Cooking for a Small Holiday Dinner Party – College Edition

I love hosting dinner parties, especially during the holiday season where togetherness, merriment and yes, gluttony, become one.  However, when college, final exams, life and other duties cloud your mind, cooking rarely makes it on your to-do list – let alone cooking for yourself and others (that would require creating food that’s not only pleasing to your palette, but to the eye as well).  Nonetheless, with a little bit of effort, you can go from basic kitchen cook to gourmet chef in no time.  After all, all you need is some of Martha Stewart’s splendid recipes and a touch of caffeine (or eggnog, whatever you work best with…perhaps an eggnog Red Bull?)

Anyway, for the first course, I served stuffed mushrooms (as per usual..I should really consider trying a new appetizer but this recipe takes less than 20 minutes to prepare, cook, and serve to guests).  It’s magical.

Then, for the main entree, I served a variation of Martha Stewart’s Stuffed Turkey Breast.  Since H-E-B in Riverside failed in supplying turkey breast, I opted for the ever-so-reliable chicken breast.  You can follow the recipe on Martha Stewart’s website, but I included photos of various steps in case you need help visualizing each step.Image

You don’t have to peel the potatoes; the skin provides a deeper flavor and rustic look that pairs well with chicken.  Although the recipe doesn’t call for salt, pepper, and paprika, sprinkling the vegetables with these spices delivers superb results.


Chop your carrots into 1/4 inch slices…


And toss the vegetables until they’re congregated and evenly distributed. Potato-yellow and carrot-orange never looked so good together until now!

After preparing the vegetables, layer them on the bottom of a small roasting pan.  Now, after stuffing the horizontally-sliced chicken breast with parsley and garlic (as seen below)…



set them in the oven until fully cooked and…


Voilà! Your entree is complete.  Sprinkle some extra parsley springs on the edges for a light garnish.  I forgot to wrap bacon slices around each piece, which would have made the chicken juicier, but it turned out just fine.

Next, surprise your visitors with Dorothy Mae Brown’s Apple Spice Cake.  Like the stuffed chicken breast, you can find the recipe on Martha Stewart’s website.

Basically, you just chop two granny smith apples…



Pour the pieces into the simple batter…


and then transfer into a 12-cup bundt pan. Once it’s finished cooking…


turn the pan upside down, and turn your party up!  You can also drizzle the optional caramel sauce on it, and the recipe can be found on the same page.

With stuffed mushrooms, and chicken entree and dessert, you’ll be sure to satisfy your guests.  The best thing is that ingredients work well with a student budget, and it takes no longer than 2 hours to cook.  Good luck with your holiday party planning!


Good food makes a good host and happy guests!

Yours truly,


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