We based our signature cocktails on our favorite fruits of the season. Make sure your booze-free option isn’t a snooze for holiday guests…
CRANBERRY GINGER SWAPPER SPRITZ
Add the following ingredients into a decorative drink dispenser. Serve over ice, but if you want to be extra, freeze the citrus slices into big ass ice cubes (we like to use a silicone muffin tin or a large bundt pan if serving in a punch bowl). Garnish with citrus and bubble on, my carbonated friend! And if you want this boozy too, add gin or vodka!
1 bottle cranberry juice
1 bottle sparkling water
1 bottle ginger beer
Orange, grapefruit, and lime slices
Garnish glasses with fresh cranberries and/or candied ginger slices.
BOURBON APPLE CIDER
We are always game for a “set it and forget it” recipe, and this boozy bourbon drink did not disappoint. Bust out that Crockpot or InstantPot (is there anything this appliance can’t do??) for this one.
Add apple cider, cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole cloves, oranges, and lemons in your slow-cooker of choice. Turn the heat on low and cook for 6-7 hours.
Before serving, take out all of the whole spices, oranges and lemons. Pour whiskey or bourbon in. Stir and serve!
1 gallon apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
4 tsp. whole cloves
2 oranges, sliced (plus more for garnish)
2 lemons, sliced (plus more for garnish)
1 liter of good whiskey or bourbon
BITE SIZED HOLIDAY HITS
Our theme for the menu was mini versions of the holiday dinner classics. We wanted our guests to grab a bite as they shopped, without having to sit down with cutlery. Our fun-sized family favorites
were portable, easily premade, and allowed our guests to graze throughout the evening. Good things do come in small packages!
GREEN BEANS IN A BISCUIT:
(adapted from My Joy Filled Life)
All of our eats were handheld, so finding a vegetarian option that didn’t require a fork and knife was a challenge. Turning everyone’s favorite green bean casserole into a biscuit was an inspired take on the classic side dish.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 16 muffin tin cups with a nonstick cooking spray.
Remove the biscuits from the can separate each biscuit in half (separate them between the layers). Roll out the biscuit dough to make a thinner circle. Place each piece in a muffin cup and press down on the bottom and up the sides to form a 'cup.'
In a large mixing bowl, add the beans, soup, 3/4 cup of fried onions, and 1 cup of the cheese.
Mix well to incorporate all of the ingredients.
Spoon the green bean mixture into the muffin cups, filling up to the top of the biscuit dough.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the biscuits are light golden brown.
Remove the muffin pan from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and fried onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake for an additional 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Serve warm and enjoy!
2 (8 count) can Pillsbury Grands Buttermilk Biscuits
3 cups of fresh green beans, steamed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 can cream of mushroom condensed soup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 1/4 cups French's crispy fried onions, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
CRANBERRY TURKEY MEATBALLS:
(updated from WellPlated)
Thanksgiving may have passed, but who says you still can’t invite turkey and cranberries to the party? We prepared and served these bad boys straight out of our InstantPot, but below are the steps to prepare in the old school oven.
Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place an ovenproof baking rack on top of a large, rimmed baking sheet, then lightly coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, olive oil, egg, apple, sage, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. With your hands or two forks, lightly mix to combine, being careful not to compact the meat.
Roll the mixture into 1 1/2 to 2-inch balls, using a small scoop to help portion as desired. Arrange the meatballs on top of the prepared baking rack. Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes, just until cooked through.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: In a saucepan large enough to hold the meatballs, combine the cranberries, applesauce, maple syrup, orange zest, and orange juice. Heat over medium to warm through. Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce, then spoon the sauce over gently to coat. Transfer to a serving platter to enjoy immediately or place in a slow cooker set to the lowest heat to keep warm. Garnish with fresh parsley as desired and serve.Meatballs:
1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large egg — lightly beaten
1 cup shredded tart apple — such as Granny Smith, washed with peel on
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped Simply Roundy’s Fresh Sage
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley — optional for garnish
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
Zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
ROAST BEEF CHRISTMAS CROSTINI
(updated from Cooking Channel TV)
This delicious make-ahead app had out shoppers going back for seconds...and thirds...and maybe fourths...but who’s counting?
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle the filet generously all over with kosher salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a medium-sized ovenproof skillet over medium heat until the foam subsides. Cook the filet until well browned all over, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers about 130 degrees F, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest until room temperature, at least 15 minutes. Thinly slice across the grain.
Stir together the horseradish, mayonnaise and sour cream. Spread the bread slices generously with the horseradish mixture and place a slice of beef decoratively on top. Sprinkle with a little sea salt, and then top with 2 crossed chives. The beef can be cooked a day ahead. Slice just before assembling.
One 8oz filet mignon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs prepared horseradish (drained)
2 tbs mayonnaise
2 tbs sour cream
16 ¼ inch-thick slices of baguette (about ½ a baguette), lightly toasted
Flaky sea salt for serving (we stan for Maldon)
Fresh chives, cut into 1 ½ segments (about ¼ cup)
BAKED MINI PUMPKIN DUFFINS
(adapted from Eat Drink Pretty)
Are they donuts? Are the muffins? Who cares, put ‘em in my mouth! They’re baked, so you don’t have to feel as bad (eats 20 duffins). We made them in a mini-donut pan, but you could also go the muffin route and bake them in a mini-muffin pan.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a doughnut pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray (this is critical for duffin success, don’t be stingy with the spray)
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside.
In another bowl, cream together the brown sugar, butter and pumpkin (we did this in our Kitchenaid). Add in the eggs, mix well, then mix in the milk and vanilla. Stir in the reserved dry ingredients.
Place the mix in a large zip-top bag. Cut off the corner and pipe into the doughnut pan. This technique really helps to make sure the batter gets neatly into the pan.
Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 6-7 minutes. Remove pan from oven, let rest for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
For the cinnamon/sugar topping, melt the butter in a bowl and combine sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Dip each donut into the butter and then immediately into the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
APPLE OF MY EYE PIE
(adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
These lil apple hand pies were so squee we could barely deal with it. We used a mini-apple shaped mold from Williams and Sonoma, but you could easily just do this with a round cookie cutter. If you’ve got pie crust anxiety (pienxiety?), channel the words of domestic goddess Ina Garten, “Store bought is fine!”
Make the Pastry: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water. Add to the flour mixture and, using a fork, gently toss and stir together until large lumps form and all of the flour has been moistened. Using your hands, pat the dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour (if preparing ahead of time, the dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month).
Assemble the Pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the refrigerated dough in half. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one half of the dough to ⅛-inch thickness. Using a 4½-inch round biscuit cutter, cut seven circles out of the rolled dough. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the remaining half of dough. Refrigerate the dough circles for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small pan, combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon and salt, and cook over low heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender. Set aside. Prior to preparing the pies, drain any accumulated liquid from the apples.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Spoon about 1 to 2 tablespoons filling onto one half of each circle of dough. Brush a little water around the circumference of the dough, and fold it in half so the other side comes down over the filling, creating a semicircle. Seal the hand pie, and make a decorative edge by pressing the edges of the dough together with the tines of a fork. Refrigerate the assembled hand pies for 30 minutes.
Bake the Pies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and water for the egg wash. Remove the chilled hand pies from the refrigerator, and lightly brush with the egg yolk wash. Using a paring knife, cut a few small slits on the top of each hand pie, then sprinkle generously with coarse sugar. Bake until the hand pies are golden brown, anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, depending on how thick you rolled the dough. Remove the pies from the oven, and let stand to cool slightly before serving. The pies are best eaten within a day of baking them, but they can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. They can also be wrapped with plastic wrap and placed in a freezer storage bag and frozen for up to 2 months.
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
½ cup sour cream
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup ice water
2 large apples (peeled, cored and diced small)
⅓ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
We sent our guests home with a package of homemade marshmallows. We made ours with peppermint extract and red food coloring to stay in the holiday spirit, but this recipe is a great blank slate for tons of flavor options (we’re already thinking about channeling churro vibes for our next batch). Making candy may seem intimidating, but all you really need is a candy thermometer to make this fluffy dreams a reality. You could also use cookie cutters to turn your marshmallows into seasonal shapes.
Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar.
In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.
In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer. (Some reviewers felt this took even longer with a hand mixer, but still eventually whipped up nicely.)
In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla (or your choice of flavoring) into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and don’t fret if you don’t get it all out (learning from my mess of a first round). Sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.
Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. (An oiled pizza cutter works well here too.) Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.
Do ahead: Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.
About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 ½ envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar (cane sugar worked just fine)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla (alternately: 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean, 2 teaspoons almond or mint extract or maybe even some food coloring for tinting)