Need an Easy Festive Punch for Your New Years Celebration?

fullsizeoutput_7acThis is a quick post about an easy, festive punch that is perfect for the holiday season.  I’ve made this  Pomegranate-Champagne Punch from Bon Appétit magazine for the last several years with great success.  If you are familiar with their recipe rating system, this one is a “four-forker” which is the highest rating given based on reader feedback.  It is easy to make, popular with my guests, and it looks really pretty.  I’ve made a few variations, so don’t feel that you need to follow this recipe to the letter.

hp_instagramgallery_02_smallThe recipe calls for two bottles of champagne, but you can certainly use prosecco instead.  I have used the La Marca prosecco, available at Costco, in the past with very good results.  There are some even more budget-friendly options you can try as using an expensive champagne or prosecco would be total overkill for punch.

Another change you can make is to substitute vodka for the white rum.  I didn’t realize that I was out of rum and made this change.  It worked out just fine. In addition to serving the punch in a bowl as depicted above, you can mix the syrup, juice, and rum or vodka and mix them in a pitcher.  You can then pour and garnish your drinks individually.  I have prepared the punch in one of those drink dispensers with the spigot, but that is my least preferred approach as the garnishes don’t make their way into the individual servings.  By the way, I normally use fluted champagne glasses, but decided my martini glasses weren’t getting enough action.

bowl of black bean yellow pepper and cumin chili

Black Bean, Yellow Pepper, and Cumin Chili

One of my favorite chili recipes is from Bon Appètit magazine, and it is perfect for the cooler fall and winter months.  The weather here in Southern California has cooled off a bit which has prompted me to whip up a batch.  This recipe is loaded with black beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers with an extra kick from chipotle chiles.  You will notice that the chili is very thick — you actually puree approximately two cups of the cooked chili and use it to thicken the remainder.  The recipe calls for three cans of black beans, however, I typically cook and use approximately 1-1/2 cups of dried black beans.  Once I’ve cooked the beans I proceed with the rest of the recipe.  My one other modification is substituting ground cumin for the cumin seeds.

The recipe calls for three cans of black beans, however, I typically cook and use approximately 1-1/2 cups of dried black beans.  I pre-soak the beans which means I have to plan ahead, and I cook them with a small onion and a bay leaf.  I add a bit of salt about 30 minutes into the cooking — if you add the salt in the beginning, it makes the beans tough.    If you don’t believe me, you can read more about that here.  By the way, if you cook your own it is typically better for your wallet, and they will be more flavorful.  Once I’ve cooked the beans I proceed with the rest of the recipe.  My one other modification is substituting ground cumin for the cumin seeds.

This recipe is very easy, and as written it is vegetarian.  Instead of using vegetable broth, I use Better than Boullion Seasoned Vegetable Base with water to yield the required amount of liquid.  btb_p-11_vegetable-baseI will sometimes cook a pound of ground turkey and add it after I’ve prepared the recipe and added the puree as directed.  The final result is good on its own, but I really enjoy it with a side of tortilla chips.  It also works well topped with either a shredded “Mexican-style” cheese blend, or with crumbled cotija as shown here.  If you really want to splurge, you can also use it to make chili cheese dogs.

You can find the recipe here.  I hope you enjoy it!