Holiday Cocktails & Mocktails: 7 Recipes for Entertaining

From now till New Years Eve, there are several occasions to break out the cocktail shaker and raise your glass.  For all your holiday gatherings and entertaining, here are some festive recipes – 4 cocktails, 2 mocktails and a (spiked) punch – to bring your party good cheer.

Alexander Baby
4-5 ice cubes
2 measures dark rum
1 measure cremé de cacao
1/2 measure double cream
grated nutmeg

Put the ice cubes into a cocktail shaker and pour the rum, cremé de cacao and cream over the ice. Shake the drink then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Sprinkle grated nutmeg on top. Serves one.

– Recipe from All Shook Up: Party Drinks and Cocktails by Hamlyn

Christmas Punch
2 cups chilled pomegranate juice
1 cup chilled cranberry juice
8 oz. (1 cup) vodka
8 oz. (1 cup) Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur
1 cup chilled club soda
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 6 lemons)
1/2 cup simple syrup

Combine pomegranate and cranberry juice, vodka, Cointreau, club soda, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a punch bowl. Fill glasses with cranberries frozen in ice cubes, and serve. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.

– Recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine, December 2009.

Mulled Cranberry Sipper
32 oz. cranberry juice
2 qt. water
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 (5-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp. whole cloves

Bring all the above-listed ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard solids, stir in 1 cup of orange juice. Serve warm or cooler. Garnish with lemon rind twists. Makes about 3 1/2 quarts. Non-alcholic.

– Recipe from Southern Living magazine, November 2012.

Hot Dixie Chocolate
2 oz. bourbon
2 oz. good-quality semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup whole milk
2 tbs. heavy cream
1/2 tbps. vanilla
1 tsp. sugar

Finely chop the chocolate and set it aside. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the milk, heavy cream, vanilla and sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the milk is very hot but not boiling. Remove from heat, pour the milk mixture over the chocolate pieces in a bowl, and let stand for a minute or two or until the chocolate has melted. Add the bourbon, stirring well to combine. Serve steaming hot in a heat-resistant glass.

– Recipe from Cocktail Parties with a Twist: Drinks + Food + Style by Alexandria and Eliot Angle

Sweet -N- Sassy
powdered sugar
2 oz. white cranberry juice
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. raspberry syrup
3 raspberries for garnish

Rim a martini glass with powdered sugar and set aside. Pour juice and raspberry syrup into a mixing glass and shake. Strain into the martini glass. Garnish with raspberries on a skewer. Serves one. Non-alcholic. 

– Recipe from Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-to-Be by Natalie Bovis-Nelsen

Coffee Amaretto
hot black coffee
1/2 measure Amaretto di Saronno
1/2 measure Tia Maria or Kahlúa
whipped cream
amaretti biscuits, to serve

Put some very hot, black coffee into a mug or heatproof handled glass and add Amaretto and Tia Maria or Kahlúa. Stir well then spoon whipped cream on top. Serve with amaretti biscuits. Serves one.

– Recipe from All Shook Up: Party Drinks and Cocktails by Hamlyn

Sunset Tea
200 ml / 7 oz. freshly-brewed Indian tea
1/2 measure golden rum
1 measure Cointreau
2 measures fresh orange juice
orange slices stuck with three whole cloves
cinnamon sticks

Pour the tea into 2 heatproof glasses. Put the rum, Cointreau and orange juice into a small saucepan. Place it over a low heat and bring the mixture to just under a boiling point, stirring constantly. Pour immediately into the glasses with the tea. Garnish with a slice of orange stuck with 3 cloves and a cinnamon stick. Serves two.

– Recipe from All Shook Up: Party Drinks and Cocktails by Hamlyn

Next time you’re at your local HPB, check out the magazines and cookbooks for many more tempting recipes to take home and try.  Happy holidays!

Meredith is Associate Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

Super Easy Homemade Bread

Tomorrow is Homemade Bread Day! So roll-up your sleeves, cover yourself in flour and bake a loaf of love. This bread recipe makes a wonderfully crunchy, delicious and super easy bread that has become a staple in my household. Once you have mastered this recipe, there are many more bread books to enjoy!

Step 1:

Boil a pot of water and preheat oven to the “warm” setting. In an oven-safe bowl combine flour, salt, warm water and yeast. Mix by hand until a ball of dough forms and is slightly tacky (add water or flour as needed). Place the bowl of dough and the pot of boiling water in the warm oven to steam and proof for about 30 mins. Remove dough when it has doubled in size.

Step 2:

Place your dutch oven in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Once the dutch oven is fully heated, remove from the oven and coat the bottom of the pan with a handful of corn meal to prevent the bread from sticking. Place dough in the hot dutch oven pan and return to the oven to bake for 30-40 mins or until golden brown. 

Step 3:

Remove cooked loaf from the dutch oven and allow to cool completely.

Step 4:

Slice and enjoy!

I am always looking for new loaves to love. What’s your favorite bread recipe or bread book?

Stephanie is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate
You can follow Stephanie on Twitter at @saltpepperpress.

A Toast to J.K. Rowling

Here at HPB, we are huge fans of J.K. Rowling and her ever-popular Harry Potter series.
In honor of her birthday, we celebrate in true muggle fashion with a glass of Butterbeer.
Butterbeer is a deliciously frothy drink of sweet butterscotch and cream.
Here’s what you will need to make your own:

BUTTERBEER

1 cup – ice cream
1 cup – crushed ice
1- 12 oz – bottle of cream soda or club soda
1/2 cup – butterscotch ice cream topping
Whipped cream and cinnamon for topping (optional)

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Top with whipped cream and cinnamon.

CHEERS!

Stop by our stores or online, pick-up the whole Harry Potter collection and curl up with a nice cup of Butterbeer.

 

So let’s hear it, what is your favorite Harry Potter treat?

– Stephanie (muggle crafter)

Top 10 Charming Books on Cupcakes

In anticipation of our 40th birthday (July 27, 2012), we’ve got cake on the brain. Better yet, mini cakes. Cupcakes are cheerful lil’ things. Can’t really put my finger on a reason, but they are. And it turns out, other people, or at least publishers, must agree, because there are countless books on the topic of cupcakes!

Part of what makes any cookbook appealing is the appetite-grabbing photography, so, this week, just for fun, I’ve rounded up my selections. Here are the Top 10 Charming Books on Cupcakes…

1. Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans offers up 50 mouthwatering, delicious recipes that are sure to tickle your palate. User-friendly, this simple cookbook also covers supplies, ingredients and successful baking techniques.

2. Bake Me I’m Yours… Cupcake: Over 100 Excuses to Indulge by Joan and Graham Belgrove features 100 ideas for baking, decorating, displaying, serving and consuming cupcakes – the small cake with BIG potential. Sponge cakes, icings and frostings, and ideas for embellishment and display.

3. Cupcakes Year-Round: 50 Recipes for Every Season and Celebration by Sara Neumeier offers a platter of full of delicious recipes for the kids and grown-ups, with recipes organized by season. In addition to recipes for batters, it includes syrups, fillings, and icings.

4. Little Cakes from the Whimsical Bakehouse by Kaye and Liv Hansen is filled with delightful cupcakes, small cakes muffins, and other mini treats. Presenting 60 fabulous new recipes for little decorated cakes and cheesecakes, bundts, cupcakes and more-all in fresh flavor combinations

5. Cupcakes by Susannah Blake features passion fruit butterfly cakes and orange almond cupcakes. You won’t be able to resist whipping up a batch.

6. Cupcakes: Over 80 Delicious Recipes for All Occasions and Tastes by Sue McMahon offers 80 delicious recipes including recipes for traditional cupcakes, fruit-based cupcakes, themed cupcakes, and special-diet cupcakes that include mouthwatering gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, reduced-fat and reduced-sugar recipes.

7. The Cupcake Deck (Cards) by Elinor Klivans, the author of Cupcakes (see number 1), shows off 25 scrumptious ways to bring smiles faster than a kid can lick the batter off a beater.

8. Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It by Amy Atlas is a showcase of sweet cakes and sugarscapes! You can take on this DIY with the help of this celebrity event planner’s book. Amy gives you tips for dressing up store-bought treats and craft ideas to create a dynamic dessert table for your next party. Presentation is everything!

9. Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn offers creative ideas and 135 recipes for tiny, delicious cakes from chocolate ganache to toppings with panache, tempting recipes for children and grown-ups, for special days and everyday, lunch bags, holiday festivities, and an unexpected dinner party dessert.

10. Tempt: Cupcakes to Excite by Betty Saw brings to mind fun and colorful little cakes in attractive cases with beautiful toppings, with a decadent serving of 75 recipes.

Who’s hungry for a cupcake now? Stay tuned for details about our birthday party and fantastic deals happening at your local HPB to celebrate our 40th.

— Meredith

Holiday Entertaining Recipes & Cookbook Giveaway

Throw open your doors to family and friends for gatherings and feasts filled with holiday cheer. To help inspire you, here are some sweet and savory recipes for your holiday entertaining. Find these featured cookbooks in your neighborhood HPB store or online at HPB Marketplace. Be sure to read through to the end for details how you can win a cookbook!

As my family gathers around at grandmother’s house on Christmas morning, the first thing to disappear are the Piglets in Blankets. Here’s how to make them. Unroll an 8 oz package of crescent roll dough. Cut into four strips about 1/8 inch wide. Wrap one strip of dough tightly around each mini sausage. You can also cut the dough into triangles and roll them croissant-style, if you wish. Place wrapped piggies on baking sheet or pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Just before baking, whisk 1 large egg with 2 tsp water. Brush the dough with egg wash. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot out of the oven.  Makes about 4 dozen.

– Recipe from Parties and Projects for the Holidays by Martha Stewart

Whip up a batch of crisp and flaky Rugelach cookies for your Chanukkah party. Start by mixing in a bowl 4 oz unsalted butter and 4 oz white cheese (none of that low-fat business, full-fat farmer’s cheese). Beat in 1 tbsp sugar, 1 egg, and 1/2 tsp salt. Fold 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour into the creamy mixture until the dough can be worked with the hands. Knead and shape the dough into a ball, then cover and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. On a floured surface, roll out each piece until the dough is about 1/2 inch thick. Then brush with a little melted butter. Sprinkle golden raisins and chopped walnuts (or substitute raisins for chocolate chips, if you prefer). Sprinkle dough with a touch of sugar and cinnamon. Cut the rounds into 8 to 10 wedges. Roll the triangle from the large end towards the tip (resembling a croissant). Place on baking sheet. Brush the tops with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 15 to 30 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool before serving. Makes 48 to 60 cookies.

– Recipe from Jewish Food for Festivals and Special Occasions by Marlena Spieler

After an evening out singing Christmas carols, warm up with this treat – Spiced Hot Chocolate. Mix together in a saucepan 3-3/4 cups of mil, 7 oz of dark chocolate (at least 70% solid cocoa) broken into pieces, 2 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp allspice. On medium heat, whisk until it’s simmering. Remove from heat and pour into heatproof glasses or mugs. Garnish with a whole cinnamon stick and a dollop of whipped cream. Serves 3 to 4.

For a beverage suitable for your holiday cocktail party or for ringing in the new year, try a Gumdrop Martini. First, rub the rim of a chilled martini glass with the wedge of a lemon, then dip the glass edge in a saucer of superfine sugar. Shake over ice cubes 2 measures of lemon rum, 1 measure of vodka, 1/2 measure of Southern Comfort whiskey, 1/2 measure of lemon juice and 1/2 tsp dry vermouth. Strain into prepared glass and serve with a toast!
– Drink recipes from The Bartender’s Guide by Parragon Books

In the family-tradition of Half Price Books, we love have a good time — especially so around the holiday season. In the words of founder Ken Gjemre: “We’re going to eat and drink some. We’re going to party more. We’re going to shop more. We’re going to remember friends, family and children. And we’re going to be nice to one another. Now what’s wrong with that?”

Tell us about your favorite holiday tradition or family recipe! Enter yours in a comment below and you’ll be automatically entered to win a FREE cookbook. Three lucky winners will receive a selected cookbook from Half Price Books. Winners will be randomly selected at 3pm CST on Friday, December 9. Don’t forget to share this with your friends so they can enter to win a free cookbook too!

Eat, drink and be merry.

— Meredith

 

UPDATE: Congratulations to our winners – Laura Olson who shared her “Holly” cornflakes recipie; Daria Schaffnit who told us about grandma’s cookie factory; and Megan Miller who shared about her tradition to make gingerbread men. You’ve each won a free cookbook! To claim your prize, drop us a note at besocial@hpb.com with “Cookbook Giveaway” in the subject and include your mailing address in the body. This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Favorite Autumn Recipes

Autumn has arrived. And along with weather patterns shifting and leaves changing colors, this season signals so many more of my favorite things. Including edible treats, of course! You’ll find all sorts of flavors of the fall season like pumpkin, squash, apples, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Here are some of my favorite recipes to jumpstart the season. 

Pecan pie is a big hit with my family. And this is my go-to recipe to make an irresistible version of a classic. It’s from Sweet Serendipity: Delicious Desserts and Devilish Dish – a cookbook with recipes from the world-famous eatery in New York, Serendipity (a hot touristy spot which, despite the potential for crowds, is worth a visit; just don’t be counting any calories). 

Serendipity’s Pecan Pie

Make your own pie crust from stratch or get one ready-made from the grocery store. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk 4 large eggs to loosen them. Add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup light corn syrup, and whisk until blended. Stir in 2 cups of pecan halves (about half a pound); stir in most of them, reserving the best-looking pieces. Pour the pecan mixture into the pie crust. Arrange the remaining pecans on the top for the best presentation. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove from oven. Be very careful because the pie filling will be extremely hot. Brush yolk from 1 large egg over the entire surface of the pie and return to the oven for 30 more minutes. Then, remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate or store at room temperature until completely set (at least 4 hours). Slice and serve. If there are any leftovers (which is unlikely at my house), store at room temperature. 

Straight from one of my favorite cookbooks – Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking – this recipe for Sweet Corn Spoonbread is as a spoonfully-delicious as it sounds. It’s the consistency of bread pudding but with the hearty taste of cornbread. 

Sweet Corn Spoonbread

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart baking dish and set aside. Put 1 cup cornmeal in a large bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over cornmeal while whisking constantly. Takes about 30 seconds to get a smooth, thick mixture. Immediately whisk in 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter (at room temperature). Whisk it together with 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking power until blended. Then, add 3 large eggs, beaten. Stir in about 1 cup of fresh corn kernels cut from 1 large ear of corn. Pour the corn batter into the baking dish. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the edges are brown and the pudding is set. Using a large spoon, scoop out servings and serve with soft butter. 

Dress up your typical apple cider with this great find from Taste of Home. By adding lemon, orange slices, honey or various spices, you can create your own custom beverage. This easy-to-make Mulled Apple Cranberry Cider is a treat for an autumn dinner party or just a quiet evening at home with the family. 

Mulled Apple Cranberry Cider

In a large saucepan, combine 4 cups of apple cider or apple juice, 2 cups of cranberry juice (preferably 100% juice) and 1/3 cup of packed brown sugar. Place 4 whole cloves and 2 cinnamon sticks on cheesecloth and tie the corners together with string to create a bag (but if you don’t have cheesecloth, you can put in the spices loose and then remove them with a slotted spoon or strainer before serving). Add spice bag to pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Then, reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes. Discard your spice bag. Ladle into your favorite mug and let cool. Then sip and enjoy. 

Cooler weather also puts soups and stews back on the menu. I just found 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley. She had me at slow cooker. But then I discovered it contains recipes for Indian Spice Tomato Soup, Creamy Tomato Soup, Minestrone and Spiced Apple Pie Soup. Needless to say, I’ll be trying a few. Break out your crock pot and report back about your favorites. Don’t hold back. Share your favorite autumn recipe in the comments below. 

Go eat, drink and be merry! _ Meredith

Meredith is Associate Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

On the Menu: Summer Recipies for Your July 4th Cookout

What’s cooking, America?! It’s 4th of July weekend and time to bust out the charcoal for a cookout! Whether you’re hosting an Independence Day backyard bash or an indoor dinner party, here’s a menu to inspire you and get your taste buds salivating.

4th of July Party Menu

  • Crunchy Lemon Pepper Wings
  • Smoked Deviled Eggs
  • Fresh Watermelon Lemonade
  • BLT Burger with Asparagus
  • Potatoes in the Embers
  • Cob Roasted in the Husks
  • Homemade Rocky Road

Start with some finger-food appetizers like Crunchy Lemon Pepper Wings. They have lots of zesty flavor without being spicy (for hot wing wimps like me). Deviled eggs are always a crowd pleaser but when you smoke them, it adds a detail that will make your guests rave about your skills in the kitchen. Slice up a watermelon and serve up a juicy wedge on the side of a glass of lemonade or your favorite cocktail. I suggest Watermelon Margaritas on the rocks with sugar-rimmed glasses. After all, we’re celebrating our nation’s independence! 😉

 
Next, fire up the grill for BLT Burgers with Asparagus, served with lettuce, tomato and other fixings. It’s a hearty and flavorful entree with the chopped canadian bacon mixed and cooked into the hamburger patty. Take a break from the traditional potato salad and try out a recipe for Potatoes in the Embers with some woody flavor, perfect for a cookout. Add a side of fresh corn on the cob roasted in the husks, which is especially mouth-watering if you season them with fresh ground black pepper, garlic and rosemary.

And last but not least, finish off your feast before the fireworks with Homemade Rocky Road, a classic American ice cream. Plenty sweet and extra nutty with macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and almonds in the mix. Now, go eat, drink and be merry. Happy 4th of July! Enjoy!

Where to find these tasty recipies:

Appetizers: Wings: More Than 50 High-Flying Recipes for America’s Favorite Snack by Debbie Moose (p 36) and The Kansas City Barbecue Society Cookbook by Ardie A Davis, Check Paul Kirk and Carolyn Wells (p 28).
Entree: Best Ever Barbecue: A Collection of Over 100 Essential Recipes by Love Food (p 14).
Sides: Beer-Can Chicken and 74 Other Offbeat Recipes for the Grill by Steven Raichlen (p 242, 255).
Dessert: Ice Cream: Amazing Ices, Sherbets, Sorbets, Bomes and Iced Desserts by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (p 75).

Check your local HPB for these cookbooks or shop hpb.com to shop our online HPB Marketplace.