Christmas Entertaining: Bloody Mary and Hot Chocolate Bars

Hot Chocolate Bar

Hot Chocolate Bar

Holiday entertaining doesn’t have to be difficult, it just has to be festive and fun. A couple of years ago I had a Christmas Brunch complete with a Bloody Mary bar and a Hot Chocolate bar for the kids, (and adults too, just add some Baileys’).

For the Hot Chocolate bar, have hot water in a carafe, packets or a container of hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, chocolate chips, whipped cream, festive sprinkles, and candy canes for stirring. Let the guests make there own favorite concoction, this was a big hit with the preteens.

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For the Bloody Mary Christmas Bar, make pitchers of Basic Bloody Mary’s 3parts tomato juice, to 1 part vodka (have regular tomato juice on hand for those who don’t drink alcohol) Then set up the bar with ice,  Worcestershire, celery salt, hot sauce, old bay seasoning, picked vegetables, lemon and lime wedges, celery, cooked shrimp, olives and any other topping or garnish you desire. Again let the guest play bartender, set out some pastries, breakfast casseroles and a salad and the party is complete.

Bloody Mary Christmas Bar

Bloody Mary Christmas Bar

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A Nod to My Northern Neighbors: Peach Pecan Pie

 

It’s that time of year here in Florida where you can’t drive on a major road and not see a sign for fresh Georgia peaches. We are lucky to be a neighboring state. Georgia also grows delicious pecans so I decided to try to use them both in a dessert. My oldest son’s favorite dessert is pecan pie which he usually gets only once a year at Thanksgiving, so I decided to lighten it up with the fresh peaches and make it into a summer dessert. Turned out delicious and best of all this recipe doesn’t contain any corn syrup.

Peach Pecan Pie

1 9″ ready to bake pie crust

2 eggs

1/2 c melted butter

2 T flour

1 c brown sugar

1 T milk

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 t salt

3/4 c pecans

1 c fresh peeled and diced peaches

Beat eggs with a whisk in a large mixing bowl, add melted butter and continue whisking. Stir in flour, sugar and salt. Add milk and vanilla and then stir in peaches and pecans.

Pour into pie shell and bake 45 minutes. Tent with foil if crust starts to get too brown.

 

It is done when sides are set and there is only the slightest jiggle in the middle

 

Let cool and serve with whipped cream if desired

 

Strawberry Balsamic Pie with Granola

It’s strawberry season, and this week they were on sale and ridiculously sweet. I made an easy and delicious strawberry pie for a midweek dessert.  I cheated and used a pre-made pie crust but it would have probably been even better if I would have made it myself, if only I had more time.  The filling would also be delicious topping over ice cream or yogurt.

One pre made graham cracker or shortbread pie crust ( make one yourself if your feeling up to it)

2 quarts fresh strawberries washed

2 T Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 sugar

2T water

2t cornstarch

1T fresh lemon juice

For topping:

whipped cream

granola

Slice about 12 large strawberries in half and cover bottom of pie shell ( use whole strawberries if they are small)

For filling: slice remaining strawberries, Place in nonstick skillet with balsamic vinegar over medium heat for 3 minutes.

Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl until dissolved, add this and sugar to pan and bring to a boil.

Heat for 1 minute stirring constantly, remove from heat and add lemon juice. Cool and pour over strawberries in pie shell.

Cover and refrigerate until cool, about 3 hours.

Top with whipped cream and granola.