Category Archives: Drinks

Creamy Root Beer Float

With summer fast approaching, warm weather activities and fun in the sun can’t be too far off. The grill comes out of storage and our minds turn to BBQs and summer salsa. Refreshing drinks are the order of the day, with home-made lemonade for the kids, and sangria for the grown-ups. And who doesn’t enjoy a nice chocolate shake? Or my favorite, a creamy root beer float.

root-beer-float-139

They’re simple to make, right… just vanilla ice cream and your favorite root beer! But why not get the kids involved and try making your own fresh root beer at home. Not only is it a fun learning activity that will keep your family busy on a rainy afternoon; but unbeknownst to them they’ll be doing a science project at the same time. My root beer making kit was gifted to me by my wife, but you can order them online and have them ready for that inevitable dreary day. Then when the sun finally does comes out, it’ll be root beer float smiles all around !

Joe

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Filed under Drinks, Shakes & Smoothies, Uncategorized

Please Pass the Sangria!

Is there anything quite as refreshing as a cool glass of Sangria on a hot summer evening? Try this white wine version I recently concocted for a studio party. It’s delicious!

Sangria is not an exact science. Try experimenting on your own with various fruits and sweeteners….the combinations are endless. And let us know if you come up with your own signature Sangria!

Sparkling White Sangria
Makes 8 servings

1 bottle white wine (such as Chardonnay, Reisling, or Chablis)
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup orange brandy (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
2 plums, pitted and sliced
1 peach, pitted and sliced
1 mango, peeled and sliced
2 cans (12 ounces each) club soda or seltzer
fresh mint

• In large pitcher, stir together wine, sugar and brandy until sugar is dissolved. Add fruit. Cover and chill for at least an hour (the longer the better!)

• Just before serving, stir in club soda. Serve over ice with mint. Sip!

Cathy

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Filed under Drinks, Entertaining, Foodies, Fruit, Holidays, Vegetarian

Guilt-free Chocolate Shake!

and now, a little quiz from A LA CARTE…..

The mouth-watering chocolate milkshake in the photo:
A. is both non-dairy & cholesterol-free
B. is vegan
C. contains only 200 calories
D. tastes as good as it looks
E. All of the above

If you answered “E”, give yourself a star, and have a sip!

The secret to this tasty, healthful shake is Silk brand’s Dark Chocolate Almond Milk. It’s  available at large grocery stores and I even found it at my Target. Silk’s website has a store locator; just enter your zip code. If your store does not carry it, pester the manager to order it!  It’s quite tasty straight, but extra fab in shakes and dessert recipes. Try it!

Dark Chocolate & Banana Milkshake

1 cup (8 ounces) dark chocolate almond milk
1/2 banana
1/2 cup crushed ice

– Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth.

– Serve immediately.

Heather

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Filed under Chocolate, Drinks, Healthy, Shakes & Smoothies, Vegetarian

Classic Holiday Eggnog

Every holiday season, the same question comes up: Do the eggs need to be cooked in an eggnog recipe?

My answer is…definitely! Even refrigerated eggs with clean, uncracked shells can still be contaminated with the Salmonella bacteria, and  eggs must be cooked to 160°F to kill such bacteria.  There is a popular misconception that adding alcohol to eggnog will kill the bacteria.  Not so!

Here is an easy-to-follow, delicious cooked eggnog recipe.  You’ll have one less thing to worry about during your holiday season!

Classic Holiday Eggnog
Makes about 10 servings

4 eggs
1/3 cup + 1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup bourbon or rum
ground nutmeg
cinnamon sticks for garnish

– In medium saucepan with wire whisk, gently beat eggs, 1/3 cup sugar and salt.  Gradually stir in milk.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.  Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

– In large bowl, beat heavy cream and 1 Tbs. sugar until stiff peaks form.  Fold into chilled custard, then stir in bourbon.  Pour into large serving bowl or pitcher.  Sprinkle with ground nutmeg.  Serve with cinnamon sticks.

Tips

– When making the custard, be sure to cook over low heat, stirring constantly.  Trying to speed it along by increasing the temperature will most likely curdle the custard.

– For an even richer eggnog, substitute half-and-half or light cream for some of the milk.

– For a non-alcoholic eggnog, substitute 1/4 tsp. rum extract for the bourbon.

– Recipe can be doubled.

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Filed under Drinks, eggs, Entertaining, Holidays

Perfect Peach Daiquiri

At least once a summer, I try to time my vacation travel to include a stop at Stoudt’s Fruit Farm Stand, just off I-78 in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania. Why? Well, they have all kinds of excellent homegrown produce, but really, it’s all about the peaches for me.

Stoudt’s sells some of the best tree-ripened peaches you will find anywhere, and they’re always worth the trip (or the detour). This afternoon I stopped and purchased a peck of Freestone Yellow Peaches, and they are, once again, mouth-wateringly delicious.

Although we will enjoy most of them plain because they are just too good to consider cooking or baking with, I have set aside a few for my favorite summertime drink, the Peach Daiquiri. A lot of peach daiquiri recipes are overly fussy, involving simple syrup, lime juice, powdered sugar, and even daiquiri mix (oh no!) However, I do not think any of that is necessary, because when you start with peaches this good, the recipe is simple—just three ingredients!

Perfect Peach Daiquiri
Makes 1 drink

1 magnificent tree-ripened peach, peeled, pitted  and cut up
1 cup crushed ice
2 ounces golden rum

– Place all ingredients in blender with tight-fitting lid. Puree until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and serve immediately. If desired, garnish with a peach slice and a mint sprig. Find a sunset view and a rocking chair, and  sip slowly.

Tips – If a peach is truly ripe, the skin will peel off easily using a paring knife. Otherwise, drop peaches in boiling water for about 45 seconds then drop in ice water for about 1 minute.  The skin should come off easily. – White rum can be substituted for golden rum, but the flavor will not be as deep. If using white rum, add a tablespoon of fresh lime juice for extra flavor.

Heather

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Filed under Drinks, Entertaining

When Life Gives You Lemons…Make Lemonade!

Ahh, the dog days of summer…the sun is blazing, the sprinklers are sprinkling, and the kids don’t have a care in the world.  A cold and icy  glass of lemonade comes to mind. And I don’t mean the store-bought, fructose-laden, preservative-filled, sickeningly sweet, syrupy, neon yellow lemonade.  I’m talking real lemonade! Make it from scratch.  All you need are lemons, sugar, water and ice!

Joe, Heather and I were shooting at my house one summer day.  I made a fresh batch of lemonade.  We all agreed to take advantage of the beautiful perennials in my backyard and use them as a backdrop to shoot it.  It was a great day. And afterwards, we all sat on my deck and relaxed with refreshing  glass of lemonade.

Here is my recipe.  You can control the sweetness, and you will not believe how much better it is than anything you can buy.  Add a sprig of mint from your garden and you are good to go!!!

as photographed by our team, à la Carte Partners

Cathy’s Fresh Lemonade

Makes  about 7 cups

7 lemons
1 cup sugar
6 cups cold water
ice
fresh mint

– Cut  6 lemons in half and squeeze out juice  to make about 1 cup of juice. Remove any seeds.

– Pour fresh lemon juice and sugar into a large pitcher, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add water, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

– Just before serving, slice remaining lemon.  Add to pitcher with ice and mint.

Tips

– To maximize the amount of juice you get from a lemon,  roll the lemon firmly on counter top before cutting in half .

– Avoid using bottled lemon juice.  The flavor will just not be the same.

– Adjust the sugar to your palate.

– Adding fresh fruit, such as strawberries or raspberries, will add another whole dimension to your lemonade!

– For an adult version, try adding a splash of  flavored vodka!!

Cathy


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Filed under Drinks, Entertaining

Luscious Limoncello

Last week, I enjoyed an unforgettable dinner at Sonny’s on the Avenue, an Italian ristorante in Verona, New Jersey owned by Tommy Malanga and his wife Alyssa Alia, a food stylist, chef, and all-around wonderful person. The meal was amazing from start (those eggplant meatballs!) to the finish (that silky ricotta cake!)

photo courtesy of Eugene Knowles Photography

 

At the end of the meal, when I thought I could not possibly consume even one more small sip or bite, Alyssa presented our table with a basket of fresh biscotti and a frosty bottle of her prized Limoncello. Unable to resist, our table dutifully dipped the biscotti in our glasses of Limoncello. Ah, la dolce vita!

The always gracious Alyssa was kind enough to share her recipe with me so I could post it. Limoncello needs time to age, so get started soon!

Alyssa’s Limoncello

Limoncello is an Italian liqueur made from lemons native to the Amalfi Coast (Capri, Sorrento and Liguria). Limoncello is always served ice cold from the freezer after dinner.

45 large lemons (scrubbed and washed)
2 (750ml) bottles grain alcohol, such as Everclear (151 proof)*
1 (1.75 liters) or 2 (750ml) 80-proof good quality vodka
6 cups bottled or distilled water
8 cups sugar
Large gallon glass jar (such as a Sun-tea jar)

*Due to its high alcohol content, grain alcohol can be hard to find in many areas, and may be illegal in your state. If so, it’s fine to substitute vodka for the grain alcohol.

1. Pour all alcohol in jar.

2. Using vegetable peeler or paring knife, carefully peel off just the yellow skin of the lemons. (It is very important that you do not have any white part left underneath the lemon peels, as this will make the mixture bitter). Try and make the peels as large as you can; this will make it easier to strain the mixture later.

3. Place peels in alcohol.

4. Cover jar tightly and place in a cool (not cold) dark place.

5. Allow mixture to sit for a minimum of 3 weeks or up to 3 months. Stir gently every few days. The longer the lemon peels sit the better the color and flavor. A good readiness test is to take one lemon peel and see if it snaps when you bend it. If it does, it is ready.

6. In large saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Let cool completely.

7. Strain lemon mixture into another glass container, using a large fine mesh strainer and paper coffee filters. (Note: this takes time and is a little messy). Repeat the straining process back into the original glass jar.

8. Add cooled syrup and watch your Limoncello come to life! Return jar to a cool dry place for at least another 2 weeks.   After 2 weeks, pour Limoncello into small bottles and store in refrigerator or freezer for up to 3 months.

9. Limoncello should be served ice cold from the freezer. It’s terrific as a cordial after dinner, and great on vanilla ice-cream.


Tips

– I make a double batch (90 lemons at time—a case of lemons usually has around 90 lemons) and usually start my batches in the summer to give out at Xmas time.

– Limoncello makes a perfect gift. Start saving decorative bottles from inexpensive stores such as Home Goods, Marshals, Target, the Container Store, or the Christmas Tree Shop. Make sure tops are airtight—you can even wax the corks to make sure they are well sealed.

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Filed under Drinks, Entertaining, Restaurants, Reviews