Holiday Party Food and Easy Fig Dip

In light of moving chaos, our annual open house is a no-go this year. The kitchen is a disaster. I don’t know that I’ve ever blogged about the holiday open house as Christmas time tends to get beyond busy… But we throw a good party involving BBQ’d turkey, lots of food and drink, and the apartment is stuffed to capacity with our friends. I love it. I am sad to not have that this year; but that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about party food!

The thing about party food is that it needs to be easy and fun, at least for me. So I’ve flipped and scrolled through recipes from past parties and have listed some favourites in no particular order and ending with a crudités dip recipe that was a rare bit of this and that recipe that I am kind of proud of. 🙂

  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts – from this awesome recipe from Live with Kelly & Michael
  • Spicy Baked Chickpeas – Tasty and crispy. Make at least double the amount you think you’ll need. These go quickly!
  • Quinoa Salad – Serve family style or in individual (and pretty) dixie cups.
    • Simple – 3 cups cooked quinoa; 1 cucumber, sliced and quartered; two sweet bell peppers, roughly chopped; 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped; 3 tbsp EVOO or whatever dressing; toss and serve.
    • Black Bean and Quinoa Salad from Oh She Glows. Do the sweet potato/yam version. YUM.
  • Dates with Goat Cheese Wrapped in Prosciutto and Basil – The title says it all. SO TASTY, super quick; total crowd pleaser. Vegetarian version can be made without the prosciutto.
  • Chips, or as my Scottish friends call them, crisps – A bit of a cheat, but easy. My absolute favourites are Wavy Lays. A true weakness.
  • Crudités – carrot, celery, and bell pepper sticks; snow peas; broccoli cauliflower florets; sliced cucumber. Can also be bought pre-made in the grocery store. Serve with dip. Recipe below or here.
  • Flourless Brownies – This is my favourite, favourite brownie recipe from a site called Heather’s French Press. Before baking, add finely crushed candy canes for a Christmasy flavour or ancho chilli powder for some kick.
  • Raspberry Chocolate Ganache Pie – Decadent and lovely. Make the night before in order for it to set properly.

These are all things that can be made the night before, except the spicy baked chickpeas. Those should be served hot! 🙂

So, veggie dip… I had forgotten to make a dip for the crudités during a summer BBQ; oh, the shame. Ha. But let’s get real for a second: some veggies (I’m talking to you celery and broccoli) need some help in the taste department. So dip was needed. I looked in the fridge and my eyes landed on the Costco bought bag of dried figs that Claire and Brent had left (among other things from their pantry and fridge given when they stayed with us prior to leaving for their Southeast Asian adventure), garlic, a the remnants of a forgotten zinfandel. Hmmm.

A quick Google search and further perusal of fridge and pantry contents, I cobbled together this recipe, and it turned out pretty good if I do say so myself!

photo 3


  • Servings: 1/2 cup
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


1 cup dried figs, diced
1 cup wine – we happened to have a leftover zinfandel in the fridge
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/3 cup EVOO


  • Boil and reduce figs, wine, and sugar
  • Remove from heat
  • Add to food processor (I have a small one) with the Dijon, balsamic, and garlic
  • Pulse to mix; slowly add the EVOO and blend until smooth


And now I am hungry again…

Clearing the clutter

I found out a bit belatedly that yesterday was “Giving Tuesday”. At first, I thought it was odd time to have it in light of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness just before it; but what better way to properly kick off the holiday season than with a day geared towards promoting the non-commercial part of the holiday spirit? It was also a good segue in to what I had been drafting the past few days…

A couple times a year I try to go through the storage room, bookshelves, and closets to clear out anything we/I don’t need or use. As of January, we will no longer be in our current apartment, so this is one of those times. The past few weeks have been about sorting through everything. Ruthlessly. In triple time.

Clearing the clutter is very freeing. That, and the hope that what we consider excess and decide to donate will be needed items for others are making the process of moving more tolerable.

In the yoga sutras (something I have dived back in to studying lately), clearing the clutter is called aparigraha which is the Sanskrit word for non-possessiveness. The holiday season is a great time of year to be thinking about this because it isn’t just about giving things or money. It could also be about giving your time to a good cause or to be there for someone when they need you.

But it often starts with things. Over the course of a few weeks: One suitcase full of clothes, a backpack, three purses, the weird skillet panini grill thing that was a gift (sorry!) that we have never used, a set of wine glasses, 30 CD’s (yes, we still own CD’s), two bags of miscellaneous stuff, and three bags of novels and cookbooks dropped off at Covenant House and the Salvation Army later, and I have reduced the moving load by at least five large boxes or bins. I haven’t even hit the storage room yet.

The purge has felt good and so has donating the items.

Side note: For those who have gift exchanges coming up or need last minute hostess gifts, it is also the season of the re-gift. Aside from donating your hardly or never used items, re-gifting is also a good way to clear the clutter. No judgment. 😉