The first signs of spring bring out the itch in all good Southerners. It’s time to entertain again. We’ve survived winter’s chill, all cozy at home, and our need to socialize and share runs deep. When it comes to welcoming guests, there’s no better icebreaker than encouraging folks to break bread with a signature cocktail in hand as they top their crostini.
1 cup bourbon
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 cups chilled hard cider (such as Angry Orchard)
Garnish: apple slices, lemon curls, or rosemary sprigs
See more: Southern Bourbon Cocktails
Stir together bourbon, lemon juice, and powdered sugar in a pitcher until sugar dissolves (about 30 seconds). Cover and chill 3 hours. Divide among 8 Champagne flutes; top each with 1/4 cup chilled hard cider (such as Angry Orchard). Garnish, if desired.
Make-Ahead Tip: Mix together the first 3 ingredients of this twist on a classic French 75 up to 24 hours ahead.
Butternut Squash-and-Pecan Crostini
1 large butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lb.), halved lengthwise and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Shaved Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
Garnish: fresh sage leaves
See More: Party-Perfect Crostini Recipes
1. Preheat oven to 425°. Place squash, flesh side up, in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish; drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with paprika and desired amount of salt and pepper. Turn squash, and place, flesh side down, in baking dish. Cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until tender. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Peel squash, and cut into large pieces.
2. Pulse squash, vinegar, and butter in a food processor 7 or 8 times or until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Spread 1 tsp. squash mixture onto each Crostini. Top each with a few pieces of shaved Parmesan and about 1/4 tsp. pecans.
Make-Ahead Tip: Chill squash mixture up to 2 days. Microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until hot.