The holiday season is all about getting together with family and friends. Have guests over for a no-fuss, no-stress cocktail party. For a memorable party for you and your guests, serve a festive cocktail and a couple of elegant but easy-to-make appetizers.

 Welcome your partygoers with a festive Poinsettia cocktail to set the mood for a merry evening. Prosecco, a close cousin to champagne, is mixed with cranberry juice, a dash of triple sec, and garnished with fresh cranberries for a bubbly start to the party. Substitute sparkling apple cider and grenadine for the Prosecco and triple sec for a nonalcoholic version of the drink.

For the appetizers, use a pre-made puff pastry for the Sausage and Puff Pastry Bites with Creamy Honey Mustard Sauce. The prep time is only about 15 minutes. The homemade dipping sauce has only a few ingredients and comes together quickly and adds a creamy, sweet and spicy addition to the appetizer. This showy version of pigs in a blanket will be a crowd favorite at the party.

The Roasted Spicy Shrimp on Cucumber Rounds are a satisfying appetizer without being heavy like many holiday hors d’oeuvres. Smoked paprika seasoned shrimp are roasted and cooled. They are served on top of crisp and cool cucumber rounds with a chipotle mayonnaise and a sprinkling of chives and sesame seeds.

By having a special cocktail to toast the holidays and a couple out of the ordinary, yet easy-to-make appetizers, you can enjoy your party with your guests without spending all day in the kitchen.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 The Poinsettia

Makes 6 drinks.

 What You’ll Need:

1 (750 ml) bottle Prosecco

12 tablespoons cranberry juice

Triple sec

18 fresh cranberries


Fill each of six wine glasses three-fourths full of Prosecco. Add 2 tablespoons of the cranberry juice and a dash of triple sec to each glass along with 3 fresh cranberries and serve.

Roasted Spicy Shrimp on 

Cucumber Rounds

Makes 36.

 What You’ll Need:

36 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon olive oil



1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ cup mayonnaise

½ teaspoon (or more) chipotle

1 English cucumber cut in ¼ inch rounds

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Black sesame seeds


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss shrimp with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Place in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast for five to six minutes or until shrimp are just cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and chipotle, set aside.

To assemble, place cucumber rounds on a large serving platter. Top each round with a small dollop of the chipotle mayonnaise, 1 shrimp and a sprinkling of chives and black sesame seeds. Serve chilled.

Sausage and Puff Pastry Bites

Makes 36.

What You’ll Need:

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into 36 (one-half inch) slices

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the sausage slices. Cook for about three to five minutes a side or until the sausage is browned and crispy. Remove from pan and place on a large baking sheet; set aside. The sausage does not need to be cooked all the way through as it will finish cooking in the oven.

Place puff pastry on a large work surface that has been dusted with flour. Brush the top of the pastry with the egg wash. Use a mini cookie cutter (any shape such as a circle, star, or flower are good choices) to cut out 36 shapes from the pastry. Place pastry cutouts on top of sausage slices and secure with a toothpick. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven and serve with Creamy Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce.

To make the dipping sauce, in a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard and honey. Serve the sausage and puff pastry bites while warm along with the dipping sauce.

(Editor’s Note: Kathy Bullerman is a personal chef in Oro Valley. Bullerman can be reached by email at, or by calling 850-4356.)


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