COCKTAIL HOUR: POPSICLES AND PROSECCO

Looking for a super easy and super fast cocktail or dessert for your summer dinner party, supper club, or get-together? Need the perfect "guest greeter" beverage for your wedding or rehearsal dinner? Why not make Popsicles and Prosecco... the perfect adult summer treat? This is a breeze to make, extremely affordable, and everyone will love it!

You can make your own homemade popsicles like I did or you can just buy really delicious flavors at most organic grocers. Even Wal-Mart has Mexican "paletas" (gourmet ice pops)  in flavors like Coconut, Lime, and Mango. No matter what variety you choose, this party-starter or dessert is easy, elegant, and absolutely a crowd-pleaser! You can match your colors to your party's color scheme, or serve a variety of flavors like I have here. I find the fruity flavors work best rather than creamy flavors and I also prefer Prosecco to Cava or Champagne because it is a bit sweeter and pairs better, IMO.

So, all you have to do is to make sure your pops are really frozen so they don't melt too fast. Also, chill the Prosecco a little colder than you normally would. When you are ready to serve, just pop the popsicle into a wine glass, pour over the chilled Prosecco and serve! You can also serve this with chilled ginger ale, chilled Italian sparkling soda, ginger beer, or seltzer if you prefer not to serve alcohol.

VARIATIONS ON A THEME:

Coffee or Chocolate Popsicles with Kahlua

Lime, Orange, or Watermelon Popsicles with Chilled Tequila

Lemon Popsicles or Sorbet with a Shot of Chilled Chambord

Raspberry Popsicles or Sorbet with a Shot of Chilled Limoncello

Coco-Cola Popsicles with a Shot of Chilled Bourbon

You get the picture... for the sorbet, line up your glasses on a tray and chill for 30 minutes.  first. Scoop in the sorbet and chill until party time. Just before serving, pour over the liqueur or serve the liqueur in a chilled shot glass on the side.

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NATIONAL POPCORN DAY: DOUBLE CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE KETTLE CORN RECIPE

National Popcorn Day!

Popcorn is one of my all-time favorite party foods. There is just so much you can do with it. I like to season it with different spices or even herbs. Rosemary-Sea Salt is one of my favorite combos. For something over the top and decadent, try this one. White and dark chocolate. Salt. Popcorn. What's not to love?

Double Drizzled Kettle Corn - white and dark chocolate over salty popcorn. Decadent. Delicious. Deadly addictive! Photo credit: Tamika Moore/Birmingham News

DOUBLE DRIZZLE KETTLE CORN 

INGREDIENTS 

¼ cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup popcorn kernels

3 tablespoons sugar

1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt

½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips

½ cup white chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot or stock pot with a lid, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the popcorn. When the oil begins to hiss, sprinkle the sugar over the kernels. Cover with the lid. Hold the lid down with a potholder and shake the pot over the heat until the popping begins. Shake vigorously until the popping begins to slow down. (It goes from popped to burnt very quickly) Remove from the heat; toss with the salt. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread the popcorn out onto the pans, being careful not to overlap the kernels.

Melt the chocolate separately in a heatproof bowl over a double boiler. Stir frequently and keep the heat low because the chocolate will burn easily.

Dip a fork in the chocolate and drizzle it over the popcorn. Do the same with the white chocolate. Allow to set until dry. Break into pieces to serve. You can store it in an airtight container in a cool spot for up to a week. 

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RECIPES FOR PUFF PASTRY, MY HOLIDAY SECRET WEAPON

Frozen puff pastry is my go-to secret weapon for the holidays. I keep it on hand for those situations when you have last minute guests or simply run out of time to get something made. Find puff pastry in boxes in the frozen food section of the store where you'd find frozen pie crust or rolls. Keep a few boxes in your freezer for a delicious and elegant appetizer or dessert. Easy, impressive and fast; you will wonder how you lived without it. 

Here are a few of my favorite recipes using puff pastry that are simply perfect when you need to pull together something fast and absolutely delicious!

PUFF PASTRY PALMIERS

These are those swirled cookies that you often see in bakeries in France or Argentina, often referred to as elephant ears.

Get the recipe...

These Puff Pastry Palmiers or "elephant ear" cookies are so simple to make. Roll out the puff pastry into sugar and cinnamon and you've got a buttery, sugary bite of heaven.

These Puff Pastry Palmiers or "elephant ear" cookies are so simple to make. Roll out the puff pastry into sugar and cinnamon and you've got a buttery, sugary bite of heaven.

STRAWBERRY NAPOLEONS

Napoleons are absolutely one of the easiest desserts to make but they are also one of the most impressive looking desserts you can serve to guests. They'll never guess how simple they are to make! Get the recipe....

Strawberry Napoleons are so pretty, so easy, so delicious.... and with puff pastry, there are soooo many possibilities!

Strawberry Napoleons are so pretty, so easy, so delicious.... and with puff pastry, there are soooo many possibilities!

PUFF PASTRY PARTY SQUARES

I made this recipe for Food Network Star when I needed something using pastrami that would travel well and taste good served room temperature. This is best served warm and not hot straight from the oven. You can use just about anything you want inside the pastry. I used ham and cheese since it is an eternal favorite but you can use beef, pork or even vegetables. Get the recipe...