetizers in and out of the oven. I had STACKS and STACKS of dirty dishes piled in the sink. And, suddenly, it was time. Guests were arriving, and I wasn't ready. I was caught. In a frenzy, I tossed Bacon Rollups and Roasted Garlic Dip into serving dishes, and as some shocked and amused guests watched, I stuffed dirty dishes into trash bags and stashed them in the basement.

It was quite the source of entertainment during that party, and I was more than a little embarrassed to be caught with such a disgraceful pile of dirty dishes giving away all the chaos of my day. After all, the party's host wants to appear calm and relaxed and as if the prep that just about killed you was just as easy as pie, right? We aren't supposed to be human, and we certainly aren't supposed to have garbage bags of dirty dishes hiding in our basement. That was when I learned the hard lesson of something so simple that you won't believe I didn't do it before.

Start all party prep with a sink full of the hottest, soapy water possible. Wash and rinse and dry as you go. Reuse the same (washed, and rinsed, and dried) spatula for every dish. Don't dirty another bowl; wash and dry the one you just used.  

Of course, your guests will have to find another topic of interest when they don't see you stuffing the Hefty bags with pots and pans, but I think they can handle that. And you can handle (and enjoy) the party much better if you don't have any dirty secrets lurking in the basement. ;-)

And what to serve at this party where you have washed every pot and pan and spoon and measuring cup as you used it? How about Mini Ham Sandwiches with Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce? They aren't anything fancy, but they certainly are cute, and fun, and tasty, and ALWAYS disappear when I serve them. Don't skip the sauce. It really is what makes the sandwiches. If dipping isn't in the cards for your event, spread some of the honey-mustard inside the biscuits before layering in the ham. (And, if you want to simplify it even further, skip baking the biscuits and use King's Hawaiian Rolls instead. Yummy.)

So...that's what I have for you; wash as you go and make some Mini Ham Sandwiches with Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce. The rest is up to you, but I hope you have fun and enjoy your holiday season.

1 (12 ounce)can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (the layer type doesn't work as well)
Stone Ground Mustard
2 chopped green onions
1/4 cup butter, softened
20 slices deli ham
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey

Heat oven to 400°F.
Cut each biscuit in half crosswise (to make 2 half-moon shapes); place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Spread a little stone-ground mustard evenly over tops of biscuits.
Bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.
Place on wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine onions and butter, mix well.
Split each cooled biscuit; spread both halves with butter mixture.
Roll ham slices loosely and place on bottom biscuit halves; cover with top halves to make sandwiches.
In another bowl, combine dipping sauce ingredients; blend well. (Honestly, I never measure the sauce ingredients and just mix to taste.)
Transfer to small serving dish.
Serve the sandwiches arranged around the dipping sauce on a platter. (Yield: 20 mini sandwiches)


  1. You don't have a dishwasher? Holy shit.

  2. A dishwasher is one of those someday things. Our old house kitchen isn't really suited to one now, and I am patiently waiting for the day that I get the total kitchen remodel and gain a dishwasher. Until then, I will be the one with dish pan hands.


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