(Family Features) If you are looking to host an unforgettable holiday cocktail party, punch can make a memorable impression on your guests and bring your get-together to the next level.
Punch reached the height of its popularity during the Victorian Age. Originally made with alcohol, it ultimately became a non-alcoholic drink largely due to the preference of Queen Victoria. Over the following decades, it faded in popularity, briefly regaining favor in the 1920s when champagne punch was a hallmark of parties and celebrations.
Now, as new generations are reinvigorating old favorites and enjoying the art of mixology, punch is trending again.
Start by making punch a visual centerpiece at your holiday party. Consider a charming drink dispenser, an unusual punch bowl or an elegant glass pitcher. Let your personal and unique style shine through with your choice of glassware and table decorations and offer a variety of garnish selections for your guests to further personalize their glasses.
Typically, punches start with a blend of sweet and tangy, and you can get that "swangy" taste with an option like Tree Top's 100% Pure Pressed Sweet & Tart Apple Cider as a base. For inspiration, take a mixologist's approach to creating a memorable punch. Lemon, cinnamon and cloves not only spice up the flavor but can also double as decorations. Try ginger beer for a nice fizzle, and for an adult-only punch, consider adding vodka or rum.
Your punch table can be a place to gather and reconnect with loved ones while enjoying a trending holiday beverage. Find more recipes perfect for entertaining at treetop.com.
Swangy Cider Punch
Servings: 10 (8 ounces each)
- 1 bottle (64 ounces) Tree Top 100% Pure Pressed Sweet & Tart Apple Cider
- 16 ounces ginger beer
- 2 oranges, juice only
- 1 lime, juice only
- 1 lemon, juice only
- 1 cup vodka or light rum (optional)
- 1 sliced Granny Smith apple
- 6 star anise pieces, plus additional for garnish (optional)
- 6 whole cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- frozen cranberries, for garnish (optional)
- colored sugars or ginger crystals, for garnish (optional)
- In punch container, combine apple cider, ginger beer, orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice and vodka or rum, if desired, for an alcoholic version.
- Decorate container with apple slices, star anise pieces, cloves and cinnamon sticks.
- Personalize each serving with additional star anise pieces, frozen cranberries and sugars or ginger crystals, as desired. Serve cold.
Photo courtesy of Alamy
Source: Tree Top
(Family Features) When it comes to entertaining, it’s not always about three-course meals or hours upon hours of preparation. Sometimes, the best hosts look toward simple snacks and small plates to please guests with an array of palates.
Herbs, onions, artichokes and olives create a medley of flavors atop this savory flatbread that makes it easy to give guests a fresh bite without spending too much time in the kitchen. Or you can enjoy a berry and beet chutney as a topping for crostini that is spread with goat or cream cheese, or topped with a thin slice of Gouda or a runny slice of Brie. It’s also a welcome addition to an open-face sandwich.
The secret is using convenient ingredients like Aunt Nellie’s Harvard Beets and Holland-Style Onions that contribute great flavors to recipes and also help streamline preparation as guests settle in for an evening of fun and relaxation.
Explore more ideas to make your entertaining skills shine at AuntNellies.com.
Herbed Mediterranean Flatbread
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10-12 minutes
- 1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie's Holland-Style Onions
- 1 jar (7 1/2 ounces) quartered, marinated artichoke hearts
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped or sliced Kalamata olives
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 whole-grain round or square flatbreads (about 6-7 inches diameter)
- fresh basil (optional)
- Heat oven to 400° F. Drain onions. Pat dry. Discard liquid. Drain artichokes well. Discard liquid.
- Press onions with spatula to crush lightly. Pat dry again. Place in large bowl. Coarsely chop artichokes. Add to bowl with onions. Stir in bell pepper, parsley, olives, red pepper flakes, black pepper and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese; set aside.
- In small bowl, stir together olive oil, thyme and garlic. Brush over one side of flatbreads. Place on baking sheet; bake 2 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Top each flatbread with onion mixture. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Return to oven. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until heated through and flatbread is crisp.
- Cut each flatbread in half. Sprinkle with fresh basil, if desired.
Beet and Berry Chutney
Prep time: 20 minutes
- 1/2 cup orange marmalade
- 1 jar (15 1/2 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Harvard Beets, not drained
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups berries (fresh or frozen unsweetened cranberries, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries, cut in half or quartered, if large)
- In medium saucepan over medium heat, stir marmalade until melted. Stir in beets and red pepper. Cook 3-5 minutes until liquid is reduced by about half, stirring frequently. Add ginger, if desired.
- If using only cranberries, add to pan with beet mixture and cook until they just begin to pop. If also using other berries, add to beet-cranberry mixture; stir and heat through. If using only blueberries, raspberries or strawberries, add to beet mixture after reducing liquid. Stir and heat through.
- Remove pan from heat; cool to room temperature before serving.
Note: Chutney can also be served chilled. Store, covered, in a refrigerator up to 1 week.
Source: Aunt Nellie’s
Did you know that strata is Italian for layers? So you'll be happy to know that this "strata" is packed with delicious layers, so be ready to sink your teeth into cream cheese, cranberries, cinnamon and french bread.Make this recipe the night before to allow it to chill over night and then pop it into the oven for a rich and delicious brunch. Drizzle maple syrup to sweeten it up a bit more.
Find more recipes at www.culinary.net.
Watch video to learn how to make this delicious recipe!
What you'll need:
- French Bread
- 8 ounce cream cheese
- Dried cranberries
- Maple Syrup
- Ground cinnamon
In a greased 2-quart baking dish, tear off pieces from 1/2 of the French bread and put into dish.
Cut the creamcheese into slices and place over the bread pieces.
Sprinkle the dried cranberries over the creamcheese and bread pieces.
Top cranberries with remaining broken french bread pieces.
In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, milk and maple syrup.
Pour egg and milk mixture over bread and lightly press down the bread to saturate in the liquid mixture. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Full recipe instructions below.
- 8 cups French Bread (Crusty)
- 1 8 oz package of cream cheese
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 6 eggs
- 2 ¼ cups milk
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon or nutmeg
- In a greased 2-quart rectangular baking dish, arrange half of the bread pieces, about 4 cups.
- Cut cream cheese into 8-10 slices and arrange over the bread chunks.
- Sprinkle cranberries over bread chunks.
- Top with remaining bread pieces (4 cups).
- In a medium bowl beat together eggs, milk and maple syrup.
- Pour over bread in dish.
- Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.
- Lightly press down with back of spoon or spatula to saturate bread with egg mixture.
- Cover and chill for up to 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Bake covered for 45 minutes.
- Uncover then bake for 20 minutes more.
- Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve warm and topped with maple syrup, if desired.
New seasonings make it easy
(Family Features) Exotic flavors common in the Middle Eastern region of the world like harissa, za’atar and shawarma are having a moment, appearing on restaurant menus and in popular make-at-home recipes.
Now is the perfect time to give these flavors a try. Thanks to new global seasonings from McCormick Gourmet, the spice combinations are already blended for the ultimate taste and simplicity.
Made from high-quality herbs and spices, the seasonings are USDA-Organic certified and Non-GMO Project verified so you can feel good about the ingredients used in your cooking. The expertly blended spices help create distinctive global-inspired dishes that take your home dining experience to the next level so you can explore these flavors from around the world without leaving the comfort of home.
- Za’atar: This traditional Middle Eastern blend of spices including thyme, oregano and sesame seeds is perfect for sprinkling on flatbreads, roasted vegetables, nuts
or popcorn. It can also be mixed into hummus or oil
- Harissa: A spicy flavor found in North African cuisine, this seasoning is made from a combination of chilies, warm spices and mint. Add it to meat and veggies before roasting, stir it into cooked rice and grains, mix it into yogurt to make a dip or combine it with roasted bell peppers and oil to turn this spice into its namesake sauce.
- Shawarma: Often associated with the slow roasting of meat, this Middle Eastern street food favorite is made with cinnamon, coriander, cardamom and more. Use this seasoning to flavor an easy marinade for chicken, pork or steak.
Look for these flavors as well as new Peruvian and Berbere seasonings in the spice section of retailers nationwide. Find more recipe ideas at McCormickGourmet.com.
Grilled Chicken Shawarma
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 16 minutes
- 1 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, divided
- 5 teaspoons McCormick Gourmet Organic Shawarma Seasoning, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Sicilian Sea Salt
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 4 pita pockets, halved
- 1 medium seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
- 8 lettuce leaves
- In small bowl, mix 1 cup yogurt and 1 teaspoon shawarma seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- In small bowl, mix oil, lemon juice, remaining yogurt, remaining shawarma seasoning and sea salt. Reserve 2 tablespoons of mixture; set aside.
- Place chicken in large re-sealable plastic bag or glass dish. Add marinade; turn to coat well. Refrigerate 1 hour, or longer for extra flavor.
- Heat grill or skillet to medium heat.
- Remove chicken from marinade. Discard remaining marinade. Grill or saute 6-8 minutes per side, or until cooked through and internal temperature reaches 165 F, brushing with reserved marinade.
- Slice chicken into thin strips. Serve in pitas with cucumber, lettuce and yogurt dressing.
Shaved Carrot Salad with Pomegranate Harissa Dressing
Prep time: 20 minutes
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 3 tablespoons pomegranate juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons McCormick Gourmet Organic Harissa Seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Sicilian Sea Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Organic Black Pepper, coarse ground
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 pound multicolor carrots, washed and peeled
- 1/2 cup shelled roasted pistachios
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 3 cups baby arugula
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- In large bowl, mix mint, pomegranate juice, honey, harissa seasoning, sea salt and pepper. Gradually add oil while mixing with wire whisk until well mixed. Set aside.
- Trim carrot ends. Slice each carrot lengthwise into ribbons with vegetable peeler or mandoline. In medium bowl, toss carrots with 1/4 cup prepared dressing. Stir in pistachios and cranberries.
- Arrange arugula on serving platter. Drizzle with remaining dressing and top with carrot mixture. Sprinkle with feta before serving.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Servings: 8 (2 tablespoons each)
- 1 cup labneh (yogurt cheese)
- 2 teaspoons McCormick Gourmet Organic Za’atar Seasoning, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- pita bread, for serving (optional)
- pita chips, for serving (optional)
- sliced fresh vegetables, for serving (optional)
- In small bowl, mix labneh and 1 teaspoon seasoning until well blended.
- Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with remaining seasoning.
- Serve with fresh pita bread, pita chips or sliced fresh vegetables, as desired.
- 1 10-ounce package plain couscous
- 3 fresh mandarins, peeled and separated into segments
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced, including some green top (about 1/2 cup total), divided
- Curry Vinaigrette, divided (recipe below)
- 12 ounces frozen grilled chicken strips, heated according to package directions
- Prepare couscous according to package directions, remove to large bowl. Stir mandarin segments, cranberries, nuts and half green onion into couscous; add half of vinaigrette and toss well. Arrange on large serving platter; top with chicken. Drizzle evenly with remaining vinaigrette and garnish with remaining green onion. Serve immediately.
- Curry Vinaigrette: In small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup mandarin juice or white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon honey and 1/3 cup canola or other vegetable oil.