Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Classic Whiskey Sour Cocktail

I love tangy!
And a classic old time cocktail, the Whiskey Sour really fits the bill.
It's kind of funny that I never had one until 50 years old.

Traditionally Whiskey Sour's have a raw egg white in them, which makes for a frothy and pretty drink. However, most restaurants and bars never serve them with an egg white.
Pity that... it is very good and adds a special festive touch.
Of course, you already know you shouldn't eat raw egg whites if you have a comprised immune system (old, pregnant or a kid... who gives a kid a cocktail anyway?). 
However, I have one question, are you still eating raw cookie dough?

I meant to save this recipe for National Whiskey Sour Day, which is August 25th, but I just couldn't wait. 

Makes 2
4 oz whiskey, like Bourbon or Rye
4 oz lemon simple syrup (or Sweet & Sour Mix)
Lemon juice, to taste if you want it more tangy
1 egg white (optional)

Shake in 
Garnish with cherry and lemon slice

Note-  You can always substitute a Sweet & Sour Mix for lemon simple syrup but it's just not the same.  If you have a lemon and some sugar... just make your own.  It's got a nicer "mouth feel", costs less and doesn't have weird artificial ingredients in it!
My simple syrup recipe link is HERE.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1-2 lemon, juiced and rind* cut into quarters

Easy.... equal parts white sugar and water.... add the lemon juice and lemon rinds. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain if necessary and pour into a container and chill. * The lemon rind adds a bit of bitterness, which is nice to counteract the sweet and the sour.  Call it built in "bitters" if you will.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 10 Most Popular Posts 2014

2014 was a very, very good year for me.  I feel very blessed.

It's funny, when I look at was most popular of what I posted in 2014, it brings back a ton of memories and good times. I think food does that for me. Food, friends and memories. 
And, for the first year ever, I had a travel post in my Top 10... actually two!!!

Among my favorite moments personally, professionally and on the blog?
  • Posted another 100 recipes (...just one more to go before Midnight on 12/31/14).
  • Came in #8 (again...) for the KING 5 Best of Western Washington Food Blog
  • Traveled to over 12 countries, for both pleasure and for work. Russia, Italy, Germany, Thailand, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and a couple more...  I loved them all.
  • Played non-stop with my hubby of 29 years.  Still having as much fun as in the beginning, might even be more.
  • Saw our 21 year old finally get a driver's license, a car and got enrolled in college
  • Saw our 24 year old go back to college...

It was a very good year....
I'm not sure if 2015 can be any better, but I'm going to give it a go. You in?

Here's the summary:

  • One Martini
  • Two travel posts- Jamaica and Rome
  • Three Healthy - Week of lunches, Kale salad, yogurt semi-freddo
  • One pasta
  • One Crockpot soup
  • One dessert
  • One jam
 It really was a Almond Magic cake...  


I think all you Seahawks fans can all relate to this, Beast Mode Martini

One of the most favorite recipes from early on in our marriage, Pasta with Pepperoni & Pepperoncini  

A business trip to Italy, with a little fun thrown in on the weekend- Rome Cooking Class.

Peach Almond Semifreddo
Tasty and made with yogurt instead of cream 
I do this every week so I really ought to take a better picture!


 Mango Lime Jam 
We shared this (and took this picture) on a boat in the San Juan Islands. A nice memory.

Here's my other Top 10 posts from past years!
Top 10 Most Popular Posts 2013
Top 10 Most Popular Posts 2012
Top 10 Most Popular Posts 2011

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Champagne Punch

Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Enjoy today and the rest of the season.
Here's an easy and festive little Champagne punch to whip up for a celebration.

Toast to Faith, Giving, Health, Peace and the greatest of all, Love!

Makes a bunch...  servings?  Not sure, how thirsty are your friends?

1 bottle 750ml champagne/prosecco sparkling wine.
1/2 cup Chambord raspberry liqueur
1/2 bottle sparkling cider/apple juice
4 cups cranberry raspberry juice

In a large pitcher, add the bottle of champage, the juice, the Chambord and the sparkling apple juice.  Pour and serve at once.
If you thought ahead, you could freeze some cranberries to add to keep it very cold while you sip.
Garnish with fresh cranberries or dip the rims in red decorator sugar.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Frankly, I had no idea that making tamales was a Christmas tradition.
However, even though we are not Hispanic, my Mom did make tamale!
I remember vividly asking for tamales and potstickers for my requested birthday dinner.  I was told that those things didn't go together, but nevertheless, she made them.  Thanks Ma!

It was when I was fully an adult (at least in age...) that I was introduced to "Christmas tamales" when an employee brought me a still hot batch of tamales on Christmas Eve.  I worked retail then and was the store manager (which is why people are working on that day.... sigh).  The tamales were so good.  My managers and I were so happy to have a delicious, hot lunch!  A life saver!

So a couple of years later, when I was blissfully out of retail, I decided to make some of our own tamales for the Christmas holiday.  Now it's a tradition for us to do together on Christmas Eve.  Grab your peeps and set up an assembly line to make them and have some fun.

I've just shown the technique below and given me recipe for the dough, you can use a variety of fillings:
  • Leftover shredded pork (moistened with a bit of broth if it seems dry)
  • Cheese, or cheese and a sliver of jalapeno
  • I used leftover pork Chile Verde, cooked and stirred until it falls into shreds.

Makes about 24 medium size tamales

Tamale Dough:

 4 cups masa harina

 2 1/2 cup beef broth

 2 teaspoon baking powder

 1 teaspoon salt

 1 1/3 cup lard

1 (16 ounce) package dried corn husks

First thing, soak the corn husks in warm water for 30 minutes.
Some are nice and big and whole, perfect for tamales. Other husks are small and tatty, perfect for pulling into thin strips to tie up the ready to cook tamale.

I used my food processor to mix the masa flour, the salt, baking powder and lard first.  Then added the broth while the machine was running.  I used a spatula to push the mixture down once or twice to make sure it was fully combined.

NOTE: If you want to taste the mixture, go ahead and microwave a small amount for about 20-30 seconds.  Let cool and check that you are happy with the seasoning.

Spread a little mixture on the wide end of the soaked and drained husk.
Spread the mixture all the way to one side, leaving a 1/2" inch on the other.

Use a sheet of plastic wrap to keep your hands tidy and make sure you get a nice flat surface for the tamale mixture. It should be between 1/2 inch and a 1/4 inch.

Using a spoon, add some of the filling down the middle.  I used shredded pork, but cheese and jalapeno strips would well too.

Starting at the edge where the mixture is all the way to the outside, start to roll towards the center, folding the other side over the top.

Turn up the thinner end of the tamale, and use a thin strip of the husk to tie it shut on that end.  You will steam the tamales upright, sitting on this tied end.

Use your pasta steamer basket over a large pot of bubbling water.  Don't pack them too tightly as they do expand as they cook. Cook for about 1 hour.  

Keep warm and covered and eat right away.  They are easy to reheat, but I don't recommend microwaving them as they can get tough as it takes a while to get them hot all the way through.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Buttered Toffee Martini

Buttered Toffee Martini...
Okay, sure- YUM!
I have no idea why almond, coffee and baileys combined taste like toffee.... but they DO.

This is a great little after dinner martini that is certainly easier than making a dessert.
Heck, more fun too.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, wherever you may be.

Serves 2 small dessert martinis


1 ounce Kahlua, 
1 ounce Bailey’s, 
1 ounce amaretto, 
3 ounce Half-n-Half (I actually used 2 oz milk, 1 oz whipping cream- smart, eh?)

Fill a martini shaker with ice, dump in all the ingredients in the shaker.  
ShAkE, sHaKe, shake.. Shake a long time, you want some festive froth on this one. 
Strain into a couple glasses and enjoy at once.
Repeat as necessary.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Cooking Light Shrimp Scampi & Broccoli Pasta

From an old Cooking Light magazine, I found this easy to make gem!
A couple of techniques for making a light, but flavorful pasta sauce.
The corn starch is different, I know, but it does give the sauce a nice body that you would only get from lots more butter or cream.  The only thing I did differently was a bit more lemon, and didn't add any salt until it hit the table on my plate.

I'll try this again with other veggies, like spinach or peppers and some capers!

Serves 4

8 ounces uncooked thin spaghetti
12 ounces broccoli florets
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp canola oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
1 Tbsp water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 Tbsp grated lemon rind
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved or grated (about 1/4 cup)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Add broccoli in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shrimp; cook 2 minutes on each side. Remove shrimp from pan.
Heat pan over medium-low heat. Add butter and oil; swirl to coat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add stock; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Combine 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir cornstarch mixture into stock mixture; cook 1 minute. Stir in shrimp, pasta mixture, parsley, rind, juice, and salt; cook 1 minute, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.