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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pop Champagne!

With New Year's Eve being one day away, I'm sure most of you will be planning on "Popping Champagne" (or sparkling cider for my non-alcoholic drinkers) at midnight. If you plan on entertaining guests inside of your home this New Year's Eve, here are a few "Champagne" inspired drinks featured on Hostess With the Mostess' blog. These yummy drinks are sure to be a big hit at any New Year's Eve bash:
6 medium-size white peaches, halved, pitted, each half cut into 4 wedges
2 pints peach ice cream
3/4 cup crème de cassis (black-currant liqueur) plus additional for drizzling
2 cups chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine

Place 3 peach wedges in bottom of each of 6 tall glasses. Top with 1 scoop ice cream, then another 3 peach wedges. Add second scoop ice cream and top with 2 more peach wedges. Drizzle each with 2 tablespoons crème de cassis. Pour 1/3 cup Champagne into each glass. Top with 1 scoop ice cream, drizzle with additional crème de cassis, and serve.



1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup water
1 cup small strawberries, hulled (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup fresh pink or ruby grapefruit juice
2 1/4 cups chilled brut Champagne

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
9 teaspoons mascarpone cheese*
18 whole small strawberries

Stir 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water in large saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Cool. Puree 1 cup strawberries in processor. Whisk 1/2 cup puree into sugar syrup. Mix in grapefruit juice, then Champagne. Pour mixture into 8-inch square metal baking pan. Freeze mixture until firm, stirring every 2 hours, about 6 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep frozen.)

Mix remaining 1/2 cup sugar and lemon peel in pie plate. Spread 1/2 teaspoon mascarpone around pointed tip half of each whole strawberry. Dip in lemon sugar to coat mascarpone.

Moisten rims of 6 Martini glasses with water; dip rims into remaining lemon sugar. Scrape fork across surface of granita to form ice shavings. Mound granita in glasses. Garnish with sugared berries and serve immediately.

*Available at Italian markets and some supermarkets.


4 scoops lemon sorbet
2 ounces chilled vodka, citrus vodka or limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur)
2 ounces prosecco or other sparkling wine or Champagne
2 sprigs fresh mint

Blend lemon sorbet on low speed and pour in vodka or lemon liqueur in a slow stream. Add prosecco or Champagne. Pour cocktails into a chilled martini glass and serve, garnished with a sprig of mint.


1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
2 cups cold white grape juice, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups champagne or club soda
8 fresh strawberries, hulled

In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 1 cup cold grape juice; let stand for 1 minute. Heat over low heat, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in sugar. Remove from the heat; stir in remaining grape juice. Cool to room temperature.
Transfer gelatin mixture to a large bowl. Slowly stir in champagne or soda. Pour half of the mixture into eight champagne or parfait glasses. Add one strawberry to each glass. Chill glasses and remaining gelatin mixture until almost set, about 1 hour.
Place the reserved gelatin mixture in a blender; cover and process until foamy. Pour into glasses. Chill for 3 hours or until set. Yield: 8 servings.

Enjoy! And please remember to drink responsibly this New Year's. If you are hosting a New Year's Eve party and serving alcohol to your guests, please make sure that they are able to drive themselves home before leaving. It is also a good idea to provide a transportation service that will drive your guests home should they get too inebriated.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ornament Decor

Christmas ornaments make very attractive and festive centerpieces during the holidays. These pictures prove that Christmas ornaments don't only belong on a tree:

Simply placing ball ornaments in a glass dish or vase adds a bit of pizazz to any table.

In the picture above, ornaments are used to line the center of a table...kind of like a "table runner".

*Note: above images are taken from Apartment Therapy

Our favorite "Hostess With the Mostess" used "Retro" inspired ornaments (which I believe are the same ones from my previous post) to decorate a holiday table.

*image taken from Grace Amore

The picture shown above is an example of how various ornaments placed in a hurricane vase can make a great centerpiece.

This picture was taken by Erin Hession Photography and was used as a cenerpiece in a winter themed wedding. How beautiful is that?

So, as you can see, there are tons of ways you can dress up a holiday table with the simple use of Christmas ornaments. This is a quick and easy way to decorate at the last minute. You can use clear vases and serving bowls that you already have at home. You can also use Christmas ornaments that you may already have stashed in your garage. Ornament decor doesn't only have to be limited to just the holidays. You can use ornaments all year round to decorate the inside of your house or apartment.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Spread Some "Cheer"

At my job, we are taking a different approach to the "Secret Santa" method of gift exchanging that most companies take part in during the Christmas holiday. With the recession in mind (and the fact that our company will not be giving out raises this year), we are doing what's called a "Secret Cheerer". The purpose of a Secret Cheerer is to bring some Christmas "cheer" to a fellow co-worker's day or morning by showering them with small gifts no more than a couple of dollars. The holidays are a time when a lot of people become lonely and depressed for various reasons. Last week, names were secretly drawn and for the two weeks leading up until Christmas, all of the "Secret Cheerers" will be secretly placing gifts on the desk of the person whose name they pulled. Or, they can choose to send their gift via another person to prevent their identity from being revealed. Gifts can be given on a daily basis, a few times a week, or the "Secret Cheerer" can wait until the end of the two weeks and give one big gift.

Gifts can be anything from candy, a doughnut,bagel, cup of coffee, a Christmas card, a holiday poem, candle, $1 to get something out of the vending machine, lunch money, flowers, plant, etc, etc. The ideas are endless. All of the "Secret Cheerers" will be able to reveal themselves at our Christmas Party on December 23rd. Secret Cheering is an unique way to still have fun and be able to exchange gifts while on a budget. I'm not participating in it because I was absent when names were pulled (I fell ill and had to call out sick last Thursday and Friday). But, had I not been sick, I would've definitely participated. It's fun to try and come up with original "cost-effective" gift ideas that will bring a smile to someone's face. Sometimes it's the little things that count...