Sweet Ginger Lemon Drop Martini

On grey winter days that aren’t chilly enough to bring snow but aren’t warm enough to enjoy being outside, I find myself looking for sunshine any place I can find it. I believe this is what has lead to the recent run on trying out new lemon martini concoctions. A dash of bright sunshine in a sugar rimmed martini glass helps to bring out warm, rosie cheeks and a smile.

The Sweet Ginger Lemon Drop is a twist on the classic and the secret ingredient is Crater Lake’s Sweet Ginger Vodka produced by our local Bend Distillery. If you haven’t tried this yet, you’re missing out. It adds a flavor layer that compliments the simple Lemon Drop boosting it to a new level of sophistication.

The original recipe is courtesy of CraterLakeSpirits.com

Sweet Ginger Lemon Drop Martini
Sweet Ginger Lemon Drop Martini

Sweet Ginger Lemon Drop Martini Recipe

Fresh Lemons

Sugar

Crater Lake Sweet Ginger Vodka

Ice

Dissolve equal amounts of table sugar into heated water to make simple syrup. I make enough to last several days with 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Extra can be kept covered in the refrigerator for a few days. Sugar must be completely dissolved or liquid will be grainy. Refrigerate until cool.

Chill martini glass in freezer. Save a wedge of the lemon for garnish, then squeeze remaining lemons to make 2 oz of juice – one medium ripe lemon should do it. Rim chilled martini glass with lemon wedge and then dip in granulated sugar to creat sugared rim.

Fill cocktail shaker with 1-2 cups of ice, add the 2oz fresh lemon juice to shaker with 2 oz of Sweet Ginger Vodka and 1.5 oz of simple syrup sugar mix. Shake until outside of shaker begins to frost then strain into prepared martini glass.

Garnish with lemon wedge and enjoy!

Do you have a variation of the classic lemon drop martini that is note worthy?  Leave me a message, I’d love to give it a try!

Sweet Ginger Lemon Drop Martini
Sweet Ginger Lemon Drop Martini

Lemon Dream Martini

If you wish you could wrap your fingers around a lemon dreamsicle, this is a martini for you! It’s not quite as tart as a lemon drop, not as sweet as limoncello and the cream is the perfect addition.

Lemon Dream Martini

Lemon Dream Martini 

1.5 ounces Lemon Vodka

1.5 ounces Limoncello

3 ounces of half and half or cream

1-2 teaspoons of frozen lemonade concentrate

Lemon Drop rimming sugar or crushed lemon drop candies

Fresh Sliced Lemons

Ice

Slice lemons and use one to rim top of martini glass, then dip in lemon drop rimming sugar. Place in freezer. In cocktail shaker, add generous amount of ice. I fill mine 1/2 to 3/4 of the way with fresh ice. Add 1-2 heaping spoons of frozen lemonade concentrate, limoncello, vodka and cream. Cover. Shake until frost begins to form on outside of shaker. Pour into chilled glass. Garnish with a fresh lemon slice. I like to give mine a squeeze before floating the lemon on top.  Enjoy!

If you want this more tart, squeeze in more lemon juice. Control the sweetness by adding or subtracting lemonade concentrate or limoncello. Want a stronger cocktail? Cut back on cream or half and half.  Need a lighter version?  Use 2% or whole milk instead of cream.

Lemon Dream Martini

I’d love to hear what you think of this cocktail! I’m also completely open to better name suggestions, drop me a comment!

Me, Martha Stewart and Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

If you know me, you know I’m a big Martha Stewart fan.  I love that she’s a bit fussy and a perfectionist that doesn’t apologize for who she is or what she does.  She’s a stickler for etiquette and tradition.  She’s uncomfortably honest and, frankly, the woman works her tail off.  She built an empire, went to prison, lost her empire, rebuilt her life and never seemed to skip a beat.  I admire that strength.  I respect that stubborn streak.  I’m in awe of that self-perseverance.

I use to record her daily show.  I would watch an episode after a long night of work in the ER when I came home in the morning just before I went to sleep.  It got my mind off of work and I’d usually pick up a really helpful tip or two.  She’s also overwhelmingly entertaining, though I’m still not 100% certain it was completely intentional.  I could relax, giggle and learn a few things, but there was something about my connection that went a little deeper than the obvious.

I grew up in a subdivision on just under an acre of property.  We had dogs, chickens and cats – but the 2 chickens belonged to my sister and other than dropping food scraps into their pen on occasion, I knew nothing about them.  I grew up, moved into an apartment in town and lived within a mile of the hospital I worked.  I practically shared a parking lot with Costco and a grocery store was at the end of my street.  I wouldn’t necessarily say that daily living was easy – but it most certainly was convenient.

Then I got married and we built a home on a 160 acre farm in rural America.  Life changed.  I had cows and farm equipment and irrigation water.  We raised hay.  We had dial-up Internet that dropped the signal when a bird landed on the phone line.  I went from being an independent, single woman; tucked away in a 720 sq ft apartment where everything I could possibly need was within a 10 minute drive – to being a new wife, in an empty oversized house, on a huge piece of land, almost 15 miles away from the nearest Starbuck’s.

It was a bit overwhelming to say the least.  I was very fortunate and grateful but this new life was also very intimidating.  It came with a long “To Do” list and most of it I had to teach myself.  If you’ve ever had to do that before, you know it meant making mistakes until I got it right.  I can’t tell you how many lessons I learned the hard way.  I was young in my nursing career, too.  Nothing was familiar and feelings of inadequacy crept into my world almost daily.  I think I spent a solid 10 years second guessing myself about nearly everything.

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That’s where watching Martha’s program came in.

Martha Stewart had a mystical way of making me feel a little less overwhelmed.  She had a farm, an impeccable garden, cooked formal meals for long guest lists, ran her own businesses, did crafts, hosted events, filmed a daily show and still found time to show up at over the top events, shows and new restaurant openings.  She reminded me that if one woman could manage all of those things at the same time, I could handle juggling the few things I had going on in comparison.  She had teams of people helping her.  I stopped feeling the need to “do it all on my own” and I got much more comfortable asking for help.  It’s a bit silly that I could get all of that from a stranger on the TV, but it worked and when you’re in the trenches, you use what works.

Martha taught me how to raise chickens, cook chicken noodle soup from scratch, bake some of the best brownies I’ve ever made, roast a badass turkey, clarify butter, prepare my own yogurt and grow a garden that I could be proud of.  She shared tips on creating an inviting home, making a pretty bed and how to keep those towels crisp and absorbent (for the love of cotton, do NOT use fabric softener on towels!).

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I miss Martha but I still catch her on her blog from time to time.  We’ve been on the farm nearly 15 years now, so I’ve figured out a few more things than I knew in the beginning.  What was once foreign is now familiar and less overwhelming.  I let Martha stick to perfectionism and I do the best I can but don’t get hung up on the details that fall apart at the last minute.

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I was hoping to catch a glimpse of her during our New York visit but she was working on a project upstate.  It’s just as well.  I can almost imagine how the awkward introduction would go.  I’d embarrass myself by professing my admiration and she would smile her appropriate smile and uncomfortably thank me for my support in a stiff Martha-esque manner.  I’d feel like a freak and spend the plane ride home wondering why I couldn’t have said something more intelligent.

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So that’s my Martha story.  It came to mind today after I finally nailed a recipe for her Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting.  Of course, I tweaked a few things – less jam, more egg whites — my hens’ eggs are medium sized – so I adjust recipes for them.  I used the buttercream to frost my mom’s birthday cupcakes and it was probably a little too rich to top the cupcakes with as much as I used but it got decent reviews from some tough critics.  My nephews said it tasted like a strawberry milkshake but was a bit too fluffy for their liking.  I think it would be a perfect addition to a strawberry shortcake parfait cup.

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Swiss Meringue Buttercream combines egg whites, sugar and butter.  The strawberry comes from a scoop of strawberry jam.

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You start by whisking the sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl heated over boiling water to heat the mixture to about 160 degrees – then remove it from heat and whisk it to form stiff peaks.  Keep beating until mixture cools, then add tablespoon ny tablespoon of butter.

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After about 6 minutes, the mixture comes together.  Add the vanilla and strawberry jam and you’re done.

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The perk to this frosting is that it’s not quite as sweet as tradition buttercream frosting, and it’s much lighter, so piping it is a quick and easy task.  It holds it’s shape well, hardening when stored at cool temperatures, but it softens quickly at room temps.

I used:

6 medium egg whites

1 1/4 cup sugar

3 butter cubes

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 large scoop of strawberry jam

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The link to Martha’s recipe with perfect pics and instructions is below:

Martha Stewart’s Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Key Lime Martini

It’s light and frothy.  It’s not too sweet, not too tart and so easy to make.  It’s the perfect martini to sip on the deck on a warm evening.  Move over Lemon Drop – there’s a new drink in town!
2 oz Vanilla vodka
2 oz fresh squeezed lime
2 oz half and half or cream
2 heaping teaspoons powdered sugar
Fill shaker with ice.
Add ingredients.
Shake until ice crystals form on shaker.
Pour into martini glass rimmed with fresh lime.
Garnish with a sprinkle of lime zest if you must.
This is a simple cocktail.  Less is more.
Enjoy!

Stuffed Portabello Mushroom Caps

Fresh eggs have returned to the farm!

With the increased number of eggs, comes the hunt for new ways to use them.  This was an incredible find and definitely share worthy. Portabello caps, a drizzle of speciality olive oils, fresh eggs with golden yolks and garden fresh basil roasted to perfection.  We had fresh mozzarella on the side, tonight, but I think next time we will shred it right on top before roasting.

What you will need:
Portabello mushrooms, washed and dried with stems removed
Eggs
Olive oil with rosemary
Olive oil infused with black truffle
Fresh basil
Thyme, dried
Pepper
Sea salt
Cover baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Place mushroom caps and drizzle lightly with both olive oils.  (A hint here: a few drops of the flavor infused oil goes a long way, don’t over-do it.)  Crack egg in separate dish, then pour gently into mushroom cap without breaking yolk.  (This is easy with fresh eggs.). Large Portabellos will take more than one egg.  Our eggs are still small so we used 2-3 for each cap.  Add fresh basil, sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.  Place in 300 degree oven for 12-25 minutes depending on size of mushrooms and filling.  We cooked them long enough to cook the yolks through.  The bigger mushrooms did accumulate a bit of moisture in the cap as the mushroom cooked down, I simply drained it before placing on the serving dish.
This is great for a hearty meal on a meatless night.  I am already thinking of foods to add for variations of it – sautéed asparagus spears?  Bacon?  Sun roasted tomatoes?  Capers served with cool cucumber sauce on the side?  Oh yes!  This is a good one!
These are my olive oil favorites.  The truffle oil is difficult to find outside of a specialty gourmet shop (or Amazon) and a peek at the price tag may send you in the opposite direction with empty hands thinking that it’s not worth it. I’m here to tell you, it’s worth every cent and a little goes a long way. There is a reason the spice trade has been going on since 3000 BC – spices, herbs and seasoning turn “average” into AMAZING.  Be brave, take risks, try new tastes.

Blueberry Lemon Cake Martini

It’s “just enough” sweet balanced with the perfect amount of tart.  It quenches your thirst but leaves you wanting more.  It advances a fruity foo foo cocktail to the next level and adds a twist of sophistication.  Move over Cosmopolitan.  (Insert wink here.)

1 part Three Olives Cake Vodka
2 parts Simply Lemonade with Blueberry
Lemon slice to garnish
Rim chilled martini glass with squeeze of fresh lemon.  Add vodka and juice to shaker over liberal amounts of ice.  Shake vigorously, until frost appears on outside of shaker.  Pour into martini glass and garnish with fresh lemon slice.  Enjoy!

Crockpot Broccoli Beer Cheese Soup with Bacon

1 package of bacon, cut into small pieces

1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of garlic, minced
6 tablespoons of flour
2 cans of evaporated milk (12 ounces each)
1 bottle of Black Butte Porter
3 cups of chicken broth
5 cups of broccoli florets, stems removed
16 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of cream or half & half
Salt
Pepper
Garnish: spoonful of sour cream and finely sliced green onions
Sauté bacon until cooked, drain off most of the fat from the pan but leave 2-3 tablespoons.  Add onions. Continue cooking over medium heat until translucent then add minced garlic.  Continue over medium heat, stirring often.  Add flour 2 tablespoons at a time and stir into paste.  Slowly add evaporated milk and stir until well combined.  Add half the Porter slowly and incorporated over low heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Chop broccoli florets into bite sized pieces and put into crockpot.  Cover with remaining beer, broth and then slowly pour rest of mixture over the broccoli.  Set crockpot on high and cook stirring occasionally for 3-4 hours.
Turn crockpot to warm (or off), add butter, cream and grated cheese stirring in to incorporate.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top with a sprinkle of green onions.

Triple Chocolate Porter Cupcakes?! Yes!

Want to add a little depth to a cake box cupcake?  Add some adult flavor to an old favorite?  Easy peasy!
Replace the water in any cake box mix recipe (I used Betty Crocker’s Triple Chocolate Fudge) with your favorite Porter or Stout.  Kona’s Pipeline Porter has the added layer of Kona coffee.  I also split the oil measurement with half sour cream and half olive oil for a bit more tang and to add density. The only thing I kept the same was the number of eggs I added.
Easy, chocolate and Porter.  Three of my favorite words.  I don’t know if they will last long enough to frost!

Crockpot Pork Tenderloin

Oh my yum!  Beyond bacon or an occasional good ham, I’m not a giant fan of pork but this meal is a double thumbs up at our house and so easy to throw together that it’s a “must share”.

The pork tenderloin is currently available at Costco in sealed packages sold by the 4 pack.  I usually cook 2 at a time because we have a large crockpot and the leftovers make incredible sandwiches. The hardest part about this recipe is simply remembering to take the meat out of the freezer to thaw the day before!
The measurements are flexible.  I never make it the same way twice and it has never failed to turn out great every time.
The basic ingredients are:
Pork tenderloin roasts
Garlic
Wine, a red cab or merlot
Broth, we use chicken broth
Rubbed sage
Rosemary
Salt
Pepper
Brown sugar
Balsamic vinegar
Cornstarch
Horseradish, cut or creamed (optional)

 

Add 2 minced cloves of garlic to bottom of crockpot, rinse the tenderloins and put them on top of the garlic.  I then add 1-2 cups of leftover red wine and fill the rest with a combo of broth and/or water. Sprinkle in the teaspoon of sage, teaspoon of rosemary, salt and pepper.  I make sure the tenderloins are covered or just barely peeking out.
Turn the crockpot on low for an all day roast or high for a 4-6 hour cook time and go on with your day.
The pork should be cooked through to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.  I pull it out and shred it into large chunks in a 9×11 baking dish, covered with foil to keep it warm.
In a saucepan mix 1 to 2 cups of the broth from the crockpot, 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar, a teaspoon-ish of minced garlic, a half a cup of balsalmi vinegar, salt, pepper and a tiny bit of minced horseradish.  A tablespoon or two of corn starch will thicken it.  Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don’t.  Heat this mixture up stirring until it boils, then pour over the shredded pork.
 
I broil the pork in the oven, turning the shredded pork over a few times, until the topping coats and sticks to most pieces.  Sometimes I skip this step, too.  The sweeter I make it, the more important this step is but my husband isn’t a big fan of sweet so a light coat of sauce is plenty and glazing it on to make a nice crust isn’t as important.
 
My favorite way to serve this is on a toasted potato roll bun, smeared with a light coat of creamed horseradish but I’ve watched a grown man eat it with a fork, right out of the serving dish.

The Pink and Purple Panther

It’s a cousin of Cupid’s Cup (http://cocktails.about.com/od/vodkadrinkrecipes/r/cherub_cup.htm) and the Red Martini Bar’s (Redmond, Oregon) Cupid’s Kiss!

Crisp, light, dry and fruity but not too sweet.  A perfect cocktail to sip in the hot tub!
Happy Valentines Day!
Muddle:
1/4 cup (or handful) of fresh or frozen huckleberries
2 oz vodka
1 oz St. Germain
Loosely strain mixture over ice:
Finish with a light layer of Pink Moscato Champagne
or substitute Sprite or seltzer water in place of champagne.
Stir and enjoy!