Around October of this year, my sister-in-law and I were throwing around holiday party ideas. Mollie is huge into crafting and her house is outfitted with seriously amazing holiday/seasonal handmade crafts. She is quite talented. In the photo below, just about every tree was handmade by Mollie. How gorgeous is that center tree??!!
I, on the other hand, have this food blog thing going and we thought we could combine our talents. Mollie Dzigns & The Bell House would host a small holiday party where we eat, drink and craft.
A week before the party I saw a posting on Instagram for turning your social gathering into a charity event.
LIGHT BULB! We are hosting a party, so why not turn our party into a charity event! I immediately got hold of Mollie and she agreed we should donate all the proceeds to a charity.
The Instagram post was from Saveur Magazine in combination with CookGatherGive, Bon Appetit, Cherry Bombe Magazine, Cooking Light and Food & Wine. The idea is to host a holiday dinner or cocktail party and encourage people to donate to a charity of your choice. Cook Gather Give has several charitable organizations listed on their website with easy payment options.
As I mentioned earlier, Molly McCRAFTerson was in charge of setting up the crafts for the party. She did an outstanding job choosing adorable ornaments and setting up the craft table for the event. So organized!
Each paper bag contained three separate bags filled with everything you needed for each craft. On the table, she laid out some fun accoutrements we could use in addition to what was in the bag.
It was decided that you couldn’t have too much glitter. Like sand from the beach, I think I’ll be picking glitter out of crevices until the next Dine & Craft Charity Event of 2018!
I was in charge of the food for the evening and decided on a courses style menu. I was thinking we could nibble in between crafts and maintain a crafting party vibe.
POMEGRANATE-GINGER SANGRIA AND SWISS CHEESE & THYME GOUGERES:
At 6:30 PM, the guests started to arrive and were greeted with a Pomegranate-Ginger Sangria and Swiss Cheese & Thyme Gougères. Traditionally, these cheese puffs are made with shredded Gruyère, but I love the combination of Swiss cheese and French Thyme.
MOLLIE’S POMEGRANATE-GINGER SANGRIA:
1 bottle of a blended red wine
1 cup of ginger ale
3 cups of club soda
1/2 cup of fresh pomegranate seeds
1 orange, sliced and halved
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced
5-6 pieces of candied ginger (Click here for the brand Mollie used.)
In a pitcher, mix together the wine, pomegranate seeds, orange, apple slices and candied ginger. Mollie suggests making this mixture the night before to allow the flavors to marinate. Right before serving the beverages, Mollie added the ginger ale and club soda. She gave the drink a good stir and poured the liquid courage into glasses filled with ice and garnished with some of the wine soaked fruit.
THE WINTER WONDERLAND DOVE:
Once everyone arrived to the house, ate a few bites and filled their glasses with cheer, Molly gave each person their assigned paper bags filled with craft supplies and we got started on our first ornament.
The first bag of crafts was filled with the following treasures:
ALBONDIGAS AND MUSHROOMS:
It was time to eat again. This recipe was from Food & Wine Magazine’s September 2017 issue. In October, I held a dinner party creating a menu based on the recipes in this particular issue. I fell in love with the Albondigas with Mushrooms and knew I would have to find a reason to make it again. This party was the perfect excuse! Click here for the recipe.
PREPARATION TIP: Make 2 ounce meatballs, the sauce and slice the mushrooms a day or two in advance. Before the party, bring the meatballs up to 165 degrees and hold in a crock pot to keep warm. Right before serving this course, sautée the mushrooms, plate the meatballs and then dig in.
I garnished the dish with some pea sprouts and a slice of homemade rosemary focaccia.
THE CHRISTMAS MOUSE:
Craft #2! This little mouse reminded me of the holiday cartoon, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas from the 1970’s. I haven’t seen the show in many, many years.
Much of the craft parts were ready for us when we started to assemble them. Mollie put in a lot of time getting the pieces parts together for the night of the party.
To make the ears for each mouse, slice a wine cork. Mollie says boiling the cork will make them easier to slice.
Unfortunately, this craft did not come without any sacrifices. Many bottles of wine, champagne and sparkling wine were consumed for the making of these mice. Let’s have a moment of silence.
KALE & APPLE SLAW:
The next nibble, a Kale & Apple Salad with a Dijon Yogurt Dressing. The recipe for this salad will be posted on the blog before the end of December. Subscribe to the blog and you won’t miss this delicious post!
CAJUN HOGS IN A BLANKET WITH SPICY AIOLI & QUICK PICKLES:
Our final savory dish was the Cajun Hogs in a Blanket with Spicy Aioli & Quick Pickles. Wrap an andouille sausage in puff pastry, slice and bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. I have a previous post I did on these fabulous little bites, but served it with a Mango Chutney. Click here to check out the instructions for wrapping the sausages in puff pastry.
Once cooked, top each bite with the spicy aioli and a quick pickle. This is the perfect combination of flavors. One of my favorite two bite eats I like to serve to a room full of people.
Click here for the Puff Pastry Recipe. I highly recommend making your own puff pastry as opposed to buying the store bought frozen kind. The difference is night and day. Once you try it and see how simple it really is to make, you’ll want to devote some time to stock piling homemade puff pastry for the freezer.
Click here for the Quick Pickle recipe. These are my favorite pickles. We really do put this SH*T on everything!
For the SPICY AIOLI:
1 cup of good quality mayonaise
1 teaspoon of spicy Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon of paprika
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Pinch of Kosher salt and pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week. This spicy aioli is good on deli sandwiches, burgers, chicken sandwiches and more.
THE SNOWMAN GIFT BOX:
We can’t have winter without a snowman. Click here for the directions for making these little guys. Mollie had the idea to turn these snowman into gift boxes. Click here for the sheet music printable paper.
VANILLA BEAN CREME BRULEE:
An evening of food and drink is never complete without dessert. Our final course is my favorite all time sweet treat, Vanilla Bean Creme Brûlée. Not only is it silky smooth goodness, but I get to use a blow torch to finish the dessert.
It’s easy to turn the Coffee Creme Brûlée into Vanilla bean. Simply omit the coffee and add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract after you strain the custard. I garnished each custard with fresh whipped cream and cocoa nibs.
Mollie and I sent the ladies home with full bellies, their handcrafted ornaments and a homemade ugly sweater cookie.
The fee for the party goers for food, drink and craft was $40. The entire $280.00 of the proceeds were split between three different charities: Maryland Food Bank, Hurricane Harvey Hospitality Relief Fund and Carribean Tourism Recovery Fund.
There is still plenty of time this holiday season to gather up some friends to Dine & Craft your way to a charitable event. Although, why not plan for a spring time wreath making event or summer time bird feeder crafting party? Giving doesn’t have to be one time a year.
If you happen to host a Dine & Crafting event, tag The Bell House. I would love to hear your story!
If you want to host your own Dine & Craft event and want someone else to do the work:
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Sarah, Jenn, “Just” Lisa, Cassidy and Stacy for making it to the party. Hope to see you next year!
Mollie Dzigns: What an “Organized Crafting Wizard” you are!