Fresh From Nancy's Garden

A Fun Place For Gardening Tips and Great Recipes

A Festive Holiday Buffet

The holidays! They’re either the most wonderful time of the year–or the most stressful–especially if you’re hosting a holiday party.

I’ve learned that having a fabulous buffet is the easiest way to celebrate and still enjoy your own party. All the work is pretty much done in advance and you can actually spend time with your guests. This buffet is great for a White Elephant Cocktail Party or even a Holiday Brunch. The trick is organization.

1. Plan the menu. I borrowed completely from the December issue of Food Network Magazine. There was a great article called Ina Garten’s Holiday Appetizers that I used as my inspiration. I made most of her recipes and then added a few ideas of my own.

One thing to remember….men want more than just finger-food appetizers. I added mini mac and cheese and Italian meatballs to my buffet to keep the men happy. Here’s my menu:

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail–recipe below
Chicken Sausage in Puff Pastry with 3 Mustard Dipping Sauces
Herbed Goat Cheese and Cucumber Sandwiches
Mini Mac and Cheese in Ramekins and Meatballs in Marinara
Cheese and Veggie Platters along with Cheese Straws and Nuts

2. Have a signature cocktail. Cathy Nokes, AKA the Dessert Diva, made these Layered Christmas Shooters and they were a big hit. You can find the recipe in the December issue of Food Network Magazine.


3. Make a delicious dessert! Mary Shapero, AKA the other Dessert Diva, made her absolutely fabulous toffee and everyone wanted seconds. 

 I made mini tiramisus.

4. Organize and Plan. I actually made a timeline of things I needed to do the day before and the day of the party. 

Day before party:

  • Clean and peel shrimp
  • Put puff pastry in fridge to thaw
  • Make mini tiramisus
  • Organize bar and glasses
  • Put platters out
  • Make food labels
Day of party:
  • Cook sausage and cool
  • Make sausage puff pastry and put in fridge (can make 6 hours ahead)
  • Make goat cheese sandwiches (cover with damp paper towel and plastic wrap and put in fridge–5 hours ahead)
  • Make cocktail sauce
  • Put meat balls in crock pot in the morning
  • Make mac and cheese in the morning (don’t bake yet; put in fridge)
Crunch time:
  • 4-5 pm mac and cheese in oven
  • 5-5:30 sausage puff pastry in oven
  • 5:30-5:50 shrimp in oven (two batches)
  • Finish putting bar together, fill ice buckets
Last minute:
  • Arrange platters on buffet
  • Light candles
  • And most importantly…ENJOY YOURSELF!
And here’s the easy recipe (inspired by Ina Garten) that everyone asked for.
Roasted Shrimp Cocktail:
  • 2 lbs. (21-25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined-tails on 
  • 1 TBS. olive oil (just enough to gently coat shrimp)
  • 2 minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Dry shrimp thoroughly and put in plastic Ziploc bag and toss with garlic, salt, pepper and the scant amount of olive oil.
  3. Spread in one layer on cookie sheet and roast for 8-10 minutes. Remove to a nice platter and squeeze fresh lemon on the warm shrimp.
  4. Serve hot, warm, room temperature or cold the next day. (If there are any left over).
  • 1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup Heinz ketchup
  • 3 TBS. prepared horseradish
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce
Mix all ingredients and chill.
Here’s wishing all of my readers a very Happy New Year! I’ve been writing this for less than a year and I’m excited to say I have followers from all over the world–every continent–EXCEPT Australia! So if you have any friends there, please forward them a link to my blog. And a special thanks to Russia–you’re number 3 in followers behind the US and Canada. Thanks again to everyone for all your kind words! I’ll be back next year with something fresh from the garden.

Categories: Christmas, Holidays

Tags: , , , , ,

5 replies

  1. Merry Christmas to all!

  2. looks amazing, as usual! and you make it look so effortless, too!

  3. Merry Christmas Nancy and to Jake!

  4. And what about the Latkas??Happy Holidays,


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