T.G.I.F.

T.G.I.F. Cherry Bomb Martini

Cherry Bomb Martini

Cherry Bomb Martini

I used to believe that if I followed a wholesome diet and included certain supplements and super foods that I would ward off disease. If I wanted to reduce my risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes or memory loss all I had to do was have more almonds, salmon, yogurt, berries, soy beans, fiber, red wine, etc. If I didn’t like or have time for these foods, I could get them in pill form — fish oil, probiotics, multi-vitamins, fiber supplements, co-enzyme Q-10, glucosamine-condroitin, and so on. I refer to this as the magic bullet approach. If I had steak for dinner, the cholesterol would be negated by a glass of red wine. What was I thinking? I made a major lifestyle change over three years ago by adopting a plant-based diet and so I don’t focus on supplements or super foods too much. After all, everything I eat now is a super food. I have, however, been looking into the health benefits of cherries, specifically tart cherries and their affect on inflammation and joint pain. I have osteoarthritis in my back and pain in my knees that has been creeping up on my body for decades. According to Drugs.com, sour cherries, because they contain high levels of the active ingredient cyanidin, might be 10 times stronger than aspirin in fighting inflammation without the risk of side effects. If it can’t hurt me and could potentially help me, why not incorporate tart cherries into my diet on a regular basis? I opted to order tart cherry juice as fresh sour cherries are hard to come by even when they’re in season and dried cherries lose some of their health-promoting qualities in the drying process. Not only are cherries good for inflammation, but they are supposed to help with fighting cancer, gout, heart disease, stroke, alzheimers and diabetes. I’ve been drinking a small glass every day. I’ll report back on my progress.

As it happens so often, I get inspiration from trying new food products and this cherry juice is no exception. As soon as I took my first sip I wanted to come up with a cocktail for it. The Cherry Bomb Martini as an occasional kick-back cocktail made with vodka, cherry brandy, tart cherry juice and a splash of orgeat syrup. (Orgeat is a syrup made from almonds that’s also used to make a Mai Tai. It’s tricky to find it in stores, so I made my own a few years ago and it’s still good. Click here for an orgeat recipe.) The cocktail is named after the Cherry Bomb explosive which ranges in size from three-quarters of an inch to one and a half inches in diameter. How can something so small pack such a wallop? I thought about all the healing potential of those tiny tart cherries and thought it fitting to name this cocktail after the explosive cherry bomb. Whether you drink your cherry juice straight up or dressed up, you’re bound to enjoy the healing benefits of this tangy tonic. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

P.S. In the middle of enjoying my Cherry Bomb, I rummaged through the pantry for something to pair it with. I pulled out a bag of Fig-Strawberry cookies that I recently picked up at Costco. Wow! These turned out to be the perfect complement to this sweet-tart of a cocktail.

Cherry Bomb and Fig Drops

Cherry Bomb Martini

  • 2 parts vodka
  • 1 part cherry brandy
  • 1 part tart cherry juice
  • Splash of orgeat or simple syrup (optional)

Pour all ingredients over cocktail shaker filled with crushed ice. Shake and strain into glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry if desired.

27 Feb 2016

T.G.I.F. Cereal Milk Martini

Cereal Milk Martini 003Thank Goodness It’s Flowing! I was hoping to put together a series of recipes leading up to a spectacular Thanksgiving feast, but life got in the way.  Quite frankly I could use a drink after the past few weeks, so I’m just going with this Cereal Milk Martini. Two days after returning from a recent trip to Kansas, I found out that the closing on my mom’s home would be in less than three weeks. Two days after that, we had to say goodbye to our 14 year old dog, Clancy. I’ve heard it said that God gives us only what we can handle. We’ve been faced with some stressful times during the past few years, so I think we deserve a break. Which brings me to today’s recipe. I ordered a Cereal Milk Martini at a local restaurant this week. As the name implies, it’s supposed to taste like milk that’s been soaking up all the sweetness from whatever cereal you’re having. The ingredient list read something like this: Rumchata, hazelnut liqueur and crème de cacao. Since Rumchata is a cream-based liqueur (and I didn’t want to spring for another bottle of specialty booze), I simply used rum and a soy-based coffee creamer. Pour the ingredients over ice, give a few shakes and float a spoonful of your favorite cereal on top (I used cocoa-flavored puffed rice). What a nice way to finish off your Thanksgiving meal.

It is customary to make a toast at a wedding, graduation, christening or retirement – occasions that celebrate the next stage in a person’s life. I’m facing my next stage and look forward to spending more time with family and friends, more attention to my health and a joyful return to cooking and blogging. Allow me to raise my glass and toast to the promise of  new beginnings. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Cereal Milk Martini

  • 1 part Rum
  • 2 parts Soy Creamer
  • 1 part Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
  • Splash of Crème de Cacao
  • One spoonful of your favorite cereal

Fill a cocktail shaker half way with cracked ice. Pour rum, soy creamer, Frangelico and crème de cacao over ice and shake well. Strain into martini glass and float a spoonful of cereal on the surface.

 

26 Nov 2015

T.G.I.F. Chocoholics Anonymous

Chocolate SmoothieSometimes I just can’t make a decision, especially when it comes to food choices. “What should we have for dinner?” “Where should we go out for dinner?” “Should we look at the dessert menu before or after dinner?”  Maybe the problem is that I have TOO many choices. And so it goes when I’m mixing up a new recipe for my T.G.I.F. column. Last week I made a smoothie with almond milk, cocoa powder, bananas and dates. Hmmmm . . .  what blends well with chocolate, bananas and dates? My first instinct was Creme de Cacao, but that’s another layer of chocolate. I wanted to add a splash of something that would complement the chocolate rather than add to it. Rum goes nicely with chocolate and bananas. But so would Italian Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur or coffee-flavored Kahlua from Mexico. Decisions, decisions. The decision was easy. Why not make all three and do a comparison? Well, the results are not shocking . . . I love them all. The rum version reminded me of the Chocolate Rum Balls we used to buy from a bakery in New Jersey. The drink made with Frangelico was like a chocolate-hazelnut torte. The Kahlua-laced version had nuances of caramel, like a chocolate-covered caramel. These healthy drinks are so rich-tasting that you can enjoy them instead of dessert. T.G.I.F., have a great weekend and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Chocolate Banana Date Smoothie

2 cups non-dairy milk
4 frozen bananas, sliced
½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup dates
Rum, Frangelico, Kahlua or other liqueur (to taste)

Place all ingredients in high powered blender and process until smooth. Note: the amount of liqueur you varies depending on the type of liqueur and how strong or subtle you like it. Start with 1 shot and go from there.

 

07 Aug 2015

T.G.I.F. Coconut Mango Chiller

Coconut Mango Twister T.G.I.F.Thank Goodness It’s Flowing. I wanted to make a tropical cocktail to enjoy on the patio tonight. Luckily, I had a few mangos and coconut water on hand. Coconut water is a good source of B vitamins and potassium. Mangos are full of antioxidants, fiber and flavor. Put the two together and you have one healthy mixer. The choice of liquor was easy . . . Jamaican rum.  I made my mixer by pureeing the mango and coconut water in a blender, then letting  it chill out for a bit. I didn’t want to water down the creaminess of the mixer, so I opted to stir (rather than shake with ice) the drink. My biggest decision was the choice of glassware. Martini glasses are so misused and easily knocked over, so I went with an old fashioned glass. Just pour the mixer in the glass, add a shot of dark rum and a sprinkle of nutmeg and you’re done. You can even serve these with ice or without the rum and still serve up some fun. Have a great and Vegi-curious weekend.

Coconut Mango Chiller

  • 1 whole mango
  • 11 oz. container coconut water
  • Dark rum
  • nutmeg

Coconut Mango Mixer:

Remove pit and peel from mango. Place mango and coconut water in blender container. Process until smooth. Refrigerate thoroughly.

 To make cocktails:

Pour 3 parts of Coconut Mango mixer and 1 part dark rum into old fashioned glass. Sprinkle nutmeg over surface.

 

25 Jul 2015

T.G.I.F. Just Peachy Prosecco

Just Peachy ProseccoT.G.I.F.  Day Two of my birthday celebration and I’m enjoying Just Peachy ProseccoInspired by the world famous Bellini from Harry’s Bar in Venice, some fresh local peaches and a bottle of Prosecco that’s been tying up some valuable real estate in my fridge, this cocktail is a new twist on an old favorite. Prosecco is a sparkling wine (vino frizzante) from Venice. This wine has a special place in my heart since Bruce’s Italian ancestors are from that area of Italy. To put this recipe together, puree fresh peaches (with or without skin), add a little sugar, then freeze the puree in an ice cube tray. Once the puree is frozen solid, place one or two cubes in a champagne flute and fill the glass with some Prosecco. While you’re sipping, the ice cube starts to soften and the puree turns into a delightful slush. You can keep adding more Prosecco until the puree disappears. You can keep a supply of peachy ice cubes on hand to enjoy whenever the mood hits you or to have at the ready for your next summer soire. Why not pick up a peck of peaches this weekend while they’re in season and store up some fun in your freezer for when summer is gone. Buona Fortuna and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Just Peachy Prosecco

4 large peaches
Sugar (optional)
Prosecco, chilled

Remove pit and skin from peaches. Place in food processor or blender and process until pureed. If peaches are not very sweet, you can add some sugar. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Place one or two cubes into champagne flute and fill glass with Prosecco.

17 Jul 2015

TGIF: Melon Margarita Slushie

Melon Margarita SlushieT.G.I.F. Thank Goodness, It’s Flowing! I’m launching a new column that will appear on most Fridays in which I’ll be showcasing another one of my epicurean interests . . . Mixology. Like most of my posts, there’s a story behind it and this one actually has two.

For years, I’ve been concocting and consuming copious cocktails with the help of my trusty (and precise) Lab Assistant. For those of you who know my husband, Bruce, you know that he is a pretty precise person. Many cocktails ago, he made a Cosmopolitan for me that was not up to par. In his engineering fashion and pursuit of perfection he suggested that we get a few graduated cylinders for the bar (in our case, the kitchen counter). If you’re memory is a little cloudy, a graduated cylinders is a piece of glass measuring equipment from high school chemistry. So, I ordered a few from a company called, of course, The Science Fair. I haven’t been disappointed since!

The other story has to do with the carousel glasses. These glasses were a gift to my Mom for her bridal shower. I’ve had them for years and take them out for special times. Well, the launch of a new column and the creation of a new cocktail is a special occasion worthy of these special glasses. Is it me or have you noticed that food and drinks taste better in nice dishes and glasses?

Which leads me to why T.G.I.F will be part of Vegi-curious.com. I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to create. I love to have a good time. Kicking back and enjoying a nice wine or a fun cocktail is definitely part of that, so why not try to incorporate some healthy aspects to it? This Melon Margarita Slushie has frozen watermelon for fiber and fresh lime juice for vitamin C and other phytonutrients and flavonoids with antioxidant properties. I’ll be sipping mine while swaying on our porch swing tonight. So do something good for your body and soul; make yourself a Melon Margarita Slushie, have a great weekend and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Melon Margarita Slushie

Makes four servings

4 cups frozen watermelon cubes

3 oz. tequila

3 oz. Triple Sec

2 oz. simple syrup

Juice of 2 limes

Chill 4 old fashion glasses. Place all ingredients in blender and process on low until slushy. Pour into glasses an garnish with lime wedge, mint leaf or whatever tickles your fancy.

 

 

10 Jul 2015

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