In the January/February issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray, our editor-in-chief Lauren Purcell dishes about all things dinner parties. “I’m deeply fond of theme parties,” she says, “But somehow, my theme-mania never translated to dinner parties. Until now!”
As the Queen of Cocktail Parties (she did write her own cookbook on the subject, in fact), it only makes sense that the first party Lauren wants to throw in the new year is an hors d’Oeuvres party: a small (and seated) group so everyone can be in on the same conversations, plus the festive feel you get from having a bite of this, a taste of that. Check out her three recipe picks below!
Goat Cheese and Leek Croustades
For the croustade cups
36 slices high-quality white sandwich bread
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
For the filling
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup finely chopped leeks, white and pale green parts (about 2 medium leeks)
8 ounces soft mild goat cheese
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts
Prepare the cups
Preheat oven to 350°F.
With a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out a round of bread from each slice. Brush one side of each round with the melted butter. Press the bread, butter side down, into the cup of a mini muffin tin. The bread will not reach the top of the cups.
Bake until the top edges are browned, 11 to 13 minutes. Remove the croustades to a wire rack to cool.
Prepare the filling
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. If the leeks begin to brown, lower the heat.
In a food processor, blend the goat cheese, olive oil, yogurt, chives, parsley, salt, and pepper until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in leeks. Set aside.
Toast the pine nuts in a small pan over medium heat, shaking frequently, until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.
Return the croustade cups to the muffin tins and fill each cup with goat cheese mixture. Top with 3 to 4 pine nuts. Bake for about 5 minutes.
Makes 36 croustades.
Shrimp with Spicy Lime Dip
For the shrimp
1 pound medium shrimp
2 garlic cloves, crushed
For the spicy lime dip
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
3 scallions, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 small chipotle chiles in adobo, minced to a paste, plus 1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce
1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 1 tablespoon juice (1 lime)
Prepare the shrimp
Peel the shrimp and devein them, if desired. Put the garlic in a pot of generously salted water and bring water to a boil. Put shrimp in and cook until they’re pink and cooked through, about 3 minutes. (The water may not return to a boil in that time.) Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Prepare the dip
Prepare the dip: Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Makes 40 to 50 shrimp and 1 1/2 cups of dip
Moroccan Lamb Meatballs with Dill Sauce
For the meatballs
1/3 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried mint, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound ground lamb
1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (about 2 slices white bread, ground in food processor)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons finely chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup white sesame seeds
For the sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
ground white pepper to taste
Prepare the sauce
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
Prepare the meatballs
Preheat oven to 450°F.
In a small, nonstick skillet, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a big bowl. Stir in the salt, mint, allspice, and cinnamon. Add the lamb, bread crumbs, egg, cranberries, and sesame seeds and combine thoroughly (the easiest way is to use your hands).
Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls. (Guests will be spearing them with toothpicks, so they should be no bigger than two bites’ worth.) Line up the meatballs on an ungreased baking sheet as you go (they can be close, just not touching). Bake just until no longer pink in the middle, 8 to 10 minutes.
Serve with the dill sauce alongside.
Makes about 32 meatballs and 1 1/4 cups sauce.
For more of Lauren’s recipes, visit her website here.
The holidays are all about luxury and indulgence, and the same should go for the cocktails you serve. This Coffee Mate is the quintessential cocktail to serve at a late night gathering around a fire. Your guests will think you’re a master mixologist when you tell them the secret ingredient: brown-sugar simple syrup!
2 oz. unsweetened plain almond milk
1 oz. cognac
1/2 oz. coffee liqueur
1/4 oz. brown-sugar simple syrup
To make the brown-sugar simple syrup, combine equal parts dark brown sugar and water in pot; heat until sugar dissolves. Cool. (Can be used in oatmeal, coffee and other fun holiday cocktails!)
To make the Coffee Mate, shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice until cold. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Makes 1.
More Holiday Cocktail Recipes
If you thought Shandies were just for summer and tailgating, think again: we’ve got a recipe perfect for cold, snowy nights by the fire. A Winter Shandy is just what your holiday party or night in needs. It’s light enough to casually sip among friends, but the warm and spicy hints of orange and pumpkin will make you feel as cozier than a cashmere sweater. Wanna know the best part? Each serving is less than 150 calories!
5 ounces pumpkin-spiced or amber beer
2 ounces lemonade
1/4 ounce warm orange marmalade
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, stir first 3 ingredients until cold. Strain into a chilled highball or pint glass. Garnish with an orange slice. Makes 1.
More easy cocktail recipes
Did you know November is National Pomegranate Month? And while we love a good sprinkling of seeds in our fruit salad, on our burgers or even tossed with Brussels sprouts, sometimes we need something a little more potent… in the form of a cocktail.
The Pom Selleck is just the thing we’re looking for: It’s sweet and fruity with a hint of effervescence to round it all out. Make this drink after a long day at the office, for a cocktail or holiday party or on a game-day afternoon. It’ll wet your whistle any which way (say that 10 times fast)!
3 cups pomegranate juice
1 1/4 cups vodka
1 cup triple sec
1 lime, juiced
2 cups seltzer
Combine the pomegranate juice, vodka, triple sec and lime juice in a pitcher; refrigerate until cold. Just before serving, add the seltzer and pour the mixture into tall, ice-filled glasses. Make 8.
More Delicious Cocktail Recipes
Dark nights, cool breezes and changing leaves: It’s definitely fall, and there’s no better way to take the chill off than with a stiff cocktail. Our Sweet Ruby will do just the trick, warming you from the inside out with scotch and sweet vermouth. Don’t forget to add a splash of grapefruit juice to match your ruby red cheeks!
1 ounce scotch
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce ruby red grapefruit juice
Twist of a grapefruit peel, for garnishing
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the scotch, vermouth and grapefruit juice and stir well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the grapefruit twist. Makes 1.
More Four-Ingredient Cocktails
Not ready to let go of summer just yet? We’ve got good news: You don’t have to! Get one last sip of summertime sweetness in a cocktail that’s delicious, fresh and super easy to make. The best part? Strawberries are in season until late summer so they’ll be totally fresh in your festive sip. Whip up these Strawberry Suckers for your friends and family — they’ll thank you for turning back the clock, even if it’s just by a few weeks.
1 ounce vodka
2 ounces strawberry schnapps
1 strawberry, halved
Ice cubes (freebie)
Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Add the vodka and schnapps and top with club soda. Garnish with the strawberry. Serves 1.
More Delicious Four-Ingredient Cocktails
Happy Thirsty Thursday! Relax this evening with a drink that’ll quench your thirst and put a smile on your face (queue Pharrell’s “Happy”). The best part? This four-ingredient cocktail won’t have to be slaving away in the kitchen (but don’t tell your guests — this drink is so impressive, they’ll think you’re a master mixologist!).
No cocktail party is complete without a signature drink, but that doesn’t mean you need to whip up some crazy concoction with a zillion different mix-ins. Keep it simple (but still impressive!) with a four-ingredient cocktail. It’s contains just enough flavors to make your guests think that you’re a master mixologist. This week’s pick? A Mint Julep because this classic sipper never goes out of style. We love it for summer because it’s minty-fresh, sweet and just strong enough!
1 teaspoon confectioners sugar
5 fresh mint leaves, plus 1 mint sprig for garnish
1/2 cup (4 ounces) gin
Add the sugar, the mint leaves and a few drops of the bourbon to a chilled glass. Muddle or crush the mint with a spoon to create a thick paste. Add a handful of crushed ice to the glass. Place a straw so that it reaches the mint paste at the bottom of the glass. Pour the remaining bourbon over the ice. Add more crushed ice, making a mound that reaches to the top of the glass and leaving about 1 inch of the straw peeking above the rim. Garnish with a mint sprig.
No party is complete without a signature cocktail. But that doesn’t mean you need to whip up some crazy concoction with 14 different ingredients that you’ll never use again. Keep it simple, but still impress guests with our four-ingredient sipper. Your friends will think you’re a master mixologist (trust us) when you make this Bourbon Cocktail!
No cocktail party is complete without a signature cocktail, but that doesn’t mean you need to whip up some crazy concoction with 14 different ingredients that you’ll never use again. Keep it simple, but still impressive with a four-ingredient cocktail that features one unique flavor that makes your guests think you’re a master mixologist. Here’s an idea that’s a lighter, fruity twist on a classic martini: a cool and creamy Vanilla Pear-tini!