Begin the festivities with these elegant and delicious recipes.
Indulgent as it may seem, a cup of rich hot cocoa can offer enough health benefits to dissolve any guilt. One cup has twice
the level of antioxidant activity of a five-ounce glass of red wine and two to three times more than a cup of green tea. This
version combines bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened cocoa with espresso, brown sugar, and orange rind for a pick-me-up
that's enjoyed in Spain and Europe.
View Recipe: Barcelona Hot Chocolate
If you're lucky enough to be both clever AND organized, this is just the app for you. Assemble and freeze these up to two
weeks in advance (a good weekend project), then pop them into the oven and add seven minutes to the cook time (no need to
thaw). The savory mushroom filling and the feathery phyllo will impress all your holiday guests.
View Recipe: Creamy Mushroom Phyllo Triangles
Enjoy all the spice and creaminess of this traditional drink with none of the guilt. Our trimmed-down version contains just
152 calories per serving and 2.7 grams of saturated fat. This recipe calls for brandy, but you could substitute rum or whiskey
if you prefer.
View Recipe: Eggnog
Get black-tie elegance in about 20 minutes with these finger-food appetizers. The meaty pancetta and salty Parmesan flavors
match the sweet and briny clams just perfectly. A great recipe for a cocktail party or a menu of heavy hors d'oeuvres.
View Recipe: Clams Casino with Pancetta
Thickened with vegetables and finished with a touch of light cream, this silky soup makes an elegant first course. Small oysters,
such as Kumamoto or Prince Edward Island, are preferable, but you can use your favorite fresh raw oysters.
View Recipe: Oyster Bisque
The sweet, crunchy nuts are great on their own—make a double batch and give some as a gift. Served in this salad, they give
just the right amount of sweet crunch.
View Recipe: Candied Walnut, Pear, and Leafy Green Salad
This minty salad makes a refreshing first course for a holiday feast. Every component of the salad can be prepared and ready
to serve well in advance. Make the dressing several hours or even a day ahead; just bring to room temperature before tossing
with arugula. Buy washed and ready-to-use arugula. It takes time to peel and slice the oranges, so do that ahead, arranging
the oranges on a plate and covering with plastic wrap. If you can find fresh blood oranges, they make a stunning presentation.
View Recipe: Orange Salad with Arugula and Oil-Cured Olives
A classic gin sling is dressed for festive parties when made with seasonal pomegranate juice and decorated with crimson pomegranate
fruit. Both simple syrup and agave syrup are widely available at liquor stores. To make your own simple syrup, boil 2 parts
sugar to 1 part water, stirring just until sugar dissolves; reduce until thickened. Cool before using.
View Recipe: Pomegranate Gin Sling
Prepare this retro-chic snack up to two days ahead, and serve with crackers, bread, or veggies. Rolled in minced fresh flat-leaf
parsley, this cheese ball is festive enough for the most discerning of holiday crowds.
View Recipe: Date, Walnut, and Blue Cheese Ball
No need to forgo one of the holidays' favorite indulgences—creamy, rich eggnog. This version gives you all the satisfaction
of the full-fat version without the guilt, and it can be made up to a week in advance.
View Recipe: Eggnog
This pared-down pâté is based on liverwurst. Use Usinger's or Schaller & Weber brand liverwurst for best results.
View Recipe: Quick Liver Pâté
Roasting bottled chestnuts brings back fresh-toasted flavor. The vibrant color of this soup is sure to be a treat to the eyes
View Recipe: Roasted Chestnut Soup with Thyme Cream
What a light, crunchy, and refreshing palate cleanser to accompany a holiday meal!
View Recipe: Celery and Parsley Salad with Golden Raisins
To get your holiday-preparations underway before the frenzies begin, make the soup several days in advance. Reheat this sweet
and creamy soup over medium-low heat just before serving.
View Recipe: Creamy Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup
This simple twist on the traditional kir royale blends tart-sweet pomegranate juice with subtle herbal notes from a rosemary-infused
syrup. Float rosemary leaves on the drinks for a pretty garnish.
View Recipe: Pomegranate-Rosemary Royale
The knobby bulb called celeriac or celery root has a celery-like flavor, but one that is more robust and creamy at the same
time. Add leftover turkey to make this an entrée.
View Recipe: Wild Rice and Celery Root Soup
For the best flavor, let the sangria chill overnight so all the ingredients can meld together. If you can’t find satsumas,
tangerines will also do the trick.
View Recipe: Winter Sangria
You can prepare this all-purpose dip up to a day ahead. Serve it with cauliflower and broccoli florets, carrot and celery
sticks, and bell pepper strips.
View Recipe: Creamy Garlic-Herb Dip
Whether hosting a casual gathering with snacks or a sit-down dinner, don’t forget to include at least one dish that’s fresh
and crunchy—especially during the holidays. Crunchy Brussels sprouts with sweet and salty applewood-smoked bacon will surely
do the trick.
View Recipe: Brussels Sprouts Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
This Middle Eastern dip is traditionally made with chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil; it lends itself to several
variations. Prepare and refrigerate it a day ahead; let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Garnish
with a lemon wedge and fresh parsley sprig, and serve with Spicy Baked Pita Chips. Feeling adventurous? Try these variations on Traditional Hummus: White Bean and Roasted Garlic Hummus, Spicy Red Pepper Hummus, Feta-Baked Hummus
View Recipe: Traditional Hummus
Prepare a batch of this smoky-sweet mix to have on hand when visitors drop by. Or pack them into jars to give as gifts.
View Recipe: Orange Chipotle-Spiced Pecan Mix
Pink grapefruit, a popular winter fruit, stars in this pretty beverage. Look for canned lychee fruit, which has a delicately
sweet flavor, in the ethnic food aisle at the supermarket or at Asian groceries. Use the leftover lychees in a fruit salad.
View Recipe: Pink Grapefruit and Lychee Cocktail
This is a timely concoction for a party. Simply prepare the gingered sugar syrup, and refrigerate it until you're ready to
shake and serve the cocktails.
View Recipe: Gingered Pear and Brandy Cocktail
Smoked salmon is an easy way to add visual appeal to any appetizer. This dish couldn't be simpler or more delicious, matching
a crispy gyoza-skin "crust" with a creamy-tangy cheese mixture and a salty, chewy salmon topper.
View Recipe: Mini Smoked Salmon Pizzas
Take a break from creamy and cheesy with the light Asian flavor of these dumplings. A ginger-and-sesame-scented filling of
chicken and crunchy veggies is balanced by the tart and salty dipping sauce, which awakens the palate with just a hint of
View Recipe: Chicken and Lemon Pot Stickers with Soy-Scallion Dipping Sauce
Shrimp creates a pleasing variation on crab cakes in this dish, and matches well with the chunky salsa, which brings in sour,
sweet, and buttery flavors. Hot sauce in the cakes and poblano peppers in the salsa bring some heat, but not enough to overwhelm―the
balance is just right.
View Recipe: Spicy Shrimp Cakes with Corn and Avocado Salsa
This cocktail kicks up staid mulled wine to a whole new level. Cranberry-pineapple juice is steeped with spices and combined
with complex dark rum and spicy, sparkling ginger beer for a fizzy, peppery, and altogether refreshing experience.
View Recipe: Spicy Rum Punch
Classic Hanukkah latkes form the base for this intriguingly flavored appetizer. Seemingly incongruous tart apple and spicy
horseradish flavors unite to balance the strongly flavored smoked trout, all atop a crunchy-starchy pancake foundation.
View Recipe: Smoked Trout with Apple-Horseradish Cream on Potato Pancakes
We took this classic warm, creamy dip and improved it with smoky bacon, because bacon makes everything better. Make sure to
serve this in a central location―it's sure to attract a crowd at any party.
View Recipe: Spinach-Artichoke Dip with Bacon
A mix of fruity and meaty olives works well in this treatment. They are ideal for cocktail platters, antipasto, snacking,
or as a gift when placed in a decorative jar.
View Recipe: Citrus, Fennel, and Rosemary Olives
Savor summer in the middle of winter with this fruity concoction. Blood oranges add beautiful color, while more fruits and
spices add depth of flavor. It may be sweet as candy, but this beverage is definitely for adults only, with a base of red
wine and Triple Sec for an extra kick.
View Recipe: Blood Orange Sangría
This lovely appetizer is about as quick and easy as it gets—and tasty, too. You don't even need to let the cheese come to
room temperature first; the warm fruit that goes on top will soften it up. Serve with crostini or crackers.
View Recipe: Brie with Jeweled Fruit Compote
Turn a beloved side dish into a cute and savory appetizer. Frozen phyllo shells speed prep time, as does bagged baby spinach
(rather than frozen). Toasting the phyllo cups keeps them crisp longer after being filled.
View Recipe: Creamed Spinach Phyllo Cups
The slow cooker offers great convenience here, keeping the stovetop open for meal prep. Pouring the soda into the hot wine
right at the time of service brings the temperature down enough to drink immediately. Change out the orange slices for fresh
when serving to punch up the look.
View Recipe: Slow-Cooker Blood Orange Fizzy Mulled Wine