I am married to a musician. My husband plays trumpet. Musicians are a wacky sort. So I have had a wacky life! There is never a dull moment. He started a band some 30 years ago and it's still going strong. Family entertainment. The kind you don't see enough of anymore. You can see them here. They do play at different venues across the country so they may have played at a local fair near you!
This is my wacky guy.
Being married to a musician, I never know what kinds of things he will come up with. Years ago one Christmas, when our kids were very young, we had Christmas at our house. All of his brothers and sisters came who are also musicians. After we all ate, they all decided to grab a horn and go out on our front porch and play carols. They all play brass instruments so it sounded really beautiful. Pretty soon we had people lining up in front of our house in their cars clapping and cheering! The neighbors we all coming out of their homes and standing in our yard listening.
The following year we kept having people ask us if we would be playing music. This turned into a tradition for a while, but he would recruit some of his players from the band to play instead of family. And, he turned into Chevey Chase when it came to lighting the house. One year the local news even came! We always had a big party and invited all the neighbors and friends. It's been a lot of fun.
As we age, it gets harder for him to light the house each year. It also gets harder to find people who want to sit out in the freezing cold and play Christmas carols.
Two years ago we moved so we didn't have any kind of party that year. Last year we decide to "break in" all our new neighbors and had a party and the band play carols for all of them. They loved it. We have decide not to play the music every year though. Maybe every other year will work out well. This year we are having a party just for the band players.
They work hard all year and it's our way of not only thanking them, but to have some time with people we consider just as much our family as our own real family. We practice, perform and travel together off and on throughout the year.
Here is the group singing to the crowd at the San Diego county fair.
I love having a party for them. Food is one way we show love for one another. Anyone who loves to cook not only does it because they like to eat, but because they love to feed people. I love to feed people.
It is a little tricky putting on a completely gluten free party. Not because it's hard to find gluten free things to make, but because so many things need to be made from scratch.
We will have up to 30 people coming. Some years we have had 70 or more. But, that was prior to me being free from gluten. It was so easy to go to Sam's club and load up the cart with so many prepared party foods. I could buy a super large bag of meatballs to put with my secret sauce. Not now. Yes, I make darn good meat balls (grilled by the way) but at this busy time of year, am I going to make that many meatballs? No. Way. I would rather spend time making home made baked goods for the party than meatballs.
I have put together a fairly simple list of horderves for the group to snack on. Hopefully I will not get too busy to take pictures. If you are stressing about putting on a party and what you will fix, maybe I can give you some quick ideas. It's very tempting to get fancy, but I have to tell myself to keep it simple. Stick with things that are fool proof and easy to put together.
So many things are naturally gluten free. I will have a veggie tray with a gluten free dip, a fruit tray, a cheese tray with gluten free cheese as most are gluten free. I choose some good quality very sharp cheddar, smoked Gouda, and a Swiss cheese. Instead of meatballs, I decided to get some small sausages. Everybody does mini smokey links so I wanted something different. Sam's club had some tiny sausages called Chef Bruce Aidells chicken apple sausage. They look really good and I think the flavor will go well with my secret sauce of grape jelly and chili sauce. I know, that's every one's secret sauce!
Nothings easier than a cold shrimp tray. I make my own cocktail sauce by taking ketchup and adding horseradish to it. So easy. I will also make a layered bean dip, and artichoke dip with crackers, a cheese ball and crackers, bacon wrapped water chestnuts and last but not least the very fancy and gourmet sausage and cheese dip (velveta and sausage in the crockpot!). And a party wouldn't be complete without wassail. Of course I will have a big tray of all those goodies I've been making all week. We have to get rid of them before we eat them all!
A gluten free cheese ball is so easy to make. I use an 8 oz. block of cream cheese. Let it sit out for a bit to soften. Put it in a bowl and add some shredded cheddar cheese. Geeze, don't measure this. Keep it simple. Put in as much cheddar as you like as long as the darn thing will hold together to make a ball. Blue cheese is also good. Sometimes I put in both. Then add a couple shakes of garlic powder, onion powder and some dried parsley. If you have fresh on hand of course use that first. Sometimes I throw in a splash of Worcestershire sauce or red wine. You can add nuts to it if you wish as well. Work it into a ball and sprinkle some nuts and parsley on it. Or just put it in a bowl and smooth it till it looks nice. This take all of 5 minutes. I am serving mine with Blue Diamond nut thin crackers.
The artichoke dip is just as easy. You will need:
1 can artichoke hearts (16oz.) drained and chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 lb. Parmesan cheese (I just use Kraft already shredded)
Mix all together and pour into an 8" greased pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 min or till browned and bubbly.
So easy and let me tell you this goes quickly. I double and triple this recipe. There are never leftovers of this!
My wassail is made in the crockpot. If you make this, you may as well make some recipe cards and just sit them by the pot because you will be asked.
1 qt. apple juice
1 qt. cranberry juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 small orange
10-15 whole cloves
Put the first four ingredients into the crockpot, and then add the orange which has the whole cloves stuck in it. Cook covered on high for 1 hour then on low for 4 hours. Remove the lid the last 1/2 hour so the aroma of the wassail fills the air.
I usually double this and I make it in two crockpots. Most times it will run out. This is not an overly sweet recipe which is why I think people like it. I have had some wassails that were very sweet. Almost too sweet. If you like yours sweet, just add more sugar. Spike it? I've never tried, but why not!
For my chip dip I use plain sour cream with some Lipton onion soup mix added. I know it's gluten free and easy to make. I know there are many brands of veggie dip that I could buy, but the other day I made a dip out of mayonnaise, feta cheese, garlic and onion powder, parsley and pepper. Again, I didn't measure, just did it to taste. I love feta. I did take a fork to break up the large pieces so it would stick to the veggies when you dip them in it.
That's about it. Hopefully I've given you some ideas if you are faced with entertaining guest. I'll try to get some pictures and also I will have more cookie recipes and pictures up next week! Have a happy weekend! We are supposed to get lots of snow!