Fir-Groni

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.comToday I bring you a weekend cocktail. A festive, fir tree scented drink you can sip on as you bake cookies, or wrap gifts, or use as a palate cleanser between licking all those damn holiday cards you still haven’t got out in the mail yet.

Wait… did she say fir tree scented???

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.comYes! You might be familiar with eau de vie spirits made from fruit, but there is one that is made from pine buds. I have three favorite scents in this world: lilac, wood smoke, and fir trees. So the first time I saw this brandy I went absolutely nuts over it and immediately started making drinks (see here and here). I bring it out during the winter months because that’s when I associate this particular smell, and it makes me a little homesick for the New England winters. And then I remember trying to de-ice a windshield in below freezing temperatures and driving my car into a snowbank one year and I snap right out of that fantasy.

So yes, it’s another groan-inducing variation on a Negroni; a twist on a twist as this stems from a White Negroni. But really, you can call it a Holiday Fir Tree Cocktail for all I care, but what I do want you to do is drink this, especially if you’ve never tried a spirit like this before.

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.comFor this drink, stick with a dry or extra dry vermouth, you want a little less residual sugar in there so that the fir tree aroma and flavor stands out. This is on the slightly less bitter side than a classic Negroni, as Bitter Bianco is used, which adds some citrus and delicate floral notes that really work with the pine forest effect of the eau de vie.

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.comTotally optional, but I had a lot of fun garnishing the drink with what looked like snowy tree branches. If you’re trying to impress guests and want a festive garnish, go ahead and add these to the drink. It’s just powdered sugar and rosemary. I’ve made a note on making these following the recipe. Keep in mind though that rosemary imparts its own strong aroma, which can work here, but I would present the drink with the garnish and then remove before imbibing.

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.comFir-Groni Cocktail

3/4 ounce gin, London Dry style
3/4 ounce Bitter Bianco
3/4 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce Douglas Fir brandy
optional: “snowy branch” garnish (how to follows recipe)

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, pour in the gin, Bitter Bianco, dry vermouth and Douglas Fir brandy. Stir 20 seconds to combine. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Optionally garnish with a “snowy branch”.

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.com

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.comTo make the “snowy branches”, take a cleaned rosemary sprig and coat lightly with egg whites using a silicone pastry brush. Shake off any excess liquid and immediately dip into a shallow bowl filled with about a 1/4″ of powdered sugar. Swirl the rosemary sprig around to coat and let dry. Once dry, use a garnish on your cocktail. Also looks cute on a some baked cake!

Holiday Gift Guide: Beer Me

Wishing you beer readers a Hoppy Christmas!

Holiday Gift Guide: Beer Me // stirandstrain.com

What to get the beer lover in your life? Well, beer to start. Let them tinker in their basement with their own brew this year. Find them a beautiful jug to store it in, and then outfit their home bar with some cool glasses. And if that’s too fancy, a rustic sign and a reusable red cup lets them relive their college days (minus the landfill waste). What goes best with beer? Pizza! And if that’s not enough, let them lather themselves in the sweet, sweet aroma of…beer.

1. Irish Stout Beer Brewing Kit 2. Beer Chiller 3. Pizza Bottle Opener 4. Beer Salt 5. Beer Soap 6. Reusable Red “Plastic” Cup 7. uKeg Matte Black Growler 8. Beer Tasting Set 9. Brewski Sign

 

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar Rims

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Specialty Retailers, Inc. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Did you know that Margaritas are the most popular cocktail in the U.S.? Probably not surprising when you think of the amount of frozen, neon colored drinks you encounter walking down the main strip in Las Vegas. I’m sure those are being counted in this statistic. And that bottled drink mix with the svelte lady on the front; that’s probably being counted too. But here in my home bar, a Margarita is a solid, easy to mix drink with endless variations. And today we’ll be making them holiday ready for a little online party!

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comToday I’m taking part in Stage’s virtual holiday party and sharing my Cranberry Sauce Margaritas to help celebrate and #SetYourHolidayStage! I’m making them extra festive with an easy DIY rosemary sugar rim you can whip up in minutes and use all holiday season long. As my older readers know, I have an entire front yard full of rosemary. So when the Fall and Winter seasons are upon us, I’m sticking it in everything. Food, of course, but also in lots of cocktails. If you’re finding us through the Stages Holiday Party, a quick search through the archives will introduce you to a whole new world of using rosemary in cocktails; take a look!

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comWe still have two whole weeks until Christmas and who knows how many parties we’ll be going to or hosting up to then. If you’re in charge of drinks, Stages has all the accessories you need to make prepping and decorating easy! We did a quick shopping trip online to get all our gear for our virtual party including glasses, those cute gold foil holiday napkins, a caddy to hold the napkins and straws, a chalkboard sign to write out the name of our Signature Cocktail, the containers to store the rosemary sugar, a dipping tray for all the ingredients for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas, as well as some festive decorations like this teeny tiny lights and the nutcracker. Even my holiday sweater came from there! SO MANY GREAT ENTERTAINING OPTIONS.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Ok, so you set your holiday stage and are ready for guests. Let them feel in charge with a little DIY bar set up. This 3 cup dipping tray could hold snacks any other time of the year, but today it will hold all the components for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas: cranberry sauce, lime wedges and the rosemary sugar. Put out some little spoons for the dishes and some shot glasses for the booze components. Holiday parties should be about coming together with friends and family, and having this little DIY bar lets guests mingle about with one another.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comThe recipe for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas has just a touch of sweetness in it from the cranberry sauce and the Grand Marnier. You can adjust going up or down with either to your liking. I also think adding just a touch of the rosemary sugar into the drink doesn’t hurt either, just remember to shake it really well to combine it all! TIP: use the spent lime wedges from the cocktail recipe to help rim the glasses. Then you won’t need to waste additional lime wedges just for rimming. Also, when rimming your glass, use a shallow bowl or rimmed plate and push the sugar out towards the edges so that the sugar will evenly coat around the glass.

Let’s make some drinks!

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comCranberry Sauce Margaritas

1-1/2 ounces blanco tequila
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon cranberry sauce
rosemary sugar (see recipe below)
rosemary sprig

First, rim a rocks glass with the rosemary sugar. Set aside. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled 2/3 with ice. Shake well to combine, about 30 seconds. Strain over fresh ice into the prepared rocks glass. Add additional cranberry sauce if desired. Optionally garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comRosemary Sugar

2 cups granulated sugar
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary, about 3 to 5 inches long, divided

Take one sprig of rosemary and remove all the needles. Finely chop them. Combine the chopped needles and the sugar in an airtight container. Mix well to evenly distribute the rosemary. Add a few extra sprigs to the jar, shake, and let sit overnight or up to a few days. Sugar may look clumpy but it will dry out and break down. Remove the sprigs, seal the jar, and keep in a cool, dry place up to three months.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: Beaujolais Wine and Cookie Decorating Party

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Beaujolais Wines. Recipes and ideas are my own.

This holiday season I’m taking a step back from all the hustle and bustle, all the commercials and “must buys”, and taking a moment to spend time with family and friends in the most fun, totally seasonal, best way possible to celebrate the holidays: a cookie decorating party. But this party is for adults only. Why? Because we’re cracking open a bottle of Beaujolais to celebrate our nearest and dearest all while having some holiday fun.

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.comIf the idea of hosting a holiday cookie decorating party makes your palms sweat (I need how many cookies?!?!), even with a glass of wine, just hold on, because I’ve got some tips and tricks that will make this party a breeze!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com1. First, let’s talk about the wine. While you might think Beaujolais wine is best served slightly chilled in the summertime, it’s actually a great wine to have around the cooler winter months too. That’s because it goes well with just about anything; including cookies. If you’re thinking ahead towards all your holiday meals this month, try picking up a case to have on hand. Serve it at meals and keep a bottle handy for the random relative who stops by unannounced! And if you can, try and get a mixed case. That’s right! Beaujolais comes in red, white and rosé.

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com2. Cookies. You have a couple options here when it comes to the cookies.

  • Are you someone who can whip up 4 dozen batches of cookies without blinking an eye? Then baking them all from scratch shouldn’t be an issue. Go you!
  • Pressed for time? Make half the cookies from scratch and buy the rest. Most grocery stores with a bakery will have unfrosted cookies on hand like sugar cookies. Personally, I am terrible at making sugar cookies so I bought mine. But I have a fantastic gingerbread recipe that makes solid cookies every time (see below). So I made those for the party.
  • You can always ask people to bring undecorated cookies too! There is probably a friend or relative in your life who likes to bake. Reach out to them for some help making cookies, they probably would love to bake!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com3. Decorations. With endless possibilities for decorating, limit yourself to just a few ideas. You’ll end up with less waste and won’t have a pantry full of half used sprinkles and sanding sugar to deal with the rest of the year. For my cookie party, I made one batch of royal icing and put scoops into smaller piping bags and mixed a few colors right in the bag. Again, if you haven’t the time to make icing, guess what? You can buy it and it will work just fine! For decorative elements, I kept it simple with some colorful sprinkles, red and green sanding sugar, edible silver balls, and some tiny edible gold stars I had left over from another cocktail project. You could go even less than this if you wanted, or just use icing and nothing else. We also had some filled cookies so I put out a bowl of raspberry jam that was in the refrigerator. You probably already have some things at home you could use!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com4. Plan your stations. Short on space? No kitchen table? No problem. Set up a cookie decorating space where people will have access to cookies, plates, napkins, and bowls for putting decorations in. Don’t forget the wine glasses and wine tags too! A kitchen counter is a great setup. I have a long buffet at home that people could grab everything they needed. Not enough room at the kitchen table? Set up a cozy holiday blanket on the floor for everyone to spread out on. Remember to tell guests to bring slippers!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.com5. Packing it up. After all the fun your guests will have decorating cookies and celebrating the season with a glass of Beaujolais, remember to have containers ready for guests to bring their cookies home in. This could be as simple as a small paper bag, or pick up a bulk pack of gift boxes. Going this extra step shows your guests you’ve thought of everything and will save you the hassle of trying to find to-go containers at the end of the night for everyone.

I hope I’ve inspired you to create some new holiday memories in a fun and creative way! Cookie decorating should definitely be on your holiday party list this year. And don’t forget the Beaujolais! Cheers!

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.comGingerbread Cookies and Icing Recipe
Adapted from Bouchon Bakery

Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 20 cookies

6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
1 pinch dried cloves
3/4 cup butter, room temp
1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup blackstrap molasses
2 eggs, room temp
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Combine all the dry ingredients, except the brown sugar, into a bowl. Whisk ingredients together until they are evenly combined.

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and dark brown sugar together on medium speed until fully combined. Once the dark brown sugar is evenly incorporated into the butter, add the molasses and continue to mix the ingredients scraping the bowl down as needed. Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing on medium speed until ingredients are fully combined.

Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the dry-ingredient mixture in three equal batches, mixing until evenly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, then mix on low speed for about one more minute, just to ensure that all the ingredients have come together.

Form the dough into a block and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until lightly chilled throughout.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out the desired shapes and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 325 for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before decorating with royal icing.

Beaujolais Wine and Holiday Cookie Party // stirandstrain.comRoyal Icing

Makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup pasteurized liquid egg whites
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
Food coloring, fruit powder, or yogurt powder (optional)

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a handheld electric mixer, mix the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Add sugar and mix until smooth. Add lemon juice and mix until smooth. Add food coloring or powder if desired, mixing until your ideal shade is reached.

Pipe the frosting onto the cookies using a pastry bag. Allow the icing to harden and store the cookies in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to three days.

 



Holiday Gift Guide: Boozy Books

After booze, books are always a solid gift choice…

Holiday Gift Guide: Boozy Books // stirandstrain.com

Got a cocktail enthusiast on your list this year? There’s plenty of great books that have been released recently to stir up some creativity. Here’s 9 of our favorites to give as gifts this holiday season for newbies through the professional.

  1. Be Your Own Bartender
  2. The Joy of Mixology, revised edition
  3. The Aviary
  4. Aperitif
  5. pickle juice
  6. Drinking Distilled
  7. Hacking Whiskey
  8. Cocktail Codex
  9. I’m Just Here for the Drinks

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels No corn syrup recipe!

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

The last of the Halloween decorations made their way back into the garage this week. The hold outs were the two trick or treat buckets still filled with candy that were slow to empty. Of course, all the good stuff went immediately. And when I say that I mean that my husband and I ate a good portion of the better candy immediately after the kids went to bed. Then there were the thousands of lollipops, off brand candy, and miscellaneous stuff thrown into the buckets that hung around too long. So those got chucked and the buckets, to my children’s surprise, mysteriously disappeared along with all the rest of the decorations by morning.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis holiday always symbolizes quantity over quality, and while I type that out I feel like that’s a lot of holidays now. So that got me thinking about how I can make some little changes for the remainder of the holidays this year to show quality, and thoughtfulness, in the gifts given to others. And for me, one way I like to show that is with handmade gifts.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comI’ve teamed up with Truvia® to craft some special holiday treats that can be used for hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, welcome gifts for out of town guests, or a special treat for someone “just because.” I feel like there’s always someone in your life who could use a little treat for that very reason. I come from a family who are makers. On both sides there are artisans, farmers, photographers, builders, crafters, seamstresses, and my grandfather and uncles can build a classic car from the ground up. Making something, crafting it with your hands, and sharing it with others is very important to me. But you don’t have to build a car. In fact, today I’m making caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon caramels! Quality treats, but for adults only. These little packages of deliciousness come together fairly quickly but require some stirring and a watchful eye. The hardest part is waiting overnight for them to set. The sweetness comes from Truvia Brown Sugar Blend, a blend of stevia sweetener (the sweet leaves of the stevia plant) and brown sugar, for 75% fewer calories per serving than regular brown sugar. You still get that deep, rich caramel flavor that brown sugar imparts, and the bourbon not only adds a little kick, but it also brings its own vanilla and spice flavors to the caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comSo I think it’s time to get in the kitchen and make some treats!

A few notes on making the caramels:

  • Yes, there’s not a lot of volume here, but trust me, you will need a larger pot than you think for when the mixture boils later. Once the dairy is added it boils up but that’s normal!
  • Cream of tartar! Why is it here? Good question! Because corn syrup is not used in this recipe as it is in most caramel recipes, we need something to inhibit the formation of sugar crystals. Corn syrup is an invert sugar that does just that (honey is as well and sometimes you will see recipes call for that but I’ve heard conflicting opinions on how well it works) but cream of tartar introduces an acid to the mix that also will help inhibit those sugar crystals to form and give a smooth texture to your caramel.
  • Since we’re using Brown Sugar Blend it will be hard to tell when the mixture has started to burn, other than smelling it and you don’t want to get to that point. The last 50°  when waiting for your mixture to hit 350° goes rather quickly (getting to 300° usually takes awhile) so stay nearby watching the thermometer or using an instant read thermometer with an alarm for when it reaches temperature.
  • This is a bourbon forward recipe. Feel free to cut back to a 1/2 ounce for a more subtle flavor.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon Salted Caramels

Adapted from Busy in Brooklyn

2 cups Truvia Brown Sugar Blend
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ounce bourbon of your choice
3/4 teaspoon flakey sea salt

Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper comes up the sides of the pan.

In a large pot, combine the Brown Sugar Blend, cream of tartar and water and set over low heat. Whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves completely, around 5-8 minutes. If sugar crystals appear above the surface of the syrup, wipe down the sides of the pot with a damp pastry brush (I keep a bowl of water nearby with a silicone pastry brush).

When the Brown Sugar Blend dissolves, clip an instant-read thermometer to the side of the pan so that the heat sensor is immersed in the sugar (if using a thermometer with a wire string, do not immerse the string). Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the syrup to a boil, whisking until bubbles begin to form, then stop stirring. Continue cooking the Brown Sugar Blend without stirring, brushing down the sides of pot if crystals form.

When the syrup reaches 350°F (this took about 20 minutes for me) remove it immediately from the heat and add in the heavy cream and butter. The mixture will start to bubble up at this point so use caution.

When the mixture settles, stir with a silicone spatula until smooth. Return the pot to the stove and boil until the mixture reaches 248°, around 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, add the bourbon and salt, stir to combine.

Pour the caramel into the parchment-lined pan and bang it on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Let the caramels set for 6 hours, or overnight, in a cool, dry place.

Once set, caramels can be cut out to desired shapes and wrapped in parchment paper. Will keep at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Loire Valley Wines. Recipes and ideas are my own.

The day after Thanksgiving I’m usually at my all time laziest. My slippers might not come off all day, and forget about those holiday sales… I am not leaving the house. But what happens when there is a house full of people still…  at my house?! What will they eat?! The answer: leftovers. Lots and lots of leftovers. I’m a good host though. I may have slippers on, but I am going to provide a few meal options that are fresh, light, or just the right size for people who just ate their weight the previous day in turkey and pies.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comSo pop open a bottle of wine with me, a bottle of Rosé d’Anjou to be exact, and let’s whip up a few dishes to pair with this Loire Valley wine that use up some of our leftover T-Day food. While you might be thinking it’s hard enough to plan for the holiday meal without also having to plan for the day after (or a whole weekend full of family!!), these bites can be modified to what’s on hand for super flavorful dishes.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.com

First, and very importantly, here’s my wine tip for you holiday celebration. Buy your wine by the case! Lots of stores and wineries give you a case discount which means you don’t have to worry about running out during a meal, or even by Saturday. We’ve teamed up with Loire Valley Wines for our Thanksgiving meal as wines from this region are the most diverse, producing wines in every style to make sure you have the perfect one for your meal. If that makes you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry! Loire Valley Wines are ideal food wines with moderate alcohol levels, refreshing acidity and minerality so chances are most will work with your dinner. They’re also a great price point, so buying a case, mixing and matching styles, gives you even greater success at pairing for your holiday!

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comSince Loire Valley Wines are fresh and fun, we’re also going to be going that direction with our after Thanksgiving bites with these three options: Tart Turkey Lettuce Cups, Brie Stuffed Pommes Noisettes, and Bite Size Croque Monsieur Tartines. I’m going on the assumption that you’ll have some of the staple dishes at your meal like turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, a cheese plate, bread, green beans, pecans or walnuts, and various refrigerator condiments. If you’re feeling fancy, I’ve even got a few optional ingredients so you can win the day after Thanksgiving meal as well. But no pressure! Friday should be all about relaxing with family, not stressing over food preparation.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comOk, let’s pour ourselves a glass of wine and get cooking!

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comTurkey Lettuce Cups

Dressing:
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
2/3 cup neutral oil, like avocado oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded or cubed
2/3 cup chopped green beans
1/2 small red onion, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, small dice
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped small

For serving:
one head of butter lettuce, washed, leaves separated
chopped herbs such as parsley, chives

First, make the dressing by combining the vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic oil and salt and pepper in a small bowl, whisking to combine. Or all combined in a jar and shaken 15 seconds (my preferred method!).

Next, combine the turkey, green beans, onion, bell pepper, cranberry sauce and nuts in a medium sized mixing bowl. Pour desired amount of dressing over and let sit 15 minutes. Stir again and serve in lettuce leaves with a sprinkling of herbs on top.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comBrie Stuffed Pommes Noisettes

3 cups mashed potatoes
4 ounces brie
1-1/2 cups fine breadcrumbs
high heat neutral oil for frying

First, cover a sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper. Next, scoop potatoes into 1-1/2″ balls. Place a dime sized amount of brie in the center of the ball and seal potato around it. Roll the ball in breadcrumbs and place on baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. After chilling, pour about two inches of oil in a dutch oven. Heat to 350°F. Fry potato balls in the oil, gently turning every few minutes, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes per batch. Allow space between the balls when frying, do not crowd the oil. Allow the oil to come back up to temperature before frying the next batch. Drain on paper towels.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.com

Bite Size Croque Monsieur Tartines

2 cups leftover gravy (or make your own bechamel sauce, see note below)
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded
10 slices bread, toasted
dijon mustard
Gruyere or Parmesan cheese, grated
cranberry sauce for dipping
quail eggs, optional

Turn on broiler. Place toasted bread on a foil covered baking sheet. Spread desired amount of dijon mustard on bread slices (I used about a teaspoon per slice of bread). Sprinkle a handful of turkey next on the bread, followed by a dollop of gravy. Spread the gravy over the turkey and sprinkle cheese on top. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve with leftover cranberry sauce! If you’re feeling fancy, add a fried quail egg on top. They make these little bites even more adorable.

Note: to make a bechamel sauce, melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a saucepan. Add in 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and mix for a few minutes until combine. Slowly pour 2 cups hot milk into the butter/flour mixture and whisk continually until well combined. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, pinch of nutmeg, and 1/2 a cup of shredded Gruyere cheese. Use immediately.

For more information on all the Loire Valley Wines, please visit them at loirevalleywine.com


Crafting a Sweet Cocktail Kit

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Halloween may have you thinking about those sweet treats filling up your jack-o-lantern buckets, but today we’re going to be talking about a different kind of sweetness…how we show a little sweetness to each other every day. And we’ve got a fun cocktail kit we’ll show you how to make when you want to give a little sweetness to a friend, partner, or yourself!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comWe’ve teamed up with Truvia® to find out “What motivates you to be sweet and kind.” Truvia and Upworthy.com are exploring what motivates individuals to be sweet. Some of the research might surprise you and they have a fun quiz you can take to find out what your sweetness personality type is too. There are four possible types: Purely Sweet, Reciprocally Sweet, Tactfully Sweet, and Graciously Sweet. Curious what kind of sweetness you are? Take the quiz and let me know! I am Graciously Sweet, which means I enjoy doing kind things with the goal of inspiring others to pay it forward. I admit I do love a teachable moment.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comSo, today I’m going to use this post as a teachable moment. I’m going to teach you all how to put together a simple cocktail kit to give to a friend, partner or yourself. This could be a thank you gift, a hostess gift, something to give for the holidays, or an extra special treat you can tuck away for yourself when you need a little self-care.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comTruvia Natural Sweetener packets now come with uplifting sweet phrases on each pack, the perfect little bit of sweetness to add to someone’s day. They are also a great size and amount to sweeten a cocktail with. Adding these single serve packets keeps everything neat and organized.

Ready to sweeten someone’s day? Let’s look at what we’ll need to create this cocktail kit.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comSmall box, tin, or basket
4 ounce amber bottle
1 ounce amber bottle
Whiskey of your choice
Aromatic bitters of your choice
2-4 Truvia Natural Sweetener packets
Label maker
Rocks glass
Mixing spoon
Jigger
Muddler
Index card and markers

For this cocktail kit, I’m putting together a Whiskey Old Fashioned recipe. For one reason, all the ingredients are easy to come by, and everything is shelf stable. Also, if your friend or partner is a novice when it comes to making drinks, this is super easy!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comFirst, find a container that will fit everything. A small box or tin works great. You can keep this simple by visiting a craft store or kitchen supply store to find small bottles and bar tools. Also, Amazon has lots of options. Label all the bottles so your recipient knows what’s inside and measure out the amount you’ll need for your recipes. You can choose to create 2 or more servings depending on the size bottles you get. Then create a recipe card with how much to measure from each bottle. You can optionally personalize the items too. Rocks glasses with initials are not hard to come by, and they show the person you went out of your way to find something unique. Finally, tuck the Truvia Natural Sweetener packets in the glass so they can see the sweet phrases on them. Package up everything and deliver to that special someone!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comI hope I’ve inspired you to show a little sweetness to someone in your life!

What You Should Be Drinking This 4th of July 2018

Warning: do not attempt to set off firecrackers after drinking these cocktails.

The Purple Halo Cocktail with Exotico Tequila Blanco and Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry and Pomegranate. It's a color changing cocktail! // stirandstrain.com

The Purple Halo Cocktail

Smoked Ice Hazy Sunset Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Hazy Sunset Cocktail with Smoked Ice!!

Fun In Jalisco Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Fun In Jalisco Cocktail

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.com

Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle // stirandstrain.com

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle

Peach and Tequila Frozen Blended Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Peach and Tequila Frozen Blended Cocktail

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: The Snowden // stirandstrain.com

And the perennial favorite… The Snowden

May Entertaining: Memorial Day Backyard Party

It’s a three day weekend. Time to grab a watermelon, eat some frozen champagne and dress up like a cocktail!

May Entertaining: Memorial Day 2018 Gift Guide // stirandstrain.com

It’s the official start of summer. So let’s tap a (watermelon) keg, freeze up the champagne (pops), and break out the patriotic bunting and vodka. You’re going to need some shades out there in that sun, so they might as well resemble your favorite cocktail. And if that’s too loud a statement, put your favorite spritz on your shoes instead.

1. Bunting 2. Cocktail Sunglasses 3. Aperol Spritz Shoes 4. Tiki Pin 5. Frozen Champagne Pop 6. Watermelon Keg 7. Watermelon Martini Pop 8. Star Swizzle Sticks 9. Crystal Head Vodka

Catch up on all the gift guides here!