Cranberry Gin Fizz

Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday of all time for the obvious reason, i.e. stuffing) can be tough for many people under the best of circumstances. Hectic travel. Black Friday fatigue. Bumping into old frenemies from high school. Trying to explain your millennial job to your great aunt. And my personal favorite, responding to the question “OMG, did you lose a ton of weight?” Yes, I have indeed shed a few pounds since my Bat Mitzvah, Mrs. Goldberger. I have also groomed my caterpillar eyebrows, thank you very much.

But this year, after, shall we say, a divisive election, things have the potential to get downright ugly. Especially if you’re leaving your East Coast Liberal haven for the heartland. To avoid igniting a live Facebook comments war at your Thanksgiving table, you’re going to need alcohol.

How does a seasonal cocktail to unite the whole family sound? We’re stronger together with a Cranberry Gin Fizz in hand. Made with a tart, fresh cranberry simple syrup with notes of rosemary, the Cranberry Gin Fizz will get you through Thanksgiving. It’s festive and colorful. And after all, Booze Trumps No Booze.

Bite your tongue, take down a few Make America Great Again lawn signs and sip your Cranberry Gin Fizz this Thanksgiving. And remember, when they go low, we reach for a seasonal fall cocktail and start drinking to dull the pain. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

 

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Cranberry Gin Fizz

Makes 1 cocktail

1 ounce fresh lime juice

2 ounces gin

1 ounce cranberry simple syrup

1 sprig of rosemary for garnish

a few cranberries for garnish

splash of club soda

ice

Cranberry Simple Syrup:

6 ounces fresh cranberries

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

sprig of rosemary

Combine cranberries, water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes or until the cranberries start to burst. Remove from heat and add in rosemary. Allow mixture to cool and strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Combine lime juice, cranberry simple syrup, and gin in a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour into a glass filled with ice. Top with a splash of club soda, a few fresh cranberries, and a rosemary sprig for garnish.

 

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Apple Scones with Maple Glaze

 

I never made it apple picking this fall. I know fall isn’t technically over yet, but let’s get real – it’s not happening. And even if it did, sweater-clad families lining the East Coast have already picked the trees clean.

Instead, I’ve lived vicariously through friends and relatives … on Facebook. Scrolling through pics of newly married couples in matching vests posing in a pumpkin patch moved me. Seeing photos of my rosy cheeked nieces and nephews in Ohio chomping down on apples while their parents tried to pull off the elusive family selfie was heart warming.  But what really piqued my interest even more than the apples themselves were the fresh doughnuts my sister-in-law raved about. Fresh, hot apple and maple doughnuts that crowds lined up for. She said the whole family fell silent in the car (not an easy feat with two kids under 5) while they each devoured their doughnuts. Eating doughnuts and apple picking (secondary to the doughnuts, come on) are on my fall bucket list for next year.

In the meantime, here’s a fall baking project for utilizing those glorious fresh picked (or grocery store) apples. Nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice infuse these scones with classic, delightful fall flavoring. Whole wheat flour and oats create a really nice texture and the maple icing is quite simply – on fleek.

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Apple Scones with Maple Glaze

Adapted from Ina Garten

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 pound cold butter, diced

3/4 cup chopped apple (I used half of a medium sized granny smith apple)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 egg, lightly beaten with a little water for egg wash

Maple glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp maple extract

2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In an electric mixer combine flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add in the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs and add to the flour and butter.  Mix until the dough just comes together.

Place the dough on a floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough about 1 inch thick. Using the bottom of a glass or small bowl, cut the dough into little circles and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush the top of the scones with your egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden. Let the scones cool for about 5 minutes before topping with icing.

For the glaze, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, maple extract and milk. When the scones are done. Drizzle each scone with 1 tablespoon of the glaze. You can sprinkle the top of the scones with a few oats.

 

 

 

 

Rose water grapefruit cocktail

Rose water is a love-it-or-hate-it ingredient. You either appreciate the delicate floral notes or it makes you feel like you’ve been punched in the face with your grandmother’s perfume. It’s a fine line. A subtle amount of rose water can transform baked goods, jam, ice cream and, of course, cocktails. The first time I fell in love with rose water was at Balaboosta in New York City. I ordered the knafeh for dessert — a Middle Eastern cheesecake made with thin shreds of phyllo dough. It was served with this delicate rose water ice cream and topped with pistachios. I promptly ordered a bottle of rose water and began plotting ways to use it.  Check out my article on SheKnows.com!

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Rose water grapefruit cocktail recipe

Makes 1 cocktail

  • 1-1/2 ounces vodka
  • 1-1/2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 ounce honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon rose water
  • splash of Campari
  • 4 ounces club soda
  • lemon peel for garnish

Mix vodka, grapefruit juice, honey and rose water in a cocktail shaker. Pour over ice and top with club soda and a splash of Campari. Garnish with lemon peel.

Strawberry Scones

Summer is flying by, and everyone I know is scrambling to knock those bucket-list items off. Go to the beach, picnic at the park, swim at the pool, host a backyard barbecue and eat all the ice cream. (Items not featured on the bucket list that I have accomplished: get eaten alive by mosquitoes, receive a sunburn and sweat profusely at all times.) For me though, it’s all about enjoying and making the most out of that beautiful summer produce. Have I made enough pies? Have I eaten a more-than-healthy share of tomatoes? Has corn on the cob been featured as a side dish at every meal? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

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Strawberries are a summer staple in my fridge, so I decided to bake them into a delicious breakfast treat that is a true crowd-pleaser. These are perfect for a summer brunch. Check out the full recipe on sheknows.com!

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Watermelon Margaritas

On a recent trip to Costa Rica I had some magical watermelon margaritas. The fruit there was out of this world and I took every available opportunity to mix my booze with fresh fruit juice. My first drink there was a watermelon marg and it was love at first sip. Using fresh juice in a cocktail makes a huge difference and it’s super easy – especially if you have an immersion blender. You can use any juice you like here – I’ve done blood orange juice and grapefruit juice. Make it spicy by muddling in some jalapeno and adding chili powder to your salt rim.  Puree peaches, strawberries, mangoes – the sky’s the limit here. Enjoy your weekend!

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Watermelon Margaritas 

  • 2 cups watermelon chunks, seeded
  • 4 oz. tequila
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Salt, optional
  • 2 lime wedges

Using an immersion blender puree the watermelon chunks. In a cocktail shaker (or in my case a plastic soup container – works great!) combine tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and watermelon juice. Shake vigorously. Salt your glasses if you like using a lime wedge to moisten the rim. Ice your glasses and pour the drink into glasses. Garnish with lime wedge if desired.

Blueberry Galette

In need of a supremely easy summer dessert that will impress your guests? Or just yourself? Look no further than the galette.  Not into artfully arranging fruit in a symmetrical pattern? This recipe is a straight mix and dump situation.  Top with vanilla ice cream for sheer perfection.

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Blueberry Galette

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 stick cold butter
1/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons sugar plus extra for the crust
2 tablespoons milk or almond milk

Filling:

2 cups blueberries
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)

In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Using two forks, cut in the butter until the mixture becomes course in texture.  Slowly pour in the ice water, a little bit at a time until the dough starts to stick together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and form into a flat round disk. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Mix the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt in a bowl.

Roll out your dough into a 12-inch diameter circle on a piece of parchment paper. Dump the fruit in the center of the dough. Fold the edges toward the center of the galette. Brush edges with egg wash.

Rice Noodle Bowl

What do you make for dinner when your apartment is hotter than a sweatshop but the thought of eating cereal and milk as a meal erodes your soul? Cold rice noodle bowl to the rescue! Full disclosure here – while this has the semblance of being a cool oven-free dinner, I did in fact turn on both my burner and oven to make this dish.  But, once those were turned off and I was sitting pants-less  in front of the AC unit – it was cool sailing! Aside from the oven usage – this really is the perfect summer dish. The rice noodles keep things light, the mint, basil, and cilantro add a delicious herby-freshness and who doesn’t love a peanut sauce? All you need to do is cook the chicken and some noodles and it’s din din time.

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IMG_1893Rice Noodle Bowl 

Adapted from The New York Times

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch chunk of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (I subbed worcestershire sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • tablespoons brown sugar
  • teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • 8 ounces dried rice vermicelli 
  • 2 small cucumbers, cut in half moons
  • 1 medium carrot, cut in thin matchsticks
  • Small handful basil sprigs
  • Small handful mint sprigs
  • Small handful cilantro sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons slivered scallions
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts 
  • Lime wedges

For Peanut Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (again I subbed worcestershire sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1-inch chunk ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

Puree the garlic, ginger, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and chili garlic sauce in a small food processor. Place chicken thighs in a Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over the chicken and toss to coat. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

Whisk together the ingredients for the peanut sauce in a small bowl.

Cook vermicelli according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Grill or broil the chicken thighs until browned. About 5-6 minutes a side. Let cool and slice into strips. Reserve the pan juices.

In a small bowl,  place a nice handful of noodles in the bottom of your bowl. Spoon some of the chicken pan drippings on top of the noodles. Top with cucumbers, carrots, and sliced chicken. Add the basil, mint and cilantro. Drizzle peanut sauce on top of everything. Sprinkle with the scallions and crushed peanuts. Serve with lime wedges.

 

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m on a cookie kick. It started last Sunday morning when I woke up to the sound of little girls shouting outside my window. “Girl scout cookies! Girl scout cookies! $4 a box!” It realllly made me want to start my day with a thin mint. But I have more self control than that. I held off until about noon, bought 4 boxes of cookies and then decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies. If you are ready to take your chocolate chip cookie to the next level, you need to add sea salt to the mix. Both in the dough and sprinkled on top  – sea salt delivers on flavor. In a big way. These cookies are also the perfect blend of crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Cookie nirvana. IMG_4353IMG_4352

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Sugar in the Raw
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Heat oven to 360°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well. Beat in sea salt and baking soda until combined, then the flour on a low speed until just mixed. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a tablespoon, scoop out cookie dough and place on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each mound with sea salt. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Let the cookies rest for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Snickerdoodles

I never got on the snickerdoodle bandwagon. Once I learned that the cookies had no actual Snickers in them, I wasn’t interested. Why would someone ever choose a sugar cookie with a little cinnamon on top over a chocolate chip cookie? And furthermore, why hasn’t anyone baked a cookie with actual Snicker bits in it? I’ve got to get on that. I decided to be an equal opportunity cookie lover and baker and give snickerdoodles another shot. As I sampled a warm snickerdoodle straight our of the oven, I honestly felt like someone was giving me a warm hug. Delightful. Buttery. The perfect balance of cinnamon and sugar. I’m not saying it’s better than a chocolate chip cookie- that’s blasphemy. But, snickerdoodles, you won a place at my table and in my heart.

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Snickerdoodles

From Smitten Kitchen

2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks room temperature butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Form balls of dough with your hands and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about two inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after five minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

 

Popcorn Party Mix

Sure, you can open up a bag of store bought party mix, pour it into a bowl and serve it to your guests. Or, you can make your own customized, crunchy, savory party mix that people will devour. Just you and your TV on Sunday night for The Oscars? No problem. This bowl of deliciousness will keep you company during the show and happens to love a couture gown.

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Popcorn Party Mix

From Smitten Kitchen

3 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp popcorn kernels
1 cup peanuts
2 cups waffle pretzels
1 cup broken-up bagel chips
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp mustard powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Heat oven to 250°F.  Heat olive oil over high heat in a large pot and add in your popcorn kernels, cover with a lid.  Wait for all the popcorn to pop and when the popping begins to slow down, remove pot from heat and dump your popcorn in a large mixing bowl. Add in the nuts, pretzels, chips or crackers to the popcorn.

Place butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Melt the butter and keep cooking it, stirring occasionally until it begins to turn a golden brown.  Remove from heat, and whisk in worcestershire, sugar, spices and salt.

Pour butter mixture over popcorn mix and toss well until all the ingredients are coated. Spread out the popcorn mix on a large baking sheet or two if needed. Bake for 45 minutes. Let the mix cool completed before storing.

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