Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wedding Cocktails

Friendships that begin with ugly khaki button down shirts, "safari adventures," jungle coladas, and late night shots at a local bar are bound to last a lifetime.  As much as we all complained about that weird California chain restaurant we worked in many years ago, we can only be forever thankful for the relationships we gained from it.  



We saw each other through that crazy time of our twenties where we were all figuring out life while working hard and partying even harder.  Fast forward to the present we survived and made it through new jobs, a new business, four weddings and a baby!
Photography by Scott Nelson Photography.  Photographer: Alex Morgan

The latest wedding was definitely one to put down in the books!  You can't go wrong with Malibu sands, the ocean breeze, the sunny California blue sky, laughter, love and strong cocktails!  That's were we come in, the strong cocktails.  Greg and I were so honored when our dear friends Evan and Erin asked us to create their signature cocktails.  Greg and I dived right in and enjoyed many (buzzed) nights coming up with new recipes that would best reflect our incredible friends.


Photography by Scott Nelson Photography.  Photographer: Alex Morgan

Erin is the most beautiful (ok let's just agree she is a model) soul you will meet!  We needed to create a cocktail that showed off her beauty and class.  With the help of our pretty roses from our garden we were able to create a sophisticated drink for our vodka loving bride.



Cucumber Rose Vodka Spritzer

Ingredients
4 ounces cucumber infused vodka (see recipe below)
1-1/2 ounce rose simple syrup (see recipe below)
Soda water
Rose petals for garnish

In a cocktail shaker add the cucumber infused vodka, rose simple syrup and ice.  Shake vigorously.  Pour into two ice filled cocktail glasses, top with soda water and garnish with rose petals.  Makes two cocktails.

Cucumber Infused Vodka:  Pour 8 ounces of vodka into an airtight jar or container.  Add 4-6 slices of cucumber.  Allow to infuse in a cool place or the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  Strain the vodka and discard the cucumbers.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 

Rose Simple Syrup

Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup organic old fashion rose petals, washed and dried

In a small sauce pan over low heat dissolve the sugar into the water.  Once the sugar has completely dissolved remove from the heat and add the old fashion rose petals.  Stir to combine. Cover and allow to steep for 20 minutes.  Strain the syrup and discard the rose petals.  Allow to completely cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  

Note:  If you do not have or cannot find old fashion roses than you can simply combine equal parts store bought rose water and sugar together over low heat to make your syrup.



Evan is our laid back friend who is no nonsense when it comes to bourbon.  We needed a twist to make his signature drink unique and wanted something rustic and bold.  Thanks to our grill we were able to created a easy to drink (or shoot) bourbon cocktail.


Photography by Scott Nelson Photography.  Photographer: Alex Morgan

Grilled Citrus Bourbon Cocktail

Ingredients
1 grapefruit
1 orange
1 lemon 
1 mandarin orange
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces bourbon
Mint sprigs for garnish

Turn on and heat your grill according to the manufacturers directions.  

Cut each of the citrus in half.  Juice one half of each citrus and set aside.  Brush the olive oil on the remaining citrus halves.  Place the citrus on the heated grill flesh side down.  Grill for about 7-10 minutes until the citrus is slightly charred and caramelized.  Remove from the grill and allow to cool.  Once cooled juice the grilled citrus and mix with the fresh squeezed citrus.  

In a cocktail shaker add the bourbon and 4 ounces of citrus juice.  Add ice and shake vigorously.  Pour the cocktail into two ice filled cocktail glasses.  Garnish with mint sprigs.  Makes 2 cocktails.






Congrats Mr. and Mrs. Ahlgren!



Photography by Scott Nelson Photography.  Photographer: Alex Morgan











Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cocktail Accessories





With summer right around the corner I thought I would get everyone prepped for some summer cocktail/mocktail sipping.  Greg and I have really been into making different simple syrups lately to spruce up our everyday cocktails, coffee and sparkling water.  These syrups take no time to make and will keep in the refrigerator for up to one month.  Plus, I promise when you use these simple syrups you'll fool your guests into thinking you are some kind of fancy mixologist.  I beg you to be creative with these and share what you are using them for, but if you need a little help I'll be posting my creations on my Instagram throughout the month of June!  Happy (almost) Summer!

Honey Simple Syrup

Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey

In a small saucepan over low heat add the honey and water.  Stir continuously until the honey has dissolved into the water.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to one month.  

Cilantro-Jalapeno Simple Syrup

Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4-5 jalapeno slices (more if you want it extra spicy)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

In a small saucepan heat and melt the sugar in the water over low heat.  Stir continuously until the sugar has melted.  Remove the syrup from the heat and add the jalapeno and cilantro.  Cover and steep for 15 minutes.  Strain and discard the jalapeno and cilantro and allow the syrup to cool.  Store in an airtight jar in the refirgerator for up to one month.  

Lemon-Basil Honey Simple Syrup

Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1 small lemon, sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

In a small saucepan over low heat add the water and honey.  Stir continuously until the honey has dissolved into the water.  Remove the sryup from the heat and add the lemon and basil.  Cover and steep for 20 minutes.  Strain and discard the lemon and basil and allow the syrup to cool.  Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean

Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 whole vanilla bean

In a small saucepan heat and melt the sugar in the water over low heat.  Stir continuously until the sugar has melted.  Remove the syrup from the heat and scrape the seeds from the pod of the bean into the syrup.  Add the bean pod to the syrup and give it a good stir.  Cover and steep for 20 minutes.  Strain and discard the vanilla bean pod and allow the syrup to cool.  Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to one month.
 



Friday, May 8, 2015

(Fancy) Grilled Cheese

A very good friend of mine recently asked if I could come and cook for her.  She said that the only thing she could come up with for dinner lately was grilled cheese.  Unfortunately, we live 3,000 miles from one another so going to her house wasn't an option at that moment.  So instead I thought I could at least help her amp up her grilled cheese, which happens to be one of my favorite meals.


This grilled cheese is no ordinary grilled cheese and yet it's not anything too fancy or time consuming to make.  It may be the pesto, which can be store bought and you won't hurt my feelings for doing so, or the pretty pan seared shrimp that makes this grilled cheese dinner worthy.  But any way you look at it, it's dinner in under 20 minutes and I know a lot of you will be happy about that!  Better yet, serve it with a side of leafy greens (and a big glass of wine) and you've got a whole meal!













Pesto Shrimp Grilled Cheese

Ingredients
2 slices of bread (I use ciabatta) 
4 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined 
1 medium tomato, sliced
2-4 slices pepper jack cheese
1-2 tablespoons Basil-Almond Pesto (store bought pesto works too)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil.  Place the shrimp into the pan carefully and season with salt and pepper.  Allow the shrimp to cook for about 2-3 minutes.  Carefully turn the shrimp over and cook for another 2-3 minutes until, opaque and cooked through.  Remove the shrimp from the pan and allow to cool slightly.  Slice the shrimp lengthwise and set aside.

In a large skillet melt the butter.  Spread both slices of bread with the pesto and place them pesto side up in the pan.  On one slice of the bread place 1 or 2 slices of the cheese then the shrimp, tomatoes and then the remainder of the cheese.  Top with the other slice of bread.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes until browned.  Carefully flip the sandwich and cook for another 3-5 minutes until browned and the cheese has melted.  Remove from the pan and allow to rest for minute or two.  Cut the grilled cheese in half and serve.  Makes 1 large grilled cheese.









Friday, May 1, 2015

Toast








I'm a toast lover.  If you have been on my Instagram lately you'll see (besides those cocktails) my many versions on the old fashion breakfast go to.  Greg says that I could have a cooking show on just my morning toast alone.  He loves how creative I am so early in the morning.  Truth, it's never before 9 A.M. (sorry if that just hurt your feelings!) and I'm using whatever is in the fridge.  I do change it up from sweet to savory, but mostly savory unless I'm craving Nutella.  I often add an egg and when I'm in a rush it's just the avocado.  I am human I promise and there are no secrets to my morning routine.  Just coffee and creative toast.  Here are my four favorites I make often and thought I should share!  They make the perfect snack, lunch and of course, happy hour snacks!  




Peanut Butter Banana Toast 

Ingredients
1 slice of bread, toasted
1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 banana, sliced
1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
Honey 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On a small rimmed baking sheet, toast the coconut for 2-3 minutes until slightly browned.  Watch it carefully because it tends to go from perfect to burnt.  Remove the coconut from the oven and set aside.  

Spread the peanut butter on the toast, top it with the sliced banana, toasted coconut and drizzle with honey.




Avocado Strawberry and Fennel Toast

Ingredients
1 slice of bread, toasted
1/2 avocado, sliced
2-3 strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup fennel, thinly sliced
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the sliced avocado on the toast and slightly mash and spread.  Top with the strawberries and fennel.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.





Smoked Salmon and Burrata Toast

Ingredients
1 slice of bread, toasted
2-4 slices smoked salmon
2-3 slices burrata cheese
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon capers
1/2 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
1 lemon wedge
Olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper

Spread the burrata cheese on the toast.  Top with the smoked salmon, red onions, capers and dill.  Season with fresh ground black pepper, drizzle with olive oil and squeeze the lemon wedge over top.





Seared Tomato and Bacon Toast with a Fried Egg

Ingredients
1 slice of bread
2 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
1 egg
1 clove garlic
2 small pearl tomatoes, sliced in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pan melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Carefully crack the egg into the pan.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until the whites are almost set.  Carefully flip the egg and turn off the heat.  Allow the egg to cook in the pan for about 30 seconds more.  Remove the egg from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan or in a small cast iron, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Place the tomato halves flesh side down into the pan and add the garlic clove.  Sear the tomatoes  for about 4 minutes, until slightly charred.  Cook the garlic clove for about 3-5 minutes, until lightly browned and soft.  Remove the garlic and tomatoes from the pan and set aside.  

Place the bread in the pan you used for the tomatoes.  Cook the bread until toasted and brown.  Remove the toast from the pan.  Place the seared tomatoes on top.  Using the back of a fork slightly smash the tomatoes.  Roughly chop the garlic and place on top of the tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the bacon and top with the fried egg.  Garnish with the thyme and some freshly ground black pepper.  





Happy toasting!