Category Archives: Entertaining

Turkey Tech: Apps for Thanksgiving Planning

Believe it or not, we blinked and the holidays snuck up on us. If you’re like me, you may have found yourself in a daze wondering how this happened and just how you’re going to get everything done in the next five days or so. Fear not my friends all you need is a little turkey tech! 

Thanksgiving planning (say it with me) … there is an app for that! In fact, there is more than one way to use technology to help get the turkey and all it’s trimmings on the table. 

photo credit: foodista
photo credit: foodista
Bon Appétit Manual

Sick of that tired old green bean casserole? Not sure when you should start the stuffing? Looking to liven up the turkey day lineup? This is an app you’ll want to check out.

Condé Nast has updated their popular (free) app – Bon Appétit Manual –  that helps take some of the mystery out of what to cook and when to cook it. It’s also packed with ideas that will put an end to boring, bland and overcooked dishes.

Butterball Cookbook Plus

Planning, prep, thawing, cooking… this app has it all covered. Makes total sense since Butterball is pretty much synonymous with Thanksgiving dinner. 

Ah, but the Butterball Cookbook Plus app comes with more than just Thanksgiving day guidance. Want to know what to do with those leftovers? Is it worth it to snag two birds while their cheap and cook one later? Let their everyday recipes be your guide. They’ve even got options for turkey snacks. Sweet tryptophan daydreams, Batman!

Hello Vino

Because… hello, you can’t forget the vino. How many times have you found yourself wondering what wine to bring as a hostess gift? Or better yet what to serve to your guests?  

Hello Vino is the app that takes care of all that. It also helps you shop within your budget while hopefully helping you avoid the disappointment of getting stuck with an expensive and crappy wine, for which no thanks will be given. 

Blogs… Yep, Go Old School 

Remember way back in the day (like five years ago) before you’d just mindlessly pin things that you’d never actually read? Don’t get me wrong, I love some Pinterest. Let’s be honest here though it’s become a bit of a shiny object thing over there. 

See It. OOOH, like that! Pin it. Never actually find out what the post it links out to even is. Gah! 

This holiday let us give thanks for blogs and bloggers out there who slave away in the kitchen, perfectly pose their food, snap mouthwateringly awesome images and actually share their recipe for YUM with us! 

Thirty Thanksgiving Side Dishes from A Cork, Fork and Passport is a roundup of drool-inducing inspiration from around the blogosphere that pretty much wraps up ALL you need for the perfect meal of thanks, except for the bird. Julie’s very own Au Gratin Brussels Sprouts will change your life. 

No stress Thanksgiving bird? Inconceivable! Or maybe not. This recipe for Easy Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey from NeighborFood could put the makers of Zoloft out of business.

 Liza at (a)Musing Foodie is a muse of mine (see what I did there?) From weeknight make-it-easy dinners to the center of your holiday table, she’ll keep you hungry.  This year we’ll be heading to The Big Easy for a non-traditional holiday. So last week I made her roast turkey recipe using a small bird and little fuss. 

Oh. My. Yum. 

Top off that turkey and side dish fuss with a sweet and happy ending from THE Garlic Girl. Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing for me, yes. You’ll need to find something for you because I’m not sharing! 

No matter whether your turkey day is high tech or no tech, remember that gratitude is something that requires no app. Happy Thanksgiving Nuggetiers! 

Disclosure: As a member of a very cool team of influencers for Verizon Wireless I sometimes receive compensation, cool gadgets to test drive, or get attend special events. All opinions entirely my own, based on my experiences, because you deserve nothing less!  

Roasted Red Pepper & Pignoli Tapenade

quick and easy roasted red pepper & pine nut tapenade

Having an easy, go-to recipe for entertaining is a must. Even if you’re not a whiz in the kitchen this Roasted Red Pepper & Pignoli (pine nut) Tapenade is sure to impress.

It passed my mother-in-law test!

The best part is all the ingredients can be found, “grab-and-go” in nearly any grocery store. If you’re more into roasting your own peppers (which is a tasty option) then go for it. I’d rather spend more time on the cocktails! 

Roasted Red Pepper and Pignoli Tapenade
Serves 10
Easy, fast, and impressive this simple tapenade is a staple for enteraining.
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 Can Roasted Red Peppers (drained)
  2. 2 TBSP Romano Cheese (grated)
  3. 2 TBSP Pignoli/Pine Nuts
  4. 1 TSP Capers
  5. 2 Sprigs Tarragon (coarsely chopped)
  6. 1/2 TSP White Pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat a small skillet on medium-high. Once the pan is heated through, add pignoli. Smell is your indicator here, as soon as the nuts start to release their oils and the aroma of nut wafts up from the pan, give it a few shakes until they are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside. Place remaining ingredients in a blender. Pulse several times to break down the peppers. Add pignoli and continue to pulse until a nice paste forms - as chunky or smooth as you like.
Notes
  1. It's best to let this tapenade chill for 30 minutes or so in the refrigerator. This gives it time to set up and for the flavors to meld.
Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom http://chickennuggetsofwisdom.com/

Halloween Cocktails: The Poisoned Apple (5 Ways)

Halloween Cocktails - Five Poisoned Apple RecipesThrill your guests and scare up the spirits with… well, spirits. Halloween Cocktails are some of my favorites – if only for the crazy names. I’ve scoured the webs {inter, not spider} to bring you terrifyingly tasty adult libations for your celebrations. I give you The Poisoned Apple… 5 ways.

If you’re not reading Cork Fork  & Passport, you need be – the cocktails alone are worth it! Julie takes her cocktails seriously. No apple cider to cloud up this concoction that includes… wait for it… orange infused rum!

Poisoned Apple Cocktail from Cork, Fork & Passport. (photo credit: Julie Cohn)
Poisoned Apple Cocktail from Cork, Fork & Passport. (photo credit: Julie Cohn)

Want a tangy twist and some serious pucker in your poison? Try The Little Epicurean’s version with a cranberry and pucker schnapps kick.

(photo credit: little epicurean)
(photo credit: little epicurean)

Little Epicurean’s Recipe

The apples must be McIntosh. The sugar is sanding… not table. She may be as uppity as an evil queen, but leave it to Martha to be creative enough to use the actual apple as her bar ware. 

Martha’s Recipe

Bread. Booze. Bacon. Um… we thought this was a cocktail roundup? Oh it tis, my friends. I just got a little distracted by the name of that blog, sounds like someone I need know. Plus, there may be Poison Apple Jello Shots served in syringes at their Halloween party.

And finally, my version the Poisoned Apple inTOXICating concoction -pictured above-  can be found over at (cool) Progeny… if you dare… bwahahahahaaa.

Happy Halloween!

{note to self, maybe don’t sample all at once while also writing about them}

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Craft Cocktails: BTB Speakeasy

Craft cocktails are the hottest thing in entertaining these days. Beyond the handcrafted bitters touted by beguiling bearded hipsters lays a storied tradition of revival.  In the heart of Old Town Leonardtown, Maryland a nod to some of that history can be found behind an unassuming bookshelf in a charming little coffee shop – welcome to BTB Speakeasy.

BTB SpeakeasyThis quaint little cocktail stop lets you step back in time to an era when the Volstead Act had Americans crafting cocktails in bathtubs and whispering passwords through sound dampening doors.  As you slip past the bookshelf in the bright at cheery coffee shop (grab a one of their cookies to go – so good) the tones, seemingly even the time changes. The room is dark, the tables and chairs a hodgepodge, the bar lit with flickering candlelight.  The feel is decidedly clandestine. 

Bustling behind the bar are some gifted Mixologists – no bathtub gin here. Top shelf spirits come together with handcrafted syrups, bitters and unique techniques developed by co-founder and cocktail genius Brad Brown. Sitting next to a fresco of Al Capone himself, Penny, Brad’s wife and BTB co-owner, regaled me with stories of cocktail history and the inspiration that transformed a coffee shop into an homage nightlife under the eighteenth amendment. 

On a trip to New York Penny found her way into a speakeasy. Impressed by the immersive, fun, cloak-and-dagger feel of it she walked away inspired to bring that to life in Leonardtown. Helped along the way by Brad’s years in the bar/restaurant business and the artistic talents of a close friend who painted period murals for the walls, the duo brought a bygone era back to life. 

The space inside the speakeasy is snug with just a handful of tables that must be reserved in advance. Call ahead to reserve one and get the password of the day. Whisper that to the staff at the coffee shop counter or pickup the old fashion phone on the wall to connect directly to the back. You won’t get in without this information – after all you could be the Fuzz!

Dotted with antique shops, a wonderfully dusty used book and record store, vintage car museum, craft chocolate factory and historical landmarks, the Old Town section Leonardtown, Maryland feels as though it is frozen in time as well.  A stop at BTB Speakeasy (and Coffee Shop) is a great way to cap off a visit to Old Town. 

BTB Speakeasy’s Smoked Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • 1 1/2 ounces Top Shelf Bourbon
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • water
  • Slice of orange and cherry to garnish
  • Maple Wood Plank

Brad’s twist on this classic cocktail is the smoking of that maple wood plank. You can find these at most big box or stores like Lowes. Light the wood and blow it out. Turn your highball glass over on top of it to capture the smoke. Put the sugar in a cocktail shaker, add bitters and bourbon. Muddle until the sugar is crushed. Top with water to your liking and shake. Turn your smoke-filled highball glass over and quickly add ice, pouring the cocktail over the ice. Garnish with cheery and orange. The flavor is incredible!

note: pay special attention to the “House Rules” at BTB Speakeasy. Also, if you wear a fedora you’ll get half off your first cocktail.

Honeydew Melon Mojito

Honeydew Melon MojitoCinco de Mayo is nearly upon us my friends. I love this time of year, mostly because it’s a hoot to see the wide variety of celebrations and the availability of inexpensive Haas avocados on the East Coast. Hate to break it to ya but a Floridian avocado just won’t cut it for guacamole. Then there are the cocktails. This year I’m mixing up a Honeydew Melon Mojito in replacement of our traditional margaritas.

I’ll confess, I’ve never been a big fan of the margarita. In my humble opinion one should always drink good tequila. Why then cover up the flavor with a bunch of sour mix? Now a spritz of lime, a little aloe juice and simple syrup, I’m all about that! Heck, I’ll even go for some grenadine and orange juice. Hello Sunshine

Give me a mojito though and I’m a happy girl. Yes, I know the mojito isn’t even Mexican. But the signature cocktail of Cuba pairs perfectly with spicy Cinco de Mayo eats like my favorite ceviche de langostinos and the all-most-as-good-as-home huaraches at El Centro D.F. in Georgetown {disclosure: I may be partial to these as El Centro is my hometown}. Then I can always have tequila for dessert!

Pop Quiz: Do you know what Cinco de Mayo celebrates?  Hint: It isn’t Mexican 4th of July, people!

My twist on the Cuban favorite cuts out the sugar and replaces it with the refreshing sweetness of melon. If you’d like to Mexican-up your mojito you could rim the glass with Pico Diana chili powder candy.

Growing up on the Mexican border in Southern California Pico was a snack staple. We’d sprinkle it on mango, over oranges, and yes, on melons. Don’t let the term “candy” fool ya though, this stuff is spicy!

Honeydew Melon Mojito
Honeydew Melon Mojito
Serves 1
A refreshing, sugar-free twist on the signature cocktail of Cuba.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1.5 Ounces White Rum
  2. 1/4 Cup Honeydew Melon
  3. Juice of 1/2 a lime
  4. 2 Large Sprigs of Fresh Mint
  5. Ice
Instructions
  1. Place ice, melon and the leaves of one sprig of mint into blender. Blend until smooth. Place mixture in a cocktail shaker with lime juice and rum. Shake well. Pour into glass (margarita classes work well) and garnish with melon ball and mint sprig.
Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom http://chickennuggetsofwisdom.com/