Moscow Mules

 

Do you like your drinks ice cold? Me too. I can’t drink a warm beer or even one that is somewhat cool-it has to be ice cold! Do you love to experiment with new cocktails? You KNOW I do by just perusing my blog. Quite often we see particular mugs or glasses associated with a certain drink. The Moscow mule drink is no different-there is actually a mug that pays homage to the drink; and it is a copper mug. They are beautiful mugs that keep your drink nice and cold as they are great conductors for cold AND heat. The traditional mule drink has fresh lime juice and a lot of people are not aware that if you drink your beverage from a mug that is lined with copper, that includes something acidic such as lime juice, the copper leaches into your drink and you are consuming copper.

When looking for copper mugs, make sure to buy one that is lined with Nickel. Check out these amazing and beautiful copper mugs that are shown here. They are  hand made and lined with Nickel.  I have been drinking EVERYTHING from them since I got them. I am obsessed!! I cannot describe how beautiful these mugs are. The color of the copper changes color when you add your beverage and they take on a gossimer glow. They would make a great gift for the Holidays or just to have for yourself when entertaining, they are very comfortable to hold and not heavy at all.  Head on over to there to check them out.  They come packaged very secure.

Fall is just a skip away so I’ve also included a recipe for an apple cider mule. The mugs are perfect for sipping spiced cider as well, as they will keep your beverage hot while you sit in front of the bonfire or fireplace. They are perfect for hot chocolate, mochas, pumpkin spice lattes or anything hot. They are truly a 4 season mug. Happy sipping!

 

Traditional Moscow Mule 

crushed ice

1 1/2 oz. premium vodka

1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

1/2 Cup ginger beer

garnish: lime wedge

 

Fill a Moscow mule mug with crushed ice. Add ingredients and gently stir. Garnish with lime wedge.

 

Apple Cider Moscow Mule

1 1/2 oz. premium vodka

1/2 oz. lime juice

1/3 Cup apple cider

Ginger beer

Garnish: (optional)  thinly sliced fresh apple and cinnamon stick

 

 

Fill a Moscow mule mug with crushed ice, then add first three ingredients. Top off with ginger beer, stir to combine. Garnish as desired.

 

Passionate Pear Moscow Mule

crushed ice

1 1/2 oz. Pear flavored Vodka (Such as Sky Bartlet pear)

1/2 oz. (1 Tbsp.) fresh lime juice

1/2 Cup cold ginger beer

1/2 oz. (1 Tbsp.) passion fruit syrup (Such as Monin brand or)

 

Fill a Moscow mule mug with crushed ice. Add ingredients and stir to combine.

 


Vanilla Pudding Parfaits with Salted Caramel, Cookie Crumbles & Peanuts

 

We are still in triple digits here in Arizona. I can feel the weather changing though as the days get shorter and the nights cooler.  l’m starting to welcome the idea of Fall and everything that comes with it. Fall is akin to comfort food. As Summer slips away, we start day dreaming of stews, hot dishes and firing up the oven again to bake. These parfaits are Snickers inspired in terms of flavor.

Pudding is the ultimate comfort food that you can still make when the weather is hot.  I have such a fond memory of my childhood and making homemade pudding. My Mother taught me how to stir the pudding gently in a figure 8 motion, being careful to get into the corners of the pot. When making pudding, I always succumb to a hypnotic dreamy state while I stir. I don’t know why, but it just happens organicly EVERY TIME. Pudding can be a great problem solving task for things that you have been pondering about or troubled over.  Stirring and zoning out, I can finally meditate over where the Husband left his keys that he’s lost for 3 days now. Oh yeah…stirring, meditating, day dreaming of Fall evenings sitting on the porch with creamy pudding parfaits.

These little jars have everything you need, creamy pudding with bits of crunchy chocolate cookie crumbles and smooth salted caramel topped with peanuts. Comfort food in any season. You’ll most likely have some salted caramel sauce leftover- store it in a glass jar in the fridge. Slip it into your morning coffee or sneak a spoonful now and then straight from the jar!

 

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 C sugar

1/4 C water

3/4 C heavy cream; nuke until slightly warm

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 tsp. fleur de sel or kosher salt

In a medium saucepan place the sugar and add the water and mix gently until the mixture resembles wet sand. Cook over medium high heat and let it come to a boil without stirring; until the caramel reaches a deep amber. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the heat. Carefully pour in the cream, it will bubble and spout a bit; whisk carefully until combined. Whisk in the butter and then the salt. Let cool, then refrigerate.

Vanilla Bean Pudding 

yield: 4 servings

2  1/2 Cups whole milk, divided

1/2 Cup sugar

pinch of salt

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 egg yolks

1 Vanilla Bean, scraped for seeds

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

For Parfait Assembly:

Purchased Famous brand chocolate cookies

Salted roasted peanuts 

1. In a small to medium bowl whisk the cornstarch along with 1/2 Cup of the milk. Add the yolks and whisk to combine; set aside.

2. Place the remaining 2 cups milk in a saucepan along with the sugar, salt, and vanilla bean seeds. Bring to a boil; then slowly pour about 1/3 of the hot milk into the bowl with the cornstarch mixture to temper the mixture. Pour that back into the saucepan and bring the pudding to a gentle boil over medium heat while stirring with a rubber spatula. Let the mixture boil for about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter. Pour the pudding into a container and place a piece of parchment circle directly onto the surface of the pudding. Let the pudding cool on counter for 30 minutes, then place in fridge.

Once the pudding is poured into the bowl, DO NOT STIR OR PUDDING CAN TURN WATERY!

Parfait assembly:

Layer a few tablespoons of vanilla pudding in the bottom of a 4 oz. glass container, then pour in a couple tablespoons of salted caramel, followed by sprinkling of coarse cookie crumbles and salted peanuts. Repeat with one more layer. Serve chilled.


Summer Cocktail Series: #3: Blueberry Mint Lemonade with Vodka

We had such a lovely Fourth of July yesterday. It was a beautiful day here in Arizona and we lazed around all day and I threw together a quick blueberry puree in my ninja blender. I had quite a bit of fresh mint left in the fridge and whipped together this refreshing sipper with some store bought lemonade. Normally I make fresh lemonade when our ginormous lemon tree is in season, but I think it is yummy even with store bought. I like the brand Simply Lemonade. The great thing about this quick cocktail is the little ones can enjoy it sans vodka, so it’s family friendly. Just whip up the puree earlier in the day and keep it in the fridge with the fresh mint.

We finished off the night swimming in the pool and sipping cocktails with our friends, while watching our neighbors’ fireworks. We are lucky to have neighbors a few blocks away who shoot off fireworks every year so we stay home and swim in the pool while taking in the bright display. Stay safe and enjoy Summer everyone!

Blueberry Mint Lemonade (with optional Vodka)

 

Blueberry Puree 

2 pints fresh blueberries, rinsed

1 Cup water

Place the blueberries and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool, puree in a blender until smooth (some little bits of blueberry are fine).

How to make cocktail:

In a tall Collins glass place 1 1/2 Tbsp. of blueberry puree and mint leaves from one sprig. Smash lightly the mint with a spoon. Fill the glass with 1 oz. of vodka, one more sprig of mint, then top off with crushed ice and lemonade.

Tip for storing fresh mint: When you bring the mint home from the store, take it out of the package, rinse in cold water, and place in a glass of cold water (I use a mason jar). Make sure the sprigs are immersed in the water.


Summer Cocktail Series: #2: The Key Lime Pie Martini

 

I have a serious THING for key lime pie, so turning that into a martini? yeah…

Is there really anymore to say? Other than this is for my Summer Cocktail Series. Cocktail # 2

Commence with the sippin’ and the porch sittin’ !!

 

Key Lime Pie Martini

(serving: 1)

1.5 oz. vanilla vodka

1 oz. key lime juice

1 tsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. Coco Lopez

0.5 oz. (1 Tbsp.) pineapple juice

1 oz. heavy cream

One drop mint green (gel) food color

 

Fill a martini glass or coupe glass with crushed ice to chill.

On a small plate mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar together.

Mix the martini per instructions* in the cocktail shaker.

Pour out the ice water from the martini glass and wipe dry.

Cut a small piece of lime and wipe around the rim of martini/coupe glass.

Dip the rim of the glass into the cracker mixture.

Strain the cocktail into the glass and serve immediately.

 

* Fill a cocktail shaker with all the ingredients then fill with ice. Shake vigourously.

Graham Cracker Rim:

1 full rectangular square graham cracker ground to crumbs in either a mortar/pestle or in a ziplock bag using rolling pin. Mix the crumbs with 2 tsp. of sugar. (You could also use cinnamon graham cracker if you prefer).

 

 

 

 


Summer Cocktail Series: # 1: The Amelia Cocktail

 

Summer

Fresh ripe juicy blackberries

Elderflower St. Germain liqueur

Warm gentle breezes

Porch sittin’

A few of your best friends

 

What do all of these have in common? The Amelia cocktail– named after Amelia Earhart is a wonderful, berrylicious,  bright and fresh cocktail that comes together quite easily in a cocktail shaker. The end result is a gorgeous purple-maroon colored beauty. Sorry guys- this is a girly girl drink.

Summer lends itself to our creative senses when it comes to sipping on something refreshing, so I’m starting a new category called “Summer Cocktail Series” to get us in the mood. The star of this beautiful libation utilizes fresh blackberries, sugar, lemon juice and St. Germain liqueur. St. Germain is a liqueur made from elderflower and it pairs nicely with berries and lemon because of it’s citrus notes.

Mix this up ahead of time and find a pretty glass container and invite your BFF’s over for some lazy sipping on the front porch. Serve it in coupe wineglasses if you have them, (or a martini glass will do) placed on a pretty serving tray for a style reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour. You can multiply the recipe and keep it in the fridge in a pretty glass container of your choice so easy pouring and seconds will not distract you from your lazy porch sitting-slow sipping-catching up on neighborhood gossip-entertaining duties. Serve it alongside simple hors d’oeuvres and you will never leave the porch or pool side. Enjoy~

 

 

The Amelia Cocktail

recipe: adapted slightly from Nordstrom Bar

yield: two cocktails

 

12 fresh large plump blackberries

1 Tbsp. super fine sugar

2.5 oz. vodka

2 oz. St. Germaine liqueur

1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice

ice to fill cocktail shaker

Garnish: fresh blackberries, mint, super fine sugar for rimming glasses

 

Chill glasses ahead of time in the fridge or place ice in each glass to fill then fill with enough water to fill each glass. Right before serving, dump out the ice cold water before pouring the cocktail.

Prepare cocktail: In a cocktail shaker place the berries and sugar. Muddle the berries and sugar (with a cocktail muddler or end of a large wooden spoon) until broken down and juicy. Add the vodka, St. Germain, lemon juice and enough ice to fill the shaker. Cap the shaker and shake vigourosly about 20 times.

Prepare glasses: Remove chilled glasses from fridge (or dump out the ice water from glasses and wipe dry). Swipe a small piece of lemon around the rims of glasses and then dip the glasses in sugar (place sugar on a small plate for easy rimming). Strain the cocktail into the glasses and serve garnished with fresh mint and blackberries.

 


Blood Orange Poppy Seed Loaf

Lets face it-there are certain fruits or foods which given their name do not exactly evoke a tasty image. Case in point, the blood orange. I mean….how could one get excited over something with the word blood in it if you’re going to be shoving it in your mouth? Well, these little beauties lend the most amazing ruby red color when juiced. You’ll find them used in everything from cocktail recipes to baking. Mix the juice with a little confectioners sugar and you have the most beautiful AND flavorful princess pink icing.

It’s always a surprise when you slice one in half to find how deep in color your prized beauty really is. When picking one out you want to find one that has a good patch of crimson red mixed with deep orange.

 

 

Blood Orange Poppy Seed Loaf

1  1/2 C all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

 

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

1  1/4 Cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temp

1 tsp. vanilla

zest of 2 large blood oranges

2 Tbsp. blood orange juice

1/3 Cup milk

1 tsp. white vinegar

2-4 Tbsp. poppy seeds

 

Combine milk with vinegar and set aside for about 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a standard loaf pan with non stick baking spray and line with parchment paper so the ends are extended over the long side of the pan. Leave at least 2 inches of overhang.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Add the vanilla and combine. Zest the oranges over the mixer bowl and also add the blood orange juice. With mixer on stir setting, stir to combine. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add in half the flour mixture and beat gently to combine. Add in milk mixture with mixer running on slow speed and mix gently to combine. Add in last half of flour mixture and beat gently to combine. Stir in the poppy seeds (Note* this is a matter of preference on how much poppy seeds you like-I add in only 2 Tbsp. but you can much more to your liking).

Pour the batter into the pan and smooth out the top. Bake in preheated oven for about 55 minutes to an hour or until a wooden skewer inserted shows a few moist crumbs.

Make the Blood Orange Syrup by placing ingredients into a liquid glass measuring cup and microwaving until mixture comes to a boil.

Let the cake cool for 30 minutes then gently pour the Blood Orange Syrup over the cake until cake absorbs all of syrup. Let cake cool completely, then apply glaze with a large spoon until top of cake is covered.

For glaze– in a medium bowl place sifted confectioners sugar and blood orange juice and whisk to combine.

 

Blood Orange Syrup

1/2 Cup water

2  1/2 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. blood orange juice

 

Glaze

1  1/2 Cup confectioners sugar, sifted

3-4 Tbsp. fresh blood orange juice

 


Butterfinger Macarons

I confess-I still had leftover Halloween candy, I was going to wait and save it for next year but decided to crumble them and put them to use in a buttercream to try a new macaron flavor. Have you ever wondered why the  Butterfinger candy bar has that weird orange color? or is it just me.

I have been recently tweaking my macaron recipe as well to try and combat hollow macaron shells and I was so overjoyed that this batch came out perfect. Nice feet with no hollows. I know you all are probably tired of another macaron recipe, but bear with me as I recently purchased some macaron Silpat mats and I had to try them out. For the record, I did not age my egg whites either-I have to admit, I’ve tried it several times with and without and for me personally I don’t see a difference in aging. I even baked my first batch with only resting them 10 minutes and they still came out perfect.

 

 

Butterfinger Macarons 

yield: ~ 30 or more assembled macarons (depending on piped size of shells)

 

140 gm Almond flour (I like Wellbee’s super fine blanched brand)*

124 gm confectioners sugar

107 gm egg whites, room temperature

110 gm granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

orange gel/paste food color

brown gel/paste food color

unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

 

(*try to find the best almond flour that is fine or superfine and blanched, or pale in color). I use “Wellbee’s superfine blanched almond flour” which I buy in 5 pound bags from Amazon. It’s cheaper as you go up in quantity.

 

 


 

  1. In a food processor place the almond flour and confectioners sugar and run for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides so the mixture settles into the processor bowl. Repeat this 2 more times, then sift mixture through a strainer (it doesn’t have to be fine) over a large bowl (I use a 5 quart size stainless steel bowl). Preheat the oven to 300° F convection, 325° F for non convection setting.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk by hand (using the mixer whisk) until foamy for about 30 seconds. Prepare two baking sheets with either parchment paper or Silpat liners. I recently purchased new macaron mats by Velesco from Amazon and I love them! You get 2 mats for 15 dollars.
  3. Set the mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment assembled to the mixer, and start the meringue by running mixer on power level 4 (Kitchen Aide) and start gradually adding in the granulated sugar- run/whisk for 2 minutes once all the sugar is in. Stop once to scrape the sides of the bowl to push down any sugar that appears on the sides.
  4. Increase mixer then to power level 6 and run for 3 minutes.
  5. Increase mixer to power level 8 and run for 3 minutes.
  6. Stop mixer and with a bamboo skewer or toothpick add in your gel colors. About 3-4 parts orange to one part brown.
  7. Increase mixer to power level high (10) and run for 1 minute or until meringue is stiff peaks. A sign that meringue is ready is there will be a good amount collected within the whisk and if you turn the bowl upside down the meringue will not slip or move. If the color does not appear to be mixer to your liking at this point I add in any color and mix gently by hand; being careful not to overmix.

Add one half of the meringue to the almond flour/sugar mix and start folding with a rubber spatula until mixture starts to look cohesive. Add in the remaining half of meringue and continue to gently fold, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The batter is perfect when you lift up the spatula and tip the pointed end of the spatula down and ribbons of batter fall smoothly back into the bowl. I like to gauge its ready when I can count 7 ribbons falling without breaking and I can “draw” a figure 8 with the batter when lifting the spatula and letting it fall into the bowl.

Fill your pastry bag by using a heavy tall cup or mason jar to hold your pastry bag with the top folded over the glass. When preparing your bag after you drop in your round tip (I use Ateco 804), twist the bag right above the larger end of the tip and push it down into tip. Fold the top 4 inches of the bag over the jar or glass. See pictures.

Let the batter fall right into the bottom of the bag and continue filling to ensure you don’t get air bubbles. When ready to pipe and all of the batter is in the bag, twist the top of the bag and when ready to pipe, push down with your dominant hand to force the bottom of the tip to open.

Pipe the batter onto prepared baking sheet with 30 macarons per sheet. Six across the long side, and five rows perpendicular. Sift a light dusting of cocoa powder over each piped macaron round. Take the sheet pan and wrap against the counter for 13 times. Repeat x 2 more times of 13, then look for any visible air bubbles and pop with a toothpick or bamboo skewer. Allow the macarons to rest for 10-30 minutes, then bake in a preheated (convection oven if you have at 300° F , 325° F for NON convection oven*) for about 16-18 minutes or until the cookie does not wiggle when attempting to check by carefully grabbing both sides of a cookie and gently testing.

Let the tray rest on a wire rack and then bake the second tray.

Cool the cookies completely and pipe the Butterfinger buttercream between two cookies and sandwich together.

*A word about oven temperatures: EVERY one’s oven is different and after painstaking doing several batches of macarons I determined that in MY oven 300 F convection setting is best for me. Check your oven temperature against a thermometer placed in the middle of your oven. Some people bake there’s at 285, 290, 310 etc. unfortunately it’s something that you have to play around with and determine what is best for you and your oven. 

Butterfinger Buttercream

3 egg whites

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla

3 “fun size” Butterfinger bars, crushed

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla,  then beat until smooth. Fold in the crushed pieces of the Butterfinger. Note: you can make the buttercream a day or two ahead and keep chilled in the fridge-through the steps minus the crushed candy. When ready, let the filling come to room temperature and re whisk in the mixer until smooth and then fold in the crushed candy.