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It’s lovely when you can make cocktails with fresh fruit but don’t limit yourself either; this Cherry Mint Vodka Spritzer is perfect using Cherry Preserves.

This post is a refresher…I refreshed the photos and want to share it again with you. I made this for friends last weekend and they said they had never noticed the recipe on my blog…hey, I can fix that! Hope you enjoy it the 2nd time around…isn’t love supposed to be lovelier?

I may never know what a marriage made in Heaven is like unless you count the fact that I’ve just started working with Sprouts. Yes, THE Sprouts! Just one of my favorite places to shop. I’ll be honest though, a few years ago when my favorite Albertson’s closed and the space was taken over by this place called Sprouts that I had never heard of; I was not a happy camper.

Still, like a good neighbor I gave them a chance and it’s turned into love. And I LOVE them. Their produce is the best, their meats are what fill my freezer and their personnel, no matter the store, are warm and friendly. A dream client for someone as picky as me who can only promote what I love!

And trust me, this Cherry Mint Vodka Spritzer is a dream too and one you can enjoy all year round because it uses Sprouts Organic Cherry Jam. I love me some cherries but they are both a short lived crop and let’s be honest…a pain too. I would pay double to find them pitted already, wouldn’t you?

Is it any wonder that we started working together with a cocktail? Go on chuckle if you must but I’m OK with the monikers; the Booze Queen, Queen of Cocktails and more. I take some pride in having started a revolution of sorts many years ago when I was one of the very first food bloggers to consider cocktails for my blog and did so in a big way; a weekly lovefest that is now copied by many and loved by many more.

Friday Cocktails holds a special place in my heart too; I have loved creating cocktails for friends and family for almost as many years as I have been making them food…even if I limited myself to just a chosen few recipes for a very long time. Today I’m far more inclined to create something new but some rules have always applied.

You know the KISS rule? Keep It Simple Stupid? Really the best one to remember for cocktails. I was recently at a vodka tasting and the place was filled with bartenders; many who were highly touted in their craft.

One was on his way to a national mixologist championship and I felt a true kinship when he said he didn’t bother with the current trend of homemade bitters and adding multiple fancy liqueurs to his cocktail creations.

Why should you when a couple of great ingredients can do the trick? You can make a wide range of great cocktails with no more than 5 ingredients; start thinking of jam as one of them!

Today’s cocktail is a great example of how a couple of simple components can make a great cocktail and one that is SO easy to make at home. Vodka, lemon, simple syrup and mint are mainstays for many drinks with the fruit adding the unique flavor component.

While fresh cherries would be sublime, let’s talk time. First you have to pit them. Enough said? But seriously, anytime you see a recipe for fresh fruit and you’ve got some jam on hand…try it instead; it’s why I keep a good assortment of Sprouts Organic Jams in my pantry and really how versatile can you get? Use some for breakfast in the AM and again with booze for Happy Hour!

Quite honestly this cocktail would be good with a variety of jams…pick your favorite and give it a go…and as always…Cheers!

PIN ‘Cherry Mint Vodka Spritzer’

Yield: 2 Cocktails Cherry Mint Vodka Spritzer Cocktail
Print
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp Cherry Preserves
  • 4-6 mint leaves
  • 1 thin lemon slice
  • 1 Tbsp simple syrup
  • 1.5 oz vodka
  • Sparkling Lemonade – Regular or Pink
For Garnish
  • Lemon slices, mint leaves and whole un-pitted cherries (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place highball glasses in the freezer to chill about 10 minutes before constructing the cocktail.
  2. Remove the glass from the freezer and combine the cherry preserves, mint leaves, lemon slice and simple syrup in the bottom using a muddler or the back of a spoon. Crush everything together until the mint and lemon have released their flavor.
  3. Fill the glass with ice and top with the vodka and sparkling lemonade and stir gently.
  4. Garnish with mint, lemon and a fresh cherry if available.
© Creative Culinary
Category: Vodka

The post Cherry Mint Vodka Spritzer Cocktail appeared first on Creative Culinary.

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The post appeared first on Creative Culinary.

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This Sparkling Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail is so easy to make, tastes delicious plus it’s beautiful to boot; perfect for summer!

The path to this Sparkling Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail was serendipity. My daughter Emily was in town this past week and I took some time off on Tuesday to join her and her husband Chris for lunch in historic downtown Castle Rock.

She chose Sienna, a restaurant in old Castle Rock and we lucked out; we had a wonderful lunch. As we were reading menus the waiter mentioned the special of the day; a prime rib sandwich with grilled onions and Gorgonzola cheese. Yes please…for all three of us!

We also ordered some crispy fried calamari that really was perfect, the meat was tender, the coating was crispy and not greasy and the accompanying red chili lemongrass vinaigrette was light with a sweet and spicy taste. It was very reminiscent of the Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce that I keep on hand in my fridge.

I don’t typically order a cocktail with lunch but when Emily ordered a Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail, it sounded so good that I was quick to follow suit. It was served in a martini glass and I have to say that sadly it was the only disappointment of the day.

While they did garnish the drink with some blueberries, the ‘blueberry’ part of this cocktail was simply Pinnacle’s Blueberry Vodka; a clear, flavored vodka. Not exactly what I expected…and combined with a lackluster lemonade it was just OK.

Trust me, I’m always happy to have a moment to get out and have someone else prepare food and drink for me, so I appreciated the company and enjoyed it…but thought I could do better!

The Simplicity of Good Ingredients
  • Fresh blueberries for a blueberry simple syrup
  • Good vodka (I like Grey Goose)
  • Lemonade made from only lemons and sugar, no artificial ingredients
  • Fresh lemon and mint and blueberries for garnish

By George I think I’ve done it with this Sparkling Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail! I upped the ante on everything too, combining blueberry simple syrup with lemonade and vodka and a splash of club soda for some fizz.

While I will often juice lemons or limes for a couple of cocktails, this time around I made it even easier, using lemonade concentrate. I wanted a cocktail that is made in quantity for summer events and the lemonade was easy and good too. Win-win!

Remembering the days when I would die trying to get a restaurant to provide me with a recipe; now I’m thinking the tables have been reversed. This was fantastic and I think they need me to share!

Too bad Emily and Chris couldn’t circle back around here for one of these; it would have been fun for all of us to compare. I already know what I’ll be making for our 4th of July picnic…it’s perfect and so perfectly delicious!

PIN ‘Sparkling Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail’

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Sparkling Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail
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This Sparkling Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail is so easy to make, tastes delicious and is beautiful to boot; perfect for summer!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Ingredients For the Blueberry Simple Syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
For the Lemonade:
  • 1 12 oz can lemonade concentrate
  • 30 oz cold water
  • 10 oz ice
To Make the Cocktail:
  • 2 Tbsp Blueberry Syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 3 oz lemonade
  • 1 oz sparkling water
For Garnish:
  • Lemon slices, blueberries and mint sprigs for garnish
Instructions

To Make the Simple Syrup:

  1. Combine water, blueberries and sugar in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and lower heat to simmer. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Pour the mixture through a strainer; lightly pressing the solids and then discard them; refrigerate until cool.

To Make the Lemonade:

  1. Combine the lemonade concentrate, water, and ice in a tall pitcher and stir thoroughly until ice has melted.

To Prepare the Cocktail:

  1. Pour the blueberry syrup in the bottom of a tall glass, top with ice, add the vodka, then lemonade and top with club soda.
  2. Either stir before adding garnish or serve with the layers and a straw for guests to stir
  3. Garnish with fresh blueberries, lemon slices, and mint sprigs.
Notes

You can serve this in a lowball glass that is large enough for the volume or serve it in a highball glass.

© Creative Culinary

The post Sparkling Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail appeared first on Creative Culinary.

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Bake a round of Brie with a variety of fresh fruits; you can switch it up depending on what is available at your local market. For Spring I love fresh berries so today it’s a combination of blackberries and raspberries. Their tartness is a nice match with the sweetness of the brown sugar sauce and a nice Brie.

I love this dish so much I could eat it every day…and I proved it too! I made this Baked Brie with Berries and Walnuts for a meeting at my home last week. As I was working on putting it together, a neighbor showed up unexpectedly and I chatted with her a bit.  As a result, it meant the other committee members were arriving as she left and I was not done…uh oh.

To be honest, if it had been my neighbors coming here casually, they know the drill and would have waited if necessary. This was not that. This meeting was the new Events Committee for my neighborhood and I felt compelled to keep it on time so I served the Pineapple Margaritas I had made and set aside the Brie. Unfortunately the only photos I got were the next morning when it was half gone. No worries, I’ve taken next day photos a lot, maybe not with half the dish gone but I pushed forward and got photos and that was that.

Our theme for this month’s Progressive Eats are dishes that highlight the flavors of Spring and for me, I am so ready for really good, really fresh fruit like these raspberries and blackberries. I combined them with a brown sugar sauce, some toasted walnuts and a round of Brie. While I did simmer the blackberries in the brown sugar sauce a bit to soften then, I simply scattered the raspberries on top once everything else was combined. They are so delicate that cooking them would have seen them falling into a million little bits!

Aren’t they beautiful? I’ve been making do with a lot of frozen fruit the last couple of months and I’m in heaven when I walk into the market and see all the gorgeous fruits on display. I’m still wary of watermelon and peaches this early but all the berries? They are so good…they might not be local yet but they are coming from California and are juicy and ripe and delicious.

One thing to really love? This is SO easy. A round of Brie is warmed and topped with berries, toasted walnuts and a brown sugar sauce. Fresh raspberries are scattered on top and you’re done. Warm, soft, crispy, sweet, tart…such a great combination of textures and tastes! It’s a great appetizer but timing was off for Sherry and Sam and their kids as they were eating an early dinner. They came here to eat this Brie for dessert and it was oh so Francais…it really worked!

I have a feeling they might be dinner for me again this week if we don’t finish the dish off tonight…and I’m so not complaining! If you decide you have to have this appetizer too; don’t be afraid to mix and match the fruits. I think peaches and blueberries might be next on my agenda; um, doesn’t THAT sound good?!!

PIN ‘Baked Brie with Berries and Walnuts’

Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is Spring Has Sprung- Dishes that highlight ingredients and flavors associated with spring, and our host is Laura who blogs at Mother Would Know

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious spring inspired dishes!

Spring Has Sprung- Dishes that highlight ingredients and flavors associated with Spring

Beverages

Appetizers

Soup

Bread

Main Courses

Side Dish

Desserts

Yield: 8 Servings Baked Brie with Berries and Walnuts
Print
Baked Brie with Berries and Walnuts is not only pretty but it's delicious too. Easy too...the best type of appetizer!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 16 oz wheel of Brie
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp apple or pineapple Juice
  • 6 oz blackberries
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 3 oz raspberries
  • Toasted french baguette slices or crackers
  • Grapes and/or apple slices
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Put brie in an oven proof pan and bake for 10 minutes until just starting to melt.
  3. While brie is warming, melt butter and brown sugar in pan and stir until melted.
  4. Add juice and stir until incorporated.
  5. Add in blackberries, stir until berries are warm; mash a couple to add some color to the sauce. Add the chopped nuts to the mixture and remove from stove-top.
  6. Remove brie from oven and top with fruit and nut mixture; scatter raspberries over the top.
  7. Serve with baguette slices and grapes or apple slices.
Notes

Toasted Walnuts

  • Place walnuts on an oven proof plate in a single layer and toast in toaster oven or regular oven for 4-6 minutes, stirring halfway. Watch carefully!
  • Cool, then rough chop.


Nutrition Information: Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 546 Total Fat: 32g Saturated Fat: 14g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 16g Cholesterol: 67mg Sodium: 641mg Carbohydrates: 50g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 24g Protein: 19g
The nutritional information is computer-generated and only an estimate.
© Creative Culinary
Category: All Recipes

The post Baked Brie with Berries and Walnuts appeared first on Creative Culinary.

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The Fresh Pineapple Margarita Cocktail uses fresh fruit instead of juice, good tequila, and real orange liqueur. Using the best ingredients makes a huge difference!

I volunteered to host a committee meeting in my home last week with other women in my neighborhood. We had volunteered to work on events for our community. I also volunteered to make a cocktail and without any objections I started thinking about what that would be.

One thing I do like about margaritas for a crowd is the fact that because tequila is made from the agave plant, it is gluten free. That eliminates a lot of objections that can occur and I don’t have to worry about those if I go down that path. Last week was no exception but I ran into one snag.

Do you know how many margaritas I’ve made for this blog since I started cocktails 6 years ago. Beyond a lot! I went to Sprouts Market in search of a fruit I had not used and at first it was defeating. Strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, peach, jalapeno, well…the list went on and on. I saw some mangoes that I could have used but they were as hard as a rock and so ‘no muy bueno!’

Honestly I was looking at bananas (um no), coconut (OK, maybe) and then spied some fresh pineapples. Bingo…my search was over. I’ve seen recipes using pineapple juice but I’ve never been inspired to go that route so this was perfect timing. Fresh fruit makes such a difference in my book and I couldn’t wait to try this.

A couple of years ago I bought another fresh pineapple like this and rooted the top; you can too! Just slice off the top with about 3/4″ of fruit attached and put it in a shallow saucer, adding just enough water to keep the bottom wet. Roots will sprout and once there are enough you can plant it in dirt. I eventually gave mine to my neighbor Sherry, she of the perfect light in her dining room, and that sucker is HUGE!

To be honest, once you find a really good margarita recipe; little changes from one version to the other; the ratios for tequila, lime and orange liqueur remain pretty much the same. The only real necessity for this recipe was a good blender or food processor; you will be taking fresh fruit and emulsifying it for this Fresh Pineapple Margarita Cocktail.

I know for some of my readers that my reminding you to use good products is beyond redundant. But I’m always thinking of someone reading this that might not have visited my page and is not aware of my margarita obsession so I repeat it often. Use good tequila. Gold is not good; don’t let the name fool  you.

I was provided with a bottle of Volcan Tequila recently and was anxious to sample it in a cocktail. I have a couple of añejo tequilas that are aged and good enough to drink neat but that’s not my preference; give me a great fruity cocktail please. Before even trying it, it fit one prerequisite. I typically only use either a blanco tequila or a reposado tequila when making cocktails.

Blanco is tequila in it’s purest form. It’s the freshly distilled spirit without any oak aging at all. These tequilas show you the true expertise of the distiller, because there are no oak flavors or aging to hide behind. It’s just the flavor of agave, freshly distilled.

Reposado are tequilas that see two months to one year in oak. This is a tequila that’s perfect for Margaritas and other mixed drinks, as the slight amount of aging rounds and softens it. My recipe for what I seriously think is THE BEST MARGARITA is stellar and for that one I have to use a reposado; that bit of aging is evident when there is not the additional fruit added that rounds out the cocktail.

I enjoy using a blanco when I’m making a fruit forward margarita and this Volcan was good…even without aging it had a smoothness that I appreciated. Some notes about this brand:

  • Volcan is grown in the shadow of a volcano. Eruption shaped the terrain and ash created fertile soil.
  • An expression of their terroir Tequila Blanco blends its herbal, citrus, and spice notes indicative of the lowlands with fruit notes of cherry, pear, and peach from the highlands – perfect notes for my fruit laden margaritas!

Fresh fruit is a must (although I have cheated a couple of times and used either frozen fruit or jams when fresh is out of season) as is real orange liqueur; please no Triple Sec. It’s typically artificially flavored sugar water; find a liqueur with real essence of orange. I usually sweeten mine with simple syrup which really is simple…equal amounts water and sugar are boiled; as soon as the sugar is melted take it off the heat, pour it into a container, and cool it in fridge. Agave Nectar is another option.

I make about a cup at a time (one cup water, one cup sugar) and it lasts for quite a while. Really pretty simple but the results don’t have to be. One of my guests told me that this was the best margarita she had ever had…and asked me for the recipe the next day so she and her sister could make a batch; I love that!

If you love this one too or want to try something different, I really do have a lot of them. Here’s a couple of favorites or simply search the site for ‘margaritas’ and you’ll find pages of them!

Cheers!

More of My Favorite Margaritas!
The BEST Fresh Margarita Cocktail

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Strawberry Basil Margarita Cocktail

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Tequila Sunrise Margarita Cocktail

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Fresh Strawberry Margarita Cocktail

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Casamigos Tequila Margarita Cocktail

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Watermelon Margarita

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PIN ‘Fresh Pineapple Margarita Cocktail’

Fresh Pineapple Margarita Cocktails
Print
Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh pineapple chunks (about 1.5 pounds)
  • 1 cup blanco tequila
  • 3/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 3/4 cup limeade
  • 3/4 cups ice or ice water
  • Lime wedges for rimming
  • Equal amounts kosher salt and sugar, combined
  • Pineapple wedges for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine pineapple, tequila, orange liqueur, limeade and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Rub a lime slice around the top of each glass and dip in the salt/sugar combination. Fill the glasses with ice and pour the margarita into the glasses.
  3. Garnish with pineapple wedges.
Nutrition Information: Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 102mg Carbohydrates: 35g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 32g Protein: 1g
The nutritional information is computer-generated and only an estimate.
© Creative Culinary

The post Fresh Pineapple Margarita Cocktail appeared first on Creative Culinary.

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Cincinnati Chili is a unique and delicious version of chili heavily influenced with Greek spices and topped with cheese in the version we love the best.

  

I’m originally from St. Louis but when my then husband and I had only been married a couple of years he was offered a great job in North Carolina and off we went on a grand adventure. Our only child was a dog named Heather and the notion of moving to the South was different and exciting for both of us with such strong Midwestern roots.

We bought our first home in NC and both of our children were born there so it was with a heavy heart that 10 years later I agreed to move again to Denver, Colorado. The climate was hard to adjust to…not just the dry air but a bareness that seemed the polar opposite of North Carolina where we had lived on an acre lot in a neighborhood which was basically cut out of a forest of trees.

Our new home in a suburb of Denver was at most 1/5 of an acre with no grass and no trees and they would not be planted for months after our move in late fall. More than grass and trees though I missed some of the best friends I had ever had and dealing with the exhaustion of adjusting to living at high altitude I was ready to bolt and run back to North Carolina in a heartbeat!

Luckily our neighborhood was filled with a lot of transplants and I soon started to meet a lot of other moms in the neighborhood; mostly through my kids and my volunteering at their school. I quickly became fast friends with Elaine and our daughters, both named Emily, also became best of buds.

Elaine and her family were from Cincinnati, Ohio and though we shared Midwestern roots, we also were able to share with each other some food traditions unique to our own area. I introduced her to Gooey Butter Cake and she shared Cincinnati Chili with me.

The recipe Elaine had was a recreation of the dish from the iconic home of Cincinnati Chili, Skyline Chili. The original owner’s Greek roots can clearly be seen in the unique blend of spices including cinnamon, cloves and cocoa. That’s right! Other secrets to this recipe include the initial braise of the meat in water, the long slow cooking and the overnight refrigeration, which allows all the flavors to meld (and sure makes it easy to remove any excess fat).

I’m not sure I would have ever made this chili on my own based on that ingredient list. Cinnamon? Cloves? Really? But my taste buds were introduced before I saw those ingredients, the spaghetti and cheddar cheese were irresistible and I’m glad Elaine shared this food tradition from her hometown because it’s been a favorite ever since.

No, you will not confuse it with a cinnamon roll, I promise. All of the flavors combined make for a unique spicy taste that is almost difficult to describe but tastes absolutely delicious.

Skyline serves their chili different ways depending on how you like it topped but we’ve always been a fan of Three-Way…served over spaghetti with shredded cheese. And always with oyster crackers; sure it’s pasta and crackers but it’s a great crunch so it’s allowed! I think next time I’ll go with onions too; I love raw onion and now that my youngest is no longer living here I have to remind myself sometimes I can do what I want!

  • Plain Chili Spaghetti — Steaming spaghetti covered with chili
  • 3-Way — Steaming spaghetti covered with chili, topped with a mound of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4-Way — 3-Way with onions or beans
  • 5-Way — 3-Way with onions and beans

If you have the time, I’m going to suggest that you shred your own cheese for this dish. Yes, it’s a bit of a pain, although I’ll be honest, the box grater was great for photos but without that need? A block of cheese can be zapped in seconds using one of the graters that come with a food processor.

Storebought cheese has an additive called cellulose added to shredded cheese that keeps it from sticking together. Cellulose is made from wood pulp. I try to avoid wood pulp in my food; that is all!

That’s my one perfect bite; pasta, chili, cheese and oyster cracker. Parsley not required…I just like the touch of color if I have it in the fridge. I’m going to have another dish of it tonight and think fondly of Elaine and Emily…they long ago moved back to Cincinnati and sadly we lost touch but I will always have such fond memories…including this one that I can recreate!

PIN ‘Cincinnati Chili with Cheese’

More Chili!
Chipotle Chili is the BEST Ever!

A little more heat but still not on fire; one of our favorites.

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Award Winning Three Bean Chili from Emily

My daughter won a Chili Competition at work so of course I needed to have this on my blog!

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Smoky Beef, Bacon and Bourbon Chili

Filled with beef and bacon and with a great smoky flavor.

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Yield: 6-8 Cincinnati Chili with Spaghetti and Cheddar Cheese
Print
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Additional Time 8 hours
Total Time 11 hours 50 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 quart cold water
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 cups crushed tomato
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • We like ours served with:
  • 1 lb Spaghetti, cooked (6 Servings)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Oyster crackers
Instructions
  1. Add water and beef to a large skillet or pot. Bring to a simmer while stirring until the ground beef is in very small pieces. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on low, uncovered, for 3 hours. Add water as needed if the chili becomes too thick.
  3. Refrigerate the chili overnight; remove the layer of fat from the top before reheating and serving.
  4. Put spaghetti on serving plate, top with chili and then generously top chili with shredded cheese.
  5. Serve with oyster crackers.
Nutrition Information: Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 834
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
© Creative Culinary

The post Cincinnati Chili with Spaghetti and Cheddar Cheese appeared first on Creative Culinary.

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This Curry Chicken Salad  with Dried Cranberries and Toasted Walnuts is a favorite of mine. The dried fruit and toasted nuts really elevate the salad and it’s fantastic.

  

I first had this Curry Chicken Salad with Dried Cranberries and Toasted Walnuts at a networking event at a local Chamber of Commerce event that I attended several years ago. It was so good that everyone wanted the recipe from the woman who had made it. She told us it was her favorite thing to prepare with leftover chicken and now it’s mine too.

Though I’ve made it with leftover grilled chicken breast I think it best when I buy or make a rotisserie style chicken and use a combination of dark and white meat. One whole chicken is just about enough to double the recipe too if you’re making it for a crowd. I decided to make this just for me this past week and hide it at the back of the fridge so I wouldn’t finish it off in one day!

I’ll eat it on a crusty roll as a sandwich but also love it simply scooped onto some lettuce and served with crackers and grapes. Always grapes. I’m not sure why but for me grapes are a must with this salad; they are a great complement with the curry spice in the chicken.

Over the years I’ve modified the original a bit with the addition of some dried cranberries and toasted nuts; while I love the splash of color and texture they add, the combination of the two really elevate a simple chicken salad from really good to extraordinary.

We’ve enjoyed this using turkey as well; especially after Thanksgiving when we have such an abundance of turkey. I start to crave something a bit lighter for dinner that doesn’t taste like a rehash of our Thanksgiving meal. It really is great all year round!

PIN ‘Curry Chicken Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts’

Yield: 4 Servings Curry Chicken Salad with Dried Cranberries and Toasted Walnuts
Print
A delicious blend of chicken, dried fruit, and toasted nuts with a curry flavored mayonnaise and yogurt dressing. Our favorite!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Ingredients For the Curry Mayonnaise:
  • 1/2 c. good mayonnaise (Not salad dressing)
  • 1/2 c. Greek yogurt (not absolute, but I just love Greek yogurt!)
  • 2 T. mild tasting oil (preferably walnut oil, but you can use plain salad oil)
  • 1 T. curry (I get my curry from a local spice shop; the difference in using a good curry really is evident!)
For the Salad:
  • 2 cups cooked, diced or shredded chicken
  • 1/2 c. – 3/4 c. dried cranberries (raisins can be substituted)
  • 1/2 c. – 3/4 c. toasted walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
  • Minced onion to taste - 2-3 Tbsp
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Make the dressing; mix mayo and yogurt in medium size bowl and set aside.
  2. In a small skillet heat curry & oil over low heat until fragrant. Let cool and whisk into yogurt/mayo mixture.
  3. Put chicken, cranberries, toasted nuts, and onion in a medium bowl and gently combine. Add the dressing and toss just to cover all of the other ingredients.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to your taste and then chill for a couple of hours or overnight.
Notes

I always serve with red grapes on the side; I just love the combination of the seasoned salad with the crisp sweet grapes.

Nutrition Information: Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 838 Total Fat: 59g Saturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 47g Cholesterol: 117mg Sodium: 378mg Carbohydrates: 39g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 28g Protein: 42g
The nutritional information is computer-generated and only an estimate.
© Creative Culinary

The post Curry Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts appeared first on Creative Culinary.

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The standard pie is already the best, adding bourbon to both the pie and whipped cream makes it even better! French Silk Pie with Bourbon is amazing!

I’m a bit tardy with this treat. I had the best intentions; thinking I would make this French Silk Pie with Bourbon for the Kentucky Derby…you know bourbon and all? But I didn’t even get to watch the Derby much less have my standard half hour party with neighbors. It wasn’t anything major, just a nice day and my yard calling to me.

We’ve had the standard high country Spring. Seventy-five degrees one day and snow the next and that Saturday was too beautiful to stay inside. As it turns out seems I missed quite the race hmm? I’m with the rules people; while I cannot imagine the heartbreak of that announcement, clearly the first winner was drifting way too far in front of other horses. Seeing their feet flying so close together I’m just glad no horses or riders went down and were injured. Life is funny and not always fair but I thought this decision was.

Still I could not get this pie out of my mind. I’ve been making this standard recipe for French Silk Pie for years. And yes, same photos over there. They were so old and awful and really except for a bit of  bourbon, it is the same pie so you’ll forgive me right? Either one is excellent.

Truth be told, the photo of the whole pie is the ‘regular’ one and the photos of the slices have bourbon. That’s right two pies in one week. My plan had been to make the bourbon one for the Derby when my neighbors drop by for a quick party; I mean REAL quick. We watch the Derby and then go back to Saturday chores. But as I said it didn’t happen. But I had promised my neighbor Sam a cake for his birthday and when I  heard from his girls he loved pie more I decided that my idea would transfer just as well to celebrating his birthday.

Except for one thing. Kids. While there isn’t a lot of booze, I just couldn’t make a pie with booze in it that I knew kids would be eating so I made the standard recipe, got a photo of the whole pie and figured I would get a photo of a slice the next day. Except there was no slice. It was devoured. Good thing I thought about that booze; particularly when kids want more than one slice!

So I made it again with the bourbon and got photos of a slice! Ah, the rigors of this job just for my readers! I’m not complaining, nope. While I always share, I was OK with having another slice of my favorite pie a couple of days later and WITH bourbon. Was it better? Yes, yes it was. Does it taste like a cocktail? Not really. For me the use of bourbon in a cocktail and in food have this in common – too much is too much.

Simple concept right? It should enhance the flavors but not overpower them. The entire pie and the whipped cream only have a total of a quarter cup of bourbon in them. You can add a bit more to suit your taste though but do it sparingly. It should elevate the food, not overwhelm it. Bourbon has a sweet, caramel element to it; it made it richer but did not taste like bourbon; that’s the sweet spot in my book.

If you love the idea of bourbon in this pie and are adventurous you must also consider making my version of French Silk Pie with Tequila and Cayenne. Now THAT one is clearly more evident of the uniqueness of those ingredients. It mimics a Mexican Hot Chocolate and is so good but you will most definitely notice the tingle from tequila and cayenne. Not one I would not serve to kids. More for us adults!

If you’ve never had a French Silk Pie you must try this. A really simple mixture of ingredients that are elevated by the total of twenty minutes of beating the ingredients and combined with a graham cracker crust with pecans I think it’s the best. It does call for raw eggs; if you have a concern, try finding the pasteurized eggs now available at many markets. I’ve never once had a problem in the 25 years I’ve been making this pie but for the really young and really old it’s better to be safe.

If you love this version; you should try these as well!

More French Silk Pies!
French Silk Pie with Graham Cracker Pecan Crust

Continue Reading Continue Reading
French Silk Pie with a Mexican Twist

Continue Reading Continue Reading
PIN ‘French Silk Pie with Bourbon’

French Silk Pie with Bourbon
Print
Ingredients For the Crust:
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup sugar
For the Filling:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsps bourbon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp dried espresso or coffee
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 extra large eggs
For the Garnish
  • Whipped cream (Optional - Add 2-3 Tbsp bourbon)
  • Chocolate Curls
Instructions

Prepare the Crust:

  1. Put the graham cracker crumbs into a food process and process until you have a fine crumb. Add the pecans and process until the nuts are a very small crumb and blended in.
  2. Add the sugar and mix well, then slowly steam the butter into the dry ingredients and process until they come together.
  3. Pat into a 9 inch pie plate and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes; just turning brown.
  4. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Prepare the filling:

  1. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and bourbon together. Combine the sugar, cocoa, espresso and salt in a small bowl and whisk together. Add it to the butter mixture and beat for 5 minutes, scraping bowl often.
  2. Add each egg separately and beat for a full 5 minutes after the addition of each egg. Scrape bowl often.
  3. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust and smooth it out to the edges. Pipe whipped cream on top of pie and sprinkle with chocolate curls. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. Can be frozen too.
Nutrition Information: Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 807 Total Fat: 52g Saturated Fat: 25g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 23g Cholesterol: 233mg Sodium: 461mg Carbohydrates: 76g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 60g Protein: 9g
The nutritional information is computer-generated and only an estimate.
© Creative Culinary
Category: Desserts

The post French Silk Pie with Bourbon appeared first on Creative Culinary.

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The standard pie is already the best, adding bourbon to both the pie and whipped cream makes it even better! French Silk Pie with Bourbon is amazing!

I’m a bit tardy with this treat. I had the best intentions; thinking I would make this French Silk Pie with Bourbon for the Kentucky Derby…you know bourbon and all? But I didn’t even get to watch the Derby much less have my standard half hour party with neighbors. It wasn’t anything major, just a nice day and my yard calling to me.

We’ve had the standard high country Spring. Seventy-five degrees one day and snow the next and that Saturday was too beautiful to stay inside. As it turns out seems I missed quite the race hmm? I’m with the rules people; while I cannot imagine the heartbreak of that announcement, clearly the first winner was drifting way too far in front of other horses. Seeing their feet flying so close together I’m just glad no horses or riders went down and were injured. Life is funny and not always fair but I thought this decision was.

Still I could not get this pie out of my mind. I’ve been making this standard recipe for French Silk Pie for years. And yes, same photos over there. They were so old and awful and really except for a bit of  bourbon, it is the same pie so you’ll forgive me right? Either one is excellent.

Truth be told, the photo of the whole pie is the ‘regular’ one and the photos of the slices have bourbon. That’s right two pies in one week. My plan had been to make the bourbon one for the Derby when my neighbors drop by for a quick party; I mean REAL quick. We watch the Derby and then go back to Saturday chores. But as I said it didn’t happen. But I had promised my neighbor Sam a cake for his birthday and when I  heard from his girls he loved pie more I decided that my idea would transfer just as well to celebrating his birthday.

Except for one thing. Kids. While there isn’t a lot of booze, I just couldn’t make a pie with booze in it that I knew kids would be eating so I made the standard recipe, got a photo of the whole pie and figured I would get a photo of a slice the next day. Except there was no slice. It was devoured. Good thing I thought about that booze; particularly when kids want more than one slice!

So I made it again with the bourbon and got photos of a slice! Ah, the rigors of this job just for my readers! I’m not complaining, nope. While I always share, I was OK with having another slice of my favorite pie a couple of days later and WITH bourbon. Was it better? Yes, yes it was. Does it taste like a cocktail? Not really. For me the use of bourbon in a cocktail and in food have this in common – too much is too much.

Simple concept right? It should enhance the flavors but not overpower them. The entire pie and the whipped cream only have a total of a quarter cup of bourbon in them. You can add a bit more to suit your taste though but do it sparingly. It should elevate the food, not overwhelm it. Bourbon has a sweet, caramel element to it; it made it richer but did not taste like bourbon; that’s the sweet spot in my book.

If you love the idea of bourbon in this pie and are adventurous you must also consider making my version of French Silk Pie with Tequila and Cayenne. Now THAT one is clearly more evident of the uniqueness of those ingredients. It mimics a Mexican Hot Chocolate and is so good but you will most definitely notice the tingle from tequila and cayenne. Not one I would not serve to kids. More for us adults!

If you’ve never had a French Silk Pie you must try this. A really simple mixture of ingredients that are elevated by the total of twenty minutes of beating the ingredients and combined with a graham cracker crust with pecans I think it’s the best. It does call for raw eggs; if you have a concern, try finding the pasteurized eggs now available at many markets. I’ve never once had a problem in the 25 years I’ve been making this pie but for the really young and really old it’s better to be safe.

If you love this version; you should try these as well!

More French Silk Pies!
French Silk Pie with Graham Cracker Pecan Crust

Continue Reading Continue Reading
French Silk Pie with a Mexican Twist

Continue Reading Continue Reading
PIN ‘French Silk Pie with Bourbon’

French Silk Pie with Bourbon
Print
Ingredients For the Crust:
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup sugar
For the Filling:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsps bourbon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp dried espresso or coffee
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 extra large eggs
For the Garnish
  • Whipped cream (Optional - Add 2-3 Tbsp bourbon)
  • Chocolate Curls
Instructions

Prepare the Crust:

  1. Put the graham cracker crumbs into a food process and process until you have a fine crumb. Add the pecans and process until the nuts are a very small crumb and blended in.
  2. Add the sugar and mix well, then slowly steam the butter into the dry ingredients and process until they come together.
  3. Pat into a 9 inch pie plate and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes; just turning brown.
  4. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Prepare the filling:

  1. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and bourbon together. Combine the sugar, cocoa, espresso and salt in a small bowl and whisk together. Add it to the butter mixture and beat for 5 minutes, scraping bowl often.
  2. Add each egg separately and beat for a full 5 minutes after the addition of each egg. Scrape bowl often.
  3. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust and smooth it out to the edges. Pipe whipped cream on top of pie and sprinkle with chocolate curls. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. Can be frozen too.
Nutrition Information: Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 807 Total Fat: 52g Saturated Fat: 25g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 23g Cholesterol: 233mg Sodium: 461mg Carbohydrates: 76g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 60g Protein: 9g
The nutritional information is computer-generated and only an estimate.
© Creative Culinary
Category: Desserts

The post French Silk Pie with Bourbon appeared first on Creative Culinary.

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The Mint Julep is considered the signature cocktail for The Kentucky Derby and this Strawberry Mint Julep Cocktail is a fantastic sipper all summer long!

This coming weekend is always a struggle for me; do I feature something for The Kentucky Derby or should it be a nod to Cinco de Mayo which is a pretty big deal in some parts of Denver. Well, this week I did both. Catch my recipe for Orejas; a delicious and easy pastry that might be best know to you as Palmiers or Elephant Ears. They’re a part of a monthly theme I do with a group of friends and this month is was all inspired by food from Mexico.

So today it’s all about the Mint Julep. I would normally try to post a bit sooner than a day before an event but  two things that are important to remember.

Why Mint Juleps are One of My Favorite Cocktails – They’re SO easy to Make!
  1. They really are easy to make and they use simple ingredients; bourbon, sugar, mint, and fruit. Easy enough to pull together right?
  2. Don’t limit your Mint Julep sipping to one day; these are great for a summer afternoon of lazing about and doing not much of anything. Fruit or no fruit!

They really are easy too. A plain Mint Julep is nothing more than bourbon, mint, sugar, and ice. That’s why I love adding fruit to them; it’s a great recipe that can work with so many variations I’ve listed some of my favorites below; heck, give them all a try!

I do use a muddler tool to smash the fruit and mint but if you don’t have one, a masher will do…potato masher or ice smasher, both work. What is an ice smasher? Probably known more commonly as a meat tenderizer tool, it’s normally used to flatten beef or chicken before cooking but I also use mine to mash potatoes and smash ice and I’m sure it would muddle too!

I did this batch in a small cocktail pitcher because we can see what’s in there but I would normally just muddle right in individual glasses…whatever works best for you. You smash the berries, add the bourbon and mint and lightly brush the mint to release more oils…and flavor.

While today has been a nonstop blend of overcast with some sun, doesn’t this make you think of warm summer days? I love that strawberries are showing up in the market that are a beautiful red and they’re ripe and luscious. They were the perfect addition to this simple cocktail.

Do you watch the Kentucky Derby? I have built a tradition in my home for avid or non avid viewers. Show up 15 minutes before the race, chat with neighbors, kids included. Watch the race which is over in minutes, chat a bit more and then go back about your Saturday business. It’s short but sweet and everyone enjoys the break in the Saturday routine that is usually chores! This Saturday it’s my friend Sam’s birthday so I’ll have cake!

Nothing fancy, it lasts a whole half hour but I get to try out my latest, the Strawberry Mint Julep Cocktail and we all get a bit of a break. No betting; I’ve NEVER done well with that so I’m not starting now. Try it, you might like it too…a truly quick and dirty party.

If You Like Juleps Like I Like Juleps...I have more!
Sparkling Blackberry Mint Julep Cocktail

Continue Reading Continue Reading
Honey Peach Mint Julep Cocktail

Continue Reading Continue Reading
Brown Sugar and Vanilla Bean Mint Julep Cocktail

Continue Reading Continue Reading
Roasted Pineapple and Rum Mint Juleps

Continue Reading Continue Reading
PIN ‘Strawberry Mint Julep Cocktail’

Strawberry Mint Julep Cocktail
Yield: 2 Cocktails
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Not just for The Kentucky Derby, Mint Juleps are a great treat all summer long using fresh fruit and that mint you planted in your garden!
Print
Ingredients For Cocktail:
  • 4 teaspoons simple syrup (See Notes)
  • 6 large strawberries, hulled cut into fourths
  • 15 mint leaves, torn by hand
  • 4 ozs bourbon)
  • Crushed ice, 1 - 1 /1/2 cups depending on how large your glasses are
For Garnish:
  • 2mint sprigs
  • 2 whole strawberries, cut in half from bottom to top leaving top part of stem intact
Instructions
  1. Pour the simple syrup into a mint julep or rocks glass.
  2. Add the strawberries and muddle until the strawberries look pureed.
  3. Add the torn mint leaves and gently muddle just until the leaves are bruised.
  4. Add half of the bourbon and fill the glasses halfway with crushed ice. Stir to combine.
  5. Top the glasses with more crushed ice mounded on top. Garnish with the mint and strawberry.
  6. Pour the remainder of the bourbon equally over the ice in the glasses and serve, with or without a straw.
Notes

For the Simple Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. Combine sugar and water in small saucepan; bring to boil and then turn down heat to simmer. Simmer just until all the sugar has melted.
  2. Remove from heat, pour into a container and refrigerate until cold.

This is a potent little cocktail meant for sipping so small glasses are fine. If you don't have mint julep cups, try a small lowball cocktail glass.

© Creative Culinary
Category: All Recipes

The post Strawberry Mint Julep Cocktail appeared first on Creative Culinary.

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