Stirrings’ Holiday Cocktails

img_3522

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.

img_3567

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.

img_3565

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. 

img_3554

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.

img_3438

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.

img_3470

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.

img_3463

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.

img_3481

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.

img_3507

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!

img_3512

 

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.

The Chosen One & Quinoa 3 Ways

img_3180Earlier this month I received a most flattering email from Chosen Foods. You may recall  the brand for the avocado oil featured in my funfetti zucchini bread. Chosen Foods promotes a healthy, conscious and happy lifestyle and feels Good Grief Cook fits in with the company’s philosophy. How could I resist a collaboration with a brand I already love and one so kind to seek me out with such nourishing words:
“We love sharing our products with inspiring influencers (like you!) in the health and wellness space.” Well, Chosen Foods you inspire me to get in the kitchen.

img_3123

This first recipe is for my brother, Louis. He is a huge Rutger’s University football fan and spends quite a bit of time tailgating. It’s unfortunate that we have a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol and heart disease, so I thought he could benefit from a new and improved heart healthy artichoke dip that he could share with all the Big Red fans.

Artichokes, shallots and jalapeño get a quick roast in avocado oil and then bathed in a creamy avocado oil mayo dressing including the usual parmesan and fresh lemon plus a crispy topping of toasted nutty quinoa instead of heavy butter drenched bread crumbs. BTW-the avocado oil mayo mixed with a little fresh lime juice is also perfect in your favorite Mexican elote corn recipes.

img_3127

A Better Roasted Artichoke Dip

1 (12 oz.) package frozen artichoke hearts

¼ cup sliced shallots

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced

1 tablespoon Chosen Foods Avocado Oil

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo

¼ cup mascarpone cheese or low fat cream cheese

1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons toasted Chosen Foods 100% Organic Royal White Quinoa*

Heat oven 450F. Line a small baking sheet with foil. Toss artichoke hearts, shallots and jalapenos with avocado oil and spread out on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 25 minutes; cool slightly. Transfer mixture to food processor and pulse 6 or 7 times to chop artichokes. Reduce oven temperature to 375F. Meanwhile, in a bowl whisk mayo, mascarpone and lemon juice. Stir in ½ cup parmesan and artichoke mixture; spoon into a small ready to serve baking dish smoothing the top.

Bake for 15 minutes. Mix remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese with toasted quinoa and sprinkle evenly over top of dip. Return to oven and bake 10 minutes more or until artichoke dip is bubbly. Cool slightly before serving with whole grain crackers.

*To toast quinoa: Heat oven to 375F. Toss 1 cup of quinoa with 1 tablespoon of avocado oil; spread out on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until quinoa is golden brown. Cool and store in a jar in the refrigerator.

img_3154

Up next is a recipe inspired by my nephew, Cole. Cole runs cross-country and loves quinoa. Quinoa is an energy packed, high protein seed that is the perfect food for the athlete in all of us. Simmered or toasted it can be used in everything from appetizer to dessert. Cole is also known to like a bit of heat, so Chosen Foods Spicy Sesame Oil is just what this salad needed. I am a huge fan of ordering salad dressing on the side. Nothing worse than an over-dressed soggy salad, so since I don’t know how you like your salad I advise following the recipe as written and then add more of the dressing to your taste.

img_3149

Quinoa Fruit Salad with Miso Honey Vinaigrette

Miso Honey Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon white miso paste

1/2 
tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar

2 
tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons Chosen Foods Avocado Oil

1/2 teaspoon Chosen Foods Spicy Sesame Oil

freshly ground black pepper

Quinoa Salad

1
 cup Chosen Foods 100% Organic Royal White Quinoa

1 tablespoon Chosen Foods Avocado Oil

1 ½ cups water

1 
plumcot (hybrid fruit of plum and apricot) or nectarine pitted and diced

1/2 
cup dried tart Montmorency cherries or dried sweetened cranberries

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2
 cup honey sesame cashews (I buy at Trader Joe’s)

In a small bowl, whisk together honey and miso until smooth and blended. Add vinegar, lime juice, and ginger. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons avocado oil and spicy sesame oil, whisking until well combined. Season with pepper. Set aside. Stir quinoa and 1 tablespoon of avocado oil in a large skillet over medium heat until golden and nutty. Add water; bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork. In a large bowl toss quinoa with pluot, dried cherries and green onions and half of the vinaigrette. Top with cashews. Pass remaining vinaigrette./recipe]

img_3178

Okay, here is where I get a little crazy with what I think is a genius gluten-free tiramisu breakfast cup. With the flavor of bittersweet espresso, a creamy layer of mascarpone and a sprinkle of “super food” extra dark chocolate it is the perfect pick-me-up. Next time I might top it with a few fresh berries to round out the food groups. Add a little “spirit”coffee liqueur or marsala to the mix and this could easily become dessert instead of breakfast. All you gluten-free, tiramisu loving folks you are welcome!

Quinoa Tiramisu Breakfast Cup

2/3 cup water

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1/4 cup Chosen Foods 100% Organic Royal White Quinoa

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon raw agave or honey

2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon shaved dark chocolate

In small saucepan, stir water, instant espresso, quinoa and vanilla until espresso is dissolved. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes or just until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender and moist. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of agave (sweeten to your taste) and fluff with a fork. In small bow, mix mascarpone, yogurt and 1 to 2 teaspoons of agave until blended. Layer half the quinoa in serving glass. Top with half the cheese-yogurt and half the chocolate. Repeat layers.

img_3105

Thank you Chosen Foods for sharing your goodness with me. Can’t wait to try those chia seeds and cooking sprays, but until then let me remind you all that avocado oil has that fabulously high smoke point which is best for roasting the end of summer harvest.

img_3167

Good Grief & How do You Like Them SuperBowl Stuffed Apples

a variety of local farm apples

a variety of local farm apples

This week’s blog post is brought to you by a chance meeting with “a genius” at the Apple store. If you own an Apple anything you probably are familiar with all the friendly folks who provide such fabulous customer service and classes at your local store. I especially enjoy the “one-to-one” tutoring and yesterday I was learning about iphoto and photo organization. As I was working with Charlie I mentioned a small glitch I was having with the computer. He immediately signed me in to have a session with a repair associate and while I was at it he recommended I also meet with a business associate in case I ever wanted to turn this blog into a business. As a side note, GoodGriefCook will never be a business, but I was flattered.

pick your own heirloom apples getting a bath

pick your own heirloom apples getting a bath

Off to the “Genius” bar I go where Chris is now analyzing my computer. He is reading and talking in code and I fully understand how he’s earned the title of “Genius”. I have no clue what he is saying or doing, but I nod politely and go along with it. Meanwhile, the business associate joins us and asks me to tell him about my food blog. We chat for a few minutes and then I turn my attention back to Chris who has completed the diagnostics. It comes as no shock that he has figured out the computer glitch, but what he says next completely surprises me. He looks me straight in the eyes and says, “I am going to read your blog. You see I have been going through some things with grief that I don’t understand. It isn’t getting better “.

cranberries are the perfect bittersweet fruit

cranberries are the perfect bittersweet fruit

Gosh darn it if I didn’t feel like “the Genius” now. It’s not a job I trained for, but I sure could relate to what he was trying to figure out. I could not fix it like a computer, but maybe I could help in some small way. I hope I listened well and I hope that I did the best teaching of my life in that moment with Chris who was feeling so alone in the middle of that crowded Apple store.

that's Italian

that’s Italian

Are you anticipating a big crowd around your TV for the Superbowl? This recipe landed me a finalist spot in the Ocean Spray Tailgate recipe contest a few years ago and a trip to Gillette stadium where the New England Patriots play. I remember the judge, Chef Ming Tsai saying my recipe would be fit for a tailgate with Martha Stewart. I was flattered.

Big Game Cranberry Sausage Stuffed Apples

8 large Granny Smith apples

8 ounces sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed

1 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup Ocean Spray® Cran•Apple™ Cranberry Apple Juice Drink

2 cups Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, coarsely chopped plus 16 whole berries

1 large egg, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Slice off 1 inch from top of each apple. Core apples, but do not go through bottom. Scoop out remaining apple flesh, leaving 1/4-inch shell. Chop scooped apple flesh.

Cook sausage in large skillet over medium heat, stirring to crumble, until no longer pink. Add onion and chopped apples; cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is softened. Add juice drink, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of skillet. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Add chopped cranberries, egg, brown sugar, parsley, thyme and 1 cup cheese; mix well. Fill apple shells with stuffing. Sprinkle tops with remaining cheese and the walnuts. Top each with 2 whole cranberries. Place apples in large baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.



Ocean Spray Tailgating Recipe Contest Finalist 
Lisa Keys.