Archive | February, 2012

Happy Mardi Gras! — Cat 4 Hurricane Cocktail

20 Feb

I had hoped to get this post to you yesterday but I was just too busy trying to finish up my current sewing project.  I hope you don’t mind :)

Yesterday was Joe Cain Day and I thought this would have been just what the doctor ordered.  At least I still got it to you before Fat Tuesday so you can mix up a batch to enjoy during the festivities tomorrow.

 

And now for the Mardi Gras trivia I promised earlier:

1.  Mardi Gras was started right here in Mobile, Alabama, in 1830 by a bunch of revelers called the Cowbellion de Rakin Society.  They plundered local stores for various implements (rakes, hoes, cowbells), and took to the streets on New Years Eve.  The Cowbellion de Rakin Society traveled to New Orleans in 1857 to establish the the traditon there.  You’re welcome, New Orleans ;)

2.  Joe Cain is the man responsible for reviving the Mardi Gras tradition after the Civil War.  He donned Chicasaw Indian clothing and rode around in a decorated coal wagon pulled by a mule.

3.  Joe Cain Day is celebrated the Sunday before Mardi Gras.

4.  The Polka Dots were the first women’s society in Mobile, first parading in 1949.

5.  Finallly, which two of the Mardi Gras colors originated in Mobile?  Purple and yellow.  Green was added in New Orleans.

Fun trivia facts from:  http://www.funtrivia.com/en/subtopics/Mardi-Gras-29719.html

 

Category 4 Hurricane Cocktails

I made these last month for our supper club and wanted to find a recipe that was similar to Pat O’Brien’s without using a mix.  These were tasty, simple to whip up, and packed a powerful punch!

I scaled the recipe up to make 1 gallon of punch for our supper club but I have given you the original recipe for 1 serving below.  If you are having a hard time finding passion fruit juice, I found mine by the refrigerated orange juice.  It is actually passion fruit cocktail so I don’t think it is the same color as pure passion fruit juice.  I added some extra grenadine to get a nicer red color.  You may find pure passion fruit juice in the ethnic aisle or at the health food store.

If you want to go all out and take these babies to the category 5 level of all-out destruction, add a splash of 151 rum :)

  • 2 oz light rum
  • 2 oz dark rum
  • 2 oz passion fruit juice
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • juice of a half a lime
  • 1 Tbsp simple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp grenadine
  • orange slice and cherry for garnish

Combine all ingredients except garnish in shaker full of ice and shake well.  Strain into hurricane glass filled with ice.  Garnish with fruit and serve immediately.

 

Adapted from about.com.

Weekend Round Up

18 Feb
 

Don’t you hate it when you finally have a day off and you still wake up at 6:30 AM?  Today is my first day off after 12 days straight of nursery rounds, office hours, and after-hours calls and I was looking forward to snoozing until at least 8!  Oh well.  I got up and ate my usual Nutella toast and decided to let y’all know the things I’ve been working on over the past few weeks.  I have to run out for a new pair of fabric shears today but hopefully after that I will get some of these unfinished projects wrapped up!

From the Sewing Room

Here are some of my current fabrics under construction:

 
This was my first time scanning fabric. I promise there isn’t a stain in the middle.
  This Marc Jacobs stretch cotton will involve this cute peplum — that’s all I’m telling you for now!  It’s ready to be finished now that my wonderful alterations expert, Lisa, helped me finish fitting it.
 
 
 

This stretch Tahari suiting has shades of fuschia, coral, and green on a peachy background.  I am practicing lining and seam finishes with this one.  I hope to wear it to work one day this week so I will show you pics when it is done.  Please notice my lovely fuschia serging thread.  I finally got brave enough to change the thread on my serger all by myself! :)

 
 
 

These dots have been underway the longest.  They are the skirt for my Bombshell Dress from the Sew Retro class on Craftsy.  I am having fitting issues with the bodice so I may go ahead and finish the skirt to wear until I can get some professional help with the bodice.

From the Kitchen 

On the cooking front, I made three really good recipes from the interwebs this week but didn’t have a chance to snap a pic of any of them.  The first one is a regular in my rotation.

 I like Tiny Urban Kitchen‘s method of steak preparation because it eliminates all the guess work.  While my husband is usually in charge of cooking the steaks in our house (he is the steak whisperer, after all), occasions arise where I may be called on to complete the task.  Enter steak prep method for the immensely OCD :O

 To accompany our steaks, I tried Ina Garten’s roasted asparagus.  It was perfect for a weeknight meal (and would also be a great low maintenance side for a big dinner party).  This is super easy and involves tossing trimmed asparagus with olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper, and roasting on a pan at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  There.  Now you don’t even need to click the link.

Photo look too good to be taken by me? You're right -- it's from Bo's Bowl.

Finally, I made Bo’s Bowl’s Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins to use up some waning strawberries from the farmer’s market — delish!  I took the leftovers to the nurses at the hospital and they were gone within minutes.  Be sure to check out Bo’s blog — he also hails from the Heart of Dixie.

So that’s it for this week.  Stay tuned for a fully-loaded Mardi Gras recipe just for you in the next few days, as well as some fun Mardi Gras trivia.  Have a good Saturday!

TGIF! — Meyer Lemon Drop Martini

9 Feb

It's been a long week! You've worked hard! You deserve a Meyer Lemon Drop Martini!!

If you’ve never met a Meyer lemon before, let me introduce you.  Meyer lemons are a cross between regular lemons and mandarin oranges that were imported from China in 1908. See Wiki for more info. Meyer lemons are shorter and rounder than grocery store lemons and have thinner and usually more golden skin and flesh. The best thing about them is their gentler bite. They are less acidic than regular lemons, making them perfect for desserts and cocktails. Some people will even eat them plain.

Looking a little ragged by the end.

This year I went crazy buying plants and trees for my garden but the combination of a hot, dry summer and a husband working lots of overtime meant that my abundance of plants didn’t get the TLC they deserved. Luckily my Meyer lemon tree had quite a few green lemons on it when I bought it so all I had to do was keep it watered to make sure I got to enjoy its fruits. And enjoy them I did. In 6 batches of martinis to be exact :)

When my friend Catherine and I were whipping up the last batch of cocktails from the Meyer Lemon Drop Martini Tree (as we have dubbed it), I decided I should snap a few photos and share this delicious recipes with y’all. If you can’t find Meyer lemons at your local grocery, don’t panic, you can still enjoy this recipe by substituting regular lemons without any other modifications. As an added bonus, this recipe utilizes the simple syrup recipe I posted earlier.

I hope you have a fun and relaxing weekend and enjoy a lemon drop for me while I am on call.

 

Meyer Lemon Drop Martini
Yield: 2 martinis, or 1 if you’ve had a bad day

1.5 ounces simple syrup
zest of 1 Meyer lemon
juice of 2 Meyer lemons, reserving one lemon to rub on rim of glasses
3 ounces vodka
Granulated or superfine sugar

In a small microwave safe container, heat simple syrup and zest in 20 second intervals until syrup is hot but not boiling. Cool completely, then chill.  This process will help release the oil from the zest and give your simple syrup more citrusy flavor.  (Alternately, if you are making a fresh batch of simple syrup, you could include the zest when combining the water and sugar before heating.)  Make sure all ingredients and martini glasses are well-chilled before proceeding.

Fill martini shaker with crushed ice. Pour in simple syrup, lemon juice, and vodka. Shake well. Rub outer rim of martini glass(es) with lemon to moisten. Dip into sugar to coat. Strain martini into glasses. Serve immediately, relax, and enjoy!

Recipe inspired by food.com

Blue Velvet Birthday Cupcakes

9 Feb

A two-tiered blue velvet cupcake for the birthday boy. It looked much bluer in person. I'm still figuring out this lighting and photo editing business.

 
This past Sunday was the first birthday party for a very special little boy — Kristian, the one-year-old son of our very good friends and neighbors, Kenny and Larrica.
 
 
 
Kenny’s favorite cake is Red Velvet so anytime I get a chance to feed them cake, this is what I make.  Of course, this is what Kristian requested for his birthday party, too ;)
 
Instead of the usual red, Larrica wanted blue cupcakes to coordinate with the birthday theme.  She also requested a combination of mini and regular cupcakes.
 

This is a better representation of the blue color.

 
 

The cupcake spread.

Unfortunately, the birthday boy was tired by the time the cake-eating festivities commenced, so I don’t have any cute pictures of frosting covered hands and faces.  But I know Master Kristian will have plenty of opportunities to catch up on his Red (or any color) Velvet Cake indulging.

Not a happy camper :(

This recipe has been passed down in my family at least from my great-grandmother. It is a permanent fixture at all of our holiday tables and sometimes we make it just because (like family supper this week).

To make the two-tiered cupcake, I leveled the top of a regular cupcake with a serrated knife. I then frosted it with a single layer swirl (Ateco 804 tip). I peeled the paper off the mini cupcake and pushed it down into the frosting swirl. I then swirled frosting on the top of it with the same tip. While I didn’t do it, you could add a small toothpick or dowel down the center before frosting the mini cupcake for added stability as it may be a bit wobbly.

Blue (or Red) Velvet Cupcakes

Yield: in this case, 2 dozen mini and 1.5 dozen regular cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 1/2 cups canola oil*
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) blue (or red) food coloring

For the cream cheese frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese softened
4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
pinch salt
pecans for garnish, if desired

For the cupcakes:  Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease muffin tin or line with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), blend eggs and sugar until thick and yellow.  Mix in vanilla extract and vinegar.  Slowly blend in oil until thoroughly mixed.  Add half of dry ingredients to egg mixture, mixing until just combined.  Stir in half of buttermilk.  Mix in half of remaining dry ingredients until just mixed, then remaining buttermilk, then last of the dry ingredients, blending only long enough to combine.  Do not overmix.  Finally, stir in food coloring until evenly distributed.  fill muffin tins 2/3 to 3/4 full and bake minis for 9-11 minutes, regular for 18-20 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched and cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

For cream cheese frosting:  In bowl of stand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter with paddle attachment until light and fluffy.  Mix in vanilla extract.  Gradually blend in powdered sugar until smooth.  If desired you may stir chopped pecans directly into the frosting if you are going to spread onto the cupcakes with a spatula.  If you plan to pipe, you may want to chill the frosting briefly before filling your bag and decorating.  Top the piped cupcakes with a whole pecan half or garnish as desired.  Or just eat it as is right there on the spot ;)

*The original cake recipe calls for a whopping 2 cups of oil.  When I make this as a layer cake, I follow the original recipe but I found that cupcakes made with 2 cups of oil left oily rings on the platter.  Reducing the oil to 1 1/2 cups doesn’t seem to adversely affect the taste of the cupcakes so I guess you could reduce it in the layer cake as well.  But if you’re eating Red Velvet, you’re not on a diet, now are you???

Christmas Party Dress — Simplicity 2178 Again

8 Feb

Sorry for the blurry iPhone pics. My camera battery was dead.

 

Here is my second attempt at the Simplicity 2178 — much better technique and results this go-around.  I decided to use three different silks for the different parts of the dress.  The peau de soie from the waistband also faced the shoulder ties to provide some contrast.  I wish I had used it for the hem facing also because that would have felt much better against my skin.  I still didn’t realize I need a full bust adjustment so the waistband sits a little higher in the front than in the back, but all in all I am happy with the fit and I got tons of compliments on the dress when I wore it at my Christmas party.

I promise it wasn't wrinkled when I wore it. It has been hanging in my closet for the past two months post-party.

Speaking of the Christmas party, every year for the past three years, my husband and I, with the help of several wonderful friends, host 50+ of our closest friends at our (too small) home.  Being raised by a family of gracious Southern hostesses, I always insist on overdoing it and going overboard with the menu.  This year I tried to delegate a little more and I think I did a pretty good job.  Our menu included ham and turkey carving stations, fruit/veggie/cheese trays, West Indes salad (a local creation!), several dips, crab rangoon, assorted cupcakes and other desserts, a champagne bar and beer, my husband’s famous eggnog, and a very popular Apple Pie Moonshine — whew!  I will be posting some of the recipes soon, next up will be a variation of an old family favorite — Red Velvet — so stay tuned!

Sewing Debut Dress — Simplicity 2178

7 Feb

20120207-104509.jpg

Back in September, my husband and I attend a benefit for our local schools with my sister, cousins, and some friends. This event featured a Bobby Flay style cooking showdown with some of our area’s best chefs (and lots of tasting, of course!). There was also a fashion show hosted by several local boutiques featuring their latest styles. During the fashion show, glam ladies passed around lip gloss minis from an awesome local makeup line, carrying them like cocktails on silver trays–so cute! It was this fashionable aspect of the event that inspired me to make my own dress for the evening. I wanted something cute and trendy, something maybe a bit different than everything else in my closet, so I chose Simplicity 2178. Plus, this would be my first time to wear a me-made garment into public.

20120207-110231.jpg

The fabric is a synthetic woven from Hancock Fabrics that was not ideal for a new sewist because of its drapiness but it all worked out. I cut a straight 14 in this pattern, but in hindsight, I needed a full bust adjustment. Some of the instructions weren’t clear to me at the time, like understitching the facing and how to position the invisible zip. I also didn’t pay enough attention to the pattern markings on the seams where the waistband joins the bodice and skirt. I have made this dress again with much better technique and I will post pictures of that one soon.

I omitted the shoulder strap because I didn’t like it and the dress was fine without it. I used a little doublesided tape just to be safe:)

The best part of the evening was dancing the night away with my honey to eighties tunes covered by one of our best local bands. To top it all off, my dress got its picture in not one, but two, local magazines!

20120207-115531.jpg
On the “pink” carpet. I think most, if not all, of the other ladies featured in this spread were wearing clothes from the fashion show.

20120207-115626.jpg

I definitely recommend this pattern and may still make the two strap version with the longer skirt at some point.

More finished sewing projects to come soon as well as some Mardi Gras festivities so stay tuned!

Chocolate Workshop Part One — Cappuccino Chip Crumble Muffins

6 Feb chocolate fingers

This past Friday evening I attended a chocolate workshop at a local culinary school.  I should tell y’all that I’m a cooking nerd — I love studying the science of what happens in the kitchen — so this class was a blast.  Who doesn’t love cooking and having someone else clean up the mess?!?  I got to hang out with some cool folks, and I came home with 7 new recipes, 6 of which we tasted during the class–score!

Each person was assigned a different recipe to prepare and mine was the Cappuccino Chip Crumble Muffins from Chocolatier October 1996.  I will be posting each of the six recipes (with permission of the instructor) in the upcoming weeks as well as a bonus recipe.

These muffins are easy to assemble, delicious with your morning coffee, and received the husband stamp of approval.  While the original recipe yields 11 jumbo muffins, it will also make about 20 regular-sized muffins if you don’t have a jumbo muffin tin.

Enjoy!

 
Cappuccino Chip Crumble Muffins
Yield: 11 jumbo or 20 regular muffins

Crumble:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg*
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup walnuts, chopped
6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes

Batter:
1 1/2 cups milk, divided
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg*
1 cup granulated sugar
9 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375F. Spray 11 jumbo or 20 regular muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper liners.

Combine all crumble ingredients and blend with a fork (or your fingers) until crumbly. Set aside.

Scald 1/2 cup milk in small sauce pan. Remove from heat and stir in espresso powder. Pour into a medium mixing bowl, add remaining 1 cup milk, and set aside to cool completely.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg*, and granulated sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Toss in the chocolate chips.

Whisk the melted butter, dark brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract into the cooled milk mixture. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Divide batter between muffin cups, filling each cup a generous ¾ of the way full. Lightly press about ¼ cup of the crumb mixture onto the top of each muffin (each cup will now be filled to the brim but don’t worry—you will have beautiful muffin tops!).

Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove from the pan and cool completely.

Source: Chocolatier October 1996

*Nutmeg is one of the most disgusting flavors to me so I omitted it from the recipe with good results ;)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 316 other followers