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Glögg is a Scandinavian mulled wine.  What makes it different from other mulled wine I think is really just the addition of cardamom, and it is served with raisins and almonds.  There’s also the important addition of hard liquor to top up your glass; I prefer brandy, but vodka is another popular choice.

And so, in 2010, my now husband and I started hosting Glöggfest as our holiday party.  Here is a peak at what our 2016 party looked like.

First things first, the Glögg.  You can buy an alcohol free glögg mix at Ikea most years, which is nice if you have non-drinkers at your party.  And then to booze it up; mix with two bottles of cheap red wine, and heat on the stove with a cinnamon stick, a few cracked open cardamom pods, and a few slices of orange with four to six cloves stuck into the skin of the oranges.  That’s what we did this year.


Last year we used this NY Times recipe, which I highly recommend.  It was delicious.  I would leave the Brandy out to use to top up the glass, so that all of the delicious booze doesn’t cook off.

Glögg is very often served with pepparkakor, a ginger cookie that pairs surprisingly well when dipped in this mulled wine.  This year, I made my own.  I followed this recipe from Cottage in the Oaks.  The only thing I changed was that I added of 1 1/2″ of fresh grated ginger.  My cookies didn’t come out perfectly crisp, like I expected, but all of the feedback I received was that people liked the just slightly soft cookie better.  They come out of the oven super soft and then harden as they cool, so it was hard to tell if they were “done”.



And then this is the food that we served (I’m sorry that it’s not all pictured):

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  • 1 Package Pita, cut into 6ths
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Oregano

Preheat the oven to 400.  Mix the olive oil, garlic powder, salt and oregano in a small bowl.  Lay out the pita triangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat, and using a pastry brush, apply the oil to each side of the pita.  Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

  • 1 15 oz Can of Chickpeas, or 1 Cup Dried Chickpeas, prepared
    • Some recipes want you to remove the chickpea husk–I wouldn’t bother.
  • 4 to 6 Garlic Cloves, raw if you like the garlic bite, roasted or blanched for a smoother garlic flavor
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Tahini
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Cumin
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 1/4 Cup Reserved Chickpea Water (or tap)
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Place all ingredients, except the chickpea water, into a food processor and blend.  Add the chickpea water a couple of tablespoons at a time until the hummus is smooth.  If you like a thinner hummus, add a little more oil or water.  Taste and adjust.  I often add a little more lemon, and don’t forget to add more salt if that’s what speaks to you.  Sometimes I add a little more paprika or cayenne pepper for smokiness.




  • 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 Cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Yellow Mustard
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
  • Dash of Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoons Adobo Sauce, or more to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Put everything in a food processor, blitz until mixed, and taste.  Adjust as you like.  My secret here is the adobo sauce to cut a little bit of the saccharine sweetness.  Served with store-bought pretzels.  …You can’t make EVERYTHING.  But I did try.




  • 1 Can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Can of Chipotles in Adobo Sauce (to taste)
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, raw or blanched
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1 or 2 Limes
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • A good sized handful fresh cilantro leaves

Place the black beans, two chipotle peppers (seeds removed), 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce, garlic, olive oil, juice of 1 lime, cumin, salt, pepper and cilantro leaves into a food processor and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust.  If you like more heat, add more chipotle peppers and/or adobo sauce.  If you like a little more tang, add a little more lime juice or cilantro.  Served with pita chips, and assorted veggies.



I tried to make SPICY GLAZED PECANS.  But I didn’t like the recipe I used, so I ended up coating them in a little more sugar and a little more paprika and cayenne powder.  I don’t know that I’d make them again.




  • 1 Red Onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter or Olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 Sprigs of Thyme (Optional)
  • 8 oz Neufchatel, or Cream Cheese
  • 6 oz Feta, crumbled
  • 3 to 4 Cloves of Garlic: peeled, covered with water and microwaved for one minute
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 Boxes Mini Fillo Shells (or you can get fillo sheets and make your own shells in mini muffin tins–but this is WAY easier, which I needed when preparing so many items)

Heat your fat of choice in a pan over medium heat, and add the onion.  Salt, and reduce to medium low.  Allow to cook slowly, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.  Once starting to lightly caramelize, add the balsamic vinegar and thyme.  Cook for another five to ten minutes until the onions are sticky and sweet.  Allow to cool, and then chop.

While the onions are cooking, place the Neufchatel, feta, garlic and egg into a food processor and blend until smooth.  Place mixture in a pastry bag (or use a spoon) to fill the fillo cups.

Use a 1/2 teaspoon to measure the chopped caramelized onion into each little tart.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  To make ahead: assemble the tarts, and freeze.  They are small enough that they cook up perfectly–just like the ones at Trader Joe’s.




  • 12 oz Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 8 oz Pesto Sauce (I use store bought when I’m making a lot of items like this)
  • 4 oz Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1 Egg
  • Pepper to Taste

Clean the mushrooms, and remove the stems, set aside.  Use a spoon to clear away some of that really soft fleshy part of the mushrooms that will be in the way of stuffing them.  You can remove the gills if you want, but I don’t usually bother.  Chop the mushroom stems finely and mix with the pesto sauce, half of the parmesan cheese, the egg and pepper to taste.  This time, I decided to blitz everything in a food processor since it was already out, but I prefer the chopped texture.  Using a spoon, fill each mushroom cap with the pesto mixture, and top with some of the remaining parmesan cheese.  Baked at 350 until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.




  • 9 Eggs, hard boiled
  • Ingredients to Taste:
    • About 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
    • About 1 Teaspoon of Dijon Mustard
    • A couple of dashes of Paprika
    • Several dashes of Curry Powder or Hot Madras Curry Powder
    • Salt and Pepper
    • Maybe 1/2 Teaspoon of White Vinegar

We all know how to make deviled eggs.  They are one of those things that you just have to taste and adjust until you get something you are happy with.  I cook my eggs in accordance to Joy of Cooking: place eggs in a pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and then remove from heat, and let sit for 13 minutes.  Then shock under cold water, replacing the water as needed so the eggs don’t over-cook.  No one likes a rubbery deviled egg.

For the filling: I started with only a couple tablespoons of mayo, but I wanted to make sure I still got the delightful creamy texture, so I added more.  And then I always want to keep adding flavor until you can’t taste the mayo any more.  I may have added a dash of cayenne pepper as well.  I’ll try to pay closer attention to what I do next time.  I used a pastry bag to fill my eggs, but obviously a spoon works just as well.



Funny story about my version this year of PEPPERMINT CHRISTMAS TREE MERINGUES: they were a bit savory.  I find meringues to be a bit too sweet, but I think they are cute, I like to make them anyways.  So every time I make them, I add less sugar.  This year, I only added 1/3 cup (the original recipe here calls for 1 and 1/3 cups), which actually might have been right for my taste.  However, I added the full 1/4 teaspoons of salt, so they were unusually salty.  I should add only a pinch next time.  And maybe try a full 1/2 cup of sugar.  I also add one teaspoon of peppermint flavoring.



I got this PARMESAN ROSEMARY CRACKER recipe from “Alexandra Cooks” which looks like it is a recipe from Martha Stewart’s Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook.  I like it, I think it’s a keeper.  But I think next year I will try freezing it instead of just chilling it, because they did get a little out of shape when I cut the crackers.

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I love these QUICK PICKLED VEGETABLES.  I make them quite frequently and they are always a hit.  In terms of beans, I usually just get green beans because I have to buy a giant bag of them, and also my Tony’s doesn’t have yellow beans.  But it is a perfect recipe.

Update: The website moved, so I am adding the text for future reference.

“Blanch 1/3 pound each halved baby carrots, green beans and yellow beans, 2 to 4 minutes. Cool in ice water, then put in a glass bowl with 1/2 sliced red onion. Make the brine: Boil 2 cups each white vinegar and water, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 2 bay leaves, 3/4 cup sugar, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, and 1 teaspoon each peppercorns and coriander seeds; pour over the vegetables, then let cool. Chill at least 4 hours.”




  • 10 oz Bunch Spinach, chopped
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • Olive Oil
  • 14 oz Can Artichoke Hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz Package Neufchatel, or Cream Cheese, softened
  • 4 Tablespoons Sour Cream
  • 1 Cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • Dash of Cayenne Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a pan, over medium heat, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil.  Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the chopped spinach and cook until wilted.

In a large bowl, placed the softened cream cheeses, and mix with the sour cream.  Add the garlic and spinach mixture.  Mix in 1/2 of the cheese, salt and dash of cayenne pepper.  Transfer to a casserole dish, and top with the remaining cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes.

For this party, I mixed in all of the cheese so I could then place 2 cups at a time in our little sauce crock pot, so a delicious crusty top wasn’t relevant.



I made a BAKED BRIE with lingonberry jam, because we had that in the pantry, and I love the tangy-sweetness of it.  In the past, I had always used crescent rolls, where I pinched the triangles together at the seems to make a crust.  This year, I just used a sheet of puff pastry, which worked well.



I also made my BAKED BUFFALO MAC AND CHEESE because I wanted to make sure there was something to help soak up the alcohol if someone skipped dinner…



My husband made these BEER BBQ MEATBALLS.  I don’t know much about what he did, I try and stay out of the way while he cleans underneath his fingernails…. (an old Grandpa Joke–he used to know when when it was time to make meatballs or meatloaf when he had grime under his fingernails….)  I do know that he made his own meatballs with a combination of lamb and beef from Gene’s Sausage Shop in Lincoln Square.  Obviously, this is not a vegetarian recipe.



We bought SMOKED SHRIMP from Hagen’s Fish Market.  So that was nice and easy.



And then we put out grapes and cheese cubes, celery, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli.


I like to think that our guests eat pretty well when they come to one of our parties.


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