Fun Friends and Food

Like I said on Monday, our friends Jaque and Chris came over for dinner on Friday night for a little relaxation and dinner before we get completely bogged down with all things wedding for the next 3 weeks (BECAUSE ITS SO CLOSE NOW!!!! AHHHHH!!!!) It was nice to do something to keep my mind from wandering into wedding never land for a bit thinking a schedules, and organizing, and how were going to get what where, etc etc. We were also very excited to have the chance to break out some of our fun new serving pieces we have gotten from showers and to use our fun little rolling island we got from ikea a while back! Well David was excited about the island, I was excited about the serving pieces, to set the record straight. But I just love entertaining and setting everything up, I think its just so fun!

I picked up some small bouquets of assorted flowers at the local grocery store and used a small little vase I acquired from someone dropping off some treats at work (I love fab freebies!) I always joke that I should have gone into flowers because I love fresh flowers so much. I just think they add so much to a room and really soften the space. Not the fanciest thing ever, but I appreciate the touch of class!

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So to add to the set up we wheeled out our awesome butcher block ikea island and set up a little appetizer area for our guests featuring dipping bread and a tasty red wine sangria (which probably would have been better if I had more time to let it rest and mix all the flavors together!). But it was a great set up and kept everyone from congregating around the food prep space on the counters and opened up the counter space by giving us a little bit of extra room to set things, which we also appreciated!

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The great thing about this cart is that it has shelves underneath so for a big gathering you could keep plates/cups/etc underneath and place all the food or drinks on top AND because it has wheels we can just roll it outside and BAM more serving space for out there. Im really starting to like it and not resent buying it just to store it in our closet under the stairs! And then, when it was time for dinner… BAM Change over and we were serving the main course here which made it so easy to feed everyone through the kitchen to prep their plates etc.

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David grilled up some BBQ chicken quarters and fresh squash with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and some brown rice! super tasty! I love all the fresh veggies that are available in the sumer and I especially love that David is so into grilling. It alleviates some of the stress in the kitchen! Such a great night with great friends, and if you’re dying for that sangria recipe, here it is for ya!

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  • 1 Large bottle of red wine – chilled ( I used Pinot Noir)
  • 1 large orange sliced and placed in the bottom of the pitcher
  • 1/2 large orange juiced into the pitcher, slice the other half for garnish
  • 1 lemon sliced (half for garnish)
  • 1 -1 1/2 cups of a dark juice (I used cranberry pomegranate, but you can personalize the recipe here or leave this part out)
  • Add orange liquor to taste. I added enough to cover the fruit in the bottom of the pitcher.

Combine all the ingredients into a pitcher Fruit slices first then orange liquor, then red wine, then juice to mellow things out a bit, if needed. Then stir everything out and let chill for at least 3o minutes before serving. Then pour into glasses and garnish with freshly sliced fruit! Bottoms up!

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Holly Jolly Cocktails!

As you prepare for all your holiday festivities, I thought I’d toss a little help your way! I have been seeing lots of fun holiday cocktails all over the place, between surfing pinterest, food blogs, and  food gawker I managed to pull together this little list of special treats to serve as the signature cocktail at your annual holiday gathering. We’ll start off with your traditional Holiday favorites. I know this one is not for everyone but it s huge hit in my family, and now you can jazz it up and make a recipe all your own!

Homemade Holiday Eggnog

Eggnog
8 large eggs
4 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
5 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cup Mount Gay ECLIPSE Rum
1 cup 80-proof bourbon
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 2 cups whipping cream
2 tbsp superfine sugar

Berry Sparkle

BerrySparkle2 ounces raspberry vodka
1 ounce cranberry juice
1/4 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce honey syrup
Club soda
Ice
Rosemary sprigs for garish
Fresh raspberries for garnish

Jolly Old Elf

JollyOldElf
In a fluted glass add:
1/2 oz Amaretto liqueur
2 oz Cranberry juice
Fill to top of glass with brut champagne or sparkling wine

Jingle Jangle Punch

JingleJanglePunch
1.5 cups berry vodka
3/4 cups Grand Marnier
6 pints of fresh berries (raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries)
1 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed—about 8 lemons)
1.5 cups simple syrup
1 bottle sparkling wine (Something Extra Dry)

Directions:

1. Combine all the ingredients (except the berries and sparkling wine) in a large glass or plastic container (or pitcher). Stir well.
2. Wash the berries.
3. When ready to serve, first fill the punch bowl with ice. Pour a small amount of the mixture in a cocktail shaker.
4. Add about five to seven berries.
5. Top with ice and shake HARD. (Make sure you shake hard enough so that the berries break apart in the cocktail shaker.)
6. Strain into the punch bowl.
7. Keep repeating steps until the mixture is all shaken and in the punch bowl.
8. Top the punch with about 3/4 of the bottle of sparkling wine and stir well.
9. Top the punch with additional berries and serve.

Ho Ho Ho Holiday Martini

HoHoHoHolidayMartini
2 ounces Baileys Irish Cream
1/4 ounce Smirnoff No.21 Vodka
1/4 ounce Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

Rudolph’s Tipsy Spritzer

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Orange juice, Sprite
Vodka
Maraschino Cherry Juice
Lemon Juice

And incase you were looking for a way to spice up those traditional New Years Eve champagne toasts, Add a stick of rock candy for a kick of sweetness, and some extra bubbles, and it looks awesome in the glass! I love it! NYE

So I hope this inspires you to create something fun and different for your holiday guests this seasons, if you’re gunning to be the hostess with the mostest, a signature cocktail might just put you a step above the rest! Happy Holidays and bottoms up!

Apple Cider

Don’t worry, I didnt forget that I was going to give you all my apple recipes, I just, had lots of other blogging to do, and I didn’t want you to be all apple-d out before I was done, so I am trying to space it out for you. Plus fall just started so you have plenty of time to test these out before they are out of season! Clearly I am starting with a more traditional take on using apples. I mean fall screams apple cider, and I honestly think that homemade apple cider is 1000 times better than anything you can buy. I think one of the reasons I love it so much is the smell that inhabits your entire house when you’re making it! It just really cant be beat! This past weekend we went to Boone to visit my sister for Appalachian State’s homecoming game, because both my parents went there, and, obviously, my sister is there now.

As our tailgate contribution David and I thought we would bring a little spiked version of the apple cider we made when we came home from apple picking a week or so ago! So, heres a little double dipper for you! I will give you the recipe for the regular apple cider and then at the bottom I will give you the Emeril Lagasse Recipe we used to make our Rum Apple Cider, SO delicious! You definitely have to try it for some kind of fall cookout, bon fire, etc!

So, here is your list of ingredients for the regular apple cider (this yields about 6-8 servings):

  • 8 -10 apples (I used gala for a less tart or intense taste)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cinnamon (or 4 cinnamon sticks)
  • 4 tablespoons allspice
  • cheese cloth

Instructions: 

After you have washed all the apples, you want to cut them into quarters. Don’t peel them or remove the seeds! These provide lots of flavor, and you wouldn’t want to throw all of that away! 

 Then, in a large stock pot add your apples and fill with water–just enough to cover the apples and add your sugar on top!.


Wrap your cinnamon and allspice in a doubled up cheese cloth and tie, and add this to the apples and water.

Boil on high for one hour (uncovered) checking on it frequently, then turn down heat and let the apples simmer for two hours (covered).

Take off the heat after two hours of simmering and let cool and remove spices.

and mash up the apples to a pulp like consistency (a potato masher works well for this).

Once cool pour into a strainer over a large bowl. When most of the juice has drained away, put the remainder of the pulp into a doubled up cheese cloth and squeeze over the bowl until no more juice comes out.

We then draped cheese cloth over a regular strainer to get rid of all the extra pieces of pulp then heated up a glass and enjoyed!

You can store in an air tight container in your refrigerator for up to a week or you can freeze it for later use if you like.When you’re ready to serve it just reheat it in the microwave or on the stove and add a cute little cinnamon stick for garnish! So festive!

Like I said, David and I made the spiked cider for the tailgate. For lack of electrical outlets it became a pre-game treat, and then David and I brought the left overs home, but we weren’t complaining because it was delicious and we did all the leg work anyways! And while Rihianns milkshakes are busy brining all the boys to the yard…. David’s new panda hat was busy bringing all the AOPII’s to the tailgate… Since the panda is their mascot, Rachel’s sorority sisters were very excited to see David jokingly sporting this little gem we found at Walmart the night before the game.

Such a ladies man! Now, on to the Cider, which is what I’m sure you’re still reading this post for!!!!

To make the Rum Apple Cider, here is what you will need!

  • 1 apple
  • 2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 orange thinly sliced
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Allspice
  • dash of grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup of dark rum
  • Cinnamon sticks to garnish

Instructions: 

Stud the apple with the cloves.

 

Thinly slice the orange

Then, in a medium pot, combine the studded apple and remaining ingredients except the rum. Slowly bring to a simmer over low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the rum. Discard the apple.

 

Ladle into mugs and garnish each with a cinnamon stick, serve, and enjoy!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Beer

 

As Oktoberfest approaches and beer lovers commune world wide to partake in every German’s favorite past time, a little microbrewery in Delaware prepares to ship its limited quantities of seasonal brew that has “beer connoisseurs” tripping over themselves to stock up on the limited quantities sent to stores in their area. At least thats the story David kept telling me until he finally got his hands on a case of Dogfish Head Punkin Ale a few weeks ago, marking what he believes to be the sign of the changing of the seasons.

Whats worse, he has been hoarding two bottles left from his case last year to savor when the new case came out this year. Crazy I know, but according to David and his friend Tyler, the beer tastes just like pumpkin pie, and everything that is fall. I think I remember David telling my Dad once that it was like Thanksgiving in a bottle. In case your clueless as to what this Dogfish Head is, or are curious about Punkin Ale, heres a short little video to bring you up to speed.

I mean, who can’t love something that has a direct link to punkin chunkin, only the most American thing to happen other than the 4th of July, a bunch of fools shooting and catapulting pumpkins across a huge expanse of land. Enough said, everything about fall is awesome, but David likes this beer the most. He says that a good compromise for the punkin ale is Octoberfest by Sam Adams,

but I can tell he still thinks it doesn’t quite stack up against his one true love. I think we visited Total wine once a week for 3 or 4 weeks waiting to see if we could catch the first delivery, he even went so far as to find out which day of the week it would be delivered so he went every Wednesday until he got his case. What can I say, he’s a diehard coming home from his first and only stock up trip for the 2012 batch with a case and a half to savor for the next 12 months, and I am sure that first, cold glass of Punkin Ale was that much more delicious since he worked so hard to get it!

 

He even told me that when we were in college that he and his friend Tyler, the other punkin ale addict, went to a local grocery store and informed the manager of what a hit this seasonal beer was and she actually called her distributor and ordered all he had left, needless to say, Tyler and David were in hog heaven. So, in celebration of the upcoming kick off of Oktoberfest, and of course the most wonderful time of the beer, go out, find some punkin ale, and have a toast to David and Tyler, the two people responsible for causing you to become a seasonal beer addict. Cheers!

Wastin away again

My Facebook friends have informed me it is National Margarita Day!!!!! My first two thoughts when finding this out were “Where can I get a delicious Margarita tonight?” and “Why is this holiday in the middle of the winter, when a cool refreshing margarita is most often enjoyed in the heat of the summer?” Regardless, we must pay our respects to one of the most notorious drinks out there. I am a tequila girl so the thought of celebrating the beverage is welcome with open arms, to those of you who aren’t…Sorry bout it. First of all, I want to leave you will a little celebratory jam, you know the national anthem of margarita drinkers everywhere… Tequila makes her clothes fall off….. Just kidding, Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet. So, sit back on your lunch break and take a little tropical escape to day dream about the delicious frozen concoction you can treat yourself to after work tonight!

I also personally enjoyed the horrible pictures this specific youtube video used to depict the lyrics of the song. So literal, such a bad visual representation. I could have just been satisfied with a picture of the beach and a sunset.

And now, to talk about the more important things, making Margaritas. If you are not going to a bar to celebrate national margarita day, maybe you can just make some at home instead. I am not going to claim to be able to make this delicious treat anywhere near as well as my dad, who can pump your veins full of tequila, poolside in the summer before you even realize what hit you. Only the best margaritas do that, I’m sure!

So, Here are a few twists on the traditional Margarita if you’re looking to create a tequila smorgasbord tonight!

The Pink Grapefruit Margarita (From the Barefoot Contessa)

  • 1 cup          ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 1/2  cup    fresh squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
  • 1 cup         triple sec orange liqueur
  • 3 cups      ice
  • 1 cup        silver tequila
  • 1   lime cut in wedges, optional Kosher salt.

* note: it is important to use Ruby Red grapefruit juice, it is much sweeter
If you prefer to rim the glasses take a lime wedge and rim, then dip in salt, if you do not like a salted rim sprinkle a touch of salt in each glass, the salt really brings out the flavor.

Combine the grapefruit juice, lime juice, triple sec and ice in a blender. Pour into a large pitcher (or just keep it in the blender) and pour in the tequila, stir. (I personally just added it all to the blender- I like slushy, that is totally up to you)

Peach Margarita (By: Vianney Rodriguez)

makes 4 margaritas

  • salt
  • lemon wedges
  • 1 cup tequila
  • 1 cup fresh peach juice (about 5 peaches)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Cointreau
  • ice cubes
  1. On a small plate spread salt.  With lemon wedges moisten rim of 6 ounce glasses.  Dip glasses into salt.   Place glasses into freezer to chill.
  2. In a pitcher combine tequila, peach juice, lemon juice and Cointreau.  Remove glasses from freezer and serves margarita mixture over ice. Garnish with peach slices.
Cranberry Pomegranate Margarita

ingredients:

For the Cranberry Pomegranate Syrup:
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange

For the Cranberry Pomegranate Margarita:
3 oz cranberry pomegranate syrup
2 oz tequila (gold or silver)
1 oz triple sec
1 oz fresh lime juice

directions:

For the Cranberry Pomegranate Syrup:
Combine ingredients in a sauce pan that has a fitted lid over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar has dissolved. Cover sauce pan with lid (stir occasionally, making sure it doesn’t boil over). Once the cranberries burst, bring the heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender (or allow to cool and carefully blend in a blender or food processor for 30 seconds). Pour syrup through a fine strainer into an air tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to one week

For the Cranberry Pomegranate Margarita:
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker and stir or shake well. Fill glass with crushed ice and pour drink over ice.

 

Hope these inspire you to celebrate this joyous occasion with something served on the rocks… or frozen if thats more your style! Happy National Margarita Day to you and yours. 

 

Winter White Sangria

You’re obviously catching on, I have stock piled all my Holiday recipes and projects and now you are getting bombarded with them too late to use them for your holiday festivities. No worries, book mark them for the next party, you will be sure to please!

For our new years eve celebration, we made a White Sangria, and it was sooooo delicious I just had to share it.


Ingredients:
1 bottle of white wine (we used Chardonnay)
3 cans of Sprite
2 limes sliced
3 Shots of Grand Marnier
Seeds of one Pomegranate.

Mix all ingredients into a large bowl or pitcher and refrigerate. Once the pomegranate seeds start to rise to the top the drink is ready to serve and is sure to be a hit! Happy Mixing!