Holiday Party Punch

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend, and I am back today with a little treat for you from the archives: festive holiday party punch.

Here’s the thing: I found out less than a week ago that we are hosting my husband’s family for Christmas this year. Oh, and I’m hosting my family on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, because of various conflicts, everyone can’t be together at one shindig, so this is the best we can do. Needless to say, my stress meter is a pinch off the charts.

One thing I know I can do to make life easier is to make a batch cocktail, aka, punch. Annette has always stressed the importance of enjoying the party as the hostess, too. That’s part of the fun, right? I plan to make a holiday punch, put everything out on a table, and let guests serve themselves. I might even leave the liquor out, so the kids can get involved, and so the adults can select their libation of choice. Here’s one of Annette’s fabulous holiday party punch recipes. Enjoy!

Holiday Punch
Serves 16

You will need:

– 6 cups Pomegranate Juice
– 4 cups SKYY INFUSIONS CRANBERRY
– 4 cups FRANGELICO
– 1 cup Lime Juice
– 1 cup Orange Juice
– 1 cup Honey syrup
– 1 cup fresh cranberries
– 2 ice cube trays

Honey Syrup:

1 cup water and 1 cup honey boiled and reduced about 10 minutes

Cranberry Ice Cubes:

Fill trays with pomegranate juice and cranberries. As the juice melts, it will only make the cocktail merrier!

Punch:

Mix all ingredients together in a large serving bowl or pitcher. Ladle punch into ice-filled glass.
Garnish with clove stuffed orange slices (or simply with rosemary sprig; the punch’s red color is
gorgeous with this “evergreen” garnish). Serve with cranberry ice cubes.

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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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ORANGE OLIVE OIL CAKE with Licorice Ice Cream

This recipe for orange olive oil cake with black licorice ice cream is a fun way to spoof on spooky season. It’s from my archives, and I know you’ll enjoy the unique flavors. Pop it onto a pretty cake plate for presentation and don’t skip the licorice ice cream!

Enjoy!

Orange Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

You will need:
– 1 cup fresh orange juice + zest of 1 orange about 1/4 cup
– 1 teaspoon fine salt
– 3 large eggs, room temperature
– 1 1/4 cups whole milk
– 1 ½  cups sugar
– ¼  cup orange liqueur, rum, brandy or whisky
– 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pans
– 1 tablespoon lemon zest
– 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, divided
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 6 tablespoons lemon or orange marmalade
– 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, for garnish

To Prepare: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 10” Bundt pan

In a nonreactive saucepan, reduce the orange juice over medium heat to 1/4 cup. Add salt orange zest and rosemary, stir, and let cool.

Lightly beat eggs with a paddle attachment in standing mixer on high for 1 minute until frothy. Add sugar beat until fluffy add milk, liqueur, olive oil, reduced orange juice mixture, lemon zest. Mix for 1 minute until well blended. Mix in the flour, baking soda and baking powder until well blended and smooth.

* Note that the batter will appear very soupy this is the way it’s supposed to look.

Pour the mixture into the oiled cake pan. Bake for 45 minutes -1 hour. Place on a rack to cool. Run a knife around the edges and place it on a plate. While the cake is still warm, smooth 3 tablespoons of marmalade onto the top of the cake. Sprinkle remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary evenly over cake. Garnish center with rosemary sprig.

Recipe adapted from Michael Chiarello

Licorice Ice Cream

You will need:
– 1/2 ounces black licorice sticks, chopped, 1/2 cup of water.
– 1 cup whole milk
– 1/2 cup heavy cream
– 2 egg yolks
– 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine or granulated sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Prepare: 

Put the licorice in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water and place over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the licorice has melted. I use ready-made Licorice syrup. I find it’s more concentrated and salty.

Meanwhile, pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to steam but not boil.

Whisk the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk until pale and slightly fluffy. Gradually and slowly, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Return the mixture to the saucepan, place over low heat, and heat until the custard thinly coats the back of a wooden spoon about 5 minutes. Do not let boil.

Strain back into the bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooled to room temperature.

Once cooled, cover the mixture and refrigerate, ideally overnight, but at least for 6 hours, until thoroughly chilled (at least 40°F). Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

When the churning is complete, use a spoon or spatula to scrape the ice cream into a loaf pan, drizzle with the licorice syrup and swirl, careful not to combine it to much leaving nice ribbons of the licorice to appear all over the ice cream. Cover with clear plastic wrap. Freeze until it reaches the correct scooping texture (at least 2 hours).

xx, Annette

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Fig Crostini Appetizer

Earlier this week, my web-manager, Nicole, shared my recipe for a fig tart. If you are looking for an even easier recipe to use up those summer figs, you’ll love this fig crostini recipe. While this snack makes an incredible appetizer or even breakfast, I also love the idea of serving this as a light, unexpected dessert at the end of a meal. It’s a tried and true recipe perfect for any occasion.

Goat Cheese and Fig Crostini
Serves 10

You will need:
– 20 small figs cut in half, lengthwise
– 1 loaf of French bread sliced into 1/2 in slices (makes about 20 slices)
– 1/2 cup olive oil
– 8 oz. soft artisan goat cheese, at room temperature
– 1/4 cup lemon honey
– 40 Marcona Almonds
– 1 teaspoon cracked pepper

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Crostini: Lay the bread slices on to a cookie sheet with a brush coat the top of the slices with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the slices are golden brown. Cool the crostini.  Spread 2 tablespoons of goat cheese on the crostini, top with 2 half figs, and add 2 almonds on either side of the figs. Place on a platter and repeat with the rest of the crostinis.

Once all the crostinis are on the platter, drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with cracked pepper and serve.

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Chic Pigs in a Blanket:: Meet Salami Puffs

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Salami puffs are such a quick and fun appetizer for an evening aperitivo. This easy appetizer pulls together in no time. Think of it as pigs-in-a-blanket’s chic older sister…but better!

The recipe calls for cream cheese which is always a winner. Fun fact: in Italy, cream cheese is simply called “Philadelphia.”

Salami Puffs
serves 12

You will need:
– 12 slices Genova salami slices cut in half
– 1 sheet puff pastry
– ½ cup cream cheese

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Thaw the puff pastry, and unroll on a board covered in parchment paper. With
a rolling pin, roll the pastry into a 12-by-12-inch square. Then, spread the cream cheese on top of the puff pastry. Cut the pastry with a sharp knife into 3-by-3-inch squares. Place a salami half on top of each pastry square, then fold corners of the square together over the salami until they meet in the center, forming a small pouch. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve at room temperature.

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