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American Beauty

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As you all know I love my cocktails.  All those liquors mixing together to make some unbelievably delicious elixir, they’re just too much fun. But sometimes I prefer a nice glass of wine to a cocktail. Yes, it’s true. Recently though I discovered that wine and hard liquors don’t have to remain segregated in the bar, they can actually be combined to make some really delicious drinks. The American Beauty is just such a cocktail; and because of its red hue and name, I thought it would be perfect to serve this holiday weekend.

Now, you may believe that this cocktail is a recent creation named after that Oscar-winning movie from 1999. But as you know, I don’t post new cocktails. I post classics. So then, how did the cocktail get its name? Well, if you’re a flower fan, you probably know that the American Beauty is a rose that’s been around for over a century. It’s a beautiful deep red rose that’s often given as a sign of love. In fact, it was so popular, that from 1888 to 1920 it was the number one seller at flower shops everywhere. Just like the flower, this cocktail is also a deep red thanks to both the grenadine and port which are used to create this sweet drink.

Although we don’t know who created the cocktail, we do know that the color reminded the mysterious mixologist of this popular flower and so named it as such. And while we don’t know exactly when the cocktail was created, it can be found in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book which was first published in 1930. Since the flower was at its height of popularity from 1888 to 1920, I think it’s safe to say that the cocktail was created sometime at the beginning of the 20th century.

But what makes the American Beauty the perfect choice for the 4th isn’t just its name and color. It’s also a great drink for novice drink enthusiasts. See, it’s not too harsh like so many of those straight up or on the rocks options. But it’s not too sweet either. It actually has a nice balance and it pairs wonderfully with grilled steaks or chicken.  Since grilling is such a big part of the holiday weekend, why not serve this delightful cocktail to your guests. They’ll be thrilled and you’ll be able to celebrate the birth of our nation in style.

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American Beauty

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 oz. brandy
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine
  • 1 oz. Port

Directions:

  1. Pour the brandy, dry vermouth, orange juice and grenadine in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass.
  2. Add the port and serve immediately.

 

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Want to know what I love about summer? I finally get to hang out on the beach. I cook most meals outside on the grill. But more than anything else, all my favorite fruits are finally available. Sure, I’m a big fan of apples and citrus, but they’re nothing compared to the sweet, juicy tang of blueberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, apricots or plums. They’re delicious afternoon snacks, and they make some of the best desserts. I mean, is there anything better than enjoying a slice of peach pie or a cherry popsicle on the beach in the middle of July? Of course not! And while pie and popsicles are delicious, there’s one dessert that’s perfect for both these fruits and this time of year – the pavlova.

The Pavlova is a light meringue dessert that was created in the 20’s after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova did a tour in either Australia or New Zealand. (There’s a lot of debate as to where she was and which country came up with the dessert first.) But no matter where it came from, it’s a light sweet treat that has summer written all over it.

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See, unlike the fall and winter months which are filled with heavy, chocolate and pumpkin desserts, the spring and summer months are all about light, airy sweets. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate, but those mousses and cakes that are so popular in the winter are so dang heavy. I don’t know about you, but when it’s 90 degrees and humid outside, the last thing I want to ingest is something super rich. I’d much rather sink my teeth into something tart and light; and that’s the pavlova.

The traditional pavlova is usually a larger dessert that needs to be sliced to be enjoyed. But there’s no rule that says it can’t be turned into several single-serving minis. It’s also usually filled with whipped cream and fruit. But since I’d just received several containers of sweet, red raspberries from Melissa’s Produce and I love mascarpone, I thought I’d make a sweet raspberry cream as my filling. I then topped that with more raspberries and fresh plump blueberries. The end result wasn’t just light and delicious, the color scheme makes it perfect for the 4th of July.

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Red, White and Blue Mini Pavlovas

Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1-1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 (8 oz.) container mascarpone cheese
  • 1 (6 oz.) basket fresh raspberries, divided
  • 1 cup blueberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a pen, trace the perimeter of a glass 5 times on each sheet of parchment. Turn the papers upside-down. You should still be able to see the outline on the clean side of the paper.
  3. Place the egg whites, 1 cup of sugar, the vanilla, cream of tartar and corn starch into a mixing bowl and beat, using an electric mixer, until thick and the egg whites form stiff peaks.
  4. Spoon the meringue mixture onto the 10 circles on the parchment paper. Then using the back of the spoon, hollow out the tops of the pavlovas turning each one into a nest.
  5. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until dry and crisp. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue nests in the oven to cool for at least an hour or overnight. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN.
  6. While the meringues are cooling, beat together the mascarpone, remaining sugar and 1 cup of raspberries in a bowl until well combined.
  7. Spoon the mascarpone mixture into each of the cooled meringue nests, top with the blueberries and remaining raspberries and serve immediately.

Scotch and Soda

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I know what you’re thinking: “Scotch and soda? That’s not an interesting classic cocktail. That’s a drink that anyone can make anywhere, no matter what condition you’re in. It certainly doesn’t deserve a post.” While you’re probably right, Sunday is Father’s Day. What does Father’s Day have to do with a Scotch and Soda? Well, it just so happens that both my husband and my father have an affinity for scotch. So in honor of the two most important men in my life who are also fathers, I thought I’d make a cocktail I’m pretty sure they’d both enjoy: the Scotch and Soda.

I personally have never been a scotch fan. I don’t know why, but the taste just doesn’t appeal to me. Bourbon, vodka… even gin are all enjoyable, especially when mixed with a juice or two. Not Scotch though. Not for me. Believe me, I’ve tried several different brands and not one has appealed to yours truly. But just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean everyone in the world hates it. There are enough scotches out there to prove otherwise. And since Kitchy is a blog for the masses, I’m more than happy to put my personal tastes aside and make a cocktail using a very popular alcohol.

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I was actually surprised at how old this cocktail is. I always thought club soda was a relatively recent creation. But according to my research, Schweppes produced the first commercial carbonated water, or club soda, in 1783. Then in 1895, English stage actor, E.J. Ratcliffe, entered a New York bar and requested a “Scotch Highball.” Since a highball is a cocktail that mixes a specific type of liquor with soda, this is considered America’s first introduction to the Scotch and Soda.

So, I’d say any drink that’s been around since at least 1895 is definitely a classic. And any classic that uses the preferred liquor of my two favorite men is definitely worth a mention on their special day.

Happy Father’s day, gentlemen. Here’s to you and all that you do.

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Scotch and Soda

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. scotch
  • 2 oz. soda

Directions:

  1. Place a cube or two of ice into an old fashioned glass. Add the scotch, then the soda. Stir. Serve immediately.

Racquet Club Cocktail

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Summer has officially started and that means it’s time for swimming and lots and lots of free play. Free play could take place on the beach, at a resort or even a swim and tennis club. It doesn’t matter where it is, all that matters is that you have some time to yourself to hang out and relax. And one of the best things to help you relax is a cocktail.

I mentioned the swim and tennis club. This may not seem like a vacation, but for a lot of families it is. See, the kids can swim all day long in the pool while the parents take a couple hours to play tennis or racquet ball with their friends. Then everyone reconvenes back at the pool for burgers and beers at the end of the day. But instead of a beer, wouldn’t a cocktail be better? Of course it would!

These days most clubs have a bar in their club house which means the parents can (and really should) change out that beer for a nice cocktail. And no cocktail is better suited for a racquet club than the Racquet Club cocktail.

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No, I didn’t make this cocktail up. There really is such a drink and it’s been around a lot longer than I have. Although I don’t know who, when or where the cocktail was created, I do know it’s listed in the Savoy Cocktail Book which was first published in 1930. So, the cocktail’s been around at least since 1930, but probably long before then. It might even have been created around the same time the Martini was.

See, the Racquet Club is very similar to the original Martini. As a matter of fact, the only difference between the two cocktails are the bitters. There aren’t any bitters in the Martini. But the bitters add a subtle herbal flavor to the clean and simple martini, making it a great pre-dinner choice.

So, next time you’re kicking back by the pool after a long round of singles, order up a Racquet Club cocktail. They’re the perfect end to a fun day at the club.

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Racquet Club Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • dash of orange bitters

Directions:

  1. Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake for at least a minute. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.

Cherry Peach Yogurt Pops

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I loved the summer when I was a kid. No, it wasn’t because school was out… okay it wasn’t just because school was out. It was actually because every summer once school was out, my mom would pull out her popsicle mold and we’d make popsicles. We made orange juice, lemonade… whatever juice my mom had in the fridge, we’d pour into those molds and freeze so we had something nice and cold to suck on when the heat was unbearable. Now that I have two boys of my own, I also have a popsicle mold and now I’m following in Mom’s footsteps and making my own popsicles for A and T to enjoy.

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We started just the way my mom did, with different types of juice popsicles, but that got old pretty quick. So, I started thinking about how I could spice things up. My boys really love those squeezy yogurt sticks, especially when they’re frozen. So, I thought why not make my own? All I needed was some fresh fruit, a little Greek yogurt and a blender and I was all set.

Luckily Kitchenaid had just sent me their newest blender – the Torrent – which made making these delectable yogurt pops even easier. I know, you’re probably thinking how hard is it to blend up some juice and yogurt? Well, the juice and yogurt are a cinch, but the fresh fruit is a little harder. Not for the Torrent though. This blender has such power, that grinding up the fresh cherries and peaches are a piece of cake. Thanks to the awesome milkshake setting everything was mixed up into a silky smooth consistency that poured easily into my popsicle molds.  And since I used fresh, sweet cherries and peaches, I barely had to add any sugar. Popsicles without sugar? Yes, please.

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The best thing about these pops is that cherries and peaches are currently in season, and with the weather warming up, now is the perfect time to whip up these tasty treats. My boys gave them their seal of approval, I’m sure you will too.

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Cherry Peach Yogurt Pops

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6 oz.) container of peach yogurt
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1-1/2 cups cherries, pitted and stemmed
  • 1 yellow peach, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a popsicle mold, add wooden sticks and freeze for at least 6 hours.
  2. When ready to serve, remove the popsicles from the mold and enjoy.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Kitchenaid provided me with the blender for recipe testing. As always, any opinion expressed is my own and is not influenced in any way by the manufacturer/PR firm as I only review products that I have personally tested and endorse.