Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Champagne Margaritas

Happy National Margarita Day!  May you find the perfect margarita to celebrate with...whether on the rocks or blended...with or without salt...gold or silver Tequila.

This past New Year's Eve, my husband and I celebrated at home with a nice, quiet movie night...my favorite way to celebrate.  I didn't want to just have the stereotype Champagne toast, so I searched out and found this fun new cocktail...Champagne Margaritas.  WOW, was it good!  My husband is allergic to Tequila, so I had to drink the whole shaker all to myself...sad for him!


We also took in "Sully" on New Years, along with our fancy new cocktail. Such a riveting movie, if you have not seen it yet...please do, you won't be disappointed.  Incredible heroes we have in our country to be blessed with and we love seeing their stories on the big screen!


New Year's Dinner...Lobster Mashed Potatoes of course!  What else would you serve with a highly acclaimed actor like Tom Hanks.  Don't be that impressed...I had leftover mashed potatoes from Christmas in the freezer that I needed to use before freezer burn set it.  Our grocery store was having a BOGO on small lobster tails, so I just broiled them, chopped up and put them together for an unforgettable dinner.  It's amazing how a little bit (or a lotta bit) of butter, heavy cream and garlic can transform leftover mashed potatoes into a work of art!


Champagne Margaritas
Courtesy of www.thekitchenismyplayground.com

For 2 Margaritas:

4 Tbl Rose's Sweetened Lime Juice
2 oz. white tequila (I prefer Silver Patron)
2 oz. Triple Sec
1 Tbl fresh squeezed lime juice
6 oz. brut champagne/sparkling wine (I like Prosecco)

For Sugared Rims & Garnish:

1 Tbl. turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
1 Tbl. granulated sugar
lime slices/wedges

For the sugared rims, combine turbinado and granulated sugar in a shallow dish.  Wet the rim of each glass, all the way around, with a lime edge.  Dip each rim into the sugar to coat.  Set aside.

For the margaritas, fill a cocktail shaker with ice.  Add the Rose's Sweetened Lime Juice, tequila, Triple Sec, fresh lime juice, and champagne.  Gently shake two or three times.

Strain into the prepared glasses and garnish each with a lime slice/wedge.

Cheers!

** This would also be a great one to serve for upcoming Cinco de Mayo...if your're feeling fancy!

One Year Ago: Birthday Flirtini
Two Years Ago: Purple Potion #49
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Layered Pudding




Monday, February 20, 2017

I'm Back...and One Year Older

I'm back!  Hard to believe, but it's been exactly two months since my last post...for those of you who follow along, sorry about my hiatus.  It was a much needed break as there has been so much going on since my last post. I needed time to take care of (and still continue taking care of), I guess for lack of a better word...life. In addition for this year, my grandma is turning 90 in March, I am celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary in May and my twins will then be graduating high school...2017 is already looking like a blur!  So, here's a snip-it of what's been happening all that time away...

Let's start off with yesterday was my birthday.  I am now fully vested and can say that "I am in my 50's".  Not quite sure how that happened, but I wake up everyday and thank God for the gift of breath.


My husband threw me the ultimate (and very strategically planned) surprise birthday party a few nights ago.  To say that I was surprised is a complete understatement.  I burst into tears like a baby I was so taken back with the outpouring of new friendships we have made since moving to Colorado.  I truly am blessed beyond measure to have these wonderful people in our lives and for that I am eternally grateful.


My mom and dad also outdid themselves (again) and sent me the most colorful, spring arrangement that can only put a smile on your face every time you walk by and see it.  Thank you!!



Christmas 2016...was definitely the one to remember!


Every family has that one story of something that is so memorable at Christmas time, you tell the story every year...Well, this past Christmas is sure to make the top of the list of stories for the future...try to follow along.

  • My mom sends me a "daughter" Christmas card with my gift.
  • I coincidentally (unbeknownst to me), purchased the same card for my daughter.
  • My husband also (on a separate shopping occasion alone), selected the same card for said daughter.
  • Then, I selected another card for my other daughter.
  • My husband also (again), selected the exact same card for same daughter.

So, as you can see in exhibit above, three people go card shopping alone on different occasions and purchase the exact same cards...what are the odds?


The next hurdle (milestone) that took place was my "babies" turned 18, and I truly don't know how that has happened so incredibly fast.  As I was selecting photos to put on their doors while they slept, I of course became overrun with emotion and it all starts hitting the heart.

Over their school break, they decided on the college they will be attending in the fall, which after months of college visits and applications, was an incredible feat in and of itself.  Then, we started the scholarship application process (which is another post and story all by itself that I will save for another day...) During this time, I also discovered a site called Grown and Flown...because parenting never ends.  If you have high school age kids or young adults, whether heading to college or not, it is a must read.

During one of my "woe is me, my children are leaving me, and I will have an empty house, sadness and saga moments"...I read one of their blog posts.  In so many words it said...don't be sad! Don't let your kids see you so sad!  You are not sending your kid off to jail, or rehab, you are sending your kid to college!  You should be celebrating and congratulating yourself that your job is nearly done here and you have raised a young adult who is graduating high school and ready for their next chapter in life...so snap out of it!  

After I absorbed all that in, I realized the article was spot on...no more sad faces, only encouragement and happiness for them. (Yeah, we'll see how far that philosophy takes me on high school graduation day!)


Can you tell I did a lot of "door decorating" in college as a Resident Advisor?

Back to happy...we celebrated their birthday dinner at The Melting Pot.  If you have one near you and are celebrating a special occasion...must go!  I had the hostess add red rose petals all over the table before we arrived (cause you only turn 18 once) and it was a meal experience like no other!



Speaking of experience like no other....I don't know if it was just the right day in the bakery, but the oh so ever Chocolate Cake my husband got for my party was over the top good!  I have to give a shout out to Sam's Club for an outstanding platter of perfection!  As you can see, there wasn't much left after the first night.


So, that's what's been happening around here (give or take a few other stories to be shared soon)...I'll try to get back on the blog'n wagon and post more in the near future.  The good news is these past couple of months I have still kept cooking new things (and driving family crazy photographing food), so I'll have fun things to share with you.  Until then, have a blessed day and year!

One Year Ago: Birthday Flirtini
Two Years Ago: Purple Potion #49
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Layered Pudding



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter White Cosmopolitan

"Baby It's Cold Outside"...that's all I'm going to say about that!



Even my poor little snowman and lantern took the frigid blast and are frozen over!


The good news is this little glass of festivity will warm you right up!  I sampled (a few) this drink when we discovered Bonefish Grill last year for our girls' birthday.  Their signature cocktail special for the night was the "Winter White Cosmopolitan" and I have been craving it ever since.

So, thanks to the modern day internet, I was able to hack the ingredients and recipe!  Enjoy and stay warm!


Winter White Cosmopolitan
Courtesy of Bonefish Grill
(makes 1 drink)

2 oz. Reyka Vodka
1/2 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
2 oz. white cranberry juice
1 oz. fresh lime juice
3 fresh cranberries (as garnish)

Combine ingredients over ice in a shaker tin.
shake and strain into a well chilled martini glass.
Garnish with 3 frozen cranberries.

One Year Ago: Holly Jolly Bark
Two Years Ago: GGMa's Lemon Shrimp
Three Years Ago: Steak Marsala


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Whipped Shortbread Cookies

To be blessed by having great neighbors is an invaluable gift that can never be taken lightly.  Case and point...my husband is in week three of recuperating from surgery and still cannot do anything too strenuous.  This weekend's blizzard came and went, but not without leaving its mark.

We opened the large garage door so I could get my course in snow blowing 101 and before the door was even completely open, our neighbor across the street was already blowing out our driveway.  Our neighbor to the left was clearing off our shared sidewalk, and the neighbor to the right was doing the same on the other side.  I was so taken back by the generosity that they all helped in our time of need, knowing that my husband could not shovel the snow and that it would probably be a disaster putting me in the "driver's seat" of our snowblower...not my forte.


I had planned on doing some baking to send in a care package to family, but knew that I needed to step it up and get our neighbors taken care of too.  So, 6 desserts and 9 hours later, my mission was done. 

I put my husband to work which really helped in the timeline.  As soon as I had a batter done, I had him start rolling.  He rolled the Snowballs in powdered sugar, Shortbread into balls for baking, and took care of the Snickerdoodles in the cinnamon/sugar blend. 

We had quite the assembly line going...and I had quite the sugar coma by the end of the day. Definitely did not feel well after all the taste testing.  As you can see in all the photos, there are a few missing.  We did a few his and hers taste testing...I mean after all, I couldn't possibly put together neighbor's care packages without trying them first...ugh!!


I always strive to try a new holiday dessert recipe each year.  These shortbread cookies were so easy to make and melt in your mouth delicious!


Whipped Shortbread Recipe
Courtesy of Taste of Home

Yield: 102 cookies

3 cups butter, softened
1-1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1-1/2 cups cornstarch, sifted
Nonpareils and/or halved candied cherries

** Cook's note...I cut this recipe in half...did not need 102 cookies today.

In a large bowl, cream butter and confections sugar until light and fluffy.  Gradually add flour and cornstarch, beating until well blended.

With hands lightly dusted with additional cornstarch (or use food prep gloves like we do), roll dough into 1-inch balls.  Place apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Press lightly with a floured fork.  Top with nonpareils or cherry halves.

Bake at 300 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

One Year Ago: Holly Jolly Bark
Two Years Ago: Traeger Salmon and Bacon Jam
Three Years Ago: Almond Joy Cookies







Snowballs



Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Tree Waffles

Our polar blizzard came in with a vengeance last night...we woke up to a very large blanket of white draped everywhere!...and since it is the weekend, that means one thing...waffles!

My daughter always has one request every weekend...homemade waffles, pancakes or french toast.  I know before she even wakes up that I need to have mixers ready to go on Saturday morning.


In celebration of our morning snowfall, I decided to have some fun with her weekend breakfast and make Christmas tree waffles...they almost even match the snow covered tree in our backyard!




These sweet little trees are so super cute!  They would be perfect (and so easy) to make for your little ones on Christmas morning.  Enjoy!


Christmas Tree Waffles

Waffle mix (your favorite) made according to package directions
green food coloring
sausage links, cooked (tree trunk)
Star fruit, cut in slices (Christmas Star topper)
Trix cereal (tree ornaments)
powder sugar (the snow)

One Year Ago: Holly Jolly Bark
Two Years Ago: Traeger Salmon and Bacon Jam
Three Years Ago: Almond Joy Cookies



Thursday, December 15, 2016

Mediterranean Flatbread and Defining A Future

Four years ago, the summer before my girls started their Freshman year of high school, they applied, interviewed and submitted a resume to commit the next 4 years to the Silver Creek Leadership Academy.


It has been an incredible journey for my girls and all the SCLA Seniors this year.  They have learned, grown and experienced so much to prepare them for the next chapters of their lives.

Their Senior year is dedicated to a "Capstone Project" that runs the entire year.  They start with creating a need for either the school and/or local community and then prepare a business plan, write grants, implement a marketing plan and run with their project.


One daughter created "Comforting Will".  Her goal is to receive 100 prayer shawls by May and then personally hand them out to Alzheimer patients at our local hospital, memory care centers and senior homes here in the community.  She has been working with local churches, knitting organizations, prayer groups and local yarn shop to meet her goal.  If you or someone you know is interested in donating a shawl, you can find her on Twitter @ComfortingWill or contact Silver Creek High School.


Our other daughter's creation is "Creek Closet".  She is building a room within their high school that will serve as a confidential pantry/closet "Providing general necessities for the students and families of Silver Creek High School". She is reaching out to our local community for donations of non-perishable food items, school supplies, personal hygiene needs and clothing.  In addition to our community, she will be calling to corporate companies such as Kraft Foods, ConAgra, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg's, as well as Sam's Club and Costco for any assistance.  If you or someone you know would like to donate to the "Creek Closet", you can learn more on Twitter @CreekCloset or contact the Silver Creek Leadership Academy directly.


As our big EXPO night was approaching, we have had many, many late nights preparing for this important event.  Our dinners as of late, needed to be quick, easy and not much thought.

Of course, my go to will always be to whip up some type of flatbread meal...luckily I had enough of the right leftovers and ingredients in the refrigerator this week.  This one took us to the Mediterranean, which suited me perfectly!


Mediterranean Flatbread

Naan Flatbread
Alouette Artichoke Cheese spread
green olive and kalamato olive tapenade
chicken breast, sliced (from deli rotisserie chicken)
button mushrooms, sliced
roma tomatoes, sliced
fresh spinach leaves
Feta cheese crumbles

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  

Spread Alouette cheese all over flatbread, then a layer of the tapenade.  Build the remaining ingredients, and top with the Feta cheese.  Bake or approximately 8-10 minutes, until cheese starts to melt.

One Year Ago: Holly Jolly Bark
Two Years Ago: Traeger Salmon and Bacon Jam
Three Years Ago: Almond Joy (To The World) Cookies



Monday, December 12, 2016

Olive Oil Cake with Orange Coulis and Pistachio Chantilly

Just one of our breathtaking Colorado sunrises...


My husband is now nearing the end of week 2 after his hernia surgery recovery...feels like 2 months! (just saying).  He will be the first to admit (and already has) that men are big babies!  

Surgeon says he cannot pick up anything heavier than a gallon of milk for 6 weeks!...6 weeks!  I have come to appreciate all he does around here..snow shoveling...trash dumpster hauler...vacuumer...but, he still makes my coffee every morning, so I still love him for that!


Given my husband's current condition (or lack thereof), it was us girls that took on the Christmas tree this year.  Well, in all honesty, it was just my two girls taking on the challenge, heaving it into the house and getting it perfectly adjusted into the stand...I just stood around giving directions and irritating them by taking photos of their monumental accomplishment!


If you remember about two years ago, I tried a new Orange Olive Oil Cake recipe that was truly out of this world.  Well, just when I thought that recipe couldn't get any better...I took it to a whole new level with these accoutrements.

Between the Orange Coulis, Pistachio Whipped Cream and Crumble, this dessert will be worthy of any holiday table for the upcoming entertaining or family dinner season these next few weeks.


Orange Coulis

1 cup sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges)
1 Tbl. orange liqueur (like Grand Marnier)
3 Tbls. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine 1 cup sugar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Cook until reduced to about 1 cup (about 15 minutes).  Cool.  Serve over cake.

Pistachio Chantilly Cream

1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbls. powder sugar
seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean (seeds scraped out - discard skin)
1 tsp. pistachio liqueur (or 1/4 tsp. pistachio extract)



Secret Ingredient:  CHILLED (FROZEN) STAINLESS STEEL BOWL



In a large chilled bowl add all ingredients and whip in a stand up mixer or electric hand mixer, until stiff peaks form.  Reserve and chill until ready to use.

Pistachio Crumble

1 stick butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a bowl, use a hand blender to mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in flour and then stir or knead in the pistachio nuts.  Gather the dough into a ball and flatten to a 1/2 inch disk.  Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.  Once chilled, remove and bread or cut into small pieces and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Cool completely and break into large crumbles.

One Year Ago: Holly Jolly Bark
Two Years Ago: Christmas Muffins
Three Years Ago: Topsy-Turvy Apple Pie