It is still a crowd pleaser. Other starters include a tray of fresh mozzarella with sopressata, a platter of fresh tomato slices, a shrimp cocktail plate and of course, a soup.
Though none of us are from Georgia and the idea of a seafood based soup can be risky, I know this soup is fabulous and once it gets going, fairly simple. My guests include a mix of family, long time friends and my older son's fairly new girlfriend and so we are a gathering of 10.
The soup is assembled, hot and ready immediately after appetizers since I really put it all together earlier in the afternoon. This is what it looked like simmering in the pot:
I love finding out after the skeptics tried it that they did in fact love it. The soup does focus on the sweetness of the crab meat but the full body of flavors come from a variety of vegetables, seasonings and clam juice.
What dish would be "fancy" enough for a holiday meal without repeating anything from the previous night or duplicating any flavors my sister will be preparing for our Christmas dinner? I opt for Chicken Cordon Bleu and since again I am not sure everyone will love my choice, I decide to simply bread and fry some of the cutlets.
The Cordon Bleu was camera shy, but the chicken was pounded thin then rolled with ham and swiss cheese before baking. Mashed potatoes and garlic green beans were served on the side.
I set up a bar in the foyer which includes flavored liquors from past holidays as well as a few standards but somehow the choices boil down to Riesling and Prosecco. I add Creme de Cassis to my sparkling wine and I'm quite happy with my choice.
Stories are told, opinions are shared, laughter can be heard and the food is eaten. A few gifts are exchanged and we pose for a group photo in front of the decorated tree. I only use the tripod a few times a year, but each time I am so grateful I have one.
Somehow we make it to dessert. In the past I would bake holiday cookies like a fiend, but this year in the spirit of less makes you less crazy, I only baked chocolate chip and brownies. The platter is on the table with a lovely gift of various trail mixes from my mother-n-law and a decadent prepared cheesecake from the Fakery where my older son's girlfriend works. The Fakery is her word for "fake" and "bakery" since the goods are typically all prebaked but the staff decorates and packages.
Regardless, sweets are sweet and I decide to add some packaged caramel syrup over an already over the top treat. What a fabulous invention.
A few stories of shared memories, a couple of secrets revealed including the origin of my husband's first name. Turns out every generation has "that book" all women may read and while I have yet to even hold "Fifty Shades of Gray" in my hands, my mother-in-law did find the name for her third child from "Forever Amber." As a middle name, she selected the first name of her doctor. In 25 years of marriage, I had never heard this story before and ordered my own copy of "Forever Amber" as soon as possible.
A blend of backgrounds, experiences, ages, tastes and yet we all come together for a wonderful winter night on the edge of a predicted white Christmas. We are comfortably Fed Well.