We began experimenting with homemade liqueurs and infusions several years ago. Our first adventure was the Italian classic limoncello, which we made with both lemons and oranges (arancello), and since then we’ve made Polish krupnik and other concoctions that are now traditions for us. This year we decided to experiment with cranberries, because we look forward to cranberry season and make so many other things with cranberries. So why not a cranberry liqueur?…
The weekend before Thanksgiving, I had an opportunity to visit The Enchanted Forest, a fundraiser for The Junior League of Northern Virginia (JLNV) to do some social media outreach for them. The event is their primary fundraiser for the year, and proceeds go to community programs that they support, including back-to-school health fairs and backpacks, Girls on the Run, area family shelters, Kids Can, Kids in the Kitchen, Reach Out and Read, and a number of other programs that support children….
I always enjoy looking back on our favorite recipes from the past year, the ones that we would make over and over again. Though there are often many—and this year was no different—I try to keep the list down to twelve. So here they are, our family’s favorite recipes from 2012. We hope you enjoy them, and we look forward to sharing more recipes with you in 2013!
For our family, New Year’s Eve is all about the bubbly. Michael and I toast with champagne for us and sparkling juice for the boys. It’s a special celebration looking forward to the New Year and enjoying all the goodness of the year past.
From our family, we wish you a happy New Year that is filled with peace and all that is beautiful.
Eggnog is one of my family’s favorite holiday traditions. We drink it starting at Thanksgiving and all the way to New Year’s Eve. I like the traditional thick and creamy eggnogs, and as long as I don’t drink too much of it I will indulge a few times throughout the season. For those who want the creamy without extra calories, I recommend this recipe from Cooking Light’s list of smart choice holiday cocktails. Instead of heavy cream or whole milk, this recipe uses 1% milk and fat free sweetened condensed milk, with only two egg yolks, though if you like more egg flavor you can add one extra yolk….
Polish krupnik staropolski is a traditional honey-spiced liqueur typically served during Wigilia, the Christmas Eve meal. Small glasses are passed around with hot, peppery krupnik, which will warm you up quickly. Family recipes may be passed down through the generations and vary widely, with up to 50 different spices….
My two favorite things for summer parties are pitchers of sangria and margaritas. They are hard to beat for a cold, refreshing drink to share with friends. This sangria is perfect for summer parties and adds a pitcher of deliciousness to your Fourth of July cookout, and it’s easy to make. Just put all the fruit and brandy in a large pitcher and chill for a few hours. Then stir in peach nectar and chilled Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine that is widely available and relatively easy on the budget. Serve it over ice and you are ready for Fourth of July food and fireworks….
The caipirinha cocktail, a Brazilian concoction made with cachaça, was one of our favorites from last summer, and we planned to play around with the flavors a bit using different fruits. Strawberries were an obvious place to start, and we came up with this one that reminds me of a strawberry creamsicle. My friend Kristy Bernardo hosted a Memorial Day bash at her house and invited everyone to bring their favorite cocktails and share, so we lugged all the strawberries, booze, whipped cream, muddler, shaker, and our huge pot of mint (Michael did it as a joke) over to Chez Bernardo, and Michael played bartender….
It wouldn’t be a New Years Eve party without an assortment of cocktails, and we have a few favorites to share that will make New Years Eve even more festive. We hope you’ll share some of your favorites in the comments, too.
Chrysalis Vineyards is one of the easier vineyards to get to in Northern Virginia, just off Route 50 in Loudoun County. Set on 412 acres in the rolling hills of the Piedmont region, the vineyard specializes in unusual Spanish and French varietals and Norton, a native Virginia grape, as well as traditional grapes, a total of over 20 varieties. The tasting room is open daily from 10 to 5:30, and the friendly folks there will be glad to set up a tasting for you….
“You’ve got to try it.’
Michael was Skyping with me from Rio de Janeiro and telling me about a famous local cocktail that he’d sampled while there, the caipirinha, a muddled drink made with cachaça, limes, sugar, and ice. Of course we had to try making it at home, and after an evening sipping several different versions we created, we’ve decided the caipirinha is now on our cocktails list for parties….
The heat waves we’ve had this year have been absolutely brutal, and in the evenings the best way to cool down is with some ice cream or a chilled cocktail. I recently created three summer cocktails for Betty Crocker, and you can find them on BettyCrocker.com. These are all easy and can be made with widely available ingredients.
The first cocktail is a sangria granita that combines dry red wine with a sweet white moscato wine so you don’t need to add much sugar.
We’ve gotten hooked on pomegranates and eagerly look forward to the autumn pomegranate season. Our love for the fruit led us to plant a pomegranate tree this year, which will hopefully give us a harvest of our own pomegranates in a couple years. And of course we will promptly toss the arils into a bowl of this punch. Now that is a treat worth waiting for….
Years ago I had my first taste of hot spiced wine at a friend’s apartment in Bogotá, Colombia, which we sipped while listening to Edith Piaf after a glorious dinner of beef tenderloin (lomo). Maria Consuela had spent time in the U.S. and Europe during her college years and liked to share her cultural experiences from all the places she had lived and visited. She befriended the new teachers at the school and introduced us to the beauty of a country that still to this day many people would fear to set foot in. I don’t know what she put in the wine that night, I only remember that it smelled and tasted fantastic….
While on a trip to Chile, Michael got to sample some of the local beverages, including the vaina and the pisco sour, and he came back with plans to make them for us. I’m a tad bit envious that he got to sample these at the source without me, so a home version will have to do until I get to venture off to Chile someday….
A couple years ago we decided to highlight a few of our favorite cocktails during the last week before New Year’s Eve, and it’s turned into a fun tradition for us. This week we’ll continue the tradition with four or five of our favorite drinks from this year, the cocktails that we think will make any New Year’s Eve party even more festive….
I can’t imagine the holidays without this hot cranberry apple cider. The aroma is wonderful and makes the house smell so festive, and it’s also easy to make and won’t keep you hovering over the pot when you’d rather celebrate time with family and friends.
Pomegranates are one of the most festive fruits. The deep red color of the arils captures the eye, and the flavor of the juice is a wonder on its own and is very versatile. Though we’ve enjoyed pomegranate juice for a while, this year marks the very first time we ever purchased pomegranates, and as we munched on the arils we wondered how we ever managed without them. …
Peppermint and chocolate is one of my all-time flavor combinations, and this hot treat with white hot chocolate, chocolate whipped cream, and minty Altoids is a perfect dessert drink for a cold day. A twist on the classic Hot Peppermint Patty drink, this white hot chocolate cocktail is spiked with brandy, white crème de menthe, and dark rum, making a mug of cheer sure to warm you all over….
New Year’s celebrations just aren’t the same without champagne, and mixing up champagne cocktails is one of our favorite ways to enjoy the bubbly. This cocktail recipe has passion fruit juice, lime juice, triple sec, and a brut cava, and the sugared rim with chili powder gives it a mix of sweet and spicy.
Passion fruit juice may be tricky to track down in some areas, and I hit every single store we regularly shop at to find some. I finally had to give in and buy passion fruit nectar, a sweetened form of passion fruit juice, but I also had to read the labels because almost every brand I could find had high fructose corn syrup. La Fe brand passion fruit nectar was the only one to use regular sugar….
As the snow fell and piled up during the now infamous blizzard of December ‘09, I stayed in the kitchen baking cookies and getting ready for Christmas with a mug of hot cider in hand. We like it spiked with spiced rum or cinnamon schnapps with a stick of cinnamon in the mug, but this hot cider cocktail is a variation on the classic sidecar cocktail and has apple brandy and triple sec. The orange flavor from the triple sec works well with the cider and we agreed the cinnamon sugar rimmer is perfect, though we used an orange wedge rather than lime to rim the mug. For a nonalcoholic variation, just add an ounce of orange juice to the hot cider….
Christmas is past, New Year’s Eve is approaching, and whether you host or attend large parties, intimate gatherings, or stay at home with your loved ones, festive drinks are part of the celebration of the new year. We began taste testing new (to us) cocktails over the weekend and will share some of our favorites this week in preparation for New Year’s Eve….
I can’t imagine celebrating Cinco de Mayo weekend or enjoying a good Mexican meal without margaritas. My favorite margarita is the classic tequila/Triple Sec/lime juice concoction on the rocks with a bit of salt on the rim, but I’m always up for trying new varieties. This rhubarb margarita from 101 Margaritas by Kim Haasarud intrigued me, especially since we just added three rhubarb plants to our garden and I’m eager to cook with them. Unfortunately they aren’t ready yet, but rhubarb is coming in season and can be found in grocery stores and farmers markets around the country….
Last year Michael had a business trip that took him to Naples, Italy for the very first time. Needless to say he was very excited about the trip and sought all sorts of advice on local foods to try, and everyone familiar with the area told him he could not leave Naples without trying the limoncello. He came home from his trip enthused about all the different foods he enjoyed and he was stoked about the limoncello and arancello, but his favorite was the arancello. Listening to him describe the food made me feel a little bit envious, but hopefully someday I’ll have an opportunity to visit the famous city and other parts of Campania….