Holiday Hen Party

My aunt hosts a great holiday get-together each year that her husband refers to as the “hen party.”  She’s a wonderful hostess and we are always so happy to kick off the holidays with a yummy lunch and a goodie swap.

My aunt, grandmother and mother...and little Addison hiding her face at the end

Look at that pretty table! Christmas china and linens and freshly-polished silver…beautiful!

The other half of the table...and Addison is not hiding her face now. Such a cutie!

And since the hostess was taking the photos, she’s not in them! So I’ll just rave about her food instead. There was a green chili chicken stew that was so yum I could have just eaten that. Of course, I didn’t. There were too many other options: chips and guacamole and crackers and dips (including a wonderful pesto torte) and a huge green salad.

It was lovely.

I’m particularly grateful for holidays with my grandmother, whose health, as regular readers know, has been declining this past year.

My aunt's mother-in-law (left,) who is over 90, and my grandmother who is not yet 90.

We got to hear some great stories about how Laura, my aunt’s mother-in-law, used to bake for the holidays…and when I say “bake” I mean like you can’t imagine. Reportedly she produced hundreds of dozens of goodies every year for friends and neighbors. Did you hear that? HUNDREDS – plural. They were telling stories of how her dining room would be buried in containers of cookies and breads and endless treats. Amazing. Wish I could have seen that!

And, for the record, my husband’s favorite treat from this goodie swap was hers. I didn’t even get to try one. He ate them all.

Here’s the platter of holiday delights that I came home with. Let’s review:

Graham crackers covered with gooey goodness and chocolate. (Recipe Below)
These are called Fat Ladies...really, no need for further explanation. (Recipe below)
An oldie but a goodie, date-wrapped pecans rolled in powdered sugar.
Chocolate cookies with chocolate-mint candies melted on top.
Dubbed "Reindeer Droppings," they couldn't be simpler. Peanuts and marshmallows coated in chocolate. The other variation is cashews and dried cranberries. Who doesn't love "candy making" without the pesky thermometer? (Recipe below)
And finally, my husband's favorite, the glorious macaroon. Wish I could tell you how yummy they were, but I can't. So pretty though!

I love this annual tradition for several reasons. Simple time with loved ones is up there. A fantastic lunch that is served to me is also high on the list. But it’s really nice to have this gorgeous tray of delicacies on my kitchen counter without having to do any of the work, too! (And my visitors the past few days have been pretty happy about that as well.)

Now, I didn’t include my contribution to the swap. That’s coming in another post. But I do have recipes for some of these sweets, so don’t despair.

And also, one last photo of my family…and our gorgeous hostess is IN this one! Let’s hear it for the party planners!!

Me, my mom, my aunt/our hostess, my grandmother and my aunt. Or, I could list them all by their "grandma names" because that is fun, too: Me, Gigi, Aunt Granny/Grammy, MeMaw and NaiNai.


as written to me by Aunt Kathy

11 whole graham crackers broken into squares
1 cup  butter
1 cup  sugar
1 tsp  ground cinnamon
1/2 c  chopped pecans
1 6oz package chocolate chips (I use a bit more)
Arrange graham crackers in single layer in jelly pan. Combine butter and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat. (Slight boil  2 minutes.) Stir in cinnamon and pecans. Pour over graham crackers and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. While still warm out of oven sprinkle with chocolate chips and cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to wax paper and refrigerate. I put in a tin can and freeze. They are best  when cold.


REINDEER NUGGET CANDY (aka Reindeer Droppings)

from the newspaper, source: Teegie Collins

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate bark

12 oz dark chocolate chips

8 oz lightly salted dry roasted peanuts

5-6 oz small white marshmallows

Microwave the bark and chocolate chips for 30 seconds on high. Stir. Continue for 30 seconds longer (until melted.) Stir in peanuts and marshmallows. Drop on foil by the tablespoon. Let stand until hard.

Really. That’s it. So…any last minute need for a holiday treat? No excuses. You can whip these up in less than 5 minutes. OK, onto the Fat Ladies…



from “Flavor” the San Antonio Junior League cookbook – and a big THANK YOU to Marquel for my copy! I’m pretty much restricted from purchasing any more cookbooks…but no one said anything about getting them as gifts! Love that.

1 roll refrigerator chocolate chip cookies

1 6-oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips

32 Kraft light caramels

1/4 cup light cream

1 cup chopped pecans

Cut cookie dough 1/4 inch thick and press into a 9x12x2 pan. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. While baking, melt caramels into cream. Cool cookie slightly and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Spread with caramel mixture. Top with chopped pecans and refrigerate. Cut into squares.

Next: Cranberry Pumpkin Bread, Chocolate Gingerbread Tea Cakes and Peppernuts.


8 thoughts on “Holiday Hen Party

  1. Jennifer Rieck

    What a wonderful tradition!!! Looks like a wonderful time. You are very blessed with a loving family.

    Could you send me the recipe for the graham crackers covered with gooey goodness please?

    1. gatheraroundthetable

      Yes, I do have a wonderful family. Very blessed.
      And I’ve asked for the recipe for the graham crackers…will post as soon as I get it! Stay tuned…
      Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

  2. Jennifer Rieck

    Thanks for the recipe Jen!

    GREAT picture of you and your relatives. I hope your grandmother is doing OK…

    I miss your mom but know she’s taking good care of her mother so God bless her for that.

    1. gatheraroundthetable

      You are welcome! I was glad to get the recipe as they were one of my favorites on the platter. 🙂 My grandmother is doing pretty well…good days and not-so-good days, but her spirits always seem high considering.
      Enjoy the cookies!

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