Archive for the ‘Drinks’ Category

Christmas Dinner Party

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas!!!  I had a wonderful time with all of my family and now am on a vacation in June Lake, CA.  We are loving the beautiful white mountains and braving the slopes.  I found out that I am not cut-out for snowboarding after experiencing quite the wipe-out my first day, but I was determined not to stay inside the cabin and just eat all day so I tried cross-country skiing with my father-in-law today and loved it.  It is more controlled than snowboarding and yet quite the workout…I am sore all over!  Well, as I pondered about what to blog about I found myself looking at all of my Christmas photos and realized that I had forgotten to share a wonderful dinner party that I had with a bunch of friends a couple weeks ago.  We had a fantastic time and loved trying out each other’s recipes.  I hope you enjoy the photos and the yummy recipes at the end of the post.  

One of my best girfriends, Kate, made an easy and yummy appetizer.  She cooked some dried cranberries in a little Grand Marnier and brown sugar and then place it over warm Brie cheese.  We devoured it!

I prepared the salad and dessert for everyone.  The salad had a Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette and tasty add-ins like blue cheese, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, golden raisins, apples, and mandarin oranges. 

My friend Matt made the Pomegranate Margaritas for the night!  They were sooo good and definitely a special treat for the night!

Brian made a delicious soup for us to enjoy for dinner.  It was a new recipe he tried out for the first time and I thought it was quite tasty.  It was a hearty Butternut Squash Soup that had Chorizo and Pepitas in it along with a bunch of other delicious ingredients.

For dessert I made one of my all-time favorites…Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Gingersnap Crust.  The recipe is a little time-consuming, but well worth it!

Here are a couple more photos from the fun night!

And of course I couldn’t leave you without a couple of the delicious recipes…both from the lovely

Anasazi Butternut Squash Soup with Chorizo and PepitasBon Appétit | October 1999


Yield: Makes 6 servings


3/4 cup dried kidney beans
1 pound beef chorizo sausages, casings removed
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups water
2 14 1/2-ounce cans beef broth

3 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled seeded butternut squash
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups frozen corn kernels
2/3 cup shelled pepitas, toasted


Place kidney beans in medium bowl. Pour enough water over to cover beans by 3 inches. Let stand overnight. Drain.

Sauté chorizo in heavy large pot over medium heat until cooked through and fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Transfer chorizo to paper towels; drain, leaving 2 tablespoons drippings in pot. Add onion and garlic; sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add 3 cups water, broth and beans; bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover. Simmer until beans are tender, 1 hour.

Add squash to soup. Cover; simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in bell peppers, corn and chorizo; simmer uncovered about 10 minutes longer.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Swirl Bon Appétit | November 1993


Yield: Serves 10


1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
9 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon (about) purchased caramel sauce
1 cup sour cream

For Crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind ground cookies, pecans and sugar in processor. Add melted butter and blend until combined. Press crust mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides.
For Filling:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light. Transfer 3/4 cup mixture to small bowl; cover tightly and refrigerate to use for topping. Add pumpkin, 4 tablespoons whipping cream, ground cinnamon and ground allspice to mixture in large bowl and beat until well combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined. Pour filling into crust (filling will almost fill pan). Bake until cheesecake puffs, top browns and center moves only slightly when pan is shaken, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack and cool 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around cake pan sides to loosen cheesecake. Cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Bring remaining 3/4 cup cream cheese mixture to room temperature. Add remaining 5 tablespoons whipping cream to cream cheese mixture and stir to combine. Press down firmly on edges of cheesecake to even thickness. Pour cream cheese mixture over cheesecake, spreading evenly. Spoon caramel sauce in lines over cream cheese mixture. Using tip of knife, swirl caramel sauce into cream cheese mixture. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Release pan sides from cheesecake. Spoon sour cream into pastry bag fitted with small star tip (do not stir before using). Pipe decorative border around cheesecake and serve.


Citizen Cake & Tartine Bakery

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Two of the places I knew I would have to visit during my trip to San Francisco were Citizen Cake and Tartine Bakery.  I have both of their cookbooks and have devoured them both page by page.  I was so happy I got the chance to dine at them and as you can see from the photos I enjoyed every moment of it.  So sit back and relax and drool over my lovely foodie photos from Citizen Cake!

Normally I don’t really like most of the breadsticks that restaurants put out at the beginning of the meal, but Citizen Cake changed my mind…these were delicious!

This was AMAZING!!!  Sadly I didn’t get any good photos of the mushroom risotto I had for dinner, but let me tell you…it was one of the best tasting dinners I have had in a while.

Of course I had to get my favorite dinner…A MOJITO!

This dessert was so yummy too!  It was their version of a deconstructed Red Velvet Cake.  

Now onto Tartine…basically the best place for breakfast & dessert at the same time!

Now for a bite of pure heaven order one of those…their Pain Au Chocolate.

Their savory food is just as scrumptious!

And of course we had to buy those two little treats to eat back at the hotel!

Well, I have one more treat in store for you….I also stopped by a local gourmet grocery store since I heard that their homemade ice cream is to die for.   So here it is, the most delicious ice cream I have ever put my lips to from Bi-Rite Creamery!!!

It was soooo good!

I just wish I could’ve tried all of their flavors.

Just so you make sure you get the name…Malted Vanilla with Peanut Brittle and Milk Chocolate!  You have to try it!




Prickly Pear Margaritas

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Well, as promised I am sharing this delicious, refreshing, addicting drink!  So get ready to get some chips and guacamole, a margarita glass, and some salt because here it comes!!!

I combined a couple different recipes that I found and came up with this one…it’s a keeper! Just for those of you who are still wondering what prickly pears are they are actually the fruit that grow on top of the flat cactus pad.  Some say that they taste like a cross between a melon and a fig…I say they taste AMAZING!

Prickly Pear Margaritas

serves 6

3 1/2 cups crushed ice

3 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice

3 oz. frozen limeade

6 Tequila

4 1/2 oz. Cointreau

3 oz. prickly pear cactus juice

3 T. sugar 

Lime wedges and kosher salt for garnish

In a blender, add all of the ingredients (minus the garnish) and pulse it until the ice is completely blended. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.  

Rub some of the lime around the rim of the glasses and then dip the glasses into the salt.  Pour in the drink and garnish with a lime.  Enjoy!

Here are a couple links to where you can buy prickly pear juice.  Dessert USA or Perfect Puree of Napa Valley 

Mexican Fiesta Time!!!

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Sorry for the lack of posts this past week, but life has have crazy…fun, but crazy.  Last week I took on the role of Super Auntie and watched my sister’s three little girls for 3 days while she vacationed in Mexico. Right when she returned I had a dinner party that I was catering that very day.  I worked for 12 hours straight and although I was dead tired I had a lot of fun.  I have been doing dinner parties for a group of three couples for their date night out.  We choose a different theme for each dinner party and this one was “A Mexican Fiesta”.  I had a great menu planned and the night was a hit!  We started the night off with Blue Corn Blinis that were topped off with Crab, Pico de Gallo, and Avocado crema.  Next I pulled out a hot Mexican layer dip that had refried beans, group beef and onions, green chile, cheddar cheese, taco sauce, and homemade guacamole.   

I then made the most delicious margaritas ever…Prickly Pear Margaritas.  Yes, they are pink AND delicious! The recipe will come soon in another post!

For dinner we went casual with grilled fish tacos, mexican rice, and fresh fruit.

And for dessert I made chocolate churros with milk chocolate peanut butter and chocolate ganache dipping sauces and flan.  Both desserts were out of this world yummy!  Homemade churros are so much fun to make and are a sure hit for a dinner party.  This flan I got off of and I loved the recipe.  It was more of a twist between a creme brulee and a flan…creamy all the way through.  Definitely a keeper!

Fun Times with Friends

Monday, May 12th, 2008

This past weekend I had the chance to hang out with some good friends of mine and celebrate my dear friend Kate’s birthday!  We thought it would be fun to try out a couple new drinks and have some appetizers, so my friend Matt was in charge of two drinks and I was in charge of one drink and the dessert.  It was my first time trying out drink recipes and I had a lot of fun!  I decided to try a recipe from Elizabeth Falkner’s book Demolition Desserts.  Once I read that this drink had passion fruit juice in it I knew I had to try it…and to make matters even more interesting the title of the drink was “Shagadelic”!  Elizabeth says that this recipe was made to match her “Shag cake” that was quite popular with her customers at Citizen Cake.  


As you can see from these photos this is definitely not my typical food photo shoot, but I still wanted to share these pictures and recipe with you…hope you enjoy them!  


adapted from Demolition Desserts

serves two 

(I changed some things in the recipe…like the sugar rim instead of a shredded coconut rim and a strawberry instead of a maraschino cherry) 

1/2 c. bottled passion, such as Looza brand

1 T. Cointreau

1/4 c. white rum, such as 10 Cane brand

2 T. coconut rum, such as Malibu brand

Juice of 1/2 lime

Ice cubes

A couple strawberries

Sugar for the rim

Rub one of the cut limes around the edge of the glasses and then dip into sugar.

In a cocktail shaker, combine passion fruit juice, Cointreau, white and coconut rum, and lime juice.  Fill the shaker with ice, cover, and shake.

Strain into the sugar-rimmed glasses and add a sliced strawberry to the rim.  

Like I said earlier, my friend Matt made two drinks for us too…both which were a lot of fun and delicious too!  The first drink he made was a Peach Bellini.  He said you just need a good sparkling wine and a scoop of peach sorbet and presto dingdough your done!  


The other drink he made took a little preparation beforehand, but was really yummy and looked beautiful too!  He infused vodka with strawberries for 2 days or so and then drained the vodka from the jar.  (The strawberries definitely lose their beauty in the infusing process and end up looking more like little tongues, but the end result is worth it!)


Matt added simple syrup (equal parts of sugar and water heated until dissolved), mint, and ice to the strawberry vodka and muddled it around.  Overall, a really great drink!


Sadly I don’t have a great picture of the end result, but take my word for it…it’s a winner!  Thanks Matt!

To end the night off right I thought that I should try out a gift that my husband’s aunt had gotten me…a Skookie Cast Iron Skillet!!!  I had some leftover Peanut Butter M&M Monster cookie dough, so I thought it would make the perfect birthday dessert…and it did!  Here is the birthday girl with her own Skookie aka pizza cookie.



Hope you had a great birthday Kate!  Thanks for being such a great friend!





Mojito Granita

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

This is definitely a recipe must for everyone!  I am not a drinker by any means…the only kind of drinks I like are girly, fruity ones and I still find those hard to drink since they have calories (and loads of them) and I figure that I could have a dessert instead, BUT this drink/dessert is the perfect combo for me!  This recipe is from David Lebovitz‘s book, The Perfect Scoop, a book soley devoted to ice creams, sorbets, granitas, and sweet accompaniments.  He describes granita as “a shaved ice, made from a lightly sweetened fruit puree or another liquid.”  Even though I have drooled over many recipes so far this was the first one I’ve tried.  The simplicity of the recipe is amazing, which lends itself to the pure and simple fact that you have no reason not to try it.  Well, if I haven’t convinced you already hopefully the photos will!


Mojito Granita

adapted by David Lebovitz’s, The Perfect Scoop

Makes about 1 quart

2 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar

2 limes, preferably unsprayed

1 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 6 limes)

3 Tablespoons white or light rum

Add the water and sugar to a small, non reactive saucepan and then grate the zest from the two limes directly into the saucepan.  Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, so that the sugar completely dissolves.  Reserve 5 mint leaves and then add the rest to the saucepan and take it off of the heat.  Cover the pan for 8 minutes so that the mint infuses the liquid.  Then uncover and let liquid come to room temperature.

Once liquid is cool, strain the mixture into a flat container that is approximately 8 to 12 inches across, with a 2 quart capacity.  Make sure to squeeze all the yummy liquid out of the leaves and then discard them.  Stir in the lime juice and rum and then finely chop the remaining 5 leaves and add them to the liquid (I choose just to use them as garnish).  Place the container in the freezer and freeze for one hour.  Once the edges begin to freeze, take a fork and break up the frozen parts and rack them toward the center.  Return to the freezer and then check the mixture every 30 minutes and continue breaking up the ice particles until the mixture almost completely frozen or completely frozen (depending on your preference).

Here are some photos of the process…infusing the mint and then the stages of ice formation.






David suggests that you can serve it over any ice cream or sorbet (maybe mint ice cream), top it off with whipped cream, or simply pile the granita high in its own dish and enjoy it by itself…that is what I did!



I have to confess that my husband and I were so addicted to this delicious granita that almost every cup ended up like this one!



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