Tag Archives: parties

Easy Brunch Cocktail

This is the best cocktail for Christmas brunch, but it's also perfect for any party this season. It's great for a crowd too!

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend, and I am thrilled to be guest posting today to bring you a festive holiday cocktail: pear prosecco punch.

In my house, I always make a huge Christmas brunch to enjoy after opening presents. The feast starts with sausage balls & pigs-in-a-blanket (oldies but goodies) and coffee for breakfast while we all tear through gifts. Late morning, I pop everything in the oven, and we sit down to a huge brunch complete with berry French toast, quiche, fruit, and of course, a festive cocktail. There are only three of us every year, but we always manage to have a full-fledged feast. This is the best cocktail for Christmas brunch.

One trick: freeze a bag of cranberries and keep them on hand in your freezer. Warm prosecco isn’t tasty. Frozen cranberries can be used in place of ice to keep your cocktails cold. They won’t water-down your beverage, and they’ll look festive, too!

Pear Prosecco Holiday Cocktail

Let me know if you give this a try! I’d love to hear what you think. Happy holidays!

xo, Nicole

Pear Prosecco Punch
serves 1

You will need:

– 2 oz Pear concentrate (I use Looza)
– 4 oz Prosecco
– Rosemary sprigs & frozen cranberries for garnish

To prepare:

Pour pear concentrate into a champagne or wine glass. Top with prosecco. Add a rosemary sprig and frozen cranberries for garnish.

photos by Nicole Letts

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It’s the Little Things

This year more than any other, I think that the holidays will be about the little things. We will all be staying home, and cooking for a small crowd. What better time to try new things, like new recipes, and new ways to make your table setting really special? Below, I’m sharing a few ways to really make the holiday season special.

Flower Arranging:
How about honing your flower arranging skills. I personally love combining grocery store flowers and pumpkins and gourds, with branches and herbs I forage from the garden every year. It’s a great time to use an unexpected vessel, like an old pitcher or a soup tureen.

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Here are some easy tips on flower arranging:

While it might seem like a daunting task, arranging your own flowers can be simple yet stunning, and honestly, nothing gives me more pleasure than to arrange flowers for my own home or parties. If you follow a few easy steps, you’ll be arranging your own flowers in no time!

When beginning the design process, I start with what’s available at my local market (and even Trader Joe’s!), and I try to select a strong color theme. Selecting just one color flower, but choosing several varieties in that same color, is an easy way to pack a punch without a lot of thought. It honestly cuts way down on the stress, especially if you’re not quite ready for combining colors.

Step one: clean the bottom of the stems, and make a fresh cut.

Step two: place all the fillers in your container. For this arrangement, I’ve chosen a pitcher for my container, and Queen Anne’s Lace and Baby’s Breath as fillers.

Step three: add in your larger blooms. Be sure to work your way around the vase or pitcher. Either move around the table as you work, or spin your container to make sure your stems are even.

Step four: step back and fluff your arrangement as needed. Try to change the water every 2-3 days, and cut the stems on a diagonal every few days, too. This will keep your arrangement fresh and pretty! You can add the gourds and pumpkins around the table, maybe add a few smaller vases as well strewn around the table. More is more and more is better.

Making a Charcuterie Board:

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Create a special Charcuterie Board for your family. I usually prepare this as lunch. It’s super fun to design and even more, fun to eat. You can nibble while your main course cooks. Great if you’re watching games or working on a puzzle.

Setting the Table:

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This is R. Woods Tablescape small but lovely

I think that setting the table with a glass of wine in hand the night before is always fun. I like to put on some festive music and take my time.

Some of my go-to affordable table sources are Zara Home, Ikea, and Pottery Barn. Every year I try to buy some little addition to my table. This year I bought more candlesticks just to make the table even more glowy and happy. I also ordered some new colorful table wares from my friend potter Rebecca Wood, she also offers Ikebana Floral Lessons if you’re interested.

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This a table from the Zara Home Collection

My takeaway message is to make it special even if this year is so much different than every other year. Count your blessings and stay safe. Next year will be a big year to celebrate all the sacrifices we made. Keep the faith and keep your distance. And use this extra time to learn a craft and next year you’ll be a decorating pro. Happy Holidays.

xx Annette

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Cocktail

Frangelico_CCC3230
I have always loved Frangelico; it is a hazelnut liqueur that is traditionally served as an after-dinner digestivo. There is a legend that Frangelico was made by Friars in the Piedmont region of Italy where hazelnuts are abundant, it has a beautiful, nutty flavor profile.

Even if you’re hosting an intimate, family-only gathering, it’s a good idea to make a batch Thanksgiving cocktail. For one, you can make it ahead of time, and for another, everyone can fill their own glasses, leaving you more time to gather with your guests.

This recipe for the pumpkin monk is a palette pleaser. It’s not too sweet because of the citrus notes, and it has a lovely mouthfeel. It’s a delicious way to enjoy the flavors of the season.

Thanksgiving Cocktail: Pumpkin Monk
serves 16 (or 2 cocktails per person for 8!)

You will need:

– A large punch bowl
– 16 oz. Frangelico
– 16 oz. Appleton Reserve Rum
– 12 oz. lemon juice
– 8 oz. pumpkin spice syrup

To prepare:
Pour all ingredients into a large punch bowl and stir well. Serve over ice in a rocks glass or serve up in a coupe. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

For the Pumpkin Spice Syrup
*
this makes 1 cup which is 16 servings

You will need:
– 4 teaspoons cinnamon
– 2 teaspoons ginger
– 1 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1 teaspoon allspice
– 1 cup water
– 1 cup sugar

To prepare:
Place in a pot, then bring to a boil and reduce about 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

Photo Credit: Dane Sponberg

xx Annette

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It’s Chili Season!

chili

As the temperature starts to dip in the mornings, and there is a slight chill in the air in the evenings, I start dreaming about chili.

There’s something about the fall that is so comforting. I love the leaves changing, and the hues of green that slowly morph into browns, yellows, oranges, and reds. I love the cozy scarves, ponchos, and knee-high boots that become a part of our daily wardrobe. And the food? I love that too.

One of my favorite things about the fall is preparing a meal that makes the house smell good all day. Those fall food aromas are heavenly and comforting, and I love being able to walk in from a long day, toss everything in a pot, and enjoy a delicious meal. My White Bean Chili from my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY is perfect for this. The flavor combinations are delicious, and there are a few surprise ingredients (like cinnamon) that really make the chili delicious. Prepare a big pot, serve heaping helpings, and let your family or guests top it with just about anything they want, but I prefer a great cheddar cheese and a little sour cream. Enjoy!

This is always the go-to for Halloween, too. Everybody can enjoy before or after trick or treating (or this year, cozying up with a family movie!). 

White Bean Chili
Serves 8

You will need:
– 1 lb ground sirloin
– 1 lb ground turkey
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 small onion chopped
– 3 cloves chopped garlic
– 4 tablespoons chili powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon white pepper
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 8 cups chicken stock
– 2 cups canned cannellini white beans
– 2 cups canned pinto beans
– 2 tablespoons dried coriander

On the side:
– Tortilla chips
– Avocado
– Chopped fresh cilantro
– Sour cream

To prepare:

In a stockpot, sauté sirloin and turkey, with a slotted spoon remove cooked meat and set aside. Pour out any excess oil. Place olive oil and onions, garlic into the stockpot, heat on medium and cook until translucent. Add cooked meat, chili powder, salt, pepper and cinnamon and stock, simmer for 1 hour, add beans and coriander Cook for 3 hours.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and sliced avocado and chopped fresh cilantro tortilla chips.

xx, Annette

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Instagram Live Cooking Class from Italy, October 1 Noon EST

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fresh ricotta being made

Ciao!  If you’d like to cook with me in Italy at La Fortezza, I would love to share a recipe from my new cookbook that I am here working on this month, La Fortezza Cookbook. Since we can’t be together in person, we are sharing a recipe with you on Instagram LIVE later this week. Come take this cooking class with us.

IG LIVE October 1 at noon EST.

I will be preparing tiramisu with a twist. Our local dairy supplies us with the most delicate and delicious ricotta cheese. It is handmade every day and is incredibly fresh. The owner of the dairy was kind enough to share her unique recipe for tiramisu using ricotta instead of the traditional mascarpone cheese. This recipe will be featured in my new book which will be released spring 2022 with Rizzoli NY.

If you want to cook along with us, I’d love that! Or, just come and hang out. You can always make the recipe later. In fact, it would be wonderful to add to your menu this holiday season. See below for the necessary ingredients as well as the recipe. I hope to see you on Thursday!

Nadia’s Ricotta Tiramisu
Serves 6

You will need:
– 3 large eggs separated
– ½  cup sugar
– ¼  teaspoon sea salt
– 1 cup whipping cream
– 2 (8 oz.) containers ricotta cheese drained
– 1 ½  cups espresso
– 4  tablespoons Marsala wine, or Rum
– 24 crisp ladyfingers
– 1 cup whipped cream for the topping
– 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (for garnish)

To prepare:
Place egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment,. Beat on high until soft peaks form. Transfer to a bowl.

Beat egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow about 2 minutes. Add cream and beat 1 minute.  Add the cheese with motor running on low until combined and smooth. Fold egg whites into custard mixture.

Combine espresso and marsala wine.  In a  9”x 13” glass dish place ladyfingers into the bottom of the dish sprinkle with espresso mixture, then spread ½  of the custard mixture on top. Place the ladyfingers on top of the custard until the dish is covered once again drizzle espresso mixture on top of the ladyfingers. Spoon remaining custard on top of lady fingers. Place into the refrigerator until ready to serve. Whip cream 1 cup cream and spread on top then dust with cocoa powder.

Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

xx Annette

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