1 Activity + 1 Bite + 1 Sip = Easy Party

Any holiday is busy with church and travel and family so it’s hard to coordinate the fun and have fun yourself.

For Easter this year I decided to schedule an early brunch for our family at a lovely restaurant. This way everyone had time to relax in the afternoon. At 6:00 pm we all convened for an Easter egg hunt for the children, a sandwich platter and age appropriate drinks for all.

Here is a plan that will get you out of the kitchen and into the mix.

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1. An activity: ours was an egg hunt but here are a few ideas for an activity to center around your party

movie night
the playoffs (Buffalo fans, don’t put off having a party just for this :o)
Mother’s Day – have the big kids coordinate a card making party for all of the moms. Think glitter and macaroni.
clothing drive – ask everyone to bring one no longer loved professional outfit to the party and box them by gender and size. Donate them to a job placement center.
game night – you don’t have to stick to the usual ones…have you ever played Candyland with alcohol?

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2. A Bite: I made a sandwich platter. I bought 2 ciabatta loaves and 2 multi grain loaves. Look for bread that will lay flat on both sides when cut in half.
I cut one ciabatta and one multi grain in half lengthwise. I put mayo on both sides and layered a quarter of a pound of provolone cheese, a half a pound of thinly sliced roast beef and sliced tomatoes. I cut the sandwich in quarters then down the middle making eight sandwiches.
Next was prosciutto di parma on ciabatta: i spread pesto on both halves of ciabatta then added a half a pound of thinly sliced prosciutto di parma. On that I spread about 6 ounces of goat cheese. I cut the sandwiches as described above.
The last one was my grilled zucchini Caprese sandwich. You can find it here. http://judethefoodie.com/2013/02/12/grilled-zucchini-caprese-sandwich/
I placed all of the sandwiches on a big plastic platter. Paper plates and paper napkins save time and add to the party theme.

3. A Sip: all you need is one special drink and you have a party. My Easter Punch

20130401-104743.jpgis as easy as can be. Buy a package of frozen mixed berries. Add some to any kind of cool glass (I love these retro dot cups here). Fill the cup about half full with store bought lemonade then complete with sparkling white wine. I used Asti but you can use Prosecco or Champagne.

Give this a try and you actually will enjoy your next party.

Have a yummy day!!
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Congratulations to Colleen Low Larkin who won the March Quick Bite Quick Sip contest.

March theme: Grandma’s Kitchen

“The pies at Mangia Cake and Village Bake Shop, while they’ll never be quite as good as hers remind me of my Grandma Ross-BEST PIES EVER!”

You have won a $25 gift certificate to the Lewiston Village Pub!

Let’s keep the party going. April’s Quick Bite Quick Sip theme is Spring. Head out to your favorite eateries and hang outs and play.

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French Press Chilled Vanilla Latte

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We put Starbucks Veranda blend in a French Press and steeped it for about 10 minutes. We filled a two quart plastic container with ice and poured in the hot brew. To it we added about 2 teaspoons of good vanilla extract and about 2 tablespoons of Organic Agave Nectar. We used a handy milk frother to make our iced latte complete!

Have a yummy day!

Lemon Chiller

20120811-204117.jpgThis drink is very refreshing. It is easy to make:

Fill a highball glass with ice.

Fill halfway with good lemonade, one with pulp.

Pour an inch of Bourbon and top with Lemoncello.

Stir gently. Garnish with mint and a lemon wedge if desired.

Cheers!

20120811-204405.jpgHave a yummy day!

S’more than a Bonfire

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The Foodie:

Last week I had a get-together with six of my sixteen cousins and many of their family (the six who grew up next door and across the street) and there was neither a wedding announcement nor an obituary involved.

You know how it goes … remember how much fun we used to have? We really need to get together. I promise I’ll call. Then we all get so busy we never do.

Well, last week, spur of the moment, I organized a bonfire at my house. We had a blast!

Here is what I did to have a party that I could actually enjoy.

• I organized as much electronically as I could. That means I used Facebook and text messaging as much as possible. Because this came together in just a few days there was no time for formal invitations.
• Buy S’more fixings (wish I had this list before my party … I forgot :o)
• Everyone asked if they could bring something. Sure! A snack or something sweet. Also, I asked them to bring chairs. Those bag chairs are so comfortable and perfect with cup holders. Handy!
• I “dialed” the main course. You just can’t go wrong with pizza and wings.
• Plastic and paper everything.
• I had several drink buckets overfilled with ice. They must have brought a lot of beer because I think I actually put more back in the refrigerator than I purchased that day. No worries … beer never goes to waste around here.
• I placed a plastic storage box for empties next to the drink buckets. I kept a garbage bucket close by with extra bags inside.
• I made one signature drink — a quick sangria. I thought I made a lot. I guess not because it was gone before the ice could melt.

Quick Sangria
(Makes a little less than a gallon)

2 – 1.5 Liter bottles Sangria (I like real but whatever ready-made sangria you enjoy works just fine)
1 – 12 oz. frozen concentrate lemonade
1 – 12 oz. frozen concentrate limeade or other juice (I used white grape and peach on the 4th)
1 – Cup Orange-flavored vodka (I mixed some pear vodka with citron for the bonfire – be creative)
2 – Lemons
4 – Limes

Mix the sangria, juice concentrate and vodka. Add fruit, cut into wedges and lots of ice. Serve in large glasses filled with ice. Enjoy!

When the food was put away and my family back home, I sat by the fire happy that I didn’t over think this get together and truly enjoyed being with people who know me as well as I know myself.

Make some Limoncino for the New Year!

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Four years ago I took a trip to Italy, and one of the first souvenirs I purchased was an apron.

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On it was a recipe for Limoncello, in Italian (Limoncino) and in English (Lemon Liqueur). A little research taught me that Limoncino is a Northern Italian name and Limoncello is Southern Italian. As you might guess, the apron was purchased in Northern Italy. I have stared at that apron for four years and decided to give the recipe a try. I guess it was a leap of faith but what was the worst thing that could happen?

There are a few things worth noting prior to the endeavor. First and most important was to be sure my scale could measure in grams. Yes, it could I am delighted to report. The next thing was to go to the liquor store to find out what alcohol was.

Seriously, no joke, is alcohol vodka or gin or rum? Well, yes it is all of those things, but what my friend Cheryl Butera of Anchor Spirits in Youngstown guided me to was a Polish potato liquor which actually had a lower proof than vodka.

I had a flashback to college where we used to throw bottles of the stuff into a garbage can with Hawaiian Punch and act like kids in college (sorry son, what you are doing now is not original!)…oh back in the day!

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It took about 15-20 minutes to peel the lemons. Be sure not to include any pith because it will make the drink bitter. It was amazing how the lemony yellow color developed over the five days of steeping.

I made the simple sugar as described on the apron but know that I will experiment with other flavors in the future. The first one I think I may try is to add a vanilla bean to the sugar and water mixture to infuse vanilla into the drink. Other ideas include sage and lavender and I am going to use my own fresh herbs.

Here is the recipe:

Lemon Liquor

Wash carefully and dry 1 kg of untreated lemons (it turned out to be 10 lemons), remove the rinds and let them soak in 1 liter of alcohol for 5 days. Prepare a syrup by dissolving 800 grams of sugar in one liter of water, and cool. Mix the syrup with the alcohol and the rinds, and let them stand for 12 hours (I let it stand another day and a half while I looked for cool bottles and corks). Filter and bottle. The liqueur is ready for drinking.

I purchased bottles and corks and know I will start to collect bottles from now on that would make a great gift. For my hair stylist I wrote a description and holiday message on a bottle and shared it with him. I think this may be my go-to gift from now on.

On Sunday, I celebrated Christmas with my family and shared this flute with them as they entered the house.

20120612-073145.jpgYou should keep it in the freezer because it is best served cold. On ice, with a little fresh fruit, or shaken into a lemon drop martini you cannot go wrong with this liqueur.

So, if you start it today or tomorrow you will have something delicious to ring in the New Year.

From my home to yours, blessings at Christmas and always!

Have a yummy week!

Ready for the Derby? Try this menu!

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The Foodie:

Here’s an idea for a Derby Day celebration which is quick and easy — invite a few friends over for this celebration then make reservations at one of the many BelowTheFalls restaurants for a “post” race supper.

For this quick Kentucky Derby celebration I suggest the traditional drink, one quick appetizer and a sweet snack.

Menu: Simple Syrup Mint Juleps, Ham & Cheese Biscuits and Spicy Pecans

I like this Mint Julep recipe best because it uses Simple Syrup. If you make the Simple Syrup in advance you only need to muddle the mint and mix with bourbon and crushed ice before the race. Boil one cup water with one half cup granulated sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool and refrigerate. Use this syrup cold.

Simple Syrup Mint Juleps: Serves 4 (traditional Low Ball glasses are nice but the drink is fun in Martini glasses, too)

20 Mint Sprigs (leaves) – I buy two packages in the herb section of the supermarket (Save 4 pretty leaves for garnish)

In a medium pitcher, muddle (break up with muddler or with a wooden spoon) mint leaves and ¼ cup simple syrup until they are broken and you can smell the mint. Add 10 ounces (1 ¼ cups) of Kentucky bourbon and gently stir. Fill four glasses with crushed or small cubed ice and divide the mixture evenly. Garnish with mint leaves.

Ham & Cheese Biscuits: Prepare a tube of refrigerator biscuits according to package directions and sprinkle about a tablespoon of shredded white cheddar on each biscuit the last five minutes. Cool slightly, split and fill each with slices of thinly shaven country ham from the deli. Place on colorful platter.

Spicy Pecans: In dry skillet, put one bag (12 ounces) pecan halves on medium heat tossing often until toasted. Note: Nuts go from toasted to ruined very quickly so do not walk away. Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup spicy pepper jelly. Spread on parchment paper to cool and serve in a pretty glass bowl.

Don’t forget your hat!

Have a yummy week!