It smells like a cocktail, but you don’t want to drink this.
You do want to smell it and lather your body with it! Put it on your lips and chew on it for a little bit after dinner. For your booziest enthusiast friends, those who really, really like spirits, here’s a few stocking stuffer and hostess gifts for all you last minute shoppers out there. And of course, these pair well with an actual bottle of booze too.
These are the gifts when you get your holiday bonus, or when you receive your inheritance…
Cha-ching! Here’s your high class boozy gifts this year. From sexy alcohol infusers to shimmery bar carts, we’ve got something for you no matter what your holiday bonus. Something practical? A juicer! Something NOT practical? A very, very expensive racing car shaker. You could have a suitcase full of booze shipped to you, or if you prefer to work for your booze, how about a Snowman you need to whack with a stick to rain down nips? If you’re going to make the correct ice ball, you should really upgrade to the professional maker. And if you just can’t be anywhere without your beer, have a keg attached to your bike.
Bottles of booze and cocktail books will fit into a stocking if you try hard enough.
Santa Baby, just slip a couple bottles of booze into my stocking. And a cocktail book for some ideas. Give me something to mix it all up with. Maybe shaped like a car? And if you have the time, let’s play some cards together. The only Rummy I know however, is the one I put in the cookies.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
Time to replace all those thrifted mismatched glasses that aren’t ironic enough.
A little extra cash to spend means you can give the gift of some spiffy new barware this year. Whether it’s drinks for a crowd, drinks for 4, or a discreet single serving you wear on your arm, you can also…put a bird on it (or in it??). And while you’re improving their bar, you might as well get them some better bar tools. And some new booze. And then invite yourself over.
This 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.
See, 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!
If 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!
Now, 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:
It’s not cheap, it’s frugal. Here’s our first of the “practical” gift guides this year.
They might have a small price tag, but no one is going to regift these guys. Except maybe the reusable wine bag, because that’s the point. Whether you need some stocking stuffers they’ve never seen before (hello cocktail pins and firewater tincture!), some solid basics (muddlers! crushed ice trays!), or if you need a gift for your officemate who just got into cocktails (Meehan!), these are a sure bet. And of course, there’s always rum! And don’t forget yourself! I’ll be stirring up some drinks this holiday season with a couple Palm Springs stirrers.
This post was made in partnership with Sheep Thrills Wine.
This year I’m trying to bring simple, spontaneous pleasures into a year that’s been… draining, to say the least. While I am thankful to spend this week with family, I wanted to switch things up a bit after the meal. So, what can you do to entertain a house full of guests this thanksgiving? Send them on a wine scavenger hunt!
If you’re looking to have some adventures with out-of-town guests while being told to stay out of the kitchen, or if you need an activity to do the day after the big meal instead of sitting around arguing politics with your curmudgeonly uncle, or you’re having a few (or 20) pals over for Friendsgiving and it’s going to be in the high 80’s and you don’t have air conditioning (hello, Los Angeles!), this is a fun one!
We’ve teamed up with Sheep Thrills Wine this week to get you out of the house and on this wine adventure! I was always a huge fan of scavenger hunts as a kid and the other day, thinking of what to do with a house full of guests, I thought—adults like this game too! I mean, it’s going to be even better with wine involved.
Check out the printable below to play your own Sheep Thrills scavenger hunt. Or use it as a starting point to make your own game—just get outdoors and have fun!
This post was made in partnership with Exotico Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.
I think fruitcake gets a bad rap. If someone gifted me one, I’d probably say thank you, dunk a slice in some milky coffee and enjoy my day. Who had it in for this fruit and nut studded loaf? Who made the association between fruitcake and a brick? Was it a slew of poorly made, overly manufactured cakes hitting the market all at once? These are the questions keeping me up at night, making me scratch my head and then making me wander into the kitchen looking for a piece of cake.
A “Fruitcake” Cocktail
2 ounces Exotico Reposado Tequila
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 orange slice
1/2 teaspoon currants (or one large pinch to taste)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 1/2 a lemon
2 dashes black walnut bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounces sparkling apple cider
orange slice for garnish
In the bottom of a shaker, muddle together maraschino liqueur, orange slice and currants. Fill shaker 2/3 with ice and pour in Exotico Reposado Tequila, lemon juice, black walnut bitters and Angostura bitters. Shake hard about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with sparkling apple cider. Garnish with an orange slice.
Oh my gourd! It’s time to get that bar cart styled – for Halloween!
If you don’t want to drop some dollars on a fancy punch bowl but still want to impress your friends, hollow out a pumpkin! Plop it on your bar cart! Pour in whiskey (or check below for some recommended recipes)! Stir it up with a skull spoon! And serve up your punch in some gothic goblets. Or some very Fall coppery glasses. With glow-in-the-dark eyeball ice cubes of course. Come November 1st you’ll need only add some decorative wheat stalks, and remove the eyeballs, and your Autumnal bar cart is DONE.