Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Treats

It's that wonderful time of year again - the holidays! And you know what that means, time for festive treats. And cuddling. But mostly treats and drinks.

I'm going to share 3 easy appetizers and 3 easy drink recipes to wow your guests this year.

  • (photo courtesy of
    Chocolate Bruschetta

    10 (1-ounce) slices diagonally cut French bread (about 1/4-inch thick
    Cooking spray
    5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60-70 percent cocoa), finely chopped
    1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
    Grated orange rind (optional)
  • 1. Preheat broiler.
  • 2. Lightly coat bread with cooking spray. Place bread on a baking sheet; broil 3 minutes on each side or until toasted. Remove bread from oven.
  • 3. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
  • 4. Sprinkle each bread slice with about 1 1/2 tablespoons chocolate. Bake 5 minutes or until chocolate melts. Sprinkle evenly with salt; garnish with orange rind, if desired. Serve warm. 
  • (10 servings)

  • (photo courtesy of
  • Honey-Glazed Almonds

    1 1/2 cups raw, unblanched almonds
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 1/2 tablespoons honey
    1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder
    1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place the almonds in a medium nonstick skillet; cook over medium heat for 6 minutes or until lightly toasted, shaking pan frequently. Combine the remaining ingredients in a 2-cup glass measure. Microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds. 
3. Add honey mixture to pan, and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. 
4. Arrange almond mixture on prepared baking sheet in a single layer; let stand 10 minutes. Break apart any clusters. 

(10 servings)
(photo courtesy of
Artichoke and Fennel Caponata

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped fennel bulb
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons capers
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. 
2. Add onion, celery, fennel, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. 
3. Stir in raisins and next 8 ingredients (through artichokes). 
4. Bring to a simmer; cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
(14 servings)
    (photo courtesy of
    Gingered Pear and Brandy Cocktail

    1/4 cup water
    3 tablespoons sugar
    1/4 cup peeled & chopped fresh ginger
    3 cups pear juice
    1 cup cognac
    10 lemon rind twists

    1. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add ginger. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Strain sugar mixture through a fine sieve. Discard solids. Chill sugar mixture 30 minutes or until ready to use.
    2. Fill a large martini shaker half full with ice. Add sugar mixture, juice, and cognac; shake until chilled. Strain 1/2 cup mixture into each of 10 martini glasses. Garnish each serving with 1 lemon twist. 
    (10 servings)

    (photo courtesy of

    Spicy Rum Punch

    • 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
    • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
    • 6 star anise seasoning
    • 4 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
    • 2 (64-ounce) bottles cranberry-pineapple juice
    • 2 cups dark rum
    • 4 (12-ounce) bottles any ginger beer

    • 1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large Dutch over; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; let stand 30 minutes.
    • 2. Strain cranberry mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Chill thoroughly. Stir in rum and ginger beer just before serving. 
    • (20 servings)
      (photo courtesy of
      • Mock Tea Sangria

      • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen raspberries, thawed
      • 1/3 cup sugar
      • 1 family-size tea bag
      • 2 cups red grape juice
      • 1 lemon, sliced
      • 1 lime, sliced
      • 1 (16-ounce) bottle orange soft drink, chilled*

      • 1. Process raspberries in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Pour puree through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large container, discarding raspberry seeds.
      • 2. Bring sugar and 3 cups water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring often. Remove from heat; add tea bag. Cover and steep 5 minutes.
      • 3. Remove tea bag with a slotted spoon, squeezing gently; cool tea mixture slightly. Stir together raspberry puree, tea mixture, grape juice, and lemon and lime slices. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours. Stir in orange soft drink, and serve immediately over ice. 
      • (9 servings)

      • *Note: You can substitute 1 cup orange juice and 1 cup lemon-lime soft drink for orange soft drink.
      (All recipes courtesy of

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