We had a holiday party this year! We skipped last year because it was just too much with the baby on the way, but last Sunday we had a bunch of great people over for an early evening celebration. I forgot how much I missed this party. I took zero photos once the party started, which I’m horrible about every year. There’s always so much to do, so many people to talk to. Plus Hannah was up entertaining people, so at one point we had to go get her to bed.

Anyway, I did manage to get some photos of most of the spread before folks arrived. I didn’t get any of the hot chocolate bar, which is nowhere near as fancy as it sounds. Just a corner of the kitchen set up with hot chocolate, white and dark chocolate bits, crushed candy canes, caramel, marshmallows, and Baileys to mix in. I loved that, we’re totally doing it again for Christmas. But here are the other goodies.

Delicious, delicious cupcakes from Sugarush. Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies, a cookie decorating station, and chocolate covered pretzels. We also had the white chocolate peppermint M&Ms, they’re pretty darn good.

I used my Ninjabread Men cookie cutters. The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book (my no-fail book) had a great recipe for thick and chewy gingerbread (as well as thin and crispy), and since I believe there’s no point to a cookie that isn’t chewy I was happy to use it. Maybe I’ll post it one of these days, but there are so many great gingerbead cookie recipes out there. The important thing is that these cookies are NINJAS. They will kick your butt into the festive spirit.

And, of course, supplies to decorate your little warriors. Within my minimalist Scandinavian color scheme, obviously. See what a grownup I was this year? No cartoon reindeer or snowmen or polka dotted tray liners this year.

Red. Velvet. Cheesecake. Brownies. I found this recipe on Pinterest and made them, they were pretty darn good. Fudgey (Fudgy? nothing looks right) and awesome, and even though I got distracted and (very slightly) overbaked them, the cheesecake layer more than made up for it.

The whole shebang.

And from the other side. Fancy.

This was the “savory spread.” Chips, dips, cheese and crackers. I actually just remembered that I also made garlic knots from a Bon Appetit recipe. That one I’ll post here, it was really good and Bon Appetit doesn’t keep all their recipes online forever.

I had a great time this year! I wish I had taken some photos of the actual party, especially Hannah hanging out and entertaining everyone with her baby piano. There were a lot of new faces this year, and it really was such a nice time. It definitely helped get me into the festive spirit, I’d been feeling a little overwhelmed by the holiday To Do list until then.

Garlic Oregano Knots (from the December 2012 issue of Bon Appetit)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter plus more for baking sheet
1 pound store-bought fresh (or frozen, thawed) pizza dough, at room temperature for 30 minutes
All-purpose flour (for dusting)
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Lightly butter a baking sheet. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch square. Cut dough in half. Cut each half crosswise into 1-inch-thick strips (for 24 strips total). Tie each strip into a knot, gently stretching dough as needed. Place on prepared sheet. Loosely cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until slightly puffed, 1-1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375°. Bake knots until cooked through and golden, 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1/2 cup butter with garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer garlic butter to a large bowl; stir in oregano.
Place warm bread knots in bowl with garlic butter; toss until well coated. Transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with flaky salt.

Read More http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2012/12/garlic-oregano-knots#ixzz2FwMGblZ4