If your December calendar looks anything like mine, you are likely booked solid with holiday gatherings and work obligations. There is the family potluck, ugly Christmas sweater party, the office holiday snooze fest, Friendsmas mash-up, the tree lighting party, the in-laws holiday hootenanny… and it goes on and on. The rule of thumb for any gathering is to come bearing a delicious beverage, and if you really want to impress, an appetizer that didn’t come from the pre-packaged section of the grocery store.
First order of business is the good stuff… the booze.
Wine has been a staple party hand-off gift for decades – but for some, the tradition may be getting a little bit stale.
Spice up your party cocktail with the warm wine that is nutty, spicy and citrusy. It is an easy cocktail that is sure to impress but oh so simple to make!
Mulled wine is to Germans as eggnog is to Canadians. This warm hug in a mug will have you feeling jolly in no time! And this boozy beverage will be the gift that keeps on giving when kept warm in a crock-pot… if it lasts that long.
Here is what you will need:
1 bottle of red wine (I suggest cabernet sauvignon, merlot or pinot noir)
¼ cup brandy
¼ cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
2 star anise
Here is how to make the magic:
1. Add all the ingredients in a medium saucepan or dutch oven and then cover
2. Turn burners to medium heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes
3. Serve! (Feel free to remove the cinnamon sticks and cloves before
serving, but the longer they marinate in the wine, the better the flavours get!)
Pro tip: warm your glass with hot water to keep the mulled wine warm longer. Presentation tip: peel an orange rind and rim the glass, then dip the glass in raw sugar and garnish with an orange slice.
*Simply double (or triple) this recipe if required.
The evolution of holiday appetizers has stalled over the last few years. The same rotation of dips, crudité, and something stuffed has become predictable and boring.
This holiday appetizer is super simple yet sophisticated. Behold, the smoked salmon and horseradish cream cheese cucumber bites.
Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Cream Cheese Cucumber Canapés
Here is what you will need to make approximately 40 bites:
2 English cucumbers, half peeled and cut about 1” thick
1 lb smoked salmon, cut into slices 3” long
1 package of whipped cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon of horseradish
2 tablespoons of fresh dill, chopped
3 lemons, sliced (remove the seeds)
Toothpicks or tiny serving forks
Here is how to make the magic:
1. Wash, peel and cut your cucumbers and arrange them on your serving platter and then put the platter in the fridge while you prep the cream cheese
2. Put your cream cheese, dill, juice from one lemon and horseradish into a bowl and mix well
3. Take your serving platter out of the fridge and add a dollop of cream cheese on each cucumber, don’t worry about it looking pretty…
4. Take your sliced smoked salmon and place it on top of your cucumber and cream cheese
5. Finish by inserting the toothpick or small forks into the center of each cucumber
Pro-tip: be sure to keep the platter in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy but try to enjoy them soon after they are prepared!
Presentation Tip: garnish the platter with sliced lemons and use an empty shot glass for the used toothpicks.
Warning, this appetizer is always a hit, and you will be asked to bring it to every party thereafter.
Wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday season. Please plan ahead and take an uber, taxi or have a designated driver when celebrating!