The recipes: Small touches can make party fare special
This kid-friendly punch is basically equal parts sparkling white grape juice and pineapple juice but more of one or the other doesn't matter, says Ann Hockman of Superior. "It's just delicious," she says, adding you can also use real champagne fo...
This kid-friendly punch is basically equal parts sparkling white grape juice and pineapple juice but more of one or the other doesn't matter, says Ann Hockman of Superior. "It's just delicious," she says, adding you can also use real champagne for grown-ups.
Faux Champagne Punch
2 46-ounce cans of pineapple juice, chilled, plus extra if used in ice mold
2 750-millimeter bottles of nonalcoholic sparkling white grape juice, chilled.
2 to 3 cups regular or diet lemon-lime soda, chilled, plus extra if used in ice mold (optional)
Fruit for ice mold:
Approximately 10 thin, seeded slices of orange, lemon, lime or any combination
A day or two before serving, partially fill a ring mold, Bundt pan or a whipped topping container with 2 to 3 cups of pineapple juice or lemon-lime soda, making sure the mold fits your punch bowl. Don't fill the mold to the top, because it will take up too much space in the bowl. Add slices of fruit. Cover and freeze until solid. The juice will freeze solid while the soda will freeze in crystals.
Just before serving, unmold the ice ring by running warm water over the bottom, place it in a punch bowl and slowly add 1 full can of pineapple juice (shaken) and 1 bottle of sparkling white grape juice, shaken. Add equal parts of additional juice and sparkling grape juice to fill container. Add 1 cup of lemon-lime soda if desired. Stir gently to mix.
As the punch is served, refill the bowl with equal parts of juice and sparkling grape juice, adding lemon-lime soda if desired. The proportions don't have to be exact.
Yield: 20 8-ounce servings.
To serve small sandwiches to children, Hockman cuts them into fun shapes, using large cookie cutters and soft white bread. To make the task easier, use simple shapes, like hearts, and expect to create plenty of bread scraps, she says.
Shaped Finger Sandwiches
Assorted large metal cookie cutters in simple shapes
2 loaves of white or whole-wheat, bakery-style bread
1/2 stick softened butter
3/4 pound thinly sliced deli ham or turkey or a combination of both
17 assorted cheese slices (optional)
Instead of meat and cheese, may use: 1 cup creamy peanut butter and 1 cup jelly or jam
Place a slice of bread on a cutting board and cut out one or two shapes with cutter, depending on how many one can get from a bread slice. Repeat to ensure two matching cuts per sandwich.
For meat/cheese sandwiches: Spread butter lightly each slice of bread, making sure the sides that will fit together are covered. Cut out deli meat and cheese with the same cutters used on bread and place between slices.
For peanut butter and jelly sandwiches: Spread one bread cut-out with peanut butter and a matching one with jam or jelly and stick together. (A small circle can be cut out in the center of the cut-out so the jam shows). Repeat to create more sandwiches.
Stack sandwiches in single layers with waxed paper in between and store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Store meat/cheese sandwiches separately from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so the flavors don't mix.
The sandwiches will keep overnight but are best when served the day they are made.
Yield: Approximately 17 small sandwiches. Allow3 per person.
For this snack mix, Hockman suggests using M&Ms in seasonal colors when available, and, for the holidays, using pretzels in holiday shapes like bells and trees. She used pink M&Ms for the "Fancy Nancy" party. When she makes the party mix, she usually doubles the recipe because the sweet snack goes fast. Fill clear plastic bags with the party mix and give as gifts or place on tables for a festive look. Hockman got this recipe from her longtime friend, Kathy Dahlin of Superior.
Kathy Dahlin's Caramel Party Mix
6 cups Crispix cereal
1 cup salted cashews, dry roasted peanuts or other nuts
1 cup small twist pretzels or butter-flavored squares
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
3 tablespoons white corn syrup (she uses Karo)
1 cup M&M candies
Spray shallow roasting pan or bottom of broiler pan with vegetable cooking spray and mix dry ingredients in it. In a heavy medium saucepan, melt butter. Add brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil; boil 3 minutes and pour over cereal mixture, stirring gently to coat (Hockman uses a silicone spatula).
Bake 10 minutes at 250 degrees. Stir and bake for10 more minutes.
Spoon onto waxed paper. Let cool a few minutes and sprinkle M&M candies on top. Cool completely; break into pieces and store in airtight container. The mix is best when fresh but will keep for up to a week.
Yield: 16 half-cup servings.
Hockman got this icing recipe from Sweet Celebrations, a Twin Cities confectionary store. The icing creates a firm topping that looks like a professional baker did it. To add a glittery look, Hockman tops her iced cookies with a pearly sparkle dust she gets at Sweet Celebrations.
Shiny Cookie Icing
2 cups fondant and icing sugar (Hockman uses 2 cups confectioners' powdered sugar instead)
4 teaspoons milk
4 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon vanilla (optional, Hockman adds this)
A drop of food coloring of your choice
Place ingredients in a bowl and stir until mixed thoroughly. Using a frosting piping bag, outline the outer edge of the cookie with frosting. Then thin the frosting by adding a little more corn syrup (Hockman instead uses milk, starting with 1/2 teaspoon). Coat the rest of the cookie top with icing. Top with candy sprinkles or other decorations, if desired. Dries firm but not stiff in about 30 minutes and retains a shiny appearance.
Yield: 2 cups.