Holiday Happy Hour

If you’re anything like me, things are a little nuts right now. It’s the busiest time of the year. Fourth quarter craziness at work. Family, friends, holiday shopping (online or in person), and food preparations have you running non-stop.

So, why not have an impromptu holiday happy hour and volunteer to bring the food!?!?

Because that’s what I did!

Insane? Maybe. Fun? Of course, it was. And, here’s how I survived.

First, don’t cook. That’s right. I said it. You can still put together some elegant snacks without spending hours on end in the kitchen and then trying to figure out how to transfer everything. Plus, you even get to take a shower and get ready!

Smoked Salmon Stuffed Tomatoes with Chive Cream Cheese

1 package of plump cherry tomatoes

1 package of cream cheese

3 TBS chives, chopped

1/2 package of smoked salmon, chopped

2 TBS capers

Slice 1/8 off the vine end and 1/16 off the opposite end of each tomato. Using a paring knife, carefully hollow each tomato from the wider vine end without piercing the bottom.

Soften the cream cheese and mix with the chives. Set aside.

Fill the hollowed tomatoes with smoked salmon, add a few capers, then pipe the chive cream cheese over the top to cover.

Tasty Trio on a Toothpick

1 wedge of Manchego cheese

1 package of Prosciutto di Parma

1 small jar of pitted Castelvetrano Italian olives

Cut Manchego in 1/2 inch bars. Slice prosciutto into 1/2 inch slices and roll up. Remove olives from the brine.

Assemble with the cheese on the bottom, prosciutto in the middle and olive on top, and secure with a toothpick.

Congratulations! You’re a hero! And, if you’re feeling like an overachiever, make some deviled eggs and top with fresh dill and bacon.

Most importantly, have fun at your holiday happy hour!!

Holiday Party – Chocolate Cherry Rum Spiced Tartlets

Turkey Day down and Christmas to go! We’ve just tackled that one day of the year where we bake and cook nonstop for 48-72 hours to enjoy about 30 minutes of eating, and now we’re onto the holiday season of never-ending Christmas parties, holiday gatherings, and all things dessert! Now, whether you’re hosting a holiday party or want to bring something over to someone’s house, this is a quick and easy delicious dessert that involves two of my absolute favorite ingredients: cherries and spiced rum! Okay, three… and, chocolate!

This “no frills” recipe packs a solid punch of flavor without too much fuss, and you can make everything ahead of time, too. Also, it has one major shortcut that will save you tons of time and a few dishes to wash. I’m all about making things from scratch, and I’m also all about not having to wash a million dishes after I’m done. These tartlets meet the “scratch baking with minimal dishes to wash” criteria.

1 Package Fresh Cherries, halved and pitted
1/3 Cup Sugar or Truvia
1 TBS Mexican Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Chocolate Extract
1/2 Cup Spiced Rum
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 TBS All-Purpose Flour
24 Dollops Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 Small Bar of Dark Chocolate
1 Box Ready to Bake Pie Crust Top and Bottom (2 rolls)  <—- major shortcut

Preheat your oven to 350°. Set aside two mini muffin tins.

Into a small saucepan and off the heat, add the halved and pitted fresh cherries, one cinnamon stick, and 1/3 cup of sugar or Truvia.

Add the vanilla extract, chocolate extract, and spiced rum to the cherry mixture.

Heat mixture on a medium-high stove until it starts to rapid boil, stirring frequently.

After approximately 10 minutes, the cherries will soften, and the rum will have cooked down to create a thin sauce.

Using a spoon, ladle a few teaspoons of sauce from the cherries into a small container, and add flour and stir briskly, avoiding any lumps. This creates a slurry or a thickening agent for the cherries. Add the slurry back to the cherry mixture and stir well. Reduce heat to medium-low and let thicken for another 10 minutes, stirring intermittently. Turn off heat after the 10 minutes and let cool completely in the saucepan.

While the cherries are cooling, unroll the two ready to bake pie crusts, and using a small glass or biscuit cutter, cut out 24 circles. Place them in the mini muffin tins to create tartlets.

Bake the tartlets off at 350° for about 12 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove the tartlets from the mini muffin tins, and set aside to cool. Once the tartlet shells and cherries have cooled, spoon some of the cherries into each of the tartlet shells.

Place a dollop of sweetened whipped cream atop each tartlet, and then shave the bar of dark chocolate over the tartlets using a Microplane.

Cooking the cherry mixture and baking off the tartlet shells can be done a day or two ahead of time. And, you can fancy up the tartlets by creating ribbons of chocolate over top, too. This is an amazingly decadent dessert that you can make in no time!

Whether you make them for the holiday party or if you keep them all to yourself to enjoy by the fireplace (you know I’m not judging), you will absolutely love these Chocolate Cherry Rum Spiced Tartlets!

Divine Secrets of a Ya-Ya Get-Together (Cocktail Party)

Do y’all remember The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? It was that Sandra Bullock film where a group of lifelong friends attempts to rescue a relationship between a mother and a daughter. The movie was a’ight, but more importantly, the part I want to focus on is actually having a Ya-Ya Sisterhood, that group of “ride or die” friends who would do just about anything for you.

Every month (or the first available moment the planets align with all of our schedules), two of my lifelong sister-friends and I hang out for a Ya-Ya Get-Together. It’s when we unplug, forget about the craziness in our lives, and relax with copious amounts of wine and hors d’oeuvres. There are only two rules: each Ya-Ya has a rotation as Get-Together hostess, and the hostess must provide a bottle(s) of wine none of the Ya-Ya’s have tried so we can try it together.

Basically, we have created an excuse to have a mini-cocktail party for just the three of us as often as possible. You get the picture.

This particular spread was my turn hosting a Ya-Ya Get-Together that just happened to double as a birthday celebration for one of the Ya-Ya’s!

OMGs DFW Food - Cocktail Party

Don’t judge. I know this may appear a little overboard for three of us, but you have to remember this is at least a four-hour affair. That’s a long time to be talking and laughing – we need sustenance! Plus, this was special birthday party Ya-Ya material.

In order to prepare for the evening, I took a little trip to one of my absolute favorite culinary destinations in Texas, Central Market. (While I used to work there many, many moons ago, I have zero affiliation with them now, aside from the fact that I’m completely in love with them and still openly profess my love for everything Central Market.)

In less than one hour, I had everything I needed to set out a spread worthy of the Ya-Ya’s. Plus, I even had time to make a pitcher of some lovely Lemon Mint Water.

For the appetizer bites, I bought ready-made mini tart shells and filled them with Central Market’s uh-MAZING Pimento Cheese and creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip. To make it my own signature snack, I fried up some bacon and crumbled the smoky bits neatly over each spinach hors d’oeuvre, then minced up some parsley and sprinkled the parsley over the cheesy pimento tarts.

OMGs DFW Food - Cocktail Party Hordeurvres

For the center cheese board, all I did was take my handy-dandy John Boos cutting board and line up five different cheese options, a hard, soft, goat, cheddar, and smoked, onto the board. Grapes, figs, pears, and strawberries will always find a buddy on the cheese board, and with a little peppered salami, sweet cured salami, and cracker choices, we were set to go! The decorative pieces were simply rosemary sprigs and a few small bowls of Marcona almonds and olives. Simple, quick, and easy!

Pastries were there because of the birthday celebration, but if you’re in Texas and looking for some incredible individual desserts for birthdays or just because you deserve a slice of chocolate cake, Central Market has the hookup!

North Texans, if you haven’t ventured into one of their five DFW locations, RUN; don’t walk! And, go on a Saturday to have the full experience of Foodies offering samples at every corner and of local bands playing live music while you shop! Everyone else in the world, Central Market has several locations across our great state. So, please be sure to visit a Central Market if you come to Texas!

Needless to say, post Ya-Ya Get-Together, in the wee hours of the morning, not a morsel was left. I love my Ya-Ya Sisterhood and our Get-Togethers, and I certainly hope this inspires you to start your own Ya-Ya Get-Together tradition with your friends, lifelong and new alike!


Lemon Mint Water
2 Large Lemons Sliced
2 Bunches of Mint Leaves Roughly Chopped

Muddle the sliced lemons and chopped mint leaves at the bottom of a pitcher. Add water and ice to fill. Then, enjoy this refreshing beverage!

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