Archive for the ‘Drinks’ Category

Frozen Cocktail Ideas for the summer

July 15th 2010

cocktail maker Frozen Cocktail Ideas for the summer

Are you in a hurry? We all are. Daily agendas are usually packed with activities related to our children, office work, and of course Yoga classes- because with all of life’s stressors, we must at least make the time for health and fitness.

In an effort to keep up with busy agendas, many persons tend to grab “quick-fix”, thirst quenchers like sodas and energy booster drinks from supermarket freezers. This is done in an effort to boost energy levels. However, these cold sodas do nothing to quench the thirst, causing the individual to keep guzzling-down more and more. Sodas contain caffeine: an ingredient known to lead to health issues later in life; and of course the sweeteners introduce wait gain and diabetes.

It is not too late to change mind sets, and try a new kind of thirst quencher: a tasty frozen cocktails.

These may take more time to prepare, unlike the quick-fix options, but they are far healthier, using natural ingredients, and can be prepared at home! (Recipes for tasty frozen cocktails are available online).

A frozen cocktail can be defined as: “any drink that contains fruit, ice and other choice ingredients that can be blended to create a shake or slush”.

Frozen cocktail drinks have long been the pièce de résistance of summer days and tropical nights. Without a doubt, some of these frozen delights are available in abundance in the bars and taverns of most tropical vacation spots.

The drink has even received cinematic acclaim, with a movie being named for it, in the 1980’s. Surely, the movie’s producers believed there were enough mixes to keep the movie (and drinks) flowing. Screen actor, Tom Cruise would perhaps agree.

Earlier, it was suggested that tasty frozen cocktails can be made easily at home. By this, it is not meant that one should only blend enough for one serving. This would not be practical. Instead one could consider finding a large empty water bottle, and stretching the recipe so that there would be enough to enjoy now; the rest to be frozen for the future. As much as 3 large bottles can be done this way. A good idea would be to thaw one of these bottles in time for a planned get-together, to serve to guests. They would be delighted.

Hopefully this article has proven that even with our busy agendas, there is still merit in slowing down and taking the time to prepare this time-honored beverage of the summertime.

It may be awhile until you can book a flight to the island of Jamaica to enjoy one of these punches heralded by the movie Cocktails. So until then, enjoy the easy home recipe below.

CARROT AND BEET PUNCH (FILLS A 1 LITER WATER BOTTLE)

2.5 cups grated raw beets
3 cups grated raw carrots
7 cups of evaporated full cream milk
3-4 trays of ice cubes
6 tablespoons molasses
2.5 cups sweetened condensed milk

METHOD:
Combine all ingredients. Serve immediately. Freeze the rest.

Posted by admin under Drinks | 2 Comments »

Become a Student of Wine and Host a Wine Tasting At Home

July 1st 2010

quiz1

Whether you are a wine enthusiast or just like a good glass of wine once in a while, wine tasting with a group of friends can be a fun experience. Organizing a wine tasting event isn’t difficult. There are wine connoisseurs that will bring a wine tasting program right to your door or you can do it yourself. Unless you are a hardcore wine drinker always searching for the philosophy of the bouquet contained in a bottle of wine, you may want to host a wine tasting at home.

You may want to plan a theme for the evening such as the wines of the 1970’s from Napa Valley or the best red wine from a winery in the southwest. Or it can be an eclectic collection of wine picked just for the heck of it. Perhaps ask each participant to bring a bottle of their favorite wine. A 750 ml bottle of wine contains about 25 ounces and if your tasting quantity is 2 ounces, a bottle will accommodate about 12 people. Keep that in mind when planning your event and deciding the number of guests you want to invite.

To host a wine tasting at home determine how many people your home can accommodate. If the weather is nice consider hosting your wine tasting out of doors. Inside or outside, make sure there is room enough for everyone to sit or stand comfortably. Have a table or counter area for the wine and the glasses separate from the guest area. That will eliminate confusion and prevent bottles of wine becoming mixed up. Determine ahead of time how many wines will be tasted. The number of bottles required will depend on the number of guests. Also determine if each guest will bring their own tasting glasses or if the host will provide them.

It will be up to the host what refreshments will be served. If the wine tasting is a onetime deal, maybe everyone can bring a little something. If hosting will rotate, the host can provide whatever they wish. Refreshments do not have to be anything extravagant. Perhaps the host will serve or the group will bring crackers and cheese, bread and cheese or a simple entre or two.

Decide how you want the wine tasting to function. Will it simply be tasting and comparing notes or will scoring be involved? It depends how serious the group is about their wine and how much time the group wants to spend on the event. The host should supply note and tabulation sheets for each participant. If the group decides to rank each wine or just jot down notes for each wine for later use, the sheets will be helpful.

The group may decide to taste each wine blindly. That is the name and type of wine isn’t revealed until after it has been tasted and discussed. Before each round the host will provide a short introduction with general information for each wine. The information may include the price, the year and they type. The group will taste the wine, make their notes and discuss the wine. After all the wine has been tasted and discussed, break the refreshments and enjoy the rest of the evening and discuss who will host a wine tasting at home next time.

Posted by admin under Drinks & Hostessing & Party Food | 3 Comments »

Have a Hot Dog Party

April 22nd 2010

cookout 002 Have a Hot Dog PartyHot dogs are the perfect cookout foods and they work great for parties too. I always plan a few parties a year around them. I like to have campy parties and weenies scream campy!

Have your friends wear their best touristy gear for a fun costume party addition. It’s easy to forget the stress of your week once you’re in plaid Bermuda shorts, sandals with socks and have binoculars or a camera around your neck.

Make sure to have a tropical fruity drink to accompany your festive fare. Something that looks good with an umbrella straw tucked away in it. I usually choose a pina colada or strawberry daiquiri. They may be predictable, but everyone loves them.

You could even go red-neck gourmet and make a hot dog enchilada casserole. Spread about 2 cups of pre-made chili over the bottom of a greased rectangle baking dish. Wrap a tortilla around each hot dog and arrange on top of chili. Top with the rest of the chili and shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven between 30 – 40 minutes. Serve topped with crumbled Fritos.

If you go for the traditional hot dog feast, make sure to have tons of toppings for your guests. Ketchup, mustard, and pickle relish are requirements. Make a Carolina dog by topping it with cole slaw and chili. You could also make a Greek salad dog with feta, olives, chopped tomatoes, red onion, and touch of Greek dressing. Feel free to add gourmet extras like roasted garlic, red peppers, goat cheese or even nacho cheese.

If it’s raining or you just don’t feel like cooking outside, use your slow cooker. I have a Crockpot trio that has 3 small slow cookers on one base. If you have lots of time you can heat the hot dogs up in the slow cooker. Personally I like to heat them on the stove and keep them warm in the slow cookers. I put veggie dogs in one, turkey dogs in another, and veggie chili in the last one. This way everything’s ready for people as they drop in.

Posted by Myriam under Drinks & Hostessing & Party Food & Spring Entertaining & Summer Entertaining | 5 Comments »

Planting with Friends

April 11th 2010

sunflowerincity Planting with FriendsI don’t know about you, but I have spring fever. I have to admit I’m planting a few things a little ahead of the recommended dates. If you risk it too, make sure to hold back a few seedlings in case a freeze takes out your first planting.

This year I’ve decided to involve my gardening friends in my planting frenzy. About a month ago, I had a seed starting date with one of my oldest friends and we planted heirloom tomatoes, Italian roasting peppers, hot peppers, an assortment of eggplants, light green zucchini and winter squash. I had seed starting trays leftover from last year, some seed starting soil, and we each planted different seeds we already had.

This weekend we exchanged the seedlings that we had planted, so now we have twice the variety with no extra work! Plus, it was fun to open a bottle of wine and chat over a salad when we took a break.

It’s great to trade seeds and seedlings with other people because you may find yourself trying varieties of your favorite veggie that you never knew existed. Then you can trade off days helping each other plant them in your yard, in raised beds, or even in contianers. It all depends on the space you have to grow in this year.

This year it’s still not too late. Make a date with your gardening friends to go to a farmers market or gardening store to buy seedlings. I like to get heirloom varieties. Since heirlooms are not hybrids, you can save the seeds from the plants that you grow this year and grow your own seedlings next year. It’s a great way to save money and insure that these varieties get preserved for future generations.

If you’ve never planted any food before, see if any of your friends would be interested in giving it a go this year. Even if you are in an apartment, try to at least growing some lettuce or herbs on a sunny windowsill. If you have a balcony, try a few containers of your favorite summer veggies. You will be amazed at how differently you’ll look at farmers and food in general after you’ve grown some of your own.

Posted by Myriam under Drinks & Hostessing & Spring Entertaining | 3 Comments »

Chase Away Winter with a Coffee Tasting Party

February 21st 2010

coffee grains 8314 10 Chase Away Winter with a Coffee Tasting PartyWith winter still hanging on these days and my time to garden still weeks away, my thoughts turn to more ways to entertain my friends indoors. Instead of a traditional dinner party, I decided to try a weekend Coffee Tasting Party. If you’ve ever wondered what those different roasts or all those different flavors available at the coffee shop taste like, here’s your chance to taste them.

I love everything about coffee, and these mugs from CasaModa are no exception. With such adorable retro coffee images, they are perfect for a coffee tasting party. Set your party up like a potluck and have a few friends bring over other necessary supplies. Have each guest bring a coffee to try and an extra coffeepot. Try to get whole beans if a grinder or a coffeepot with a built in grinder is available. The flavor of whole bean coffee is fresher and stronger than already ground and vacuum-packed varieties. Coffee is at its best within the first twenty minutes of brewing, so you won’t want to have too many pots brewed at once. Between each cup of coffee, have unsalted crackers available to clear everyone’s palate. Have a coffee station with creamer and sugar and spoons for guests who don’t like black coffee.

coffee Chase Away Winter with a Coffee Tasting Party

I also like to provide some sweet treats with coffee as well. It also gives me a great reason to bring out my CasaModa retro coffeehouse plates which match the mugs. Biscotti, scones, chocolate covered rolled wafers or shortbread cookies are favorites with my friends, especially those who like to dip their treats into their coffee.

After a weekend brunch or weekend dinner out would be the best time to hold your party if you are concerned about caffeine consumption. A nighttime party might keep everyone awake late into the night, so it may not be a good idea to do on a night where everyone has to be at work early in the morning the next day.

A Coffee Tasting can be a welcome addition to any event that might last a long time. We have friends who come over to play games that sometimes can last for hours. The losers of each round has to brew and fix the next coffee to taste for the winners. If you are having a movie or TV show marathon party, a coffee tasting would be a great way to take a break in between shows. Have fun with ways to present your coffee tasting and your friends will no doubt have fun as well.

Posted by Myriam under Drinks & Winter Entertaining | 1 Comment »

Halloween Drink Ideas

October 10th 2009

dinnerware drinks Halloween Drink IdeasIt’s fun to have a Halloween dinner party – for kids or adults. Both kinds of parties need some spooky drinks and here are a few ideas that can work for either.

For kid’s parties a traditional sherbet punch can be made creepy by using orange or lime sherbet. Add some ice hands and face in to scare the older ones. Make the ice using a mask and latex gloves as the ‘ice trays’. It’s a little more involved, but check out Martha Stewart’s great how-to here. She uses green food coloring in hers, but depending on what you put in your punch bowl clear ice would be fine too.

You can create a foggy punch by having an outer bowl that has dry ice in it and then placing a second metal bowl inside to actually hold the punch. Don’t use glass though – it could crack from the dry ice.

We covered pumpkin carving last week, but there’s more to pumpkins than traditional jack-o-lanterns. To make a spectacular punch bowl centerpiece use a large pumpkin. You can make it a plain straight line on the top. Just cut off the top part of the pumpkin and scoop out the insides. Or you can get fancy and carve a more intricate pattern at the top of your bowl, something lacy or reminiscent of a chandelier. Place a bowl inside to hold your punch.

You can use ‘ice cube eyeballs’ to decorate a clear glass of soda, or a spooky gin and tonic. Peel small radishes while leaving a few thin strips of red for the bloodshot veins in the eyes, then cut a hole to insert a halved olive stuffed with pimento. Place these in ice cube trays and fill with water. They will be a gruesome addition to any drink.

Not sure what drinks are witchy enough for your party? Here are a few links to get your imagination started:

Posted by Myriam under Drinks & Fall Entertaining & Halloween | No Comments »

Dress Up Your Hot Chocolate

September 28th 2009

dinnerware chocolateimg 272512 Dress Up Your Hot Chocolate

No cool weather gathering is complete without a toasty drink. Kids and grown-ups alike love a steaming cup of hot chocolate.

Having 20 children over for a pumpkin carving party? Get ahead of the game by making a batch of hot chocolate in your slow cooker. You can make large amounts, and it’ll be ready when the thirsty herd is.

For a smaller gathering you can still prepare it in advance, just use a thermal carafe to keep it warm or use a little dipper sized slow cooker. I do this before a fancy sit down dinner with coffee and tea. It lets me enjoy the company of my guests instead of staying hidden away in the kitchen.

Let the kids add their own touch to their drink. It’s amazing how easy it is to have so much fun. Create an area filled with little bowls of goodies to add to their cocoa. Decorate the table with a tablecloth and a few mini pumpkins.  You can also use flame-less candles to add a special touch with no danger to the little ones.  My hot chocolate goody bar usually includes whipped cream, chocolate shavings (milk, dark, and white), crushed peppermint candy, mini peppermint patties, mini marshmallows, and anything else I have on hand that seems like a fit.

If you will have older kids or adults around, try a mixture of ground chili, ginger, and cinnamon for a taste similar to what the Aztecs drank. It can have a kick, so keep an eye on the kids when you let them use this topping. Also try infusing the hot chocolate with a cinnamon stick and some cardamom pods when you make it for a delicious drink that needs no topping at all.

Flavored syrups like vanilla, hazelnut, and almond are another great addition. You can use them in fancy coffee drinks you make at home too. If there will be a lot of adults, bring out the liquors. Bailey’s, Amaretto, Frangelico, Grand Marnier, and even spiced rum make great grown up additions.

Make sure to ask the parents if any of the children have food allergies, before you decide what to put on your topping table. For someone with a milk allergy make your favorite hot chocolate recipe and use vanilla soymilk or almond milk in place of the dairy. Most mixes contain dairy, so you will need to make yours from scratch. It’ll be worth it and you may find yourself doing that for all your cocoa parties. It doesn’t take much time or effort, but it has a huge party payoff!

Posted by Myriam under Drinks & Fall Entertaining & Hostessing | 2 Comments »