It’s Cocktail Time

Fall ushers in a long season of varied holidays, reasons for gatherings and homes are warmed by family and friends.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Martini

The Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Martini is my favorite seasonal cocktail because it is delicious and your guests will never know how super simple it is to create. This combines all my favorites: Smirnoff Vanilla Flavored Vodka, Bailey’s, pumpkin pie spice and a touch of cayenne pepper for a little kick. Combine it all together - shake, shake, shake and you have an elegant cocktail that your guests will love.
  • ¾ ounce vanilla flavored vodka, Smirnoff®
  • ½ ounce Irish cream liqueur, Baileys®
  • ½ ounce coffee liqueur
  • ½ ounce crème de cacao
  • 1/5 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Ice cubes

In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, Irish cream, coffee liqueur, crème de cacao, pumpkin pie spice, and cayenne pepper. Add ice; cover and shake until very cold. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

  • Yields: 1 drink

Savory Bread Pudding

  • No-stick cooking spray, Pam®
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, Johnsonville®
  • 1 package (8-ounce) sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, Wesson®
  • 1 teaspoon bottled crushed garlic
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, McCormick®
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 loaf country-style bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat twelve 21/2-inch muffin cups with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook sausage until browned, breaking up lumps. Remove sausage from skillet. Add mushrooms, oil, and garlic to skillet. Cook and stir until mushrooms are lightly browned. Remove from heat and stir in sausage. Let cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add cubed bread and sausage mixture to egg mixture; press bread with back of a large spoon to submerge into milk mixture. Let stand for 10 minutes or until bread absorbs milk mixture. Ladle bread pudding mixture into prepared muffin cups and place in a large rimmed baking pan. Carefully pour hot water into the baking pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown and bread pudding puffs. Serve warm.
  • Yields: 12 mini bread puddings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

Rockefeller Martini

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ ounces cranberry juice
  • 1 ounce vodka, Smirnoff® No. 21
  • ¼ ounce cinnamon schnapps, Goldschläger®
  • ¼ ounce orange liqueur, Grand Marnier®
  • Ice Cubes
  • Cinnamon stick

In a shallow bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Dampen rim of a chilled martini glass with water and dig in sugar mixture. Set aside. In a cocktail shaker, combine cranberry juice, vodka, cinnamon schnapps and orange liqueur. Add ice; cover and shake until very cold. Strain into prepared glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick.

  • Yields: 1 drink

Pesto-Stuffed Mushrooms

  • No-stick cooking spray, Pam®
  • 24 large fresh mushrooms, 11/2 to 2 inches in diameter
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup San Francisco sourdough stuffing mix, Stovetop®
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, Sargento®
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, Sargento®
  • 2 tablespoons pesto, Classico®
  • 2 teaspoons garlic blend, Gourmet Garden®
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a rimmed baking pan with cooking spray; set aside. Wipe mushrooms clean with paper towels; remove stems and discard. Brush inside and outside with olive oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine stuffing mix and the boiling water. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Stir in ricotta, mozzarella, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, pesto, and garlic. Spoon stuffing mixture into mushroom caps. Place caps on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Yields: 24 mushrooms
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes
    Excerpted from the book, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cocktail Time, by Sandra Lee
    Copyright © 2009 SLSH Enterprises, Inc.
Sandra shares holiday magic on HGTV's Sandra Lee Celebrates, a series of four one-hour holiday specials airing November 28, December 5, December 12 and December 19 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.