Party Panache, Christmas Eve Menu

I took my own advice and decided to SIMPLIFY things a few days ago when I was feeling a little overwhelmed…give yourself permission, it’s OK! Everyone will still have a JOLLY time, and you won’t be exhausted…I axed a few things from the menu that were labor intensive and replaced them with simpler fare.  I like to cook as much as possible 1-2 days before so I can relax and enjoy the fun!


Come on in and see what’s on our Christmas Eve Menu.   All the recipes can be found at the end of the post.

First everyone will gather  ’round the bar for Appetizers


STUFFED APRICOTS  filled with blue cheese and walnuts   {prepared day before}


PIGGY WREATH, kid and adult friendly!    {quick prep this morning}

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 9.15.11 AM

photo and idea from



I got this inspiration from TALENTED Mary over at  home is where the boat is she found the recipe in the 2012 edition of Christmas with Southern Living. I took her advice and got the sweet potato chips for dipping.  This was fast and easy to do ahead to be ready for today!

PUFF PASTRY BITES from Ina Garten, the Food Network


I will set up a buffet on the kitchen island in front of the “Goodie Swap Tree,” replacing the pictured goodie packages with platters and bowls and casseroles.

The Main Event is a Grits Bar!



This photo shows the grits ready to be baked.



ORANGE ROLLS {Sister Shubert’s}


RED VELVET MINI CUPCAKES with peppermint bark garnish


I moved my Sweet Shoppe sign over from the Baker’s rack and created a little mini Sweet Shoppe as part of the buffet.


The Sweet Shoppe dessert tiers featured the peppermint bark garnished Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes, with the “Christkiss Tree, ” goodies saved from the goodie swap and some special cookies from my one of besties, BL, the Cookie Lady.  The 2 large cupcakes came from Whole Foods, picked out by HHjr and Super Boy.  It is going to be hard for guests to decide!

I made a big cheese grits casserole yesterday so today all I have to do is put it in the oven to bake.  Guests will help themselves to their toppings of choice. HH and HHjr cooked and pulled the pork yesterday and I cooked the bacon, so all this needs is a little warm up.  I will roast the vegetables right before we eat, and toss the salad.  I made the cupcakes on Saturday.  The salsa and the cupcakes served double duty as we served them at a cocktail party Saturday night.

Here are the recipes:



  • 32 dried Apricot halves
  • 1 oz cream cheese
  • 2 oz. good quality bleu cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T sugar or brown sugar


  • Saute walnuts in small skillet over medium heat with the butter and sugar. Stir often, and watch carefully. Remove from heat as soon as the walnuts start to brown and caramelize.
  • Set walnuts on a piece of wax paper to cool.
  • Beat the cream cheese with the bleu cheese with a hand mixer until well blended.
  • Mound a teaspoon of cheese on each apricot half. Top with chopped walnuts, pressing into cheese. Refrigerate overnight. Serve at room temperature. Makes 32.


Course Appetizer, condiment
Cuisine American


  • 1 12- oz. package of fresh cranberries
  • 1 small Gala Fuji, or Braeburn apple, cubed
  • 1 medium size jalapeño pepper seeded and quartered
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest my addition
  • 1 green onion finely chopped (I used half a shallot)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • juice of half an orange instead
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • Pulse the cranberries, apple, and jalapeño pepper in food processor until coarsely chopped, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.
  • Transfer to a bowl; stir in green onion.
  • Add sugar and remaining ingredients, stirring well.
  • Cover and chill 2 – 24 hours, the color will deepen the longer it chills. Stir before serving with sweet potato chips or cinnamon sugar pita chips.
  • Makes approximately 2 ½ cups, so you may need to double this  for a crowd.
Keyword cranberry salsa, holiday appetizer, salsa


Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American


  • 1 boz 2 sheets frozen puff pastry such as Pepperidge Farm, defrosted
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 lb thin slices of quality salami or ham
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese grated
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper or silpat on a sheet pan.
  • Lay one sheet of puff pastry on a floured board and lightly roll into a 10-inch square. .
  • Place it on the sheet pan and brush the pastry with all the mustard, leaving a 1-inch border.
  • Arrange the salami in overlapping layers on the mustard and sprinkle the grated cheese evenly on the salami, also avoiding the border
  • Brush the border with the egg wash.
  • Lightly roll the second piece of puff pastry into a 10-inch square. Lay the pastry directly on top of the first square, lining up the edges.
  • Use a fork to crimp and seal the edges. Brush the top with the egg wash, cut three large slits for steam to escape.
  • Bake the pastry in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes, cut in squares, and serve hot or warm. Makes about 25 squares.
Keyword appetizer, Gruyere cheese, party bites, puff pastry, salami, sandwich bite


Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Course Breakfast, Brunch, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 6


  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1-2 green onions sliced
  • 8 oz Velvetta cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups Vermont white Cheddar grated {6 oz}


  • Bring broth and milk to a boil in a large saucepan.
  • Slowly add grits and salt. Return to boil and cook 1 minute, stirring in butter.
  • Reduce heat, cover and cook for 3-5 minutes until thick and creamy. Remove from heat.
  • Add onions, cheeses, garlic to grits and stir to melt and distribute cheeses.
  • Pour into an 8×8 sprayed casserole dish.
  • Refrigerate or bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, until bubbly and golden. Serves 6-8
Keyword baked grits, cheese grits, grits, grits casserole


Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Appetizer, Cook out, Main Course
Cuisine American


  • grill


  • 6 Tablespoons molasses
  • 6 Tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 6 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper optional
  • 2 pounds large fresh raw Shrimp shelled and deveined


  • Mix together all ingredients except shrimp.
  • Microwave sauce for 1 min.
  • Skewer shrimp and brush with sauce
  • grill basting with sauce, until just done, being careful not to overcook.
  • Plan on 4-6 shrimp per person, 2 lbs should be enough for 8-10 people.
Keyword easy shrimp, grilled shrimp, shrimp


Prep Time 15 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 12


  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves torn
  • 4 cups spring mix
  • 6 cups romaine lettuce torn into bite size pieces
  • 8 fresh strawberries sliced
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups mandarin oranges or chopped fresh oranges
  • 2 granny smith apples peel on, diced
  • 1 cup buttery sugar almonds*


  • Put greens into a large salad bowl
  • Add the fruits
  • Just before serving add the almonds and toss with your favorite vinaigrette or oil based dressing.  I like to use Cindy’s Kitchen, Wild Maine Blueberry from Whole Foods.  12 servings


*put almonds in a skillet with some butter and brown sugar and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly until caramelized and just starting to brown.  Remove to wax paper to cool.  Store in a jar.
Keyword fruit and vegetable salad, fruit salad, holiday salad, salad


Prep Time 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • mini muffin pan


  • 1 box Red Velvet Cake Mix
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 large eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter melted


  • Combine ingredients and mix until well incorporated.
  • Scoop into lined mini muffin tins and bake according to directions on cake mix. This makes about 5 dozen mini cupcakes.
  • Cool cupcakes and then add icing


cooking time will vary according to pan, oven, and size of cupcakes. Use your nose, when you can smell them they are probably done! Err on the under side, they will be dry and tough if over cooked.
Keyword cake mix cupcakes, mini cupcakes, Red Velvet cake, Red Velvet cupcakes


Prep Time 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 1 box confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 stick butter softened
  • 3-4 T milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract


  • Cream butter and sugar together and add milk, and extracts.
  • Beat until it is the proper consistency. Enough for 36+ minis.
  • After icing the cakes, top them with some chopped peppermint bark
Keyword buttercream icing, cake icing, frosting, icing

Thank you for joining us on this special day! We’re not through yet, stop by tomorrow for our formal Christmas dinner menu!


I can’t wait to see the little ones sitting here with the elf on a shelf!


The adults have a jar of Rosemary Salt to take home, and the children get a candy cane and some carrots for Santa’s reindeer

The painted glassware is from JMdesigns Gallery

I’m joining

the Tablescaper for SEASONAL SUNDAY



The Gunny Sack for WHAT’S IN THE GUNNY SACK?

Savvy Southern Style for WOW US WEDNESDAY

Rattlebridge Farms for FOODIE FRIDAY

The Everyday Home for “Better Late than Never” Thanksgiving inspirations

Alderberry Hill for Make the Scene Monday

The Dedicated House for Make it Pretty Monday

check out these amazing blogs!

14 Responses to “Party Panache, Christmas Eve Menu”
  1. Mary says:

    I am positively drooling over here~ not only does everything look delicious, it’s also beautiful! I love your “goodie swap” tree! So glad you enjoyed the Christmas Cranberry Salsa~ where would we be without “make ahead” appetizers?! Your grits bar with toppings sounds divine! I saw a similar idea in SL this year! Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas!

  2. My goodness, I can see why you decided to simplify! This looks fabulous, I would love to visit with all these scrumptious things to eat!

    I hope you have. Fabulous and merry Christmas!


  3. Thanks so much Mary, you always share the greatest ideas! Happy Holidays, can’t wait to see what you have in store for 2013!

  4. You are ROCKIN’ it this Christmas! Simplified?!?!?! Uh…hardly! Doing all that food alone would put me in bed for at least a couple of days! Your home looks beautiful, dressed to perfection for this most special of holidays. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks Alycia, I must confess, my son and daughter did a LOT of the cooking, I could have never managed the last two days without lots of help…we had a marathon in the kitchen the day before Christmas Eve and got everything oven ready. I hope you are enjoying these quieter days now, I know I am looking forward to getting back to normal around here! Happy New Year, and stay warm…we even had snow flurries this morning!

  5. Everything is displayed so beautifully, it all looks amazing! The food is simply divine! We also had the cranberry salsa, it’s delicious and one of my favorites! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you! I wish I had taken more photos once the food was done, you know how hectic it gets right before serving! Our guests RAVED, so I will definitely do this again. Thanks for visiting!

  6. Your table looks great and I love the kids’ table, too! How adorable!!

    All of the food looks delicious; I can’t wait to try the stuffed apricots! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Wishing you a wonderful 2013!

  7. Nellie says:

    You used so many great ideas, never heard of the cheesey grits casserole, but sure think we would love it. Also liked your Christmas card tree, I actually thought about doing that this year,
    but then remembered another idea I saw last year and did that instead, but loved how it looked
    at your house. So next year, I just might give it a try. Alsol liked the piggy wreath, so cute, and
    my grown kids all love the pigs in a blanket, so it would be perfect……….
    Everything was very festive and so enjoyable to see, so thanks for sharing!
    Think I am gonna write these ideas down and put them on the top of the tub when I pack away
    my stuff for next year. lol

  8. Yes! Finally something about online blogging.

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  1. […] Jenna’s blog this month. Some of the recipes that caught my eye included: Creamy Corn Dip, Cranberry Salsa [must make at Christmas!], Cinnamon Roll & Sausage Breakfast Pudding [this would be an awesome […]

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