Fall flavors that won’t quit

Ok…I can’t stop.  I just love the flavors of fall.  They inspire me.  So after I recently tackled trio of fun fall recipes for She in CLE, I still have more to give, and cook, and eat.

How about Pumpkin and Sausage Soup?  Or a Caramel Apple Martini?  And, since nobody can get enough pumpkin this time of year…Pumpkin Sage Risotto.

pumpkin-sausage-soup

Pumpkin and Sausage Soup

2 links Italian sausage

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely copped

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

2 T. butter

1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped

2-3 fresh sage leaves, julienned

2-3 c. chicken stock

4 T. pumpkin puree

pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon

1 T. heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Remove the sausage from its casing and brown in a hot pan, breaking up with a wooden spoon.  Set aside.  In the same pan, lower the heat to medium/high and add the onion, garlic, and 1 T. of butter, then season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until the onion softens, then add the sage, rosemary and pumpkin.  When the pumpkin and herbs become fragrant (3 min or so) add the stock and whisk until combined.  Season again. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the heavy cream, cooked sausage, nutmeg and cinnamon, and last 1 T. of butter.  Cook another 5 minutes.  You can thin it out by adding stock, if desired.  Or make it more creamy, by adding more heavy cream.

pumpkin-risotto

Pumpkin Sage Risotto

3 T. butter

1 T. olive oil

1 T. garlic, minced

1/3 c. onion finely chopped, or a whole shallot, minced

1  c. Arborio rice

1/4 white wine

4 c. chicken stock

1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

3 T. pumpkin puree

handful of sage leaves, chopped

1 T. chives, chopped optional)

Pour the stock in a large sauce pan and keep warm.  Heat 2 T. of the butter and the olive oil in a large frying pan.  Add the onion/shallots and the garlic and saute at medium high until vegetables are softened, season with salt and pepper.  Add the rice and cook until the grains are toasted.  Pour in the white wine and let the alcohol burn off.  Add a couple ladles full of stock and stir frequently, until the rice absorbs it.  Repeat several times, continuing to stir frequently until the rice is fully cooked.  Lower the heat and add the last tablespoon of butter, cheese, pumpkin puree and one or two chopped sage leaves.  Garnish with chives. Serve.

For a variation, heat a small saute pan on high, and pour in about a 1/2 inch of canola or vegetable oil.  Fry the sage leaves whole and garnish your risotto.  Or, top with grilled sausage, sliced into discs.

caramel-apple-martini

Caramel AppleMartini

1 part/2 oz. caramel vodka (salted caramel if possible

2 parts/4 oz. regular vodka

2 oz. of apple cider

pinch of salt

handful of salter, roasted peanuts

1 T. caramel sauce

Pulse the peanuts in a food processor until fine.  Pour the caramel topping on to a small, shallow plate.  Pour the peanuts on to a similar plate.  Coat the rim of a martini glass in the caramel, then in the peanuts.  Leave the glass upside down on the plate while you shake the drink.  Combine both vodkas, the cider, salt and about 6 ice cubes in a martini shaker.  Shake about 20 times.  Pour, enjoy, repeat.

I’m in the business of collecting great recipes that incorporate these ingredients.  So, please send, or share some that are working for you!

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