You are looking at a gourmet party-to-be here with zero work from the hostess. Bask in its glory.

I love, love, love to host parties and holiday celebrations. Pre-kids, I would spend hours planning a menu and cooking elaborate dishes. Since becoming a mom, however, it has become tough to balance wanting to make everything myself and wanting to relax and enjoy my family and friends. I never considered store-bought appetizers and desserts, writing them off as boring, predictable, and “meh”, in a word. Well, Whole Foods, you’ve changed my mind. You see, I decided to use the amazing holiday items given to me by Whole Foods Bishops Corner to host a holiday kick-off cocktail party. Long story short: I spent exactly 15 minutes of hands-on time preparing for this party. Yup. Whole Foods: I’m now a believer. Bring on the catered food! I’m sold. Take a peek at the amazing party I literally threw together in 15 minutes.

The Breakdown, item-by-item:

 Brie en Croute: This arrived frozen. I opened it, added the optional egg wash (per the instructions), and baked it for 50 minutes. Not only was the brie topped with delicious cranberries, but it was perfectly spiced for a holiday treat. I served it with some crostini. To die for.

I may see this in my dreams. It was that good.

Meze Platter: This platter took the place of the done-to-death grocery store antipasto platter of neatly rolled lunch meats and cheeses. It featured an incredible assortment of tabouleh, hummus, baba ganoush, feta, stuffed grape leaves, olive tapenade, and soft pita wedges. I loved the fresh tasting tabouleh; my mother couldn’t stop raving about the bright, lemony taste of the hummus. This will be my new stand-by contribution to all potluck events!

You will be this giddy when you see this platter in person. Beautiful to look at and delish.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus Spears: Everything is better when it’s wrapped in prosciutto, and this especially applies to vegetables. This appetizer, which is served chilled, is simple but delicious, consisting of tender asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto with a thin layer of what tasted like creme fraiche inside.

In addition to being tasty, this hors d’oeuvre looked gorgeous!

Chris’ Maryland-Style Crab Cakes: I’m a terrible New Englander: I’m completely intimidated by cooking seafood. I always worry it’s not seasoned correctly, not good quality, and just won’t come out as tasty as restaurant dishes. Well, my husband, who loves crabmeat, declared these crab cakes to be better than any he’s ever had. That’s high praise. They arrived ready to pan sear. I cooked them  in a skillet with butter for maybe 3-4 minutes per side. I served them with a spicy Cajun Remoulade sauce that Whole Foods recommended, and it was perfect. The sauce added some zip and didn’t overpower the flavor of the blue crab at all.

Light and flaky with lots of flavor!

Chocolate Truffles: I used to have a coworker who made amazing truffles for the holidays from scratch. They melted in your mouth and were rolled in really high quality cocoa powder. These were pretty darn close to that good. You’d never believe they came out of a box from a grocery store shelf. You’d swear these were from a really good chocolate shop. We had to hide them from our 18 month old. He has developed a truffle addiction thanks to these…definitely my son 🙂

These literally melt in your mouth. You do not need to chew them.

Buche de Noel: I’m about to out myself as a huge nerd: When I was a sophomore in high school, I made a Buche de Noel for extra credit in French class. I know firsthand how tough this is to make. This traditional French cake in the shape of a yule log is made of a rolled cake, filled and frosted to look like a log. With the exception of cakes from a few favorite Italian pastry shops, I have never, ever liked a cake that wasn’t homemade. I can spot a store-bought cake a mile away. This one, however, would fool me. Even my husband, who generally isn’t a dessert fan, adored this. The cake was moist, the buttercream was fluffy, and the ganache filling was rich. I would have perhaps liked the decorations to be a bit more polished (our meringue mushrooms were a little crushed, and the icing, though delicious, was a bit messy), it was easily one of the best cakes I’ve ever had.

Chocolate heaven…in the shape of a yule log. What more can you ask for?

That frosting is better than my homemade frosting. I never thought I’d say that about a grocery store bakery cake.

So that’s it! Well done, Whole Foods Bishops Corner! I guess it really IS possible to throw a great party with catered foods without sacrificing quality. I’m convinced…and possibly five pounds heavier. Thank you, and happy holidays to all!

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Disclaimer: I was not paid to do this review. I simply received the items mentioned so that I could write a fair and honest review for all of you lovely readers.

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