We’ve been in our house for nearly a month now and finally starting to feel settled. So with the holidays in full swing, it was time to have a housewarming party. And did we ever!
Although our new home in Oak Park is only about 15 minutes from downtown Chicago, we hadn’t yet seen most of our friends. So we invited just about everyone we know to pop out to our place on Sunday for some holiday cheer. We packed the house with around 60 of our favorite people — including 12 kids!
As for the spread, I tried to keep it very simple, since I’m never sure how much time I’ll get to spend in the kitchen before Lilly needs me. We served a 20 pound spiral sliced ham with potato rolls and a variety of spicy mustards. I asked my Grandma to bring miniature versions of her famous meatballs. I made some super simple puff pastry/spinach/sundried tomato appetizers. I set out an assortment of simple cheeses and some store-bought spinach artichoke dip (which was really tasty, btw). My parents had a fruit display delivered from Edible Arrangements.
And of course there were some delightful desserts. We had a beautiful assortment of holiday cookies. I also tried my hand at cake pops, which made for a fun favor for folks to take home. But my favorites (and one of the few items from our buffet that were approved for my dairy-free diet) were the peppermint meringue cookies. Pulled from the December issue of Bon Appetit, these cookies are beautiful, feather-light and surprisingly addictive. Good thing their incredibly easy to make!
Of course both of my girls were in their holiday finest for the party. Despite all the extra cuddles and lack of naps, Lillian was a pretty good hostess for most of the party. She did insist on an early bedtime, but that was okay with her Momma. I was also relieved to see what a trooper Zoey can be. Many of the children in attendance were fascinated by our cute little furball and she was happy to play and hand out kisses, despite the occasional ear-pull.
So, now we’re eagerly awaiting visits with family in the coming weeks. Plus, JiT is taking two weeks off for Christmas…and THAT is a wonderful present indeed!
So, here is the cookie recipe:
Peppermint Meringue Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted (very important to avoid lumps)
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
12 drops red food coloring
Preheat oven to 200° F. Line a baking sheets with parchment paper. Place egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until white and foamy, about 1 minute. With mixer running, gradually add sugar in 3 additions beating for 2 minutes between each addition. Beat a minute or 2 longer, until stiff peaks form. Add powdered sugar and peppermint extract and beat to blend, about 1 minute.
Dot food coloring over surface of meringue; do not stir (the coloring will form swirls when piped). Using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2″ tip, drip one more drop of food coloring into the bottom of the bag before adding the coloring (this will help ensure that the swirls start with the first cookies out of the bag) Spoon meringue into the pastry bag. Twist top; pipe 1″ rounds onto prepared sheet, spacing 1″ apart.
Bake meringues for 2 1/2 hours until dry. Remove baking sheets from oven and let cool and crisp for another hour before moving. Store at room temperature in an airtight container with layers of cookies between sheets of parchment. Cookies can be stored for up to 2 days.