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Holiday recipes and tips from Cooking Channel's Nadia G

Nadia G shares party snacks & cocktails

There's still time to throw a festive holiday party. Just follow these four tips for snacks, cocktails, sweets and favors from the Cooking Channel's Nadia G, and you'll be entertaining in a flash.
Nadia G of the Cooking Channel shares her holiday tips

If you've caught even just a few minutes of Nadia G's Bitchin' Kitchen on the Cooking Channel, you know that host Nadia Giosia is a sassy whirlwind of bouncy curls and blingy three-finger rings, stilettos and studs, sparkles and zebra print.

She's a Canadian cook who infuses her dishes with equal parts of her Italian heritage and rocker-y personality. One thing's for sure: Nadia G knows how to have a good time.

So when she offers up recipe tips and suggestions for a fun, easy holiday party, we listen.

Here, Nadia G cuts through all of the stress of holiday entertaining. Follow her four tips for a festive bash in flash.

Get out of the kitchen!

Or, at least step away from the stove, the food processor and the cutting board before your guests arrive.

"The hostess should enjoy her holiday party every bit as much as the guests," Nadia says. "The best way to get yourself out of the kitchen is to prepare foods ahead that will taste great at room temperature."

One of her favorites? Crostini. These little nibbles feel fancy and couldn't be easier to make: Just toast thin slices of baguette, and then top with a cheese or spread and various garnishes. Nadia's version (recipe below) calls for goat cheese, caramelized onions, prosciutto and fig — an irresistible combo, don't you think?

Mix a batch of cocktails beforehand

Big bowls of punch are chic again. It's a retro idea with lots of appeal. Guests can serve themselves, so you won't have a cocktail shaker in your hands all night.

Punch has a reputation for being overly sweet and fruity, but we think you'll be pleasantly surprised that with the right punch recipe, it can be just as sophisticated as a well-made cocktail.

Before your party starts, mix up Nadia's recipe for fizzy Pomagrenade Punch (recipe below), spiked with vodka and Champagne. A couple of fresh ingredients — thin slices of red chili and mandarins or clementines — add subtle flavor and make the bowl look pretty.

Serve a bite of something sweet and coffee

There's no need to go overboard with a dessert spread — focus on a single one- or two-bite dessert that guests can eat while they're still mingling.

Small portions allow everyone to choose how much or how little they want to indulge. Nadia's Chocolate Balls (recipe below), made with butterscotch chips, peanuts and crushed pretzels, are the perfect fit.

Send guests home with something tasty from your kitchen

Seal your status as a super hostess by giving guests a small but thoughtful edible favor.

You don't even have to turn on your oven. Just borrow Nadia's great idea: hot cocoa mix.

"I add a little cayenne and some cinnamon to step it up," Nadia says. "Gifted in a glass jar or a tin with a bright ribbon, it's my personal way to say happy holidays at the end of the night."

Nadia's holiday recipes

Pomagrenade punch

Yields about 6 cocktails

Ingredients:

  • 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)
  • Ice

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine pomegranate vodka, chili and pomegranate seeds. Cover and marinate in fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients when ready to serve.

Nadia's crostini

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion
  • Baguette
  • 1 block creamy goat cheese
  • Prosciutto di Parma
  • Fresh figs, sliced thin

Directions:

  1. Caramelize the onions: Add a swirl of olive oil to a pan on medium-low heat. Slice onions into medium-size rings and add to the pan. Keep on low heat and stir regularly until onions become tender and dark brown.
  2. Toast 1/4-inch slices of your favorite baguette.
  3. Slather each slice with creamy goat cheese, caramelized onions and a delicate piece of prosciutto di Parma; then top with paper thin fig slices.

Chocolate balls

Yields 22

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup finely chopped milk chocolate
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1-1/2 cups unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed pretzels

Directions:

  1. Heat a double boiler over medium heat. Add the semisweet chocolate, milk chocolate and butterscotch chips to the top pan. Stir until everything is melted.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat, and fold in the peanuts and pretzels. Let the mixture cool slightly at room temperature.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and scoop on heaping tablespoons of the chocolate mixture. Refrigerate for five minutes.
  4. Remove the baking sheet from the fridge, and with your fingers, gently compact the ingredients to form balls. Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to serve them.

More entertaining ideas

5 Festive cocktail recipes
Low-fat spiked eggnog
Recipes for Christmas appetizers

Photo credit: Van Gogh Vodka
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