remember when…

Remember when you were a child, and you’d stay in your pj’s all day when school was out?  Suddenly ten o’clock melted into two o’clock, then dinner time, and you drifted off to sleep way past your bed time?  Each day you couldn’t wait to wake up. And never wanted to go to bed. So funny how you want to grow up when you’re young, and when you do in fact grow up you see how wonderful and carefree being little is.  When you’re little you think you’ll grow up to be a vet, ballerina and work in the zoo, all at the same time. Funny how the cycle of life turns isn’t it? But there is one question, what’s stopping you now?

As New Years resolution’s are made, then forgotten, I want to wish all of you the joy of a happy new year and a year of living out your passions. Thank you for reading and supporting me in 2013, it truly brings tears to my eyes to think how wonderful the year has been. May your time be spent doing things you enjoy, your heart be content and full, and may you nourish yourself mind, body and soul. Simply put, may you always enjoy the best of food and life.

Now, on to planning a great traditional New Year’s Day dinner- 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1!!! If you’re looking for some inspiration for your table, think outside the box a little, while including traditional fare. Here is my menu, I will document the process and share with you later this week the in’s and outs, and some recipes too, for pulling this dinner party off with ease.

Nibbles:
Candied pecans with cranberries
Hot bacon & blue cheese dip with apples and pears
Cheese Wafers

Supper:
Cuban roasted whole pork leg with pickled red onions and chimichurri
Hoppin’ John
Slow cooked collard greens
Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
Corn muffins with spicy honey butter

(Still pondering what to make for dessert and without a doubt another item or two could very well be on the table, too!). Stay tuned…

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Christmas Chronicles, last edition, part III

Similar to a Thanksgiving turkey, one of my favorite culinary aspects of Christmas is the standing rib roast and using it the days following.  On Friday a large part of my morning was spent picking up around the house while a fragrant beef stock simmered on the stove.  As the week comes to an end, we will wrap it up with some out of town friends coming by tonight for cocktails and appetizers, lots of football, and believe it or not, I will hang my apron up for a day or two.  Okay, probably just a day.  So enjoy this last edition and most importantly, a Happy and prosperous New Year to you.

Thursday, December 26th- still celebrating!

Breakfast BST on C’s, citrus salad

Cobb Salads

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza’s

Breakfast BST on C’s, citrus salad–  Breakfast BST’s on C’s are a simple and delicious way to use some of the ingredients laying around in my fridge.  Bacon, Smoked Salmon, and sliced Tomato on a Croissant.  I think my mother in law had hers with a fried egg as well, a complete breakfast sandwich.  We have so many beautiful grapefruits, oranges and pears around, so I segmented these fruits into a simple salad.  This breakfast sounds ways more fancy and complex than it is to prepare!

Cobb Salads–  Today we were all craving something crisp and clean, so we settled on Cobb Salads for lunch.  Crispy romaine lettuce (using up what was left from Christmas dinner), blue cheese crumbles, boiled quail eggs, avocado, chopped bacon, tomato, diced red pepper, and a small amount of turkey breast, tossed in a vinaigrette with croutons…a light and clean lunch was in order and oh so satisfying!

cobb

 After a lazy afternoon on a cold day spent by the fire, we had a little treat of baking some deep dish Chicago pizza’s someone had sent my husband through work.  I apologize to all of you Chicago style pizza lover’s out there, but they were just not as good as beloved NYC thin crust to me.  I’m not complaining, I was glad to have a break from doing a meal, but I would have rather been in the kitchen again over that!  Oh well, kids were happy…

Friday, December 27th- the end!

And finally, a morning to make the beef stock!  I will not bore you with our simple breakfast or leftover lunch and dinner, but will share with you why I like  having a rib roast on Christmas Day.  As pictured on the last blog, this rib roast is simply beautiful and delicious.  A rib roast for those of you who aren’t sure, is a large bone in cut out of the prime rib section.  If it was cut into steaks you would have very large well marbled rib eyes, and it is often referred to as prime rib.  We do not cut ours into prime rib slices, we prefer a thinner slice.  It can be 2 ribs, which would serve about 4, to 3 ribs or 4 ribs or more.  I ordered a 4 rib roast which will feed 8-9, with leftovers.  Leftovers, that is the key word!  I will make this simple as I can.

Yesterday to make the stock I cut the ribs into individual pieces and roast them at 425 for about an hour, nice and browned.  Deglaze the roasting pan with nice red wine (if you have it leftover), and at this point I had to transfer from the roasting pan to a stock pot; and then add a mire poix- a fancy way of saying carrots, celery and onion.  I threw in a little extra meat, some scallions, garlic cloves, fresh thyme and rosemary, too, added half a can of tomato paste and water to cover the ribs about an inch. Simmer, not boil, this fragrant beauty for a while.  I think total time for me was close to two hours yesterday.  Strain slowly and carefully into another pot where stock can cool, separating mire poix and meat from liquid.  (Be sure to remove and freeze the rib meat and the fall apart tender cooked meat for vegetable beef soup or tacos in a few weeks.)  Let stock cool completely, overnight is best, then skim the fat off the top, and you are ready to use and/or freeze your beef stock.  This stock, when reduced a lot, is almost more of a demi glace.

Pictured below: Stock pot cooled with top layer of fat,

it looks like carrot soup in the picture!

 beef stock wiht fat layer

Pictured below I wanted to show you the partially skimmed stock on the left,

then the last photo is fully skimmed of fat and the reserved meat to freeze

stock partially skimmed strained stock

Over the weekend with this delicious stock we will enjoy French Dip sandwiches with thinly sliced roast beef and au jus, and another favorite is French Onion Soup.  We’ll probably have the soup on Sunday, as it will be perfect on a cold rainy day after a fun filled week and weekend of Christmas celebrating.  I will be in my pj’s, apron on the hook, settling in for a long winters nap.  Enjoy, the best of food and life, and all our celebrations have to offer and contribute to the joy in our lives.  For some of us that might mean it being over, but that’s ok too!

roast beef french onion soup night

Christmas Chronicles, part II

By now the stockings have been hung, merry has been made, and that fun feeling of accomplishment following Christmas is welcome like a friend at the door!  I hope you and yours had a wonderful time together filled with fun, family, friends, and good food.  I feel like I have been cooking “all the way” and here is the second edition of Christmas Chronicles for you, as you hopefully relax today.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 23

Croissants, sausage links, fruit

“Elves special take out”

Turkey & Dumplings Dinner

Croissants, sausage links, fruitvery little to elaborate on here, a simple breakfast but I love for the days before a Holiday to be a celebration, too.  I buy the petite croissants only a few times a year, so they are special and enjoyed by all, and with sausage links and fruit make for an easy breakfast. 

Lunch- we had many last minute errands to do, so the elves in my back seat were begging to stop at Chic-Fil-A.  Despite knowing how much food we had at home, I caved.  I caved, we had a car picnic, and boy was I glad not to prepare or wash anything in the kitchen I will be happy to admit! 

Turkey & Dumplings-  After running errands I made a large pot of turkey stock with the leftovers from our Sunday Christmas Eve Eve Eve dinner.  I love making homemade stock, and the richness of this turkey stock simply can not be bought in the same way.  I wanted a simple dinner though, so I decided on Turkey & Dumplings.  It reminds me of my grandmother, who often had Chicken & Dumplings at our Sunday Dinners.  I loved them as a child and still do as an adult, especially that soft dough cooked in the rich ingredients and transformed into a little pillow of yum.   As I said, this reminds me of my grandmother so I did it “ruby style”, using a can of flaky biscuits for the dumplings.  If you decide to experiment with your turkey leftovers, in a nutshell here is a quick summary of what to do: make a good stock, sautee some onions and carrots, make a roux then add stock to desired consistency, finish with cream and leftover turkey meat.  Then for the dumplings pull biscuit dough apart into about 1″ pieces.  Add biscuit bits one by one to your pot, then cover and let cook covered– without peeking (very important)– for 15 minutes.  Your end result should be soft tender dumplings in a hearty stew.  I like to serve mine in large mugs by Christmas tree! 

The day of Christmas Eve

Cinnamon Cake, Grapefruit, leftover sausage links

Family Dinner, menu below

Christmas Chili with toppings and Ham Delights

Cinnamon Cake, Grapefruit, leftover sausage links–  One of my good friends often makes a yummy cinnamon cake  when we travel together, and my kids love it!  She put the recipe in our garden club cookbook, “Doggone Good”, and I am reprinting the recipe with her permission so you can enjoy it.  Easy to make and simple, we have enjoyed it for days.

Jamie’s Cinnamon Cake Recipe

Ingredients: 1 pkg. Duncan Hines Golden Cake mix- 1 pkg. Vanilla Instant pudding mix-8 oz. sour cream- 1 stick melted butter- 3 eggs- 1/2 c. sugar- 1 Tbsp cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Mix together cake mix, vanilla pudding, sour cream. melted butter, and eggs with a mixer for 4 minutes.  In a separate small bowl mix sugar and cinnamon together.  Pour 1/2 cake mix into greased Bundt pan.  Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mix on top, add second 1/2 of cake mix on top.  Bake 45 minute to one hour.

*Julia’s notes- I add a tiny amount of hot water, maybe 1/4 cup max, to the batter to make it easier to spread, but just enough so it isn’t as thick.

Christmas Eve Family Dinner at my mom’s: Fried Chicken, Low Country Sausage & Cheese Grits, Deviled Eggs, Fruit Salad, Sliced Ham, Pumpkin Roll- A simple and easy menu for all!  I made the grits, my sister bought some fried chicken, and our mom did the deviled eggs, fruit and pumpkin roll.  As the kids opened gifts from their cousins the grits were baking, then a fun lunch was had before everyone scurried away to church services, luminary making and more!

Chili Dinner- I like to keep Christmas Eve Dinner simple and easy.  I find we are busy setting up luminaries after church, making reindeer food, and just having fun so it needs to be quick and easy.  We all like chili and it’s easy to make fun with toppings to choose from, so it if often what we do.  I had a package of Ham Delights in the freezer, and put out Christmas Sugar cookies we had made earlier, and called it done!

at long last…Christmas Day

Moravian Sugar Cake, Bacon & Eggs, Fresh OJ, Coffee

Lefotver lunch!

One of the most wonderful meals of the year- Christmas dinner, menu below…

After we check out what Santa has left at the tree, nothing is better then our tradition of sugar cake, bacon and eggs.  By this time I have had my 2 (or three) cups of coffee, so fresh squeezed oj is perfect and everyone is hungry.  Then for lunch, I simply put out leftovers from the past two days for everyone to have when they feel like it- a cup of chili, a ham biscuits, sandwich or more- holiday leftovers galore!

Christmas Dinner-one of our more extravagant dinners, and my favorite part is having the rib roast leftover…but these details will follow in the last edition of my chronicles.  But here is the menu and a few pictures to go with it:

Standing Rib Roast with Caramelized Shallot & Mushroom Demi

Parmesan Potato Gratin

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Crispy Prosciutto

Hearts of Romaine with Classic Vinaigrette

Yeast Rolls

 Egg Nog Ice Cream

Wow- I’m still full after feasting for days!  Pictured below is our rib roast, and Holiday Cheer, just before going in the oven, simply done with salt, pepper and a few herbs.

holiday cheer roast

Here are a few pictures of putting together the potato gratin.  Slicing the potatoes is best done using a mandolin, as it really is important to have uniform slices.  Decadent, delicious, and probably not as daunting as they seem, my husband requests them every year.

Potatoes sliced, rinsed and drying….

Gratin step 1 gratin step 2

gratin step 3 gratin step 4

Layer them neatly over each other in a circle, topping each layer with salt and pepper, fresh parmesan then topping with cream before baking uncovered for an hour at 350.  I do mine earlier in the day, then reheat after the roast comes out of the oven.

Paired with Brussel sprouts, a crisp salad, and a nice bottle of wine, this dinner is a gift in itself.  We sat by the fire for a while before having egg nog ice cream from Trader Joe’s for a sweet ending, it is delicious and especially good topped with candied cinnamon pecans or crumbled toffee.  After an exciting day, a warm fire, wine and a nice dinner…we all had a good nights sleep!  This morning as I sit typing, the kids are content with new gifts, and I am looking forward to the next few days of Holiday break, too.  It won’t be long before I am restless to be back at work, but in the meantime I’ll be cooking at home and enjoying this time off.  Thank you for being a part of it. The fun of what I do is sharing it afterwards.  Enjoy, the best of food and life, and quiet days or rest after busy entertaining.

The Christmas Chronicles…

If I had a dollar for every time I have been asked, “Do you cook at home?”, “What do you cook at home?” I could have really blown out the Christmas gifts this year.  The answer is a resounding yes, I love to cook at home.  We do have some favorites that we repeat, but we have a lot of different things.  It is quite different to cook out of the commercial kitchen and at home sweet home.  So, for those of you interested, I thought I would share with you the in’s and out’s of the Chandler household over Christmas break through our meals and stories that go with them.  It is a little different and definitely more elaborate than a normal week since we are all on vacation, but perhaps I will chronicle a week in the normal busy routine later this spring.  We eat very well, and like I said it is more indulgent at the holidays, but we don’t snack a lot and I try to pair meals on big days with simpler, lighter, lunches.  You will notice our food is well-balanced, fresh, and like all things, healthy in moderation.  My kitchen is nothing fancy or large, but I love it.  If I had ten times the space I would most likely set it up the same way, but have more room around it.  It is well stocked with a full fridge, and most importantly lots of family, friends and love pouring through it.  Typically I make an effort not to make my blogs too lengthy, so I apologize in advance as this will be a bit more detailed due to the notes I will make for menu/recipe explanations.  I will do this in italics so you can easily skim past the details to the other good stuff and come back to the notes when you need to, but they do have some good hints and info in them!  This first edition is from Friday through Sunday night.  I hope you enjoy my Christmas Chronicles, and a very Merry Christmas this year.

A simple Friday night dinner…

Marinated grilled flank steak

Cast iron skillet Potatoes

Spinach Salad

Marinated grilled flank steak-  I did a very simple flank steak Friday night, just kosher salt and Malabar black pepper, then lightly sprinkled it with soy sauce and a little Worcestershire.  Sealed it in a Ziploc bag to sit a few hours, (which is my favorite way to marinate meats at home), then grilled it.  The key is that when my husband grilled it, I also gave him a fresh lime sliced in half to grill first, then squeeze the juice over it on each side.  It is such a great flavor, really similar to the ingredients in Allegro marinade.  When grilling flank steak it is important not to over cook it, preferably a good medium rare, and be sure to let it sit ten minutes before slicing it against the grain.

Cast iron skillet potatoes  My son loved these potatoes, thinks they are almost as good as French fries he said, so when a ten-year old says that I take it as a compliment.  And, oh so simple …so don’t you fear!  For this recipe I took 4 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes and rinsed and dried them, then cut each one into eight equal sized pieces.  Meanwhile, I had the oven preheated to 400 with my medium size cast iron skillet in it heating up, generously coated in olive oil.  After the pan is hot and oven is preheated, add the cut potatoes to the pan and toss them to coat in the olive oil.  Next simply add some of your favorite seasonings.  I did salt and pepper, fresh dried oregano from my herb garden this summer, and a shake of Chad’s special seasoning which is made in Hilton Head.  Place skillet back in oven for 30 minutes (don’t forget the handle will be hot!) and the key is to not mess with the potatoes so they get a golden crust on one side.  After thirty minutes stir them so another side is flat side down in pan, and continue to roast until browned again and soft when pierced with a knife.

Spinach Salad-  This is one of my favorite salads and all I did was toss fresh baby spinach with thinly sliced mushrooms, sliced strawberries, hard-boiled eggs, chopped bacon, and the crunchy kicker in it was candied pecans…all tossed in a yummy homemade raspberry vinaigrette and lightly scattered with blue cheese crumbles.  Hmmmm hmmm good, one day if I write a cookbook I will share more recipes than I am able to here, like my dressings.

Saturday…

Quick & Easy breakfast sandwiches for the kids, aka “Chandler McMuffins”… and a classic omelet for my husband

 Grilled cheeses and egg salad sandwiches- two classics that can’t be beat for lunch

Italian Meatballs with Spaghetti and bread

Chandler McMuffins”… and a classic omelet-  Some days I would love it if my kids were cereal eaters, it would make hectic mornings a lot easier, but they aren’t and I cook breakfast almost every morning.  Secretly, I do like it that they crave the good stuff instead of the sweet stuff.  One of their favorites is breakfast sandwiches, and all I do is fry an egg, top it with cheese in the pan so it melts, add bacon or sausage if I have it, and sandwich that bad boy between toasted English muffins. Breakfast, done in no time.  Since it was the first day off and a lazy morning, I treated my husband to a classic omelet with spinach, mushroom and bacon.  Notice all of the omelet ingredients were leftover and already prepared from my spinach salad, just used differently?    When I shop, I don’t shop for things by menu’s, I just buy ingredients I want and then find ways to use it- much more fun!

Grilled cheeses and egg salad sandwiches-  One thing I have noticed in catering is that adults love kid food, simply put.  Grilled cheeses are just one example of the kids in all of us.  I however love egg salad, and the most basic kind.  So Friday night when I made the spinach salad I boiled a few extra eggs so they would be ready for egg salad over the weekend.  I chopped 4 eggs using an egg slicer, mixed it with just enough mayonnaise to blend it together, probably a little over 1/4 cup, kosher salt and pepper and that is it.  Let it sit for about thirty minutes, then spread on your favorite bread. 

Italian Meatballs with Spaghetti and bread–  This is one bonus of my job, I do shop a lot at work.  Especially going into two weeks off, I pretty much cleaned out at work so I will start fresh in January, so my freezer at home is full for a change.  Example one, Italian meatballs already prepared and marinara sauce, simply boil spaghetti for dinner, nice wine, crusty bread…heaven. 

Sunday

Sausage waffles, fruit, fresh squeezed oj, and coffee of course!

For lunch a Choice of: Flank Steak & Grilled Veggie Quesadilla’s with Chevre & Pico de Gallo, or, Meatball Subs

Christmas Eve Eve Eve Dinner!

Sausage waffles and fresh squeezed orange juice-  Recently I purchased a really inexpensive extra large waffle maker just for fun, and it has been one of those random things you are so glad you bought the last minute.  One waffle is so big it feeds four.  I have been having fun playing with my food, something I am good at, and adding things to our waffles.  I saw on “Diner’s, Drive ins and Dive’s” recently a waffle with bacon cooked in it, and my take on this is Neese’s sausage, browned already, added to the batter then topped with syrup once crispy and hot! 

OJ– pay attention to this fun segment for sure!  To make the fresh oj it is helpful if you have a juicer, not the electric kind necessarily but one where you put the cut orange half in it and pull the handle down.  (We have a small juicer, and if it isn’t too late, Santa, I’d love a bigger one!)  I often buy juice oranges by the case from my produce company, or even at the store if/when they’re on special.  If you are serving a lot of people, it is worth the trip to a produce vendor where you can buy a case of oranges for less than $20, such as Vernon’s Produce in Winston-Salem where no account is needed.  Juice oranges are thinner skinned than a navel orange, and cheaper with better pulp.  It takes about three oranges to make a nice glass of juice, so going through a case of 100 isn’t too hard when you have houseguests and kids are home.  It makes a fantastic mimosa/screwdriver bar that you let guests prepare themselves.  Set it up on a table far away from the kitchen and everyone is out of your way as well.  Drag out Grandma’s punch bowl you never use and fill it full of sliced orange halves, add small bowls of fresh berries, pomegranate seeds and juice, and of course champagne and vodka, and I promise your holidays with family will be merrier!

Steak & grilled veggie Quesadilla’s with Chevre and Meatball subs–  Remember that grilled flank steak from Friday night?  Well, those leftovers make a great quesadilla.  I don’t think I mentioned it, but on Friday while the grill was going, I had my husband grill an onion I quartered and a pepper cut into four large strips, and our quesadilla’s will be a delicious, easy, and light lunch after church today and before “Christmas Eve Eve Eve” dinner tonight.  I grate my own cheese and I strongly encourage you to do the same.  It does take a little more effort and about five more minutes max, but the cheese melts and is so much better, I think you’ll agree it is worth it.  For my quesadilla I will go lighter on the cheddar cheese, just enough to melt it together, and I add a few big crumbles of goat cheese to it, yummy!  Make a pico de gallo using a fresh chopped tomato, diced onion, scallions and lime juice, cilantro if you have it or other ingredients on hand.  (I make this first before I start to prepare lunch, so the juices come out while the other items are prepared.)  Cut quesadilla’s into wedges with your pizza cutter, add a dollop of daisy, pico on the side… and lunch is ready and fun enjoyed casually watching football.  Meatball subs couldn’t be simpler- reheat meatballs from dinner the night before in marinara sauce and cut meatballs in half for easier eating.  Place between good hoagie bread, top with fresh mozzarella or parmesan and melt/toast in oven or broiler.   Note that the hoagie rolls I am using for subs were also the bread I sliced in half and buttered for dinner the night before…one ingredient but two uses.

Christmas Eve Eve Eve Dinner!–  Sunday night we have family coming over for dinner and as I mentioned before I have a freezer full of food, so tonight we are selfishly having a big Holiday dinner.  I say selfishly because the leftover turkey will be enjoyed over the next few days like at Thanksgiving, I will be able to make stock to use this week with the turkey carcass, and the meal will really be pretty effortless for me thanks to two of the three sides coming out of the freezer.  My kids thought it was hysterical to name it with so many “Eve’s”, and they are excited.  The menu is:

Oven Roasted Herb Turkey

Sweet Potato Souffle

Annie’s Amazing Cranberry Salad

Party Potatoes

Slow Simmered Butter Beans

Dessert will be simple: Peppermint Crunch Chocolate Chip Cookies we made on Friday afternoon, and assorted treats from neighbors & friends…

If and when I ever write a cookbook, I promise I will include so many details and recipes in it that are missing here!  I simply can’t do it all while blogging through our Christmas, but you are welcome to contact me if you have any questions about anything I am writing.  Half of the fun is sharing it, and I hope you enjoy it and have a fresh idea to try, too.  Christmas Chronicles part two will be out in a couple of days and will take you from Monday through Christmas Eve.   

Enjoy the best of food and life, one holiday, one meal at a time.  Merry, merry!!!

making spirits bright…

dessert

If you see me leaping through the air at the store do not be alarmed.  I am not practicing for the Nutcracker or doing my personal rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  (However, back in the old days as a Dancing Boot I would have!)  It’s just that December is so much fun for me it isn’t fair to the rest of you.  Yes, I will not lie, a couple of weeks ago I was almost in tears one day after Thanksgiving looking at my schedule and wondering how I was going to get everything done.  One day I was so tired last week I really didn’t know if I could stand up another day or slice one more roll, I’m only human.  But now the parties are winding down and the fun has kicked in, and it will all get done by the 25th.  In the meantime I am cranking out some yummy food for Holiday parties and the reason for working just seems to blend in with the fun, and the exhaustion fades upon delivery and seeing it all set up on customers tables.

So much changes in a year.  A year ago this time I had only been in business two months, what a year to be thankful for.  A year ago this time I also remember standing in my kitchen as details about a horrific school shooting in Newtown, CT unraveled.  I remember tears coming so hard I could not stop them, was blinded by them, and had to stop what I was doing.  Remembering it today still hurts for all of us.  When we hear news such as that we all think about if that were us, and give thanks it isn’t, and say a prayer for those it is happening to as our heart breaks for them.  Although sometimes remembering can be painful, without remembering it is hard to feel our thanks and acknowledge our blessings.

In just a week the kids will be out of school and I will enjoy a holiday break myself.  Family will arrive and the fun will begin.  In two weeks I will remember thinking how much fun it all sounded as chaos ensues around me and I wonder “What was I thinking?!”  Seriously though, today as Christmas waves at us from just around the corner, I hope you will take the time to remember.  I heard on the news last night that is what Newtown is asking today, for us all to do something nice for someone.  I think little ‘life challenges’ like this are inspiring, and do so much to perpetuate the Christmas spirit at such a needed time.  As a Christian I believe the birth of Christ is the reason we celebrate this time of year.  But I also believe as humans that our gift to the world, no matter what religious path you do or don’t follow, is the gift of Peace, Love and Joy we can share and spread.

My daughter's note to Santa in her room...she captures the spirit of believing!

My daughter’s note to Santa in her room…she captures the spirit of believing!

I almost titled this post “one”, since I have only had time to write one post since Thanksgiving.  I love writing and usually I have multiple thoughts and drafts going on at one time, but the only thing going in and out of my mind has been checklists of food prep and parties.  Now that it is coming to a halt I am welcoming back my thoughts to the paper.  At first I wasn’t going to give such a cheery title to such a somber day of remembering, but because I remember, I find it only appropriate we all do something to make someone’s spirits brighter.

asparagus

I also want to share with you a Holiday spirit my husband and I enjoy each year at the Holidays, too.  We found this drink while travelling a few years ago and while it can  be enjoyed all year through, the nice aged rum and champagne are just more of a splurge.  Be sure to scroll down past it too, for the new cocktail we are going to try this year and the link to some other great sites.

Enjoy the best of food and life, and remembering.

Old Cuban Cocktail

3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
3/8 oz Simple Syrup
8 Spearmint Leaves
1.5 oz Aged Rum (Bacardi 8 Year or equivalent)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 oz Champagne (good domestic or French non-vintage)

Chill cocktail glass.  Muddle lime juice, syrup, and mint gently in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.  Add rum, bitters and ice cubes. Shake and strain into glass.  Top with Champagne.  May serve on the rocks as I prefer, and as I do, use a generous champagne floater… After all, it is the Holidays!

Some of our friends are the magic behind Piedmont Distillers that produce Cat Daddy and Midnight Moon, great moonshines that if you haven’t had you should seek out if you are a wise man or woman.   A cocktail we are going to try this year is one suggested by them that I first saw on my good friend Christine’s blog, Dashing through Winston-Salem.  Here it is, I can’t wait to try it as it just screams “Help, it’s the Holidays and I need a good drink, now!”

JUNIOR’S CRAN-APPLE PUNCH

1 ½ oz. Midnight Moon Cranberry Moonshine
½ oz. frozen cranberries
1 ¼ tsp. sugar
3 oz. apple cider
¾ oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 oz. ginger beer.
Muddle cranberries and sugar in a rocks glass. Fill with ice and add all other ingredients. Stir gently.