Spruce Up Your Champagne for NYE

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. We are staying in for New Year’s Eve this year, but that doesn’t mean the holiday should be any less special…it just might mean an earlier bedtime. I wanted to share a few tips for sprucing up your bubbly. In my opinion, nothing beats a glass of bubbles, but you can always add a little something to up the ante.

Tip one: use frozen cranberries

One of my favorite holiday tricks is using frozen cranberries to keep beverages cold. 3-4 frozen cranberries in a glass of champagne are not only beautiful but useful! I usually buy a bag and freeze the entire thing. Such a simple spruce.

Tip two: switch up your glassware

Champagne glasses are tall and elegant, but I never miss an opportunity to use a coupe. My favorite coupe glasses are the ones I find while antique shopping, but these from Estelle are a close runner-up.

Tip three: sprinkle some sparkle

My sister gave me edible champagne glitter for Christmas, and it is honestly so fun. It makes your drink absolutely sparkle! Then, my sister-in-law gave me cotton candy that you put in your champagne. How fun is that?! Clearly, my family knows me well.

Tip four: splash some St. Germain

I love a splash of St. Germain liqueur in my champagne. The elderflower has floral notes which pairs well with crisp champagne. Be careful to only use a dash!

I hope you all have a wonderful start to 2022!

xo Nicole

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Easy Make Ahead Meal

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m pretty tired of cooking, and I am ready for a bit of a break. I’ve been thinking about what I can make ahead to last me a few days and give me some much-needed downtime, and it dawned on me that there is nothing better than make-ahead lasagna. And lucky for me, I have Annette’s archives right at my fingertips.

She has shared the below recipe for meatless lasagna before. Let us know if you give it a try.

Meatless Lasagna
Serves 12-14

You will need:
– 1 package lasagna noodles (you will need 12 noodles)
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 cloves of garlic finely minced
– 2 cups mushrooms cut into thin slices
– 6 cups Spinach
– 1 16.oz ricotta ( low fat is fine)
– 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese (reserve 1 cup for the topping)
– 1 egg
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (reserve ½ cup for the topping)
– 1 16 oz jar prepared marinara sauce (or your own sauce recipe)

To prepare noodles:

Preheat Oven 400 degrees F

Prepare noodles according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: once the noodles are cooked, I like to rinse them in cool water and then leave them in the water until I am ready to layer the pan, this makes them not stick together.

To prepare filling:

Combine the ricotta, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, and the 1 cup Parmesan cheese, oregano and egg in a bowl and combine until smooth. Set aside.

In a saute pan, add oil, garlic and mushrooms. Saute until browned, then toss in the spinach and saute the spinach and mushrooms until all the moisture in the pan has evaporated. You want the mixture as dry as possible.

To layer:

Separate the noodles in the water some of them may have stuck together, then drain in a colander. I like to line up my fillings and the noodles.

In a lasagna pan (9”x13)” lay in the layer of noodles, 3 to 4 is perfect. Then add the sauce about (1/2 cup), the spinach mushroom filling, and then dollops of the ricotta filling (about 3 tablespoon dollops), finishing off the layer with a sprinkle of shredded Mozzarella ( about 1/2 cup). Repeat this process 3 times, each time starting with the noodle layer. The top layer should be the noodles, sauce and the 1 cup of Mozzarella and ½ cup of Parmesan make sure to cover the entire top layer.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees F. Let it set up for 15-20 minutes before serving.

xx Annette

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Add a little DIY to your holiday parties

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend. Over the weekend, I went to an intimate holiday brunch at my friend Paige Minear’s house. Paige served a lovely, simple spread, and we all sipped a prosecco punch while having conversations about our favorite Christmas memories. Then, Paige surprised us with a DIY activity: gingerbread house building!

She purchased these kits which allowed us to get a head start on one of the hardest parts: building the house itself. Our kits came with a few cute candies for decorating, but Paige also provided some other treats to make our houses unique. We laughed and helped each other when sides caved in or our windows turned out looking more like doors. It was a blast, and it got me thinking that having an activity at a party is almost as important as having great food.

Annette has always said that any extra touch at a party is what guests are going to remember. In her archives, she has directions for DIY snow globe place cards (I copied it again below!). You could do this yourself, or you could set out all of the materials ahead of time for guests to make their own take-home gift. Five years from now, I won’t remember the yummy avocado toast that Paige served, but I will remember belly-laughing over gingerbread houses.

Find Annette’s directions for DIY snowglobes below.

Happy holidays!

xo Nicole

You will need:

– Hot Glue Gun
– 2. 5″ ball jar
– Small toy deer, rabbit, or christmas tree
– Faux snow
– 1/2 inch silk ribbon
– Stickers (these are from Michaels)
– Sharpie
– Twine

How To:

1. Cut a 3 inch piece of ribbon, attach the sticker, and write the name of your guest

2. Attach the ribbon banner to the tree or toy animal with a dot of hot glue

3. Remove the lid of the jar, pull the lid apart, and add a little glue to the inside of the outer rim. Glue the round part of the lid to the rim.

4. Place a dime size round of hot glue on the inside of the lid, and attach tree or toy.

5. Place about 1″ depth of the faux snow into the jar.

6. Once the glue has solidified, twist the top onto the jar.

7. Flip the jar and place the jar lid side down on the table. You can shake the snow into place.

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Winter White Negroni

Ciao! I wanted to leave this recipe here. We love a Negroni, am I right? This Winter White Negroni is the perfect winter version of my favorite cocktail. When anybody asks me what my favorite cocktail is, the Classic Negroni is hands down my go-to. Here’s a great twist on the classic; it’s a great holiday party addition to your cocktail recipes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce Lillet blanc
  • 1/2 ounce Suze gentian liqueur
  • Garnish: lemon twist

Steps

  1. Add the gin, Lillet blanc and Suze into a mixing glass with ice and stir for 15 to 20 seconds until well-chilled.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
  3. Garnish with a lemon twist. We added a few cranberries a festive holiday touch.
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Annette’s Latkes

Hi everyone! It’s Annette’s web manager and friend, Nicole. Yesterday, I met two fellow writer friends (hi Lia and Caroline!) for brunch. When we started tossing around ideas of where to meet, I immediately suggested The General Muir, an Atlanta New York-style Jewish delicatessen. Mostly because I had one request: latkes.

While it *is* Hanukkah, I love any excuse for latkes. The General Muir has excellent ones (ask for their Hanukkah menu if you visit this week! They also have jelly doughnuts…), and Trader Joe’s even has a frozen variety that I have on good authority are also worth their weight. However, there’s never going to be anything like homemade latkes. Today, I’m sharing Annette’s recipe. Take her advice and serve them alongside homemade applesauce, sour cream, or nonfat plain greek yogurt. You can also add caviar for a luxurious bite!

Yellow and Gold Latkes

serves 4 to 6

You will need:
– 3 medium size sweet potatoes
– 3 medium size yukon gold potatoes
– 2 eggs
– 1/4 cup matzo meal or All purpose flour
– 1 small yellow onion diced– salt and pepper to taste

– 1 cup canola oil, add more as needed for frying

To prepare:

Prepare a paper towel-lined cookie sheet for finished latkes.

Hand grate potatoes, so they are shredded. Add salt and set aside for 10 minutes.

By hand, squeeze the liquid out of the potatoes, transfer to another mixing bowl.

Add eggs, matzo meal and diced onion and mix.

Note: if the potatoes still have some water, it’s fine to add 1 more egg and more matzo meal to bind.

In a large skillet put 1/4 cup oil and heat. Drop-in latke mix with a spoon forming small pancakes.

Fry in the oil until golden and crispy.

Place cooked latke pancakes on the towels to drain oil, and continue to fry the latkes and drain. You will need to continue to add oil to the skillet as you continue to fry the latkes. Place the cooked, and drained latkes in the oven on low until guests arrive.

Serve with homemade applesauce, sour cream, or non fat plain greek yogurt.

Latkes photo by Stephanie Meyer for Food & Wine

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