My Annual Orphans Holiday Openhouse (AOHO)

Looking forward as the sun sets

Looking forward as the sun sets

Every year I host my Annual Orphans Holiday Openhouse (AOHO) ( For the origin and history about the Orphans Openhouse, visit my post here ). This year marks my 20th one and we (Paul and I ) opted for hosting it after Christmas but before New Years eve given the way the holidays fell and many of us were working that week.

When I set up planning for the AOHO I often give myself several challenges or themes and a goal that I mostly keep to myself.  This helps me keep the fun aspect in perspective and avoid hearing old voices in my head from holidays past as a kid where I would regularly hear such loving shouts like “Merry F’ing Christmas”, “I try an make it a nice event and all I ask is that you help…” etc. phrases usually partnered with the obligatory tears and emotional blackmail.

996737_10202629941527292_960219748_nSo for 2013 – the challenges included;

1. Create multiple menu items that would adapt to folks with gluten sensitivity, dairy allergies and food for those non-meat eating folks

2. The menu had to fit a working persons life. That menus I couldn’t take more than one day (the day of) off. So some items had to be “make or prep” ahead capable.

3. Plan well enough so that once served up – I could enjoy the party and not have to worry about being at the control cooking.

4. Try at least one new dish

The Goal for this year – was to invite new people to the mix to create some new dialogues exchanges between new people.

Ok – so enough serious stuff – on to food!

This year’s menu included

  • Assorted Fruit & Cheese plate
  • Bacon wrapped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar and Maple Sale Crust
  • Kale & Fennel Slaw with Citrus-honey dressing
  • Tossed Up Caprese Salad with mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes and basil.
  •  Tomato, Bean and Cilantro Salad
  • Gluten Free Bread from Miraposa Bakery
  • Sticky Honey-BBQ’s Crockpot Meatballs
  • Artichoke & Spinach Bites
  •  Dairy Free “cheesy” vegetable baked Gluten Free Pasta
  • “Working Stiffs” Turkey Cacciatore
  • and lastly the obligatory Honey Baked Spiral Baked Ham as “Papa’s Backup” dish
  • For the sweet side of things, Paul makes his “special” Trifle  – this year we did both a chocolate and a GF Butterscotch version
  • Brownies
  • Cornmeal and Pear Cake with Rosemary Syrup (GF)
  • Deconstructed” Italian style Cannoli dip with waffle cone chips

Timeline: 12/27/2013,  6:00pm

…and now on with the show! I will be posting the recipes and images over the next few days! As always – if you don’t see a recipe I’ve made – email me and Ill share it. Food is meant to be shared.. not held on a pedestal ike the holy grail and only sharing parts of it to keep your version special.