Holiday Housewalk Tour

I am so excited to share with you my recipes for our Christmas party this year. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

The Christmas Party Menu

H O R S  – D’ O E U V R E S

  • Spicy Grilled shrimp
  • Beef Tenderloin with rolls
  • Smoked Turkey with cranberry/orange muffins
  • Smoked Paprika Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce
  • Chicken lettuce wraps
  • BLT tomatoes
  • Skewered chicken with peanut sauce
  • Skewered flank steak with peanut sauce
  • Crab cakes with lemon dill sauce
  • BBQ Chicken Sliders
  • Ham and Swiss Sliders
  • Phyllo with spinach dip
  • Whipped sweet potatoes in crusts with pecan topping
  • Brie cups with pomegranates
  • Seared Ahi Tuna in Sesame Wonton cups with Maple Soy Sauce
  • Pesto stuffed mushrooms
  • Fig, Pear and Gorgonzola grilled Cheese Sandwich

D E S S E R T S 

  • Double Mint Chocolate cookies
  • Peanut butter fudge
  • Frosted sugar cookies
  • Coconut joy candy bars
  • Christmas Crack


H O R S  – D’ O E U V R E S

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

This is best served in tiny shot glasses. Roasting the shrimp with the garlic gives them a punch that’s great with the spicy cocktail sauce.


Garlic Roasted Shrimp

  • 1 1/2 lb. jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 per lb.), shells peeled, tails left on
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 1 TBL)
  • 2 TBL extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

Cocktail Sauce with Red Onion & Jalapeno

  • 1/2 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated red onion
  • 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh jalapeno
  • 3 TBL prepared horseradish
  • 1 TBL fresh lemon juice; more to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt


  • Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Devein the shrimp, if necessary. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the shrimp on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for three minutes, turn the shrimp over with tongs, and continue roasting until the shrimp are opaque and firm, another 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a shallow dish, cover loosely and refrigerate. When the shrimp are thoroughly chilled (after about 2 hours), serve them with the cocktail sauce.
  • For the cocktail sauce, put all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Chill, covered, until ready to use. Just before serving, taste and add more lemon juice and salt as needed. Fill shot glass halfway with sauce and top with one piece of shrimp, tail at the top.

Beef Tenderloin with Rolls and Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce

I purchase my beef tenderloin at Costco. I know it’s expensive but its amazing.


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 (3- to 3 1/2-lb.) beef tenderloin, trimmed

Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce

  • 34 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish.
  • 1 whole green onion (green and white parts finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
  • 14 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.
  • 14 teaspoon salt.
  • 18 teaspoon fresh ground pepper.


Step 1

Stir together butter, salt, mustard, pepper, and garlic. Place beef on a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Rub butter mixture all over beef, and chill, uncovered, at least 8 hours.

Step 2

Let beef stand about 20 minutes at room temperature. Preheat oven to 425°F. Bake in preheated oven until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 135°F (medium-rare), 25 to 30 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil; let rest about 15 minutes before slicing.

Step 3

Combine all remaining ingredients to make the Horseradish sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Smoked Turkey with Cranberry Orange muffins

I make these every year for our holiday party. I usually slice them and fill with smoked turkey. Some years I have even tied bows around the sandwiches … very festive but time consuming!


  • One large turkey (15 – 20lbs.)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 TBL (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Grated zest of one orange
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries (I put them in my food processor)


  • Smoke or bake the turkey according to instructions. Slice and let cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 350. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray. Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or food processor, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg, orange zest and orange juice, and stir by hand until evenly moistened. Fold in the cranberries.
  • Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin tins and bake until done, about 20 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.


Martha Stewart gets the credit for this recipe. I simplified it a bit but it is basically her creation!

Smoked Paprika Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce

Paprika Salmon

  • one full half piece of salmon (I buy mine at Costco)
  • olive oil
  • smoked paprika

Line a cookie sheet (with edges) with parchment paper. Place salmon, cut side up, on sheet. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with paprika. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until done.

  • Lemon Dill Sauce
    • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • 2 TBL fresh dill chopped
    • 1 TBL minced fresh parsley
    • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 TBL grated lemon peel
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms stems discarded, caps finely diced
  • 1/2 cup onion finely diced
  • 8 ounce can water chestnuts, drained and finely diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 head butter lettuce leaves separated


  • Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula, until mostly cooked through.
  • Add the mushrooms and onion to the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  • Stir in the water chestnuts, garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 more minute.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil.
  • Pour the sauce over the ground chicken mixture and toss to coat evenly.
  • Sprinkle the green onions over the chicken mixture.
  • Spoon the chicken into the lettuce leaves and serve.

BLT Tomatoes

My girlfriend Polly gave me this recipe about 20 years ago. It was a staple on the holiday party menu and then I took it off for a few years but it is back on to stay. Too many people complained and wanted to know what happened to the BLT’s!


  • 40 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked till crisp and chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 head lettuce, chopped fine


  • Clean the cherry tomatoes but save the tops. Mix the chopped bacon, mayo and lettuce. Fill the cherry tomatoes and place the tops on. Chill until ready to serve.

Serves: 40 appetizer cups

Skewered Chicken with Peanut Sauce/Skewered Flank Steak with Peanut Sauce

  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/3 lb. total), cut lengthwise into 16 1/4-inch strips or two flank steaks, sliced in to strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
    Step 1

    Blend peanut butter, garlic, ginger, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, crushed red pepper and 1/3 cup water in a blender until smooth. Heat till warm.

    Step 2

    Preheat grill to high. Thread chicken onto 16 skewers and place in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Brush both sides of chicken with oil; season with salt and pepper. Working in batches if necessary, grill chicken until cooked through, turning once, about 4 minutes total. Serve immediately, or at room temperature, with peanut sauce on the side.

Crab Cakes with Lemon Dill Sauce

  • Serves: 24
    • 3 TBL butter
    • 1 scallion, chopped fine
    • 1 glove garlic, minced
    • 2 TBL red bell pepper, chopped fine
    • Ground red pepper (cayenne) to taste
    • 3 TBL heavy cream
    • 1 TBL dijon mustard
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 tsp minced fresh basil
    • 1 tsp minced fresh parsley
    • 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
    • 1 pound fresh lump crabmeat
    • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
    • 2 TBL vegetable oil

    Lemon Dill Sauce

    • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • 2 TBL fresh dill chopped
    • 1 TBL minced fresh parsley
    • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 TBL grated lemon peel
    • 1 clove garlic, minced


    • My recipe makes 450 crabcakes so I pared it down a bit …
    • Lightly chop the crabmeat in the food processor and set aside. Melt one TBL of the butter in a large skillet and saute the scallion, garlic and red bell pepper until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the ground red pepper, cream and mustard. Cool slightly. Add the egg, basil, parsley, 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs and the crabmeat. Mix lightly. Mold into 25 one-inch patties.
    • Combine the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs and the parmesan cheese in a shallow dish. Roll the patties in the crumb and cheese mixture. Chill for at least one hour. (The crab cakes can be made one day prior and refrigerated, covered, up to this point.)
    • Combine the oil and the remaining 2 TBL of butter over moderate heat in a large skillet. Saute the crab cakes 3 minutes on each side. Serve with the Lemon Dill Sauce.
    • Lemon Dill Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Chill until the mixture thickens.


    The lemon dill sauce in this recipe is also really great with smoked salmon. I serve the sauce (with crackers) and salmon all of the time.

    Serves: 10 – 12

BBQ Chicken Sliders

  • 12 dinner rolls or Hawaiian sweet rolls
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • ⅓ cup barbecue sauce
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 slices pepper jack cheese
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Slice the rolls in half lengthwise. Place the bottom half in a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) rimmed baking dish. Spread the chicken evenly over the rolls, followed by the barbecue sauce, red onion, Pepper Jack cheese, and parsley. Top with the remaining rolls.
  3. Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes, until the bread is golden brown. Slice into individual sliders, then serve.

Ham and Swiss Sliders

  • Hawaiian Rolls (24)
  • ham slices (24)
  • Swiss cheese (24)
  • a little bit of honey
  • dijon mustard
  • poppyseed dressing
  1. Combine the honey and dijon mustard to create your own Honey Dijon
  2. Put the bottom of the Hawaiian Rolls into the baking pan and brush with the Honey Dijon
  3. Add a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss cheese to each roll
  4. Add bit more Honey Dijon to the tops of the rolls before placing them on top
  5. Brush as much Poppyseed dressing on top as you please
  6. Cover the dish with foil and bake 15-18 minutes
  7. Uncover and broil for just a few minutes to make the rolls nice and brown

Won Ton Cups with Artichoke Spinach Dip

  • 8 oz cream cheese , softened
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup gruyere cheese
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 14 oz marinated artichoke hearts chopped
  • two packages of won ton wrappers
  • shredded parmesan cheese


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a bowl combine cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise and garlic with a hand mixer until fluffy.
  • Stir in parmesan cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, gruyere cheese, spinach, and artichokes
  • Cut won tons into circles with a biscuit or cookie cutter. Spray a tart shell pan generously with cooking spray. Fit the won ton in the cup and press down with a melon ball cup.
  • Fill each cup with spinach artichoke dip. Top with shredded parmesan cheese. Bake for five minutes in a 350 degree oven. 

Whipped Sweet Potatoes in Crusts with Brown Sugar Pecan Topping

Sweet potatoes

  • 22 ounces red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams; about 2 large), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Mini tart shells (you can buy these or make them from pie crust)


  • 1 1/2 cups cornflakes, crushed
  • 1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  1. Make sweet potatoes:
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook sweet potatoes in large pot of boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; transfer potatoes to large bowl and add butter. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Add egg, sugar, spice and salt; beat to blend. Fill partially cooked tart shells with sweet potato mixture.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare topping:
    1. Mix together all ingredients in medium bowl.
    2. Spoon topping evenly over potatoes. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes .

Brie Cups with Pomegranates

Serves: 40 appetizer cups. We have been part of a Dinner Club for over 25 years and a caterer served these at one of our dinners. I literally stood in the kitchen for an hour trying to figure out how they were made. I think I figured it out. They have been a hit at our party ever since.INGREDIENTS

  • 40 small won ton wrappers
  • 1 large brie round
  • 80 pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cup honey


  • Place the won ton wrappers in a small muffin tin and cook for 5 – 10 minutes at 300 degrees until just slightly browned.
  • Cut the skin off the brie and cut in to 1 inch cubes. Place in the won ton cups and cook till melted, about five minutes. Top with a small splash of honey and top with two pomegranate seeds.


I actually bake the won ton cups in advance and then freeze them until the day of our party.

Seared Wasabi Tuna with Maple Soy Sauce

I found this recipe on the cover of Bon Appetite magazine one month and have made it many times since. It is absolutely amazing!


  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup wasabi powder (horseradish powder)
  • 2 1/2 TBL water
  • 6 4-oz. sushi grade yellow fin tuna ahi steaks
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 3 TBL canola oil


  • Combine the maple syrup and soy sauce in medium saucepan. Boil over medium heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes (do not boil over). DO AHEAD – Can be made 1 day ahead, just reheat before serving.
  • Mix wasabi powder and 2 1/2 tsp. water in small bowl to form thick but spreadable paste. Rub about 1/4 tsp. paste on both sides of each tuna steak. Place sesame seeds on a small plate. Press both sides of each tuna steak into sesame seeds.
  • Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Add tuna to skillet and cook until sesame seeds turn light brown, about 20 seconds per side. Transfer to cutting board and cut each steak into small cubes.
  • Place small pieces in to shot glasses or small plates. Drizzle with maple soy sauce.

Maple Soy Sauce

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup soy sauce


  • Simmer maple syrup and soy until reduced and thickened.

Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

Serves: 12 mushrooms

    • Olive oil
    • 12 large, firm white mushrooms, stems removed and caps wiped clean
    • 1 small lemon, halved
    • 1/2 cup Basil Pesto (recipe below)
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    Fresh Basil Pesto

    • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
    • 2 large garlic cloves
    • 1/2 cup pine nuts
    • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
    • 2/3 cup olive oil


    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush bottom of baking dish with olive oil. Rub mushroom caps with lemon juice to prevent darkening. Brush caps with olive oil. Arrange, rounded side down, in single, compact layer in baking dish. Fill mushroom caps with pesto. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese. Bake until filling bubbles, about 8 – 12 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and serve.
    • Fresh Basil Pesto: In a food processor, combine pesto and garlic and blend to a fine paste. Add pine nuts and cheese and process until smooth. With machine running, pour olive oil through feed tube in a slow, steady stream and mix until smooth and creamy. If too thick, add up to 1/4 cup warm water. Transfer to jar and cover surface with olive oil. Seal tightly and refrigerate.

Fig, Pear and Gorgonzola (or Brie) Grilled Cheese

  • 4 slices Whole Grain Wheat Bread – I used Dave’s Killer Bread 21 Grain Variety
  • 1 Red Pear, cored and sliced
  • 4 oz crumbled Gorgonzola or sliced Brie Cheese
  • Spinach leaves
  • 4 TBLS Fig Spread
  • Butter

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat. Lay four slices of bread out on a cutting board or counter top.

Spread Fig Spread over two of the slices. Top the spread with slices of Red Pear and crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese.

Place Spinach leaves on top of the cheese and then place the remaining pieces of bread over the spinach. Spread butter over the tops of the bread.

Place the sandwiches on the skillet buttered-side down and butter the remaining sides. Cook until the cheese is slightly melted and the bread is browned.

Carefully flip the sandwiches and continue to cook until the cheese is thoroughly melted and the sandwich is golden brown. Cut in to bite sized pieces.

Serve immediately!

D E S S E R T S 

Double Mint Chocolate Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • egg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 24 small (1 1/2- to 2-inch) chocolate-covered cream-filled mint patties, unwrapped and chilled
  • 24 Kisses chocolates with mint (optional)
  • ounces white baking chocolate with cocoa butter, melted (optional)
  • Striped round peppermint candies, crushed (optional)
  1. In a large bowl beat butter with a mixer on medium to high 30 seconds. Add both sugars, baking soda, and salt. Beat on medium 2 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in egg until combined. Beat in the cocoa powder and as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces (about 1 1/2 Tbsp. each). Working with one piece of dough at a time, cut the piece in half. Flatten each piece into a circle, just larger than the mint patty. Put a mint patty on top of one dough circle; place the other circle on top. Press the dough around the peppermint patty to seal, making sure there are no holes. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and mint patties.
  3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or just until set. If desired, immediately top each cookie with a KIsses chocolate. Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes. Remove; cool on wire racks. If desired, drizzle with melted white chocolate and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies.
  4. This recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens.

TO STORE: Layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Peanut Butter Fudge

Serves: 24 pieces I think this has been the only recipe to last on the menu for all “thirty +” years at our holiday party.

    • 1 16 oz. box powdered sugar
    • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 1 8 oz. jar chunky peanut butter
    • 1 cup butter, melted
    • 1 12 oz. package chocolate chips
    • 1 stick butter


    • Mix first four ingredients. Press into a 9 x 12 inch baking dish. Chill one hour.
    • Meanwhile, melt chocolate with 1 stick butter over low heat. Pour over peanut butter mixture, smoothing with spatula. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Cut into 1″ squares and refrigerate until firm.

Frosted Sugar Cookies

These have been a tradition at our holiday party for years. I love using my vintage style ornament cookie cutters.. You can obviously use any cookie cutter shape you want!


Sugar Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 lb. confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 – 4 TBL milk

Royal IcingClick here for the recipe.


  • Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated. With mixer running, add egg, milk, and vanilla; mix until incorporated.
  • Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
  • To make frosting, blend all ingredients in mixer. You may add some lemon juice for citrus taste if desired. Frost cookies with icing.


I usually bake the cookies and then freeze them immediately. A few days later I take them out and frost the frozen cookies. I put them back in the freezer until they are ready to eat.

Coconut Joy Bars

Christmas Crack


  • two sleeves of saltines
  • two sticks of butter
  • one package of dark chocolate chips
  • one package of peanut butter chips
  • one cup of brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  3. Line cookie sheet with saltine crackers.
  4. Combine butter and brown sugar into a large saucepan. Cook until just starts to boil for a couple minutes and turns caramel colored.
  5. Pour over saltine crackers.
  6. Bake crackers in the oven for about two minutes. It’s ready when the sugar mixture starts to bubble. Don’t overcook.
  7. Top with dark chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.
  8. Return to the oven for about one minute to make sure the chips have melted.
  9. Spread melted chips with a spatula
  10. Let harden in the fridge or freezer
  11. Crack into pieces

You can also replace the peanut butter chips with english toffee pieces.