16 Christmas Party Beverages, Cocktails, and Jello Shots

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iStock.com/Rimma_Bondarenko

On the weekend before Christmas, you may be off work and ready to celebrate with friends before the whole family gets together. A Christmas party only takes people and maybe some food, but along with your Christmas treats and snacks and drinks, you should have at least one visually stimulating recipe that will truly impress your guests. With that in mind, here are some eye-popping holiday beverages you can whip up, including cocktails, punches, non-alcoholic drinks, and jello shots. Follow the links for the complete recipes.

1. The Candy Cane

The cocktail called the Candy Cane consists of white chocolate liqueur and peppermint schnapps. Make the visual effect grand with a rim of crushed candy canes!

2. Candy Cane Spritzers

Why should adults have all the cocktail fun? Candy Cane Spritzers are fancy holiday drinks with no alcohol that kids will love. And it's not too sweet. The flavor and color comes from pomegranate juice; the canes are just for garnish.

3. Candy Cane Punch

Candy Cane Punch is an easy, non-alcoholic party punch that gets its Christmas flavor from the use of peppermint ice cream. But miniature candy canes for garnish add an extra touch.

4. Candy Cane Milkshake

This looks amazing—and fattening. But no! This Candy Cane Milkshake has only 205 calories, because it contains no ice cream or candy. It does, however, taste like a candy cane, thanks to peppermint extract and low-calorie sweetener. A perfect non-alcoholic treat that won't blow your diet.

5. Candy Cane Swirl

Holiday martini with a candy cane 
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I promise that there are drinks that aren't candy cane-flavored coming up! The Candy Cane Swirl gets its kick from raspberry vodka and peppermint schnapps. But there are mixers as well.

6. Santa Shot

The Santa Shot has both the look and the taste of Christmas, which is good, because you'll want to limit the number that you serve. There are no mixers, just layers of grenadine, green creme de menthe, and red peppermint schnapps.

7. Cranberry Margarita

If limes and strawberries make great margaritas, you know the traditional holiday flavor of tart cranberries would, too. This Cranberry Margarita also has a touch of orange from orange liqueur, which should taste like my mother's traditional homemade cranberry-and-fresh-orange sauce.

8. Jingle Jangle Holiday Punch

Jingle Jangle Holiday Punch contains your favorite fresh berries, both crushed in the mixture and again whole as an eye-pleasing garnish in the individual servings. Oh, it also has vodka, wine, and Grand Marnier in it.

9. Mistletoe Mojito

The Mistletoe Mojito is a mojito spiced up with the flavor of pomegranate. If you don't already associate pomegranate with Christmas, maybe you should start! Mint, lime, and pomegranate have the perfect colors.

10. Grasshopper

Thin Mint fans will love the Grasshopper, which has a seasonally appropriate hue and can be modified to be heavier on the mint or the chocolate. You can crush chocolate-mint cookies for the rim, or use shaved chocolate.

11. Gingerbread Apple Cocktail

The Gingerbread Apple Cocktail gets its taste from ginger liqueur and apple cider, and vodka adds the kick. The rim is crushed gingersnaps held on with honey or agave syrup!

12. The Grinch

The Grinch cocktail has more of the Christmas look than the flavor. Just make sure your melon liqueur is the right color! The cherry garnish represents the Grinch's shrunken heart.

There are those who might argue that Jello shots aren't beverages. Instead of arguing, let's just enjoy some ways to make your Jello shots more Christmas-y. The folks at your party don't care.

13. Blue Christmas Jello Shots

The liquor is subtle in these Blue Christmas Jello Shots, containing champagne and blue Curacao instead of vodka. Marshmallows and blue candy canes complete the look.

14. Caramel Apple Jello Shots

Caramel Apple Jello Shots are apple slices containing a homemade gelatin mixture with coconut milk, caramel hot chocolate mix, and butterscotch schnapps. The combined effect is that of a caramel apple—with alcohol.

15. Jingle Bell Rock Jello Shots

If you do want to make Jello shots in Christmas colors, here's your recipe. Jingle Bell Rock Jello Shots are layered with cranberry juice and vodka for red, apple flavor for the green, and condensed milk and peppermint schnapps for the white.

16. Candy Cane Jello Shots

Oh yes, here's one more candy cane recipe! Candy Cane Jello Shots are a culinary/mixology work of art. It takes time, as the red and white gelatin layers must be carefully poured and chilled one at a time, then sliced and cut into shapes. The flavor comes from peppermint schnapps.

Scientists Built a LEGO 'Electrospinner' to Improve the Texture of Lab-Grown Meat

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iStock.com/Ekaterina79

A group of food scientists who are working to create lab-grown meat have found inspiration in an unlikely source: LEGOs. According to Food & Wine, researchers from Pennsylvania State University and the University of Alabama used LEGO components to create a device capable of improving the texture of the meat they were cultivating. Their findings were recently published in the journal Food Hydrocolloids.

Any protein that comes from “stem or stem-like animal cells” that are cultured in a lab can be considered lab-grown meat, according to Penn State. While lab-grown meat can be labeled a meat substitute because it requires far fewer animals for its production, it remains to be seen whether vegans and vegetarians will be willing to eat it.

Lab-grown meat is still very much in the development stages, and scientists are working on ways to improve the texture. Because cultured muscle cells don’t have any particular structure when they grow, the meat generally comes out resembling ground beef. That’s fine if you’re hoping to make more humane tacos, but it presents a challenge when trying to create, say, a lab-grown steak.

This is where the toy bricks came in. Researchers used LEGO Power Functions to create an electrospinning device that was capable of turning starch fibers into a structured meat “scaffold.” The plastic pieces were ideal because they weren’t conductive, which was crucial because the researchers were working with water and ethanol.

Unlike scaffolds that produce plastic fibers for biomedical purposes, the LEGO device was capable of spinning corn-derived fibers. In other words, what's going into the meat is entirely edible. “The idea is we could make a nice, edible, clean scaffold for our clean meat,” Gregory Ziegler, a Penn State professor and director of graduate studies at the university's Department of Food Science, told Food & Wine.

Scientists are now looking for ways to improve their equipment in order to churn out larger amounts of starch scaffolds.

[h/t Food & Wine]

This Macaroni and Cheese Meatball Recipe Is Easy Enough to Make in a Dorm Room

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iStock.com/LauriPatterson

It's hard to make creative meals when you're working out of a dorm "kitchen," but Daniel Holzman, the chef/co-owner of The Meatball Shop in New York City, proves that college students don't need to limit themselves to energy drinks and instant ramen noodles. Using just a coffee maker and a toaster oven, he's found a way to prepare an easy recipe for macaroni and cheese meatballs.

The video below is the fourth episode of "The College Try," a new series from Food & Wine and Spoon University that challenges chefs to create meals using dorm equipment and ingredients. Holzman starts by "brewing" his macaroni in a coffee maker. Once the pasta is cooked, he stirs in one tablespoon of butter and transfers it to a plate. To start making the cheese sauce, he adds two cups of milk and two tablespoons of butter to the coffee pot before retuning it to the warm burner.

Holzman prepares the meatballs by mixing ground beef, breadcrumbs, cheddar cheese, salt, and the cooked macaroni in a bowl. After he shapes the meat mixture into 2-inch balls, he bakes them in a toaster oven preheated to 450°F for 12 minutes.

The last step is the sauce. The chef whisks a packet of cheese powder from a box of macaroni and cheese into the milk and uses that as the base for his plate of meatballs. In about half an hour, he makes a meal that looks a lot better than what you can find in most college dining halls.

From microwaved omelets to mug cakes, here are some more cooking hacks for dorm life.

[h/t Spoon University]

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