The holidays can be hectic. They’re hectic if you’re hosting, wrapping, shopping, planning or just dressing up for the holidays. But it doesn’t have to be. Sure, you can kill yourself trying to read-up on how to marinate a deep fried turkey with sugarplums enough to feed forty people but wouldn’t just be easier (and perhaps, more fun) to learn how to handle some simple dishes you can bring along to any party? My guess is yes.
Keep reading for some of the best recipes I’ve found that you can use to impress, family, friends, co-workers, boyfriends, girlfriends (and even yourself) over the course of the next few weeks with suggestions on where & when to use them!
For the B.Y.O.B.: Gingerbread Apple Cocktail
2 oz. Domaine de Canton// 1 oz. vanilla vodka// 2.5 oz. apple cider// A few drops of lemon juice// Orange zest// Agave syrup
Line a chilled martini glass lightly with agave syrup on a dish followed by spiced graham cracker crumbs. Place all ingredients except for orange zest in a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into glass. Freshly grate orange zest on drink and serve immediately.*
*Multiply to accommodate a larger crowd and garnish each glass individually.
For the casual gift exchange with friends: Caramelized Onion Tarts with Apples
Heat oven to 400º F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the apples, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until just tender, 2 minutes.
Place each sheet of pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Spread with the crème fraîche, leaving a ½-inch border. Top with the onion mixture and bake until the pastry is crisp and browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Cut into pieces before serving.
For the coffee and dessert get-together: Christmas Trifle
3 pints raspberries// 1 quart heavy cream// 1/2 cup granulated sugar// 1 teaspoon vanilla extract// 1 large or 2 small store-bought pound cakes, cut into 1 inch pieces// 2 cups lemon curd// 24 ounces frozen sliced peaches, thawed
In a food processor, puree 1 pint of raspberries and strain through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the pulp. Whip heavy cream and slowly add sugar until the cream is silken. Add vanilla extract and raspberry puree and continue whipping, just until combined and soft peaks form. Layer half of the pound cake in the bottom of a large trifle dish. Spread half of the lemon curd over the pound cake. Top the lemon curd with half of the peaches and one pint of raspberries. Dollop half of the whipped cream over the fruit and spread gently.Repeat layers, reserving a few peaches and raspberries for garnish. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
For the family gathering: Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2 1/2 pound(s) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)// 1/3 cup(s) pure maple syrup// 2 tablespoon(s) butter, melted//1 tablespoon(s) lemon juice// 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt// Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange sweet potatoes in an even layer in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Combine maple syrup, butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper in small bowl. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes; toss to coat. Cover and bake the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes. Uncover, stir and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until tender and starting to brown, 45 to 50 minutes more.
For game day: Caramelized Onion, Gruyère and Bacon Spread
For the girls’ wine & cheese night: Cranberry-Hazelnut Bread
Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the hazelnuts on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 10 to 12 minutes. Rub the warm nuts in a clean dish towel to remove the skins (discard the skins); coarsely chop. Butter an 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, milk, eggs, orange zest, and vanilla; add to the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix). Fold in the hazelnuts and cranberries.Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes (tent with foil if the top browns too quickly). Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the self-hosted dinner party: Pork Chops with Herb-Mustard Butter
Sprinkle chops evenly with salt and pepper, and place on a wire rack in an aluminum foil-lined broiler pan. Stir together butter and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl until blended. Top each chop with 1 rounded Tbsp. butter mixture. Broil 5 inches from heat 8 to 10 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 155°.
Bon appétit! And don’t forget to let me know which is your favorite!
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