The Vampire Kiss Cocktail

Happy Halloween! Are you guys busy getting ready for a night of trick-or-treating and mischief tonight? I know we are. Last night we put the finishing touches on our costumes, and carved our pumpkins – something that everyone looks forward to. I currently have my seeds drying and are going to roast them today. Then I’m thinking maybe pumpkin seed brittle this weekend!

Since the spooky day fell on a Friday this year, I thought it would be fun to share a Halloween-inspired cocktail. I know a lot of folks are heading out to parties tonight, or hosting one themselves, and this drink is just too much fun!

It’s a pretty simple recipe – vodka, pineapple juice, raspberry puree, and some seltzer water for a little fizzy action to tickle the taste buds. But the real kicker is the creepy blood rim that’s made with just corn syrup and red food coloring. How devilishly delicious!

I hope that everyone has a very festive and Happy Halloween! We’re ready to roam the streets of Chincoteague begging for candy for the first time. So watch out ‘teaguers, we have some little ghouls heading your way tonight. Everyone be safe, and have a great weekend!

Vampire Kiss Cocktails

1 cup vodka
2 cups pineapple juice
2 Tbsp raspberry puree*
1 cup seltzer water
ice

For the blood rim:
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp red food coloring

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher or carafe. Stir to combine well.

Combine the corn syrup and the food coloring until well blended in a shallow bowl. Gently dip the rim of the wine glass slightly into the “blood”, then fill with ice. Fill glasses up with the mixed cocktail and serve.

* To make raspberry puree, combine 1/2 cup fresh raspberries with 1 tsp. granulated sugar in a food processor. Blend until smooth, then push through a fine-mesh strainer to remove large pieces of pulp and seeds.

Blueberry Thyme Gin Smash

Can you guys believe it’s Memorial Day weekend already? Seems like this year is just flying by. Which, is fine by me – I’m tired of the harsh cold we’ve had all winter long. My poor rosemary bush kicked the bucket, she’s gotta be 10 years old – I transplanted her here from our townhouse on Chincoteague when we moved 7 years ago. One too many hard ground freezes I suppose…

At any rate, I’m looking forward to sunny days at the beach and sandbar sooner rather than later. And this cocktail is perfect for warmer weather. A simple syrup is made with fresh blueberries, fresh thyme, sugar and water. Then the blueberry concoction is mixed with gin, St. Germain, and club soda for a little bubbly flair.

It’s a wonderful combination of sweetness from the blueberries, herb notes from the elderflower liquor and the fresh thyme, and a crispness from the gin and twist of lemon. Very light  and refreshing.Garnished with a few fresh berries and a sprig of thyme – it doesn’t get any prettier!

I used Prairie Gin, it’s lighter in flavors than many other gins I’ve tried – but still great notes of juniper berries which is perfect in this cocktail. They were kind enough to send me a bottle of their gin, as well as one of their vodkas – and I’m looking forward to doing more experimentation at the bar with them!

Be sure to stop by on Monday for another awesome blueberry recipe and a great giveaway to go along with it! I hope that everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend!

Blueberry Thyme Gin Smash

Disclaimer: I received a bottle from Prairie Organic Spirits for review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Red Wine Cupcakes

A couple of months ago, my friends at Avalon Winery asked me to come up with a recipe to promote their new cooking contest for this year. If you’ll remember, they sent me to the Charleston Food & Wine Festival last year to compete in their America’s Greatest Foods Recipe Challenge. I didn’t win, I came in last actually (hey, some people can’t handle the idea of fish served with red, even when chorizo is involved – what are you going to do?) but after that trip – visiting the city of Charleston for the first time, meeting such influential chefs like The Lee Brothers and the great Art Smith (he asked me where to get a cup of coffee, y’all – and then he went to that coffee shop the whole time he was in town!), getting drunk with Kelly Liken, and making some new friends… I came out a winner in the end anyway!

So when they offered to send me a few bottles of their delicious Cabernet Sauvignon to develop a recipe with, of course I jumped at the offer. Guys, it’s seriously one of the best reds you’ll find for the price point. For under $10 a bottle, it really can’t be beat. Rich and fruity, with all kinds of delicious berry notes going on. Rolls right off the tongue, with very few harsh tannins that tend to come along with red wines. It’s available nationally, I always have luck finding it at Whole Foods (if your Whole Foods carries wine that is!). But, if you can’t find it – definitely ask your local wine distributor to carry it. I promise that you won’t be disappointed!

I ended up making two dishes with the bottle I opened…since I can’t do much drinking of the stuff at the moment due to baby #3. The first of which was more traditional, and I plan to share with you guys soon – then there were these cupcakes. Red wine and chocolate pair so well together anyways, I thought a cupcake wasn’t too far of a fetch. Boy, do I love being right!

The batter was absolutely beautiful…light and fluffy, and baked up gorgeous! For the frosting I went  the traditional route, used my simple vanilla buttercream with a bit of the wine added to it for flavor and a tint of color. It was definitely unlike any cupcake I’d had before, but still absolutely delicious. I loved how the acidity of the wine cut the sweetness of the frosting. And, of course the color was lovely!

These cupcakes would most definitely be perfect for your Valentine, and they’re something different that friends and family probably haven’t seen before – but will most certainly be intrigued by. I hope you guys enjoy, and a big thanks to Avalon for giving me an excuse to make them!

Lavender Lemonade

The neighborhood sharing program continues here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. My girlfriend and neighbor Colleen bought me 3 gorgeous bundles of fresh lavender from her garden last week. I gave one bundle to my other girlfriend, evidently lavender is good for the hen house. Then, the other bundles I got a little crafty with, and put into vases. However, now that I’ve discovered the simple equation of lavender + sugar + water = lavender simple syrup, I’m not sure how long I’ll have them around for decoration. Which is a shame, because it’s so damn pretty!

But this lemonade. Oh my. It’s so different and delicious, I know that I’ll be drinking it all summer long. The lavender is not overpowering, and the tart lemon still definitely shines through. It’s such a perfect balance. And how lovely is it in a tall glass filled with ice, and a little sprig of lavender for garnish? The only thing that would make it lovelier is a splash of vodka or gin. Now, please excuse me while I go plant a lavender bush. Then I’ll harvest it next year, and channel my inner Joan Crawford.