When thinking of all the reasons why we love the holidays so much, a million thoughts come to mind. And when we think of the reasons what makes the holidays so stressful, a few pop up to the surface. But avoiding the crazy shopping malls pretty much alleviates all the stress already. Maybe we’re getting old, but as the years go by, our holidays become so much less stressful and quite honestly, so much more enjoyable.
Bye bye to all the fancy holiday gatherings we used to do with days of cooking preparation and decorating the house with all the jingle bells and poinsettias in every corner of the house.
Simply put, we now host casual holiday dinner parties full of tapas, small bites and fun conversation. Holiday life is so much easier that way because between holiday photo shoots and two attention-hungry dogs the more casual the party, the better!
We hosted a special little holiday tapas dinner in collaboration with and some of West Elm’s dishes, which we can never get enough. Before they ever reached out to us to collaborate on a tapas party shoot, we had their dishes stocked high in our studio’s prop room already. So adding a few more pieces to our collection was an easy “yes”. Pull our arms, why don’t ‘cha?
We chose West Elm’s Gather Plates for our party because the etching and theme of what we’re about is gathering. The evening couldn’t have been any more perfect and with the addition of some personal favorites from Lindsay’s Suite One Studio dishes we bought, the table was set the exactly the way we wanted: simple, un-fussy and loaded with tons of great asparagus bacon spring rolls.
If you’ve never rolled spring rolls before or have failed, no worries. Rolling these are actually so much easier than you’d ever think and best of all, you can roll anything in them. It’s one of the most fun ways to gather a group of friends together and eat tapas. Here’s a tutorial we wrote on how to roll spring rolls for any of you newbies.
Part of the fun of our spring roll parties is to have everyone roll their own rolls and cut them into bite sized pieces to share with others. For tapas, that’s the best part because you can small bites from everyones creation. But the real fun at our gathering is watching to see how everyone rolls. Some spring rolls come out like skinny cigars, while other friends roll huge burrito sized spring rolls. It’s always a great laugh to poke fun at those who end up making burritos instead of spring rolls. But it’s all in fun and that’s why gatherings are so wonderful. There’s never a boring moment.
Now we have two weeks before Christmas arrives and we still can’t believe it’s almost here. Where did 2011, 2012 and now 2013 go to? If you figure it out, let us know!
Hope all your holiday planning is swell, full of family and great food. And fingers crossed, less mall time and less stress!
diane and todd
Roasted Asparagus Spring Rolls with Bacon
Yield: about 10 rolls
Total Time: 30 min
The fillings here are not traditionally Vietnamese, but they are examples of the endless possibilities
for spring rolls. This recipe is not paired with a dip because the bacon is already quite salty.
For dip ideas see our other spring roll recipes.
- 1 bunch tender baby asparagus (about 1⁄2 pound / 225g)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 12 slices bacon, crisped
- 1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- 1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks (optional)
- Lettuce leaves
- Fresh basil or mint leaves
- Rice paper wrappers
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
- Trim any dry or tough ends from the asparagus spears. On a sheet pan, toss the asparagus with the oil. Add pepper to taste. (Do not salt the asparagus because the bacon will be salty.)
- Roast until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (Cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of the asparagus.)
- Gather the asparagus, bacon, cucumber, carrot (if using), lettuce leaves, herb leaves, and rice paper wrappers and prepare to roll.
- Fill a large bowl with warm (bath-temperature) water. Gently dip each rice paper wrapper in the water for a few seconds, just until damp. (Don’t oversoak.) Place the wrapper on a plate or wooden board. As the wrapper begins to absorb the water and becomes softer and pliable (10 to 30 seconds, depending on the thickness of the wrappers and the water temperature), begin to add the fillings.
- On the one-third of the wrapper closest to you, place a layer of each filling (asparagus, one slice of bacon, cucumber, carrot, lettuce, and herb leaves).
- Start rolling the wrapper over the fillings, away from you, tucking and rolling the wrapper with your fingers, making sure all the fillings remain within the wrapper and tucking in the sides as you roll.