Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thirsty Thursday: Need a Recharge?

Our friends at Legendre Herbsaint 
shared this great cocktail recipe for a "Battery Charger." We're needing a bit of a 
recharge this evening, so we'll be enjoying this great spirit with a splash of Grenadine 
and Seltzer.
"Battery Charger"

• One teaspoon of Grenadine

• One Pony of Herbsaint
• One-half glass of cracked ice

Stir slowly and fizz with Seltzer until full.
Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thirsty Thursday: Mystery Martini by Guest Writer John Pilate

Pilate's Drink
It's not often I'm asked to share my favorite recipes--probably because I'm happy with a can of beef stew, a grilled cheese with Miracle Whip or--when I'm feeling exotic--conch fritters. That's why I was a little confused when the FeedingFrenzy folks asked me about my favorite recipe. After I realized they wanted to know what my favorite drink recipe is, I felt much more confident and jumped at the chance.

I keep it simple when it comes to drinks. Nothing too fancy. Therefore, at the risk of being boring, here is my favorite drink.

I think it's a killer.

John Pilate's Mystery Martini aka Simon's Stir
2 ½ oz Vodka of your choice (That's the "mystery." I prefer CLEAR10)
½ oz Lillet (I prefer its slightly sweeter taste--vermouth is boring)
Lemon or orange twist for garnish (an olive won’t be so great with Lillet.)
First, make sure your glass is well-chilled. (I can't abide a warm martini glass. How Hawkeye Pierce, et al. of M*A*S*H* could stand all those warm martinis, I'll never know. Then again, it was war.) You can put your martini glass in the freezer for an hour, or fill it with ice and put it in the freezer for ten minutes--just be sure to dump the ice out before you pour the drink into the glass.
Next, make the ingredients conspire. Pour them into a 20 oz mixing glass half-filled with cracked ice. Stir (sorry Mr. Bond, but stirring is actually better for the overall flavor of the drink. But do what you want--shake it if that's your thing) for 30 seconds (or 20 stirs clockwise, 20 stirs counter clockwise if you want to practice your safecracking skills). Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon or orange twist and serve.

You can imagine the look I got when I tried to order this at the saloon in Cross Township. (You'll have to read the book!)
I hope this solves the mystery of which drink to order. Enjoy!

John Pilate is the author of Murder 101: The Cross College Conspiracy, the story of how he unraveled a 40-year-old mystery and was nearly killed in the process. Pilate has been featured on 60 Minutes, Dateline NBC and in numerous national publications. He is currently promoting the book across the U.S. He pointedly refuses to explain why the drink is also known as "Simon's Stir."*
*"John Pilate" is actually the lead character in two mystery novels, Pilate's Cross & Pilate's Key by J. Alexander Greenwood. The books are available in paperback and ebook form at, Barnes & Noble and on order at your local book store.  A third book in the series, Pilate's Ghost, is set for October release. Greenwood also enjoys Pilate's Mystery Martini every Friday at 5 pm.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Brunch: What to Bring if the Party is Not at Your House

We all know that Sharon is the hostess with the mostest. But, some of us (okay, me) aren't crazy about the decorating, flower arranging, etc. We just like to cook and bake and feed people. So, when my buddy Marcia and her family invited us to Easter lunch (it's becoming a tradition I think), I was excited. I didn't have to dream up a main course, or a dessert -- I just had to come up with two yummy sides to go with the grilled salmon.  So, Easter Sunday you'll find me happily whipping up this casserole and tossing this salad and leisurely working my way to Marcia's to enjoy all the fabulous effort she put into the rest of the decorating and food. I love being friends with entertainers!

Cheesy Potatoes 
(big thanks to Gail Klandrud at Mountain View Lutheran Church in Phoenix for this outstanding recipe)
2 lbs. frozen hash browns
1 16 oz. container sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. shredded cheddar
Small bag potato chips
One stick butter

Grease a 9 x 13 pan.  Mix ingredients, place in pan and cover with crumbled potato chips.  Slice one stick of butter and place on top.  Bake at 375 for one hour.

Apple-Pear Salad with Lemon-Poppy Seed Dressing 
(thanks to Southern Living Magazine for the base recipe that we tweaked a bit.
  • 1 (16-oz.) baby spinach, thoroughly washed
  • 1 (6-oz.) block Parmesan cheese, shaved
  • 1 cup roasted, salted cashews
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 large apple, thinly sliced (Honeycrisps would be outstanding if available)
  • 1 large pear, thinly sliced
  • Lemon-Poppy Seed Dressing (see below) 
  • Toss together first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; serve with Lemon-Poppy Seed Dressing.
courtesy of Southern Living.
Photo: Beth Dreiling; Styling: Tyler Asbury
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  •  Process vegetable oil, sugar, fresh lemon juice, poppy seeds, finely chopped onion, Dijon mustard, and salt in a blender until smooth. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week; serve at room temperature.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Brunch menu idea: Lemon Chiffon Mini-Desserts

Pier1 has been selling tasting sets for awhile, and now they’re cropping up at other stores, as well.  My sister and I both purchased a set of the mini cordials, so between us, we have 24 of them to use at parties. 
imageI recently made a really tasty mini dessert recipe that my sister found in “Just Mini Desserts,” a great recipe book by Robert Zollweg.  It would work great as part of a brunch buffet and it tasted like a fluffy lemon meringue pie without the crust.

Lemon Chiffon Dessert
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 pkg (3oz) lemon gelatin
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup water
3 egg whites
dash of salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp grated lemon rind, divided in half
Combine egg yolks and one cup water in saucepan, add 1/4 cup sugar.  Cook and stir over low heat until mixture slightly thickens and just comes to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Add gelatin and stir until dissolved.  Add 1/2 cup water, lemon juice and 2 tsp lemon rind.  Stir thoroughly and chill until slightly thickened.
In another mixing bowl, beat egg whites and salt until foamy.  Gradually beat in 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until mixture stands at peaks.  Combine the two mixtures together.  Blend well.  Spoon into mini dessert dishes and chill until firm, about 2-3 hours.  Garnish with the remaining grated lemon rind or a dollop of whipped topping.  Makes 12 servings.
Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Mixology: The Speakeasy

Usually, we wait for Thursday to post a drink thought or recipe for Thirsty Thursday. However, I created this drink this weekend, and I'm so excited to share, I had to post it now. It uses Herbsaint, a really yummy anise-like liqueur from New Orleans.

In a shaker filled halfway with ice add 2 oz. bourbon, 1/2 oz. Herbsaint. Shake and strain into two cold martini glasses. Add a squirt of wedge of lemon and splash of soda. Enjoy with a friend, preferably in a dark, quiet hideaway. 

Easter Brunch: A Potpourri of Ideas for Spring Entertaining

Spring is here and Easter celebrations are less than a week away!  Here is an eclectic mix of spring entertaining ideas for your consideration!  

Decorative plates
In an earlier blog, we talked about decorating glass plates by affixing paper napkin cutouts with hairspray.  I finally executed this idea and it turned out better than expected! 
First – pick out a brightly patterned napkin, since the final product will be paler than the original napkin.  I found a small plate that matched the size of the inside circle of my glass plate, and used it as a template to cut a circle out of the napkin.  I peeled away the extra layers of paper, laid the circle on the back of the plate and sprayed it with hairspray.  Once it had dried, voila – good to go!  (And clean-up was easy with a short soak in soapy water.)

I placed the plates on gold chargers, which helped make the pattern stand out.  


Simple Centerpiece
You don’t have to be a professional floral arranger to create your own unique spring centerpiece.  Purchase a long rectangular glass vase and fill it with plastic vase gems (in this example, I used yellow ones that I purchased from a local floral supply store).  Add water just to the top of the “gems” and then stick your flower stems in.  They’ll stand up in the gems, making it easy to create an arrangement.  In this case, I used Gerber daisies, a green hydrangea-like flower and babies’ breath.  


Fun Buffet Idea
As illustrated in this photo taken at a recent tablescaping class at Summerwinds, candlesticks aren’t just for candles.  A row of candlesticks topped with small potted ferns wrapped in coordinating fabric/ribbon can make a great buffet backdrop, adding oft-needed height.