Archive for Holiday Entertaining

Cauliflower Pumpkin Risotto

By swapping cauliflower for rice and adding goat cheese, this recipe recreates the creamy texture for a healthier risotto option.

Bonus: You will be out of the kitchen in under 30 minutes as the cauliflower cooks quicker than rice.

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  • 1 head cauliflower (4-5 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon sage (chopped)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ cup chicken broth (or more as needed)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree ( can or fresh)
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup goat cheese or parmesan cheese
  • Optional garnish: sage, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, et


Using a cheese grater, grate cauliflower until it resembles rice grains (or use a food processor)

Heat butter in a skillet or saucepan Add sage and stir for a couple of minutes over low – medium heat until butter has turned light brown and has a nutty aroma.

Add in onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes or until onions are translucent Add in cauliflower, half of the broth and stir for about 5 minutes until liquid is absorbed.  Add in remaining broth and continue to cook until cauliflower is softened.

Stir in pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice (if using), salt, pepper and goat cheese and stir until goat cheese is melted and cauliflower has a creamy texture.

Transfer to a serving dish and garnish as desired.

Jingle Juice

Sangria is great for entertaining large crowds and the perfect cocktail to serve at brunch or afternoon party.  It’s easy to make. guests can serve themselves without mixing and you can make it the night before to have more time mingling with your guests. Make 2 batches, one red and one white for guests to choose. And the orange and cranberry scone makes a perfect pairing for brunch or an afternoon get together.

Orange and Cranberry Scones

Orange Scones

Makes 2 dozen


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick ( 8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips ( or white chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel (reserve rest for icing)
  • Juice of half an orange (reserve other half for icing)
  • ½ cup buttermilk or heavy cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or orange extract

Egg wash

  • 1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon of milk


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 2 Tablespoons of orange juice (use orange that was grated)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or 2 knifes until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in chocolate chips, dried cranberries, grated orange peel and juice.


Add buttermilk or milk in a measuring cup and whisk in egg and vanilla into the same cup. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix just until dough is formed (do not overmix).



Drop Tablespoon size on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush tops with egg wash mixture.


Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and drizzle the tops with icing.


Icing: In a bowl, mix together powdered sugar, grated orange peel and juice until smooth. Adjust icing to desired consistency by adding more powdered sugar or juice, as needed.



Jingle Juice (Sangria)



  • 1 bottle of wine (red or white)
  • ¼ cup brandy or cognac
  • ¼ cup triple sec or cointreau
  • ¼ cup sugar (omit if using dessert wine)
  • Fruits desired: orange, apple, pear, pineapple, lemon, lime, honeydew, etc.
  • Club soda


In a pitcher. add in all ingredients except for club soda and mix well. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight (If using strawberries or raspberries, add before serving as it will become soggy if left overnight).

Before serving, mix in some club soda and serve!

White Christmas

Meringue cookies are light, fluffy and melt in your mouth. I love how the outside looks crisp yet the insides remain pillowy (If that’s even a word).

And to pair with this dreamy cookie is a creamy White Christmas Martini. I used equal parts for the cocktail recipe but feel free to adjust to your liking.

Both recipes require few ingredients and the perfect start or ending to your holiday party!


White Christmas Meringues


Makes 30-34 (depending on size)


  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  •  Pinch of salt
  •  ¾ cup sugar
  •  1 cup white chocolate chips
  •  ¼  cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies ( plus more for garnish)


Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large bowl,  whip egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy.


Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.


Add vanilla and salt. Add in the sugar gradually, about 2 Tablespoons at a time, with the mixer on.  Continue beating and adding remaining sugar in batches, until all of the sugar is dissolved and the meringue is shiny and stiff peaks form, about 4-5 minutes.


Gently fold in chocolate chips and crushed candy. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, using some of the meringue on the underside of each corner to prevent from sliding.

Using a small spoon, drop meringues onto the lined baking sheets leaving 1 inch of space in between (use another spoon to scrap off the meringue to baking sheets). You can also use a piping bag if desired.   Sprinkle with additional crushed candy on top.


Bake for 30 minutes or until meringues are set when touched. Turn off the oven, open oven door, and leave cookies in the oven  for 20-30 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets.

The meringues can be covered and stored at room temperature for several days.



White Christmas Martini

White Christmas Martini


  • Candy canes or peppermint candies
  • 1 part vanilla Vodka
  • 1 part Amaretto
  • 1 part half and half, heavy cream or milk
  •  Ice


Place candy canes or peppermint candies into a ziplog bag and crush with a rolling pin or heavy skillet. Place the crushed candy on a small plate. Wet the rim of a martini glass with water or vodka and coat rim with the crushed candy.

In a cocktail shaker, combine rest of the ingredients. Shake well until mixed. Strain into the prepared glass.

Oatmeal Chip Cookie Jar

Today is another DIY treat idea perfect for hostess, holiday or teacher gifts. And the best part…there is no baking involved!

Another gift idea: add the assembled Cookie Jar with ingredients and recipe for the Oatmeal Cookie Cocktail in a basket for a cute Cookies and Cocktails themed gift!

Oatmeal Cookie Mix

Makes 24


  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 ½ cups quick or old fashion oats
  • Optional: cranberries, raisin or nuts

Directions for cookie mix

In a bowl: mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Place mixture in 1 quart (32oz) jar.

Layer remaining ingredients in the order listed, pressing lightly after each layer, adding ½ cup of optional ingredients such as cranberries or nuts on top if desired.

Print out a label with the recipe below (or hand write on a small card) and attach to the jar with ribbons, bows,  etc.

Recipe to Attach:

Oatmeal Chip Cookies

In a large bowl, beat 1 stick (1/2 cup) of softened butter, 1 egg and 1 tsp of vanilla together until combined. Mix in cookie mixture. Drop by Tablespoons onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated 350 degrees oven for 8-10 minutes. Cool and enjoy!  


Oatmeal Cookie Cocktail


  • 1 part Bailey Irish Cream
  • 1 part Butterscotch Schnapps
  • 1 part Goldschager (cinnamon schnapps)

Mix all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and strain into martini glass or shot glass.





Chocolate & Coconut

A twist on traditional chocolate chip cookies made with almond meal in place of flour for a gluten free option. They’re great for coconut lovers and the chocolate chips make it a yummy combination that results in a chewy cookie.


Gluten Free Chocolate Chip and Coconut Cookies 

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip

Makes 12-15 cookies


  • 1 cup almond meal
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted (can use coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or rum)

Optional: melted chocolate and toasted coconut


In a bowl, stir together the almond meal, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips and coconut.

In a large bowl, beat together sugar and egg until mixed. Whisk in butter and vanilla. Gradually add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined (do not over mix).


Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls, place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Press down slightly to flatten a bit. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

If desired, drizzle top with melted chocolate and sprinkle toasted coconuts (add coconuts to dry pan until toasted, stirring often)





Coconut Rum Cocktail




  • 2 oz rum
  • 1 oz coconut water or milk
  • 1 oz pineapple juice


In a shaker filled with ice, shake ingredients together and strain into a glass.








All the flavors of tiramisu in one cookie bite. I made some adjustments  by adding almond meal in place of flour for a gluten free option and  added cocoa powder for chocolate flavor.   If you want to omit the cocoa powder, just replace  the amount with almond meal. Or you can replace the almond meal in the recipe for flour.

Gluten Free Tiramisu Bites

Tiramisu Bites

Makes 24


Cookie cups

  • 2 cups almond flour (almond meal)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg


  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of rum, coffee liqueur or vanilla
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened ( or mascarpone cheese)
  • Garnish: cocoa powder and chocolate shavings


Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a mini muffin pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cocoa, sugar, coffee, baking powder and salt. Stir in melted butter and egg and mix just until dough comes together (do not over mix).


Form into 1-inch balls and place into each muffin cup.  Press dough into the bottom and side of the cups.   Bake for 10 minutes.


Remove pan from oven and use the end of wooden spoon to create a hole in the center of each cookie. Place back in the oven and bake for additional 2-3 minutes or until the cookie cup is set.


Remove from oven and if needed, use the end of the wooden spoon again to create holes. Let cool.


(If making ahead, bake cookies and keep in an airtight container until ready to assemble)

For Filling

Whip heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Add in liqueur and gently fold in cream cheese or mascarpone cheese Using a piping bag or spoon, fill each cookie cup with filling and refrigerate for about 15 minutes for filling to set.


If desired, top with cocoa power and use a grater to shave chocolate on top of the cookies.

(If making ahead, make the filling and place in a piping bag in the refrigerator until ready assemble. Pipe filling into the cups, top with cocoa powder and chocolate and serve!)


Tiramisu Martini

Tiramisu Martini


  • 1 oz vanilla vodka
  • 1 oz Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
  • ½ oz Irish cream, heavy cream or milk
  • ½ oz coffee or espresso

Optional glass rim and garnish: cocoa powder, sugar, chocolate


For glass rim: fill a plate with water (or liqueur above). Fill another plate with mixture of cocoa and sugar. Dip the rim of the martini glass in the water then dip the edges of the glass in the cocoa/sugar mixture.

Combine vodka, Frangelico and cream in shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass and top with coffee. Garnish with shaved chocolate.

Pecan Pie

The holidays are the perfect time of the year (and perfect excuse)  to indulge in our favorite desserts. With so many choices at holiday parties, these cute mini pies allow your guests to enjoy more than just one type of dessert without feeling guilty.  And for guests who may want to skip dessert?  Serve them this pecan pie martini……. this is what I refer to as  pure indulgence!!


Pecan Pie Bites

Pecan Pie Bites

Makes 30-36



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ sticks (12 Tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • ¼ cup ice water


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Optional garnish: pecan halves



For crust: In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt. Add in cold butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.


Add water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, mixing in between until the dough forms into a ball.



(To make crust by hand: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, kneading until dough forms into a ball)

Shape dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30-60 minutes.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray mini muffin cups with nonstick spray. On a work surface (adding flour if needed) roll out dough to ¼ inch thickness. Cut out 2 ½ inch circles and press into muffin cups.


Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

For filling: In a saucepan, combine powdered sugar, butter and corn syrup. Cook for a few minutes until mixture comes to a boil, stirring often. Turn off heat and add in chopped pecans.


Spoon filling into baked crusts (top with pecan halves if desired) and bake for additional 5 minutes. Cool on wire rack.


Pecan Pie Martini

Pecan Pie Martini




  • 2 oz. vodka (or vanilla vodka)
  • 1 oz. Frangelico
  • 1 oz. butterscotch schnapps

Optional rim garnish:

  • Corn syrup
  • Turbinado sugar (or brown sugar)
  • Crushed pecans


To rim the glass: Stir together the corn syrup and sugar on small plate. Dip martini glass in the mixture then in the crushed pecans.

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add in all ingredients and shake well. Strain into the prepared martini glass.








Cookies and Cream

Rich, creamy and decadent  is today’s Cookies and Cocktails theme.  And the best part? No baking involved  ( yeah! ) and both require only 3 ingredients!


Oreo Cookie Truffles 

Oreo Truffles


Makes 32-36


  • 1 (15 oz.) package Oreo cookies (36 cookies)
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


Using a rolling pin, crush cookies in a ziplog bag ( or use a food processor).


Reserve about ¼ cup and place the rest in a large bowl. Add cream cheese and mix together until combined.


Using a small cookie scoop (2 teaspoons) scoop / shape into balls and  place on a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes to help them firm up.


Melt chocolate over a double boiler until smooth. Remove truffles from the refrigerator, reshaping into balls if needed.  Drop truffles in the melted chocolate, coating evenly using 2 forks.


Place truffles back on the baking sheet and sprinkle reserved crushed cookies on top. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. (Optional garnish: sprinkles or melted white chocolate)


Can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.



Cookies and Cream Martini

Cookies and Cream Martini


  • 1 ½ oz vanilla vodka
  • 1 ½ oz creme de cacao
  • ¾ oz heavy cream (or milk)

Optional glass rim: crushed Oreos from truffle recipe


If desired, rim martini glass with creme de cacao and then with the crushed Oreos.


In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, creme de cacao and heavy cream into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into martini glass.

French Kiss

You will definitely spread some cheer with this French inspired Cookies and Cocktails theme. Sweet, light and delicate French Macarons paired with a French Kiss Champagne Cocktail…Cheers!!

Raspberry Macarons

Raspberry Macarons


Makes 16-20


  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour (almond meal)
  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature (can be aged up to 2 days)
  • 1 Tablespoon raspberry liqueur (optional)
  • Red food coloring
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

Chocolate ganache filling

  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate or chips
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tablespoons butter , cut into cubes


If almond meal is coarse, pulse with powdered sugar in a food processor. Sift mixture into a medium bowl. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until foamy.


Beat in liqueur and food coloring.  Gradually add in sugar one Tablespoon at a time and beat for a few minutes or until stiff peaks form, scraping bowl as needed.


Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in half of the almond mixture into the egg mixture. Add the remaining mixture and continue to gently fold (do not overmix).


Scoop batter into a piping bag fitted with a ½ inch tip. Pipe 1 inch circles onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Tap baking sheet on a flat surface couple of times to remove any air bubbles and let rest for about 15 minutes to allow the tops to harden slightly.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Bake 12-15 minutes rotating baking sheets halfway through baking. Cool completely.


If you don’t cool completely, the bottom sticks to the parchment paper and  does not leave a flat surface. ( I took out some before it was cooled so you can see the results)


Match the same size cookies. Add ganache filling to the flat side of one cookie and top with the matching cookie.

(You can also fill cookies with butter cream, raspberry jam, caramel, etc).


Place chocolate in a bowl. In a saucepan, heat heavy cream to a simmer. Pour over chocolate and let stand for a minute to allow chocolate to melt. Add in the butter and stir until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until thickened.



French Kiss Sparking Cocktail

French Kiss



  • Fresh raspberries
  • 1 oz. Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
  • 1 oz. vodka (optional)
  • Champagne
  • Mint


Add raspberries in the champagne glass. Muddle raspberries until slightly mashed but somewhat whole. Add Chambord, vodka and top with champagne. Garnish with mint.







Sriracha Spice

The combination of chocolate and spice is an oldie but a goody.  Traditionally, cayenne is added to the dough  but I thought I would kick it up a notch by also adding Sriracha sauce. Initially you don’t taste the Sriracha,  but then this gentle heat hits your tongue then goes away after a few minutes.

If you are serving this at a party, make sure you tell your guests about the chili so there are no surprises and as some may have chili allergies.

And to pair with this spicy goodness is a Sriracha Bloody Mary, perfect for an afternoon cookie exchange party or brunch!

Choco Sriracha Cookies 

Choco Sriracha Cookies

Makes 24-30 depending on size


  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Sriracha
  • Sea salt (or kosher salt)


In a saucepan (or microwave) melt butter and chocolate together and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugars, eggs, vanilla, Sriracha and the chocolate mixture until combined. Add in flour mixture in two additions, with the mixer on low until just combined.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap  and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Drop teaspoon size dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper 2 inches apart. Sprinkle salt on top and bake for 10 minutes or until firm. Remove from heat and cool.



Alternative Method:

(After mixing all ingredients: transfer dough onto a work surface and knead a couple of times.  Divide dough in half and form into log shapes. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate.


Slice dough into ¼ – ½ inch thick slices (depending on size desired) and continue with directions. The cookies below were ¼ inch and ½ inch cut slices. If you are making smaller cookies, bake for 7-8 minutes.



Sriracha Bloody Mary



  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • ½ – ¾ cup vodka
  • Juice of lemon or lime (don’t discard as you can use it to rub the glass rim)
  • 1 Tablespoon prepared creamy horseradish
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-3 Tablespoons Sriracha sauce

Optional garnish: celery, pickles, olives, cheese, picked onions, salami, pepperoncini, lemon, asparagus, etc.

Optional for glass rim: Equal parts of celery salt and kosher salt


In a pitcher, mix tomato juice, vodka, lime,, horseradish, Worcestershire, garlic salt and black pepper in a pitcher. Stir in Sriracha to taste and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Optional glass rim:  mix celery and kosher salt on a small plate. Rub lemon or lime wedge on the rim of the glass then dip into the salt mixture.

Fill glass with ice and top with Bloody Mary mixture. Garnish as desired.