Entertaining Tips from Cooking Channel Star

The Cooking Channel star, Nadia G, of “Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen” has rad tips for turning your ho-hum holiday party into something that’ll make even Santa say “ho ho ho!”  
Get yourself out of the kitchen. “The hostess should enjoy her holiday party every bit as much as the guests,” says Nadia. “The best way to get yourself out of the kitchen is to prepare foods ahead that will taste great at room temperature. Some of my favorites are crostinis and sliders. I make my sliders with veal cutlets – they’re great.” By letting guests serve themselves, everyone can eat on their own time giving the hostess time to kick back and relax with her own cocktail and spend quality time with friends.
Let the guests be their own bartenders. Nadia G recommends a vodka punch like her Pomagrenade Punch (recipe below) or a DIY mixers bar: stock a table with bowls of bite sized fresh fruit and herbs that have been soaking in liquor and simple syrup. Serve these gourmet mixers with chilled bottles of unflavored and flavored vodkas (Hint: flavored vodkas from Van Gogh Vodka make everyone an instant expert bartender with their smooth, authentic taste and vibrant colors), carbonated water, rum and white wine. Guests will have a blast mixing and matching cocktails and experimenting with new combinations.
Give them something sweet – and don’t forget the coffee. Nadia’s Chocolate Balls (recipe below) made with butterscotch chips, peanuts and crushed pretzels are easy to whip up and major crowd pleasers. Topping off the evening with coffee is always a good idea; have regular and decaf on hand for guests to choose from at the end of the night.
Send the guests home with something you’ve created in your kitchen.
Pomagrenade Punch
1 cup Van Gogh Pomegranate Vodka
1 fresh red hot chili, seeded and sliced paper thin
2 large pomegranates, seeded
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 bottle chilled champagne or sparkling wine
4 mandarins, finely sliced
1/4 cup maple syrup (optional – depending on desired sweetness)
In a large bowl combine pomegranate vodka chili, and pomegranate seeds. Cover and marinate in fridge for 30 minutes.  Add the rest of ingredients when ready to serve.
Chocolate Balls
 1 cup finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup finely chopped milk chocolate
I cup butterscotch chips
1 1/2 cups unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels 
Heat a double boiler over medium heat.  Add the semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate and butterscotch chips to the top pan.  Stir until everything is melted.  Remove it from the heat, and fold in the peanuts and pretzels.  Let the mixture cool slightly at room temperature. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and scoop on heaping tablespoons of the chocolate mixture.  Refrigerate for 5 minutes.  Remove it from the fridge, and with your fingers, gently compact the ingredients to form balls.  Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve them.

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