Cocktails

The Perfect Bloody Mary with a Bacon Skewer

Sundays are for Brunching & Bloody Mary Bars!

The Bloody Mary is one of the world’s best known cocktails, prized for its ability to jumpstart even the laziest of mornings. Its origins aren’t exactly clear, but the likely backstory points to the mid-1930s and Fernand “Pete” Petiot, a bartender at King Cole Bar at the St. Regis hotel in New York City.

So next time, you have yourself a Bllody Mary make sure you say Cheers to Pete!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup ice cubes 

1.5 fluid ounce @Tito’s Handmade Vodka

¾ cup @Zingzang 

1 stalk celery 

2 Green Olives

2 pieces Get Yourself a Husband Bacon

2 lemon & lime wedges

Dash of Oldbay seasoning 

INSTRUCTIONS

 Fill the glass with ice cubes.

In a cocktail mixer full of ice, combine the vodka, zing zang, and old bay seasoning. Shake vigorously and strain into the glass.

Garnish with a stalk of celery, bacon, olives, lemon and limes.

Recipes, Small Bites

Fresh Eggplant Bruschetta

Bruschetta is easily one of my all-time favorite appetizer!

It’s eggplant season! I love this pretty, versatile vegetable and coming up with new ways to use it. Once you make this bruschetta, it will become an easy go-to for using up summer tomatoes and eggplant for years to come.

If you’re looking for a more substantial meal add this as a topping to your favorite pasta!

INGREDIENTS

  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Two 1-pound eggplants, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/4 cup packed basil leaves, coarsely shredded
  • One pint cherry tomatoes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 loaf French bread, 1/2 inch slices
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. 

Add in the diced onion and eggplant and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until the eggplant is tender, stirring frequently. Add in the garlic, red pepper flakes and basil leaves half way through cooking.

Add the cherry tomatoes to the eggplant. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. 

Cover the pan, wait for the tomatoes to burst for about ten minutes. Squish any whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon and let the tomatoes thicken, about 1 minute. 

Stir in the capers and stir to combine. 

Taste and add the salt & pepper if needed. 

Heat the broiler. 

Brush the bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese on both sides. 

Char the bread on both sides.

Spoon the bruschetta onto the bread and top with grated Parmesan and remaining basil leaves. Dig in!

Cakes & Pies, Recipes

Lemon IceBox Cake

This no-bake lemon icebox cake is light, refreshing layers of lemon pudding, cool whip, and graham crackers then is topped with lemon zest for the perfect summer dessert!

Icebox cakes are so simple to make and are always a crowd pleaser when brought to summer get-togethers or BBQs.

Ingredients

  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant lemon pudding mix
  • 1 (8 ounce) package Cool Whip
  • 3 cups milk
  • Zest of ½ of a lemon
  • ½ of a lemon juice
  • 1 (16 ounce) package graham crackers

Lemon Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • Zest of ½ of a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

In a large bowl, mix together the pudding mixes, zest of lemon, lemon juice, Cool Whip, and milk.

In a 9 x 13 inch pan, place a single layer of graham crackers on the bottom of the pan (you may need to break a few graham crackers so that the entire bottom of the pan is covered).

Spread half of the pudding mixture evenly over the graham crackers. 

Place another single layer of graham crackers on top of the pudding and then layer the second half of the pudding on top of those crackers.

Place one more single layer of graham crackers on top of the pudding.

Mix together ingredients for the lemon frosting and spread over all.

Cover and place in the fridge for about 4 hours.

This cake is even better the next day.

Cakes & Pies, Recipes

Peach & Blueberry Cake

After picking blueberries and peaches at Southern Hill Farms this weekend, I was inspired to make this delicious and beautiful Peach and Blueberry Cake!

This cake screams summer fruit! And you can easily switch out the fruit and make it a year-round dessert.

The combination of the peaches and blueberries is amazing. The natural sugars in the fruit enhance the flavor. The crust is almost biscuit-like and has a rich buttery flavor. 

Enjoy the summer weekend and this scrumptious summer cake!

Check out Southern Hills Farm!

INGREDIENTS

For pastry

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½  tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 lb firm-ripe large peaches (about 4), halved lengthwise, pitted, and each half cut lengthwise into fourths
  • 1 cup blueberries (1/2 pint)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

Make pastry:

Pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Add egg and vanilla and pulse just until dough clumps and begins to form a ball, about 15 pulses.

Press dough onto bottom and evenly (about 1/4 inch thick) all the way up side of springform pan with floured fingertips. Chill pastry in pan until firm, about 10 minutes.

Make filling while pastry chills:

Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F.

Generously butter the inside of your springform pan.

Grind 2 tablespoons sugar with flour and cornstarch in a food processor until combined, then transfer to a large bowl. 

Add peaches, blueberries, and lemon juice and sprinkle 6 tablespoons over the top, toss to coat. 

Spoon filling into pastry and bake, loosely covered with a sheet of foil and cover the bottom of the pan with foil, until filling is bubbling in center and crust is golden, about 1 3/4 hours.

Transfer cake in pan to a rack and cool, uncovered, 20 minutes, then carefully remove side of pan.

Cool cake to barely warm or room temperature, then cut into thick wedges with a sharp knife before serving.

Tip:

I recommend using light-colored metal pans for baking. Dark metal pans, including nonstick, will cause your baked goods to brown more quickly. If you don’t have a light-colored pan, wrap the bottom of your pan with foil and lower the heat to 350 degrees F. 

On the Side, Recipes

Summer Corn Salad

This Corn Salad is one of my favorite summer sides!  This easy Summer Corn Salad features sweet fresh corn off the cob, crisp bell peppers and feta cheese all combined in a light and zesty vinaigrette.

Summer is the best time of year to serve up fresh salads and vegetables. I visited the Southern Hills Farms with some friends this weekend and knew I had to stock up some fresh summer corn. If you live near the Orlando area, I definitely recommend visiting Southern Hills Farm in Clermont. It is absolutely the best You Pick farm I have ever been to and it’s perfect for photos! 

Such a fun day picking sunflowers at South Hills Farms!

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 cups corn kernels about 6 cobs of corn or frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • ½ medium sized red onion diced
  • 1 red and green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoon dried White wine, such as Scout & Cellar Dove Hunt Dog Chardonnay
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon Chile Lime seasoning
  • 4 oz. crumbled Feta cheese
  • a generous sprinkle of course salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss.

Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Recipes, Small Bites

Short Ribs Egg Rolls

Raise your hand if you love egg rolls! I sure do! Here’s a twist on your traditional egg rolls. These homemade egg rolls are filled with beef short ribs and vegetables, all wrapped up and fried to crispy perfection. The perfect make-ahead appetizer for any event!

HOW DO YOU MAKE HOMEMADE EGG ROLLS?

The filling for these egg rolls is shredded beef short ribs, shredded cabbage, carrots and some seasonings like garlic, honey and paprika. I used  a pre-shredded coleslaw mix to make life easier and cut down on prep time.

After your filling is ready, it’s time to stuff your egg roll wrappers! Egg roll wrappers are most commonly found in the refrigerated section of the produce area at most grocery stores. Most egg roll wrappers have a helpful chart on the back to show you exactly how to fold egg rolls.

I served these short rib egg rolls with a side of Spicy Mustard Barbeque sauce and Barbeque sauce. They are the perfect complements to these savory smoky eggrolls.

Ingredients

  • ½ pound beef short ribs, cooked and shredded
  • 1 bag coleslaw
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup green onions
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • Egg roll wrappers

Spicy Mustard Barbeque Dipping Sauce

  • ¾ cup Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch or more of cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Dash of hot sauce

Instructions

Heat the 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and red onion then cook for 30 seconds.

Stir in the coleslaw mix and green onions. Cook until cabbage is wilted, about 3-4 minutes. 

Stir in the seasonings, worchestire sauce and honey. 

Stir your shredded short rib meat,  then remove from heat.

Spoon approximately 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto each egg roll wrapper and fold according to package directions, using water to seal the edges of the wrappers as you go. 

Pour 2-3 inches of oil into a deep pot. While oil heats up, make the spicy mustard dipping sauce. 

Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Fry 3-4 egg rolls at a time, turning occasionally, until browned all over, approximately 3-5 minutes.

Drain on paper towels, then serve with spicy mustard sauce and barbecue sauce.

Spicy Mustard Barbecue sauce:

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.

Add to a small pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool.

On the Side, Recipes, Small Bites

Fresh Herb Ricotta Cheese Bread

A no yeast bread that is super quick to prepare! 

Ready in less than an hour, this Herbed Ricotta Cheese Bread is sure to become a favorite!

This quick bread is loaded with fresh herbs, ricotta cheese, and a dash of smoked paprika. 

Ricotta is a fresh, soft, Italian cheese with a small curd and a light, mild, slightly sweet flavor. In the United States, it is most commonly known as an ingredient in lasagna. I honestly love ricotta even just by itself. For this recipe, I decided to use ricotta instead of heavy cream or milk, the ricotta gives the bread a light texture that practically melts in your mouth!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
  • ½ cup green onions or scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • smoked paprika

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. 

Grate butter into the flour mixture and stir with a fork until the consistency of coarse meal.

Stir in scallions and fresh herbs. 

Add ricotta cheese, then add milk and stir until just combined.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. 

Knead 2 to 3 times, then pat dough into a 9-inch rectangle. 

Transfer bread to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops liberally with egg wash. Sprinkle top with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and smoked paprika.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bread is golden brown.

On the Side, Recipes

Sautéed Cabbage

This Easy Sautéed Cabbage recipe is perfect for a quick side dish for any meal but especially on St. Patrick’s Day!  It’s a rustic side dish with tender, caramelized cabbage flavored with garlic, and Guinness. If you think you don’t like cabbage you need to try it this way!

Serve with my Slow Cooked Guinness Corned beef and Irish Cheddar & Garlic Soda bread

Ingredients

  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced 
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcester sauce 
  • ¼ cup Guinness 
  • Salt & pepper to taste 

Instructions 

Heat a large 12-inch skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter- about 7 minutes.

Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Add half of the cabbage, stir and cook until it begins to wilt and reduce in volume, about 2 minutes. 

Add the remaining cabbage and stir until wilted, 2 minutes. Continue to cook for 8 minutes, stirring every minute to allow lightly even browning.

Add the Guiness, Worcester sauce and vinegar, stir and cook for 1 minute.

Add the salt and pepper, stir and cook for 1 minute. Season to taste. 

On the Side, Recipes

The Best 3 Barbeque Sauces

In honor of Black History month, I’d like to introduce you to Jereline and Larry Bethune. 

Jereline and Larry Bethune first opened their restaurant in 1942. Back then it was a nightclub, the Siesta Club, that also sold food. It later became Brenda’s, named after one of their daughters. A pivotal location in black history, the restaurant became an unofficial center for the local civil rights movement, holding N.A.A.C.P. meetings, printing fliers and planning protests. In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery. Shortly after, bus boycotts began around the city. The Brenda’s Bar-B-Que Pit staff helped organize some of the boycott, which soon propelled the civil rights movement into the national conversation.

Even after the bus boycotts, Ms. Bethune quietly held lessons to teach other African-Americans to read so they could pass the literacy test.  At the time, this functioned as a way to suppress the black vote during the height of the Jim Crow era. Donetta Bethune, the Bethune’s granddaughter, described it as: “Let’s learn how to read. Let’s learn how to vote. Let’s go after our own rights so we never have to be treated in a way that we’re not equal again.”  (College Chefs, 2019).

Brenda’s is the oldest barbecue restaurant in Montgomery and family-run to this day.

Below are three of my favorite homemade barbeque sauces inspired by the story of Jereline and Larry Bethune. 

Spicy Barbecue Sauce

This Spicy BBQ Sauce will be your new favorite condiment! It’s easy to make and pairs perfectly with pizza, sandwiches, or burgers.

  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

White Barbeque

This BBQ sauce is a tangy, creamy twist on a traditional barbecue sauce recipe. It’s delicious on grilled chicken, pulled pork, fish, burgers, and lots more!

  •  1 cup mayo
  •  1/4 cup white vinegar
  •  1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  •  2 teaspoons cream style horseradish
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •  1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  •  1/4 teaspoon paprika

Honey Barbeque Sauce

This Honey BBQ Sauce Recipe is the perfect sweet and sticky sauce for burgers, wings, chicken, and more.

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked Paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon onion Powder
  • ½ teaspoon black Pepper

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Let sauce cool and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.  

On the Side, Recipes

Spicy & Sweet Coleslaw

Tangy, sweet and spicy in taste, this coleslaw is far from bland or boring!

Coleslaw is such a budget friendly, versatile side dish, or salad! This crisp, sweet and spicy coleslaw is a perfect way to round out any barbecue or dinner!

Crisp, shredded cabbage mixed with crunchy carrots, parsley and  fresh green onions, then tossed with a slightly sweet, tangy mayonnaise based coleslaw sauce. This slaw is fresh, fabulous and the perfect addition to any Barbecue or try it on my Beef short rib sliders!

While the recipe below calls for small heads of green and purple cabbage, plus carrots, you can absolutely substitute a bag of pre-prepared coleslaw mix from the grocery store!

Ingredients

  • 1 small head cabbage, washed, peeled and shredded
  • 1 small head purple cabbage, washed, peeled and shredded
  • 2-3 large carrots, washed, peeled and shredded
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons Sriracha
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½  teaspoon celery salt
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley 
  • salt and black pepper

Instructions

In a food processor with a grating blade, shred the cabbage and carrots. Process in batches. Set into a large bowl. Add the parsley and toss.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sriracha, vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, salt, and black pepper. 

When adding the coleslaw dressing to the vegetables, start with 1/4 cup of dressing, toss and then continue to add the dressing a little bit at a time until desired level of creaminess is achieved. Chances are, you will not need all of the dressing, so it is best to err on the side of caution! I only used 1/3 cup on my coleslaw and I used the rest for dipping my homemade beer battered onion rings!

Serve cold or at room temperature.