NYE Recap

Does anyone else tend to feel stressed out around New Year's Eve? Every year, I seem to find myself worried about getting invited to the perfect event and finding a sparkly outfit to boot, as though the new year will be doomed to be a tragedy if I'm not tooting party horns with at least 50 of my closest friends at the stroke of midnight. Kentucky native Jennifer Lawrence even took it one step further to say she always ends up drunk and disappointed on NYE. Thank you, J Law, for saying what goes through my mind every year. I feel you. I really do. This year, I decided to take a little bit of a step back. There was no huge road trip or scouring my favorite online stores for a glittered frock. Instead, Ryan and I headed down the road to Lexington to join Laura and Jay for their annual NYE party. Don't get me wrong--it's not as if Laura and Jay don't know how to throw a party. Between Laura's spread of hors d'oeuvres and Jay manning the bourbon bar all night, it tends to be quite the affair. What I mean by "taking a step back" is that instead of chasing the perfect night, I rolled up to a party where I knew a total of 3 people aside from my sister and brother-in-law. When the clock struck midnight with my fiance to my right and a group of strangers to my left, I realized how perfect and appropriate that was to represent this time in my life. Over the past year and a half, I've moved to two different cities, started and finished a graduate program, traveled to foreign countries, found a new job, and started a relationship that recently turned engagement. To say the least, life for me lately has constantly been on the brink of discomfort and defined by new things and new people. So, of course this is how I should spend my NYE. And I believe that 2016 will be all the better because of it.

Cheers!

Sarah

Holiday Hosting and Raspberry Trifle

2015-11-19 11.40.36 This weekend, we hosted some of our extended family for a Christmas lunch. The first holiday meal I ever hosted was a Christmas gift exchange with my high school girlfriends. Of course, my mom did most of the the planning and grocery shopping, and over the years I’ve learned much more about hosting meals, parties, and tailgates thanks to LOTS of advice from my mom and LOTS of trial and mostly error.

I’m by no means an expert, but here are the key tips I’ve learned from hosting - whether it is a smaller dinner party or a large bash.

  1. Keep the menu simple: I like to plan my menu around food that I’ve made several times before. This way, I know the food will taste good, and I won’t have a melt down minutes before guests arrive since it's harder to botch a familiar recipe.
  2. Do as much work ahead of time as possible: Two nights before the event, I created my tablescape, set out my serving dishes, washed the holiday china, and prepared any food that I could get a head start on. The day before, I cleaned the house (minus the kitchen). This meant that on Sunday morning, I was only responsible for popping a couple of dishes in the oven, doing a light spot cleaning and vacuuming, and putting final touches on everything.  
  3. Delegate tasks if it makes sense: Since this was a smaller family gathering, I didn’t feel bad asking people to contribute. My brother-in-law brought the wine and each couple brought a side dish. Generally guests want to bring something or help in some way, so if the situation is appropriate, I encourage it and give them a guideline, such as, “It would be great if you could bring a salad.” Then I know that I don’t need to prepare a salad, and the generous guest knows they won’t be duplicating a menu item I’ve already made. Being fairly general also gives them autonomy to put their personal spin on the dish.

Here’s the menu I planned for our Christmas lunch:

Appetizer: Beaten biscuits with country ham

Main: Beef tenderloin, salad (brought by guest), green vegetable (brought by guest), mashed potatoes, and rolls

Dessert: Raspberry trifle, assorted homemade Christmas candy

Raspberry Trifle Recipe

This is the same dessert I made for my girlfriends in high school. It is a go-to recipe because it looks pretty and festive,  is easy to assemble several hours before guests arrive, and is practically no-fail.

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) package prepared pound cake*
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen raspberries, thawed**
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
  1. In a medium bowl, beat cream with 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, cream together cream cheese, lemon juice, vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar. Fold 2 cups of whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Reserve remaining whipped cream.
  2. Slice pound cake into 18 - 1/2 inch slices. Drain raspberries, reserving juice. Line the bottom of a 3 quart glass bowl or trifle bowl with one-third of the cake slices. Drizzle with some raspberry juice. Spread one-fourth of the cream cheese mixture over cake. Sift one-fourth of the cocoa over that. Sprinkle with one-third of the raspberries. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining cream cheese mixture, whipped cream and sifted cocoa. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours before serving.

*I love to bake, and I would normally make a homemade pound cake if I was serving a more simple dessert, such as pound cake with fresh berries. However, since I had a busy weekend and the trifle had plenty of flavorful ingredients, a Sara Lee pound cake from frozen foods aisle worked great.

**I bought a 26 ounce bag of frozen raspberries because it was a better deal at the grocery store and ended up using the entire bag. If you and your guests like raspberries, you may want to use a few more than the original recipe suggests.

I hope you're enjoying your holiday festivities!

Cheers!

Laura