Recipes: 8 Last-Minute Drinks & Appetizers for Your Holiday Celebration

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Photos: Bite Me More

Reduce holiday stress and kick off the festivities with these foolproof and fantastic cocktail snacks and Christmas drinks!

Watch here as we whip up five quick and easy appetizers for last-minute guests.

Eggplant & Butternut Squash Bruschetta

We all know what not to bring a hostess: fresh-cut flowers, a bathroom scale, a re-gifted plastic pink flamingo. However, as the hostess, do you know what, apart from refills, you can give your guests? How about that welcoming, warm-and-fuzzy feeling that comes with delicious eats? This bruschetta will do all the work for you. Crusty French bread is rubbed with garlic, toasted and then topped with smooth, creamy ricotta and a chunky mixture of caramelized eggplant and butternut squash. Easily prepared in advance and assembled just before guests arrive, nothing says “gracious gourmet” more than a tray of these tasty bruschetta.


Toasted Garlic Bread

25 slices of French bread, ½ inch thick
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove
¼ tsp kosher salt

Eggplant & Butternut Squash Topping

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
2 cups diced, unpeeled eggplant
2 cups diced butternut squash
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 cup ricotta cheese


1) Preheat oven to 400°F. Place bread slices on a non-stick baking sheet. Brush one side with olive oil. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub the cut half on the oiled bread. Sprinkle bread slices evenly with salt. Bake 4 minutes, flip slices and bake 3 minutes more. Remove from oven and set aside.

2) For the topping, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, cooking for 2 minutes. Add eggplant and butternut squash, continuing to cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and continue cooking for 30 seconds. Add balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper, cooking 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

3) To assemble, spread each toasted slice of bread with a spoonful of ricotta cheese topped with eggplant/butternut squash mixture. Serve immediately.

Yield: 25 pieces

Vegetable Salad Rolls

Though these look intimidating, making your own salad rolls couldn’t be easier. Grab this Vegetable Salad Roll recipe and get rolling because they make for a perfect healthy appetizer. Simply wet the rice paper in water, fill them with a combination of vegetables (or shrimp or chicken, if you prefer) and dip them in your homemade Thai Dipping Sauce.


Vegetable Salad Rolls

1 package (6oz/175g) rice stick noodles
10 round rice paper sheets
10 green curly lettuce leaves
1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded
2 ripe mangos, peeled and julienned
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned
3 tbsp plus 1 tsp fresh chopped basil

Thai Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp hot sauce (Sriracha brand)


1) For the salad rolls, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add rice stick noodles and cook according to package directions. When tender, drain, rinse with cold water and drain well again. Set aside.

2) Place 1 rice paper sheet in a shallow bowl or pie plate of hot water until just softened, about 1 minute. Lay rice paper sheet on tea towel. Place a lettuce leaf down the center of the rice sheet leaving a 1-inch border at the top and bottom. Place 1/4 cup rice noodles lengthwise on the lettuce leaf followed by 1 tbsp shredded carrots, 6 slices of mango, 4 slices of cucumber and 1 tsp chopped basil. Fold up the bottom 1-inch border of rice paper placing it over the filling. Fold in the right side, followed by the left side and then the top, forming a tight cylinder. Repeat with remaining rice paper sheets and filling. Serve with dipping sauce.

3) For the dipping sauce, in a medium bowl, whisk soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, ginger and hot sauce.

Yield: 10 large salad rolls

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with Spiced Pita Chips

This delicious dip is our go-to quick and easy snack for the dreaded unexpected “drop-by.” A few pulses in the food processor and you’ve got a creamy, garlicky, lemony blend of chickpeas, roasted red peppers, olive oil and spices. Paired with addictive baked pita chips—wedges seasoned with cumin and salt—it’s no wonder they come a-knockin’ at all hours.


Pita Chips

3 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp kosher salt
5 (6-inch) white pita pockets

Red Pepper Hummus

2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained
6 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¹/8 tsp cayenne pepper


1) For the pita chips, preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, cumin and salt. Split each pita open into 2 halves and brush rough sides with olive oil mixture. Cut each circle into 8 triangles. Place in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, oiled side up. Bake 13-15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool. Once completely cooled, these chips can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

2) For the hummus, in a food processor or blender, combine chickpeas, red peppers, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, salt, cumin, black pepper and cayenne. Process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve with pita chips.

Serves 8-10

Honey Baked Coconut Shrimp

We’ve always loved coconut shrimp, but never loved the deep fried effect – greasy fingers and stomach aches—that ensued. Now, thanks to this recipe, we can now enjoy these delicious delights, guilt free! Coated in a coconut crust, juicy shrimp are baked until golden brown and dipped in a sweet apricot sauce.


Coconut Shrimp

½ cup honey
1½ cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
26 large raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined

Apricot Dipping Sauce

2 /3 cup apricot jam
3 tbsp Heinz chili sauce
2 tsp Dijon mustard


1) Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.

2) For the shrimp, pour honey in a medium bowl and warm on high in the microwave, 20-25 seconds.

3) On a large plate, combine panko, coconut, cumin, salt and pepper.

4) Taking shrimp one at a time, dip in honey and then coat in coconut mixture. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake 14 minutes, gently flipping shrimp halfway through baking.

5) For the sauce, place jam in a medium bowl. Warm in the microwave for 45 seconds. Add chili sauce and Dijon mustard, stirring to combine. Serve with baked coconut shrimp.

Serves 4-6

Spiced Mulled Red Wine

The gloves are off (literally) as we sip on this warming, wondrous and perfect-for-the-holidays Spiced Mulled Wine.


1 (750mL) bottle dry red wine, such as Cabernet or Merlot
8 tbsp brown sugar
1 orange, sliced
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise

4 cinnamon sticks, for garnish
1 sliced orange, for garnish


1) In a large saucepan, combine red wine and brown sugar over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves.

2) Once sugar has dissolved, add 1 sliced orange, cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks and star anise. Simmer for 20 minutes, careful not to boil wine.

3) Strain wine through a mesh sieve and let cool slightly before serving, along with cinnamon sticks and orange slices.

Makes 4 mulled wine cocktails

White Cranberry & Apple Sangria

Looking for a party-in-a-pitcher? You’ve found it with this incredibly tasty White Cranberry & Apple Sangria recipe.


1 cup white/light rum
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup diced red apples
1 cup diced green apples
1 cup frozen cranberries
1 (750mL) bottle white wine, such as Torrontes, Pinot Grigio or Riesling
1 cup white cranberry juice

2 cups cold club soda


1) In a large pitcher, combine rum and sugar, stirring to dissolve. Add apples, cranberries, white wine and white cranberry juice. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

2) To serve, add club soda to pitcher, stirring to combine. Pour into ice-filled glasses and add some of the fruit from the pitcher.

Serves 6

Bourbon Ginger Martini

Spice up the holidays with this Bourbon Ginger Martini, a combination of Pure Leaf Unsweetened Black Tea, bourbon, ginger and liqueur.


¼ cup Pure Leaf Unsweetened Black Tea
1 1/2 oz bourbon
1 1/2 oz Sour Apple liqueur
¼ tsp grated fresh ginger

Ginger slice, for garnish


1) In a shaker filled with ice, combine Pure Leaf tea, bourbon, apple liqueur and fresh ginger. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with ginger slice.

Serves 1

Candy Cane Martini

Martinis and mistletoe! Let the merrymaking begin with this perfect, easy and delicious Candy Cane Martini, a holiday cocktail that combines vanilla vodka with white chocolate liqueur and peppermint.


2oz Vanilla Vodka
1oz Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
½ oz White Crème de Cacao
½ oz Peppermint Schnapps

Light corn syrup, to rim the glass
Crushed candy canes, to rim the glass


To rim the martini glass, spread a thin layer of corn syrup around the rim of the glass and press crushed canes around rim.

Fill a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Add vanilla vodka, white chocolate liqueur, white crème de cacao and peppermint schnapps. Shake and strain into prepared glass.

Serves 1

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