Category Archives: Parties and Entertaining

A Cozy New Year’s Eve In

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It happens. You had planned to go out for New Year’s Eve…but the weather turned out to be too dreadful. Or you or someone in the family isn’t feeling well. Whatever the reason, you’re home this year for New Year’s Eve and it’s going to be a quiet evening. But you still want to celebrate! How to make the best of it?

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Holiday Beverages Without Alcohol

Ah, the holidays.  I like to have people over, and you know what everyone asks to drink?

Water.

I kid you not! I put out a beautiful little bar of sodas, juices, wine and champagne. And the first thing everyone asked for was…water.

Lesson learned. Now I stock up on plenty of bottled water — Pellegrino sparking mineral water and Acqua Panna still mineral water — and lime slices, which everyone seems to like. I put the bottles on ice. It makes water look and taste special. Your guests will love it!

But some will also partake non-alcoholic beverages…eventually! so here are some suggestions…

Toasts without Alcohol

Sparkling Apple Cider

You need something bubbly for New Year’s Eve. The brand I like best is the one you see the most, Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider, about $2.50 a bottle. If you run out, you can almost approximate the taste by mixing apple cider or juice with ginger ale.

Un-champagne Punch

Here is a non-alcoholic “un-champagne” recipe to try (for a punch bowl or pitcher): combine 32-oz bottle of cold club soda with a 32-oz bottle of cold ginger ale and a 24-oz bottle of cold, unsweetened white grape juice.

Cranberry Spritzer

This is a refreshing drink to order at a cocktail party or bar when you don’t drink alcohol. It’s easy to make: fill a glass with ice, fill it about 3/4 full of seltzer or club soda, and top off with cranberry cocktail. Add a lime wedge and enjoy! This is also good with flavored seltzer – like lime or orange.

Shirley Temple

You’ll need some ginger ale and a bottle of maraschino cherries. Pour the ginger ale over ice and add a little cherry juice from the jar and a cherry. I like this best in small amounts, like 6 or 8 ounces. It looks and tastes special. No one needs to know the name of this drink, if it matters!

Hot Drinks

Hot Apple Cider

If you’re having a party or just staying home with your family, nothing beats a pot of hot spiced apple cider simmering on the stove’s back burner.  It will make the whole house smell wonderful and it’s always been a hit when I’ve served it.  Here’s a recipe for it from Betty Crocker (http://www.bettycrocker.com).

  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 cinnamon sticks

In 3-quart saucepan, heat ingredients to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Before serving, strain cider mixture to remove cloves and cinnamon, if desired. Serve hot. So easy!

So many ways to love cocoa…

I LOVE hot chocolate. It’s so easy to make Try some of these variations.

  • Go classic with marshmallows or spray can whipped cream. Sometimes I sprinkle a tiny bit of green or red decorator sugar on top for a little color.
  • Jazz up cocoa mix with a peppermint candy cane and whipped cream on top.
  • Add a teaspoon of freeze-dried coffee or decaffeinated coffee to cocoa mix to make mocha.
  • Try white chocolate cocoa! Safeway makes my favorite kind. It is great on its own, with a little peppermint or mixed into coffee.

With this list, you’re always ready for holiday guests

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Entertaining guests and family is one of the most fun parts of the holidays. Sometimes, guests come over when you’re not expecting it. And sometimes, when you do! 🙂  It’s nice to be ready, right?

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2 Sparkling Wine Bargains for Holiday Celebrations

Francois Montand Blanc de Blancs Brut, France

A very good value at $12 or less a bottle.  Delicious and elegant, dry “methode traditionnelle” sparkling white wine that tastes like fine champagne. Very fine effervescence, pale gold color. Delectable on its own or with light appetizers.  Highly recommended!

Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Rosé “Perle d’Aurore,” France

A pink, dry bubbly.  It has a lot of personality and can stand up to food, like salmon.  My guests like it, and it looks beautiful in a champagne flute.  About $16 a bottle