Making Tamales & memories…

November 2015

Greetings fellow foodie friends!

It’s mid-November here in Minnesota and we’ve yet to really see any Winter, which is just fine by me! But, my body-clock knows it’s almost here, because I am craving soups, macaroni & cheese, any pasta dish for that matter and bread and cheese. Oof! I’ve decided that instead of being all proud of myself for knowing how to whip up a creamy béchamel sauce, that it’s actually a curse to know. At any given moment, there are at least five different types of cheese in my refrigerator and freezer, just hanging out, waiting patiently, to get all melty and gooey in a pan of hot pasta. I can have a pan of the creamy devil ready in about 10 minutes…

September 2015-blog post

The real estate market is going to end 2015 on a positive note, across the country really. Here in Minnesota, many people must have took the month of September off, because we had quite a dip in activity over that time period. A couple of my sellers have chosen to take their homes off the market until next Spring, hoping to do some nice updates to their homes over the Winter. If this past Spring is any indication of what this coming one will be, it’s going to be BUSY! And I am taking advantage of this quiet time to get myself ready for that!

Gabs & Dom

These two… ❤ This fall I had one kid start Junior High and the other started Senior High. They have both been doing really well, even with having to be out the door by 7:15am everyday! Although I despise getting out of bed that early, I do manage to have a very productive day, starting that early!  Both are taking Culinary classes this year, so there is alot of talk about Food around our house!

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One of the things I try to do with my kids, is create food-memories.  I love to make things most people wouldn’t even attempt.  And hope someday, they’ll look back and appreciate that.  A couple months ago, my daughter had a friend come over and we made Tamales together. I have always wanted to try to make them and they turned out surprisingly well! You can actually take a class locally, at El Burrito Mercado, Tamalada, that teaches you how and then you get to leave with a bunch.  Both classes for 2015 sold out already, but they have plans for bigger classes in 2016.  And you can always just buy Tamales (and LOTS more) in their Deli!  Find out more HERE.  We took a field trip there that day, for lunch & inspiration and some last minute ingredients for our recipe.

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We made two different kinds of Tamales that day; Chicken & Cheese. The Cheese ones had Havarti cheese & pickled Jalapeños in them…have you ever had those before?! I am not much for super spicy foods, but I love these and find myself putting them on burgers, sandwiches etc. all the time!

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I think if I do them again, I will steam them flat, instead of standing on the ends like you see in the picture. Doing them that way, was okay, but some of the filling started to fall out of the corn husks as the batter expanded.

chicken

We used a Rotisserie Chicken, which made the process go alot quicker!  Costco now even sells pulled Rotisserie Chicken for you!  Can it get much easier than that?!  There are a million recipes out there on how to make Tamales.  I found a great one, and a video showing me exactly how online.  Click HERE for the video, and HERE for a link to the recipe.  I did use Lard, and wish I would have used a better broth, so don’t skip that part either.

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To go with the Tamales, I made a Tomatillo Salsa, or as she called, Green Salsa.  The girls hadn’t ever touched a Tomatillo before, so the sticky parts inside of the husk was a surprise to them!  You’ll see that salsa and those jalapeño pickles find their way onto a burger shortly after that 🙂

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My family and I are anxiously awaiting our annual trip to the North Shore for Thanksgiving…I will share some pictures while there on my Instagram feed, but mostly hope to really unplug and cuddle and eat and spend time with my sweet family.  We are still narrowing down our menu, and I’ve been relying on my Pinterest Board-Get your Gobble On, for ideas!  Looking forward to fireside chats…brisk hikes…eating…drinking wine…I can’t wait!!! ❤

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And if you are a Minnesotan and haven’t ever been up to Duluth for the annual Bentleyville Tour of  Lights event, get it on your calendar for this year!  It runs from November 21st-December 27th and you can find out more info HERE.

Bentlyville

Wishing you all, a warm, relaxing & delicious Thanksgiving with family & friends!

Cheers! ~Shawn

Pesto & Compound Butters…oh my!

Well, would ya look at that…only a mere three+ months since my last post!  Shame on me!  Real Estate has been keeping me busy, which is very good thing!  I am still thinking about food, cooking the best I can everyday, which is all that matters, right?!  Today I wanted to share two things I love most about Summer; Pesto & making Compound Butters.

Flavored Butters

Every year I look for different ways to “preserve our harvest” trying to savor the bounty all year long.  I can’t even tell you what a pat of Chive Butter does to frozen Corn or mashed Potatoes in the middle of Winter…added to a juicy steak or massaged onto Chicken prior to baking.  Or a hunk of Basil Pesto thrown into jarred Spaghetti Sauce, used (with extra Olive Oil) in place of pizza sauce for Pizza night or even as simple as spread onto bread, hot from the oven…

Chives

Tarragon

Thyme

We stock up on Butter all year round, freezing it as we go, so we have plenty on hand to make our favorite Butters.  This year, in addition to the usual, Thyme, Chive & Basil Butters, I tried a Tarragon-Mustard Butter.  Fresh Tarragon, Dijon Mustard and Butter, all whirred up together and then portioned into approximately two tablespoon packets.  One of our favorites ways to eat Pork is with Tarragon & Mustard, so now we can do this easily, with these little babies!

Butter in the mixer

It’s super easy to make a Compound Butter (the fancy name for flavored Butter!); basically you are combining your fresh Herbs with softened Butter.  No need even for a food processor like I use, just finely chop your Herbs and mix the two together.  It’s actually funny, because now instead of drying my Herbs all Summer long, I am finding ways to put them in Butter!  (funny till my jeans get too tight!)

There are many recipes for Compound Butters out there…I have a bunch I’ve pinned on Pinterest you can find here.  I’ve made this one to go on Burgers (it’s off the hook, TRY IT!) from a fellow food blogger friend and recently I found myself with lots of Blue Cheese on the verge of getting too funky, so I made Blue Cheese Butter! Of course you can make yours however you want…add salt & pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper…garlic, fresh onion, get crazy and add Sriracha or Miso…  Make it your canvas and just do it!

Thyme Butter

Chive Butter

Tarragon-Mustard Butter

Pack them into single serve portions on plastic wrap, spread onto parchment paper and roll into a log, or freeze single size servings on parchment paper, on a cookie sheet and once frozen, dump into a freezer bag.  However it works best for you!  And for those of you that live close to me, come on over and grab some fresh Herbs from my garden anytime! ❤

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Pesto has always been a favorite freezer staple of mine.  The past couple of years we haven’t grown too much Basil, so I haven’t done it as often.  Last year we had SO much Oregano, that I made a Pesto out of that.  This year, I found a recipe for KALE PESTO that I had to try!  Yes!  Hooray for Kale!!! 🙂

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I was inspired by this recipe in making this and by the fact that we were trying to eat Kale everyday so our harvest wouldn’t go to waste!  I have had too many experiences with blanching veggies only to pull them out in the dead of Winter, to find they are all mushy and gross.  I didn’t want that to be the case with our Kale so I started looking online for unique ways to preserve it.  We don’t do Kale Smoothies at our house, so I thought doing a traditional Pesto with it would be best.  You guys, I literally wanted to stand there in my kitchen and eat it from the container!!! Ha!  I totally see using this in pasta, adding to soups & stews and maybe even pulling some out to spread on bread with Brie Cheese!

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I hope this finds you enjoying a beautiful Summer!  Don’t forget to take the time to close your eyes and soak in those warm breezes!  Because, you know what’s coming…

Until next time, cheers!

oxox Shawn

 

National Corn Fritters Day~

Welcome to MN sign

Greetings food-lovin’ friends!

It’s late-July…did you notice? I don’t know about you, but this summer has been flying by! Between a busy Real Estate market (know someone needing my help?) and trying to squeeze in fun with the family, it’s been a master juggling act! I think we are fairing pretty well, having just come off of two short but fun camping trips; one with the kids and the other without! Yes, I know, awesome! We hardly ever go anywhere without them; they are always so much fun to be with, that it’s hard for us to leave them behind.

Interstate Park MN

Our first camping trip, with the kids, was to Interstate State Park, in the quaint little town of Taylors Falls, Minnesota. It’s just a short drive from where we live, so we go there often just to hike. Our campsite was riverside, as the park resides along the St. Croix River. We didn’t have the greatest view though, compared to some of the other sites next to us. But that was okay, as all of our hiking allowed us plenty of river views.  One of the fun things about Taylors Falls, are the daily boat tours! (pictured above)

The following week, the hubby and I went up to Wild River State Park. Again, nestled along the St. Croix River, this gem of a state park was just what we needed! Quiet, remote, with lots of hiking opportunities! Oh and another awesome benefit to no kids…we got to eat what WE wanted! Yep, we definitely pigged out.

Dinner night 1

In addition to this steak, mushrooms, onions & herbs, corn and potato packet meal, we had stuffed french toast…and the best meal (at least to me) was the Carpet Picnic! I can’t remember if I’ve ever talked to you about our Carpet Picnic’s…in fact, that might be a fun thing to blog about! Basically we roast up some Roma tomatoes, caramelize a sweet onion-sliced very thin, roast a big head of garlic, buy a good salami, a loaf of crusty french bread (ciabbata works great too) and cheese…usually it’s Brie or Camembert when at home, warmed in the oven so it’s gooey. But this time we splurged and got a Triple Cream Brie and a creamy Blue, neither needing warming so they were good choices for camping. We also sautéed some Kale from our garden and instead of the roasted garlic, we bought some fermented black garlic from Trader Joes. It was SO good!

Camping Carpet Picnic

Anyway, the hubby is back at work and I am back trying to get into a routine that works for the rest of the summer. One of the things I miss, is this blog! I miss writing and talking about food with you! So, I’ve challenged myself to blog one recipe, each week, for the rest of 2014! Help hold me accountable, if you go without seeing something from me each week, going forward!  I have all the recipes picked out, from my overflowing collection of things I’ve been wanting to make.  That should make it easier…hopefully!

Food Fest 365

This weeks recipe was found in a great little book I picked up at a garage sale earlier this summer, called Food Fest 365!  July 16th is National Corn Fritters Day and with the sweet corn season underway here in Minnesota, I thought this would be a fantastic recipe to share! One note though, the recipe calls for canned corn, so I substituted fresh, roasted then cooled corn, as you’ll see in the directions.

Corn Fritters

Sweet Corn Fritters with creamy Basil-Lime dipping sauce:

Oil for pan-frying
2 eggs
salt, pepper & seasonings*
fresh herbs**
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
sea salt (for sprinkling on fritters once cooked)
2 cups of fresh roasted corn, removed from the cob (don’t forget to juice it!)

Basil-Lime Dipping Sauce

Basil-Lime Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons of milk
zest & juice of a half of a lime
Basil, chiffonade
seasonings of your choice (I used Cajun!)

Mix all ingredients together until smooth and chill until ready to use.  (use any leftover dip on sandwiches or as a dressing for your next salad!)

Roasted Corn

First step for this recipe is to roast your corn. (Ideally, this would be done on the grill, but you could also boil or steam them in the microwave) Take the first layer of husks off your corn and remove the tassel from the top. Place on a medium high grill and roast for about a half hour, turning every ten minutes or so, a quarter turn each time. Your corn will be done when, you can smell it & when the husks have dried and turned brown to black in color. Let the corn cool until you can easily touch it.

Then, using a sharp knife, place the cob on the cutting board, vertically. Remove the kernels from the cob, starting at one, sliding away from you towards the cutting board. Once you’ve removed the kernels, flip the knife over, using the back of it and “juice” the cob. Trust me, you don’t want any of that fresh corn to go to waste! Set your corn kernels and juice aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine your eggs, salt, pepper and seasonings. Then sift in your flour (sifting it in, helps it incorporate better, so you don’t have chunks of flour floating about) and then add your corn and fresh herbs. Let the batter sit while you heat your oil.

Set a plate, lined with a paper towel, next to your frying pan.

Fritters be a fryin

In a large skillet pan, add oil 1/4” deep and heat to medium-high. You are ready to start cooking once the oil begins to smoke. Using a large spoon, CAREFULLY drop a spoonful of the batter into the pan, continuing until you have four or so fritters, with plenty of room for the oil to get around each one. You are going to cook these for about two minutes on each side, but carefully check them, as you may want them lighter in color. *PLEASE NOTE that you are frying wet ingredients in very hot oil, and with corn, you can have flying missiles of hot oil, so if you have some sort of metal screen or vendable lid, I would use it. I went it to flip mine the first time out and got splattered in about five different places from my face to my belly 😦

Fantastic Fritters!

Once you’ve cooked both sides of the fritters, remove to your lined plate and sprinkle immediately with sea salt (or plain salt if you have only that).  Serve with your Basil-Lime dipping sauce and enjoy! ❤

Panaroma of St. Croix River

I’ll be working on my next blog post soon, S’mores Brownies, so stay tuned for more deliciousness soon!

Let me know if you make these Sweet Corn Fritters, and what you think of them!

xoxo Shawn

 

 

Brine that bird Baby!

Brine

(the above picture was from my #summerofsalads post on Chicken salad but it’s a good representation of what your Brine will look like once you’ve placed in the bird)

Hey there!  It’s the week before the big feast and I am sure alot of you are starting to think about how you’ll prepare your bird this year.  I say Brine it first baby! 🙂

I started along the Brining path, this past year, in an effort to tenderize the little hens we were getting from our friends who’ve been raising chickens the past couple of years.  This summer, we still had a HUGE Turkey in the freezer from last Thanksgiving and I decided I wanted to try and Brine it before I Smoked it.  People, let me tell you….it was SO juicy and delicious!  And typically, I don’t really like Turkey!  Now, if you can Brine it and then Smoke it, great, but if not, it’s still going to be amazing!

Smoking...

(the above picture was also from my #summerofsalads post on Chicken salad)

I was at the grocery store over the weekend and saw a woman and her husband talking about Brining their Turkey.  The husband didn’t want to deal with it, but she had always wanted to.  I saw her in the next aisle and told her to do it!  I haven’t ever used a bag to do so (which is what they were looking at) and wouldn’t trust it not to break open, so I say, grab the biggest container you have and get at it!  If the temperatures are right, you can carefully leave the container (covered) in the garage for the Brining process.  Disclaimer:  just be sure the liquid stays cold enough the whole time, 38 degrees or less.  You don’t want to make everyone sick on Thanksgiving.

I did a little research for you; I use a big pickle bucket my hubby brought home from work and then place the whole thing in my garage fridge.  (do you have a neighbor with a garage fridge you could borrow a bit of space from?) You can purchase the same type of container, from Home Depot for less than $3.00!  Then you’ll have it for years to come, you can call it “Homers Brining Bucket” because trust me, once you Brine that bird, you’ll never go back! 🙂

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So, you’ll first need to thaw out your bird like you normally do….I like to Brine for at least 24 hours, so plan one extra day in the process.  Grab your big container and add the following to it:

Brine:

(Makes one gallon of brine; you’ll probably need two at least…)

3 lemons, cut in half

1 cup kosher salt  (I used pickling salt the last time!)

3/4 cup brown sugar

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons whole peppercorns

3 (I used roasted) Jalapeños seeds removed

fresh herbs…sage, thyme, oregano, chives etc.

(if fresh is not available, use at least 1 tablespoon of dried basil, oregano & thyme)

1 gallon cold water

Mix everything up together, careful to dissolve the salt & sugar before adding your bird.  Remove your bird from the wrapper and take out the giblets.  (you can save them in a bowl in the fridge to add back into the bird if you want when you bake it)  Rinse the Turkey, inside & out.  Then carefully submerge the bird in the Brining liquid.  It may try to float back up on you, and if so, you can place a heavy sauce pan on top of it to keep it down under the water.  About halfways through the Brining period, grab a long utensil and stir the liquid around the bird.

Over the weekend, I saw a local news channel posted the process of Brining a bird and used a bit different ingredients in their Brine.  As of this blog post, they still haven’t posted the recipe, but you can watch the video here.

Snoopy Thanksgiving

Now we are at T-day; carefully remove the bird from it’s bath, and place inside a clean sink.  Rinse the entire thing with cold water to remove the salt water and excess herbs etc.  I’ve even seen suggestions to soak the bird in cold water for a half hour or so, to help remove some of the salt.  That way your gravy won’t be too salty.  Place into your roasting pan, and bake at 350 degrees, for approximately 3 hours.  Follow this process for a bird weighing 16-22 pounds.  After the first hour, baste regularly (every half hour or so) and once the breast meat has reached a temp of 165 degrees, take it out.  Be sure to let it rest before slicing into it.  If you feel, during the process, your skin is getting too dark, cover it with a bit of aluminum foil.  You can also start with it covered, say for the first hour, then remove it for the remaining time.  I didn’t talk about seasoning the bird, hoping that you’ll have that covered okay…but definitely reach out if you need some suggestions.

Braised Potatoes

Looking for a few different ideas of sides etc. to have with your feast?  Check out my post from last year; it contains some great ideas on twists & new classics.  Also, I recently became obsessed with braising Potatoes….what?!?! Yep, they totally rock!  If you want to divert from the traditional mashed potato action, try these.  I got the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen and you can find it here.  (you’ll have to register to gain access to the recipe, but it’s worth it, trust me!)

Wine Thanksgiving 2012

Please share this post with family & friends…I would be so “thankful” if you would!

I am hoping that you enjoy a delicious, relaxing holiday with those you love.  If you are headed out on Black Friday, be careful. 🙂

Cheers,  Shawn

Summer of Salads, Chicken…

Smoked Chicken Salad REC

Prior to getting my smoker, Smoked Chicken would be something I would rarely get the opportunity to enjoy, but when I did…oh, I did!  So, this year when we picked up our portion of chickens from our friends in Hugo that raise & process them for us, I knew some of these little babies were going in the smoker!  We had a friend over the night we made them, and I had smoked three chickens, planning for dinner that night and then making BBQ Chicken sandwiches for a family get together the next day.  This friend, whom I treasure, loved the Chicken SO much I was worried he’d eat it all and I wouldn’t have any left for the next day’s festivities!  So awesome!

One thing I love to do when smoking or even baking my chicken, is to brine it the day before.  It helps to make the chicken much more tender and delicious!  The friend that does our chickens for us, shared the following brine recipe I highly recommend!

Brine

Brine Recipe:

Makes one gallon of brine.

3 lemons, cut in half

1 cup kosher salt

3/4 cup brown sugar

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons whole peppercorns

3 (I used roasted) Jalapeños seeds removed

fresh herbs…we used lots of lemon thyme, oregano, chives

if fresh is not available, use at least 1 tablespoon of dried basil, oregano & thyme

1 gallon cold water

Use a bucket or container large enough to hold the chicken and the brining liquid.  I actually used a pickle bucket for my three chickens, but if you have a large pasta pot, or even a roasting pan, you can use that too.  Just be sure to get most of the chicken submerged for most of the time.  If you need to go in and move the chicken around, that’s okay too.  Keep your chicken refrigerated & in the brine for 24 hours before cooking if possible.  Once you are ready to cook the chicken, rinse it well under cold water and then add your rub or other seasonings.  Dispose of the brining liquid and clean your hands, counter & etc. well!

chicken on the smoker

BBQ Rub recipe:

1/2 cup paprika

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons mustard powder

1/4 cup chili powder

1/4 cup ground cumin

2 tablespoons black pepper

1/4 cup granulated garlic

2 tablespoons cayenne  (be careful, if you don’t like spicy BBQ, then dial back on this amount)

Jack Daniel's chips

Oh my gosh, can I just tell you about these chips?!?!  A friend of mine recommended these Jack Daniel’s brand wood chips to me, when she heard about my smoker.  I didn’t try them until recently, when I made this chicken actually, and now I want to use them all the time!!! They are GREAT!  They are about twice as expensive as basic chips, but when you are making something special, splurge and get yourself a bag! 🙂

Assorted chips

These WESTERN® BBQ Smoking Chips were what I used initially and I really liked them.  They come in a wide range of ‘flavors’.  I bought this Variety Pack my first time out.

Okay, so I know this post is titled Smoked Chicken, and I realize that not everyone has a smoker.  So, I want to show you a couple of ways you can smoke, without the smoker!  First, I have this Mini Smoker Box from Williams Sonoma and I love to use it on my grill!  It holds a small portion of whatever chips you have, and takes about 5-10 minutes to start smoking, but it works great for steaks, fish, vegetables, burgers & other deliciuosness from your grill!  And, oh my gosh, I totally want this Cast Iron Smoke & Sear Station wouldn’t that be fun!

When I first bought my Western chips, variety box, it had a small smoker tray in it, made specifically for grills.  They have a great video you can watch that shows you how to use the chips here.  And if you don’t want to fuss with any of the above, you can also try using a couple layers of aluminum foil.  The chips may burn up faster, so have a couple back up packs on reserve.  If you are using a smoker, you’ll want to soak the chips before using them, but if you are just using them on the grill, you don’t need to soak them, unless you are grilling something that takes awhile to cook.

Okay, time to get back on track!  This post is supposed to be about #summerofsalads!  Ha! 🙂

Salad Fixin's

So for this salad, you’ll want to gather your favorite greens, and then chop up your Smoked Chicken.  I added Black Beans, fresh roasted Corn-cut from the cob, chopped tomatoes, red bell pepper, hard boiled eggs and finished the salad with a small sprinkling of Parmesan cheese & crumbled Blue Cheese!  (have I mentioned I am a cheese-addict?) Be careful how much Blue Cheese you put on; you don’t want to drown out that smokey Chicken goodness!  Add any combination of “salad fixin’s” you like!  It’s your salad silly!

Smoked Chicken Salad up close

Now look at that beauty!  I hope you’ll try some of my suggestions for “smoking” chicken on your grill soon!  Let me know if you do & share what you tried!

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Have a wonderful 4th of July & Happy Birthday America!

Cheers, Shawn

Summer Sippers, fruit/herbs, mixers & cubes…

Bar recipe books...

Greetings cocktail lovers!  First, I am sorry for not posting when I said I would…life took over this past week and so here I sit, 9:19pm on a Saturday night, trying to get this ready for your viewing pleasure as soon as possible!  One thing I failed to mention in my last post, that when you are setting up a bar, it’s helpful to have some sort of bar recipe guide.  I have a couple physical recipe books and probably my favorite one I have for my iPhone, it’s from Food and Wine, it’s free and you can get it here!

This week we talk mixers, cubes, fruit and more!  Of coarse you’ll want the basics for your bar, when it comes to mixers.  Sweet & sour, margarita mix, club soda, tonic water, and various other bubbly sodas etc.  You’ll also want bottles of grenadine, tabasco, bloody mary mix if you are planning on making those.  The recent explosion of “craft cocktails” has found the resurgance of “shrubs” and other delicious “craft” fruit & herb cocktail syrups.  No, I am not talking about the shrub out in the front yard, but about the kind you can mix in a cocktail, taking it to yet another level.  To learn more about what a shrub is, and how to make your own, visit the Serious Eats-drinks section and the “Cocktail 101: How to Make Shrub Syrups”.

shrub-syrups-best

One local favorite making all things fruity goodness, is those you’ll find at HeathGlen Farms.  They offer several different varieties of both shrubs & fruit/herbs syrups, all which you can find listed on their website here.  I’m thinking I need to pick up some of the Ginger Lime Syrup and the Blueberry Tarragon Shrub Syrup!

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Probably one of the biggest movements within the craft cocktail phenomenon is that of the small but mighty Bitters.  And locally, two gifted bartenders turned craftsmen led the way.  Meet Bittercube.  Not only providing unique Bitters, free from extracts & oils, using only “raw” ingredients, this creative duo provides consultation for food & dining establishments and “designs unique craft cocktail menus for bars, restaurants, weddings, anniversaries, corporate events, and private parties. We also create signature cocktails with event specific ingredients and names.  Beyond cocktail menus, we offer libations expertise and execution for trade shows and other events.

      Mint Simple Syrup Cubes                    Mint simple syrup in cube trays

I am honored to belong to a community of local food bloggers called Fortify.  The other night, I stalked a conversation that was happening in our private Facebook group about someone who was trying to figure out what to make with some orange bitters he recently acquired.  The conversation eventually moved to making simple syrups, something that I had recently started experimenting with myself.  I started off simple (no pun intended) with Mint Simple Syrup and then froze them (as much as they would) in ice cube trays for later use.

Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup

Then, feeling a little braver, I tried my hand at Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup.  It was really good, and has left me inspired to try many of the other herbs I have bursting in my garden already.  I envision an Oregano Simple Syrup you could add to sweeten a Bloody Mary or as basic as a Basil Simple Syrup that could be added to the kids Lemonade on a hot summer day!

Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup2

Interested in making your own Simple Syrup?  It’s easy!  Take a cup of water and a cup of sugar, place in a small pot on the stove.  Stirring constantly, once the mixture has boiled & the sugar has melted, remove from the heat.  Take your cleaned & dried herbs and place into the pot, cover with a lid and steep for at least ten minutes or until your syrup has infused to your liking.  While perusing one of my favorite cocktail blog sites, Imbibe, I found this great list of Simple Syrup ideas & recipes!  Enjoy!

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I tried my Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup with both Rum & Gin tonight, using Club Soda as my mix.  I preferred the Gin, as I suspected I would.  Both were better with a healthy squeeze of lemon and in the drink made with Gin, I felt I could taste the Thyme better.

Bacon Ice Cubes

And of coarse there’s always fun ice cubes you can use to add a bit of whimsy to your cocktails.  I found these awesome bacon strip ice cubes trays at Target the other day!  If you are on Pinterest, you can follow my Beverages & Cocktails board where I’ve pinned some really fun flavored ice cube ideas!

I hope you’ll expand your cocktail menu and try some of the great things I’ve listed here!  When you do, be sure to share it with me either here in the comments, or by posting a comment on my Facebook Page!

As always, thanks for following along in this #summersippers cocktail series and until next time, cheers!

Shawn