The past month has been jam packed with family visiting to meet our little Hazelnut. My mom has been a huge help, spending a couple of weeks with us, helping with the cooking and cleaning. My brothers, grandparents, and uncles have been in and out of the house, along with friends stopping by. I’ve loved having everyone around. Even with a 3-week old, I used the opportunity to try out some new recipes. I made homemade bread and bagels, beef wellington, cranberry white chocolate cookies… and this cocktail for me and Grandma. I’ve been looking forward to trying it for quite a while, and my mixed drink-loving grandma gave me the perfect opportunity.
The drink was delicious – it is pretty much a variation on a mudslide. Shaken with ice, it was thick with rich nutty and chocolaty flavors. While the original recipe (Nutella Shots) served this drink as a shot, I preferred to sip it as a chilled drink (or, if it was warmer outside, blended in a food processor or immersion mixer to create a frozen drink).
Adapted from So Delicious
Makes 1 drink
- 1/2 c. milk
- 1 shot Baileys liquor
- 1 shot vanilla vodka
- 2 Tbs. Nutella
In a jigger, combine ice, milk, Baileys, and vanilla vodka. In a small bowl, place Nutella. Microwave for ~20 seconds, until soft. Add to jigger and shake to combine.
(If you’d prefer to serve this frozen, throw all ingredients in a blender. Pulse until blended.)
Strain into a glass and serve immediately.
While I like Starbucks, I typically find the coffee a bit too strong for my taste. When I go, I tend to buy the espresso drinks or tea in the winter and the Shaken Passion Tea in the summer. When I found a recipe on Pinterest for Shaken Passion Tea, I knew I had to try it. After 8 months of water, water, water, it was time. I was not disappointed. The shaken tea was easy to make and pretty close to what I would order at the store.
Notes on Preparation:
- I chose to prepare my Shaken Passion Tea in a large batch to bring to a party. However, It’s The Life recommends against it because over time, the lemonade flavor overtakes the tea. I had leftovers the next day and it was fine, but definitely keep in mind how long you keep this in the fridge.
- You can buy Tazo Passion Tea in one of two ways – regular hot tea bags that come 20 bags to a box and are meant for individual use, or Iced Passion Tea which comes six bags to a box and are meant to make a pitcher at a time. Either one will work, I’ve helped out with the math below.
- Since most people vary how much sweetener they add to their tea, and since the sugar in the lemonade will vary, I chose to omit this from the instructions below. However, if you know you like a little sugar (or other sweetener), you can either add it to the tea as the tea bags are steeping (i.e. for sugar, which will quickly dissolve in the hot tea) or portion it into cups individually in the form of a simple syrup (homemade or bought at Starbucks or another store). For your reference, 1 pump of Starbucks simple syrup is about 2 Tbs. of homemade simple syrup.
Knock Off: Starbucks Shaken Passion Tea
Adapted from It’s The Life
|12-oz servings||Water||Tazo Passion Tea Bags||Lemonade|
|14||1 gallon (4 qts)||4 iced tea bags or 20 hot tea bags (1 box)||42 oz.|
|7||2 qts. (64 oz.)||2 iced tea bags or 10 hot tea bags||21 oz|
|3 1./2||1 qt (32 oz)||1 iced tea bag or 5 hot tea bags||10-11 oz.|
|1||9 oz||1 hot tea bag||3 oz.|
Make the Tea: Boil the appropriate amount of water. Turn off heat and add tea bags. Let steep 5+ minutes before removing the tea bags. If using sugar as a sweetener, stir in now. Allow to cool on the stove until room temperature. Refrigerate until cold and ready to serve.
Combine: When tea is cold, stir to combine tea with lemonade (and if using, simple syrup), preferably just before serving. If desired, shake in a jigger with ice to get the froth you might get when served at Starbucks.
Storage: Tea (without lemonade) will keep in the fridge for a week.
It’s my second week participating in Meal Planning Magic‘s 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats. This week’s recipe is something you might keep to yourself or give away in a holiday care package (as I am doing) or as part of a hostess gift.
This Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix will be shared between myself and a couple of care packages some lucky family members will be receiving. I’ve had my eye on this recipe for quite some time, since last year’s Hot Chocolate Mix came out so well. But my fear of caramel held me back. You see, I burn caramel beyond saving every time I make it. This time though, I did it! One batch, no burning! It’s definitely cause for celebration! I enjoyed a nice cup of this hot chocolate while working on this post. After all, I can’t very well send a care package without verifying that the treat is good, can I? Sweet, chocolatey, and slightly salty, it’s a good thing I already packaged up the hot cocoa mix for those packages. Otherwise, they might not have gotten any.
Makes 32 servings
- 2 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 3 Tbs. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 c.cocoa powder
- 1-3 Tbs. fleur de sel (I used 1 Tbs, but next time, I’ll be using 2 Tbs.)
- 1 c. dry milk powder
- 3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
- 10 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate chips
Make the Caramel: Place the granulated sugar in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. As the sugar begins to heat up, prep a rimmed baking sheet by covering with a piece of parchment paper. When sugar starts to melt (mine immediately turned amber), swirl mixture using the handle of the pan. Stay by the stove, swirling pan every so often until most of the sugar is melted and mixture is a deep amber. If you’re afraid of burning, lower heat a little and continue to cook. This step may take up to 20 minutes.
Measure vanilla out into a small prep bowl. When sugar is almost completely melted and amber, remove pan from heat. Add vanilla (the vanilla will bubble immediately) and quickly whisk in. The mixture will bubble, but continue whisking until mixture is smooth.
Pour onto prepared baking sheet, into a thin layer if possible, and allow to sit and harden for at least 1 hour.
Make the Mix: Break caramel into large pieces. Add half of the caramel to a food processor and turn on. When pulverized into a fine powder, add other half. When all of the caramel had been turned into a powder, add cocoa, fleur de sel, dry milk powder, and light brown sugar. Pulse until smooth. Finally, add the chocolate. Process until mixture is a fine powder, devoid of lumps.
Store in an airtight container.
Serve: 1 c. hot milk + 3 Tbs. hot cocoa mix
The beginning of June was a whirlwind of travel for me – 4 states in 10 days. I got to hold my niece for the first time (I’m an aunt!) and attend my future sister-in-law’s bridal shower. I spent the time in between hanging with my parents, reading (the Graceling Realms series and The Little Giant of Aberdeen County), and playing in the kitchen.
But for one brief day, I got to channel the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. You see, my uncle just bought a place out in the Hamptons and Mom and I went to visit. We got up really early in the morning. We planned to arrive mid-morning, beginning the day with a couple stops for bagels and the makings for this Citrus Martini (Ina’s Juice of a Few Flowers) on the way. Unfortunately, fate was against us. Mom plugged the wrong town into mapquest and we ended up lost for over an hour. So no martinis for us.
While we missed out on morning martinis (don’t judge – mimosas are acceptable for breakfast/brunch, so these should be too!), but I did get a little Ina tour. We drove by Ina’s house, although we kind of debated about which one it was. And we took a quick trip to Loaves and Fishes, one of the stores Ina shops at. The shop carried absolutely beautiful pieces of silverware, serving pieces, and linens. It was a bit out of my price range, but I enjoyed meandering up and down the aisles, drooling at all the pieces I’d like to take home. I could have easily come home poor.
Even though I didn’t get my cocktail in the Hamptons, it was one of the first things on my list to make when I returned home. It was even better than I expected… slightly sweet and tangy, but not definitely not tart (which I expected based on the grapefruit, lemon and lime juice in the recipe). While I enjoyed my
martini martinis as an evening cocktail, this would also make a fun alternative to a brunch mimosa.
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics p. 37
Makes 3-4 Servings
- 1/2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice (~2 oranges)
- 1/2 c. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (~1 grapefruit)
- 1/3 c. freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice (from 1 lemon and 1 lime) – save the lemon pieces
- 1 c. good quality vodka
- granulated sugar
- Combine all juices in a measuring cup or pitcher. Be sure to reserve the lemon pieces for rimming the martini glasses.
- Strain into another measuring cup, bowl or pitcher. Add vodka and stir to combine.
- Spread a little sugar on a small plate, covering the bottom. Using a reserved lemon slice, rim a martini glass with lemon juice. The dip the rim of the glass in the sugar, twisting to rim the glass in sugar.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour 1/4 of the mixture into shaker and shake vigorously until martini if thoroughly chilled. Pour into prepared martini glass. Use fresh ice for each additional drink you make. If not finishing immediately, refrigerate vodka-juice until serving.
Number of servings: 3-4
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Since graduating college seven years ago, I feel like each year is busier than the last. 2011 flew by! I’m not even entirely sure why I was so busy. I did work quite a bit and spent some time doing home improvement projects, but that doesn’t account for a whole year. Oh well.
Here are some of my goals for 2012:
In the Kitchen
In 2012, I would like to regularly post two recipes each week. I’ve done alright with it in 2011, but really want to commit for 2012. I’d also like the posts to be bit more balanced – desserts and sweets should not outweigh breakfasts, lunches, dinners and sides. Part of the reason for this is that I find desserts easier to photograph. So clearly, I need to focus on really learning to use my camera better, perhaps making a light box, and taking more time to style and photograph my creations. Think I can keep the hubby away from dinner long enough to do that?
I do have a bit of a bucket list for items I’d like to make, but I’m not going to swear that it’ll get done during 2012. I’d love to make perogis and stuffed cabbage (perhaps on Polish Day, if I can ever pick a date to get some friends and family together for it). Homemade pasta has been on my list for a while (I keep swearing that I’ll steal my mom’s Kitchen Aid attachment). Caramel and tiramisu continue to intimidate me (I’ve failed at both once before), but I swear it’ll happen eventually. If my brother comes to visit, homemade bagels will be attempted, per his request. The list could go on and on. If only I didn’t have to work or keep a clean house…
Off the Bookshelf
In 2009 I had set the following goals for myself (I apparently didn’t do a New Year’s post last year):
- Read all of Jane Austen’s works (6 books, 1 short fiction, and 2 unfinished fiction)
- Read Gone with the Wind, a book that has always intimidated me a little bit in its length
- Read the Lord of the Rings series. I love the movies, I just need to start the books!
I am sad to say that I only accomplished one of those – reading Gone With the Wind, which I finished earlier this year. I’ll be keeping the other two goals on my list for the year. In addition, I would like to read the Eragon series (which I had been putting off until the final book came out) and Paullina Simons’s Tatiana & Alexander books (I’ve read the first, but would like to reread it and finish the trilogy).
Also, like last year, I want to work on reading through and donating the many mystery novels that line my bookshelves. Until I have a bigger house and more bookshelves, I cannot just keep them all! I have to be selective!
Please share! I’d love for you to share your cooking and/or reading goals for 2012. What are your plans for the new year? Leave a comment, but before you go, check out this recipe for Champagne Cosmos, a nice change from your glass of New Year’s champagne. The touch of cranberry-lime-Grand Marnier takes the edge off the champagne and sweetens the drink just a little bit. Love it! We drank four batches of this over Christmas week, and I fully intend on bring some to our New Year’s Eve party tonight.
Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 96 p. 62
- 2 bottles of champagne or prosecco
- 3 Tbs. fresh lime juice (from 1-2 limes)
- 1 c. cranberry juice cocktail
- 1/2 c. Grand Marnier
- lime curls, for garnish
- In a small pitcher or large (2 cup) measuring glass, combine lime juice, cranberry cocktail, and Grand Marnier. Stir to combine.
- Pour a couple tablespoons of cranberry mixture into champagne flute (will be about an inch of cranberry mixture in bottom of the champagne flute).
- Top with champagne and garnish lime curls.
Serves 8 (with two glasses per person)
When things are tough, I usually curl up and lose myself in a book. I burrow under a blanket with tea, hot chocolate, or wine by my side. I let the characters take my problems away. The Princess Bride is one of my favorite books to curl up with. I can read it over and over again. As the weather turns chillier and the blanket comes out (along with this book!), I heat up a glass of hot chocolate and get ready to spend a long afternoon on the couch. The hot chocolate recipe is a new favorite recipe of mine. I’ve given it as a gift, but not going to lie, I kept lots for myself.
One of my favorite food blogs is Annie’s Eats. It’s the first blog I check in the morning; it’s the first blog I check for recipe ideas. Annie is a full-time doctor, wife and mother. Every time I read her blog, I’m amazed at how much she has accomplished.
Last week, on Thanksgiving day, Annie’s father passed away unexpectedly. As I was blessed with a wonderful day with my parents, in-laws, and siblings, Annie was grieving. Tears come to my eyes as I try to imagine what she must be going through. Annie, I’ve never met you, and you probably don’t follow my blog. But this post is dedicated to you and your family. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
By William Goldman
The Princess Bride is a classic. You know the movie? Well, the book is even better.
A father reads aloud to his his sick 10-year old son a story by S. Morgenstern. The story that has everything in it: “Fencing. Fighting. Torture, Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions. Miracles.” (p 9-10) Years later, Goldman gives the book to his own son for his tenth birthday and goes on to discover that S. Morgenstern’s story is not what he thought it was. Goldman discovers that his father only read him the “good parts.” This book is Goldman’s 1973 adaption of S. Morgenstern’s tale, leaving out the boring family genealogies and pages upon pages of descriptions where nothing happens.
Buttercup was a milkmaid and the prettiest girl alive. She falls in love with her “farm boy” Westley, who leaves to make his fortune in America. Not long after he sets sail, Buttercup receives a letter saying that his ship was taken by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never leaves prisoners alive. That was the last Buttercup heard of her one true love.
Buttercup’s beauty wins her a an engagement to Prince Humperdinck of Florin. Just before their wedding, Buttercup is kidnapped. Twice. The next two hundred pages is packed with fighting, plotting, deceiving, and revenge as Westley struggles to rejoin his one true love.
If this story rings a bell, it’s because the movie was pretty true to the plot as well as the dialog. However, like all movies, it’s impossible to fit everything into two hours. Read the book. You’ll learn the stories behind Fezzik and Inigo – how they ended up with Vizzini the Sicilian, what Fezzik’s childhood was like, and how Inigo’s father died at the hands of the 6-figured man. These are the pieces that make me like the characters even more.
Recommendation: Read it. Please.
And to go with The Princess Bride…. make some of this hot chocolate mix. Give some as gifts or hoard it all. But if you give it as a gift, you should at least hoard a little bit. You’d be sad if you didn’t. And then make it every night with a generous dollop of whipped cream. It’s rich, it’s decadent. It’s grown-up hot chocolate. It’s amazing.
Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
- 2 c. vanilla sugar
- 3/4 lb. good quality semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 4.5 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 c. Dutch process cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa since I’m unable to find Dutch process cocoa powder)
Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until chocolate is finely ground (mixture should be completely combined).
Makes 38 servings (2 Tbs. mix or 1 c. hot chocolate).
Serve: Mix 2 Tbs. mix with 1 c. warm/hot milk or water, stirring until all chocolate is melted.
Storage: Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
I’m loving that spring is finally here. I’ve been outside in the sun as much as possible after rain almost every day in April (or at least it felt like almost every day!). While I’m not training for the Susan G Komen walk this year, I’ve still kept up my good habits, walking 2-3 times a week outside instead of being cooped up in the gym. I love that there are more fresh fruits and veggies available, particularly the recent arrival of summer berries. When this month’s issue of Fine Cooking arrived featuring a Blackberry-Sage water, I knew that I would be making it for the weekend’s BBQ with friends.
The water is not what one would expect. The color was vibrant purple, instead of just slightly colored. The water isn’t super-sweet, more minty than anything, but incredibly refreshing. This drink is a staple that I’ll be keeping around the house and adapting throughout the summer.
Adapted from Ellie Krieger in Fine Cooking No. 111 (p. 37)
Yields 1 pitcher
- 6 oz. blackberries
- 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 15+ mint leaves*
- 1 c. boiling water
- 7 c. cold water, divided
* May substitute sage leaves in place of mint
With a mortar and pestle, crush mint and sugar to release juices and flavor in mint leaves. Pour boiling water over mint and sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved.
In a food processor or blender, puree blackberries with 2 c. cold water.
With a strainer set over a large bowl or serving pitcher, strain sugar-mint water and blackberry water into pitcher, stirring and pressing solids to release remaining juices. Top with 5 c. water.
Chill & serve.
I haven’t had much amaretto – none in drinks, only in the buttercream frosting of an almond-raspberry cake (recipe next week!). I was pleasantly surprised by this cocktail. With the Prosecco, it isn’t as I imagine a straight-up Amaretto Sour to be.
The original recipe reflects enough for one drink. The quantities in parentheses reflect enough for 4-5 servings, which would use up the whole bottle of Prosecco.
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
- 2 Tbs. simple syrup (or 1/2 c.)
- 3/4 c. Prosecco (or 1 whole bottle, 750 ml)
- 2 Tbs. amaretto (or 1/2 c.)
- 1 lemon (2)
- 1 lime (for rimming)
- Ice cubes
- 1/4 c. sugar (for rimming)
Simple syrup is made by combining 1 part water and 1 part sugar and boiling until sugar is dissolved. To make enough for 1/2 c. simple syrup, use 3/4 c. of each water and sugar. Set aside to cool.
Prepare the Glasses: Zest lemon and lime. Combine with sugar in a flat dish. In another small bowl, juice the lemon and set aside. Cut the lemon into wedges and rub around the rims of the glasses. Lightly press rim into sugar, fill with ice, and set aside.
Make the Drink: In a pitcher, combine Prosecco, amaretto, splash of lemon juice (use all of it if making the 4 servings), and simple syrup. Stir & serve.
Garnish with a slice of lemon and/or lime, if desired.
One of my favorite things about visiting my parents is how Mom and I always end up with a drink in hand. Lately it’s been French Martinis, but this weekend, we tried a new recipe from the cookbook I gave her earlier this month (a thank you for hours of painting and yard work at our house). These cosmos were wonderfully sweet. Make sure you throw them in the shaker before serving – we didn’t and they were seriously strong. Enjoy!
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa‘s Back to Basics
Yields 6 drinks
- 2 c. good quality vodka
- 1 c. Grand Marnier, Contreau or other organe liquor
- 1 c. cranberry juice
- 1/2 c. pomegranate juice
- 1/2 c. fresh lime juice (from about 3 limes)
- lime peals, for garnish
Combine all ingredients except lime peals in a pitcher and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve, fill a shaker with ice and add cosmos. Shake until chilled and serve, garnished with lime.