Christmas Dinner Party

I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas!!!  I had a wonderful time with all of my family and now am on a vacation in June Lake, CA.  We are loving the beautiful white mountains and braving the slopes.  I found out that I am not cut-out for snowboarding after experiencing quite the wipe-out my first day, but I was determined not to stay inside the cabin and just eat all day so I tried cross-country skiing with my father-in-law today and loved it.  It is more controlled than snowboarding and yet quite the workout…I am sore all over!  Well, as I pondered about what to blog about I found myself looking at all of my Christmas photos and realized that I had forgotten to share a wonderful dinner party that I had with a bunch of friends a couple weeks ago.  We had a fantastic time and loved trying out each other’s recipes.  I hope you enjoy the photos and the yummy recipes at the end of the post.  

One of my best girfriends, Kate, made an easy and yummy appetizer.  She cooked some dried cranberries in a little Grand Marnier and brown sugar and then place it over warm Brie cheese.  We devoured it!

I prepared the salad and dessert for everyone.  The salad had a Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette and tasty add-ins like blue cheese, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, golden raisins, apples, and mandarin oranges. 

My friend Matt made the Pomegranate Margaritas for the night!  They were sooo good and definitely a special treat for the night!

Brian made a delicious soup for us to enjoy for dinner.  It was a new recipe he tried out for the first time and I thought it was quite tasty.  It was a hearty Butternut Squash Soup that had Chorizo and Pepitas in it along with a bunch of other delicious ingredients.

For dessert I made one of my all-time favorites…Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Gingersnap Crust.  The recipe is a little time-consuming, but well worth it!

Here are a couple more photos from the fun night!

And of course I couldn’t leave you without a couple of the delicious recipes…both from the lovely

Anasazi Butternut Squash Soup with Chorizo and PepitasBon Appétit | October 1999


Yield: Makes 6 servings


3/4 cup dried kidney beans
1 pound beef chorizo sausages, casings removed
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups water
2 14 1/2-ounce cans beef broth

3 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled seeded butternut squash
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups frozen corn kernels
2/3 cup shelled pepitas, toasted


Place kidney beans in medium bowl. Pour enough water over to cover beans by 3 inches. Let stand overnight. Drain.

Sauté chorizo in heavy large pot over medium heat until cooked through and fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Transfer chorizo to paper towels; drain, leaving 2 tablespoons drippings in pot. Add onion and garlic; sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add 3 cups water, broth and beans; bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover. Simmer until beans are tender, 1 hour.

Add squash to soup. Cover; simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in bell peppers, corn and chorizo; simmer uncovered about 10 minutes longer.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Swirl Bon Appétit | November 1993


Yield: Serves 10


1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
9 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon (about) purchased caramel sauce
1 cup sour cream

For Crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind ground cookies, pecans and sugar in processor. Add melted butter and blend until combined. Press crust mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides.
For Filling:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light. Transfer 3/4 cup mixture to small bowl; cover tightly and refrigerate to use for topping. Add pumpkin, 4 tablespoons whipping cream, ground cinnamon and ground allspice to mixture in large bowl and beat until well combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined. Pour filling into crust (filling will almost fill pan). Bake until cheesecake puffs, top browns and center moves only slightly when pan is shaken, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack and cool 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around cake pan sides to loosen cheesecake. Cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Bring remaining 3/4 cup cream cheese mixture to room temperature. Add remaining 5 tablespoons whipping cream to cream cheese mixture and stir to combine. Press down firmly on edges of cheesecake to even thickness. Pour cream cheese mixture over cheesecake, spreading evenly. Spoon caramel sauce in lines over cream cheese mixture. Using tip of knife, swirl caramel sauce into cream cheese mixture. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Release pan sides from cheesecake. Spoon sour cream into pastry bag fitted with small star tip (do not stir before using). Pipe decorative border around cheesecake and serve.


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20 Responses to “Christmas Dinner Party”

  1. bigboysoven says:

    Such a lovely gathering and such lovely and divine spread of food and drinks! Let’s welcome the New year 2009! May 2009 brings more joy to your work and creations . . .from us both Sunny & Sidney

  2. Jenny says:

    I love this post, it’s so fun to see everyone’s Christmas festivities! Everything looks beautiful, Happy New Year to You and your family!

    I’ll be in Newport for good next Monday, I can’t believe it! I hope to come to one of your classes in Seal Beach!

  3. snookydoodle says:

    NICE RECIPES. tHANKS. Seems you had a nice time . Happy new year :)

  4. Bunny says:

    The pictures are great, I love seeing your friends and the good time you had at your party, you all are so gorgous!!

  5. Keeneye says:

    I’ll take a hit off that wedge o’ brie! Wow. That sounds so rich and decadent, I’d eat it for dessert. I’m going to have to try that recipe now.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Happy New Year!

  6. Looks like loads of fun! Hope you have a great New Year!!

  7. Melody, I don’t care whether you write about family, friends, dinner, cupcakes, cakes…. I love the way you describe the things – simply, briefly but warmly. And I love your recipes! I wish you and your family and friends all the best in the New Year 2009!

  8. Aimee says:

    Happy New Year, Melody! Here’s wishing you a blessed 2009.

  9. Ingrid says:

    Happy New Year!

  10. Emily says:

    Wow, you have a lot of good looking friends! This night looks like so much fun. The soup sounds amazing, especially with chorizo. And of course the cheesecake looks killer.

    Like your dress!

  11. Looks like one great party! Nothing is better than getting together with family and friends over good food. Happy New Year!

  12. Looks like a great party!! Happy New Year!

  13. * TONYA * says:

    You look fabulous in red. I’m so glad you had a wonderful Christmas.

    Those recipes sound delish.

  14. cakebrain says:

    You all look like you had a fantastic time! That pumpkin cheesecake looks amazing! Happy New Year!

  15. Gigi says:

    Looks like you had wonderful Christmas dinner! Happy New Year!

  16. Stephanie says:

    Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Gingersnap Crust! GASP, sounds delicious. i love their little square shape serving!!

  17. That pumpkin cheesecake looks amazing! I am going to have to make that in my near future. Also, I first learned to snowboard at June Mountain. I love that area. I snowboarded at Mammoth two weeks ago. Great snow!

  18. Oh, the food looks so yummy, but what impressed me most is that everyone looks so good!! what a gang! :O hunks and babes in every picture! ;)

    I wish you a great year!
    Bless you!

  19. Nicisme says:

    I have my eye on that Brie, and the cheesecake looks fabulous too!
    Happy New Year to you all!!

  20. Kate says:

    i always feel so special when i make the blog!…i guess that just means i have to keep providing yummy appetizers if i want to keep up appearances :)

    here’s to lookin’ fine in ’09…love, the “brie” girl

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