Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Holidays are a wonderful time to indulge with a special cocktail, but they don't need to be reserved just for the holidays. This years signature Christmas Eve drink was a Pomegranate Martini. Leave off the crushed candy cane; drop in a few pomegranate seeds, skewer some fresh cranberries or add a twist of lemon for garnish and you have a terrific martini for any time of year.
2 oz. Pomegranate Vodka
1/2 oz. Orange Liquor (like Cointreau)
1/2 oz. dry Vermouth
3 oz. Pomegranate Juice (or more/less to taste)

Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice and add all ingredients. Cover and shake until chilled. Run a squeeze of lemon along rim of martini glass. Roll the rim in crushed peppermint candies or candy canes. Strain into cocktail glasses.
Dennis hard at work making drinks!

Or here's a twist:
2 oz. Cranberry Vodka
1/2 oz. Orange Liquor (like Cointreau)
1/2 oz. dry Vermouth
3 oz. Cranberry Juice

Much like a Cosmo, but the Vermouth adds a different flavor. Adjust the ingredients to your liking...a little sweeter or a little more dry.
And his wife, Diana, enjoying the fruits of his labors.
Our special Christmas cocktail was a...
2 oz. good Bourbon (like Makers Mark)
1/4 oz. sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz. pure Maple Syrup
2 dashes bitters (or more to taste)

Fill a cocktail shaker half full of ice. Add all ingredients. Shake until cold and well blended. Serve either straight up or in your favorite rocks glass. Add a bacon garnish; optional, of course, but quite fun and surprisingly balanced flavor with the sweet bourbon. No matter how much bitters you add this is a sweet drink, but so exotic that you will feel very special sipping.
The cook was pretty happy to receive a second Maple Manhattan!
I will keep interspersing our Christmas menu with other blogs. Next time I want to share the best breakfast I've ever had...in Jerome, Arizona, or maybe anywhere!


Saturday, January 14, 2017


Who doesn't like cookies and ice cream? This year for Christmas Eve dinner I made my husband Jerry's favorite ice cream-Peppermint Stick! My ice cream maker only holds a little more than 1 quart so I halved this recipe which made more than enough for 4 people with lots of left-overs! I am going to give you the full recipe in case your machine is larger. I found this recipe online at Epicurious.com. Very creamy. Wonderful texture and flavor.

3 cups milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. vanilla (I also added 2 drops peppermint essential oil.)
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups half and half
8 oz. broken/crushed peppermint candy or candy canes*
Our good friends Dennis and Diana joined us
for the entire Christmas weekend! What a treat!
Pour milk into medium saucepan. Heat over low heat about 8-10 minutes stirring frequently, until scalded. Do not let it boil and if skin forms on milk, just pull it off with your fingers. Remove from heat and stir in salt and sugar until dissolved. Beat egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly pour 1/2 cup hot milk over eggs while whisking constantly. Repeat 2 or 3 times to temper the eggs. This ensures that the eggs don't begin to cook in the hot milk. Pour egg mixture back into the rest of the hot milk, whisking constantly until well mixed. Cook over double boiler, stirring frequently, until custard coats the back of a spoon (about 15 minutes). I prefer to use a candy thermometer and heat the custard until it reaches 170 degrees. Remove from the heat. Chill a couple hours or overnight. I always chill overnight. It freezers better when really cold. The next day...Mix together chilled custard, vanilla (and peppermint oil if using), cream, half and half and 1/2 crushed peppermint in a large bowl. Pour into ice cream maker and churn until partially thickened (about 10-15 minutes). Then add remaining crushed peppermint candy and churn for another 10-15 minutes until you have the desired consistency. I garnished with more peppermint candy which gave a really nice textural contrast to the super creamy ice cream.

*To crush the peppermint candies or candy canes, place in a baggie and gently tap them with a rolling pin or similar hard object until you have the desired consistency-you don't want peppermint dust, but also don't want large chunks.

Even JoJo enjoyed this Peppermint Ice Cream and he is not a sweet eater!
All the Christmas cookies I made this year were Italian in honor of the fabulous time we spent in Tuscany last summer. My old friend, Claire spent a few days with me before Christmas and helped get the cookies started!

I had not seen Claire in more than 10 years!
What a festive reunion we had together!

Map of Tuscany, Italy

These cookies, from Siena in central Italy's Tuscan region, are made with almond flour so gluten free. They also have no butter! If you like a cookie with a chewy center you will love these Ricciarelli's; reminiscent of a macaroon. I made 3 different types of Italian cookies and these were my personal favorite. I will give you the recipes for the other two soon...they were also pretty awesome!

The Ricciarelli are in the back. When they bake the crust cracks slightly.
3 cups fine almond flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. lemon zest

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the almond flour, granulated sugar, 1 cup powdered sugar, the baking powder, and the salt in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites into soft peaks.
When the peaks bend over slightly
they are considered soft vs. a stiff peak.
Fold in the almond extract, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and almond flour mixture. Stir completely until combined.
The texture will be quite crumbly, but pulls together in a ball nicely.
Use a tablespoon to scoop out a large ball of cookie dough. Roll the dough into a ball in your hands, then use the bottom of a glass to gently smash the cookie into a disk about 1/2 inch thick.
Roll in the remaining powdered sugar and set on the parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Let sit uncovered on the counter for about 45 minutes, or until the surfaces dry out just a little. Preheat oven to 275. Place the cookies into the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until they are golden brown around the edges and tops begin to crack.
Cool completely on a rack, then store in an airtight container for up to a week. They also freeze well.

That's all for today. I am going to do a series of mini-blogs (one or two recipes) to recapture our holiday festivities.

And right after the new year we visited the Grand Canyon with our son and his girlfriend and made a stop on the way home to an enchanting B&B in Jerome, Arizona--The Surgeon's House. Owner/hostess Andrea Prince serves an over-the-top breakfast not to be missed. More about her beautiful home and elaborate food coming in a blog soon!
This historic home is turning 100 this year!

Happy New Year from both Jerry and me!