Last weekend as I unpacked ornaments to decorate our tree, I felt like I was re-visiting my families past with every bobble I hung on each branch. I flashed back on so many things, so many little memories with each handmade ornament.
With memories and treasures in mind, I am reminded of how easy it is to get swept up in over-planning and over-scheduling around the holidays. We may tend to over-commit ourselves to bringing a dish to this or that function, and we hardly even have time to enjoy the actual event.
I have done this myself. I have been known to decide that Beef Wellington should be on the menu for a family gathering only to find that I spent the whole time buzzing about, busy and fretting over the details.
Now, after many trials and errors, I have adopted a Tapas way of thinking when it comes to entertaining and sharing a dish as a dinner guest -- small, individual portions that pack in a lot of flavor. I make three or four of what I like to call 'Little Bites,' a bowl of spiced nuts and a stack of small plates and let guests pick and choose what they want. I think this allows for a little more creativity and takes the mundane "meatball in a crock pot of barbecue sauce" to the next level.
One of my favorite appetizers to make, and certainly one of the most requested items I bring when I am a guest at a holiday dinner, is my stuffed mushrooms. But, this holiday season I wanted to give them a facelift so I put the filling in a won-ton cup.