Stirrings’ Holiday Cocktails

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Quarterback Sneak with a margarita rimmer cocktail garnish

It has been a blast creating new cocktail recipes for the Stirrings’ Stir It Up Holiday Mixology Challenge. I have a few recipes to share, so let’s kick-off the season with The Quarterback Sneak. It’s the perfect tailgate cocktail, but also fantastic for a Halloween party because there is a bit of trickery involved. Who doesn’t love a trick for a treat? By appearances, this cocktail is not what it seems. Can you guess the flavor just by looking at it? “Pomegranate” you say? Yes, it’s pink like pomegranate and even has pomegranate seeds floating around in it, but take a sip.

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What the what? Is that watermelon in October? Made with real juice the Simple Watermelon Martini is infused with fresh ginger and lemon and garnished with the Lemon Drop Martini Rimmer. Go ahead and treat all your guests to this sneaky and fun cocktail.

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Quarterback Sneak

1 cup (8 oz.) Stirrings’ Simple Watermelon Martini

2 (2-inch) slices fresh ginger

1 fresh lemon wedge, quartered

3 tablespoons Stirrings’ Lemon Drop Martini  Rimmer Cocktail Garnish, on a flat plate

½ cup (4 oz.) silver Tequila

ice cubes

1 (10 oz.) bottle club soda

Pomegranate seeds

In small saucepan, combine watermelon mixer and ginger. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon wedge into the pan and drop the wedge into the mix. Bring watermelon mixture just to a simmer; turn off heat and let steep 15 minutes to infuse ginger and lemon flavors and cool down. Remove and discard ginger and lemon wedge. Run a fresh lemon wedge around rim of 4 serving glasses; turn moistened glass edge in rimmer to coat. Fill glasses ¾-full with ice. Pour infused watermelon mix and tequila into a 2-cup measure; stir. Divide mixture evenly among glasses. Top off with club soda. Slice remaining two lemon wedges into thinner slices. Garnish each cocktail with a slice of lemon and fresh pomegranate seeds.

For a mocktail simply eliminate the tequila and top off your drink with additional club soda or your favorite flavored soda water. 

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Happy Halloween, Happy Tailgate Season and keep the Quarterback Sneak in mind for your next April Fool’s themed dinner party. Next up is The Bee Naughty cocktail.

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Do we agree that the second Halloween is over we roll right into the Thanksgiving-Christmas season? Already the mall is buzzing with Christmas music and holiday decorations, so let’s get a move on. I will be naughty for a moment and remind you that there are ONLY 55 days left until Christmas.

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The Bee Naughty features Stirrings’ Simple Lemon Drop Martini Cocktail Mixer and rimmer garnish by the same name. This cocktail is sweet, tart and bitter. It gets a bit of a sting from pan-roasted and crushed black peppercorn infused honey.

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Naughty or nice? This cocktail is both. For a mocktail just substitute some lemon flavored seltzer water for the vodka. Stirrings’ mixers and garnishes makes hosting a party simple and easy. All you have to add is some holiday decor, delicious food and wonderful friends.

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The Bee Naughty

5 whole peppercorns

2 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons Stirrings’ Lemon Drop Martini Rimmer Cocktail Garnish

6 ounces Stirrings’ Simple Lemon Drop Martini Cocktail Mix

3 ounces vodka

ice

Toast peppercorns in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant; crush with a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder to a powder. Return pepper to skillet and turn off heat. Add honey stirring with a small spoon until warmed through and mixed with pepper. Place rimmer on a flat plate. Using the back of the spoon dipped in the honey mixture lightly dampen the edge of two martini glasses. Dip the glass into the rimmer rotating the glass until evenly coated. With the same spoon drizzle about a teaspoon of the honey pepper mixture down and around the inside of each glass. Pour half of the cocktail mix into the pan with the remaining honey and pepper; gently heat, stirring, until the honey is dissolved and fully blended with the cocktail mix. In a shaker, combine warm cocktail mixture, remaining cocktail mixture, vodka and ice; shake well. Divide cocktail among prepared glasses.

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Happy New Year! Let’s celebrate with the Winter Watermelon Pear Spritzer. It’s inspired by the places I have been and the people I love. Like Nantucket where the Stirrings’ company was born and my sweet William. This recipe sparkles with everything I enjoy about mingling fun and complimentary flavors. It is a lovely combination of winter’s finest fruits and fennel dressed up with the fresh taste of real watermelon juice from the Stirrings’ Simple Watermelon Martini mixer. Cheers to you and me and the sea!

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Winter Watermelon Pear Spritzer

¼ cup Stirrings’ Simple Watermelon Martini

¼ cup pear brandy (poire Williams)

1 slice fresh fennel

1 strip lemon zest

1 bottle chilled Prosecco or club soda

Fennel fronds for garnish

Pomegranate seeds

In small saucepan, combine watermelon mixer, pear brandy, fennel and lemon zest; bring just to a simmer. Remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature to infuse flavors. Remove and discard fennel and zest. Spoon 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of syrup in each of 4 flute glasses. Top with Prosecco or club soda.

Option: run a lemon wedge around the rim of each glass and dip in Stirrings’ Lemon Drop Martini Rimmer.

For more delicious Stirrings’ recipes and beautiful photos check out their Instagram @stirringsPinterest @Stirrings MixersTwitter @stirringsmixers and “Like” the Stirrings Facebook page. Locally, their mixers and rimmer garnishes are available at Acme, Janssens, Hockessin Liquors and Total Wine & More. For more locations check here: Stirrings’ store locator.

Surprise-Surprise-Fennel Apple Pie

fennel apple pie

fennel apple pie

Days like today remind me just how much I love my son and how much he was loved by others. Thru his goodness I am constantly blessed. He continues to bring me great joy when I least suspect it.

Ellie & Emily

BFF’s Ellie & Emily

My heart nearly exploded when I saw Emily at the door. It’s been a few years since I have seen her.  A surprise visit along with her dad and a lovely vase of flowers. And William stories. Funny William stories. One, in particular, I had never heard before. Scattegories….scary words that start with G. Oh, my goodness–His answer (an inside joke)…so funny and clever. One could always count on him for a good, spit soda out your nose kind of laugh.

a good laugh with Tyler and Will

a good laugh with BFF’s Tyler and Will

Today was such a gift and I have dear sweet Emily to thank for it. I hope you all have “an Emily” in your life. Pay a surprise visit to someone who can use cheering up. It just might make all the difference in the world.IMG_0412

It comes as no surprise that today’s recipe is just a little off beat. It is kind of what I do best. Take your typical apple pie and give it a bit of a twist with fennel. Fennel and apples are like BFF’s-it works. Try it and be surprised at how delicious this combo is.

Festive Apple-Fennel Pie

Pastry for double crust pie

6 medium baking apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced

1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced, then chopped (1 cup), fronds reserved for garnish

½ cup dried sweetened cranberries

1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

pinch of salt

Heat oven 425F. Roll out half of pie dough to fit 9-inch pie plate. In large bowl, toss apples, fennel and cranberries with lemon juice. Mix sugar, cinnamon, flour and salt; sprinkle over apple mixture and gently toss again. Spoon filling into prepared crust. With the tip of your finger moisten the edge of crust with some water. Roll out remaining pie dough. Top pie with second crust wrapping any excess top crust under bottom crust edge pressing to seal. Flute edges. Cut several slits in top crust with the tip of a knife to vent steam. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. During last 15 minutes of baking time cover fluted edge of pie with a crust protector or foil to prevent excessive browning, if needed. Cool before serving. Garnish with fennel fronds.

Scallops, Shrimp, Calamari, Oh My!

Scallops with fennel-apple salad

scallops with fennel-apple slaw

No words of wisdom today. Just recipes from my 7 fishes Christmas Eve feast as requested by a few readers. Since there were so many courses I did small plates, so I recommend 3 scallops per person for the first dish.

Hint: only buy wild-caught “dry” sea scallops. DO NOT buy scallops sitting in a preservative. Ask your fish monger if you are not sure. The difference in taste is incredible. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels. Season them (both sides) with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Swirl a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil (I have been using avocado oil lately as it has a high smoke point, but vegetable oil will do) in a skillet (I like cast iron) over medium-high heat. Sear your scallops about 2 minutes per side or until just opaque. Serve with the slaw which I found on Epicurious.com. I did swap out apple cider vinegar for the rice vinegar only because I wanted the slaw to be a little sweeter. And to get really thin slices of vegetables use a mandolin if you have one. Mound some slaw in the center of the plate and place the scallops around the slaw. Your taste buds are going to be so happy. You are welcome.

Fennel-Apple-Celery Slaw

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh tarragon (I used 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced diagonally, plus 1/4 cup loosely packed celery leaves
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced crosswise, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 firm, crisp apple (such as Pink Lady, Gala, or Granny Smith), julienned
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add celery and celery leaves, thinly sliced fennel and chopped fennel fronds, and apple; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Shrimp & Stuffed Calamari Fra Diavolo (sauce is adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

prepare the stuffed calamari first (see recipe below)

1 1/2 pounds (26 to 30 count) shell on shrimp, peeled and deveined, reserve shells

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup dry white wine (I like Bogle Chardonnay)

6 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (just depends how spicy you like it)

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 anchovy fillets

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Toss shrimp with salt; set aside. Pour tomatoes in a fine mesh colander set over a bowl to drain for about 5 minutes. Transfer drained tomatoes to a bowl and reserve the juice. Do not rinse colander. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add reserved shrimp shells and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 4 minutes or until skillet starts to turn brown. Carefully, add wine and simmer 2-4 minutes or until reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Add reserved tomato juice to skillet; simmer for 5 minutes. Pour contents of skillet into colander set over a bowl. Discard shrimp shells; reserve liquid. Heat remaining olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, crushed red pepper and oregano, stirring for 1 minute. Add anchovies, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Add tomatoes and reserved tomato juice mixture. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened. Add stuffed calamari, cover and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes, turning once, or until tender. During last 5 minutes of cooking time add shrimp. Stir in basil and parsley. Serve over pasta or with a nice piece of crusty bread. Fry up some tentacles as a garnish to really gild the lily. Serves 6.

shrimp & calamari fra diavolo

shrimp & calamari fra diavolo

Stuffed Calamari

6 tablespoons butter

2 cloves, minced garlic

1/4 cup squid tentacles, minced

1/4 cup chopped clams

juice of 1/2 lemon

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

6 squid bodies

1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Melt 5 tablespoons butter in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, tentacles and clams; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Scrape contents of skillet into a medium bowl. Add lemon juice and panko; mix well. Fill the squid bodies with stuffing (use your hands); secure ends with wooden toothpicks. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add stuffed squid and brown on both sides–just a minute or two per side.

P.S. I know you all are wondering about that framed Christmas card–it was made by my very talented friend Betsy.