Bloody Mary or Ceasar

I thought this recipe would be appropriate as New Year's approaches.  I've heard that it's good to drink vitamin C when you're hungover.    I also wanted to add these recipes as an homage to the Caesar.  That's what I was used to drinking while in Canada.  I was saddened to learn upon my return to the US, that most restaurants and bars thought a Caesar was just a salad and I had to resort to making them at home. 

What's a Caesar?

Although a Bloody Mary and a Caesar may look alike, they are worlds of taste apart.  Both drinks are made with vodka, but it is the clam juice that gives the Caesar its zesty bite.  In its homeland, Canada, the Caesar is second in popularity only to the Screwdriver and not just for breakfast. 
As the story goes,  the Caesar was created in 1969 when upper management at the Calgary Westin asked their bar manager, a fellow by the name of Walter Chell, to mix up a cocktail for a contest to mark the opening of their Italian restaurant, called Marco's.  In preparation for the contest, Walter spent three months developing the Caesar recipe.

Most recipes for both the Caesar and Bloody Mary are pretty much the same.  Vodka, tomato juice or clam juice, Worcestershire and lime, and a dash of hot sauce.  And be sure not to forget the garnish, our favorites are a piece of celery and a pickle spear.

Bloody Mary

1 1/2 oz Vodka
3 oz Tomato juice
1 dash Lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2-3 drops Tabasco sauce
1 wedge Lime

Mixing instructions:
Shake all ingredients (except lime wedge) with ice and strain into an old-fashioned glass over ice cubes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the wedge of lime and serve.

Bloody Caesar
1 oz Vodka
Celery salt
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Tabasco sauce
Clamato juice
Salt and Pepper

Mixing instructions:
Rim tall glass with celery salt, fill with ice and ingredients. Garnish with a celery stick, straw, and lime.

In case you like Tequila more than Vodka, here's another geographic variation.

Bloody Maria
1 oz Tequila
2 oz Tomato juice
1 dash Lemon juice
1 dash Tabasco sauce
1 dash Celery salt
1 slice Lemon

Mixing instructions:
Shake all ingredients (except lemon slice) with cracked ice and strain into an old-fashioned glass over ice cubes. Add the slice of lemon and serve.

Caesar Calienté
• 6 oz. Clamato
• 1 1/4 oz. vodka
• Dash Worcestershire sauce
• Dash hot red pepper sauce
• Celery salt (on rim)
• Celery garnish

Southern Caesar
• 6 oz. Clamato
• 1 1/4 oz. bourbon
• Dash Worcestershire sauce
• Celery garnish

Bloody Mary
• 4 cups Clamato
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
• 1 1/2 teaspoons celery salt
• Dash hot red pepper sauce
• 7 1/2 oz. vodka
• Cooked shrimp or lemon wedges, for garnish

In a 1 1/2 quart container, combine Clamato, lemon juice, Worcestershire, horseradish, black pepper, celery salt and hot red pepper sauce; refrigerate until chilled. At serving time, fill 5 (10 oz.) glasses with ice. Add 1 1/2 oz. vodka to each glass. Fill with Clamato mixture. Garnish each glass with a shrimp or lemon wedge. Makes 5 servings.

Stay thirsty my friend.

We in no way condone drinking.  Please drink responsibly.

Fortified Wine

When I think of port, I would think of old dockworkers standing around a barrel only lit by the light of a candle that's sticking out of an old chianti bottle.   To me port was an old man's sipping drink. 
Port is a fortified wine originating from northern Portugal.  Fortified wine is wine that has additional alcohol added to it. (regular table wine has an alcohol content from 12 -14%).  Port is made my adding grape brandy to the wine as it is fermenting.

But while looking for wine accessories in after Christmas sales, I found these interesting glasses for port.  (Click Wine Enthusiast for more info).  Considering it is something that should be sipped, this give the usual plastic straw a creative twist.
Fortified wine makes me think of winos and cheap booze.  It doesn't bring to mind port or vermouth.  Yes, vermouth.  While learning about wine, I discovered that vermouth is just fortified wine and not a liquor like I thought it was.  It's flavored with aromatic herbs and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, marjoram and chamomile.

Stay thirsty my friend!

Pockets - o - turkey

Instead of eating a ton turkey this year, I wanted options.  So this year, I tried to be frugal and continue on with our tradition of using what we had on hand. 

4 1/2 cups Original Bisquick® mix
1 cup boiling water
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups of chopped dark turkey meat
Leftover gravy

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray a cookie sheets with cooking spray.
In large bowl, stir Bisquick mix and boiling water until dough forms.
Place dough on surface sprinkled with Bisquick mix; roll in Bisquick mix to coat. Knead 20 times.
Divide dough into 6 balls. Return balls to bowl; cover with plastic wrap.
Pat or roll 1 ball of dough into 7-inch round.
Place oil in a pan and cook carrots and celery until soft, stir in chopped turkey
Spoon some turkey mixture onto half of the Bisquick round, top with 2 tablespoons of gravy; moisten edge of round with water. Fold other half of dough round over filling; press edge with fork to seal.  Cut a few slits in top of each for steam to escape.
Place on cookie sheet.
Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Brush tops of foldovers with oil mixture
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Stay hungry my friend!

Spinach and Chicken

The only bad thing about buying in bulk, is that, when you only have 2 people to cook for you have to get really creative, especially when you have 3 pounds of spinach too use and there is only so much steamed spinach you can eat.

I also live with a giant mouse, who insists on buying a new cheese everytime we go to Costco.  Sometimes our finds are good, sometimes, you have to find out what to do with 2 pounds of salty cheese.

This recipe will be an attempt to blend the two.

Spinach stuffed chicken

Ingredients & Directions
2 boneless skinless chicken breast
3 cups torn fresh spinach
1 small red onion chopped
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons salt-free option (Like Mrs. Dash)
½ tablespoon cayenne pepper
½ cup of lemon juice (enough to cover the bottom of pan)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large nonstick skillet, cook spinach in 1/2 in. of water over medium heat just until wilted, about 2 minutes. Drain and set spinach aside. In the same skillet, saute the onion and garlic in oil until tender; add spinach and set aside. (I cooked the garlic with the spinach).

Flatten chicken to 1/4-in. thickness.  Place chicken breasts in bowl with cayenne, salt-free herbs, lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Let chicken marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Lay chicken breasts out on counter and spread spinach mixture down the center of each chicken breast, top with 2 scoops of shredded cheese. Fold one side over filling and roll up tightly; secure with a toothpick.

Place seam side down in shallow baking dish and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes at 400°F  or until chicken is fully cooked. Keep warm in oven while sauce is being made.

2 cups of spinach
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup Cacique® Crema Mexicana
1 cup hard cheese grated (I used pecorino, since we had a huge block of that left over)
2 cups chicken stock

Place spinach in blender or food processor with Dijon and flour (I added a few fresh sprigs of garlic chives, just because I had a pot full of them). Puree. Bring stock to low simmer and stir in flour mixture, cook for 3 minutes. Add Crema Mexicana and cook for 3 more minutes then remove from heat. Stir in grated cheese until just melted, season to taste and serve over chicken breasts immediately.

Stay hungry my friend

How to Brine a turkey

Every year around the holidays there is always talk about brining a turkey, but it seems I've never gotten around to it.  This year, with a few days planning and a whole lotta talk about brine, I decided to do it!  It is a time consuming matter and requires four hands, two of which I didn't have and while placing the turkey in the bag, I almost lost the turkey.

What does brining do?  Well, it tenderizes the meat while adding flavor.  The typical brine recipe usually involves salt, sugar, water and spices.  While reviewing the plethora of information there is out there, I found these similarities, then I just worked with what I had on hand.

My brine:
1 cup of kosher salt
1/3 cup brown sugar (I used brown sugar instead of molasses so it wouldn't be as sweet)
8 cups of water
fresh thyme
fresh rosemary

Dissolve the sugar and salt in boiling water.  Let the water cool.
I used the oven bags that you use to cook the turkey, to hold the brine (double bag the oven bags)
Remove the goodies from the turkey cavity and replace with a bunch of thyme and rosemary as a quartered lime.  Place the turkey in the bags.
Pour the cooled liquid into the bag.
Remove as much air from the bag as possible and tie tight.
Place in fridge or your cooling unit.  Just be sure to keep the brine under 40 degrees.
I had a 16 lbs turkey, so I marinated for 24 hours, rotating the turkey before I went to bed.

Once you're done brining, remove the meat from the brine, pat it dry and cook it the same way you would otherwise.  I like wrapping my turkey in bacon, the skin comes out nice and crispy when done!

Funny thing did happen while doing this though. Friends had told me that I would need a ton of ice and a large plastic container to hold the turkey and it's brine overnight. So I went out and bought (5) seven pounds of ice, thinking that my refrigerator would not hold it. But it did, so I then had 35 pounds of ice. No worries though, the ice was not wasted, it was a weekend of margaritas.

Stay hungry my friend!

Leftover Cheese?

First off, there is really no such thing as left over cheese.  It all has a use, but after hosting a wine and cheese party you may feel as though you bought way too much and people didn't eat enough.  This recently happened to me after hosting my first tasting.  Buying cheese is the funnest part, trying different flavours, smelling the interesting characters of each milky concoction, but a fridge full of bits and pieces of a melange of cheeses, you can only eat so much cheese and crackers.
This time around I wanted to try and make something out of my leftovers.  Since I don't have a panini grill on hand, I settled for my trusty sandwich maker and a buttery grilled cheese.  there are recipes out there to make actual sandwiches with meat, but I chose to stay true, and just slapped together some bread and cheese. 
For me a perfect grilled cheese is plain ol' store brand whole wheat bread and processed cheese.  You know the kind, where you have to unwrap each slice, and that it's not really cheese, but oil and some yellow/orange bits that are pressed together in a mold (sorry Velveeta, I love you all the same). 

For this experiment, I chose "boule" shaped sourdough. Usually in my sandwich maker, I don't butter the bread because I like it crispy, but something told me to butter the bread this time.  And I was right, after buttering the outsides of the bread, I layered the brie on the toast, for utter perfection!  Here are some other recipes that I found, hope you like them.

Stay thirsty hungry my friend!

P.S.  It is a must the sandwich is cut diagonally!  Just like grandma used to!

Pie! (say in Cartman-like voice)

This was my first attempt and making pies and I am now in LOVE!!!!  Be careful though, these are a little sweet.

2 store-bought frozen pie crusts
2 graham cracker crusts
1 cup sugar
2 bags of frozen blueberries (thawed)
2 bags of frozen blackberries (thawed)
5 tablespoons flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Unfold pie crusts and cut into 1" strips.
Place blueberries and blackberries in strainer and rinse. Drain berries and add to large bowl
Add flour and toss to coat
Add sugar
Pour 1/2 of berries into each pie shell. Place strips on top of crust in criss-cross pattern to form a lattice. Bake for 45 - 60 minutes or until bubbly. Serve.

Stay hungry my friend.

Cucumber Medallions

In an attempt to not eat junk food this holiday season, I made healthy snacks.  Here's one to try, instead of the crunchiness of chips, try sliced cucumbers with a nice dip/cheese.
1 cup of kefir *
1/2 cup green peppers chopped
1/2 lime juiced 
1 tbs minced garlic 
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 English cucumber, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a plastic sandwich bag and cut a small hole in the corner. Lay out the cucumber circles and squeeze a bit of the mixture onto each cucumber.  Arrange them on a serving platter and serve.
*What is Kefir?
Traditionally made by draining whey from slightly salted yogurt, kefir is a thick & creamy yogurt cheese and a healthier alternative to regular cream cheese. It is also rich enough to be used as a substitute for sour cream.

Stay hungry my friend!

Sue's Yam and Apples

Piggy2 is not a big fan of yams, but this recipe made him change his mind.   When I got this recipe, there were no measurement, so adjust accordingly to taste.  What I thought was interesting was the use of mace.  When you look it up, there are a dozen different uses for the word mace, I had totally forgotten about the self defense spray, all I could think of what the huge club like weapon.  But in this recipe, it's a spice.

4 yams
4 apples (Fuji work great)
1 tbsp. mace
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 stick of butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Start by peeling the yams and cooking until they are tender.  You can either boil them or bake them, just make sure they are soft.  Not too soft though, as you have to slice them thinly once cooled.    Next, peel and core the apples, and slice them into thin pieces. 
Take deep pan and slather with butter.
Start with placing a layer of yams on the bottom of your cooking dish.  Layer apples over the yams.
Take a spoonful of butter and slather on top of apples, then sprinkle with mace, cinnamon, brown sugar and pecans. 
Repeat the layering.
Cover dish with foil and bake for 35-45 minutes, just until apples and yams are slightly tender.

Stay hungry my friend!

Chicken tomatillo enchiladas

With little in the freezer except two whole chickens, a pile of corn tortillas, and a jar of nuclear tomatillo sauce (I made the tomatillo sauce and used jalapenos instead of green chiles, BIG mistake! At least not use a whole 7 oz. can.  To cool it off, I bought a can of tomatillo sauce) I thought the only thing to make was enchiladas.

Use roast chicken (see lime chicken recipe)
Use tomatillo recipe (see tomatillo recipe)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 tbsp. of chopped garlic
2 cups of shredded chicken 
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
6 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 1/3 cups shredded Monterey jack and or Cheddar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 2 minutes. Stir in black beans and 1/2 cup of tomatillo sauce, simmer 5 minutes until sauce thickens.  Add chicken and saute 5 minutes.   

Stack the tortillas, wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave until soft, 30 seconds at a time, keep covered.

Arrange tortillas on a flat surface. Spoon a portion of the chicken mixture down the middle of each tortilla, top with cheese and roll.  Place the enchiladas side by side in a lightly oiled 9-by-13-inch baking dish and brush with the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Broil until crisp and golden, 3 minutes.

Pour the tomatillo sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Return to the oven and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Stay hungry my friend!

connecting via linked in

LinkedIn contacts are professionals like you and me.  They are not by nature ‘contacts’ or ‘prospects’ – while that well may be true, they are actually – well – humans.  Your network is comprised of real people who respond to thoughtfulness, intelligent contribution, mutual professional support, and of course, regular contact.
Following is an approach designed to make LinkedIn networking as meaningful as possible to the humans on the other end of the link.  Also recognizing that we are all human – the suggestions here are also designed to be implemented in 15 minutes per day.
A Week in the Life of a Human-centric LinkedIn Networker
First, take each day and do something on that day, each week.  This should take 6-10 minutes.
  • Monday:  Recommend someone.  Nothing puts a smile on someone’s face better than a heartfelt recommendation.  When you sit down to do this, keep in mind: 
    • Don’t JUST be a salesperson; be a person first, sales second.  Don’t just recommend people you want to do business with; recommend people in a way, and with timing, that can be meaningful to them. 
    • Be sincere. Nothing will backfire here – or anywhere in social media – quite as badly as lack of sincerity. 
    • Be original. Don’t say the same thing over and over, because depending on how it’s viewed online, that could become obvious and embarrassing for you.  Don’t use form letter language.  Take the time to do it right – or don’t do it at all. 
    • When shouldn’t you recommend?  When you have pending new business, or when you have nothing good to say. 
  • Tuesday:  Meaningfully contribute to your favorite group.  Start a discussion, or post something thought-provoking.  Whatever it is, be a part of creating the meaningful forum that you enjoy so much.  
  • Wednesday:  Review your contacts.  Who’s missing?  There will always be someone who you haven’t yet connected with, despite all your best efforts and spotless organization.  Take 5-10  minutes to track down a few email addresses, and start to find the people you wish were in your network again.  
  • Thursday:  Support other people, and they’ll support you.  Make note of who in your network is trying to get something off the ground, and do what you can to support it, so long as it’s relevant to your business. Join a group, comment on their new blog – whatever it is, do it – then post it as your linked-in status.  It’s good karma.  But…
    • Don’t join and then never comment.  You don’t have to comment every day, or every week.  But if a month goes by, maybe you should put your efforts elsewhere.
    • When you do comment, do not promote your company or your services.  It’s OK to put in a link to your website or profile, but don’t crowd the conversation with sales messaging.  Take five minutes and say something that shows off your expertise.
  • Friday:  Do something to support your corporate brand.  Do something that strengthens your business’ brand, and you’ll in turn strengthen your own professional network.  Ask yourself: Am I lifting the firm as a whole, or just myself?
Every day, use the second half of your 15 minutes to perform the following LinkedIn activities – try to do each of these a little bit every business day.
Post one status update every day.  If you spent time reading something, others might find it useful, too.  And the next time you write something, you’ll find you have more people listening when you share your own work.  If there’s a trackable link, use it.  Again with the karma factor: help others to track their results, and you set a good example for social media users everywhere.
  • So you’ve changed your status… now what?  Can you share that information in other social media forums, as well?  Is there something to share with more contextual detail with any of your groups?  Likely this will only take a second, and it will greatly expand the reach of your effort.
Connect, Support, Help Out.  Linked In is a connection between two humans, with a lot of other connections that surround it.  Rotate thinking about each of your contacts – dig deep into one person per day and think: what can I do to help them with their business?  Maybe other people will do the same for you.
Respond, respond, respond.  When people invite/ask for help/etc…. they mean you. They may be speaking to a large group of contacts, but every group is made up of individuals.
Show your smarts. 
  • Be a Thought Leader.  Put your best foot forward by putting your best thinking forward. 
  • Send Only Your Best.  Don’t crowd other people’s inboxes with anything less than your best thinking, and information that is genuinely useful and relevant.  Be real: what do people value from you?  Give it to them, and give them the best you’ve got.
Establishing a LinkedIn routine is just like any other new habit – it will take a while to kick in, and some weeks will be better than others.  If you fall out of the routine, don’t worry too much – just jump back in.  Remember… you’re only human.

To contact Margy Sweeney:
Phone:  312-252-7314
Twitter: @margysweeney
LinkedIn: Margy Sweeney

Apples and Cheese

I really like pairing apples and cheese, usually just cheddar and fuji apples.  I'm not quite adventurous enough for ricotta and gorgonzola.  But these fun little amuse-bouche are from a friends party I attended over the weekend.  My fabulous epicurean friend is always finding the most intriguing recipes.  I loved helping, since I had a helper who was doing all the chopping and toasting, all I had to do was put all the ingredients together.  I felt like a chef!

1 15-oz. carton whole milk ricotta cheese
6 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 tsp. snipped fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp. snipped fresh rosemary or 1/8 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1 Tbsp. honey
36 toasted baguette slices
Sliced apples, fresh thyme, and/or toasted walnuts

Place ricotta in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Stir in Gorgonzola, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon rosemary until combined.
Fold in 1 tablespoon honey until just combined. Spoon mixture into a serving bowl.
Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours. Makes 36 appetizer servings.
When you're ready for the party, spread the cheese mixture on spread on baguette slices and top with apple slices.  To help the walnuts stick, drizzle honey on the apples and top with walnuts.

Stay hungry my friend!