Peaches and bling

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It’s sexy cocktail time! This little gem is from New York’s Empire Hotel, where one of the Sex and the City 2 scenes was shot… you know, the poorly rated movie version of the long-running hit show. The hotel created cocktails inspired by the show’s characters. Apparently, this drink was inspired by Carrie.

For this cocktail, you will need: Your favorite vodka (I like flavorless ones like Skyy), sanding sugars, silver sugar beads, granulated sugar, fresh peaches, ginger root, lemons, ice and a cocktail shaker.

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Peel and remove the pit from the fresh peaches and puree them in a blender. Set aside. Mix up the water, sugar, and grated ginger root for the simple syrup in the small saucepan and heat to boiling. Continue boiling until the mixture reduces and thickens. Cool this until it’s at least room temperature.

Rim pre-chilled glasses with the silver and red sanding sugars.

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Assemble. Fill a cocktail shaker about 1/3 full of ice, add peach puree, ginger syrup, lemon juice and vodka and shake it good. Pour into a sugar-rimmed glass.

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Toss in a few silver sugar beads for bling.

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Salut!
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Peaches and Bling Martini
(adapted from NYC Empire Hotel)
Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:
2 oz. vodka
2 oz. fresh peach puree
3/4 oz. ginger-infused simple syrup
1 oz. lemon juice
Silver and red sanding sugar (for rim)
Silver sugar beads (for bling)

Directions:
To make the peach puree, peel a peach and put it in a blender for about 10-15 seconds. To make the ginger syrup, bring half a cup of water and half a cup of sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Throw in some fresh chopped ginger. Reduce, and stir until the mixture thickens. Strain out the ginger and let the syrup cool. In a cocktail shaker, combine the peach puree, the ginger syrup, the lemon juice and the vodka; shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass rimmed with the sanding sugar. Drop the silver sugar beads in the bottom of the glass for more “bling.”

High heels are optional.

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Asparagus Risotto

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Hi everyone! Welcome to fall! It’s my very favorite season. So much to look forward to… cozy sweaters, crisp mornings, crunchy leaves, rainy days, Halloween, fires in the fireplace, new TV shows, soups… I used to love fall because it meant my birthday was coming, but that doesn’t excite me anymore. It actually kinda freaks me out. I try to believe that those numbers don’t really mean much, but the higher they get, the more I have to tell myself that they’re just numbers and they don’t really mean much. Why does time seem to accelerate with more life experiences? (aka age). Does anyone else feel that way?

Speaking of time, if you’ve ever made risotto from scratch, then you know how much time is involved. The amount of time spent stirring and waiting for all the liquid to be incorporated is almost not worth the effort. Homemade risotto is one of those all consuming tasks that does not allow a bit of multitasking while creating it. Come to think of it, I may have just found a solution to slow down time… risotto. But if you’re like me, you don’t really have enough time to not multitask, so carry on. This post is about saving time right?

Enter microwave risotto! Welcome to my world!

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It’s so simple. I made mine with fresh asparagus, but you can add whatever you like. I can’t wait to try it with delicata squash!

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I served it with a small filet of wild Coho salmon topped with homemade pesto. Oh yea!

Microwave Asparagus Risotto
Serves 4 (serving size: 1 cup)
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients:
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
3 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 ounces shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1/3 cup), divided

Preparation:
NOTE: This risotto is not covered while microwaving, so use a large (at least 2-quart) bowl to allow plenty of room for the liquid to boil.
1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a 2-quart microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave at HIGH 3 minutes. Stir in rice; microwave at HIGH 3 minutes. Stir in stock and wine; microwave at HIGH 16 minutes, stirring for 30 seconds every 4 minutes. Add asparagus; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes. Stir in rind, juice, salt, pepper, and half of cheese. Top with remaining cheese.

Chocolate Chip Blondies

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The hot days of August appear to have ended just in time for the beginning of a new school year. I don’t know about you, but I’m always glad when the temperatures drop, and I can bring my fuzzy socks out from the back of the drawer and onto my feet. Although there are so many great things about summer, extreme heat and humidity are not ones I rate highly.

I’m ready to clean the oven, heat it up, and bake up some delicious treats. Like these…

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Chocolate Chip Blondies
Adapted from How to Cook Everything 
(and adapted further when I made a mistake and put in too much butter)

Ingredients:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:
Butter an 8×8 pan
Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.
Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions you like (I added 1 cup of large dark chocolate chips, but you could add nuts, butterscotch chips, caramel, whatever floats your boat… the choices are endless).
Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until the middle is set.
Cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

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