Tuesday, December 30, 2014

no place like home for the holidays

How is that Christmas comes and goes so fast? We had a great time in Pennsylvania, celebrating with family and friends, eating and drinking too much and just enjoying the comforts of home. This is the first year we have been home for Christmas since we got married! A few holiday treats to share...
sour cherries (either fresh or canned - cans are roughly 14.5 ounces)
Maraschino liquor
You will need about 1 cup of liquor for a pint (or can of cherries). If using canned cherries (which I did), rinse in a colander. Bring liquor to a boil, add cherries, remove from heat and allow to cool. The cherries are much tastier than the jarred variety at the grocery store. Keep cherries in the refrigerator and enjoy for the next few months on your sundaes or in your favorite cocktail. 
Speaking of cocktails - try your cherry in an apple & bourbon cocktail.
1-2 shots of bourbon
apple cider
Stir together with ice and garnish with lemon peel and a cherry.

Before we left for the holiday, I had a luncheon with some of my Nashville girlfriends. We had Ina's butternut squash soup and some delicious almond chicken salad. This recipe looks a bit festive with the red grapes, and it is delicious in a sandwich or atop fresh greens.
4 chicken breasts, bone-in and skin on
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
extra S&P for seasoning chicken
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup roughly chopped almonds
1 cup red grapes, halved
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/3 cup honey
1 and 1/3 cup Hellman's Olive Oil Mayonnaise
3-4 celery stalks, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and season with S&P. Assemble on a baking dish and bake for about 45-55 minutes until cooked. While chicken cools, mix together mayo, honey, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Remove chicken skin and shred chicken into a large mixing bowl. Add celery, nuts and mayo mixture - stirring to incorporate. Add in grapes and mix gently. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes at least 6 servings.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

a snowed in Thanksgiving

A belated Thanksgiving post!
We headed to meet family in Asheville, North Carolina for Thanksgiving this year - where winter had arrived already. We stayed in a fantastic cabin in the Smokey Mountains at Wolf Ridge Ski Resort, about 30 minutes north of Asheville. 

On Friday, we enjoyed downtown Asheville - so many good spots to eat and drink!
Vance, Grandma-ma Helen & Kayla at Salsa's for lunch.
Peter with him pom-pom-pom for lunch.

Vance & his memorial.
Enjoyed exploring a few great breweries including Lexington Avenue Brewery, Wicked Weed and Asheville Brewing Company. We also toured the Biltmore and had a great brunch at Corner Kitchen in Biltmore Village. 
Of course, we also visited French Broad Chocolates
The weather actually ended up keeping us in our cabin on Thanksgiving day so we dined on pasta bar with a few sauces I had frozen in the fall. It was no turkey dinner but still hit the spot. Getting up the mountain - in the snow - and darkness - and ice - and wind - was on the stressful side, but it made me realize that the most important thing is just being together. Doesn't really matter what you eat or where - just spending Thanksgiving with family was great. But...I am craving a nice holiday turkey dinner and can't wait until Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

thankful for maple & apple & more

It was a great Thanksgiving - more on that soon. Here is how I started the long weekend...
maple applejack cocktail
1 ounce good maple syrup
3 ounces Applejack
squeeze of lemon wedge
2-3 dashes Agnostura bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a well-chilled martini glass and garnish with lemon peel. 
This cocktail isn't overly sweet because of the citrus and bitters. A bit of orange, in place of lemon, would be delicious also.
Hope Thanksgiving 2014 was great!