Archive for September 2012

Friday Cocktails: Fall Sipper

Remember how Keith and I had big plans to get all healthy? Well, I think it's more like we're maintaining. For example, after returning home from the gym last night, I was planning a dinner of baked salmon, brown rice, and steamed broccoli. Instead, Keith cooked, i.e. he ordered pizza. Granted, it was really good pizza. And after that, why not just enjoy a cocktail too, right?

I present to you a perfect chilled seasonal cocktail...the Fall Sipper.

Fall Sipper

2 parts bourbon (I used Maker's 46.)
2 parts apple cider
2 parts ginger ale

1. Fill your glass with ice.

2. Add bourbon, apple cider, and ginger ale.

3. Give it a quick stir.

4. Garnish with an apple slice.

5. Enjoy!

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Book Review: Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Feeling much better and I'm convinced it was thanks to the bourbon. I'm sure it had nothing to do with all the sleep, soup, and Nyquil. Now that I'm back to feeling like myself, I want to tell you about the latest book I finished. Usually, I wait until the end of the review to make my recommendation. Well, this one is so good I'm recommending it right now. The reviews (NYTimesNPR, etc.) all rave about it, in case you don't believe me.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain is a great book that comments on contemporary American patriotism by telling the story of 19-year old Billy Lynn over the course of single day. The day is the final of a "victory tour" that's designed to reinvigorate support for the war. Lynn is a member of Bravo Squad, a group that survives intense firefight in Iraq, all of which is captured on film and later shown on Fox News. This, of course, turns them into overnight heroes.

BravoSquad is spending their final day, Thanksgiving, at the Dallas Cowboys football game. How much more American can you get? As you spend the day with Lynn, you learn his fears, dreams, and internal struggles about life and the war in general. I found myself emotionally invested in not just Billy's safety, but all members of Bravo squad.

I enjoyed this book so much I convinced Keith to read it too, and he's even recommended it to others. It's one of those book that once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down. Like The Angry Buddhist, I found myself thinking about the characters long after I had finished the book. I strongly recommend adding this to your list of must reads.

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Let this be my cure

What I thought was fall allergies is in fact a nasty little cold. I have a cough that rattles my chest. My head is all congested and I should probably buy stock in Puffs. I've tried Dayquil and Nyquil without too much success. I'm pulling out the big guns, baby.

Let's hope tonight's pour has me feeling better in the morning. If not, I'll be looking for answers. I hope you'll have something to share.

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Recipe: Bourbon Roasted Peach No Bake Cheesecake

We have been counting down until the return of the NLF since February 6, 2012. And long as last, the wait is over. Keith and I agree that Sundays during football season on meant to be spent lounging around the house eating junk food and watching every play. Keith also monitors his three fantasy teams, which I've finally made peace with. I'll spare you my fantasy football rant for another time.

With this being the start to the season and summer appearing to ride off into the sunset, I couldn't help but want to celebrate. What better way to do that than with a cheesecake? Seeing how successful the pairing of peaches and bourbon went with the ice cream, I decide to try my luck again with a cheesecake. I only had a few requirements...
  1. I wanted to taste the subtleness of the bourbon. 
  2. It had to be a no bake cheesecake. 

Thank god for the internet, right? I was able to adapt two recipes to get just that. What we end up with was a tangy, creamy cheesecake topped with the last bites of summer's peaches. 

Roasted Bourbon Peach No Bake Cheesecake
Adapted from recipes by Joy the Baker and Serious Eats

Bourbon Roasted Peach Topping:

4 ripe, but firm peaches, peeled and sliced
3 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/3 c. bourbon (I used Maker's Mark)
pinch of salt
2 T. brown sugar

Graham Cracker Crust:

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
2 T. granulated white sugar
6 T. unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:

8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 c. heavy whipping cream

1. Prepare the graham cracker crust by mixing the crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. If using whole graham crackers this can be done in the food processor. Press the combined mixture into the bottom of a well greased 9 inch spring form pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill while you make the filling. 

2. Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla. 

3. In a separate clean bowl, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Add half of the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and gently fold in. Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling over the chilled crust and smooth the top. Cover and place back in the fridge. 

4. While the cheesecake is chilling, roast the peaches. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Arrange the peaches in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet with lined with foil. Whisk together the melted butter, bourbon and salt. Pour the bourbon mixture over the peaches. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar over the peaches. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the peaches are tender and the liquid is syrupy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. 

5. Once the peaches are cool, spoon the peaches over the cheesecake. Be sure to scrape off the syrup as well. Cover again with plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours. 

6. Run a sharp knife dipped in hot water around the edge of the pan. Remove the spring form and slice. Can top with a dollop of whipped cream, but just as delicious without. 

7. Enjoy!

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Friday Cocktails: Summer Time Rickey

Summer is about fresh produce and seafood, sticky heat, and cold cocktails. As summer winds down, Labor Day is  the last hurrah before bidding summer farewell. And last weekend, we made sure to throw some thick steaks on the grill and bid it a proper adieu. While sitting on the back porch supervising keeping Keith company as he did so, I sipped on a refreshing blend of vanilla infused bourbon with a hint of lime and a splash of soda. This is a crisp and cool beverage with a bit of a kick, if you're not careful. 

Summer Time Rickey
Rift on Senart's Oyster & Chop House Cocktail 

Vanilla infused bourbon*
Juice of half a lime (the whole lime was just a tad much for me)
Club soda

1. Fill a highball glass with ice.

2. Add the lime juice.

3. Fill the glass with bourbon halfway (or less to taste).

4. Top with the soda. 

5. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

6. Cheers!

* To make the infused vanilla bourbon, I added a whole vanilla bean to a bottle of Jim Beam white label and let it get cozy for about 5 days. Every day I shook the bottle. After the third day, I would either smell or taste to see if it had reach it's proper vanillaness. On the fifth day, I strained the bourbon through a coffee filter on a fine mesh strainer to capture the little seeds before pouring it back into the original bottle. 

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Book Review: When We Were Romans

Do you have ever have a stack of books by your bed (or maybe somewhere else in your home) that you want to read, but none of them appeal to you at that specific moment when you have finished one and are looking for another?

I had read The Angry Buddhist and wasn’t quite ready to be finished with those characters. As I reviewed the pile of books that I had ordered with such enthusiasm they just weren’t striking the same excitement with me now that I was ready to select one as my next read. I wasn’t sure if I was having some kind of book hangover or what. So I started poking around on the NY Times Book Review, my recommendations at Amazon, and even a few blogs I regularly enjoy.

When I had found a recommendation that held some promise, I pulled out the trusty Kindle (gotta love instant gratification, right?) and ordered When We Were Romans. Given that the last time I followed the recommendation from Joanna from A Cup of Jo for a book, I wasn’t disappointed I thought I’d take her up on another one. 

This is the second book I’ve read where the author has opted to have a child serve as the narrator for the story. Let me just put this out there. It worked in The Room, but I was put off by it in this book.  I’ll explain.

The narrator, Lawrence, is quite an ordinary little boy. You learn of his love for Legos and Hotweheels. He shares his infatuation with Roman history and space. He also shares all of his thoughts, including memories, fears, and excitement.  The entire book consists of his misspelled and inconsistent punctuation as he takes you through his road trip to Rome and the adventures once there with an annoying little sister and a mother, who is a tad on the paranoid side.  

Where is really lost me and almost, I said almost, caused me to put it down forever was Lawrence’s stream of consciousness. However, like any lover of books and a story, I had to know how everything resolved itself so I plowed along.

This isn’t a book I would recommend given my frustration with Lawrence as the sole narrator. I wanted to go through with a red pen and fix all the misspellings and grammatical errors. I also wanted to just shut off his random thoughts as I often skipped many pages to get back to the actual story of why he was in Rome with his sister and mother.  That said, if you want a book where the author takes a daring approach to telling the story, then this may be worth a read.

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