We love the holidays, and we love to entertain, but with young kids and all the commitments that come with the holiday season, we’ve learned to keep it simple! Maybe one day we will get back to setting the table with all the trimmings because that’s fun too! But at this stage in life, it’s the friends and family and good food that make the holidays so special. We think our guests appreciate it too when we keep things casual and kid-friendly.
We do love to cook, so prepping in the kitchen and making desserts is all part of enjoying the holiday spirit, but we’ve just learned to do it in a way that keeps it less formal and relaxed. This way, you can have a lot more fun with your guests, and your guests have a lot more fun with you!
Here are a few of our key tips and tricks, so you’ll spend less time in the kitchen and more time with the ones you love.
Happy holidays from all of us @PappyandCo!
- Serve pick-up food or heavier apps and a single main dish to keep dishes to a minimum and not have to set the table.
- Select recipes that can be made in advance, so all you have to do is reheat or serve at room temp — Prep EVERYTHING in advance.
- Pick a hearty main dish that can easily be doubled for a big group. Crockpots, soups, and stews are perfect.
- Our stave bowls make for great decor or a serving piece. We love anything with multiple functions. We’ve filled it with glass ornaments, pomegranates or other seasonal fruit, or used it as an appetizer tray or bread bowl.
- If you only do one thing to decorate, let it be candles. Small votives are inexpensive, add that holiday sparkle, and can be placed anywhere to create a warm cozy setting. We nestle them around the appetizers, on the bar, and by the buffet.
- Make little floral arrangements using votives, pretty cocktail glasses, or julep cups. A cluster of small arrangements feels more casual than a large centerpiece and much less expensive. I cut winter greens, Magnolia, etc. from the yard and combine with store-bought flowers or berries. A favorite that is easy to find this time of year is Hypericum Berries.
- Our cutting boards make for great serving pieces. We use them for cutting cocktail garnishes on the bar, or serving apps. They are just as functional as they are beautiful.
- For dessert, no dishes, of course, so if you don’t want to bake at all, our bourbon balls and bourbon nib brittle are a no brainer and look beautiful on a party platter.
- Keep the bar simple by offering one special cocktail that you can have pre-batched in a pitcher, ready to serve over ice.
Suggested Food Menu: See Complete Recipes Below
- Spicy Deviled Eggs
- Maple Glazed Butternut Squash and Cheese Spread
- Crudite Platter with Blue Cheese Dip
- Christmas Kitchen Sink Soup
- Spicy Sharp Cheddar Biscuits
- Derby Pie Bars
- Bourbon Balls
- Bourbon Nib Brittle
These are two of our holiday favorites with just the right amount of sweet and spice for winter temps and toasty fires.
Classic Old Fashioned
- 2 oz. Whiskey of your choice
- ½ ounce Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned Mix
- Orange peel for garnish
- Shake whiskey and cocktail mix with ice and strain over ice in a Double Old Fashioned Glass--we love these Key Etched Double Old Fashioned Glasses.
- Garnish with orange peel.
- 2 oz. Rye Whiskey .75 oz. Sweet Vermouth
- .5 tsp. Pappy & Company Bourbon Barrel- Aged Pure Maple Syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- Orange peel and cherry for garnish
- Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled rocks glass--we love these Old Rip Van Winkle Rocks Glasses.
- Garnish with orange peel and cherry.
Spicy Deviled Eggs
- 12 large hard-boiled eggs, room temperature
- 3 tbsp Pappy & Company Barrel-Aged Pepper Sauce
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup minced celery
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- Paprika for garnish
- Peel eggs. Slice eggs in half lengthwise; remove yolks to a medium bowl. Arrange whites on a large platter or one of our barrel stave cutting boards.
- Add Pappy & Company Pepper Sauce, mayonnaise, celery, onion, garlic, and vinegar to egg yolks in a bowl; mix until well blended.
- Spoon filling evenly into each egg white. Top with paprika and/or a few drops of Pepper Sauce if desired.
- Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes before serving.
Maple Glazed Butternut Squash & Cheese Spread
- 2 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp Pappy & Company Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pure Maple Syrup
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 lbs cubed peeled and seeded butternut squash
- 5 oz. plain goat cheese (room temperature)
- 1 cup cream cheese: whipped
- One fresh baguette thinly sliced.
- Pomegranate seeds for garnish
- In a large bowl mix all ingredients except for goat cheese and cream cheese together
- Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees 35 to 45 minutes
- Remove butternut squash from cookie sheet and let cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, add butternut squash to a bowl with goat cheese and cream cheese and use a hand mixer or immersion blender to mix into a creamy spread.
- Place on toast points and garnish with pomegranate seeds just before serving.
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 8 oz blue cheese crumbles
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp Pappy & Company Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pepper Sauce
- 1 tsp Pappy & Company Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pure Maple Syrup
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- Mix all ingredients
- Serve in a small bowl on a tray or one of our barrel stave cutting boards, with an assortment of vegetables.
This soup is loaded with holiday flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg, perfect for holiday entertaining and feeding a large group with just one pot for cooking. I find this soup is even better once reheated the next day. Serves 8-10. This recipe can easily be doubled.
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 leeks, green ends discarded, sliced lengthwise, rinsed under running water and then sliced into half-moons
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 Italian sausage links, casings removed
- 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 ½ tablespoon Pappy & Company Pepper Sauce
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 1 or 2 bunches Swiss chard, cut into ribbons
- 1 pinch coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Pappy & Company Pepper Sauce
- Sour Cream
- Scallions, chives or cilantro
- Grated cheddar cheese or parmesan
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high.
- Add the leeks and saute until they soften about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and saute another minute.
- Add the sausage and brown, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until cooked, 6 minutes.
- Add the beans, tomatoes, broth, Pepper Sauce, paprika, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or can be less if you are going to cool, and refrigerate.
- Add the swiss chard and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve her up and dive in! Add toppings if you desire.
Spicy Sharp Cheddar Biscuits:
These biscuits have just the right amount of heat and are reminiscent of a southern cheese straw, but with the flaky, tangy tenderness of a classic buttermilk biscuit. A pro tip from our friends at Callie’s Biscuits, the best flour to use for biscuit making, is White Lily. If they don’t carry it in your local grocery, you can find it on Amazon, of course. And if you haven't mastered the art of biscuit making, know the key to perfect biscuits is not over mixing! Makes approximately 16 biscuits.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 ½ cups)
- ¾ cup whole buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons Pappy & Company Pepper Sauce
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Using a box grater, grate butter over flour mixture, then work the butter into the flour with your fingers until the mixture crumbly. Add cheese and toss to coat.
- Whisk buttermilk and hot sauce in a separate bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, stirring with a fork our hands just enough until the flour is combined. The dough should be very sticky.
- Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently press and form into a circle about ¾” thick. Cut out biscuits side by side (so less rerolling scraps) using a 2” round cutter (we use our favorite little cocktail glass, it’s the perfect size). Position the biscuits snug together in a cast-iron skillet or rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake until just golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
Derby Pie, which is a Kentucky version of a pecan pie, adding bourbon and chocolate, combined with a gooey chocolate chip cookie crust, makes this dessert the best of both worlds and can easily be served without plates. Using our Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Aged Pure Maple Syrup over corn syrup adds depth of flavor that is truly heavenly, especially with the addition of bourbon. But that can always be omitted, or you can serve with bourbon-spiked whipped cream!
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE LAYER
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
PECAN PIE LAYER
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 3/4 cup Pappy & Company Syrup or any good quality pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup raw whole pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
- Make the cookie layer In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until combined and creamy. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt beat until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spread the dough out into the prepared dish in an even layer.
- Make the pecan layer. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add the Maple Syrup, bourbon, if using, and salt. Mix until combined.
- Evenly spread the pecans over the cookie dough. Then pour the pie filling over the cookie layer. It's okay if not everything is covered.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. It's okay if the center is a little jiggly.
- Let cool completely before cutting, at least 1 hour. You can also put in the freezer for 15 minutes for easier cutting.
We are wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season from our families to yours!
Pssst, still looking for more holiday ideas? Be sure to check out our list of Founder’s Favorites for this season’s bourbon-inspired shopping list.