My Annual Holiday Shindig and a Boozy Strawberry Lemonade

In November 2010 I permanently moved out of my parents’ house and into a one-bedroom co-op I rented from the owner.  It was the perfect apartment with a separate kitchen, tons of closet space, a cozy but spacious living room, and a bedroom big enough for a queen-sized bed with plenty of room to spare.  The kitchen had been redone by the co-op owner with stainless steel appliances, a dream for someone who enjoys cooking but requires counters in order to spread out.  A month after I moved in, I broke up with my ex (see my post on Reflections).  In February 2011 I threw an apartment warming party and learned just how much I enjoy cooking for other people and how much I like hosting.  In December 2011, I had my first holiday shindig.  The next month, I closed on my house and moved in two months later.  December 2012 was a combination holiday shindig and house-warming party.  December 2013 saw another holiday shindig.

In years past, I typically served finger foods.  In the apartment, the gathering was small enough that making finger foods was not that big of a deal.  In 2012, I had 20 people come to my house-warming party and I made finger food for everyone.  Seeing how much work finger food was, I decided for 2013 I would make big dishes.  For the 12 people that came, it was perfect.  People took leftovers leaving me with minimal options for lunch that week.

I am a casual hostess.  I serve all of my food on my living room coffee table and let people eat where they choose.


Working your way from back to front and left to right (kind of in columns):

  1. Strawberry Lemonade with tequila and Grand Marnier
  2. Turkey, Sweet potato, and Apple Hash
  3. Almond Flour Breaded Asparagus
  4. Butternut Squash Soufflé
  5. Shiitake Quinoa Risotto
  6. My version of Trader Joe’s Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Quinoa, and Wheatberry Salad
  7. “Spaghetti” and Meatballs
  8. Spaghetti Squash with Avocado-Based Pesto
  9. Dijon Braised Brussels Sprouts

Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the dessert: a cashew “cheese”cake and a paleo apple pie.

Over the next several posts, I’ll give you the recipes for everything I made.  Some of the recipes I have posted before and are linked to above.

Since tipsy cooking is always fun but never safe, here’s the recipe for the Strawberry Lemonade first.  The strawberries need to be prepared the day before in order to turn into a syrup.

Strawberry Lemonade (as adapted from the Kitchy Kitchen)


  • 2 pounds of fresh strawberries
  • 1 jar of strawberry jelly (I use Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves)
  • 15 lemons
  • ½ cup Grand Marnier
  • 1 bottle of tequila (I’m partial to Patron for shots but you don’t need to spend that kind of money on a tequila that’s being mixed.  At the liquor store, I ask for a tequila that’s smooth like Patron but not as expensive.  I also ask for a tequila that does not have the icky aftertaste that cheap tequila has.)


  1. Rinse the strawberries, cut off the leaves, and slice them in half.
  2. Place the strawberries in a glass bowl with the jelly and juice of one lemon.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. The day you need your drink, pour the strawberry mixture into a blender or food processor (or leave in the bowl and use a handheld immersion blender) and turn the syrup into a puree.
  4. Pour the puree into a pitcher.
  5. Juice the remaining 14 lemons and pour the juice into the same pitcher.  Stir.
  6. Pour the whole bottle of tequila (less if you choose) into the pitcher along with the Grand Marnier.  Stir again.
  7. Leave in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve so the drink is cool.


Things to note – I made this cocktail for my housewarming in December 2012 and followed the original recipe.  The only change I made was to double the Grand Marnier and use the whole bottle of tequila.  The drink was too sweet and I had the worst hangover the next day.  This year, I eliminated all of the sugar and the drink was still sweet while not being overly sweet.

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