Amaro Spritz Punch

Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca

Hello holiday people!

For my final post of the Holiday Blognanza with Olaiya from Milly's Kitchen, I've made you this delicious punch that will charm the pants off you and your guests. That could be a good or bad thing depending who your guests are, so invite cool and attractive people to come drink with you just to be safe. Olaiya has a recipe for toasted buckwheat granola with tahini and dark chocolate up on her blog for you to indulge in and feel good about it. This punch is perfect for pre-dinner drinks, alongside food or after food. It's versatile because it's light and contains amari that help you digest. Amari are lovely to sip on before or after a meal, particularly with some ice and a citrus peel. The fresh and bubbly flavour of this punch is reminiscent of orange crush but a very adult version being less sweet and added notes of bitterness. It even tastes amazing flat if you don't drink it all in one night. Pour it into a sealable bottle or mason jar and keep in the fridge for tomorrow's Christmas movie or a night cap. I brought a leftover bottle of this flat punch to a friend's place last night and it was a huge hit. Such a hit that as I write this, my mind is foggy from the evening's holiday cheer and lack of sleep so forgive my briefness. It was totally worth it. Now go whip up a batch of this delicious stuff (it only takes a couple minutes) and you'll be feeling extra warm and cheery in no time. 

Here are the previous holiday posts from this month if you need some food and gift ideas!

Pine Shortbread Cookies

Hazelnut Amaretti With Orange + Vanilla

Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns

Small Is Beautiful: Holiday Gift Guide

Potato Cheddar + Onion Focaccia

Alison Roman's Slow Roasted Pork With Garlic, Citrus + Cilantro

 

Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca

Holiday Party Tips (section four)

 

Setting The Tone

Setting the tone of a gathering is so important. For a visceral experience, I consider what people's the senses will encounter when arriving. What will they experience in terms of their sense of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. 

Sight

How do I make everyone look as attractive as possible? Lighting! And booze. But mostly lighting. Overhead lights can be unflattering so unless it's your only option, side lighting with lamps and candles are a better option. If overhead lighting must be used then offset with candles and lamps or dim down if possible. Twinkly lights, a himalayan salt lamp and candles are my favourite light accents. 

Smell

Lots of delicious food aromas wafting through your home before people arrive may be all you need. I turn on my essential oil diffuser while I get ready because it's relaxes me as I ease into the evening. For a bright and uplifting scent try lemon or orange oil (you can add a little peppermint if you like which goes with both nicely). For something earthy and relaxing, lavender, rosemary and conifer work well. If you're stuffed up from winter colds or want a clean smell, half eucalyptus and half lavender is my favourite. 

Hearing

Music is key at a gathering and one of the biggest tone setters. Construct your own playlist or pick on out on Spotify or 8tracks. A classic jazz soul playlist is perfect for a winter gathering. This In The Kitchen playlist goes well with cooking, preparing and for when guests arrive. I have a few playlists with different vibes saved on my computer for when the energy changes. Maybe it evolves into a dance party (the best kind of party).  The volume level is important as well. If the music is too quiet it can feel awkward but if it's too loud, people can't hear or focus on conversations. 

TV. Yes or no?

Unless the gathering is centred around a tv show, movie or sports games I would avoid turning on the tv. I find this is a quick party killer and people end up zoned out on the screen. 

Bathroom Etiquette

I love when people have a candle already lit in the bathroom. It makes it feel cozy and like they care about every room in their home. I keep a stick a palo santo and a lighter in a small glass above the toilet for people to light. Ensure there is ample soap, toilet paper, and a clean hand towel.

When guests arrive

 Greet them with enthusiasm and a hug (this is part of the touch sense and hugs are important, okay?). If you are enthusiastic to see someone, they will feel the same. Often we mirror other people's feelings, so be the feeling-guru and have everyone else mirror your excited and cheerful vibe. Show them where they can put their coats so they don't take up room in the common area. Offer a drink by telling them exactly what the options are. Offering homemade punch to start is always a welcomed sight. 

Be aware of the vibe

Once everyone has arrived, the tone of the gathering will be set. It may need some help by initiating conversations between people and topping up drinks (which always gets the conversation flowing). If it's feeling too sleepy, consider turning up the lights a little or changing the playlist to something more upbeat. Now just let it be and enjoy! I find the more I focus on enjoying myself, the more others enjoy themselves. Happiness is contagious, guys.

 

Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca

Recipe Notes:

bay leaf gin

Pour one cup of gin into a mason jar. Take 15 fresh bay leaves and rip in half. Place into jar of gin and seal. Leave for at least six hours. I left mine overnight. Remove bay leaves or strain if needed. 

Ice

Make extra ice ahead of time or buy a bag at the store. If you have a punch bowl, there are some pretty awesome ice rings you can make the day before like this one

Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca

Wishing you a happy holidays with lots of lovely food, family, friends and punch!

Meg

xx


AMARO SPRITZ PUNCH

the magic

inspiration:                     Aperol Spritz

the feels:                         fresh, light, slightly sweet + bitter    

eat with:                          cocktail snacks, antipasto, cheese ball

might like if you're into:      apertivos, digestivos, dance parties,                                                   fancy parties, san pellegrino aranciata,                                             negronis, aperol spritz, amaro, campari                                             + soda

the science

makes 12 cups (one large bowl or jug of punch) || time: 5 minutes

ingredients:

  • 1 cup aperol
  • 1 cup amaro montenegro
  • 1 cup gin (for bay infused gin, read the recipe notes above)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 4 cups cava (prosecco, champagne or sparkling wine)
  • 4 cups sparkling water
  • ice for serving
  • 2 oranges, sliced into wheels (optional)
  • handful of fresh bay leaves (optional)

method:

  1. Add aperol, amaro montenegro, gin, and orange juice to a jug or punch bowl. Just before serving, add cava and sparkling water. Stir to mix. Top with sliced oranges and bay leaves if desired. Add lots of ice to punch (the more the better because it will melt slower with more and keep the punch cold for longer. Or you can add ice to each glass as you serve it. 

Pour leftovers into a sealable bottle or jar and keep in the fridge for up to five days. It's delicious flat or you can brighten it back up with a splash of sparkling water or sparkling wine. 

Potato Cheddar + Onion Focaccia

Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca

Here we are in the third chapter of the Holiblogs (holiday blogs) with Olaiya from Milly's Kitchen. Originally I had a completely different idea for this post. But then– bread happened. Okay wait, first my period happened and then bread happened. Because I want one hundred slices of bread, then chocolate (and repeat for five days) during my period. And just like that, the universe demanded it from me. And when the universe (or your period, is it the same thing?) requests bread so intensely, you do not refuse. Olaiya has brought us a slow roasted pork this week, but more importantly some pertinent questions to ponder over the holidays regarding what truly feels good and what we do out of habit or obligation. If you are feeling stressed and running on autopilot, take five minutes and give it a full-attention read. In the same vein, I've got some more holiday party tips in this post that help you plan a menu with the goal of ease. Let's remove the stress around entertaining and bring it back to some good old fashioned fun and wearing lamp shades on our heads. 

This week I'm bringing you an easy-to-make potato cheddar focaccia. Bread is more than a food. To me, it's the most human of all foods because of the history, love and comfort that radiate from every loaf.  We share more than food with people when we “break bread"– we share time, an experience and thoughts or ideas. Someone's “bread and butter" is their livelihood or sustenance. “A crust of bread" has sustained countless people throughout human existence. There is nothing more I love than a warm slice bread with a pad of butter and sprinkle of salt. It never gets dull because it's simple in the most delicious way. Imagine a world without sandwiches, pizza, bagels, or cake. And what would we do without avocado toast?! I mean, I don't even want to think about it.

Bread is a perfect addition to any holiday feast, a snack between meals or a gift for a gathering. This is a no nonsense bread. It's uncomplicated and a success every time. You can change up the toppings with whatever you like. It's dairy free with removal of the cheese, bacon is always welcome or a simple herb/spice mixture on top will do fine. 

Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca

Holiday Party Tips (section three)

 

Planning The Menu

The most important thing about creating a menu is to plan ahead. This results in less stress, more time and energy to enjoy yourself with loved ones. I say less is more at a dinner party. Keep it simple and consider the following when planning your menu.

Will the menu be seasonal or is there a theme?

Are you going for your traditional holiday foods? Or from somewhere else? How about Swedish Christmas? Smorgasbords, baked goods with cardamom, glogg, meatballs, pickled herring and gravlax. Or if you're feeling those English vibes– yorkshire puddings, a turkey (or roast) + gravy, pigs in a blanket and a classic Christmas pudding for dessert. One year my family did a Seafood Christmas. We shucked oysters, seared scallops and shrimp with lots of sauces and fresh salads. It was a nice change from turkey dinner and took very little time to prepare. Plus we didn't end up in a turkey-potato-wine induced coma. A theme is a good place to start if you're feeling lost.

What is your budget?

This feels like a hinderance when I'm initially dreaming up my diamond crusted lobsters with caviar served in a shark's mouth (for effect!). But deciding on a budget can be fun because you have a chance to be creative within a limit. Many low cost dishes can be impressive without being labour intensive. You can opt for cheaper cuts of meat and stew them down for hours so they melt in your mouth. Add small amounts of high flavour ingredients like capers, bacon, infused oils, etc. Although these things can be a little more expensive, small amounts go a long way.

Are there any dietary restrictions of guests?

(More mentioned in section one of Holiday Party Tips). Making dietary adjustments to dishes can be easy and a good learning experience. Many dishes can easily become dairy free, gluten free, nut free etc.

Number of guests

This will help you decide what style of food to serve. Any more than four people and I opt with serve-yourself-style meals. Almost all the prep and cooking is done before the arrival of guests. Food can be dished on to plates in the kitchen if space is tight. More than six people and I like paper plates and platter style foods with simple drinks (wine/beer or punchbowl) opposed to making cocktails. All the food can be laid out before everyone arrives and at most heat up a dish or two when ready to eat. This cheeseball from the previous post is perfect for any size gathering and works as an appetizer or part of the spread.

What can be prepared before the gathering?

A good goal is to spread out the work so you don't become overwhelmed or too tired to enjoy yourself. Plan a meal where all the shopping is done at once, prepare a few dishes (or at least parts of them) before the day of the party. It is best to plan for dishes that are easy to cook or assemble the day of. Then you can focus on other things like cleaning up, adding decorations or picking a great playlist.

How many dishes to serve

This all depends on what kind of food you serve. If choosing platter foods you can have as many items as you like as they're served cold or at room temperature. Make sure the flavours match well as people will put a little of everything on their plates. If making a full dinner, I suggest one main and two sides. People always prefer a few delicious dishes, opposed to an array of mediocre ones. You can have small plates such as olives, pickles, bread or cheese to start. All can be arranged before guests arrives. Consider buying one element of the meal locally (eg. a dessert from the great bakery down the road) to save yourself some time and energy.

How to create contrast in meals

Contrast is key. Always consider your colours and textures throughout the meal planning. Most brown foods are delicious, but nothing looks more frumpy than a plate of soft beige and brown foods. Choose foods with an array of colours. Suggestions:

  • Add chopped green herbs or green onions to a bland coloured dish.

  • Slices or wheels of citrus can brighten a plate.

  • Radish in a salad makes for complimentary colours while also adding a crisp texture.

  • Top meats with a sauce for flavour and colour.

Texture + Flavour

Think about having a variety of textures like soft, crunchy, silky, chewy, crispy. You do not need them all, just avoid the same texture throughout all your dishes.

  • Refrain from using the same cooking method for each (eg. everything fried).

  • Avoid too many intensely flavoured dishes or it will overwhelm the palate.

  • Balance a heavy or spicy dish with a bright and light side. (eg. the reason a crisp vinegar slaw works with rich barbecue meats).

A few recipes to consider for your holiday meals

(all can be made the day before)

Blueberry Tarragon Gravlax– very easy and impresses guests. 

Stilton Pear Cheeseball with Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns– who doesn't love a cheese ball!?

Beet Pickled Eggs– ideal for a platter style feast or an appetizer. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Bread Pudding(dairy free)– one of the most delicious desserts I've made. If making in advance, reheat before serving for 10 minutes. Top with ice cream or whipped cream.

Ginger Hibiscus Switchel– this beverage is a beautiful bright red. Perfect for people who aren't drinking (or on a detox) but you can also add vodka to if you fancy a cocktail. 

Tangerine Olive Oil Cake– I've made this cake many times and it's always a hit. Also it's the easiest cake; one bowl, one whisk, and a few ingredients. It lasts for days and is great with coffee or wine. or both.

Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca

Recipe Notes:

On measuring flour

I highly recommend to use a kitchen scale when baking. Measuring by the cupful is inaccurate and will leave you with a lot more flour than needed which makes your baked goods dry and doughy. If you do not have a kitchen scale use the following method to measure flour and it will yield you better results. 

  1. Fluff up flour in bag/container with a spoon for a few seconds.
  2. Using the spoon, scoop flour by the spoonful into your measuring cup.
  3. Level the top of the measuring cup with a knife or finger. By using this method you end up with a more accurate amount of flour than by scooping directly from the bag since flour will pack itself tightly. This method adds air (an easy sifting method).

On proofing bread (letting it rise)

The yeast in bread will act quicker in warmth and slower in cold. If your dough doesn't rise, the problem is either that the yeast is inactive (here's how to test your yeast to know) or it is too cold. In the winter, I make my bread rise faster by placing my dough (covered) in the oven with ONLY the light on. The oven temperature is NOT on, only the light. This creates an ample of warmth for the bread to rise. In the summer if my apartment is very warm then this is not necessary. 

On machine mixing vs hand kneading

This dough recipe requires a stand mixer with dough hook, but it can be kneaded by hand if you don't have access to a mixer. Use this method instead:

Follow step one. Add flour, salt and thyme to a large bowl and whisk until evenly combined. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and add yeast mixture and olive oil. Mix and bring together with a wooden spoon. Heavily flour a flat surface (it's a very wet sticky dough). Knead the dough using a folding action. Continue folding the edges into the centre of the dough for about 5 minutes until your dough in springy. Continue steps 3 and 4. 

Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca

Hoping your week is full of holiday love!

Meg

xx


POTATO CHEDDAR + ONION FOCACCIA

the magic

inspiration:                       carb cravings

the feels:                           soft, chewy, crunchy

eat with:                            butter, olive oil and balsamic, cold                                                   meats, as a sandwich, dipped in soup,                                               fried eggs, salad, pasta, chili oil

might like if you're into:    carbs on your period, binging Netflix,                                                 lying to yourself by saying you'll have                                               just one slice, winter hibernation, The                                               Great British Bakeoff

the science

makes one large or two small focaccia (8 to 10 servings) || prep time: 40 mins to 2 hours bake time: 20 mins

ingredients:

dough

  • 375 g (2.5 cups) unbleached all purpose flour (see notes for measuring flour if you do not have a kitchen scale)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 + 1/4 cup (310 ml) warm water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (2 for dough and 1 for drizzling before baking)

toppings

  • 1 small (or half a large) russet potato, peeled and very thinly sliced (mandolin works best)
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (for potatoes)
  • 1 cup grated old cheddar cheese
  • 2 to 3 green onions, sliced in half lengthwise 
  • small handful of chives
  • flakey sea salt (Maldon)
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)

method:

  1. Add honey to warm water and whisk until combined. Pour yeast on top and mix. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes. The yeast should fully dissolve and bubble. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer add the flour, salt, and thyme. (If you do not have a stand mixer and want to knead by hand, see the recipe notes above). Whisk until evenly combined. Make a well in the middle of the bowl. Pour yeast/water mixture and two tablespoon of olive oil. Attach dough hook to kitchen stand mixer, turn on low and let mix for five minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Dough is ready when it begins to climb dough hook and look evenly combined. This is a wet dough so it will be sticky and will not come together in a ball as other some doughs do. 
  3. Cover with tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise for thirty minutes up to two hours. The dough is ready when it has at least doubled in size. The longer (or warmer) the better. (read recipe notes above on how to speed up the rising process). While bread is proving, slice your potato and toss in 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. 
  4. Preheat oven to 400ºF and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Dump dough onto tray. spread out with fingers into one large rustic shape or separate dough and make into two or three smaller shapes. Sprinkle on half the cheddar cheese, lay on thin potato slices, and add the onions, chives, and thyme (if desired). Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil on top of the bread. I brush a little more on the sides of the bread where there are no toppings. Bake for 20 minutes or until bread begins to start turning golden. Remove from oven, add second half of cheese, turn oven to broil and return bread to oven for about 3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and bread looks crispier. Let cool for 3 minutes and add a sprinkle of flakey sea salt. Let fully cool. 

Recipe adapted from The Sugar Hit's Za'atar Flatbread

Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns

Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns || This cheese ball is a perfect appetizer for a holiday party or dinner! Cream cheese, blue cheese, pear, pink peppercorns, pistachios + honey. Serve with crackers, bread, or vegetables. || creamandhoney.ca
Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns || This cheese ball is a perfect appetizer for a holiday party or dinner! Cream cheese, blue cheese, pear, pink peppercorns, pistachios + honey. Serve with crackers, bread, or vegetables. || creamandhoney.ca
Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns || This cheese ball is a perfect appetizer for a holiday party or dinner! Cream cheese, blue cheese, pear, pink peppercorns, pistachios + honey. Serve with crackers, bread, or vegetables. || creamandhoney.ca

Hey! Olaiya from Milly's Kitchen and I are back with week two of our holiday blognanza (we're making it a word). I made this cheeseball which is so easy a child could do it. So hand the knife over to your toddler and let me know how their cheeseball turns out, okay? I take it back, please don't do that. Their dirty little hands will be all up in that cheese. I love kids! But they are gross. I mean we all are, but they're gross in front of people. I always stick my hands in food behind closed doors. Olaiya has been working on this awesome gift guide for you! From food and drink to books to the-hard-to-shop-for-person, she's got some great ideas for all the loved ones in your life so check it out!

My vision for this cheese ball is that it's served at a retro party. One with sequins, sexy jumpsuits and windows sprayed with fake snow from aerosol cans. Disco, funk and classic Christmas carols are playing as people dance around the tinseled tree. Ladies with winged hair and men in colourful polyester suits and afros are practicing ‘the bump’ and drinking eggnog. The table is covered in a plastic tablecloth printed with poinsettias. The cheese ball, canned ham, cocktail weenies, and melon balls are laid out ready to be eaten. Vegetables and dips of ranch or sour cream sit beside the tin of Quality Street chocolates. No one speaks about dairy or gluten intolerances because it’s the 70s and they don’t believe in nonsense like that. They believe in pet rocks, wood panelled walls, smoking on airplanes, optional seat belts and good old-fashioned hitchhiking. Now who wants to play Parcheesi?!?!

Jk, I don't know how to play Parcheesi. But it has the word cheesy in it. And there's your smooth segue to a cheese ball. Wow, I write good. The goodest perhaps.

This cheese ball is delicious. The best on day two actually. I would 100% bring it to a party and eat it all at said party. Then I'd leave with a stomach ache because it's too much cheese for any one person to ingest. The best part about a cheese ball– if there's leftovers you can reform it for your next party or your own personal snack.

Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns || This cheese ball is a perfect appetizer for a holiday party or dinner! Cream cheese, blue cheese, pear, pink peppercorns, pistachios + honey. Serve with crackers, bread, or vegetables. || creamandhoney.ca
Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns || This cheese ball is a perfect appetizer for a holiday party or dinner! Cream cheese, blue cheese, pear, pink peppercorns, pistachios + honey. Serve with crackers, bread, or vegetables. || creamandhoney.ca

Holiday Party Tips (section two)

 

How To Bring Your Best Self To The Party (or life)

We can go through life (or parties) on autopilot. Reacting to every interaction or stimulation that comes our way. This isn't a bad thing but it doesn't necessarily reflect who we truly are or desire to be. It's important to sit down with ourselves and relax, take in the day we've had and then move on with a fresh outlook. Often parties happen after a long day at work or maybe something happened in the day that throws us off. This section is to remind us that a party is supposed to be fun and relaxing, so let's not bring our emotional baggage along. Here are some questions to ask yourself before attending a gathering. 

How Can I Cultivate My Best + Brightest Self?

Before attending (or hosting) a gathering, take some time to get into a good feeling place. Here are some things that help me leave negativity behind and reset myself.

  • Deep breathing. Set a timer for as little as two to five minutes, close your eyes and breath deeply. Count your breaths in and out and think about each exhale releasing the feelings and events of the day. You don't need them anymore so let them go.
  • Stretching. Stretching is great for relaxation because we hold tension in our muscles and joints. Stretching helps release stress and allows us to open up physically + mentally. Five to ten minutes of yoga will have you feeling more grounded and positive.
  • Have fun getting ready. No need for getting ready to be a chore, sometimes it's my favourite part of the day. I like to pour myself a glass of wine and put on some music while I slowly get ready. Take your time, don't rush yourself. Life will still be there when you're done. Getting ready slowly gives me time to play with thoughts like "how do I want to feel?" or "What version of myself do I want to bring to this gathering?" This helps me take stock of where I am in that moment and how I can cultivate my new vibe. 

But I'm Tired 

  • Nap. This one is huge for me. Especially if I've worked the whole day. Cat naps are my favourite, you wouldn't believe what a 15 to 20 minute nap will do for your mood! You don't even have to be asleep– laying down peacefully with your eyes closed is just as effective for rejuvenation. I'm a whole different person when I get up.
  • Tea time. Brew a green or black tea and sip as you get ready. I prefer to drink tea before meeting up with people opposed to coffee that can leave you feeling jittery.
  • Shower to freshen up. Usually I'll do all three of these things if I'm in need of a serious perk up. Works every time.

What Should I Bring?

Besides your adorable self?! Let's see. There are two kinds of parties. 1) The gathering where the host supplies the food. If it's BYOB, then do that (or mocktail ingredients if you don't drink). If it did not specify to BYOB then bringing wine or a nice bottle of sparkling water is always welcome. I would refrain from bringing food if the host hasn't asked because they've taken the time to plan a menu. Say they're serving a traditional Italian meal their dead Nona bestowed upon them and you walk in the door with a bowl of green jello to serve alongside the tiramisu. They'll feel obligated to put it out even though Nona hated green jello with a passion. An unexpected dish will also take up room in the fridge or on the table that may not be available. 2) The potluck. Bring only food that is fully prepared or ready to eat. At most, a quick heat up in the oven upon arrival. Anything else creates extra work for the host. You don't want to be that person who shows up with a raw pork chop like, “it just needs to brine for an hour, marinated for thirty minutes, cooked in a cast iron pan and drizzled with grade A maple syrup." Now the host is stuck in the kitchen instead of enjoying their party. 

Did I RSVP?

I don't know, did you!? RSVP! And RSVP ASAP. OK? FYI it's rude to go MIA even if you're all TGIF, capiche?! The host needs to plan for food, drinks, seating etc, so be courteous and give them a heads up so things run smoothly.

Can I Bring Someone?

Probably! Or probably not. Depends on your host, I'm putting words in their mouth. Call and ask them! But definitely ask in case they're serving bacon wrapped chicken in a lamb stomach and your guest happens to be vegetarian. Awkward. 

What Do I Talk About At A Party?

Anything you want! It's a party so have fun and conversate! But actually, stay away from these topics:

  • Belief system conversations– like abortion, politics, religion and Donald Trump. Here in Canada pretty much no one likes Donald Trump but he's still a yuge downer so avoid this topic at all costs.
  • Work Talk. Try and refrain from too much talk about work even if coworkers are there. Nothing drains me more than coworker friends getting on a work rant while I'm trying to pretend I'm a wealthy artist-philanthropist who's docked her yacht and is slumming it for the night with these wild characters. Can't a girl dream!?
  • Complaining. Negative talk feels bad for you and everyone around you. It's a party so keep it fun and do what you need to before arriving to clear your mind of negative vibes. For help with this, read the first question.

When Should I Arrive?

Whenever they told you to arrive. But not early. And not too late. Unless you're coming to help the host prepare, avoid arriving early. The last 15 to 30 minutes is important for the host's finishing touches. A spritz of essential oils, a last minute clothing change (or five), a shot of vodka followed by affirmations in the mirror– let them have that time. If you arrive during these things, they may feel obligated to entertain you and it can throw off their mojo. You don't want to be a mojo thrower do you? Well, do you!?!?

Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns || This cheese ball is a perfect appetizer for a holiday party or dinner! Cream cheese, blue cheese, pear, pink peppercorns, pistachios + honey. Serve with crackers, bread, or vegetables. || creamandhoney.ca
Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns || This cheese ball is a perfect appetizer for a holiday party or dinner! Cream cheese, blue cheese, pear, pink peppercorns, pistachios + honey. Serve with crackers, bread, or vegetables. || creamandhoney.ca
Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns || This cheese ball is a perfect appetizer for a holiday party or dinner! Cream cheese, blue cheese, pear, pink peppercorns, pistachios + honey. Serve with crackers, bread, or vegetables. || creamandhoney.ca

Notes:

Make the cheese ball (without rolled nuts) the night before. The flavours were substantially better after I let it sit overnight. 

Feel free to substitute goat cheese or any other soft cheese you like for the blue. Blue cheese isn't everyone's cup of tea but all the flavours would work well with goat.

Substitute the pistachios for walnuts, pecans or almonds if you prefer. I like the pop of green from the roasted pistachios but any of the others would taste great. 

Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns || This cheese ball is a perfect appetizer for a holiday party or dinner! Cream cheese, blue cheese, pear, pink peppercorns, pistachios + honey. Serve with crackers, bread, or vegetables. || creamandhoney.ca
Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns || This cheese ball is a perfect appetizer for a holiday party or dinner! Cream cheese, blue cheese, pear, pink peppercorns, pistachios + honey. Serve with crackers, bread, or vegetables. || creamandhoney.ca
Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns || This cheese ball is a perfect appetizer for a holiday party or dinner! Cream cheese, blue cheese, pear, pink peppercorns, pistachios + honey. Serve with crackers, bread, or vegetables. || creamandhoney.ca

And lastly, avoid breaking all your wine glasses. You'll have to pretend your water glasses are cool new stemless wine glasses that give the appearance of really being water glasses. They're supposed to be like that, okay?

Wishing you many fun + joyous gatherings this season!

Meg                                                                                                                                                                                            xx


STILTON PEAR CHEESE BALL WITH PISTACHIOS +

PINK PEPPERCORNS

the magic

inspiration:               70s retro christmas

the feels:                   soft, crunchy, creamy

eat with:                   crackers, bread/toast, vegetables, anything                                        that's scoopy, figs, wine– cabernet sauvignon,                                    cabernet franc, riesling, port, dessert wine

might like if you're into:   roller skating, disco hits, stinky cheeses,                                            beaded doorways, Happy Days, Donna                                                Summer, mood rings, 8-tracks, shag carpet

the science

makes one large cheese ball || prep time: 15 minutes chilling time: a couple hours

ingredients:

  • 250 grams (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 150 grams stilton cheese (or any other blue you like), at room temperature
  • 1 pear, diced into small cubes (mine were about 1 cm)
  • 1 cup of shelled roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoons crushed pink peppercorns (or any other colour)
  • 1.5 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (scant)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

method:

  1. Ensure that your cheeses and butter are at room temperature so they will mix evenly and easily.
  2. In a small bowl add the pear and lemon juice (this prevents the pear from browning). Toss to mix. In a medium bowl, add cream cheese, stilton cheese, butter, salt, and honey. Mix until evenly combined. Add diced pear and peppercorns to cheese mixture. Fold in until evenly distributed. 
  3. Place cheese mixture in a large piece of saran wrap. Shape into a sphere and wrap up. Place in the fridge for a minimum of a few hours or overnight to let the flavours settle together and so the cheese can firm up. 
  4. Lay pistachio pieces on a place or shallow dish. When cheese is firm, remove from fridge and roll in the pistachios until fully covered. You can serve it to guests immediately or cover it up in saran wrap and keep it in the fridge until guests arrive. Leave it out for 15 to 30 minutes before serving. Serve with honey, crackers, bread, and/or chopped raw vegetables.

Will keep in the fridge for up to a week or so if securely wrapped in plastic.