Week 8 – Pina Colada


Phew, it has been a crazy couple of weekends! Between my little sister’s baby shower, work requiring weekend hours, and the tiny humans requiring my attention, I’m a little bit behind on my drinks. So I decided a Thursday night was the perfect time to catch up! We’ll see if I still feel that way in the morning…

I actually made 2 drinks tonight, but the first one was soooo terrible that I didn’t make it past the first sip. It was entirely my fault. I tried to get away with using fake lime juice since I’ve allowed 2 bags of limes to shrivel and harden past the point of usefulness over the past couple of weeks. Hot tip of the week…don’t use fake lime juice. I’ll be trying that one again after a trip to the store tomorrow for yet another bag of limes, which I will plan to use immediately this time!

My second drink was much more successful. I picked up a bottle of cream of coconut at the grocery store a little while ago and decided to try a Pina Colada, which was one of the recipes on the label.

I got to use my new cocktail shaker! I’ve been using a standard stainless steel shaker so far, which I’ve had for many, many years, but it gets so cold as you’re shaking up drinks! I’d taken to putting on my oven gloves first. I went searching online for an insulated cocktail shaker, but most of them were just the stainless steel with some sort of sleeve with a corny design, which wasn’t appealing to me. Then I found one called Shaker 33.

This is a pretty cool cocktail shaker, and I believe it started as a Kickstarter. It’s sold on Amazon now, but I’m a big fan of ideas that come out of Kickstarter campaigns. The design is pretty cool, with a sleek look and a built in strainer. It’s made of plastic so it sort of looks like a Tupperware version of a cocktail shaker, but much more elegant. And it doesn’t freeze my hands! This was my first night trying it out and I’m impressed so far!

I was also excited this week to finally use my favorite souvenir from Mexico! I feel like I’ve been talking about that cruise a lot lately, and maybe that’s because it’s the most exciting thing I had going on in a while. Anyway, I got a big ol’ hand-painted margarita glass and this seemed like an appropriate time to use it. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty lax about the glassware that I use for these drinks. My selection is pretty limited, though I did add the pretty glass mugs recently, so I’ll have to find more hot beverages to make to get some more use out of those! Or I’ll just put some random cocktail into one of them. That’s more my style anyway.


This drink is pretty sweet so prepare yourself for that. I tried a little bit of the cream of coconut since it dripped as I was measuring it out and it was damn tasty on its own! I might have to find other applications for it, especially since Greg doesn’t like coconut so I rarely get the chance to work it into any of my other culinary creations.

The recipe said that this drink could be served over ice or blended. I tried it over ice first, mostly because the kids are asleep and I didn’t want to wake them with the blender. Oh, and because I’m lazy. It was ok, but not great. I don’t think the texture really works well over ice since the cream of coconut is a thick syrup consistency and it felt a bit weird. So I grabbed the blender and plugged it into an outlet in the living room, as far away from the kids’ rooms as I could get. I liked the consistency much better, though I should have used more ice (but I didn’t notice the water was low in my ice machine reservoir in time and my ice supply was limited). Next time!

Note that I took my pictures pre-blended. I also got all excited about my cocktail shaker since I tried it unblended first, but you won’t use a cocktail shaker with the blended version. And I do recommend the blended version. It got a nice froth on top and was a nice creamy consistency.

Since this drink is only 3 ingredients (plus ice), it is an easy one to throw together. It would also be good for larger groups since you could whip up a whole bunch at once in the blender. Plus it satisfied my sweet tooth enough for me to resist the Oreos calling from the pantry. And I got a good coconut fix out of it. Not enough to resist Samoas if I had those in the pantry, but alas, I am Girl Scout Cookie-less! So my tasty beverage will have to do for now.

Pina Colada

RICOH IMAGINGIngredients (per drink)

1 1/2 oz white rum
3 oz pineapple juice
3 oz cream of coconut
Ice – at least 1 cup, more for a thicker consistency

In a blender, add all ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy.



Week 7 – Hot Buttered Apple Cider


I love a holiday weekend. Especially the ones that are less widely observed, such as President’s Day. Half the school districts are in session today as a make-up snow day, day care is open, and pretty much the only businesses that are closed are the bank and the post office. I am lucky enough to work for one of those closed businesses, so I have today off.

Since it’s snowing…again…I don’t have any plans to go out today. I spent the past weekend at a knitting retreat and I’m still in knitting mode. I’ve got two projects that I’m actively working on now. One is a new project that I started this weekend, and one I’ve been working on for over a year.

I started a blanket for my daughter before she was born. I decided on elephants as a bit of a theme for her, so I’m making a knit blanket with elephants on it. Since she is 15 months old now, I really need to get moving on it! I finished up the knit portion this weekend, but it still needs the finishing touches.


My new project is a bit of an odd one. The design that I got the idea from is called Cleaves, because it is a cowl with sleeves. I didn’t love the pattern, but I love the idea, so I found a sweater I like and I’m just making the top. It’s a great alternate to a shawl, since I really don’t like wearing shawls but do find myself getting chilly while working from home all day. It should turn out nicely and I’m looking forward to using the finished product! I don’t have a picture yet, but I’ll be sure to post one when I do.

Today is one of those days that is going to be spent curled up on the couch while knitting and watching a few movies. The perfect compliment to that kind of day is a nice hot drink!

I’ve already made a hot chocolate cocktail this year, and remade it several times for my own personal enjoyment, so I decided on a non-chocolate option this time and went with apple cider. Specifically, hot buttered apple cider which sounded particularly delicious.

There is a wide variety of recipes available online. Some are incredibly complicated and time consuming. Some are meant for parties and serve over a dozen people. In order to create a fairly easy recipe that serves two (or one with a second serving) I borrowed from several and made a mash up recipe of my own, but I got the bulk of it from Joy the Baker so feel free to try out that one as well.

This is a great way to warm up on a cold day like today. If I were to make it again, I think I would try adding a little bit of brown sugar just to sweeten it up a bit. I’d also like to change up the spices and see which combinations I like best.


Hot Buttered Apple Cider

Ingredients (2 servings)

2 cups apple cider
Spices to taste – cinnamon stick, star anise, whole cloves, nutmeg (I used cinnamon and star anise)
Pinch of salt
2 T butter
3 oz spiced rum
2 T fresh lemon juice
Garnish – apple slice, cinnamon stick

In a small pot, combine cider with your spices and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then remove from heat and cover. Allow to steep for 10-15 minutes.

Return to medium heat and add butter, stirring until melted. Remove from heat and stir in rum and lemon juice. Remove whole spices and serve, garnished with an apple slice and cinnamon stick.


Week 6 – Sex on the Beach


I was on the hunt for an orange-colored drink this week, since it happens to be the Super Bowl and I decided to root for the Denver Broncos. I’m not a Broncos fan (go Steelers!) but I’ve always liked Peyton Manning, so why not?

I first attempted an Orange Crush concoction. It had vodka, triple sec, and orange soda, though I’ll admit I used Fanta. I know, scandalous! And to try and add the blue from the Bronco colors, I thought I’d float some Blue Curacao on top, which you can theoretically do by pouring slowly over the back of a spoon. Well, apparently I can’t pull of that technique, so it just mixed together and no longer looked orange or blue. Also, Greg took a sip and said it tasted like cold medicine, so neither of us could drink it after that. I scrapped it and started over.

I ended up going with a Sex on the Beach, since it’s also orange and I had all the ingredients on hand. Side note, so far I’ve learned that no matter how well you think you’ve stocked your bar, you are always going to find cocktail recipes that call for things you don’t have. I’m beginning to think that unless your home bar looks like a liquor store, you’re never fully prepared.

Sex on the Beach is a sweet, fruity drink that is honestly more suited for summer. And it’s VERY cold lately, being the middle of winter and all, but I just pretended I was at the beach…while watching football. It was a bit of a stretch.

Even though I failed miserably at my first attempt to float the Blue Curacao, I still thought it was a good idea, so I tried it again. I still failed miserably, but instead of mixing in like it had before, it just sank to the bottom. I ended up with a blue and orange drink so I’m callin’ it good!

Even though the ingredient you use the least is peach schnapps, this is actually a very peach-y drink as written. I really only added the Blue Curacao because of the color, but since it is an orange liqueur, it mellowed out the peach flavor a bit and was a good addition for Greg, who isn’t a big fan of peach.


Sex on the Beach

Ingredients (per drink)

1 1/2 oz vodka
1 1/2 oz cranberry juice
1 1/2 oz orange juice
3/4 oz peach schnapps
Garnish – orange slice

In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, add all ingredients except the garnish. Shake a lot, then serve over ice. Place an orange slice on the rim of the glass.


If you happen to be a Broncos fan, or have any other reason to make an orange and blue drink, add a splash of Blue Curacao. Maybe you’ll have better luck with the backwards spoon trick than me and can get it to float on top!


Week 5 – Limoncello Martini

Oh no! It only took a month and I fell behind! I missed posting last week, but don’t you worry, I didn’t forget to make my drink!


Last weekend, both kids stayed with my in-laws overnight. Greg and I took full advantage and, despite me having to work much later than planned on Friday night, we managed to go out to dinner, then filled the next day with lunch at a brewery, shopping for new coats, a matinee of Legally Blonde the Musical, and a trip to the liquor store to fill my liquor cabinet (which is actually the top of a bookshelf) with a little more variety.

One of the new additions was a tall, frosted glass, slim-necked bottle of limoncello. It’s a nice bottle. In fact, many liquor bottles are really nice.

Pallini_LimoncelloThe tequila-tasting excursion Greg and I took last year in Mexico during our cruise was offering one of a kind, hand painted bottles of tequila in these beautiful boxes that were made from agave fibers. Since I couldn’t afford any of the art being auctioned off on the ship, I thought it’d be cool to bring one home…but it turns out I couldn’t afford art tequila bottles either.

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur that is tart and sweet and just delicious! In fact, feel free to enjoy it on its own if you feel so inclined.

Years ago, there was a couple that moved in next door to me while I was living out west and going to school. I was reading on the deck as they moved in, so I met them right away, and then I ended up going shopping with them that night for a grill, which we then assembled together and had a cookout. We’ve been best friends ever since. And they are the ones who introduced me to limoncello.

They made their own with lemon peels, vodka, and simple syrup, then served it in a double shot glass topped off with cream. Oh my goodness, that drink is a little shot of heaven. I’m not making it as part of my cocktails this year, but typing that out is making me want one now! I highly recommend it to anyone who likes sweet, tart, and creamy. Ratios will depend on your individual tastes, but I’d go two parts limoncello and one part cream or half and half in a regular or tall shot glass, and add a little simple syrup if you like it sweeter. There you go, bonus recipe!

For my cocktail this week, I wanted to try out a lemon drop martini. But most recipes online call for citrus vodka and I don’t have citrus vodka on hand. Yet another thing to add to the list for the next trip to the liquor store! Instead, I dug around for a recipe that used regular vodka and limoncello, and came across a recipe for a limoncello martini. Close enough!

wp-1454384265725.jpegGreg said it reminded him of hard lemonade, which it pretty much is since the ingredients are basically the same as lemonade, plus alcohol. It was certainly much better than the bottled malt beverage stuff though. It was like a really good homemade hard lemonade.

I really love tart and sweet, so this drink was definitely a winner for me. In fact, I had some simple syrup left over, so I made it again the next night.

It’s also really easy to put together, especially if you already have simple syrup on hand. And, honestly, making your own simple syrup is super…simple! I even made it in the microwave this time around to simplify it even more. Bonus recipe #2 – combine equal parts sugar and water and bring to a boil so the sugar dissolves. That’s it!

Limoncello Martini

Ingredients (per drink, 1 large or 2 small)

2 oz vodka
2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 oz simple syrup
1 oz limoncello
Garnish – lemon twist, lemon slice, maraschino cherry

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add all the ingredients except the garnish. Shake, shake, shake, then shake some more! Strain into a martini glass then garnish as desired. Personally, I went with no garnish for no other reason than I was being lazy. Still delicious!



Week 4 – Kahlua Hot Chocolate


Today has been 100% snow. It was snowing when I went to bed last night, it was snowing when I woke up, it snowed throughout the day, and even though it tapered off for a bit, I just got an alert on my phone that “a brief snow shower is about to begin”. That’s a lot of snow!

In case you haven’t heard, we’re in the middle of Snowmaggedon 2016 aka Winter Storm Jonas. My area has gotten record-breaking accumulation, over 28 inches.  With drifts, our little Honda Fit is no longer visible. Heck, the minivan is hardly visible!

My husband just went out to start the shoveling effort, so I decided a hot beverage was in order to reward his hard work. Since the kids are in bed and it’s the weekend (and it’s time for my weekly post) why not make it an adult beverage while I’m at it?

I have a couple of little bottles of Kahlua on hand, and any other cocktail ingredients that I don’t have on hand just aren’t an option right now since NO ONE is able to get to the store this weekend. So I searched online for something I could make with what I had, and I came across the perfect drink for this wintery day.


Kahlua Hot Chocolate

Ingredients (makes 2 drinks)

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 ounce Kahlua coffee liqueur
Garnish – whipped cream, mini marshmallows, chocolate syrup

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. Heat through (2-3 minutes), then remove from heat and stir in Kahlua. Serve immediately and top with garnish of your choice. Obviously, I went with whipped cream🙂

Mmmm this was quite tasty! I don’t typically make hot chocolate from anything but a mix, so that was kinda fun. And I absolutely love cinnamon in hot chocolate, so I thought this was a great recipe. Kahlua, with its coffee flavor, is a wonderful compliment for hot chocolate as well.

Since the snow should be done after tonight, I’m planning to bundle up the kids and send them out into the snow with Daddy tomorrow. I’ll stay inside, nice and warm, and maybe I’ll enjoy another batch of this delicious treat! After all, I do have another little bottle of Kahlua to use up…


Week 3 – Tequila Sunrise

Ah tequila. The love/hate liquor of many an over-indulger.

A couple months ago, I went on a cruise to the Western Caribbean, with ports in Jamaica, Bahamas, Grand Caymans, and Mexico! It completely screwed with my holidays, since we left the weekend after Thanksgiving and were gone the whole first week of December, leaving me with a pile of work to do when we got back, but…I digress. It was a ton of fun!

One of the excursions that Greg and I did in Cozumel Mexico included a tequila tasting. I learned a LOT about tequila, most of which I probably don’t remember. But I’ll give you a couple fun facts. First of all, the stuff with the worm in the bottle? Not tequila. That stuff is mescal (or mezcal), which is similar to tequila because it’s made from an agave plant, but tequila is only made from the blue agave plant. It is also only made in specific provinces because it is highly regulated and illegal to make anywhere else. You can grow blue agave anywhere, you just can’t make tequila out of it (legally, at least), and it grows for several years before being harvested. The bulk of the plant is underground, much like an iceberg, so the bluish leaves above ground are just the tip of the plant.

♫ The more you know… ♫

I’m going to go off on a tangent for a second. I LOVE my ice machine! I’ve used it every day since it arrived (second tangent, since it arrived very quickly with Amazon Prime, which I also LOVE!). I hardly know how I lived without it! Anyway, back to tequila.


This week’s drink is a tequila sunrise. It’s been a really long weekend with work, so I’m particularly pleased with my theme choice for this year’s recipes!

Tequila Sunrise

Ingredients (per drink)

1.5 oz tequila
4 oz orange juice
.75 oz grenadine
Garnish – orange slices, maraschino cherries

Fill a glass (high ball if you’ve got it) with ice. Pour in the tequila, then the orange juice. Float the grenadine on top, which will sink to the bottom on its own. Garnish as you desire. Personally, I like cherries.



Week 2 – Gin Martini

Hey look, it’s still the weekend!  On track so far🙂

This week, Greg requested a classic gin martini.


As it turns out, the “classic” recipe varies quite a bit, depending on where you look.  Don’t quote me on any of this, but supposedly the original recipe was a 2:1 ratio of gin and sweet vermouth.  Gradually the vermouth changed to dry and the amount used was less and less, sometimes disappearing altogether!

I ventured onto the internet to find some recipes and the amount of vermouth varied quite a bit.  I did find the 2:1 ratio recipe, but I also found a recipe that said to put vermouth in the martini glass, swirl it around to coat, then dump it.  Yet another recipe, credited to Alton Brown, called for adding vermouth to a shaker of ice, swirling it around to coat the ice, then dumping the rest, so the only vermouth is whatever stuck to the ice.  I don’t drink gin martinis often (um…ever) so I had no idea which recipe would suit my tastes.

I decided to follow the guidance of Alton Brown on this one.  I’m still undecided as to whether that was a good idea or not.  Here is a video clip from his show, Good Eats, making a gin martini, cheesy James Bond bit and all.  I do love Alton Brown!

Every interesting fact I know about gin martinis I learned from this video.  For instance, martinis are often made with vodka these days.  As it turns out, vodka and gin are pretty much the same thing, except gin has herbs and juniper added so it is aromatic.  Both liquors are made the same way otherwise.  And I’ll admit, now that I know that, I noticed a similarity in their taste.  Also, you don’t want to shake martinis, despite Mr. Bond’s preference, but should swirl or stir them instead.  The reason is because shaking makes the drink much colder and gin loses its aromatic flavors.  So actually, I suppose if you’re having a martini made of vodka, what’s the harm in shaking it since there are no aromatics to be lost?  Hmmm…

I made both a regular martini and a dirty martini, which is just a small amount of olive brine added.  Turns out, I just don’t like gin martinis.  I suppose over the year, there are going to be some misses, and this was definitely one for me.  Greg didn’t seem particularly fond of it either, though he tolerated it better than me.  It was just soooo much gin!

However, if you are a fan of straight liquor (not me, at least not without a chaser!) and particularly like gin, you will probably love this recipe.


Gin Martini

Ingredients (per drink)

Crushed ice
1/2 oz dry vermouth
2 1/2 oz gin
A few drops of olive brind (for dirty martini)
Garnish – green olive, cocktail onion, lemon twist – whatever you prefer

Chill your martini glass.  You could put it in the freezer, or fill it with crushed ice and set aside until ready.  Dump the ice before pouring your drink.

Fill a shaker with crushed ice.  Pour vermouth into the shaker and swirl around, coating the ice.  Use a strainer to pour out the vermouth.

Add gin to the vermouth-coated ice in the shaker, as well as olive brine if making dirty.  Place your garnish in the bottom of the martini glass, then strain your martini into the glass.  Serve immediately.