Make it a Mocktail

Basic Mocktail

Recently while traveling to do a weekend of volunteer work, one of my longest and most cherished childhood friends put me up at her place. After day one and arriving in a whirlwind I slumped in my chair at her bar, anticipating a good drink and dinner, since she was sipping something that appeared to be delicious and was preparing food. To my shock and amazement, the delicious beverage was a mocktail! That’s right, all the wonderfulness of a cocktail, but without the alcohol.

So, you may be thinking, but isn’t the wonderfulness of a cocktail the alcohol? Sure, at first glance, this is usually why we choose to have a cocktail. But stop and think about what actually makes a cocktail fun? It’s not just because it has alcohol. Usually the fun part is the muddled herbs, the rose water, the fruit, the party swizzle stick, the bendy straw, and the list goes on….

Therefore, when looking for a fantastic drink to have with dinner, the right choice may just be the mocktail! Honestly, it was one of the most satisfying drinks that I have ever had, and I didn’t have to worry about how many I could drink, I had as many as I wanted!

Here is a Basic Mocktail Recipe:

Muddled Mint, Half a Lime Freshly Squeezed, Ice, Lime Flavored Seltzer Water. Stirred and served with a Bendy Straw.

Remember, this is just a base idea. The possibilities are endless with the combinations that can be created here. There’s lavender, thyme, lemon, raspberries, simple syrup, bitters, ginger, vanilla, insert more ingredients here……

Dinner and A Movie, Al Fresco

Image

The great thing about being the type of person who enjoys entertaining is that you end up associating with others who also enjoy the same thing. This has led me to the opportunity to assist with some pretty impressive events. Allow me to share one such event recently.

A good friend of mine decided to put together a very thoughtful and intimate tenth anniversary party for her sister.  Dinner and  a movie all presented in her own backyard. It was absolutely gorgeous. The stuff that magazine articles are made of.  Hours of planning and preparation paid off. Please note all of the amazing details. Indoor mismatched furniture, linens, and tableware smattered across green grass.  The kids table was just the right size.  Each mason jar for drinking had a different printed tag for identification.  The menu overflowed the tables with grilled meat, bounteous salads, and appetizers galore.  Then came the rum balls, apple crisp, and blueberry tarts. Don’t forget the outdoor movie theater, complete with popcorn, candy, and blankets. What a delight to behold.

put real furniture and wares on the grass for a delightful evening

put real furniture and wares on the grass for a delightful evening

kids table

kids table

drink station

drink station

each person gets a mason jar and an id tag

each person gets a mason jar and an id tag

appetizers galore

appetizers galore

grilled meats and salad

grilled meats and salad

yes, more appetizers
yes, more appetizers

sunset, hurricane lanterns, and good conversation

sunset, hurricane lanterns, and good conversation

outdoor movie theater

outdoor movie theater

outdoor movie screening

outdoor movie theater, the actual scene without a camera flash illuminating the crowd

 

 

Special Occasion Grilling

Grilling is a classic summertime activity. By this time of year, however, I start to get in the habit of just picking up the same old items to BBQ. What if you’re craving something more than hotdogs and hamburgers? What if you were hoping for a gourmet style meal with your significant other? What if you have friends coming over to impress? Here is a quick, easy, and delicious recipe for special occasion grilling.

Cilantro Tuna Steak
purchase a tuna steak per person (unless they are huge and you want to go halves)
place the steaks in a ziplock bag
pour in 2-3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
chop up a bunch of cilantro and place in the bag, per your personal taste
chop up a bunch of scallions, add to bag
optional: add juice of a lime
make sure to add salt and pepper
close the ziplock and move the contents around so that the steaks are well covered.
allow the steaks to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes
the general grilling rule is 3:30 minutes on each side for 1″ steaks
the temperature should reach 125 degrees
eat them immediately

We love eating this on our porch with a salad and a glass of white wine while watching the sun set. Hope that it becomes a favorite of yours as well.

freshies!

freshies from the farmers market

freshies from the farmers market

Oh how I love the summertime when the fresh vegetables are just teeming in the gardens. My Saturday morning stroll at the farmers market was pure success. Fresh chard, basil, cilantro, chives, and tomatoes.

Here is what I was inspired to make with the goods.

This pasta: Herb Pasta from Bon Appetit  Instead of using spaghetti, I had fusilli on hand. My other substitution was using the Basil and Cilantro instead of the Parsley. It proved to be a delicious cold salad for lunch.

This side dish: Sauteed Swiss Chard from Epicurious

This salad: baby spinach, cucumber, avocado, chives, cilantro, tomato, dressed by Briana’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette and accompanied by Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese melted on top of garlic topped toasted english muffins.

When is your next farmer’s market trip?  What is your favorite summertime dish? Feel free to share it with us.

You Tube Goodies

In the past few years I have noticed a solid trend. One of the ways my friends and I have been entertaining ourselves when we get together is to share our latest amazing You Tube video finds. My how the times have changed. However, this has provided some of the best humor and topics of conversation.

This past weekend one of my best friends shared with me her current favorite video and I was so impressed by it that I must share it with you. Please enjoy your introduction to the kid president.  Click here (it plays an advertisement, then the video): 

I love his message in this clip! Then be sure to watch the behind the scenes video as well to hear his story.

Encourage someone today.

Nature’s Inspiring Us

Lily Moth courtesy of projectnoah.org

Lily Moth courtesy of projectnoah.org

 

Every now and again you hear these decorating tips in life.  Here is one that I absolutely adore and aspire to live by: If a color palette exists in nature, then you can use it in your personal life. What marvelous amounts of freedom this provides in expressing our personal taste.  What amazing color combinations exist and can then be used to put together an outfit, decorate a room, create the theme of a party, etc.

ocean of colours, copyright alles-schlumpf

ocean of colours, copyright alles-schlumpf, flickr

Where do you enjoy being most in the natural world?  What colors exist there?  Do you have a favorite creature or object that you love in nature?  Allow that to inspire you in other forms through out life.

As an example, living in Vermont, we are absolutely surrounded by green.  Yet, it is all sorts of shades and variations.  In the Spring it is this amazing citron or chartreuse color.  When Summer settles in, the hills become varying patches of darker hues.  Because of this, I love the thought of using green in all sorts of monochromatic ways.  One of my favorite summer outfits is a mint green tee shirt with grass green capris.  A living room in a soothing shade of green is pure comfort, especially if it is also filled with a bunch of green leafed plants.

palm, copyright scilit flickr

palm, copyright scilit flickr

One more example, traveling to tropical destinations is one of my favorite luxuries in life.  The colors that are discovered on trips like this can transform your everyday mundane activities once you have returned home.  Think of adding a splash of turquoise or a flamingo shade of pink into your kitchen.  A framed photo of a tropical plant brings happiness to any room.

shells, copyright *omnia*, flickr

shells, copyright *omnia*, flickr

Nature’s inspiring us.

Peanut Butter Dream Bars

I was spoiled growing up, every night my Mom treated us to a dessert. Yes, every night! Granted, it was portioned appropriately always. I feel as though this taught my sisters and I that it is okay to enjoy a sweet treat every now and then. One of my absolute favorite treats was this recipe.  Ever since being a grown up, it has been a hit at gatherings. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Dream Bars

Peanut Butter Dream Bars

Peanut Butter Dream Bars

2 cups Quick Oats uncooked, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 cup melted butter, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1/3 cup peanut butter, 1 cup chocolate chips

Combine oats, flour, sugar, soda, and salt; mix well; add butter; mix until dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened and mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture. Press remaining mixture into bottom of greased 13×9 pan.  Bake @375 for 12 minutes. Combine condensed milk and peanut butter in small bowl, mixing until well blended. Spread over partially baked crust to within 1/4 inch from edge. Combine reserved crumb mixture and chocolate chips; sprinkle evenly over condensed milk/peanut butter mix, pressing in lightly. Continue baking for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely; cut into bars.