Best Wines to Drink in the Spring

The season of Spring is alive with the fragrance of growing things and the heady aroma of the soil being warmed by the lengthening days.

As the sense of smell awakes to these sensations there are a number of fragrant wines that will walk hand in hand with this incredible season. 

*White Wines

There are a number of delicate white wines which evoke this time of year by the aromas that flood the senses.

Vernazzia from Tuscany has beautiful floral notes, with a honeysuckle quality.  As it is not considered a “great” wine, it is modestly priced at under $10 and is wonderful chilled, giving the impression of springtime in a glass.  It is a perfect starter for a meal when served with mild cheese and fruit. 

Vouvray, from the Loire valley area of France is redolent of apple blossom and green apples.  Though still a dry wine, it has an almost mystical sweetness on the palate.  This delicious wine pairs perfectly with cold cracked crab and is as refreshing as a Spring breeze.  Many nice examples can be found for $12-$15. 

Viognier, grown in the south of France, has taken root in California, and surprisingly enough, in Virginia.  It boasts aromas of peach and apricot combining an enticing tang with a silky finish.  Viognier pairs well with rich salads of goat cheese, fruit and toasted nuts.  It is complex enough for sipping on its own and enjoying all those intense ripe aromas.  Good Viognier tends to be more expensive, as good examples start at around $20.  Though Virginia doesn’t produce enough to widely export, such producers as Horton and Barboursville are worth looking for. 

The Chardonnays of Burgundy are remarkable for capturing the smells of the forest.  They are crisp wines with loads of mineral notes, with aromas of wood, moss and mushroom.  Unfortunately celebrated white wines from Mersault and Corton fetch extravagant prices.  But there are some bargains to be found from Macomb  and Cotes de Nuet.  Though considered less desirable areas, the Chardonnay wines there evoke many of the same characteristics of their pricey rivals.  Good wines from these two regions can easily be found for under$20.  As these wines are more hearty rather than fruity or floral, They are great with traditional Easter foods like ham, Turkey or smoked meat and fish.

*Sparkling Wine

If there ever was a season to celebrate, it is Spring, and what better wine to celebrate with than sparkling wine. 

Though many sparkling wines are commonly referred to  as champagne, only the sparkling wines of the Champagne region of France may legally be called “champagne”.  Of course, the great vintage champagnes from prestigious producers Like dom Perignon are an extravagant luxury, but there are good non-vintage wines from Moet and Mumm, that can be found in the $30 price range. They are still made in the traditional “method champagne” and are a regal treat for celebrations or intimate occasions. 

But the bubbly wine can be found in the $10-$20 range from Italy, Spain and California. 

The best Italian sparkling wine is Prosecco.  Though it is modestly priced, it is clean and crisp, without the unpleasant after-taste of many cheap sparkling wines.  There are many for around $10 that are worth a try. 

Spain’s sparkling wine is Cava.  There are many that even fit a college student’s budget, such as Frexinet and Cordon Negro, which are quite pleasant with salty snacks, even potato chips and popcorn. 

California produces great quantities of sparkling wine, but be sure to look for the naturally made “method champagne” examples.  Shrewsbury is an excellent choice,  in the $25 range, but the Korbel Natural “methode champagne” is surprisingly good for under $15. 

*Red Wines

Early Spring can still have some chill in the air and lighter red wines can be a comforting thing on a drizzly Spring day. 

The most fragrant and Piquant red wine for Spring might be pinot Noir.  This spicy, cherry-tinged wine is extremely tangy and aromatic.  Serve it slightly chilled in a tapered glass to focus all the wonderful aromas that belong to it. 

Pinot Noir reigns supreme in Burgundy, but fine examples are produced in the coastal regions of California, the river valleys of Oregon and Washington state, and Chile, which has soil and climate similar to the United States west coast. 

The prices of Pinot Noir vary incredibly, but good examples start around $20.  Cheaper examples, will tend to be rather harsh, except for the pinot Noir from Chile, where an excellent example is the Montez for around $15. 

This delightful red wine pairs beautifully with Easter foods, like ham, duck and lamb, especially with tangy fruit glazes

Beaujolais made from the Gamay grape, is always the lightest and most thirst-quenching red wine.  Young Beaujolais Nouveau, is modestly priced and can be a great sipping wine or paired with a remarkable array of foods.  Priced under $15, it is perfect at a buffet or pot luck as it literally tastes great with everything, especially in the Spring, when a heavier red wine will feel too dense.     The better Beaujolais wines will have the designation “Beaujolais Villages” which identify them as smaller production, hand-crafted wines.

All these above-mentioned wines will enhance the traditional foods of the season and awaken your senses like a stroll through a meadow. The joy of Spring can only be enhanced by these delicious Spring wines.    

Reference:
1. The 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking | Recent …
2. Wines By Season | Biltmore


Best Tasting Absinthe

Searching for best tasting absinthe can be a very tedious and expensive task if you decide to do it by tasting many different brands. This is simply because there are too many brands of absinthe world-wide. However, there are several signs that will narrow down the options regardless of the place where you live. This is of course provided that absinthe is legal in your country.

Natural ingredients

The top quality absinthe can easily be distinguished by ingredients it is made of. Simply search the label. If there are artificial colorings and flavors then absinthe is not of highest quality and it will almost surely not be the best tasting one. Best taste is usually associated with best quality and the truth is that top quality absinthe is always made of natural herbal ingredients.

Price

Always check out how much does the bottle cost. If the price is too low compared to other brands and there is no obvious reason for it then absinthe is of low quality. Again, low quality always means worse taste. So, avoid these brands or at least cheap variants of their product. Though, be careful as higher price does not always mean better quality. That is why you should check the label for ingredients too.

Color

Another easy way of distinguishing high quality absinthe is its color. Artificially colored absinthe will usually have different colors than one made of herbs. Most quality absinthe has green color. Though, beware the ones with bright-green color. Such color is a result of artificial coloring. Anyway, quality absinthe can also be clear, orange or red. It all depends on ingredients as they may differ from product to product. However, never decide which bottle to buy only by its color. This sign of quality should rather serve to rule out the obvious “cheaters” so that you will not have to spend too much time reading labels.

Alcohol content

Usually, the high quality absinthe has high alcohol content. You will want to aim for products with alcohol content of between 45-68% if you want the best tasting absinthe. But, even higher percentage of alcohol can be acceptable. Though, you will probably have to dilute it with water before drinking as such high alcohol content has unpleasant effect on taste. Anyway, many people mix even the weaker absinthe with water for better taste and to weaken the strong effect of alcohol.

Location

The place where you live is sadly also one of the factors important for quality and taste of absinthe. This drink is illegal in some countries. In other countries, it can only be sold if it does not contain certain ingredients.

Way of consumption

The way in which you prepare your absinthe drink can also hold a secret to getting the best taste. Maybe the original undiluted absinthe is not your cup of tea. Diluting it with water, sweetening it or following some of many possible drinking rituals may enhance the taste of your chosen brand. Though, quality plays an important role anyway.

To conclude, to find best tasting absinthe, you should look for quality. While price, color and alcohol content can help you rule out the lower quality absinthe, checking the label for ingredients will usually do the rest. Keep in mind that best tasting absinthe is made of natural herbal ingredients only. Any added colorings and artificial flavors are sing of lower quality. Apart from that, your location will influence choices of brands you have. It is also a good idea to find your own favorite way of drinking absinthe as it may enhance the taste for you even more.

Reference:
1. Absinthe
2. 10 Absinthes You Should Be Drinking | Serious Eats


Cooking Tips for the on the go Lifestyle

Everyone I know is “on-the-go” these days which leads to a lot of fast food drive thru action to make sure that everyone gets something for dinner. Cooking is the last thing on busy people’s minds. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The family dinner table is not a thing of the past and you’ll find that you CAN cook good, tasty meals, without forfeiting a great deal of family time. All it takes is a little pre-planning and a desire to get yourself out of the fast food craziness that has become your life.

Plan Ahead:
Come up with a plan. I’m not much on meal planning but I do have several easy recipes in my arsenal that I make on a regular basis. When you have some recipes committed to memory, it all goes together much more quickly.

Stock it up:
Have a well stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Every cook has a set of “staples”, ingredients used on a regular basis which they keep on hand at all times. These are individual to the cook making the meals so my list might not be your list. Think about what you make regularly and the ingredients that go into those meals. Make sure you always have them on hand. I can’t live without boxed chicken and beef stock, but not everyone may use those.

Clean it and Cut it:
This is the biggest time saver. Clean, cut and store properly the food that you’ve purchased at the store. A few minutes of prep work after the grocery shop will save you loads of time during the week. Don’t get stuck in the kitchen on a Tuesday night cutting carrots and onions while the family is screaming that they are starving to death! Have all that stuff done ahead of time. The grocery stores are now getting very helpful with the preparation of fresh food and offer many things pre-sliced, cut or cubed that will save you the time. You’ll pay a little more for the privilege of not having to slice it yourself, but it’s a great time saver. Don’t underestimate the power of a bag of pre-shredded lettuce!

Freezing Meat:
If you’ve purchased meat, store it in portions in the freezer. I cook for a family of 3 so when I freeze meats I make sure that each bag has enough meat in it to feed 3 people. Hamburger was always the bane of my existence. The store sells it to you in one huge lump. But don’t freeze it that way unless you intend to wait an exorbitant amount of time for it to thaw and plan to use the entire lump all at once. Once meat is frozen and thawed, it can’t be re-frozen unless it’s cooked. To prevent this problem, I’ve found that taking the hamburger, making patties out of it and freezing the patties makes life much easier. The burger patties thaw faster and, if a recipe calls for 1 lb of ground beef, then you know to pull out 4 patties to thaw for the recipe. The same freezing rule applies to all ground meats.

A whole chicken, quartered, will thaw and cook faster than a whole chicken. If you can live without the stuffing going into the bird, go for the quartered chicken or cut it up yourself. This small thing will save you loads of time. Make the stuffing in a pan or baking dish and you’ll have dinner in half the time.

Quick Mashed Potatoes:
We love mashed potatoes but who has the time to peel, slice, boil and mash to get them on a dinner plate fast? I know I don’t. The microwave is your friend when it comes to mashed potatoes. The only other tool you need is called a “potato ricer”. A potato ricer looks like a garlic press on steroids, and it will make mashed potatoes a very easy side dish. Microwave the potatoes just like you would if you were going to have “baked” potatoes. When they are cooked, slice them in half and put one , cut side down, at a time through the ricer. The potato will come through the ricer holes leaving the skin behind inside the ricer. In about 4 minutes, depending on how fast your microwave is, you’ll have the makings of mashed potatoes ready to go. Once all your potatoes have been put through the ricer you’re ready to add whatever other ingredients you would normally add as if you’d taken the time to peel, slice and boil your potatoes.

Now the fun starts:
So you’ve been grocery shopping and you’ve prepped all your buys. Now it’s time to think about what you’re going to be serving your family this week. Get out the freezer bags, “toss away” aluminum pans, foil and Sharpie marker. What meat is going to need marinating? Don’t be afraid to put the meat into a freezer bag, add the marinade and seal it up for freezing. The meat will marinate as it’s thawing and when you’re ready to cook, the meat will be ready to go. You’ve just saved yourself 20 minutes of “let marinate” time. Want to stuff that flank steak? Go ahead and stuff it! Place it in an aluminum pan, cover with foil, and label it with your marker. When you’re ready to make it, just thaw it out in the refrigerator for a day or two and it’s ready to go into the oven right in the container you froze it in. There’s no clean up because you can “toss” the pan the meal was made in. (The aluminum pans can be purchased at the dollar store for a lot less than the grocery store charges.)

When you go to your meat department, take a look at the raw, prepared items they have. Whatever they are selling, you can do ahead and freeze. The key to this is to make sure you pull the item out of your freezer at least a day in advance to thaw in the refrigerator. Once thawed, all you have to do is pop it in the oven, open a can or box of veggies and tear into that bag of pre-done lettuce and you’ll have a lovely meal that the family will enjoy without having to be a slave to your stove. A few hours of preparation one day will give you hours to enjoy with your family during the week.

Many areas now have “meal assembly” stores. These are a great idea if you really don’t cook or don’t have the time to prep your own food. Although a bit pricey compared to doing it yourself at home with food purchased from the grocery store, they are still far cheaper than going out to eat and, generally, you’ll get a protein and a starch in each meal. In about 1 hour you can prepare 8 meals. The store menus change monthly and meals generally feed 4 to 6 people.

Regardless of how crazy your lifestyle, you can cook at home in a short amount of time with just a little thinking ahead, smart shopping and putting in a little extra time after your shopping adventure. You’ll reap the benefits during the week!

Reference:
1. Heart Healthy Cooking Tips – Go Red For Women
2. Bobby Flay's Healthy Lifestyle Tips – Food Network


Beer Reviews Golden Salamander

Earlier in the year we went to Burton in Trent Beer Festival; held in the beautiful vaulted Town Hall in Burton town centre. It was an excellent festival and gave us a chance to try some really good beers. I checked through the beer list in the festival programme I decided to start on a lighter coloured beer, before moving on to the darker ones. Firstly I tried Golden Pippin (I know the brewery and they are usually great) and then went for a new beer for me ~ Golden Salamander.

~~~THE BREWERY.

The Salamander Brewing Company is a relatively new business. It was founded in 2000 on the site of an old pie factory (Dehner’s Pies) in Dudley Hill, Bradford, West Yorkshire. The building dates back to the 1870’s and was a derelict building when they took it over ~ they have since transformed it into a thriving concern. The brewery produces 10 barrels and uses equipment from the old Lancashire Mitchells Brewery and from the Hogs Back Brewery in Suffolk. They produced their first beer, called Sleigher in the Christmas of 2000 and have continued to grow ever since.

They now supply beers to a number of pubs around the Bradford area and at free houses in the surrounding area, as well as at Beer Festivals nationwide. Many of their beers are named after varieties of Salamander and include Axolotl (a pale easy drinking beer at 3.8% ABV), Mudpuppy (an amber premium ale at 4.2% ABV) and Hellbender (a stronger light coloured beer at 4.8% ABV).

~~~THE BEER.

*A Bit of Background*

As with many Salamander Brewery beers this one also has a salamander connection. This one is also a legendary lizard! The legend of the Golden Salamander is celebrated with a festival, held each year in Central Slovakia (in the mining town of Banska Stiavnica to be precise). The story is linked with alchemy (the transmutation of base metal to gold), gold mining and mythology.

The Salamander is the hieroglyph for fire and is also the symbol for Sulphur and of the Secret Fire. There is a quotation that says “As the Salamander Lives in the Fire so does the stone”. Golden Salamander beer is the colour of gold and was brewed with the legend in mind!

*Vital Stats*

Golden Salamander weighs in at 4.5% ABV and is brewed using Styrian Goldings and Challenger hops. At this strength it is just in the bracket of a Premium Ale or strong bitter.

*Look, Aroma & Texture*

As the name suggests, Golden Salamander is a clear golden coloured beer. It has a small, off white head that doesn’t linger and just leaves a faint lacing on the glass. The predominant aroma is that of the hops, giving it a citrus (I would say mainly grapefruit and lemon) and peppery (lightly spicy) scent. I also found there was a slight aroma of toasty malt. Texture is crisp, light and fresh and light to medium bodied.

*Tange’s Taste Test*

The hoppiness that was present in the aroma carries through nicely into the taste. It comes through in a grapefruit and lemon zestiness, balanced out by a slight biscuity malt undertone that is present throughout. The beer starts off with a definite sweetness but gets increasingly bitter, leading to a finish that is very crisp and dry. What we end up with is an aftertaste that is also extremely bitter and lingering. It is a refreshing and certainly one for the hop fans!

~~~WHAT TANGE THINKS.

I think that Golden Salamander is an excellent example of a hoppy, light premium ale. It is certainly dry, bitter and thoroughly hoppy. I think that it would appeal to a wide range of drinkers and has enough flavour to appeal to those who normally go for a more robust darker beer. At 4.5% I would class it as just at the edge of the Session Beer bracket, but advise anyone drinking it to bear in mind that, even though it may look like a low gravity beer (like Deuchars IPA at 3.8%) it is stronger and should be treated as such. It was refreshing and I found the bitterness worked really well with the grapefruit and biscuit flavours. A good all round beer and especially suitable as a thirst quencher on a summer’s day.

As I said before, I had my Golden Salamander at Burton Beer Festival, where I paid 1.10 for a half pint measure. I have also had it as a guest beer in my local Wetherspoons where it was 1.59 a pint (their current Guest Ale price). I think that it is a good quality beer from a good quality brewery and is well worth looking out for. The colour is appealing (it might even tempt in the lager drinker) and it is a lovely beer that I have no hesitation in recommending to beer drinkers everywhere.

~~~BREWERY DETAILS.

Salamander Brewing Company,
22 Harry Street
Dudley Hill
Bradford
West Yorkshire
BD4 9PH

01274 652 323

http://www.salamanderbrewing.com/

Reference:
1. Salamander Golden Salamander – RateBeer
2. Salamander Brewing Company – England – Beers and Ratings …


Codfish Potato Casserole

Codfish Potato Casserole

This is simply a delicious casserole that contains both codfish and potatoes that give a great tasty combination of fresh flavor. This recipe will serve 4 people, but to make more just double the ingredients. This tasty fish casserole will serve great for lunch or dinner. It will surely please the family. It is delicious served with hot buttered rolls or a green salad. It is excellent for serving at pot luck dinners or buffet style parties. It is also a great dish to bake for holiday parties. It is a healthy and hearty meal that the whole family will enjoy. Leftovers may be easily saved in the fridge and may be reheated in the oven or the microwave. This dish is also excellent for serving with hot garlic bread.

This is a very simple and easy recipe to prepare as it will only take 20 minutes prep time. The casserole takes about 1 hour to bake. That means less time standing over a stove. It is a great meal that takes less time to prepare and cook than most casseroles. It is a wonderful way to serve fish and it is more healthier because it is baked and not fried. This casserole has a nutritional value that is high in potassium and protein. I use codfish in preparing mine, but some recipes do differ in that they may call for a different type of fish such as pollock. I hope that you will enjoy preparing and serving this delicious dish to your family as much as I do.

Ingredients:

2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced

1 onion, sliced

1 cup of shallots, sliced

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

1 teaspoon of dried parsley

1 clove of garlic. minced

1 teaspoon of hot sauce

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 pound of frozen codfish, thawed

Directions:

1. Lightly oil a casserole dish and place half of  the potatoes, onion, and shallots in the dish. Sprinkle with salt, and pepper.

2. Cut the cod fish inti bite size pieces and place over the potatoes and onions. Sprinkle the parsley, garlic, and hot sauce and some olive oil.

3. Make another layer of potatoes and onion. Season with salt, pepper and more olive oil.

4. Cover the casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. Top with more parsley before serving. Enjoy!

Reference:
1. Portuguese Cod Fish Casserole Recipe – Allrecipes.com
2. 10 Best Cod Fish Potato Casserole Recipes | Yummly


Beer Reviews Grolsch Premium Lager

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, my love of imported and craft brewed beer makes me act like something of a beer dictator. A beer-tator if you will. As such, I often ride my brother when it comes to his taste for certain pale, European lagers. It occurred to me recently that I might be behaving unfairly towards the beers Gary enjoys. To that end I picked up a can of Grolsch this week and brought it home for a tasting.

Grolsch was founded in 1615 in the Dutch town of Groenlo by Willem Neerfeldt. Today, the company is located in the town of Enschede and has been part of the SABMiller group since 2008. Currently, Grolsch is the second largest brewer in Holland after Heineken and is the 21st largest provider of beer in the world. Available in 70 countries worldwide, Grolsch is best known for its lager, Grolsch Premium Pilsner.

Grolsch pours into the glass pale yellow, the color of straw. Light carbonation supports a fluffy, bone white head. Head shows decent signs of retention, actually lasting a couple minutes before receding. Aroma gives me malt in the front in the form of biscuits and grains. There is a pleasant hint of sweetness in the center. This is followed by a lack of hop aroma. There’s nothing in the aroma but grains and hints of sweetness. Unfortunately, the lack of hops in the nose leaves the aroma without a solid finish.

Taking a sip, Grolsch is a light bodied lager with enough mouthfeel to keep it from feeling watery. Flavor follows the nose very directly. At first blush it seems to be a short, straight line from graininess to dry finish with no stops in between. In the middle is a suggestion of corn sweetness. This moves straight into a long, lingering, dry finish. As with the nose, Grolsch’s flavor is a fairly linear progression from straightforward malt presence to the finish with no stops in between.

I feel as though the best I can say about Grolsch is that it’s drinkable. Unfortunately, I can’t say I find it very refreshing. With such a hugely dry finish and almost no pronounced sweetness in the center to provide balance, Grolsch does little but dry my palate with every sip. Overall, Grolsch rates a 6.3 out of 10. When all is said and done, Grolsch seems to be made for those who want to say they drink something better than mainstream American lagers without giving up the flavors of said lagers.

Reference:
1. Grolsch Brewery
2. Grolsch Premium Lager | Grolsch Bierbrouwerij N.V. | BeerAdvocate


Cooking Dessertsways to Spice up Pumpkin Pie

Spice up your pumpkin pies for a real treat. WithThanksgiving fast approaching, one may wish to veer away from the traditional basic pumpkin pie and spice things up a little. The following article will show you how to do this literally. Your family and friends will be in seventh heaven when they sink their teeth into one of these heavenly spiced up pumpkin pies. You will be offering them something a little more unique than the basic pumpkin pie they may have become accustomed to.

Spicy Pumpkin Pie:

Make a mouth watering, delicious, spicy pumpkin pie by adding teaspoon of ground cinnamon, teaspoon ground ginger, teaspoon of ground cloves and teaspoon of salt to your basic pumpkin pie recipe. This pie is absolutely sensational to taste.

Spice Kissed Pumpkin Pie:

Freshly ground spices make a bland pumpkin pie take on a whole new taste. Simply add 2 cups toasted hazelnuts, 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice, cup brown sugar,1 teaspoon slat, 1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cups roasted pumpkin puree, 1 cup of coconut milk and 3 large eggs to your basic pie recipe. Simply add more pumpkin puree if needed, to thicken your filling.

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie: If you’re looking for a completely different take on pumpkin pie, look no further. Add a slight dash of rum, 2 tablespoons of coconut, a teaspoon of ground ginger, teaspoon of ground cinnamon and nutmeg to your pumpkin pie recipe and you’ll be delighted at the outcome.

Spiced Pumpkin Pie Flan:

Rather make your pumpkin pie more like a flan? Follow this pumpkin pie flan recipe and your guest will be over the moon. You will need 1 cup sugar divided into two measuring cups, 2 cups milk, 1 cup pumpkin puree, 5 eggs, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Sprinkle the sugar into a 9 inch round flan tin. Set this over medium-high heat and shake the pan using an oven mitt until the sugar turns a light golden brown. Set this to the side and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the pumpkin, eggs, milk, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in a blender. Blend this all until smooth. Pour the mixture over the sugar which is now caramelized and place the flan tin into a roasting tray. Pour hot water into the roasting tray to a depth of approximately 1 inch. Bake for 1 hour or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Serve with cream or as is.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie:

If you’re looking for something indulgent and sweet look no further. This is the pumpkin pie for you. The cinnamon and nutmeg make this a top choice for pumpkin pie with a difference. Add some chocolate chips, sour cream, cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice to your pumpkin pie recipe and your guests will be grinning from ear to ear.

Curried Pumpkin Pie:

There is no hard and fast rule that pumpkin pie has to be bland. For those of your who prefer a pert tangy taste rather than a sweet one, add a little curry powder to your pumpkin pie recipe. This adds more richness to the colour and goes well with a platter of roasted vegetables.

 Sweet Chilli Pumpkin Pie:

Chilli is a wonderful and very versatile spice. If added to your pumpkin pie recipe with caution it can turn a bland pie into something really special. Add a tablespoon of sugar to your pie recipe if adding some chilli, this will give the pie a type of sweet and sour taste which will turn out superb. With just a little imagination and creative cooking flair, you can add a little spice to any pumpkin pie recipe. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a host of spices, you could end up being the next master chef.

Reference:
1. 28 Best Pumpkin Pie Recipes – Easy Homemade Pumpkin Pies from …
2. Pumpkin Spice Recipe – Allrecipes.com


Christmas Cocktail Recipes

If you are hosting a Christmas or holiday party, you might want to make some special drinks for your party guests. Try the
Christmas drink recipes below to bring a bit of holiday cheer to your party.

__________

Cup of Good Cheer Christmas Cocktail

2 oz. SKYY Infusions Cherry
1/2 oz. white creme de cacao
4 oz. Hot Cocoa
1 oz. Half ‘n Half
Whipped cream in a can
Maraschino cherry for garnish
Red or green sugar sprinkles for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a holiday mug. Top with whipped cream, sugar sprinkles and a maraschino cherry. Serve immediately.

__________

Peppermint Patty Christmas Cocktail

1 oz. Peppermint Schnapps
1/2 oz. Dark Creme De Cacao
1 tsp Creme de Menthe
8 oz. hot cocoa
Whipped cream
Chocolate shavings for garnish
Candy cane for garnish

Stir the liqueurs together in a mug. Fill to near top with hot chocolate. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Add a candy cane to the drink for garnish. Serve immediately. This makes a delicious after dinner drink.

__________

Gingerbread Apple Christmas Cocktail

2 oz. Domaine de Canton
1 oz. vanilla vodka
2.5 oz. apple cider
A few drops of lemon juice
Orange zest
Agave syrup
Graham cracker crumbs

Wet the rim of the glass with agave syrup then dip into graham cracker crumbs. Place all ingredients except for orange zest in a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into glass. Grate orange zest on drink and serve.

__________

Blizzard Christmas Cocktail

2 ounces Irish whiskey or rum
1/2 ounce hazelnut liqueur, like Frangelico
1/2 ounce Irish cream liqueur, like Bailey’s
Hot coffee
Dollop of whipped cream

In a glass coffee mug, stir together whiskey, hazelnut liqueur, and Irish cream. Fill to top with hot coffee. Garnish cocktail with whipped cream and serve immediately. This makes an awesome after dinner cocktail.

__________

Candy Cane Christmas Cocktail

1 crushed candy cane, for garnish
2 ounces strawberry vodka
4 dashes white creme de menthe
2 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
1 whole candy cane, for garnish
Ice cubes

Wet the rim of a martini glass with water and coat rim with crushed candy cane. In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, creme de menthe, cranberry juice, and ice. Shake until well combined. Strain into martini glass. Garnish with whole candy cane hung on the side of the glass and serve.

__________

Remember, these drinks contain alcohol and are for adults only.

Reference:
1. Christmas Cocktails & Drinks | Food & Wine
2. Gallery 20 Years of Living: The Best Christmas Cocktails and Mocktails


Citrus Fizz Recipe

Sometimes, you crave a cocktail that does not actually have that which constitutes a cocktail – the alcohol. Non-alcoholic cocktails, or “mocktails” if you prefer, are becoming more and more popular now that there are so many to choose from. No longer are your choices seltzer or a Shirley Temple! There are hundreds, if not thousands, of wonderful mocktail recipes available that will satisfy your wish for a mixed drink without involving alcohol. Whether you are choosing to refrain from drinking because you are the designated driver, underage, or other personal choices, there is a mocktail out there for you that will help you stay part of the party!

Try a Citrus Fizz if you are looking for something incredibly refreshing on a hot summer’s day. This is a wonderful choice of drink to serve at a brunch or breakfast, as well. It looks beautiful and goes fantastically with some fresh-made crepes filled with cream and berries, or with a nice pain au chocolat. Of course, it is also a great choice for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up or an after-work treat!

CITRUS FIZZ MOCKTAIL RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

2 measures fresh orange juice, chilled
Superfine sugar
A squeeze of fresh lime juice
A few drops of Angostura bitters
2 to 3 measures sparkling water, chilled

DIRECTIONS

1. Chill a champagne flute, then dip the rim of it into a bit of orange juice. Dip it into the superfine sugar to create a rim.

2. In a separate container (preferably one with a spout; a cream pot used for tea should work nicely), combine the rest of the orange juice, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and a few drops of Angostura bitters. Stir to combine, then pour into the chilled champagne flute.

3. Finish off the drink using 2 to 3 measures of sparkling water, or to taste.

Reference:
1. Citrus Fizz with Smirnoff Citrus | Recipe | Smirnoff
2. Citrus Fizz Recipe – Taste.com.au


Confessions of a Hamburger Junkie

When you think of hamburgers it conjures up all types of images in your head. If you are a real hamburger “junkie” you can even smell the delicious juicy burger when someone even mentions the word.  Your mouth starts to water and you crave a double patty smothered with pickles, ketchup and onions delicately sitting between a bun with a side of fries. 

I guess hamburger junkies don’t care where their burger comes from.  A quick trip through a McDonald’s drive through would satisfy the desire to sink your teeth into that meat and bun, but some are more choosy.  Being a real burger junkie I want a meat that is real and flavorful.  One that reminds me of good old fashioned American picnics and home.  Five-Guys restaurant has a real burger that any junkie would truly love.  When you walk in, the wonderful smell of hamburger hits you square in the face.  As you make your way to the order counter the thought of all the choices of condiments almost makes you cry.  Upon seeing the cooks flipping the burgers with such grace almost makes you faint.

When you make your way to your seat to wait for your order number to be called the thoughts of burgers are racing through your head.  Picking up your order is blissful, the feel of paper bag crinkling in your hand. Just knowing that within minutes you will be in hamburger heaven. Opening the foil to reveal your burger is the highlight of the day, and that first bite is the best thing that you can think of in a long time.

After your burger “fix” you happily move on with your day. Sometimes you think you should kick your habit.  All that fat, all that cholesterol, it can’t be good.  Then the image of a nice juicy burger floats in front of your eyes again.  All of a sudden you can smell the meat sizzling on the grill.  The thoughts of ending your hamburger junkie days start to disappear. The desire to change disappears more and more after passing billboards with pictures of smiling faces holding hamburgers.   You start to look forward to tomorrow. You start to picture what you will have on that burger tomorrow. Then you decide that being a burger junkie is just who you are. After all, there are worse things than being addicted to burgers…right?

Reference:
1. Prattle Encore | Confessions of a Burger Junkie | Prattle On, Boyo
2. Confessions of a Teaching Junkie