Champagne, cava and prosecco all sparkle, but they’re not the same. Get to know them a little better with this handy cheat sheet.
The Champagne region in northern France
Can be toasty and dry (i.e. not sweet); available in a range of colors, from light golden to pink
A special occasion. Champagne uses high-quality grapes and takes longer to age, so it’s often the most expensive of the three. Save it for the times when you really want to celebrate.
The Catalonia region in northeast Spain
Earthier, fruitier and often less expensive than Champagne
A weekend party with friends. The crowd-pleasing flavor and budget-friendly price makes this sparkling wine great for a group. And who says you have to start the party with bubbles? Spaniards sometimes serve cava after a meal.
The Veneto region in northeast Italy
Light, crisp and apple-y; usually the sweetest and least expensive of the three sparklers
A leisurely Sunday brunch. You can sip prosecco on its own, and it also makes a great cocktail mixer. Thanks to its super-affordable price and low alcohol, bottomless mimosas can be had by all!
No matter which bubbly you choose, you can whip up a killer cocktail for your New Years Eve party. Here are some of our faves:
New Years Eve is so close we can taste it–literally! We’re planning a stellar menu of finger foods and festive eats that our guests are sure to love. These recipes are easy to make, fun to eat and, most importantly, only require one hand, leaving that other hand wide open for a cocktail or glass of bubbly. We’ll drink to that!
Between decorating the tree, crafting the perfect cocktail and making sure the roast doesn’t burn, Christmas entertaining can be stressful. One part that shouldn’t feel like a chore is making a crowd-pleasing appetizer. This introduction to your party should mimic the vibe: welcoming, easy-going and of course, delicious. And when it comes to making an appetizer that meets all three requirements on top of being a cinch to throw together, our secret weapon is store-bought puff pastry. We love it for its versatility, ease to work with and quick cooking time. These five savory (and one sweet!) puff pastry apps will make you want to have a Christmas party every day of the year!
With the 87th Oscars coming up this Sunday, you should start thinking about what to serve for your party. The best way to entertain for any TV-watching party is with small bites, so your guests can keep their eyes on the screen and not on their fork and knife. So let them dip, much and snack their way through, from the red carpet pre-show to the closing credits. With food this good, they won’t even wish they were there!
If you don’t want to go through the hassle making making last-minute reservations for New Years Eve, look no further. We’ve put together a quick and delicious menu that is sure to bring you happiness and health in the new year. No matter how many people you’re cooking for, your guests are sure to love this showstopping menu.
Greet guests with a Gin and Honey Champagne Cocktail
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’re looking for some post-Black Friday fuel but can’t imagine fitting one more thing in your fridge, we’ve got a solution for you: Transform your Turkey Day leftovers into something extraordinary! From sweet potato casserole, to leftover turkey and green beans–to even the pumpkin pie!– there’s always a solution to remaking Thanksgiving dinner without repeating it. Try out some of these delicious recipes this weekend!
For a late breakfast or brunch: Sweet Potato Waffles with Turkey and Spicy Maple Syrup
Happy Thanksgiving! Tonight, come to dinner armed with these fun facts–your secret weapon for breaking up family tiffs, curbing chatty Cathys and rousing snoring uncles.
If you haven’t had time to plan your Thanksgiving dinner yet, drop the catering menu. We’ve got 5 easy and delicious recipes that can be on your table in just two hours, thanks to the help of the turkey breast and the microwave. Don’t believe us? Here’s a real-life testimony that proves it’s never too late for a home-cooked turkey dinner.