Wednesday, December 9, 2009

'Tis The Season for Entertaining

The holidays are here and everyone is scrambling to shop, cook, eat and entertain. This year, I am trying to take a simpler approach in every way possible, including parties. Take last weekend -- I hosted a family brunch for nine adults and two babies. I planned the menu around things I could either: make ahead or in an instant, have people make themselves or items I could cook once and eat twice (or thrice!). So the day before I prepared the spinach artichoke dip and frittata filling, made all of my desserts, and prepped the vegetables for crudité and tossed salad. The morning of the brunch, I juggled oven space, heating the dip, baking off the frittata in muffin tins, warming a spiral ham and cooking scalloped potatoes. At the last minute, I baked the thawed-from-frozen croissants and threw together a fruit salad and batter for make-your-own waffles. Thanks to a few helpers, everything came together beautifully, everyone enjoyed the meal and I had a ton of leftovers. In fact, some of those leftovers, including remaining slices from the 8 lb. ham currently tucked in the freezer, will make a second appearance next Sunday at Holiday Brunch -- The Sequel. After all, 'tis the season. Happy Holidays!
Pumpkin Trifle (adapted from Gourmet)

Do a Google search and it seems like everyone and their brother has a pumpkin trifle recipe. Last weekend, I made this as written but am thinking about using artificial helpers (e.g., the old instant pudding and whipped topping route) next time to get a lighter and fluffier mousse with fewer calories. Will let you know how it goes!


1 8x8 pan of Gingerbread cake (prepared from scratch or from a mix like the one from Trader Joe's)

1 (1/4 oz.) Envelope of gelatin
1/4 C. Water
1 14-15 oz. Can of Pumpkin (unless you're lucky to have fresh puree on hand) 1/4 C. Brown sugar 1 t. Cinnamon 1/2 t. Nutmeg Dash of Salt 2 C. Whipping cream 1 1/2 t. Vanilla extract
1 1/2 T. Sugar
Using a bread knife, cut the cooled, prepared gingerbread cake into 1 inch cubes and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, brown sugar, spices and salt; whisk until well incorporated.
Pour the water in a small pot; sprinkle on gelatin and let sit one minute. Heat mixture, whisking until gelatin dissolves completely. Pour gelatin mixture into pumpkin mixture and combine.
In a separate bowl, combine whipping cream, vanilla and sugar and beat until the mixture forms and holds soft peaks.
Fold 2/3 of the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture, reserving 1/3 of the cream.
In a clear glass bowl, layer 1/3 of the gingerbread cubes and top with 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture; repeat for two more layers.
Top the bowl with the reserved whipped cream; cover and chill for two hours or overnight.

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