11.18.13Cocktails and Good Cheer

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Who doesn’t love a holiday soiree?! We sure do. We’ll be hosting our first annual Christmas gathering with Charlottesville friends at the Langdon household in December! The image above is part of the invitation I designed and created.

I’ve been planning a menu of cocktails and tasty treats to share with our friends. I realize it’s not yet Thanksgiving, but if you’re looking for inspiration for your own hosting or pot-lucking this season, maybe one of these will do the trick and help with your own planning!

Drinks:

Champagne with cranberries
Easy enough, and you can add amaretto or cranberry syrup if you’re feeling extra fancy.

Old Fashioned
For a more masculine beverage, try one of these cocktails. Rob and I have great connotations with this drink and will always remember our pre-marital counseling leaders making them for us at a potluck dinner in their adorable Brooklyn Heights kitchen.

1 sugar cube
3 dashes Angostura bitters
1 orange peel
club soda
2 ounces rye whiskey

Place the sugar cube (or 1/2 teaspoon loose sugar) in an Old-Fashioned glass. Wet it down with 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and a short splash of water or club soda. Crush the sugar and add a large ice cube and orange peel. Pour in the rye (or bourbon).

Hot cider
This one is easy. I’ll be pouring some Carter Mountain Apple Cider into a pot and heating it up on the stove. Serve with a cinnamon stick if desired. This is a great seasonal alternative to alcoholic beverages.

Food:

Chex Mix
My mom’s Chex Mix recipe is the best I’ve ever had. It is dangerously addicting with the perfect ingredients and flavors. In fact, I’ve given up trying to portion-control myself whenever she makes it. Now it’s my turn to make it! And you can, too :-). Here is Brenda’s Chex Mix:

1 stick margarine (8 T)
~ 1/8 – 1/4 C worcestershire sauce
~ 1 t Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning (spicy salt mix)
~ 2 C wheat chex (can be store brand)
~ 4 C rice chex (can be store brand)
~ 4 C Crispix (can be store brand)
~ 1 C Bugles
~ 1 C broken pretzels
~ 1/2 – 1 C Virginia peanuts

“Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.  Melt margarine in microwave (it’s faster than waiting for the oven to melt the margarine).  Pour margarine into 11 x 15, roasting pan, or other large baking dish.  Stir in worcestershire sauce and Tony’s salt mix.  In large bowl put of any combination of cereal, Bugles, pretzels and peanuts.  I usually do about 10 C of cereal and the rest a combination of the other things.  I like to have them all ready to be able to pour them into the margarine mixture at once, and then stir the mess quickly to coat everything with the margarine.  Bake in oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  I usually add extra dashes of Worcestershire sauce at the first stir.  After the hour, empty contents onto paper towels and spread to cool.  Eat first batch while making the second batch, which you will tell everyone else is just the first batch.”

If you buy a box of each of the cereals above you can probably make 2-3 batches.  The above recipe is for 1 batch. And let’s be real. I’m gonna need more than one batch.

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Goat cheese with pistachios and dried cranberries
How much more festive can it get? It’s the perfect holiday cheese option.

2 tablespoons roasted pistachios, chopped
2 tablespoons dried cranberries, chopped
1 8- to 10-ounce log fresh goat cheese
crackers or bread, for serving

On a large plate, combine the pistachios and cranberries. Roll the goat cheese in the fruit-and-nut mixture to coat. Serve with the crackers or bread.

Chocolate-dipped pretzels
This is another tradition from my mom that I absolutely love to indulge in. It’s so simple, but everyone loves them. Just melt your white chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave and start dipping. The key is to only dip about 1/3 of the pretzel in your melted baker’s white chocolate. Line dipped pretzels on wax paper until dry. This is the sweet/salty combo perfected. Sprinkles are optional (though festive!).

Peanut Blossoms
Because what’s a Christmas party without a Christmas cookie?! And this one happens to be my very favorite. I simply can’t get enough of the peanut butter cookie matched perfectly with that Hershey kiss for the best flavor combo ever. Trust me, buying Reese’s for trick-or-treaters at Halloween was not smart. Can’t resist.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
Sugar
48 Hershey’s Kisses milk chocolates, unwrapped
Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, shortening, peanut butter, milk, vanilla and egg; mix with electric mixer on low speed until stiff dough forms. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375°F. for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately top each cookie with 1 milk chocolate candy, pressing down firmly so cookie cracks around edge; remove from cookie sheets. *This recipe makes 48 cookies – feel free to halve… or double ;-). Recipe via.
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What are your favorite festive foods and beverages? Any recipes to throw into the mix?

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