Planning a New Year's Eve party? Looking for some simple but tasty drinks and dishes to serve? Try these fun and fruity cocktails and amazing appetizers from Giada De Laurentiis. The TODAY contributor and chef shares her recipes for champagne sangria, panini with chocolate and more.
- 1 (750 ml) bottle Prosecco or French champagne, chilled
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 cups Mint Simple Syrup, recipe follows
- 1 lemon, zested and thinly sliced
- 1 lime, zested and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
- 5 fresh mint sprigs
- Crushed ice
Mint simple syrup
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup packed mint leaves
Champagne sangriaIn a large pitcher, combine the Prosecco, orange juice, simple syrup, lemon zest, and lime zest. Add the sliced strawberries, lemon slices, lime slices, and mint sprigs. Fill glasses with crushed ice and pour the sangria over the top. Serve immediately. Mint simple syrupIn a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and mint over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool. Strain before using.
- 12 slices sourdough bread
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 ounces Brie cheese, thinly sliced
- 1 12-ounce bag semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Preheat the panini grill. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil. Grill the bread slices until they begin to turn golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the panini grill and place 2 ounces of cheese on one slice of bread, top with 1/3 cup chocolate chips, and a sprinkle of basil. Top with another slice of bread. Continue with the remaining sandwiches. Return the sandwiches to the panini grill until the chocolate begins to melt, about another 2 minutes. Cut the sandwiches into 2-inch wide rectangles or small triangles and transfer to a serving platter.
Blended cherry mojitos
- 1 pound bag frozen pitted cherries
- 2 cups crushed ice, plus extra to serve
- 1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
- 1 cup citrus flavored rum
- 1 2/3 cups lime simple syrup, recipe below
Lime simple syrup
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- Zest of 3 limes
Blended cherry mojitosPlace the frozen cherries, crushed ice, mint leaves, lime juice, rum, and simple syrup in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into chilled glasses and top with crushed ice. Garnish with lime wedges and cherries.Lime simple syrupIn a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and lime zest over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool for 20 minutes. Strain before using.
Garnish suggestion: Lime wedges and fresh cherries
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups (2 ounces) dried hibiscus flowers or dried rose petals*
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 cup vodka, chilled
- 1 cup ice
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, hibiscus flowers, and sugar over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool for 25 minutes. Add the lemon juice, lime juice, and vodka. Place the ice in a tall pitcher. Strain the hibiscus tea into the pitcher and discard the flowers. Refrigerate until ready to use.
*Dried rose petals can be found at specialty Hispanic markets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled tail-on, deveined
- 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard (recommended: Maille)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and Herbes de Provence. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 2 minutes each side. In a small bow, mix together the yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, maple syrup, turmeric, and basil until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Place the yogurt mixture in a dipping bowl. Place the bowl of dipping sauce on a serving platter with the cooked shrimp.
- 1 ounce gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 20 pitted green olives, rinsed and dried thoroughly
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
- Vegetable oil for frying
In a small bowl, combine the cheeses, thyme, and lemon zest. Place the cheese mixture into the pastry bag. Pipe the cheese mixture into each olive. Place the flour in a small bowl. Pour the beaten egg in another small bowl and the breadcrumbs in a third small bowl. Dredge the olives in the flour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the olives and place in the bowl with the beaten egg. Coat the olives with the egg and transfer to the bowl of breadcrumbs. Coat the olives with the breadcrumbs. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 350 degrees F. (If you don’t have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in about 3 minutes.) Fry the olives, in batches, for 30 to 45 seconds until golden brown. Drain the fried olives on paper towels. Cool for 5 minutes.
Special equipment: A pastry bag, a plain tip with a 1/4-inch opening