Four Parties in Six Days!
What was I thinking?
 Christmas Eve…. 
Christmas Day….
A Cocktail/Fondue Party…
 and finally a Pasta Buffet yesterday…
There was lots of celebrating here at Sweetwater!
We had lots of fun through it all….
(but I do have to admit that I am a bit tired of cooking)
I had never attempted a pasta buffet before…. 
there were some moments when I wasn’t sure it was going to work….
but we were pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it all went.
In fact….this might just become a go to menu for future gatherings!
The menu was simple:
Kale Salad
Caesar Salad
French Bread
Spaghetti Sauce Bolognese
Swedish Meatballs in Gravy
Alfredo Sauce w/chicken-broccoli-roasted peppers
Fettucini and Wide Pasta Noodles
 Various Desserts and Sweets contributed by the guests
Swedish Rice Pudding w/Lingonberries

Recipes Tricks and Tips

  • Best recipe for chicken strips for the Pasta:  Buy them…..Already cooked….in a package….  The texture and taste of the already prepared chicken strips from CostCo were more than acceptable when covered with sauce!

  • DON’T blanch your broccoli ahead of time….I thought this was smart and did it to save time….except I left it in the pan with the cover on and ended up with mushy over cooked vegetables….won’t do THAT again!
  • Cook the pasta ahead of time and keep it in the oven with the absolute lowest temp….in fact…I kept turning the oven off to just have the tiniest bit of heat.  The pasta was in those aluminum catering trays.   A little pasta water poured over the pre-cooked noodles brought them “back to life” when it was time to put the pasta on the table.  (a warming tray kept the temp “lukewarm”)  This also allowed an easy replenishing of the pasta when needed.

This Sweet Kale Salad from CostCo is a new favorite at Sweetwater.  It comes with all the fixings. Just pour into a bowl…add the dressing and “stuff” that is included and enjoy!  It was simple enough to make a second batch when it ran low during the party….maybe people thought a little crunchy greens would make for something “healthy” given the decadence of all the pasta!

  • The Bolognese sauce was “almost homemade” by using prepared Spaghetti sauce with meat and spices added.  I really made this for the kids….but the “big” kids seemed to enjoy it too!
  • I sort of stressed out about finding the “perfect” Alfredo Sauce that could be made ahead!  This recipe worked very well….in fact the teenage boys at the party told me they thought this would be great for their own sports “Pasta/Carbo loading parties….which I took as a “high compliment”

Do Ahead Alfredo Sauce

1/2 cup real butter
3 TBSP Cream Cheese *nuefantel worked fine
2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Cup grated Parmesan  (store brand cheap stuff worked fine)
Melt the butter, cream cheese and cream in a saucepan,
Add the cheese and stir until it is completely incorporated.
Cool and keep until you are ready to heat it up in the microwave and put in the crockpot to serve.
YES….it is that simple!
Simple….but rich, rich, rich and YUMMY!
This sauce stood the test of sitting for more than 4 hours on the buffet without losing texture or taste!
It is definitely a KEEPER!

  • Mr. S decided that pouring frozen bags of prepared meatballs and adding mushroom soup and beef broth would NOT do for this buffet.  He painstakingly prepared meatballs from SCRATCH using a recipe from his mom’s Swedish Woman’s Cookbook!  I have to say they were delicious!  (maybe I can convince him to write a guest post and share the recipe with you some day!)

  • Add some crusty sliced bread and butter…..A bowl of nice Parmesan Cheese and you are DONE!
The party was lots of fun and there were plenty of entertaining activities!
….the Vikings WON the final game in the Metrodome….Surprise!
….The Packers pulled off a last minute victory…..amazing!
….the slide show on the computer of hundreds of digitized slides of the family history going back 50 years made for some wonderful trips down memory lane!
Now…..I am going to heat up some of the leftover Cider…..start a fire…..and read a good book….
ALL DAY…..since it is 10 below zero outside and I don’t have anywhere to be!
Have a Great Day!