With Thanksgiving around the corner and the holiday season in sight, ’tis the season for fresh cranberries. Sure, they make a mean cranberry sauce or upside-down cake, but if you’ve tried one straight from the bag, you know cranberries are nothing short of pucker-inducing. So, I was skeptical when I first heard that sugared cranberries made a great snack. As the kitchen investigator I try to be, I had to see for myself.
You guys. These things are addictive. Soaking cranberries overnight in a maple-scented simple syrup transforms them from pucker-worthy to perfectly sweet-tart. Rolling them in superfine sugar adds a satisfying crunch. As pretty as they are tasty, they make a great cake or cocktail garnish. Make a double batch and wait for the rave reviews.
GET THE SUGARED CRANBERRIES RECIPE
There’s nothing like a classy beverage to make a holiday party feel more festive or to whet everyone’s appetite for small bites. My husband and I are cocktail enthusiasts, but as much as I love drinks with lots of exotic ingredients and elaborate garnishes (hello, flaming limes!), we’ve found it’s best to keep it simple behind the bar when you’re entertaining for a large group. It’s also a good idea to keep drinks on the low-alcohol end of the spectrum so guests can sip the night away without feeling the negative effects the next morning. So, what do you mix when you’re looking for something simple, low-alcohol, festive and tasty? Enter the shim!
TWO TASTY COCKTAIL RECIPES TO TRY
That’s it. Summer’s coming to an end. School supply sections are being ransacked. Pools are being abandoned. Boots are slowly being pulled out of the back of the closet. Use this long Labor Day weekend as a time to toast to the end of the season with fruity and refreshing libations. Celebrity caterer Andrea Correale shares her favorite end-of-summer cocktail recipes that are sure to send you into fall in good spirits.
End of Summer Sangria
2 bottles dry white wine
1 cup triple sec
1/2 cup berry-flavored vodka
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup simple syrup
1 cup blueberries
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup raspberries
1 1/2 cups pineapple chunks (optional: use star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out patriotic shapes)
To make the simple syrup, boil 1/2 cup water and add 1/2 cup granulated white sugar. Turn heat to simmer and stir until dissolved. Turn off heat and let cool.
Combine all ingredients in a large punch bowl or pitcher, and stir well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Serve well-chilled with a good scoop of fruit floating in each drink, or serve over ice.
THREE MORE RECIPES TO TRY!
I recently visited The Swag Resort, a mountaintop getaway near Asheville, N.C. In addition to the breathtaking mountain views, rustic suites and direct Smoky Mountain National Park access, the resort also features upscale cuisine inspired by its geography: Think smoked Tennessee mountain trout, pot roast with burgundy sauce and apple-raisin bread pudding with Bourbon caramel sauce. Yum!
Swag Chef Ronnie Potter-Bowers, a North Carolina native, mixes his French culinary training with dishes he picked up in his grandmother’s Southern kitchen. Many of her recipes are on display at the resort’s weekly Thursday night barbecue.
Here, he puts the finishing touches on a barbecued pork butt, soon to be the melt-in-your mouth pulled pork on the plate featured above.
Ready to host your own summer barbecue? We’ve got a menu full of recipes from The Swag, including Ronnie’s signature pulled pork, potato salad and the resort’s famous peanut-butter-and-chocolate Swag Bars. Believe me — you don’t want to miss this.
GET THE FULL MENU + RECIPES
Halloween may still be months away but that doesn’t mean I can’t tempt you with a few of the devilishly delicious treats we’re cooking up now. Our entertaining pros are busy whipping up both sweet and savory party snacks your Halloween guests won’t be able to resist!
Here’s a small sampling; I’ll share the actual recipes when we get closer to All Hallows Eve. In the meantime, check out our Halloween feature for more spooky inspiration:
MORE HALLOWEEN IDEAS:
Halloween Sneak Peek: Outdoor Decorating Ideas
Halloween Sneak Peek: Kids’ Costumes
4 Halloween Crafts to Make Now
Halloween Cut-Outs: Spook Up Your Yard
Crafty Indoor Halloween Decorations
Free! Halloween Printables
Home Survival Skills: Prepare Your Home for Halloween
How to Make a Fall Felt Leaf Wreath
Next time I’m in New York to visit Lili, Briana and Alyssa, I have a few hot-spots on my list to check out: PDT (Please Don’t Tell), Milk & Honey, Little Branch and Gwynnett St. Some of these bars accept guests by reservation or referral only, or only allow members after a certain time. For some reason, that makes them so much more intriguing. I’m dying to check out the drink menu more than the atmosphere, though. Over at Milk & Honey, for example, fruit juices and extracts are all made by hand; mixing glasses are stored in the freezer to keep drinks cold; and ice is cut by hand using an ice pick to create imperfect, jagged pieces. If I know that’s the process going into my cocktail, I can certainly wait a few minutes for it.
So, are you ready for 5 p.m. to get here so you can wrap your hand around a refreshing, warm-weather concoction? I’m with you! Let’s celebrate the start of summer with four delicious drink recipes from renowned NYC mixologists (or alchemists, rather).
UP ALL NIGHT COCKTAIL:
Recipe courtesy of Lauren Schell, Little Branch, NYC
1 1/2 ounces Reyka Vodka
1/2 ounces rosemary-infused cognac
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce cane syrup
rosemary sprig, for garnish
Whip and strain into iced Collins glass. Top with soda water. Garnish with large rosemary sprig.
STEAM 75 COCKTAIL:
Recipe courtesy of John deBary, PDT, NYC
1 1/2 ounces Reyka Vodka
3/4 ounce Art in the Age Rhubarb
3/4 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce strawberry puree
1 ounce Brut champagne
lavender sprigs, for garnish
Shake and strain into chilled coupe. Top with 1 ounce Brut champagne. Garnish with sprigs of lavender.
Bloody Marys and brunch go together like, well, Bloody Marys and brunch. While the classic Bloody Mary starts with a vodka base, this spicy interpretation from Elise of A Beautiful Mess begins with a generous helping of curry-spiced, tea-infused tequila. Mix it up with carrot juice, Bloody Mary mix and a few shakes of hot sauce.
Make this drink spring brunch-ready by serving in a mason jar with a salted rim. Garnish with a fresh veggie skewer, a slice of lime and the traditional stalk of celery. What are you waiting for? Mix one up this weekend.
Get the Recipe
Did you know that today is National Eggs Benedict Day? I didn’t know either until I checked my handy-dandy “Bizarre and Unique Holidays” calendar.
In honor of this delicious holiday, I spotlight Bobby Flay’s Texas Eggs Benedict recipe.
Scrumptious — eat up, D-Happers!
Conversation hearts are a Valentine’s Day rite of passage. It hardly seems like February 14th without a box of those pastel-hued candies, complete with their ever-evolving messages. (Remember how they’ve changed from “fax me” to “email me” to “text me?”)
While they’re adorable, though, they aren’t especially delicious. This year, swap the chalky candies for these delicious conversation heart sandwich cookies. The best part: You can create your own custom messages with an office stamp and an edible ink pen.
Add bright hues of gel-paste food coloring to basic sugar cookie dough, then stamp each cookie and sandwich the colored hearts together with a sweet vanilla cream filling.
As the resident happy hour blogger around here, I get emails from my fellow Design Happens bloggers all the time with great new recipes for drinks that they have made and loved. Briana recently sent a recipe for an eggnog martini that is now on my list of go-to holiday drinks. A martini? With eggnog? Does it get any better than that? Decide for yourself:
Eggnog Skinny ‘Nog-Tini
1 part high quality bourbon
1 part spiced rum *we used what we had on hand, blackstrap rum
1 part maple syrup
2 parts almond milk (or whole milk) *we used unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4 parts Polar® Eggnog Seltzer
Fresh grated nutmeg (garnish)
Combine all ingredients, except the seltzer, until foamy and aerated (you can always froth with a mini blender). Add ice, and swirl to chill. Strain into large festive glass; top generously with Polar® Eggnog Seltzer. Top with grated spice.
A note from Briana: I was skeptical at first, but it ended up tasting pretty decent! That said, this is coming from someone allergic to real eggnog who drinks SilkNog every year. The fiancé liked it, too, though, so I think it passes the test.
We’ve got more delicious holiday cocktails to the rescue. Infuriating in-laws? Kitchen woes? Long lines at the mall? Yep, there’s a drink for that. Here are our favorite holiday cocktail pairings to soften any situation the season throws your way.