Cheers to Spring Cocktails!

Time to freshen up your cocktails, people.  It’s finally springtime.  Now, while I firmly believe that a dirty martini and a dry red wine are always in season…mixed drinks and spirits are most thirst-quenching and satisfying when they celebrate the season.  Here are my fresh takes on spring cocktails.  Cheers, everyone!  Thanks to my good friend and fellow blogger, Rachel of @myroaringacres (Twitter) and @roaringacres (Instagram) for her styling and photography talents!

cocktails spring fling set up

The Spring Fling

This is for those of you who are are on the Moscow Mule train.  No copper mug needed here, although, I suppose it would be pretty great in one of those if you own a couple.  Pick up your favorite brand of ginger beer, (NA or with alcohol, whatever you prefer) I used Bundaberg, and try your hand at infusing vodka.  Not hard, I promise.  For the Spring Fling, add thinly sliced cucumber to a mason jar full of vodka.  At my house we’re usually stocked up with Three Olives.  And just let it hang out in the fridge for at least a day, but a couple days is better.  And you can buy simple syrup, or make it yourself (2-1 parts sugar to water) heat until dissolved.  This drink, to me, is an excellent candidate for a happy hour at home.  Slap together a nice looking cheese plate and you’re in business.

Spring Fling

1 tsp. simple syrup + 2 pinches of fresh mint, muddled together with a wooden spoon

Equal parts cucumber infused vodka and ginger beer

Add ice and garnish with fresh cucumber slices (I toss in a couple that have been sitting in the vodka)

 The Tulip

Limoncello is another thing I always have in my liquor cabinet (or freezer).  I only buy Caravella, everything else is too sweet for my taste.  And when I saw a basket of blood oranges at the grocery store the other day, I knew that would be just the “sweet” to the “tart” I was looking for.  Make this pretty spritzer for book club night and your friends will forgive you for not actually having read the book.   

cocktails blood orange

Tulip Spritzer

3 oz. vodka

2 oz. limoncello

Splash of Martini & Rossi Bianco (a light, lemon/sweet vermouth)

The juice of half of a blood orange

Shake in a cocktail shaker full of ice to chill, finish with a generous pour of San Pellegrino Blood Orange sparkling fruit beverage, or sparkling water if you’d rather it less sweet.  Garnish with a slice of blood orange.

The Samoa-Tini

This one’s for you moms who’ve been hocking Girl Scout cookies for weeks, stationed at the grocery store, going door to door, and calling in favors.  You deserve this.  This one is also for those of you who occasionally make the choice to “drink your calories” some days.  No judgment here.  The Samoa is by far my favorite of the varieties sold by those cute little devils…I mean scouts.  Did my best to recreate that decadent flavor.  This one is best done in batches, because you’ll be using a blender.

1 part Disaronno (Italian liquor)

1 part Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

2 parts Smirnoff Kissed Caramel flavored vodka

Splash of Half & Half

Blend above ingredients in a blender, along with ice, until you reach desired consistency

Rim your cocktail glass with Smuckers Salted Caramel Topping then coat with toasted coconut (bake sweetened coconut flakes at 350* until golden brown).  Finish with a chocolate drizzle in a pattern like the cookie.

I’m always up for suggestions.  What are you shaking, stirring and pouring these days?  #toast

 

Food is love.  And love is food. 

If you’re like me, you like to show love with food. As Valentine’s Day draws near, I teamed up with someone I love, my friend Rachel from Roaring Acres, to create three lovely events aimed at showing those close to us just how much we care. Cozy up with your girlfriends for PJ Potluck, entertain your kiddos with a Valentine’s themed play date, or romance your honey with an enticing sweetheart’s brunch in bed.

lovely events pj potluck setup

Week nights can be exhausting. The idea of cooking for a crowd probably doesn’t appeal to many. Make a few easy things (some ahead of time) and ask your gal pals to contribute the rest, potluck style. Throw what you need in a silverware caddy and dish out sweets in small, portable portions. Trade work clothes for yoga pants, pop in a movie (or three) and indulge in some serious comfort food.  

Take movie night to the next level with tomato and truffle popcorn soup shooters. Saw this recipe in Food Network Magazine and had to give it a shot. I actually used half the recommended amount of truffle oil and found it to be just enough. Make the soup a day or two in advance, then just heat and serve. Garnish with popcorn and share the rest of the bag with easy-to-pass-around tins.

lovely event chocolate penne

I wanted to give local entrepreneurs some LOVE in this post by making an indulgent and (appropriately flavored) pasta dish using chocolate penne from the Little Lakewood Pasta Company.  Recipe follows. 

And I also LOVE friend and fellow TV news veteran, Tiffani Tucker’s, new Bundt cake business. Have a Slice mini heart-shaped cakes were the perfect complement for our Valentine’s Day dessert. She prepares five different flavors that could also double as favors.


Over the weekend, create a no-frills craft and healthy lunch. Served in the middle of the action, the kiddos can help themselves while they decorate cards for the local nursing home, or a children’s hospital. Dig up that heart-shaped cookie cutter and make sandwiches with strawberry jam and almond butter.
Since my little sweeties like to dip things, I roasted some red peppers and added it to homemade hummus, and provided a pile of sweet and crunchy sliced red and yellow peppers. Recipe follows.

For something to sip on that’s also good for the heart, I made smoothies in my daughters’ favorite color–purple. Toss in frozen berries, a banana, almond milk, and a generous splash of this vibrant fresh pressed juice from Restore Cold Pressed, made with raw and organic apples, beets, carrots and lemons. Use a fun glass so they can slurp them up happily.

Dessert doubles as a holiday-themed activity with decorate-your-own mini cupcakes.  More sprinkles ended up on the floor than on the cupcake display…but kids love to be involved in the fun.

lovely events brunch set up

And don’t forget to to treat your honey.  Create a beautiful brunch or breakfast in bed. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then deviled eggs are the fast lane.


Hard boil eggs and make the deviled filling the night before. (I add mayo, yellow and Dijon mustard, a splash of Worcestershire sauce and salt/pepper) Fill and top them on Valentine’s Day. I painted hearts with Sriracha, sprinkled capers on a second set, then used the remainder of my pancetta from my pot luck pasta recipe for a third variety.

lovely events breakfast stack

To satisfy meat eaters, make this impressive Breakfast Stack with sausage, cheese, sautéed veggies and potatoes. Recipe follows.  This can also be prepped ahead of time to allow for less labor and more snuggle time on this romantic day.

And for a decadent dessert, my go-to is a Chocolate Strawberry Panini, a recipe from my culinary crush, Giada De Laurentiis. I used my Panini press, but if you’ve got a Foreman Grill or a grill pan, those will do the trick too.


Skip the heart-themed setting and create a Valentine pink bubbly by dropping in a few Red Hots for color and just a hint of cinnamon flavor. Or brew up your love’s favorite blend, and finish it with the care and attention of a seasoned barista.

lovely event coffee

A trio of Valentine’s Day menus, delivered. My love to you all!!

Chocolate Penne: 1 lb. dried chocolate penne pasta, 1 jar prepared Alfredo sauce, or about 2 cups homemade, ½-1 c. asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces and blanched, 2-3 T. pancetta or bacon cut into 1 inch pieces, 1 Roma tomato, halved and sliced, pinch of nutmeg and cardamom (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions, 7-10 min. In a sauté pan, fry up pancetta, then set aside. To the same pan, warm sauce and add nutmeg and cardamom. Toss the pasta in the sauce, and then add asparagus. Top with sliced fresh tomatoes and crispy pancetta.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: 1 red pepper, olive oil and salt, 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained, I lemon, juiced, 1 clove garlic, chopped, 1 T. parsley, chopped, ¼ t. sesame oil, ¼ c. water, ½ c. olive oil, salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425* Coat the red pepper generously with olive oil and salt. Roast in the oven until skin is slightly charred. Set aside to cool then peel the skin and remove seeds and stem. In a food processor, combine beans, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, sesame oil, water, salt/pepper and the red pepper (cut into strips).  Blend until smooth, gradually pouring in the olive oil.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Chill and serve.  

Breakfast Stack: ½ lb. breakfast sausage, ½ c. shredded cheddar cheese, 2 T. each, red and yellow bell peppers, 1 T. white onion, chopped, 1 small potato, shredded, 1 egg, beaten.

Preheat the oven to 350.* Brown the breakfast sausage and set aside. Shred the potato like hash browns and then wring out as much moisture as you can, with a cheese cloth or clean dish towel.  Season and pan fry until golden brown.  Set aside.  Combine chopped veggies, season and sauté until softened.  Generously coat a medium ramekin (about 10 oz. size) with cooking spray.  Sprinkle cheese on the bottom for the bottom layer.  Add a layer of sausage, then veggies, then potato.  Pour  in the beaten egg, making sure it filters through the layers. Finish with a final layer of cheese.  Bake 20-25 min.  Cover with a plate and flip to remove from ramekin and serve.