Santa's Little Helper
In a cocktail shaker, combine 1/2 ounce Kahlua mocha with peppermint (special edition Kahlua sold only during the holidays...), an ounce of cooled decaf espresso or coffee, 1/2 ounce of Godiva milk chocolate liqueur, and a 1/2 ounce of Stirrings Espresso liqueur. Add 4-5 ice cubes ice to shaker and a tablespoon of skim milk. Vigourously shake for 2-3 minutes, or, blend in a blender for 30-60 seconds to make more of a shake consistency. Pour into martini glass; garnish with chocolate-dipped peppermint stick and enjoy!
Non-alcoholic version: Take one ounce skim milk, one ounce cooled coffee, a tablespoon of Hershey's syrup, and a teaspoon of peppermint flavoring. Put in blender with 4-5 cubes of ice and blend for 30-60 seconds or use a whisk to mix ingredients without blending. Pour in martini glass and garnish as above.
This is a no-brainer. Buy your favorite eggnog from your local dairy or grocery store. For every four ounces of eggnog, add 1/2 ounce of Maker's Mark Kentucky bourbon. Blend on low for 60 seconds or use a whisk to until bourbon is full incorporated. To lighten your nog, add ice cubes to blender (3-4); it will make a frosty-dessert like drink post-Christmas festivities or to be served with New Year's brunch! Pour into martini glasses and garnish with a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg...yum! It's like falling in love all over again.
For the non-alcoholic version, add a teaspoon of Nielsen-Massey vanilla to every three ounces of eggnog; prepare as above. Enjoy!
HINT: To thin out your eggnog before preparing the above recipes, add 1/2 ounce of skim milk to every 3 ounces of eggnog; prepare recipes as above.
THE Cheese Plate
Simple is key during the holidays, but you want things to be special as well. Buy a baguette (which your bakery or store can pre-slice for you), wedge of manchego cheese, wedge of drunken goat, block of 2-year aged cheddar, and a wedge of medium brie. Arrange on a large platter with cutting knife and spreading knife. Add a wedge of fig-almond loaf--this can be found in the cheese shop of your local grocery store or specialty store. If you can't find it, use halved fresh figs on the platter. In a separate snack bowl, add Marcona almonds. Serve the baguette slices with the cheese platter either on platter or on a separate plate. It's not your average mild cheddar slices with wheat thins and a cluster of grapes--which is also great, but it's the holidays. Give yourself a break and keep the appetizers and snacks simple. For the carnivores, add some specialty hard salami from Italy or shave some prosciutto to go with the cheeses. If you want to pair a wine with this cheese plate, I recommend a garnacha from Spain or a reasonably-priced red bordeaux from the Medoc.
This wraps up another year of Pop Culture Cooking! Thanks to all the fans for your support and encouragement. From my home to yours, best wishes for a happy, healthy holiday season and beyond. See you all in 2012!!!