Day 2 of A Week of Holiday Cocktails – The Pomegranate Lush

The Pomegranate Lush

My seester’s in-laws have an old tree that grows the sweetest pomegranates I’ve ever tasted. The seeds are sugary sweet with just a hint of tartness. And the color is an intense deep shade of burgundy. I love to throw these gems into salads, parfaits, desserts and most recently, to flavor vodka. Infused vodkas are super easy to make and add a great flavor and kick to cocktails.

To make pomegranate infused vodka, fill a mason jar (or other clean, resealable container) about 2/3 way up with pomegranate seeds. Top off the jar with vodka and use a wooden spoon to crush up the seeds a bit to help release some of the juices. Cap the jar and refrigerate for about 2 weeks, shaking the jar every few days.

Voila! Pomegranate infused vodka at your disposal.

The Pomegranate Lush

This boozy goodnes is perfect for holiday cocktails because of it’s gorgeous hue and it packs a devilish punch. The vodka goes down quite smooth since it’s so tasty which can be a dangerous combo.

For this little number I wanted to combine the flavored vodka with a little bubbly…it is the holidays after all. Which is why I’m calling this The Pomegranate Lush –booze on booze on booze :)

Cheers!

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The Pomegranate Lush
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1½ ounces pomegranate infused vodka
dash of simple syrup
juice from 1 lime wedge
chilled sparkling wine

Pour the vodka, simple syrup and lime juice into a glass or champagne flute. Slowly fill the glass with the sparkling wine and enjoy!

A Week of Holiday Cocktails – The Spiced Apple Pie

The Spiced Apple Pie

I barely survived Thanksgiving weekend.

After a marathon meal and 18+ hours of Black Friday shopping (no, I’m not exaggerating), my sibs and I dived into a delish fall/harvest themed Family Dinner.

November 2013 Family Dinner

Since we were all consumed with preparing Thanksgiving dishes (times two for my sibs since they also had Thanksgiving with their in-laws), we wanted a menu that was pretty low maintenance.

For starters, we had a charcuterie and cheese platter to munch on. Then we moved on to roasted bone marrow – utterly decadent over toasted baguette slices and then topped with an herbaceous gremolata. For the entree, a slow-braised, saffron beef ragu. It’s a lovely spin on my seester’s delectable ossobuco that is slow cooked over a few hours. After the initial searing, you let the beef do it’s own magic with little babysitting. Perfect for recuperating shoppers. We served the rich ragu over a quick, yet utterly creamy parmesan polenta from Ina Garten.

The Spiced Apple Pie

To add some veggies to the dinner, I made a salad from dark hearty greens and topped them with homegrown pomegranates (from my seester’s in-laws) and thin starfruit slices from our mother’s old tree that now resides at our auntie’s house. I also threw in some Asian pear slices, goat cheese and a drizzle of a light Dijon based vinaigrette.

And for dessert (because there’s always room for dessert!), big sis made spiced-white wine poached Bosc pears that we enjoyed with vanilla ice cream. Quite a wonderful way to end the meal.

The Spiced Apple Pie

With a fall/harvest themed dinner, I created a cocktail that celebrated the flavors of the season. For this- and to kick off our Week of Holiday Cocktails, I’m delighted to share with you all the Spiced Apple Pie. It’s made from cider, warm spices and spiced rum. Truly apple pie in liquid form—with boozey goodness, of course :)

Another Family Dinner done and in the books and I can’t wait for December’s Family Dinner where all 5 Nguyen Siblings (and their fams) will be present! Totally a Win-Nguyen!

And here’s to the start of our Week of Holiday Cocktails!

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The Spiced Apple Pie
Serves 2

Ingredients:

ice
8 ounces unfiltered, apple cider
2½ ounces dark spiced rum
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
pinch ground allspice
pinch ground clove
dash vanilla extract
cinnamon sticks
apple slices

Fill a large cocktail shaker with ice and add all the ingredients except the cinnamon sticks & apple slices. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds and strain the contents between 2 glasses that have been filled with ice. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and apple slices. Cheers!

Watermelon Soju-tinis

Watermelon Soju-tinis

Did you check out our last Sunday Family Dinner?

If you did, you may have said to yourself…. “Huh…something’s missing. Where are the cocktails????”

And rightfully so! Because what’s a Sunday Fam-Din without a specialty cocktail? Not one of ours for sure!

Watermelon Soju-tinis

Since Korean fare was the theme for August, I knew I wanted to use soju for our signature cocktail. Soju is a distilled alcohol and is traditionally made from rice. To me, I liken it to the flavors of sake–but I’m no expert. So for all of you soju aficionados–don’t bust my chops!

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At a family party last year, my younger cousin NhuMy picked up some fresh watermelon agua fresca and turned it into delish watermelon martinis. My seester T and I loved it so much that I wanted to take the same flavors to make Watermelon Soju-tinis.

Watermelon Soju-tinis

Using fresh watermelon that eldest seester, N, had in her fridge (my niece, Nina, is a watermelon-monster), I made a refreshing and light agua fresca. Thrown into a shaker with some lime juice, soju, zest and ice—and we had fantabulous cocktail.

Looking for a mocktail? No worries! The agua fresca chilled with ice is just as delish!

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Watermelon Soju-tinis
Serves 2

Ingredients:

6 cups fresh watermelon, cut into large chunks
1 cup chilled water
juice of 1 lime
1-2 tablespoons sugar (optional), depending on sweetness of the watermelon
ice
3 1/2 ounces soju
lime zest
watermelon wedges for garnish

In a blender, add the watermelon chunks, water, lime juice and sugar (optional). Blend until smooth. Pour liquid through a sieve to strain.

Fill a large shaker with ice. Add the soju, 5 ounces watermelon agua fresca, and 1-2 pinches lime zest. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds and strain the contents between 2 glasses. Garnish with watermelon wedges. Cheers!

Because it’s Paloma o’clock somewhere…..

Palomas

Have you all been asking yourself where has the summer flown by? I feel like just a second ago we were celebrating all of the May babies and now Labor Day is just a hop, skip, jump away! Wowsers!

Time is FLYING BY! Where is Hermione and her Time-Turner when you need them?

And although I’ve been struggling to find time to complete my endless to-do lists, I can always pause to say…

TEE-GEE-EYE-EFF!!!!!!

Oh Friday….how I love thee……

Palomas

To toast off this beautiful Aloha Friday, I would recommend mixing up a few of these bright and refreshing Palomas. I think Palomas are often underrated and can quickly be overlooked for its more popular cousin–the Margarita.

Like Margaritas, Palomas are made up with tequila and fresh citrus juices– though the latter relies mostly on fresh grapefruits and limes. Since I adore the slight sweetness and pretty hue of pink grapefruits, I opt to use them in this delightful cocktail.

In a nutshell? It’s summer in glass!

So when things get crazy, push the pause button because it’s Paloma o’clock somewhere!

Cheers Friends!

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Palomas
Serves 2

Ingredients:

ice
6 ounces fresh pink grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (more if needed depending on the sweetness of the grapefruit)
3 ounces premium tequila
grapefruit soda or soda water
granulated sugar
grapefruit wedges

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup and tequila. Add the top and shake vigorously for 20-25 seconds. Pour into two glasses that have been rimmed with sugar and filled with ice. Top off with the grapefruit soda or soda water. Stir slightly and garnish each glass with grapefruit wedges. Cheers!

Summer Grilling Family Dinner + Fresh Peach Bellinis

Grilled Lobster with Cilantro Chile Butter

We’ve got a fair amount of July Babies in our family. Though, let’s be honest…with a family as large as ours, there are a lot of babies year round. Big Seester N, Big Seester P, brother-in-law, niece, several cousins, an auntie, an uncle….and that just includes the family in the states!

For July’s Sunday Family Dinner, we celebrated 2 of our July babies—Big Seester N and my brother-in-law R. As for theme? We kept the menu quite straight forward but pretty dang delicious.

Summer Grillin’

And of course, since we were celebrating, there had to be a bit of decadence. In the form of lobsters. Lots of lobsters.

N was totally freaking out Lucasaurus with them.

July 2013 Family Dinner

Seester T staffed the grill for a good portion of our meal which totally amused her hubs, the birthday boy.

July 2013 Family Dinner

Now what’s a Sunday Family Dinner without cocktails? Surely not one of ours!

This month we toasted with Fresh Peach Bellinis. Granted they weren’t grilled but they definitely were a nod to summer using wonderfully sweet, white peaches. After adding a few spoonfuls of fresh white peach puree and a squeeze of lime to champagne flutes, I topped off each glass with bubbly Prosecco.

Simply perfect.

Peach Bellinis

And of course, we had to take our mandatory-monthly Seesters pic while holding our cocktails.

Seesters

Our menu included:

Grilled Rosemary Flatbread.

Grilled Flat Bread

Grilled Pacific Oysters……..

Grilled Oysters

A few Grilled Ginormous Prawns…….

Grilled Prawns

Rosemary Garlic Lamb Rib Chops……….

Grilled Lamb Chops

and Grilled Lobsters with Cilantro-Chile Butter…….

Grilled Lobster with Cilantro Chile Butter

Did I mention that our kiddos have quite the refined palates?

And I think they’re uber adorable.

July 2013 Family Dinner

For dessert? Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée that my niece, Nina, made. Although technically not made on the grill, she did torch the tops to brûlée it.

Totally counts. :)

Creme Brulee

The kiddos also made this adorable sign for the birthday babies—I loved that they used their nicknames!

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Not only was the dinner scrumptious but it was fairly low maintenance with at least 80% of the “cooking” done on the grill. The cherry on top? It made clean up a breeze!

Peach Bellinis

And for those who cannot travel to Venice to try the original Bellini at Harry’s Bar, give my version a spin. My Seester said it’s pretty darn close to the real thing :)

CHEERS to another memorable Sunday Family Dinner!

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Fresh Peach Bellinis
Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 ripe white peaches, pitted and quartered
1/4 cup water
1-2 tablespoons sugar, optional
4 lime wedges
chilled Prosecco or other sparkling wine

Add the peaches and water into a blender. Depending on the sweetness of the peaches, add sugar as needed. Puree until smooth. Optional: Strain the peach puree through a fine-meshed strainer.

Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the peach puree into each glass. Squeeze the juice of a lime wedge into each glass and slowly top with the chilled Prosecco. Gently stir each glass before serving. Cheers!

Note: The Bellinis shown here are garnished with yellow peaches, however, the cocktails were made with the traditional white peach.

Japanese themed Family Dinner and Lychee Saketinis! Kampai!

April 2013 Family Dinner

I know I should be more humble about this but we really knocked it out of the park for this month’s Family Dinner where we took a gastronomic trip to Japan.

Dinner  was at eldest seester’s house and we literally cooked and ate for 3+ hours straight! Right when we finished one dish, we would only take intermittent pauses to nosh while we worked on the next dish. Quite fun, actually!

My seester has been talking about a fishmonger near her house for ages but we’ve never had a chance to give it try. So with a Japanese themed menu, what better opportunity? We were able to snag a bunch of beautiful product from Dry Dock Fish Co. and lemme tell you—totally rad.

So instead of just describing our menu, how about I show you what we inhaled.

April 2013 Family Dinner

Using the oysters we got from Dry Dock Fish Co., I put together these indulgent beauties. I drizzled each oyster with an Asian inspired mignonette, topped some with uni and tobiko, and fresh chives.

Swoon…..

April 2013 Family Dinner

This gorgeous sashimi platter consists of salmon, hamachi, ahi and ahi poke. We picked up the ahi poke pre-made from Dry Dock Fish Co. but added additional scallions, soy sauce and sesame oil for a bit more depth. And of course, we had some beautiful spot prawns.

Drools….

April 2013 Family Dinner

The spot prawns were so incredibly fresh. How fresh? So fresh that they were still swimming when we brought them home. And for those a bit wary of eating prawns sashimi style–don’t be! These spot prawns were incredibly sweet and had a wonderful crunch to them.

Sorry, I just had to stop myself from licking the screen.

April 2013 Family Dinner

As for the heads—waste not, want not! My sis quickly flashed fried and then lightly salted them.

Crunchy and filled with unctuous goodness…….

April 2013 Family Dinner

There were also pork and shrimp filled gyozas (that I commissioned my niece, Nini to fold) and of course, some yummy maki rolls. The rolls above were my seester’s brainchild–filled with lump crab and avocado, then topped with seared steak, black sesame seeds, and chives (that she commissioned our niece, Nina to roll).

Yea, we put the kids to work that night….

April 2013 Family Dinner

And it would be hard for me to have a Japanese meal without some satisfying spicy tuna rolls.

Nina rolled these for me too :)

April 2013 Family Dinner

We also wolfed down these Honey Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps adapted from a recipe from the rad Nami of Just One Cookbook. Sis par cooked the pork on the stove and then finished them off in the oven which gave them a crunchy texture that was lip-smackingly awesome from the glaze.

April 2013 Family Dinner

And the salmon collar–which we nearly forgot about! Luckily Big Sis remembered them half way through dinner and crisped them under the broiler. Crispy goodness though it stayed quite moist. Not the greatest photo but it was darn oishii!

 

April 2013 Family Dinner

Finally, we finished the savory portion of our meal with my Uni Pasta —because apparently, we didn’t have enough to eat.

At this point, we were feeling a little guilty (okay, just a tad) and rallied for a walk before dessert. Well, the gals + Lucasaurus went for a walk while the big boys opted out—the guys had gone for a mountain bike ride pre-dinner so we gave them a pass.

April 2013 Family Dinner

Dessert was an Icebox Green Tea Cheesecake I made with a chocolate crust. Since it was considered a “no bake” cheesecake, it was actually quite light and fluffy and was the perfect dessert to end our meal. The matcha added a slight bitterness to the filling but not at all overpowering.

Divine!

Lychee Saketinis

Of course it wouldn’t be a Family Dinner if we didn’t mix up a few thirst quenching cocktails. To go with our theme, I shook up these delish Lychee Saketinis that were aromatic and floral. And although they went down smooth, don’t let these little buggahs fool ya. They pack a punch!

Lychee Saketinis

I’ll be sharing several of the recipes we enjoyed in the next few posts but for now, I’ll let you in on how to make these wonderful Lychee Saketinis.

Until next time, Friends – Kampai!

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Lychee Saketinis
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 20-ounce can of lychee (in light syrup)
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
ice
juice of ½ lime
1½ ounces vodka
5 ounces sake

Pour the can of lychee and its syrup into a blender. Add the ginger and puree until smooth. Strain the lychee puree through a fine sieve, using a rubber spatula to push down on the pulp to release the liquid. Discard the pulp and set the lychee liquid aside.

Fill a large shaker with ice. Add the lime juice, vodka, sake and 5 ounces of the lychee liquid. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds and strain the contents between 2 glasses. Garnish with additional lychees and lime wedges. Cheers!

Pomegranate Mojitos – A Super Cocktail!

Pomegranate Mojitos

Is it in poor taste that I’m starting off the week with a post on Cocktails?

Nah!!!!!!!!

Especially when the cocktails are these fab Pomegranate Mojitos! Mint + Pomegranate Juice + a little Booziness —how could that be bad?

Pomegranate Mojitos

And aren’t pomegranates a super food? So as far as cocktails go….you could think of this one as being somewhat “healthier” for you.

Yup. You’re welcome.
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Pomegranate Mojitos
Serves 1

Ingredients:

15-20 Fresh Mint Leave
½ lime, cut into small wedges
½ tablespoons sugar
2 ounces light rum
4 ounces pomegranate juice
2 ounces club soda
1-2 cups crushed ice

In a cocktail shaker, thoroughly muddle the mint leaves, lime wedges and sugar. Add rum, pomegranate juice and fill the shaker with ice. Vigorously shake for 20 seconds and strain the liquids into a tall glass filled with ice. Top off glass with club soda. Garnish with lime slices and mint leaves.

Blood Orange Margaritas

Blood Orange Margaritas

TEE…GEE…EYE…EFF!!!!!

And what better way to ring in Aloha Friday than with a delish and refreshing cocktail?

Blood Orange Margaritas

Lately, blood oranges have been incredibly abundant in my neck of the woods. These little guys look quite unassuming from the outside but when you cut into them, they reveal an extraordinarily beautiful hue. As for the flavor, I find them to be slightly reminiscent of tangerines which goes so well with a kick of tequila.

And with that—have a wonderful weekend, Friends! Salud!

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Blood Orange Margaritas
Serves 1

Ingredients:

lime wedge
coarse salt
ice
4 ounces blood orange juice
2 ounces premium tequila
1 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice
2 ounces simple syrup
additional blood orange and lime slices for garnish

Use the lime wedge and rim the edge of a margarita glass. Dip the rim into salt and coat the edge of the glass.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the blood orange juice, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and simple syrup. Cap the shaker and vigorously shake for 15-20 seconds. Pour the contents into the glass and garnish with additional orange and lime slices

Boozy Mint Chip Shakes — Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Boozy Mint Chip Shakes

Need something green to help you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Well you’re in luck because I’ve got a super green, super delish and super boozy shake for you.

Boozy Mint Chip Shakes

Tons of mint chocolate chip ice cream blended with Baileys Mint Chocolate Irish Cream and topped with swirls of mint flavored whipped cream. Green, minty deliciousness!

HAPPY ST.PATRICK’S DAY!!!

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Boozy Mint Chip Shakes
Serves 2

Ingredients

Mint Flavored Whipped Cream
½ cup chilled heavy cream
½ tablespoon sugar
2 drops mint extract

Shake
2 heaping cups mint chocolate chip ice cream
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon malt powder
2½ ounces Baileys Mint Chocolate Irish Cream
1-2 drops green food color (optional)
Sprinkles

Prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar until you reach a thick consistency. Add in the mint extract and whip until combined.

In a blender, combine ice cream, milk, malt powder, Irish cream and food color (optional). Blend until the mixture is smooth and combined.

Pour the shake into two chilled glasses and top with swirls of whipped cream. Add sprinkles and enjoy!

Toasting the Oscars with a “Sparkling Tangerine Tiger”

Sparkling Tangerine Tiger

I adore Oscars Season. The movies, the glitz, the fashion, the glamor, the festivities….

And like the Superbowl, I usually do a spread of my picks for the awards.

Sparkling Tangerine Tiger

At this point, I’ve watched 7 out of the 9 nominees for Best Picture. Not too shabby right?

And since I’m having a little shindig at mi casa to watch the event, my pals and I attempted to create a menu as an homage to some of the films:

Sparkling Tangerine Tiger

To pair with our Oscars bites, I wanted to serve my guests with a cocktail…..or two, or three.

As my nod to Life of Pi, I’ll be shakin’ up a refreshing cocktail using Bombay Sapphire Gin, fresh tangerines, limes, raw sugar, mint and a good dose of sparkling wine. Peppery, bright, refreshing, and just plain lovely. After much consultation from my cocktail lovin’ peeps, I’ve dubbed this concoction, the Sparkling Tangerine Tiger.

Rawwwrrr……

However you choose to cerebrate, hope y’all enjoy the Oscars tomorrow—I know we will!

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Sparkling Tangerine Tiger Cocktail
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1/2 tangerine, cut into small wedges
1/2 lime, cut into small wedges
10 fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon raw sugar
2 1/2 ounces Bombay Sapphire
ice
6 ounces sparkling wine
*garnish with additional mint leaves, lime wedges and tangerine wedges

In a shaker, muddle the tangerine, lime, mint and sugar. Add the gin and shake well.

Fill two glasses with ice. Strain and divide the liquids amongst the two glasses. Top each glass with 1/2 of the sparkling wine. Garnish with citrus wedges and mint leaves.