recipe roundup : holiday cocktails and appetizers

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The holiday season is in full swing. Whether you’re entertaining at your home or need something to bring to a gathering, there should be something on this list for you. I’ve compiled some of my favorite appetizers or hors d’oeuvres and cocktail recipes below along with a few that I haven’t tried before that look promising. One recipe you won’t find? Eggnog. Sorry, it’s just not my thing.


  • Thyme Roasted Marcona Almonds from Ina Garten. I can’t keep marcona almonds in my house because I will tear through them in one sitting. But I always, always make sure to buy some if I’m having people over. Ina, of course, takes regular marcona almonds and turns them into something even better. She uses thyme but I’ve also used rosemary and the result is just as good.
  • Goat Cheese Balls from Cupcakes & Cashmere. There are three different recipes here (one for herb coated goat cheese, another rolled in nuts, and the last with pomegranate) so you can just make one or go for all three. I think it would be especially good if you used spiced nuts instead of just pistachios. Or you can follow Martha’s advice and use different kinds of cheese as well.
  • Walnut Pesto from Smitten Kitchen. This pesto is heartier than normal pesto, but still delicious. It’s great on toasted baguette, just on a cracker, or with brie. It’s also incredibly easy to make and super versatile.
  • Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus. This is one of my favorites – and it’s absurdly easy to make. All you need is a pack of prosciutto and a bunch of asparagus. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice each piece of prosciutto in half (vertically, so the strips are long and skinny – it’s easier if the prosciutto is cold) and then, starting just below the head of the asparagus, wrap it around the asparagus. Place it, seam side down, on a sheet rack. Finish the rest of the spears and then bake for 10-15 minutes until asparagus is roasted (but not mushy) and prosciutto is browned. Enjoy.
  • Southern Cheese Straws from the New York Times. I’m from the south, where almost everyone I know has their own recipe for cheese straws, but this is the one I like most. The best thing about them (after how delicious they are) is how long they stay good for – if you make a batch today it will easily last you through Christmas, if you store them right and manage not to eat them. But watch out, they’re addicting.


  • Champagne and St. Germain. I’m a big fan of a cold glass of champagne, but if I want to dress it up a bit, I add St. Germain. Don’t make it too complicated. Pour a glass of champagne. Add a cap-full (or more/less if you prefer) of St. Germain. Squeeze in a lemon wedge. Drink.
  • Blood Orange Punch from Martha Stewart. I’ll admit that blood orange juice isn’t the easiest thing to find – I’ve ordered it off Amazon in the past. But, if you can get your hands on it, it’s worth it. If you want more than just a blood orange mimosa (still one of my favorites), try this punch. Rum is not my favorite so I actually use gin instead (I usually use less than 8 ounces, just do whatever tastes right). Still delicious.
  • Negroni from Bon Appetit or Manhattan from Food & Wine. Don’t mess with the classics. I feel like all classic cocktail-enthusiasts have a slightly different version – for now, these are the ones I like best.
  • Mulled Wine from Ina Garten. I’ll be the first to admit that mulled wine is still growing on me. I have a friend who absolutely loves it and makes it every year, but I usually prefer a good glass of red wine to whatever mulled wine is around. But, I’m slowly coming around to it and this simple recipe from Ina Garten is a good place to start if you haven’t tried it before.
  • Cranberry and Clementine Sparkler from The Little Loaf. A good portion of my friends are pregnant at the moment, so I’ve been searching for a nonalcoholic “mock-tail” to serve. This recipe is a bit more than just cranberry juice and sparkling water and still seems festive enough for the occasion.

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