To serve, I fish out one of the cinnamon sticks and place it in the mug and strain the liquid into the cup.

Hot Mulled Apple Cider

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What a beautiful weekend this was here in the northeast!  It was cold, but clear and sunny!  Perfect for fall fun… One of our favorite fall activities is apple picking!  But, I just can’t go apple picking without coming home with some fresh squeezed Apple Cider!

Everyone in my house has a runny nose right now including my husband and my kids are a bit too young for tea with honey… So, my natural solution to this is to make some Hot Mulled Apple Cider with a touch of honey! And it was a hit.  I love hot apple cider just plain, but mulling it with some spices just takes it right out of this world! If you have never tried it, I urge you to try this simple recipe!

Start with some farm fresh apple cider. As you can see, this has no added sugar or preservatives, just delicious apples!

Pour about 1 quart into a medium sauce pan.

Add two full cinnamon sticks.

This is a nutmeg pit… As you can see, it is one that has been well used in recipe after recipe, now it is suitable for the cider! (as always, if you don’t have real nutmeg, please don’t use the powdered stuff, just omit it)

You can slice some orange slices in, but I just like the essence of the orange, so I am just putting in one length of peel.

Some fresh ginger really brings in some good spice to this mulling… I just picked one small nub, broke it off and sliced it up.

I add just one teaspoon of raw local honey… The mulling process actually sweetens the cider a bit by concentrating it, so you don’t need much honey and you could leave this out if you don’t like things too sweet, but the flavor is really yummy, not to mention great for colds and sore throats.

Put in 7 or 8 whole cloves.

Don’t bring this to a boil… As you can see, this is all steamed up, but the second I saw a boil bubble, it came off the stove… watch it, don’t let it boil. You don’t want to waste any! At this point you are ready to strain and serve… AND at this point if you choose to, you could make this an adult beverage by adding in a touch of bourbon or dark spiced rum!

To serve, I fish out one of the cinnamon sticks and place it in the mug and strain the liquid into the cup.

To serve, I fish out one of the cinnamon sticks, shred some orange peel, place it in the mug and strain the liquid in.

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Hot Mulled Apple Cider

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 quart apple cider

2 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp. honey

1 orange peel

1 tsp. sliced fresh ginger

1 tsp. whole cloves

1 used nutmeg pit

1 oz. bourbon or dark spiced rum (optional)

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a pot.  Heat on high until just before boiling.  Remove from heat when steaming.  Strain into mugs. Serve with cinnamon stick and some shredded orange peel. Enjoy!

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Stacy’s Blueberry Mojitos

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There is no more refreshing summer cocktail than a Mojito… Not too sweet, just a little tang and just the right amount of alcohol to, well, to not taste like alcohol.  This blueberry Mojito was inspired by a local restaurant that was right on the water and charged me $10.50 for one drink… I had to try to recreate it… What I did was take the inspiration and ran with it adding in little touches that appealed to me.  I love blueberries and this time of year is a great time to pick some up at farm stands everywhere.  And an entire pitcher doesn’t come near $10.50!

Soon, I was serving it at parties and gatherings with friends and it became a frequently requested treat!  My friend Jennifer recently hosted a girlfriend of ours, Virginie, from Paris and we had a little get together, so I made a fresh pitcher right at her house!  Take a look…

I started off by making a simple syrup. Just one cup of white sugar and one cup of water.

Bring it to a boil and let it cool.

I brought over some freshly cut mint from my garden. Tear up about half of these leaves and save some for garnishing individual glasses.

Three fresh limes.

Three fresh limes.

I cut up two of them into 8 chunks each… I saved one lime to slice into individual glasses as garnish.

This is my favorite Mojito pitcher!  Isn't it pretty with all the blue and green running through it?  I gave it a quick wash and it's ready... I mix everything right in the pitcher, no need to dirty a bowl... If you are making this for a party, i would suggest a large bowl so that you can refill... but, we are just having a small get together.

This is my favorite Mojito pitcher! Isn’t it pretty with all the blue and green running through it? I gave it a quick wash and it’s ready… I mix everything right in the pitcher, no need to dirty a bowl… If you are making this for a party, i would suggest a large bowl so that you can refill… but, we are just having a small get together.

Plop the limes into the pitcher, squeezing them as they go in.

Jen didn’t have a wooden spoon handy, so I used a regular utility spoon to start the muddling process. To muddle, you are basically just squishing everything down.

Add in mint and continue to muddle everything together

Add in one quart of freshly washed blueberries and continue to muddle. You want to work it so that about half the blueberries are popped open.

Add in mint and continue to muddle everything together.

Add in about half of the simple syrup and continue to muddle.

Add the rum in with what you have muddled so far and stir. At this point, refrigerate for about an hour or so.  Make sure you are using white rum, no spiced rum in these babies.

To finish off your mixture, add in sparkling water and stir.

To this mixture, add in a few cups of ice.

To this mixture, add in a few cups of ice.

Add some ice to the glass and pour.

Add some ice to the glass and pour.

Recipe for Stacy’s Blueberry Mojitos:

(serves 6-10)

1/2 cup simple syrup

1 quart blueberries, washed

3 limes

1 bunch fresh mint, about 8-10 sprigs

1 liter lime sparkling water

1 cup white rum

Directions:

Prepare the simple syrup by bringing one cup of sugar and one cup of water to a boil and cooling.  Also, keep sparkling water refrigerated until it is time to add in.

Cut 2 limes into 8 chunks each.  Slice the remaining lime into circles for garnishing. Strip 3-4 sprigs of mint and tear the leaves.  Reserve the remaining mint sprigs for garnishing.

In a pitcher muddle all the fruit and mint together with a wooden spoon.  Add in simple syrup and rum, stir.  refrigerate mixture for at least one hour or up to a day.

When ready to serve, add in sparkling water.  Add 3-4 cups of ice and serve.  Garnish with lime circles and mint and add in ice to each glass.

*This is a gluten-free recipe if using Cruzan rum.

 

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A Taste of St. Michael Sparkling Sangria

done3The beauty of St. Michael, Azores is made up of its lush and vibrant vegetation.  Not only are the rolling hills filled with hydrangea and honey suckle, but the St. Michael fruit is like

no where I have been in the world.  Passion fruit, pineapple, figs and exotic fruits not even found in the U.S. are found there in great abundance.  Many enjoy these deliciously sweet treasures plain and right off the trees, many make wonderful desserts like passion fruit pudding (one of my favorites), but today I have decided to apply it to a refreshing cocktail.

This week I am featuring left overs, so this is meant to use up some extra wine you have from the dinner or a party.  Add in a bit of juice, sparkling water and some fruit and you may start opening that bottle of wine just to make this light and airy drink.  It’s a simple drink you’ll come back to again and again.

Start by preparing your fruit... First up is the pineapple.  I'll take you through how to easily slice up a pineapple, but if you don't have one available, you could used canned or frozen pineapple chunks.

Start by preparing your fruit… First up is the pineapple. I’ll take you through how to easily slice up a pineapple, but if you don’t have one available, you could used canned or frozen pineapple chunks.  I start by slicing off the bottom.

pine2

Then I cut off the top.

Now it is stable.  So, I now start trimming off the sides.

Now it is stable. So, I now start trimming off the sides.

Once I go all the way around the fruit, I cut down the middle.

Once I go all the way around the fruit, I cut down the middle.

Then I quarter and cut out the inner core on a diagonal.

Then I quarter and cut out the inner core on a diagonal.

Next, I slice it up into chunks.

Now slice up an orange.  I like to leave the skin in tact.

Now slice up an orange. I like to leave the skin in tact.

Now start measuring out your ingredients.  Two cups of sweet wine.  This is actually a sweet Sangria wine, but a white zin or a blush or just a plain sweet red wine would be nice here.

Now start measuring out your ingredients. Two cups of sweet wine. This is actually a sweet Sangria wine, but a white zin or a blush or just a plain sweet red wine would be nice here.

This drink that is a cross between a sparkling juice and a soda is a favorite amongst many Portuguese people and indeed can be found throughout the Azores and anywhere Portuguese people have migrated to.  If you don't have passion fruit drink available, look for a passion fruit juice.

This drink that is a cross between a sparkling juice and a soda is a favorite amongst many Portuguese people and indeed can be found throughout the Azores and anywhere Portuguese people have migrated to. If you don’t have passion fruit drink available, look for a passion fruit juice.

Add in pineapple.

Add in oranges.

For best results, you will want to soak the fruit in the wine for 2-3 hours or up to over night.

For best results, you will want to soak the fruit in the wine for 2-3 hours or up to over night.

Once the fruit has been propperly steeped in the wine mixture, take a few pieces and place in individual glasses.  (then I use fresh fruit to garnish the rims of the glasses as shown here)

Once the fruit has been properly steeped in the wine mixture, take a few pieces and place in individual glasses. (then I use fresh fruit to garnish the rims of the glasses as shown here)

Now fill about half way with wine mixture. You need to allow room for ice and sparkling water.

Add in ice.

Here is where you can really customize the drink on the spot. I like my drinks a little less sweet, so I allow more room for sparkling water (on the left). My husband enjoys his with a bit more sweetness, so his (on the right) is filled a bit more to allow for less sparkling water.

Now top with some sparkling water. Again, this is personal preference, but I use unflavored, unsweetened sparkling water. If you like a bit more sweet and still like all the fizz, you can grab a sparkling water with panache! A coconut or pineapple sparkling seltzer would be nice here as well, even a grape.

Now swizzle together. I am using a butter knife. if you have an official drink stirrer, use that of course :)

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Enjoy!

Recipe for A Taste of St. Michael sparkling Sangria:

(serves 4)

2 cups sweet red wine (or any type of sweet wine you have left over)

3 cups Sumol Passion Fruit drink or passion fruit juice

1/2 pineapple, chunks

1 orange, sliced

1 cup sparkling water

8-12 ice cubes

Directions:

Prepare fruit.  Add wine to a pitcher or 10 qt. bowl.  Add in passion fruit drink or juice.  Add fruit to the liquid.  Soak fruit in the liquid for 2-3 hours before serving if possible and up to 1 day before serving.

Pour into glass over ice.  Top with sparkling water to match level of sweetness desired (the more water, the less sweet the drink) Mix with stirrer.  Serve with fruit rimming the glass.

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Breakfast in Bed – Fancy Pants Version

done22My special “Breakfast in Bed” Series continues today with “Breakfast in Bed – Fancy Pants Version”.  This series is designed in preparation for Mother’s Day or any time that you want to spoil that special someone with that extra effort.

Beds across the nation will be warmed up with the love of children to their mother’s showing them just how much they are loved and appreciated by that extra effort to take care of Mom as she takes care of them each and every day.  Today’s installment features a fancy kicked up breakfast.  Some of it can be prepared ahead of time, but some elements are meant to be done the morning of.  And unlike my first installment, Breakfast in Bed – Kid Friendly Version where most everything was disposable, this version takes a bit more effort because after breakfast there will be dishes to do and we don’t want to leave that to Mom!

So, again if you are Mom and you are reading this, now is the time to hand the computer or tablet over to your significant other or older child (as there are way too many breakables involved here for a youngster) and turn away.  I will now be addressing the Preparer.

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Some of the elements here such as the Chocolate Covered Strawberries and the Codfish Cakes can be made a day in advance.  Then other elements, such as the Tea, the OJ and the Southwest Veggie Omelet  need to be prepared the morning of.  Although, you should definitely refrigerate your oranges for the OJ, otherwise you will have warm OJ.

Start with your Mom’s favorite tray. This is mine. I bought it the last time I visited St. Michael. It is hand-made and adorned with hand crafted St. Michael’s signature blue and white tile. The scene depicted here is of the ‘Portas de Cidade” or Gates to the City. The Portas de Cidade is a famous landmark in Ponta Delgada, St. Michael’s capital city and is a source of great pride for all Azoreans.

Here is a mini tutorial on how to make delicious Chocolate Covered Strawberries from scratch:

Like I mentioned above, These can be done the night before, but they can also be done same day so long as you have a chilled area for them to set up quickly.

strawberries

Start with some fresh strawberries. Wash and dry them thoroughly. Moisture is melted chocolate’s worst nightmare.

Next, pour half the contents of a chocolate chip bag into a microwave safe bowl.

Pop it in the microwave. Start off with one minute on high. Stir.  Every 15 seconds, stir until you get the proper consistency.

When your chocolate still has this much texture to it, it should be ready to stir into melty goodness.

When your chocolate looks like this, you are ready for dipping!

dip

Give each strawberry its own individual bath.

Be sure to have a plate or cookie sheet covered with parchment paper to receive the dipped strawberries so they may cool and firm up.

Once you have them all dipped and ready to so, get them to a cool place to chill.

Next, here is a mini tutorial on how to make fresh squeezed orange juice:

OJ

There is nothing like fresh squeezed orange juice. It is not like the kind in the carton.  The nutritional value of the fresh squeezed is far superior to anything you might find at the supermarket.

oranges

Start with some beautifully ripened oranges.  It is a good idea to refrigerate these over night, otherwise you will end up with warm OJ, not great.

I found that one large orange was enough to fill a juice glass. Obviously this depends on how large you can find the orange and how juicy they are. Cut them in half to start.

Here are three different methods to getting one delicious glass of OJ:

hand squeeze

The first method of juicing is just to hand squeeze the orange into a glass. I find that this is the least efficient way as you will have a hard time squeezing out every drop.

core squeeze

The next method is a much more common method, using a juicer. This one has the little rim that catches seeds, nice! You will want to work the orange onto the juicer with a bit of elbow grease to get every last drop.

The third option is the squeeze juicer. This baby really gets every last drop out and prevents seeds from falling in the juice! I always find it funny how it almost seems like the orange is put in backwards, but it literally turns the fruit inside out.

This main plate features a Southwest Veggie Omelet and Codfish Cakes.  Recipes and tutorials are detailed on their respective postings.  Take a look, the omelet tutorial teaches how to make the perfect omelet and customize it to your tastes.

Although you may think of Codfish Cakes as a lunch or dinner item, it is especially good in the morning and with some eggs, so give it a try.

tea pot

And last, but not least is the tea. I found this little gem while traveling in Utah. I fell in love with this hand-made beauty and started collecting personal tea pots ever since. If you are looking for a lovely gift for Mom, check out Golden Moon Tea, they have some great high quality teas and tea ware.

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Supplies you will need:

* Pretty Tray

* Pretty plate

* Pretty napkin

* Crystal juice glass

* Personal Tea Pot

* 3″ glazed tile

* silverware

Food and drink:

* Southwest Veggie Omelet

* Codfish Cakes

* Fresh squeeze Orange Juice

* Chocolate Covered Strawberries

* Tea (don’t forget whatever your Mom takes in her tea, ie. sugar, milk, honey or lemon)

 

Have fun and remember to think about what your Mom loves and tailor her Breakfast in Bed to what she likes best!  A nice handmade card goes a long way too!