Cocktail Party To Go

I love the holiday season, as Trevor and I tend to ditch our preference for being homebodies in favor of getting out and about to see friends, attend events, etc. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that cute invitations and festive spirits are present to draw us in. Friends recently had a group of us over for game night, and I offered to bring an appetizer and specialty cocktail. I always gravitate toward appetizers when looking at a menu or cookbook, and who doesn’t like a specialty cocktail, but I find it challenging to bring those items to a party. The whole point of chipping in for the food or drink should be to ease some of the stress or burden on the host, but most of my go-to appetizer recipes involve cooking or fussy preparation. And when I’m the one hosting, that’s okay, but for this occasion I needed to find some options that I could prepare fully in advance, would travel well, and could be served as-is upon arrival. I landed on yummy garlic roasted nuts, shrimp pate (sounds much fancier than it is, yet “fish dip” doesn’t quite do it justice) and a whiskey apple cider cocktail – recipes included below. For transporting as well as serving, I picked up inexpensive glass jars and a large basket at T.J. Maxx. The basket made for a good presentation (and handy transport), and the glass jars were nice enough such that my friend could simply open them up and include them on the table of other savory snacks.DSC_1266_edited-1




Reality Check. Yup, the photo above is staged. You can tell because (A) appetizers never look this organized on a plate and (B) never during this game did one of us get assigned the task of drawing something as easy as a “martini.” The game was Telestrations and it was a ton of fun – so much so that I forgot to take any shots of us playing the game. I highly recommend it for the holidays with friends and family. It’s a mix of Pictionary and a good ol’ game of “telephone” – one person starts with drawing the photo and passes it to the next to guess what it is and write it down, followed by the next person drawing what the prior person wrote down on the pad, and so on. Again, the “martini” clue doesn’t do it justice, but it’s hard to recreate the picture of an ant hill that Trevor began a round with, which ended up “supply and demand” by the time the notepad circled back to him.


Baked Garlic Nuts
(from The Forest Feast)

2 heads of garlic (about 20 peeled cloves)
1 T finely chopped rosemary
1 cup unsalted raw mixed nuts
2 t olive oil
1/4 t truffle salt

Mix and roast all ingredients but the nuts on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until garlic is soft and golden.

Then mix in the nuts on the same baking sheet and roast for another 5 minutes. Salt to taste.

Shrimp Pate
(from the Vitamix cookbook, Create | yield: 2 cups)

1/4 cup butter, softened
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup pickled onions, well-drained
2 T sherry
1 thin slice lemon
8 oz cooked, peeled, deveined, tail off small shrimp (thaw and drain well if frozen)
1/4 cup fresh parsley sprigs

Mix butter, cream cheese, onions, sherry and lemon in food processor or blender until smooth.

Add shrimp and blend until finely chopped.

Add parsley and pulse until blended.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or blend flavors.

Cider and Whiskey Cocktail
(from the Vitamix cookbook, Create | yield: 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup fresh apple cider
2 oz bourbon whiskey
1 T real maple syrup
1/4 small lemon, peeled, seeded
1 cup ice cubes (if serving chilled, we served warm)

Blend all ingredients until desired consistency is reached.

*I blended all ingredients but the whiskey, then we headed the mixture on the stove at my friends house and let the guests add whiskey as desired.

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