Festive Holiday Cocktail: Cranberry Ginger Royale

Cranberry Ginger Royale

 

Here is an easy drink for the holidays and one of my families favorites. Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any time in between.

Cranberry Ginger Royale ( for each glass)

2 T cranberry juice

1t ginger liquor ( I used Stirrings)

Champagne ( or any sparkling white wine)

Fresh cranberries or a sprig of fresh rosemary for garnish if desired .

Add cranberry juice and ginger liquor to a  champagne flute and top off with Champagne. Garnish as desired.

Cranberry Ginger Royale

 

 

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Christmas Entertaining: Bloody Mary and Hot Chocolate Bars

Hot Chocolate Bar

Hot Chocolate Bar

Holiday entertaining doesn’t have to be difficult, it just has to be festive and fun. A couple of years ago I had a Christmas Brunch complete with a Bloody Mary bar and a Hot Chocolate bar for the kids, (and adults too, just add some Baileys’).

For the Hot Chocolate bar, have hot water in a carafe, packets or a container of hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, chocolate chips, whipped cream, festive sprinkles, and candy canes for stirring. Let the guests make there own favorite concoction, this was a big hit with the preteens.

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For the Bloody Mary Christmas Bar, make pitchers of Basic Bloody Mary’s 3parts tomato juice, to 1 part vodka (have regular tomato juice on hand for those who don’t drink alcohol) Then set up the bar with ice, ¬†Worcestershire, celery salt, hot sauce, old bay seasoning, picked vegetables, lemon and lime wedges, celery, cooked shrimp, olives and any other topping or garnish you desire. Again let the guest play bartender, set out some pastries, breakfast casseroles and a salad and the party is complete.

Bloody Mary Christmas Bar

Bloody Mary Christmas Bar

Spiced Pear Sangria

 

I usually don’t try out recipes before an event, yes I know I live on the edge, but when it is a delicious cocktail, well reserch is important. I was trying to think of a festive drink for Thanksgiving, I’ve done cranberries and pumpkin in the past so I was thinking of something new and different. Apples? hmm too boring how about pears? So I came up with a spiced pear sangria. It’s very yummy and I am glad I practiced first.

Spiced Pear Sangria

2 pears sliced

1/2 apple sliced

3/4 c pear nectar (found by the fruit juices in the supermarket)

1/4 c ginger liquor

1/8 t nutmeg

1/4 t cinnamon

2 c ice

3 c champagne, prosecco or sparkling wine.

Add all ingredients to a pitcher and stir.

 

Garnish with cinnamon sticks and or sliced pears.

What the heck is that?, Adventures at the Produce Stand and Cactus Pear Margaritas

As you may or may not know, I am a sucker for produce stands and farmer’s markets. I love to look at all the fresh offerings begging me to take them home and invent some new recipe. My younger son also likes to go and find the one fruit or vegetable that he has never tried before. This time it was cactus pears, and well you know I wasn’t going to say no.

So we got them home but now what, I had no idea what part was even edible much less what to do with it. Thank god for Google, my son had already told me no salsa, so after researching a bit I found that really the only other thing to do was a margarita. Well I ¬†had no problem and he was game as long as I didn’t put the tequila in his, if he only knew what he was missing, but he has at least 6 more years before he finds out. Now to figure this “pear ” out.

First step was to peel it, the easiest way is to chop off the ends and then run your knife down the fruit and then carefully remove the peel in one big chunk.

This fruit is full of seeds which are edible but not appetizing, we tried a little piece, it tastes like a not so sweet melon, or a slightly sweet cucumber. Very refreshing though, would be yummy without those pesky seeds.

I threw my fruit into a food processor and pureed it, then strained the seeds out with a sieve, not the easiest process, but worth it in the end. I was left with the juice.

I added the juice from my 2 pears, the juice of 1 lime, 2 T agave nectar, and 2 cups of ice to the blender, and pureed until smooth.

I split this between 2 glasses and added a shot of tequila to mine, my son added Sprite to his, we garnished them with lime and pieces of the cactus peel.

Pretty darn tasty, not too sweet and very refreshing, I could probably drink a lot of these, they go down smooth, but thankfully we only bought 2 pears.

Gifts that keep on giving: Booze Baskets

Finding a perfect gift for someone is difficult, getting the right size or color or worrying if the receiver already has one etc… I recently got a new neighbor and was wondering what to get her. I knew what colors she likes and we were already friends so I kind of knew her tastes but still had no idea. Then I remembered that she said her new house would have a signature cocktail…mojitos. Well what could be better than all the ingredients for her new house drink. I always save my Christmas gift baskets, you know the ones that different business send out with stale nuts and cheap chocolate, the basket is probably the best part. I found one in my closet that would fit all of the needed supplies. For the Mojito basket I put white rum, club soda, a muddler, limes and a mint plant. I also made a batch of simple syrup and filled a glass jar with it.

Simple Syrup is easy to make and a great addition to mojitos, iced coffee and iced tea. I actually made a double batch so I could keep some for myself.

Add equal parts sugar and water to a pan, bring to a boil and remove from heat, let cool and store in the refrigerator.

To keep all the contents from falling out, I used some clear shrink-wrap, which is now available at my dollar store and tied a bow on the top. Voila, gift giving made easy. This basket could easily be done with a different drink theme. Margaritas, cosmos, martinis. Now I can’t wait to join my new neighbor for happy hour by the pool once she gets settled.

Pliny the Elder = Hoppy Deliciousness

I had the pleasure of trying this beer for the first time last night. Thanks to a friend’s gallant efforts, he brought this to Florida all the way from Russian River Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa, California, I now have a new brew to put in my top 10. I am not an expert on beer but I am kind of a enthusiast and I know what I like. So I won’t bore you with my tasting notes, just know if you are a hop head and enjoy IPA’s you need to try this. It is a Double IPA (8%) , not to dry, and a delicious pine taste that stays with you but not in an overpowering way. It was named after the man who gave the botanical name to hops, so naturally hops are the real star of this beer. Thanks again Dave, hopefully we will figure out a way to bring this delicious brew to our neck of the woods on a regular basis.