Archive | Cocktails RSS feed for this section

Easter Brunch

14 Apr

I love Easter. It always makes me think of new beginnings, a fresh start and of course, Cadbury creme eggs (lots of them).

Today I bring an Easter Brunch inspiration. I think brunch is a fantastic meal to have at Easter time. Everyone has time to go to church or sleep in late and then afterwards a no hassle relaxed brunch. For brunch there are usually lots of options; pastries, omlettes, cakes, cheese boards…the works. I chose three recipes I think would add a great touch to a brunch menu. They are all simple and affordable. I also laid out an Easter/Spring tablescape and added a delicious cocktail.

ON THE MENU

Deviled eggs

Stuffed mushrooms

Fruit Fluff

Peach “mimosa”



Deviled Eggs

This is a brunch staple and of course well suited for Easter. Deviled eggs turn simple boiled eggs into a creamy flavourful treat.

WHAT YOU NEED 

Makes 6

Eggs -The number of eggs you use will give double that number of deviled eggs as they are served as halves. I used 3 eggs so I got 6(only 4 shown)

1 tbsp Mustard– I used a spicy mustard

1 tbsp Mayonnaise– This is optional but it does add a certain creaminess

Spices– I used salt, black pepper and paprika, just a pinch of each.

Deviled eggs ingredients 




WHAT TO DO 

1) Hard boil eggs, let cool and remove shells.

2) Cut eggs in half and gently remove yolks. Set whites aside.

3) Add condiments and spices and mix until a smooth paste forms.




4) Place paste into piping bag (you can use a zip lock and snip the end) and pipe into egg whites.



Deviled eggs 


Stuffed mushrooms 

I remember the first time I had this version of stuffed mushrooms. My mother brought them home from a local Italian bistro and my life was changed. Something about soft, tart cream cheese against the crunch of a fresh mushroom is a perfect match.

WHAT YOU NEED 

Mushrooms– I used 8 medium sized ones (they were unfortunately a bit bruised)

Cream cheese– The amount you use depends on the number and size of the mushrooms but about 2 tbsp fill 8 medium sized mushrooms.

Spices– I used lemon pepper and some oregano.

Mushrooms and cream cheese 


WHAT TO DO 

1) Add spices to softened cream cheese and mix.

2) Place in a piping bag and pipe into mushrooms. 

Mushrooms and cream cheese mixture



3 )Top with oregano 


Stuffed mushrooms 



Fruit Fluff 

This is my take on an Ambrosia salad. I substituted cool whip with Greek yogurt for a healthier twist and a more “brunchy” feel.

WHAT YOU NEED 

I used arbitrary amounts, a little bit of each. The amounts you use depends on how much you plan to make.

Greek yogurt- The one I used is plain combined with honey so it’s already sweet. A great alternative is vanilla but really any flavour you prefer can be used.

Fruit– I used  mixture of frozen fruit (cherries, strawberries, lingonberries) and fresh  (strawberries and blueberries)

Mini marshmallows

Fruit Fluff mixture

WHAT TO DO

Mix altogether and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Peach “Mimosas”

What’s the best part about brunch? The fact that you get to splash your juice with wine. Lol. Now mimosas traditionally consist of wine and citrus juice hence my use of air quotes. Technically this is a peach cocktail but when doing brunch, we call it a mimosa.

WHAT YOU NEED 

White wine

Peach juice

Canned peaches

Peach mimosa ingredients 




WHAT TO DO 

1) Place 1 or 2 peach slices in the bottom of the glass and muddle it a bit (mash it with a spoon if you don’t have a muddler, which I don’t)

2 ) Fill glass halfway with wine.

3) Top off with peach juice and add a straw.

Peach “mimosas”



Tablescape

An important part of entertaining is creating ambience. For this I chose a simple, clean fresh look in keeping with the idea of a relaxed yet sophisticated setting.

This tablescape employed some crafty skills but all were simple. My colour scheme was pink, white and gold.

Table runner

I made a table runner of sorts by overlapping lots of doilies along the Centre of the table. I added a touch of gold by swiping gold paint over them in a random fashion.

Table runner from doilies




Flowers

I went with pink and white carnations. Carnations are often a very affordable option from the florist costing only a few dollars. I used about 4 bunches in all keeping  the look minimal.

I swished some of the same gold paint onto the flower petals to keep with the theme and placed them in jelly jars.

Flowers




Centre piece 

My “Centre piece” began with ambition. In fact, the failure of this centrepiece led to the final colour scheme, so maybe it was for the best.

For the centerpiece of an Easter Brunch I had to incorporate eggs somehow. I decided to dye some eggs. People have different methods of doing this. The best way I’ve found is using regular food and egg dye and a bit of vinegar to allow for better uptake of colour.

I removed the contents of the eggs by making a small hole at one end and simply allowing it to run out, gently shaking if you need to. Don’t waste your egg ! I put mine in the refrigerator and made omelet the next day.

I mixed the dye, vinegar and water in a mug. I find you get a more even coating if you use a mug.

As it happened the only colour that worked out was the pink (the yellow one broke and the purple came out streaky)

Once my one surviving egg was dry I splattered it with the by now ubiquitous gold paint. I displayed it in a mini jelly jar on a bed of Easter egg shaped jelly beans.

Centre piece




I placed the flowers and Centre piece on the table runner and laid the table with simple white plates and bowls.

The tablescape and settings

Table with food

Deviled eggs 


Stuffed mushrooms



Fruit Fluff



Peach mimosa


Easy breezy Easter Brunch. Hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you if you plan on doing brunch for Easter or any other occasion. Have a happy Easter and an awesome day!

Save

FESTIVE DRINK -Hot (Chocolate) Shot

15 Dec

BLOG-Mas DAY 15

It’s the 15th day of Blogmas and we’re rounding out the Christmas drinks with a chocolate shot. 

WHAT YOU NEED 

1) Vodka-Regular or flavoured; this one happens to be chocolate flavored because it happened to be on sale but a marshmallow or vanilla flavored one would work too. 

2) Chocolate milk– Or chocolate almond/cashew/soy milk.

3) Mini Marshmallows – for topping.

4) Brown sugar– For the rim

5) Shot glass.



The ingredients 


WHAT TO DO 




1) Rim glass with using simple syrup (white sugar dissolved into water) then coat with brown sugar.

Glass rimmed with sugar



2) Pour shot glass 2/3 way with chocolate milk.

Milk



3) Fill remainder of glass with vodka and top with 3 mini marshmallows.

Vodka and marshmallows


4) Toast marshmallows- I used a long handled lighter. Be sure to let the flame touch the Marshmallows but not the shot itself (unless you want it flaming!)

Toasted marshmallows



Finished shot




The toasted marshmallows smell so good  (it’s fine with untoasted marshmallows as well). The rich chocolate flavour goes smoothly with the vodka. This a great little drink to get your guests in a party mood and it looks like hard work but is so easy and quick to do.

Thank you for reading and have an awesome day.

FESTIVE DRINK -Spiced Apple Rum Punch

14 Dec

BLOG-Mas DAY 14

On the 14th day of Blogmas we continue with festive drinks. This one is a punch with rum as the base along with apple and spices

.
WHAT YOU NEED
 

1) Brown rum– 16floz/500mL

2) Apple juice-32floz/1L

3) 1 large apple -or more if you like.

4) 2tbsp ground Cinnamon -or stick

5) 1 fruit teabag -I used a redfruits tea, you can use apricot, peach etc.

6) A punch bowl– I have none so I used a mixing bowl  (:

7) Glasses 

8) Yellow or orange sugar for rim.


Rum and apple juice



Sugar, apple, cinnamon, glass and bowl




WHAT TO DO 

PART 1- Prep the glass (es)

1) Choose a wide mouthed glass for easy filling with spoon.

2) Coat rim of glass with simple syrup  (white sugar dissolved in small amount of water) 

3)Coat rim with sugar– you can use orange or yellow  or even brown sugar. If you don’t have a specific colour, you can make it yourself using a bit of food dye and white sugar.

Syrup and sugar


Decorated rim

PART 2- “Spice the Rum”

1) Pour rum into microwave safe bowl or place in saucepan over low heat.

2) Add cinnamon-as much as you wish depending on how spiced you want it.


Rum and cinnamon 


3) Add apple slices and teabag

Added ingredients 


4) Heat for 3 minutes in microwave or simmer until apple slices are softened .

5) Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes . 


PART 3- Mix and garnish 

6) Pour apple juice into punch bowl adding cooled rum concoction to it and stirring to mix.

7) Cut an apple slice into quarters then make a slit wide enough to sit snug onto the edge of the glass.

8) Fill with punch and drink ! 


Finished drink




This drink is warm and comforting, the apple blends with the rum and the cinnamon and teabag add that extra flavour making it taste like no other rum punch you’ve ever had.

This is an ideal drink to serve at a party because its a real money saver. The priciest thing is the one or two bottles of rum you’ll use (depending on the size of your guest list or your penchant for rum!)

I also think this kind of punch could work well with cranberry or grape juice. What other spices and flavours would you add?

Thanks for reading, remember to always drink responsibly and have an awesome day ! 

FESTIVE DRINK- Red Cocktail 

14 Dec

BLOG-Mas DAY 13

Hello and welcome to Day 13 of Blogmas. Today I bring you a festive red cocktail that’s great for a Christmas soiree.

WHAT YOU NEED

(This makes one 12 oz/400mL drink)

1) 1 cup/250mL of wine – A sweet Blush or Rose works best.

2) 1/2 cup/125mL cranberry juice -or any other redberry juice.

3) 2 tbsp/30mL grenadine syrup

4) Wine glass (12 oz or bigger)

Grendine syrup, wine and cranberry juice


5) Red maraschino cherries 

6) Dried cranberries (for garnishing )

7) Red sugar (for rim)

8) Toothpick (for garnish)

  Red sugar, dried cranberries ,  red maraschino cherries


WHAT TO DO 

1) Rim the glass with the coloured sugar– you can use simple syrup(sugar dissolved into small amount of water) or  a bit of water to moisten the glass. Then dip it into your sugar. If you’re like me and don’t have red or pink sugar you can make your own, I did this in my 10 Baking hacks post.

Syrup and sugar


Rim in syrup 


Rim in sugar


2) Add 2 or 3 cherries along with their syrup to the bottom of the glass.


Cherries in glass


3) Add wine and juice to glass.


4) Skewer a few dried cranberries along with a maraschino cherry and place on top.

Completed cocktail
And there it is! A cheerful holiday drink. A sweeter wine pairs well with the cranberry juice which is a bit sharp and the syrup adds more sweetness as well as some substance to the drink. The sugar and garnish make it look festive.
Enjoy! and have an awesome day!

How to Entertain on the Cheap

27 Nov

Signature cocktail and simple decor
Hello

The Holiday season is fast approaching and this means entertaining and lots of it . As someone who does her fair share of soirees I know it can run you ragged; physically , emotionally and of course financially . 
Often, what begins as an intimate gathering with close loved ones can snowball into an all out zoo scene and that cute budget you set goes up in proverbial smoke . 

Here are some tips I often consider when planning to entertain:

1) Plan a menu around items you already have

Don’t go out and spend a fortune on a massive turkey if you already have piece if lamb in the freezer. Decide what you make using whatever you have sitting in your cupboard . 

2) Make the most of your menu

Try to get as much out of the items you do buy. For example , if you buy a pumpkin, use it in as many dishes as you can; pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, pumpkin pie etc. Do this rather than buying dozens of different items to make different dishes. 

3) Be selective with your invites

The way of the world of entertaining is such that some of the persons you invite won’t come while others will show up with extra guests. Be sure to invite reliable friends asking them to RSVP and make it clear whether or not they are allowed to bring guests.

4) Do potluck 

This is an oldie but a goodie. I am guilty of telling people not to bring anything when I entertain because I somehow feel it is in poor taste. It doesn’t have to be, we all have those friends who always offer to bring something so engage them. Also, people like to feel useful, why deprive your cousin of making his world famous sweet potato pie?

5) Make a punch/cocktail

It can be expensive to purchase multiple bottles of wine, vodka, brandy, scotch, rum and so on. It is far more cost effective to purchase one type of alcohol in bulk and make a punch or signature drink from it. 

6) Keep decorations simple

We all love our homes to look beautiful and festive. This means trees and wreaths and tablesscapes and railing and mantle piece decor, new curtains, new cushions… I could go on. The costs of these things really add up! Focus on a few things e.g the tree and tablesscapes. Chose items that can mix and match and be reused in the future.

I hope some of these tips help to allay the anxiety that can often come with entertaining, I also hope I listen to my own advice. Have an awesome day!

Salted Caramel Popcorn Balls

23 Oct

Hello
Do you say kaa-rahh-mell or kar-muhl ? Either way, this sugary dessert item has recently regained popularity in combination with salt. I love sweet and salty, in fact I often crave it. I find it calms 2 beasts in one shot, it achieves true satisfaction. Yummm…

Righto. My sister loves popcorn quite a bit. She especially loves adding flavours to it; white cheddar, sour cream, chocolate and so on. A couple of years ago, I received a photo from her via whatsapp. It was a plastic crate not unlike those cupcakes and muffins are sold in, but this one housed popcorn balls. They were massive, covered in drizzled chocolate both dark and white and topped with the tiniest chocolate wafers (think super mini candy melts). They looked delicious. And they were expensive. I mean like unreasonably so.  Needless to say she never bought them. Since then I kept telling myself I should have a go at making popcorn balls. And that day finally came.

Like so many things I make , I initially wing it. I don’t look up recipes BEFORE I attempt something,  that’s not hardcore. So this is my way of making popcorn balls and I am well aware that there may be far more effective ways but this one was fairly simple and very affordable so keep on reading.

In this recipe I use marshmallow as the binding ingredient similarly to making a rice crispy treat and I also make my own caramel to top them with.

WHAT YOU NEED

1) Popcorn  (plain, air popped)- 4 cups (popped)

2) Marshmallows- 1 cup

3) Granulated sugar-1 cip

4) Heavy cream/evaporated milk- 1/3 cup

5) Salt (preferably large crystals)

6) Spices- I used cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin spice ( why not)

6.5) Patience
WHAT TO DO 

1) Pop popcorn and set aside.

Air popped popcorn 




2) Dissolve sugar in approximately 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil in a saucepan then add milk/cream and allow to boil for a few more mintes. – It won’t be as dark or as thick when you first make it. It needs time to cool.
Note : My caramel measurements were fairly arbitrary as I was experimenting,  however you may vary your measurements depending on how thick or how runny you want your caramel. You can also just melt down caramel candy 🙂

Evaporated milk and granulated sugar 


Bring sugar to a boil



Completed caramel




3) Melt Marshmallows in microwave in 15 second intervals until soft and goopy. 

Marshmallows,  salt and spices 

4) Combine marshmallow, popcorn and spices together.

Mixture of ingredients 




5) Let the mixture sit for approximately 30 minutes. (Trust me it saves you a few grey hairs) The marshmallow begins to set up a but and the mixture is way easier to handle cimparted with when it’s very warm and the marshmallow is stringy and sticks to everything. 

6) Mold into balls the size you desire and let firm up for a few hours (at least 2) in the fridge.

Popcorn balls
7) Once firm, take caramel mixture and Drizzle over the balls. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt. Let firm up overnight.

 

Finished product 




These were moorish. This recipe made eight balls approximately 3 inches diameter. Popcorn is extremely inexpensive and the remainder of ingredients are likely found in your cupboard making this an affordable treat for a movie night or other get together. The caramel combined with salt creates a complex flavour that foodies will love but is so tasty that everyone else will adore.

I hope you try these out and habe an awesome day!

Checkered Celebration Cake

15 Aug

Hello all! I attempted one of my most daring baking feats this past week….and it worked! Sort of.

My beautiful friend is leaving our squad for greener pastures, furthering her career and reuniting with loved ones and all good things. Therefore as sad as I am for her to leave, it is a cause for celebration. 

A group of us decided to host a chill, surprise goodbye celebration with casual no fuss eats like burgers, hot dogs and tortilla chips with salsa. Our resident vegan came through with a spicy tofu dish and we had mini cinnamon rolls as a sweet snack. 

Like I said it was chill and relaxed just like our friend. That however wasn’t enough for me apparently. I decided I wanted to make her a cake. A celebration cake! A checkered celebration  cake. A checkered celebration cake topped with cookies and chocolate. What a decision this was.

I have been seeing and admiring checkered cakes for well over a year now, dissecting the technique, pumping myself up to finally tackle it .This was the time. A word of advice is NEVER try out a new recipe just before you have an event or guests over. Did I listen to that advice? No.

So I undertook this task and I will now document it inclusive of my horrible errors so that we can all learn from my mistakes together.

Let us begin…

The cake was tri-colour checkerboard and I topped it with meringue cookies and shards of candy melt bark. I will begin with the toppings as I made them first.

(Rainbow) Meringue Cookies

WHAT YOU NEED

1) 3 med- large egg whites 

2) 3/4 cup(150g) castor sugar

Tip (castor sugar and icing sugar are the same thing and it can be made by running granulated sugar in a food processor / blender/nutribullet etc for a few seconds. 

3) Cream of tartar  (to stabilize the egg whites)- you’ll just need a pinch of this.

4) 1/4 teaspoon rose water (the original recipe called for vanilla extract, you can substitute that for whatever flavour you prefer)

5) Multiple food colours – I used teal and purple (my attempt at orange didn’t make the cut.

6) Piping bag (or a zip lock bag )

Meringue ingredients


WHAT TO DO

1) Preheat oven to 95°C (200°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

2) Beat egg whites until foamy, add cream of tartar and beat until soft peak stage.  (Soft peaks gently and slowly fold over )

3) Slowly add sugar beating at medium to high speed until stiff peak stage. ( Stiff peaks hold their form) then add in the rose water.

Tip : Do NOT over beat the egg. It’s better to beat,stop and check then keep beating than to overbeat the egg.

4)Using a toothpick or a knife, streak your food colouring along the length of the piping (ziplock) bag then add the meringue mixture.

5) Pipe the meringue mixture out in little dollops, according to the size you wish. The food colour should form a swirled effect.

Whipping up meringue mixture


6) Bake in oven for 1 1/2 hours (90 minutes) or until cookies are dry and crispy.

After this I stored my meringue cookies in a sealed airtight container and placed it in the cupboard for later use. I didn’t want to keep it in the fridge for fear of some moisture affecting the cookies.

The next thing I made was the chocolate/candy melt bark.

Rainbow Bark

WHAT YOU NEED

1) Candy melts in assorted colours. If you are more savvy ,you can use white chocolate and colour it using non-waterbased food dye. The colours I used were really just what I had knocking around; lime green, bright yellow, red and dark blue as well as white (this poor party girl wastes nothing!)

Candy melts in white and cheesecake (off white)



2) Sprinkles – to add over the top of the bark.

3) Containers to place the candy melts in.

4) Silicone mat or other flat, smooth heat resistant sheer to form bark on.

Silicone mat 



WHAT TO DO

1) Melt candy melts. 

2) Pour the melted chocolate onto mat or sheet and spread it out. I started with the white ones.

3) Add each colour and swirl it in. Add sprinkles on top.

White candy melts with red swirled in

4) Set the swirled bark in the fridge for a couple hours so it hardens completely. 

5) Remove hardened bark and crack it into shards using knife or mallet 

Multicolored candy melt bark 

I stored the candy melt bark in an airtight container in the fridge.

Candy melt shards

So those are the toppings for this overly ambitious cake completed. This took me an ENTIRE night,  good thing I started 2 days in advance. I recommend this for anyone trying this out.
DECOR

Before we move on to the  mess   I mean piece-de-resistance i.e the cake let me take a moment to show off my decor. It was really simple as I didn’t have a lot of time or money to get prepared.

I made the ever popular tassle/pom poms strung up and layered. I used brightly coloured tissue paper as it went along with the cake and my friend’s personality. 

Pom pom tassle decor 


I also hung up two balloons with multicolored marble design and lit some candles for a little ambience. 

Okay back to baking. The cake! This cake takes some work and some foresight but it isnt hard. The concept behind the checkered pattern is that by creating circles of differing colours in the horizontal plane, each one becomes a square when cut in a vertical plane. Sounds a smidgen confusing but I promise it isnt.

Tri-coloured Checkered Cake

WHAT YOU NEED

1) White cake batter- This makes it easier to colour. I used a recipe from www.joyofbaking.com because any recipe that lady (Stephanie) creates is actual gold-I’m talking 24 carat here!

2) 6″ round cake tin – this is what I used. You make the amount of cake batter in accordance with the size of your cake tins and the number of layers you ultimately make.

3) Food colours -I used red,yellow, blue and green to create bright pink, bright yellow and teal.

4) Circle Cookie cutters- this is to create the circles from the cake but you can freehand it with a knife …..if you dare.

 Some stuff you need for the cake

5)Icing- I’m not going to put an icing recipe here because quite frankly I have none. I attempted Italian meringue buttercream TWICE using 2 separate recipes from what I consider to be very legitimate websites but each one failed. In my online scouring I found that a lot of people attempting these recipes had similar problematic outcomes where the egg white seemed to deflate on addition of the butter. My advice from the beginning of this post remains, don’t attempt this for the first time on the day of the party/event. 

In the end I had to add a crap ton of icing sugar to make my second attempt salvageable. So……find an acceptable icing recipe and make it. And if it works, leave me a link cause girl needs help!

6) Cookie butter- The idea to add cookie butter to my icing came from a video by Yolanda Gamp of HowtoCakeit on YouTube. This. Is. An. EXCELLENT. Idea. The cookie butter also helped to thicken the icing .

WHAT TO DO

1) Preheat your oven as directed by the recipe you chose.

2) Mix your white cake batter

3) Separate batter into 3 bowls or whatever number of colours you plan to make. 

4) Add food colours to get desired colour-I used water based food colours because that’s what I had (they also tend to be cheaper) but gel colours definitely give me vibrant colours.

White cake batter

5) Bake cakes according to recipe, let cool and remove from tin.

Edit

Multi coloured cakes

To be honest I was initially disappointed that my cakes were so thin ( I think I made the batter stretch too far) but it turned out this was an okay height  (approximately 1 1/2 inches). I think it would be best if each layer is about 2 inches tall.

6) Trim the tops of your cakes to create a flat surface for stacking-I couldn’t do this because my layers were so skinny. 

7)Using your cookie cutters create 3 circles in each cake.

Cookie cutter used to make circle

Two different sized cutters used

Cake circles

8) Arrange the cake circles so that each cake layer has each colour in it.

Cake colours intermixed

9) Place 1st layer of cake on a level surface (if you own a lazy Susan this is the time to whip her out, if not creat your own with a bowl and a large plate.

10) Stack your layers, icing in between with the cookie butter infused frosting,  then crumb coat and place in refrigerator to harden up.

Layers of cake with frosting

11) Make more icing- the cookie butter turned the icing brown and I wanted the outside of the cake to be white. Also the icing just wouldn’t harden up as much as I wanted, so I decided to make royal icing to cover it over with. Unfortunately even my royal icing recipe was not on my side and that too ended up being a bit runny. Once you have successfully made white icing, cover the cake and place it in the fridge to begin to stiffen..

10) Add the toppings. I stuck the candy melt shards into the actual cake as you would a candle. I then placed the meringue cookies on top (my placement was haphazard and by the time I decided to relocate then they had set up in the icing )


The cake

Inside of checkered cake

When it’s time to serve the cake you will see the beautiful checkered design. Eat and enjoy! 

We had a great evening, it was stress free and ended on a sweet note (ba dum ching!) Thank you for reading and have an awesome day!

%d bloggers like this: