What You Should Be Drinking This Easter

We’ve got flowers, pastel colors and a few eggs. Here’s what you should be drinking on Easter this year!

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch

Electric Pink Fields Rum #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Electric Pink Fields Rum Cocktail

Fresh Passion Fruit Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Fresh Passion Fruit Sour Cocktail

Pisco Brunch Cocktail with thyme and grapefruit // stirandstrain.com

Pisco Brunch Cocktail

Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail

An Isle Away #Cocktail with cardamom coconut foam // stirandstrain.com

An Isle Away: Rum Cocktail with Coconut Cardamom Foam

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail

Ok, so here’s some chocolate for you too…

Bake It: Angostura Brownies with Luxardo Cherries // stirandstrain.com

Angostura Brownies with Luxardo Cherries

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Rose and Violet Gelées

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Truvia. Recipe and ideas are my own.

This summer one of my best gal pals is packing up her family and leaving SoCal for humidity and real winters on the east coast. Boo. As much as I’d like to sit and cry about it, we’ve decided to go full on into crafting and get togethers as much as possible before she leaves.

Our biggest project together will be for Easter. This year we’ve decided the adults should have some candy fun too. So, we’ve come up with a fun brunch cocktail DIY that we can make, eat, AND drink. Intrigued? Read on!

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.comI’m not a giant candy fan, but I do love jelly candies. Jelly beans, pâtes de fruits, those weird orange slices found in the bulk candy section… all of them are favorites of mine. And, if you’ve been a long time reader you know I also love making edible cocktails in the “gelée” way. This week we’ve teamed up with Truvia Natural Sweetener, the zero calorie sweetener with natural sweetness from the stevia leaf that gives you that sweet touch without all the calories! The stevia-based sweetener is also twice as sweet as regular sugar, which means you only need to use half as much! Truvia also comes in several different varieties but today we’re using the zero-calorie Natural Sweetener for the base of our gelées and our cocktail syrup. Truvia Natural Sweetener dissolves crystal clear so there are no lumps, bumps, or crystals floating around in the gelées.

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.comSince we have three different flavors, the two gelées and the syrup for the cocktails, it’s easiest to start with one large batch of simple syrup then divide and conquer! If you want to have your own get together like us, you can assign your friends each a flavor station. I’m including some notes on batches below if you want to create more flavored edible cocktails than just the ones I’m providing.

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.comThe fun part of this cocktail is the tiny edible cocktail garnishes, but let’s not overlook the actual cocktail too! Brunch almost always means sparkling cocktails, and while you could easily pop open a bottle of bubbly, I like my brunch cocktails with a bit more character. An easy one to use as the base is to make sparkling gin lemonades. I always make a fresh batch of lemonade during the winter, because: hello, SoCal; lemons practically fall from the sky here during the winter/early spring. I like ginger lemonade but this cocktail is so versatile, any variation, or just plain lemonade, would work. Lemonade is also a great base for a cocktail because you have your sweet, sour and a touch of bitter. So all you need is the booze part! I’m including just a straight lemonade recipe below, but feel free to play with what you like. For the sparkling part, I like a sparkling water, but you could get extra fancy and pop that bubbly anyway to top these off. The effervescent bubbles meld the flavors of the lemonade and the herbal notes of the gin (use an American batch here, not a London Dry, so it’s not all juniper and a touch of a softer palate), and of course: bubbles = brunch.

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.comAs for the gelées, and since it’s finally spring (!!!), I’m playing with the idea of flowers. There are a few ways you could incorporate flower aroma into your gelées, from making syrups to using flower infused spirits, but today we’ll use rose water and creme de violet to flavor them. I’ll be using the Truvia Natural Sweetener to make a simple syrup, and then will add the flavors to the divided batches. These firm up super quick, so if you make them in the morning, you’ll definitely be snacking on them come brunch time.

This Easter brunch theme has me feeling spring big time! I hope you all enjoy a few flowery gelées and a nice glass of sparkling gin lemonades. Cheers!

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.comSparkling Gin Lemonade Cocktails with Rose and Violet Gelées (makes 2)

3 ounces American Style gin
2 ounces lemonade (recipe follows)
4-6 ounces sparkling water

rose and violet gelées for garnish (recipes follow)

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, pour in gin and lemonade. Shake 20 seconds to combine and strain into two rocks glasses filled with ice. Top with sparkling water and garnish with rose and violet gelées. Serve immediately.

Lemonade Recipe

1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups simple syrup, sweeten to taste (see notes for big batch simple syrup)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups water

In a large pitcher, combine simple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice and water. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep up to one week in the refrigerator.

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.comRose Gelée Recipe

1-1/2 cups simple syrup
2 packets gelatine
1 teaspoon rose water
1/2 cup vodka
pink food coloring, optional

  • In a small sauce pan, pour in simple syrup. Sprinkle gelatine packets over the simple syrup and let bloom for 1-2 minutes. Turn heat on high and bring to a simmer, whisking gelatine to combine. Remove from heat and stir in rose water and vodka. Add food coloring if using. Stir to combine and pour into a small baking tray or molds if using.
  • Refrigerate for two hours. You can then remove from molds, if using, or cut into shapes and garnish cocktails. *I used these mini cutters to make the shapes!

Violet Gelée Recipe

1-1/2 cups simple syrup
2 packets gelatine
1/2 cup creme de violet

  • In a small sauce pan, pour in simple syrup. Sprinkle gelatine packets over the simple syrup and let bloom for 1-2 minutes. Turn heat on high and bring to a simmer, whisking gelatine to combine. Remove from heat and stir in creme de violet. Stir to combine and pour into a small baking tray or molds if using.
  • Refrigerate for two hours. You can then remove from molds, if using, or cut into shapes and garnish cocktails. *I used these mini cutters to make the shapes!

Notes:

  • The gelées are best used within a few hours, discard after 24 hours.
  • The main ratio for making a gelée is 1:1 (one cup liquid to one gelatine packet). The only issue I have had in the past is with pineapple juice. You will need to cut it with water as the gelatine does not bloom and hold when there is just straight pineapple juice. You can vary the amount of alcohol (or make it nonalcoholic) but do not go more than 50% alcohol in your liquid ratio.
  • If using molds to make the gelées, use silicone, as there is no need to grease and they pop right out.
  • To make a large batch of simple syrup for all 3 recipes: combine 3 cups water and 3 cups Truvia Natural Sweetener in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to just under a boil, whisking to dissolve Truvia. Remove from heat, whisk again. And cool to room temperature. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container up to two weeks.

For more information on Truvia and all their products, please visit their site at www.truvia.com.

National Cocktail Day Greatest Hits

It’s National Cocktail Day tomorrow in case you didn’t know (And it’s totally fine if you didn’t know. I forgot too until I read a recent press release). So I thought I’d round up a few of you readers’ favorite posts from the site because, if you’re here, you like cocktails. Funny thing though, you guys seem to like a lot of the DIY syrups/bitters/tincture posts just as much as the drinks. So I’m including those too because it’s always good to have some fun syrups and mixers around to get your creative cocktail juices flowing. Cheers!

Passion Fruit Syrup // The Hurricane Cocktail

Classic Blackberry Shrub

Pineapple Gomme Syrup

Burnt Sage and Blackberry Sangria

Smoke Tincture and Boulevardier

The Vegan Pisco Sour

 

And if you’re looking for more inspiration, here are a few of my favorite books on cocktails (in no particular order) and all the fun stuff that goes into them! Enjoy!

There’s so many more I like to read, you can check out the Book Shelf Page for even more (not currently updated but it’s a lot to start with!).

Make It: Orange Bitter Pickled Beets and Fennel

Make It: Angostura Orange Bitter Pickled Beets and Fennel // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with The House of Angostura. Recipe and ideas are my own.

We are big fans of all things pickled around our house. My older kid’s first solid food was a bite of cornishon. She’d just eat pickles and olives all day long if you let her. My husband will sit and eat fistfuls of pickled spicy green beans. And if you left me alone with a jar of pickled cherries, I’m sure to finish the whole thing. So, when I started working with Angostura on some unique ways to use their products in food recipes, my mind at some point during R&D went to pickles.

Or rather, pickled beets. There’s still a part of my brain that, when I hear someone mention pickled food, it goes straight to a memory of a rather large, glowing jar of pickled eggs sitting on a counter. I can’t quite remember where this was, but I can very clear picture the jar. I had never eaten one, and my five year old self was repulsed at the idea of someone actually consuming one, but, honestly, I’d give one a try now. What I’m saying is, I’d eat most anything pickled. Pickling somehow magically transforms food into piquant morsels I will happily devour; that magic is your brine.

Make It: Angostura Orange Bitter Pickled Beets and Fennel // stirandstrain.comChanging up your brine means you can have pickled beets 5 different ways if you liked. Today I’m adding in fennel and dashing pouring in some Angostura Orange Bitters. Orange is a great pair to beets and fennel and the subtle spice was a nice change to my usual brine. You’ll find a few floral notes in there along with the zesty orange.

As any bartender will tell you, bitters are like salt and pepper for cocktails, and you can think of them similarly with food as well. I mean, you’ll probably also need to salt and pepper your dish, but bitters can be yet another way to season your food.

If you’re looking for a fun DIY food/drink project for this weekend, I hope you’ll try out these pickled beets and fennel and taste how a little Angostura Orange Bitters can bring the flavor! Enjoy!

Make It: Angostura Orange Bitter Pickled Beets and Fennel // stirandstrain.com3 large beets (about 1 lb)
1 head of fennel
2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1-½ tsp white pepper, whole
1 tsp celery seeds
2 star anise
1 tsp yellow mustard seed, whole
1 tsp coriander seed, whole
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 ounces Angostura Orange Bitters

In a medium stock pot, bring 8 quarts of water to a boil. Scrub beets and add to the pot. Boil for 30 minutes until tender. Drain the beets, reserving 1-3/4 cups of water. Once beets have cooled, peel and set aside.

Wash fennel and slice off stalks and 1/8” of the bottom. Halve, quarter, and then slice ¼” thick. Quarter cooled, peeled beets and place in a non-reactive, air-tight container. Add fennel slices and set aside.

In medium saucepan over high heat, pour in the reserved beet liquid, white wine vinegar, sugar, garlic, white pepper, celery seeds, star anise, yellow mustard seeds, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, and orange bitters. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour hot mixture over beets and fennel. Let cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Let sit at least 4 hours or overnight before eating. Best within 3 days and will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

 

If you’d like to learn more about Angostura and their products, please visit them at www.angostura.com

Make It: Angostura Amaro Chocolate Truffles

Make It: Angostura Amaro Chocolate Truffles // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with The House of Angostura. Recipe and ideas are my own.

This past holiday season I discovered the insanely delicious and ridiculously easy recipe that is the chocolate tart. Folks, if you can melt some chocolate in a bowl, stay with me here because it’s about to get even better.

Add amaro to that chocolate and BOOM: adult dessert nirvana.

Make It: Angostura Amaro Chocolate Truffles // stirandstrain.comWhy am I using so many superlatives here? Because I feel like I stumbled upon a recipe that really is that easy and that tasty. And the best part is that this recipe is easily adaptable too.

Showing up a Valentine’s Day with a giant chocolate tart might be OK, but it’s not the norm. No one wants to stare down at an empty pie tin knowing how much damage they’ve done. They want vague numbers, they want… chocolate truffles.

How many truffles did you start with? Who cares! They’re all gone, but you swear you only ate a couple. Truffles are magic like that. And they’re even more magical with the addition of booze.

Today we’re showing you all another way to incorporate some boozy goodness into your food with this Angostura Amaro Chocolate Truffles recipe. They require a little more work than a tart, but handing over a box of handmade truffles to someone shows how much you care about them.

We teamed up with Angostura this month to highlight cool ways you can use their products in your food and as well as drinks. For the truffles, we paired the chocolate with their Amaro di Angostura. The amaro has a sweet and slightly spiced flavor profile that isn’t too heavy on the bitter. It adds a nice richness to the chocolate but doesn’t overpower it. We think you’ll like them a whole lot!

Ready to roll? Let’s make some truffles!

Make It: Angostura Amaro Chocolate Truffles // stirandstrain.comAmaro Truffles

227 g (8 ounces) 64% chocolate, finely chopped
80 ml (⅓ cup) heavy cream
30 ml (1 ounce) Amaro di Angostura
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
Cocoa powder for dusting

In a double boiler set to a simmer, add chopped chocolate and pour cream over the top. Stir constantly to combine until glossy and no chocolate chunks remain. Whisk in Amaro di Angostura and cayenne pepper if using. Refrigerate for at least two hours, and up to overnight. Once firm, scoop out desired truffle size and roll into a ball. Roll in cocoa powder. Truffles will last, refrigerated, up to 2 months.

If you’d like to learn more about Angostura and their products, please visit them at www.angostura.com

Game Day Snacks with The House of Angostura Angostura Dusted Popcorn and Sweet and Spicy Angostura Sauce for Ribs

Sweet and Spicy Angostura Sauce for Ribs // stirandstrain.comIt’s February and that means we’re waking up from our January slumber around here and getting ready for all the fun this month brings! Like Groundhog Day! Our SEVEN YEAR blogiversary! Valentine’s Day! All those other anti-Valentine’s Day holidays I get press releases about! SUPER BOWL!

Angostura Dusted Popcorn // stirandstrain.comOK, so it’s the last holiday there that we’re focusing on today (although, dang, I’ve been writing here for seven years now!). We’re not super big sports people around my house but since we like throwing parties for our friends, we’ve definitely been known to throw a few Super Bowl parties over the years. This year we’ve teamed up with The House of Angostura to bring you a few ways you can use Angostura in your FOOD, as well as in your drinks!

Today we’re including TWO recipes you can whip up for the big game day. Both are super easy with one being really quick and the other pretty much hands off while you wait.

If you’re looking for a quick snack, Angostura Dusted Popcorn is where it’s at. Angostura Dusted Popcorn // stirandstrain.comClick on the photo for recipe!

Second, here’s a hands off Sweet and Spicy Angostura Sauce for Ribs. RIBS! With AMARO AND RUM!!

Sweet and Spicy Angostura Sauce for Ribs // stirandstrain.comClick on the photo for recipe!

And there you go folks! I hope your football party is made just that much tastier with a little touch of Angostura.

If you’d like to learn more about Angostura and their products, please visit them at www.angostura.com

Make It: Sweet and Spicy Angostura Sauce for Ribs

Sweet and Spicy Angostura Sauce for Ribs // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with The House of Angostura. Recipe and ideas are my own.

The secret to a really tasty sauce is layering flavors. With a little help from Angostura Amaro and Angostura 7 Year Rum, this rich sauce is both sweet and spicy, and the perfect companion to a plate of ribs (or dip for chicken tenders, or slathered on a hamburger, or sauce for french fries…).

Sweet and Spicy Angostura Sauce for Ribs // stirandstrain.comSweet and Spicy Angostura Sauce for Ribs

1 tbsp grapeseed oil
½ red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 cup ketchup
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
⅓ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup Angostura 7 Year Rum
2 tbsp Angostura Amaro
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste

In a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat, saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and ginger, stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in ketchup, apple cider vinegar, ancho chili powder, sugar, molasses, rum, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes. When sauce has thickened and reduced, whisk in amaro. Season to taste. Sauce can be used as a glaze before cooking ribs, or as a sauce for after cooking ribs. Also great in place of BBQ sauce!

Make It: Angostura Dusted Popcorn

Angostura Dusted Popcorn // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with The House of Angostura. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Whether you want something different for snacking during the big game (*ahem*, like this Sunday!), or if you’d like a little pink-tinted treat when you’re watching a movie just for two, Angostura Dusted Popcorn checks all the boxes. Super easy to put together but a snack like none they’ve seen before!

Angostura Dusted Popcorn // stirandstrain.comAngostura Dusted Popcorn

25 g tapioca maltodextrin (available online and on Amazon)
30 g olive oil
10 g Angostura Bitters
3 g kosher salt
popcorn

Combine olive oil, angostura bitters and salt in a small bowl, whisking to combine. In a food processor, add into the largest bowl the tapioca maltodextrin. Place the cover on, begin pulsing and slowly pour the oil and bitter mixture through the feed tube. Continue pulsing until all the liquid is absorbed and powder is fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and pulse a few additional time to combine. Mixture will keep in an airtight container, in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks.

Pop popcorn using your desired method. When finished popping and still hot, sprinkle Angostura dust over the popcorn. Enjoy!

Holiday Entertaining: What Type of Appetizer Am I? The 30 Minute or Less Wine & Appetizer Pairing

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Sonoma-Cutrer Wine. Recipe and ideas are my own.

No one wants to show up at a party this holiday season to find their host has given up on life and left just one type of appetizer out for everyone. But it happens. Don’t be that person.

Instead, cater to the 4 types of appetizer people. Yes folks, there are 4 types: classic appetizer person, fun appetizer person, bold appetizer person, and casual appetizer person.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Please don’t give me the side-eye when I say you should make 4 separate appetizers! See that bounty of food? Looks good doesn’t it? Looks like someone slaved away in a kitchen all day planning the perfect party bites to serve with their wine. But what if I told you all these dishes could be made in 30 minutes or less for YOUR Holiday Wine Pairing Party? Maybe you’d say, Elana, giiiiirrrrlll that couldn’t possibly be true. Or maybe, Elana, SIGN ME UP LET’S DO THIS.

I like your style friend. Let’s talk about a 30 minute or less Holiday Wine Pairing Party.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Today we’re in the kitchen with Sonoma-Cutrer pairing their Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Les Pierres Chardonnay with these four different kinds of appetizers. Before you begin to pair some food with the wine, it’s helpful to know your wine. Have a few sips. What do you taste here?

Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: blackberries, jam, vanilla and tobacco aromas with a silky, round flavor of spices and tart cherry fruit flavors.

Les Pierres Chardonnay: bright lemon aroma and subtle spicy aromas bursting with citrus flavors, spice and mineral notes.

Both of these wines are super food friendly, but for the perfect bites, I’m going to help you pair the right foods with them. However, let’s start with YOU first. What type of appetizer person are you?

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com
Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Classic (pairs with the Chardonnay): you’re wearing a sport coat or a LBD to this holiday party. And you like your appetizers to sound like an appetizer, but elevated. Smoked trout? Herbed cheese? It’s familiar yet different, and you’ll take 6.

Casual (pairs with the Pinot Noir): you’re not wearing a tie and 7pm start time is just a suggestion. A spoonful of marinated mushrooms to walk around and nibble on that only took 5 minutes to make? Sure, that’s cool.

Bold (pairs with the Chardonnay): so you went skydiving this morning and wore white after Labor Day. You need a savory twist with the world’s hottest pepper cheese to snack on and then tell your friends about.

Fun (pairs with the Pinot Noir): sparkly yoga pants are totally party pants and ugly holiday sweaters are the only appropriate sweater to wear this time of year. Just don’t double dip your Pigs in a Blanket in the cranberry mustard sauce or it’s a party foul for you.

Now you can help your guests choose which appetizer they are AND you’ll have a wine ready for them to drink it with. Ready to get cooking? Crack open some wine first and let’s go!

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Smoked Trout with Dill and Chive Cream Cheese on Crackers

Yields about 25 crackers
1 8 ounce packet cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp minced dill
1 8 ounce package smoked trout, shredded
crackers to serve, I prefer some with a little heft for this like oat crackers
Chives and Black Salt for garnish

Mix together softened cream cheese, lemon juice, salt, pepper, chives and dill. Set aside. Build your appetizer by spreading about 1-1/2 teaspoons of cream cheese mixture onto the cracker. Top with shredded trout. Garnish with chopped chives and a big flake of black salt.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com
Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Pigs in a Blanket with Cranberry Mustard Sauce

1 pack little sausages
1 container crescent rolls
1 tsp dried thyme
1 10 ounce package cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp water
Pinch salt
½ cup dijon mustard

To make the Pigs in a Blanket: Preheat oven to 375°. Lay out crescent rolls and sprinkle thyme over dough, lightly pressing thyme into the dough. Cut crescent rolls in thirds. Wrap around sausages, gently pinching the dough ends together. Lay Pigs in a Blanket seam side down on a sheet pan covered in parchment. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown. While Pigs are cooking, make the cranberry mustard.

To make the Cranberry Mustard Sauce: Combine cranberries, brown sugar, water and salt in a medium-high saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Lower heat to medium and continue to stir until cranberries release water and pop open, about 6-8 minutes, continue to stir until sauce has thickened slightly, another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in dijon mustard. Transfer to an airtight container and keep refrigerated up to one month.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Spicy Cheese Twists

Adapted from The Kitchn

2 sheets store-bought puff pastry, thawed
1-1/2 cups spicy cheese like ghost pepper, finely grated

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
  • Dust your counter or cutting board with 1/4 cup of cheese. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry over top of cheese. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese.
  • Roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Fold the pastry in half. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese. Roll out again to 1/8-inch thick. I roll mine out about the size of a sheet pan.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into long strips roughly 1-inch wide. Twist strips and gently stick ends onto parchment to prevent un-twisting. Repeat with next sheet.
  • Chill for at least 10 minutes or up to an hour (if you have time!).
  • Bake 15 to 25 minutes. Begin checking shorter straws after about 15 minutes, and longer straws after 20 minutes. Remove from the oven once they are puffed and crispy, feel dry to the touch, and are deep golden.
  • Cool briefly on the baking sheet and transfer them to a cooling rack or serving plate.
  • Serve warm or room temperature. Puff pastry straws are best served the same day they are made.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Simple Marinated Mushrooms

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces small button mushrooms (if you want to make it fancier, use mixed wild mushrooms)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add in mushrooms when oil is warm and sauté 5-8 minutes. Remove mushrooms from heat and set aside.
  • In an airtight, nonreactive container (I like Pyrex bowls for this), whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, dill and kosher salt. Add warm mushrooms into the bowl and toss with the marinade, covering the mushrooms. Let stand 15 minutes and serve. Mushrooms will develop more flavor the longer they sit and are even better the next day if you have the time!

For more information on Sonoma-Cutrer Wines, please visit them at: www.sonomacutrer.com


Make It: Homemade Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Peppermint liqueur and I have a bit of a… sordid past if you will. It was definitely a favorite of mine when I first discovered it among the contents of a family friend’s liquor cabinet. But now with time in-between us, a lot of time, I can revisit this old favorite of mine and class it up a bit for my current tastes. And that means making my own.

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSo, I definitely am a little obsessed with holiday DIY projects. In my mind, friends and family look forward to this time of year as I bestow copious amount of boozy concoctions on them. This year is no exception.

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comFriends, if you really want to impress someone with a DIY gift, make it sparkle. Seriously. “Hey, I made you some Peppermint Liqueur.” “Thanks.” “Oh, but look, it also sparkles and kinda looks like a lava lamp!” “OMGEEEEEE THANKS!!!”

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSee, they’re going to love it because it looks like you spent a great deal of time researching and making this spectacular liqueur. You win the holidays. And no one will need to know it took you less than 15 minutes to make a big batch and divvy it up among bottles for gifts. It will probably take you longer to drive to Target, park, pick out some cute holiday cards, stand in line, drive home, and write a special note to attach to the bottles. And don’t forget some ribbon!

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comIf you’re short on time, but want to give something special for the holidays, this is IT. Today I partnered with Everclear to help you folks win holiday gift giving with this super easy, Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur. You all know that I love using Everclear for my infusions, tinctures and bitters, and today it’s the base for this liqueur. Starting with a higher proof means I can adjust the ABV as I see fit. Maybe I want to go a little higher on one batch, a little lower on the next; I get to decide. Everclear also has a neutral taste so just the delicious, invigorating peppermint taste comes through, not notes of grass or potatoes, or, I dunno, tree bark.

Once you make this, you’ll definitely want to store it in some clear, air-tight bottles because NO ONE can resist holding it up to some light and swirling it around. NO ONE. Maybe stick some fresh greens and some ribbon on the outside and your gift is done.

Note: make sure you buy NON-TOXIC, EDIBLE luster dust. There are some luster dust products that are for decorative use only and not intended for consumption. Don’t buy those. Read the label. Also, do not put your head directly over the warm syrup when adding the peppermint extract. Any steam will send the extract right into your eyes! And it might sting!

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comNow, let’s make some liqueur!

Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur

1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon natural peppermint extract (more or less to taste)
1 cup Everclear
1/2 teaspoon luster dust, pearl color (see note above)

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add in peppermint extract and Everclear. Stir everything to combine.
  • To create shimmery effect, sprinkle luster dust in the bottom of the container you’ll store the liqueur in. Pour in the peppermint liqueur. Seal, and shake well to combine. Luster dust will settle to the bottom after awhile so shake well before serving.

This is great on its own, but if you’re looking to use it in a drink, here are a few suggestions:

  • Spike your Hot Chocolate
  • Stinger Cocktail
  • Peppermint White Russian (you’ll need to experiment on this one but I think it could be a winner)

 

For more information on Everclear and their Make It Your Own Campaign, please visit them at makeityourown.com