Presenting Olson-Kroski swanky holiday cocktail recipes and snacks

With the holidays quickly approaching, as well as our Holiday-Party-Unintentionally-Turned-Engagement-Soiree, I figure it’s as good a time as any to share the holiday cocktail recipes and foods I’ll be making for our shindig. (Many of the cocktail recipes came from the 2011 Holiday Spirits Bazaar at the Astor Center.)

Mexican Hot Chocolate

  • ½ tablet Mexican chocolate
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 vanilla bean (heat together)
  • Add 1.5 oz Scorpion Mezcal Reposado or Anejo
  • Top with whipped cream

Gingerbread Gin Drink

  • 33 oz gin
  • 16 oz Domaine de Canton
  • 4 oz fresh giner juice from baby ginger root
  • 8 oz Monin gingerbread syrup
  • 30 oz apple juice
  • 20 oz pear juice
  • 12 oz lime juice
  • 5 oz chilled water
  • Garnish: Lemon wheels studded w/cloves and broken cinnamon sticks

Pumpkin Martini

  • 3 oz. vanilla vodka
  • 1 oz. canned pumpkin
  • 1 oz. half & half
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice

White Christmas Cocktail

  • 1 fluid ounce half & half
  • 1 fluid ounce vodka
  • 1 fluid ounce peppermint schnapps
  • 1 fluid ounce white creme de cacao
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 small candy cane (optional)

The French Kiss

  • 1 oz. Chambord
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. crème de cacao
  • 1.5 oz. half and half

Cranberry Spice

  • 1 oz. Domaine de Canton
  • 1/2 oz. Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1/2 oz. Chambord
  • 2 oz. cranberry juice

Spinach and artichoke dip

  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6-ounce container nonfat Greek yogurt (such as Fage or Chobani)
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
  • 1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella, shredded

1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. Mix ingredients; spoon into 9-inch quiche dish or pie plate.
3. Bake 20 minutes or until heated through.
*Serve this dip with the roasted vegetable chips or whole-wheat pita chips

Cranberry baked brie

  • 1 wheel brie cheese (8-12 ounces)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup cranberry sauce (recipe below)
  • citrus rind, mint leaves, or whole cranberries for garnish, if desired
  • assorted crackers or bread rounds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Remove outer wrapping from brie wheel. Using a very sharp knife, remove the rind from the top of the wheel only, leaving the rind on the sides and bottom intact. Place brie in a shallow pie plate or casserole dish that is slightly bigger than the brie itself.
3. Spread the cranberry sauce over the top of the brie, to within 1/4 inch of the edge all the way around.
4. Bake brie in the preheated oven until heated through; about 12-15 minutes. Serve in the casserole dish or transfer carefully to a serving plate. Serve warm with crackers or bread.
Makes about 12-14 appetizer-sized servings.

Mac and cheese bites

  • ¼ c butter
  • ¼ c parmesan grated
  • ¾ elbow pasta
  • 1 ½ Tbsp all purpose flour
  • ¾ c whole milk
  • 2 oz fresh Asiago, shredded
  • 2 oz creamy Gorgonzola cheese
  • 6 sundried tomato halves not in oil
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ tsp hot red pepper sauce

Sugar cookies

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla.
Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden.
Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Credit Cards, Accounts, and Other Tips

As a personal finance nerd who is always in search of a bargain and spends her free time reading NerdWallet and PointsGuy (and who may or may not have shed a few tears when Suze Orman went off the air), I’m happy to share some of my findings. Add your own tips and thoughts in the comments …

France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Italy, WHEW!

Brian and I seem to have a real thing for the jam-packed itinerary … join us on a recounting of our trek through Europe in June. (Full photos here.)