Cocktail of the month: Robin’s New Year’s Antioxidant Cocktail

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Each new year brings a plethora of resolutions about getting healthy via diet and/or exercise. I never, ever keep them, so I no longer bother making resolutions. But you’ll notice all sorts of commercials on tv, the Internet, you name it, that feature healthy eating. Bring on the kale, the celebrity-endorsed diet systems, the gym memberships, right? Nope. But I will concede, that foods rich in antioxidants are not only healthy, but taste good. So in the spirit (pun intended) of good intentions, here’s my take on a cocktail rich in antioxidants that can lessen your guilt…slightly.

This is based on a recipe from sweetpaulmag.com – with my modifications. You can find the original recipe here. Where are the antioxidants? They’re in the blueberries! They also make a gorgeously-colored cocktail.

If you can’t find Peach Punch (Minute Maid makes some), you could try using apple juice, or any type of slightly-sweet juice that suits your palate. Then you taste the fruit, not just sugar.

Also note that you can make up a bunch of the blueberry-infused juice, refrigerate it, and create your cocktail later on. I deliberately created this using frozen blueberries, since fresh blueberries aren’t that prevalent during the winter months.

Robin's New Year's Antioxidant Cocktail
 
Prep time
Cook time
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A lovely, fruity cocktail bursting with blueberry (antioxidant) goodness!
Author:
Recipe type: beverage
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup Peach Punch
  • ½-1 oz. vodka (to taste)
  • ice
  • lemon slice
Instructions
  1. Put blueberries and peach punch in a saucepan, bring to a boil.
  2. Simmer for 5 minutes, let cool.
  3. Strain liquid into a jar or glass.
  4. Add ice and vodka to a shaker, pour in blueberry liquid. Shake well.
  5. Pour into ice-filled glass. Garnish with lemon slice.

 

 

Cheater’s Latkes

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We had to celebrate Hanukkah late this year; we didn’t have both of our girls home until the 19th. But it’s better late than never, and part of the celebration always includes Cheater’s Latkes (potato pancakes).

I’ve been making these for many years, and was highly amused when one of my favorite food bloggers, Chungah An at damndelicious.net, blogged back in October about her way to make Easy Potato Pancakes. There are some definite similaries between our two recipes. (Do explore her blog; I’ve made a number of recipes from it, and ALL of them have been wonderful.) I have to say, however, that mine came out of an overwhelming need to be lazy. Grating potatoes (with or without onions) is not my idea of a good time. It takes forever, and if I have to go through that much bother just to prep them, I won’t make them. Hence, Cheater’s Latkes.

Do not assume that these are healthy for you in any way, shape, or form. My mother reduces oil in her latkes to almost nothing by baking them in the oven. They are ok, but not what I expect from a latke. If you don’t use a lot of oil, why are you bothering making them for Hanukkah? It’s the oil holiday, and what better way to commemorate it than to fry, fry, fry? I figure I’ll just do this once a year, and be sure to take my Lipitor. Fried potatoes, what’s not to love? (Also note that I do not use onions in this recipe. Years ago, I remember my mother complaining that all the oil and onions were heartburn-producing, so my Uncle Irving suggested baking the latkes and using onion powder instead. I’ve just adopted the onion powder.)

So how do I get around that pesky grating of potatoes task? Use thawed, frozen shredded hash browns. Any brand will do. I’m also too lazy to crack a bunch of eggs, so I used egg substitute. (I’m not plugging the brand, any carton of liquid eggs will do.) Measurements are also not my strongest suit, particularly with this recipe, so the measurements I’ll use are mostly approximations. Nothing is cast in stone, a little more or less of any of the ingredients will work just fine.

Here’s what you need:

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(Plus flour, somehow that didn’t make it into the photo. )

I almost never make this in reasonable quantities, I typically use 2 or 3 bags of shredded hash browns because I need to feed family and guests, elementary school classes, and co-workers.

Add flour to the hash browns.

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Next add the egg substitute.

033Add onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. Stir well. If you find that the potato mixture is too wet, you can add more flour, or use a slotted spoon when you go to fry the latkes. (If you like ground pepper, this would be the time to add some. I typically don’t.)

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This is what three bags of potatoes looks like. I’ll include my standard recipe for 2 bags, which will still feed an army. This metal bowl is the largest bowl I own.

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Heat up a frying pan and add about 1/4″ of oil. I use canola oil. Drop potato mixture by heaping spoonfuls (I just use our standard soup spoons) into the hot oil. Be careful, splattering is likely. Flatten each latke down with the back of the spoon.

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Once the latkes start to turn brown on the bottom, carefully flip them over. Remove when both sides are equally browned, and place on paper towels to drain. Looks pretty inviting, huh?

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My friend Elaine actually fried this batch; we figure that since she’s part Irish, her potato-related skills are genetic. She is also more meticulous than I am, and these latkes turned out to be fairly uniform in size and stunningly beautiful. Use paper towels between each layer of latkes when you remove them from the oil.

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It was a rather LARGE batch …something like the Leaning Tower of Latkes.

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Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream. I like both.

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Cheater's Latkes
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
The ultimate fried for Hanukkah and beyond. It's great as a main dish or a side dish.
Author:
Cuisine: Jewish
Serves: enough to feed a small country
Ingredients
  • 2 bags shredded hash browns
  • 1 pint container egg substitute
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • canola oil
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients except oil together in a large bowl.
  2. Heat a frying pan, add about ¼" of canola oil.
  3. When oil is hot, drop potato mixture by spoonfuls into the pan.
  4. Turn latkes over when bottoms are golden brown.
  5. Cook other side of latkes to the same doneness.
  6. Continue cooking the rest of the potato mixture the same way, adding more oil as necessary.
  7. Remove latkes to paper towel-lined plate. You can stack them up as long as you put paper towels between layers.
  8. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

 

Cocktail of the Month: Hanukkah Champagne Cocktail

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‘Tis the season for fried food. Here we are, in the middle of Hanukkah, where all things fried in oil are a delight. (Ok, MOST things fried in oil are a delight.) The problem with matching an alcoholic beverage with oily foods is that you don’t want to add any sort of heaviness to the meal. (It’s already heavy enough!) What I have found, however, is that fizzy beverages tend to cut the fattiness of the food. Naturally, my favorite fizzy beverage is Champagne. But what to make that is great for this holiday….a riff on the classic Champagne cocktail!

The classic Champagne cocktail contains a bitters-soaked sugar cube with some cognac, and topped with champagne. I opted to do something a little different to reflect my tastes a bit more. I love beautiful colors, and fruity flavors in my cocktails, so here’s my version of a Champagne cocktail, just in time for Hanukkah. Here’s what I used:

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Cocktail of the Month: Hanukkah Champagne Cocktail
 
Author:
Serves: 1 serving
Ingredients
  • 1 part vodka
  • ½ part Blue Curacao
  • 2 parts Champagne
  • Maraschino cherry
Instructions
  1. Add the vodka and Curacao to a champagne flute, top with champagne, and add a cherry (or more than one cherry) to garnish. If I didn't want to keep the blue color, I'd have added a little of the cherry juice. Given blue and white are classic colors for Hanukkah, I kept the drink as blue as possible.

That’s it! Quick, easy, and festive. This definitely goes down a lot easier than Lipitor with your latkes. Happy Hanukkah!

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101 Things to Do in 1001 Days – 6 Month Update

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(Image courtesy of catiworld.wordpress.com)

Those of you who know me well know of my pathological need to create lists and cross things off them. This is a trait I inherited from my dad. I come from a long line of list makers, and the rush that I get from crossing items off my To Do lists is indescribable. About 6 months ago, I posted a list of 101 Things to Do in 1001 Days. I figured it was time to report back on what I HAVE been able to accomplish. How am I doing?

Crossed-out text indicates a completed task (some of them have completion dates next to them. Sorry for the inconsistency). Items added in blue are parts or the entirety of sub-lists, which should be fairly apparent. I am hopeful that with the start of the new year, I can make some real headway on the rest. (The holiday season is a total wash that way. I’m lucky if I can get laundry done!)

READING/WRITING

  1.       Join a book club
  2.       Put together lunch cookbook
  3.       Blog twice a week for 3 months
  4.       Read 35 books
    1.   Still Life with Breadcrumbs
    2.   The Good Luck of Right Now
    3.   Small Victories
    4.   The Invention of Wings
    5.   China Dolls
    6. After the Flood
    7. The Children’s Crusade
    8. Delicious!
  5.       Organize writing samples
  6.       Go through all the blogging pins I’ve saved on Pinterest

Cooking

  1.    Try 5 new veggies/fruits from the farmer’s market (Romano beans,
  2.    Learn to make dumplings (dim sum)
  3.    Make Cioppino
  4.   Make/can chow chow
  5.   Make a new-for-me cocktail once a month for 12 months
  6.   Make tamales
  7.   Make mozzarella cheese with Elaine

CULTURE

  1.   Go to the Schulz Museum
  2.   Go to the Steinbeck Museum 6/21/15
  3.   Go to the Computer History Museum
  4.   Visit art museum in Santa Clara
  5.   Visit the Jewish Museum in SF
  6.   Visit the DeYoung museum
  7.   See 3 concerts (Kelly Clarkson/Pentatonix,
  8.   See 5 local bands play live (Sage, Ric Hines and the Ones, Tortilla Soup, OTR, Misspent Youth )

PARTY

  1.   Host a tapas party
  2.   Host a sushi dinner party
  3.   Host a dinner for cul-de-sac neighbors
  4.   Host a paella party
  5.   Organize VRS reunion

SELF-IMPROVEMENT

  1.   Do one really well executed push up
  2.   Walk a 10K for charity
  3.   Squat and balance on balls of feet and then stand up again
  4.   Learn Spanish (conversational)
  5.   Learn to swim (better)
  6.   Learn to jump a car battery
  7.   Learn to use a power drill
  8.   Try all the workouts I’ve saved on Pinterest
  9.   Take another archery class
  10.   Finish a crossword puzzle
  11.   Learn to play Charlie Brown song on the piano

OUTINGS

  1.   Try 4 new restaurants in SF
  2.   Go to Passport Day in the Santa Cruz Mountains
  3.   Visit Alice’s Restaurant
  4.   Explore places from Hwy 17 book
  5.   Tour the Recycling Center
  6.   Go to a wine/painting class (11/22/15)
  7.   See the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo
  8.   Explore a garden I’ve never been to
  9.   Romantic dinner at Bella Vista (closed)
  10.   Try 5 new restaurants with new-to-me ethnicities Belgian (Mussel Bar) (Burmese? Moroccan? Ethiopian? Nepalese?

TRAVEL

  1.   Plan Napa or Sonoma weekend
  2.   Have a romantic dinner in Paris with LJ
  3.   Implement Napa or Sonoma weekend
  4.   Plan a road trip on Route 66 with Margo

TECHNICAL GEEKERY

  1.   Consolidate all digital photos onto one computer
  2.   Back up all digital photos onto external hard drive
  3.   Back up all digital photos onto Flickr
  4.   Create yearly photo albums (snapfish?)
  5.   iPhone photo course
  6.   Learn iPhone editing software
  7.   Get all files off rosebridge and onto laptop
  8.   Update LinkedIn profile
  9.   Get all blog plugins to work properly

CRAFTY BITS

  1.   Make a table runner for the 4th of July
  2.   Make a table runner for Spring
  3.   Make a table runner for Valentine’s Day
  4.   Learn to use serger
  5.   Make backyard travel signage
  6.   Finish ancient embroidery project

SPORTING EVENTS

  1.   See the Penguins play in person (12/1/15)
  2.   See the Orioles play in person again
  3.   See a soccer game in person

HOUSE/GARDEN

  1.   Sand down/refurbish deck
  2.   Get serial numbers off 2 fans and contact Casablanca
  3.   Clean out closets
  4.   Look into Vonage versus Magicjack
  5.   Get rid of swing set and old stairs 6/11/15
  6.   Investigate laundry to landscape (greywater) Currently not cost cost effective
  7.   Investigate rainwater irrigation for rose garden
  8.   Redo corner of the yard
  9.   Create outdoor movie space
  10.   Get a dust buster for the living room

MEDIA

  1.   Watch Breaking Bad
  2.   Watch Game of Thrones
  3.   Watch House of Cards
  4.   Watch Orange is the New Black
  5.   See all academy award nominees before the 2016 awards
  6.   Watch a TED talk
  7.   Watch 5 documentary films
  8.   Find and watch 5 televised concerts (Pete Townshend’s Quadrophenia,

NOT FOR ME

  1.   Perform 10 random acts of spoilage
  2.   Donate blood
  3.   Find large print word searches for Mom 7/14/15

REALLY RANDOM STUFF

  1.   Replace the zipper pulls on all the luggage
  2.   Trying using a diffuser at night (10/29/15)
  3.   Fix pearl earrings    
  4.   Find the most ridiculously named nail polish and try it (Hands Off My Kielbasa)
  5.   Bake cookies with friends’ kids
  6.   Get a new bathing suit 6/1/15
  7.   Send in 23 me test 6/15/15
  8.   Find a new board game to play
  9.   Do some genealogical research (talk to cousins Alan and David)
  10.   Create a flower arrangement a month for 6 months

GOOD FOR THE SOUL

101.Attend Friday night services twice a month for 3 months  

So what do you think? How are you coming with YOUR To Do lists? Got any suggestions for how I can make better headway on these? I’d love to hear from you.

Cocktail of the month (June): Summer Solstice Dawn

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I’m very much a Cosmo kind of girl. I love fruity cocktails with beautiful colors. But sometimes I want to try something a little different. In the course of my Internet travels I stumbled upon a fantastic site: thisgirlwalksintoabar.com. It covers all sorts of cocktails, and one that really struck my eye just so happened to be appropriate for June and the Summer Solstice. Plus, it’s pink and fruity, so what’s not to love?

Here’s what you need for this summery libation:

077Note: the original recipe called for Patron Reposado. I didn’t have that, so I used Silver. I suspect that Reposado would impart a more mellow flavor.

Another thing I learned with this cocktail is that having just the right size of barware is really helpful. Apparently I lack the proper size of highball glass! Fortunately I am not too proud to just experiment with different sized glasses, and if the end result is a little too large, what the heck. The drink is still beautiful and delicious.

078(Should have known just from the 1/2 shot of Grenadine that this highball glass was going to be too small. But I had to try to add all the other ingredients and fail in an epic manner before giving up and finding another glass.)

Also note that the color of mine might be a tiny bit different than the end result because the only grapefruit juice I could find at my local store was Ruby Red. I suspect the cocktail might have turned out a little more orange if I had used regular grapefruit juice.

Despite all of these issues, the drink tasted really nice. Very summery, very fruity, not too sweet. Perfect for a gathering of friends. I suspect the Reposado might have made it even better than the Silver Tequila, but sometimes you just have to use what you’ve got around. (I now have a several year supply of grapefruit juice, in zip-top bags holding 1 cup each, in my freezer. Just in case.)

Here’s the recipe:

 

Cocktail of the month (June): Summer Solstice Dawn
 
Fruity and summery, this cocktail is great for the warm-weather months.
Author:
Recipe type: cocktail
Ingredients
  • 2 oz. Patron Silver
  • ½ oz. Grenadine
  • 1 oz. Grapefruit Juice
  • 1 oz. Orange Juice
  • Champagne
Instructions
  1. Add crushed ice to a glass. Then add to that glass the following, in order: grenadine, tequila, grapefruit juice, orange juice, and top with however much champagne you like. You will probably notice the beautiful colors of the dawn sky in your glass! Stir, if you like.

Happy Summer Solstice (a little late)!

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