NYE Drinks With a Twist

champagneAre you tired of serving the same champagne cocktails every New Year’s Eve?  I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m tired of drinking them!

Let’s face it, 2016 wasn’t a year that many of us would like to relive.  Between the circus of a Presidential election that has called the United States’ brand of democracy into question, the staggering number of terrorist acts perpetrated worldwide, and the deaths of some of the most beloved entertainers of our time, I think a few unique drinks are exactly what is called for to help give the boot to a year that’s left a rotten taste in most of our mouths.

vodkamartiniA simple and classy option is to stick with a straight forward cocktail served “on-the-rocks” or “up” like a Martini, James Bond style.   If your party is going to be one with low music and quiet conversation this is the type of drink to take it there.

My “Go-To” Martini Recipe

  • Fill cocktail shaker up halfway with ice cubes
  • Skewer 3 Martini Olives and Place in Chilled Martini Glass
  • Using a mister filled with dry Vermouth, give one short spritz over the olives
  • Add 1 + 1/2 to 2 Shots of Quality Vodka (I prefer Grey Goose L’Orange) to the cocktail shaker and give a couple of quick shakes
  • Strain vodka into glass over the skewered olives  enjoy

**Tip – If you like your martini dirty, add a cap of olive juice to the vodka in the cocktail shaker.  You can add (or substitute) pearl onions to your olive skewer if you prefer.

bluemooncosmoIf you want to shake up your boring martini affair and add some life to your party, change your music to something a bit more upbeat and consider serving one (or more) of the following variations:

Blue Moon Cosmo Martini

  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ½ ounces Grey Goose L’Orange vodka, well chilled
  • 1 ounce blue curacao
  • 1 ounce white cranberry juice
  • sugar (optional)
  • Place all in a shaker with ice and shake well.
  • Pour into chilled glass and garnish with a lime slice

**TipDip rim into cranberry juice then sugar.

Pomegranate Cosmo

pom-cosmo

  • 5 strips lemon zest
  • 5 strips orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (I use Superfine Bakers Sugar)
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 2-ounces pomegranate juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3-ounces Grey Goose L’Orange Vodka
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, divided

 

  • Place 3 lemon and 3 orange zest strips in a cocktail shaker
  • Sprinkle with sugar and muddle
  • Add crushed ice, pomegranate juice, fresh lemon juice, and vodka
  • Shake well and strain into 2 chilled cocktail glasses
  • Garnish with pomegranate seeds, remaining 2 strips each of lemon and orange zest
  • Serve

**TipDip rim into pomegranate juice then sugar.

If you were the lucky recipient of an Echo Dot or other Alexa voiced Amazon assistant, for a holiday gift, you can source the tunes for your party using Spotify.  You can also stream music from Spotify.com thru your network connected devices, like your home theater or stereo.  My son turned me on to this music source and for a limited time you can subscribe to their premium “Unlimited Streaming” option for .99 for 3 months.

Hopefully these libations and tunes will help us all usher in a more festive 2017!

If you’re on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: my favorite recipes, drinks, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

 

 

 

 

Holiday Gifts For the Cocktail Lover

tistheseasonIt’s the time of year when we all exchange gifts with friends.  If you’re college age to not-yet married or perpetually single and loving it, chances are you and your friends also love getting together for cocktails.

Since we all can likely name our best friends’ go-to drink orders here are a few ideas for inexpensive ways to make sure they can make themselves a “five o’clocker” using the proper tools and vessels to drink them from without breaking the bank.

You can probably figure out gifts for a wine drinker – glasses, a pretty corkscrew, funnychampagne napkins, an aerator, or a decanter.  For a beer drinker there is always the bottle opener, pilsner glass, mason jar glasses, or even (for the guy who hasn’t outgrown college) beer pong supplies/table.

If your gift is going to a margarita or  daiquiri lover:

Is your gift going to a Martini aficionado?

And finally, gifts for lovers of mixed drinks or straight up spirits:

None of the gifts we exchange with friends need to break the bank to show that we care. With a little forethought and a handy 20% coupon for Bed, Bath & Beyond  (you can use 5 per purchase you know) you might even save enough to grab a bottle or two to share with them!

If you’re on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: my favorite recipes, drinks, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Baked Jameson Cherry Brie Bites

I went looking for something simple but spectacular that would pair equally well with both cocktails and wine before dinner and came across this amazing photo by Spencer Burton for Las Vegas Weekly:

scaled-cherry_baked_brie_by_spencer_burton_h_t1000

It turns out that these are one of the most popular items on the appetizer menu at one of my favorite Las Vegas watering holes: Nine Fine Irishmen, located in the center of the casino at New York New York.

I pulled the dinner menu up on the internet and had to search for it.  I was looking Baked Jameson Cherry Brie Bites but couldn’t find it.  Now that I’ve seen where they have it hidden at the bottom of the appetizers, it’s easy to see how I missed it the last time I stopped in for a pint of Guinness and a splash of whiskey.

They list it simply as “Baked Brie” with an unimaginative description of: “Brie Cheese, Whiskey Marinated Cherries, Puff Pastry, Balsamic Reduction, Toasted Baguettes” and they don’t show the mouth watering picture.  Not a great sales job at all!

I’m much more intrigued by the glowing description that Brock Radke gave in his November 2013 article describing the, then new item as, “the perfect bite-sized delight for the holiday season. Bonus: Irish whiskey is involved.

I’m sold.  Point me to the kitchen!

Jameson Cherry Baked Brie Bites

  • 5-7 squares of puff pastry (5×5 inch, cut into four pieces)
  • 1½ lb. Brie cheese (cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • ½ cup Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 2 eggs, beaten well
  • fresh ground pepper (to taste)

Now it’s time to prep the cherries:

  1. Soak cherries in Jameson overnight.
  2. Cook cherry-whiskey mixture in a small pot on low heat until fruit softens, then add corn syrup and mix well.
  3. Use a hand-mixer or blender to purée the mixture, then chill and let sit for 2 hours.

When your cherry mixture has finished chilling it’s time to assemble the bites:

  1. Heat oven to 425°F.
  2. Gently separate one square of puff pastry dough and spread a fingernail-sized portion of Brie in the middle.
  3. Add a small dollop of cherry purée and season with pepper.
  4. Fold dough so all corners are sealed.
  5. Spray a baking tray with nonstick cooking spray and place bites on tray in rows.
  6. Brush the top of each pasty pocket with egg.
  7. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Let sit for two minutes before serving.

The part I’m missing in this recipe is that they don’t mention the balsamic reduction. Based on the picture it appears that they reserve some of the whiskey-cherry purée to add to the top for presentation with a couple of sprout leaves.

Helpful tip:  You can cut the preparation time by buying whiskey soaked cherries online or at your local Total Wine or Bevmo if they carry them.  I keep a jar on hand that are soaked in my favorite bourbon-whiskey, Maker’s Mark, and I’m sure that you can prepare the same a few days ahead and keep them well sealed in your refrigerator so that you can shorten the prep time.

If you’re on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: my favorite recipes, drinks, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Bedtime Red Wine Hot Cocoa

red-wine-cocoaRed wine to ease away the stress and tension from a day filled with kids, husbands, work, traffic, housework, bills, etc., then hot cocoa laced with more read wine to pave the way to bedtime?  Sounds too good to be true, but Scary Mommy says it’s so, so I believe!

Now, if you can keep yourself from chugging the entire bottle down you wino 😉 here is how you make your Bedtime Red Wine Hot Cocoa:

In a small saucepan combine:

  • 3 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1/8th tsp salt

According to http://www.scarymommy.com, you are to, “Mix that shit together.”  Then stir in:

  • 2 to 3 TBLS milk
  • 1/4 Cup + a few more TBLS “to taste”
  • 1 tsp vanilla (if desired)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (if desired)

I like my wines to be hearty in body and bold in taste, so I use a Zinfandel, Meritage, Red Blend, Red Table Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Petite Syrah.  Simmer until just warm.  You don’t want to cook off the alcohol!  I like to add a tsp of vanilla and a cinnamon stick to the pan while it’s simmering.  Top with some whipped cream and shaved chocolate if you’re feeling fancy.

Here’s another way to make it that’s even more decadent:

  • 3 Cups Dark Chocolate Chunks
  • 1+ ½ Cups Milk (Substitute Half & Half or Cream if desired)
  • 1 Cup Red Wine

red-wine-hot-chocolate-5In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and chocolate chips. Whisking constantly until chocolate is melted into milk and you have a thick and creamy chocolate milk. Pour in red wine and heat until everything is hot. Pour into 2 mugs and top with whipped cream.

You can also add in marshmallows, sprinkle more cocoa powder or cinnamon on top.  The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, how much you love wine, and/or how bad your day was.

If you’re on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: my favorite recipes, drinks, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Weeknight Steak Chili

steak-chili-with-red-kidney-beansThe wind is cold and it’s finally time to pull the jeans and sweaters out of the back of the closet.  It’s also time to let a pot of chili welcome the boys home after a long day.  This time it won’t have to cook all day, I have my handy dandy pressure cooker, which doubles as a enhanced slow cooker, to cut the usual cooking time in half!  If you don’t have a pressure cooker I’ve put the alternate instructions in red where they differ.

Pressure Cooker Steak Chili

  • 1 pound trimmed Chuck roast ( I buy mine Organic from Sprouts) chopped into 1/4″ chunks – it’s easiest to chop raw meat if you freeze it for 30 minutes or so
  • 1/2 of a medium onion chopped
  • 1 block XLNT chili con carne
  • 1 small can S&W low-sodium red beans drained of most of the liquid
  • 1 small can Hunt’s petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can store brand dark red kidney beans drained of most of the liquid (my store didn’t carry a large can of S&W)
  1. Turn your pressure cooker on to the brown setting and toss in the onions.
  2. For non-pressure cookers: heat a Stock Pot to medium-high heat with a splash of olive oil and add the onions, then follow the instructions below through #8.
  3. Allow to cook for about 2 minutes then give them a quick stir.
  4. Add chopped meat to the pressure cooker.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes.
  6. Add the block of chili.  If thawed, stir into the meat and onion. If frozen, skip this step.
  7. Add both cans of beans and the can of tomatoes.
  8. Stir the mixture, getting chili block to the bottom if it’s frozen.
  9. Close the pressure cooker.
  10. Set to slow cooker setting (mine has one) – mine defaults to 2 hours of cooking time.  At the end of 2 hours my kidney beans needed a little bit more time, so I added an additional 30 minutes and they were perfect.
  11. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can finish cooking 1 of 2 ways: Put everything into the crock pot and cook on low for about 4 hours (or 1 hour on high and 2 on low); or you can finish this chili on the stove top in your stock pot.  You will need to add some more liquid, in which case I would go with a beer and make sure that you are cooking it low and slow – you’ll need to simmer and stir occasionally for about 4 hours.

tjbsI grated some white cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top and grabbed a package of Trader Joe’s Cheesy Bread Sticks that toasted up perfectly in the oven in 6 minutes. No one was in the mood for a salad, but if you wanted a perfectly rounded meal a salad would do the trick!

If you’re on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Click Here!