A summer appetizer

Today I have a great summer appetizer recipe for you, courtesy of Health magazine. You can bet I’ll be making these soon!

 

Grilled Zucchini Roll-Ups with Herbs and Cheese

 Ingredients

  • 3 small zucchini (about 1/2 pound each), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/16 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces bagged baby spinach (2 cups lightly packed)
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves

Preparation 

1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium.

2. Discard the outermost slices of zucchini; brush the rest with oil on both sides. Sprinkle the zucchini slices with salt and pepper. Grill until tender, about 4 minutes per side. You can prepare the zucchini a day ahead and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

3. In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, parsley, and lemon juice, mashing together.

4. Put 1/2 teaspoon of the cheese mixture about 1/2 inch from the end of a zucchini slice. Top with a few spinach leaves and a small (or half of a large) basil leaf. Roll up and place seam side down on a platter. Repeat with remaining zucchini slices. You can make these up to a day in advance; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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5 drinks for summer

I love a good drink in the summer. Fruit is fresh, the sun is hot and a fruity drink just hits the spot so well. Here are five drinks sure to make your backyard the place to be this summer. All drinks found on Pinterest.

Blood Orange Margarita (Makes 1 drink)

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz fresh Blood Orange Juice
  • 2 oz Tequila 
  • 1 oz  Triple Sec
  • splash of agave nectar (syrup)

Directions:

1. Rub the rim of a glass with an edge of a blood orange slice.  Swirl the rim through a small pile of sea salt to salt the rim.

2. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake for 15 seconds.

3. Put a few cubes of ice in your glass.  Strain the cocktail into the glass and enjoy.

Electric Lemonade (Makes 1 drink)

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz blue curacao
  • Lemonade to taste (I like Simply Lemonade best)

Directions:

1.    Add a handful of ice to a tall glass

2.    Add blue curacao and vodka

3.    Top off with lemonade to taste

Pink Grapefruit Maragrita (Makes 4 drinks)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 1/2  cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
  • 1 cup triple sec
  • 3 cups ice
  • 1 cup  silver tequila
  • 1   lime cut in wedges

Directions:

1.    Rub the rim of an old fashioned glass with an edge of a lime slice.  Swirl the rim through a small pile of sea salt to salt the rim.

2.    Combine the grapefruit juice, lime juice, triple sec and ice in a blender.

3.    Pour into a large pitcher (or just keep it in the blender) and pour in the tequila, stir.

4.    Garnish with a lime wedge and serve!

Strawberry Champagne Spritzers (Makes 1 pitcher)

 Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle Sake – any kind will do
  • 1 bottle Champagne
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 6 meyer lemons
  • 3-4 springs of mint
  • Vanilla Stevia

Directions:

1.    Slice your strawberries into vertical slivers, tear mint leaves roughly, and add both to a large pitcher.

2.    Squeeze the juice of 6 meyer lemons and gently muddle (muddle = mash) the ingredients using a wooden spoon.

3.    Add equal parts sake & champagne, and lots of ice.

4.    Squeeze a dropper full of vanilla stevia into each glass before serving.  

Strawberry Watermelon Mojito (Makes 1 pitcher)

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 15-20 fresh mint leaves (amount depends on the size of leaves)
  • 4 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 cups watermelon, 1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup strawberries, halved or quartered
  • 6 oz light rum

Directions:

1.    In a large pitcher, combine sugar, mint leaves, and lime juice.  Muddle the mint leaves with the end of a wooden spatula.

2.    Fill the blender with watermelon and then add strawberries.  Blend until smooth and combined.

3.     Pour watermelon mixture into the pitcher.  Add rum and stir well until combined.  Serve in chilled glasses and enjoy!

How to: Make an awesome Cucumber Gin Fizz

Now that the weather is getting warmer, I’m starting to crave my favourite summer cocktails. Gin & Tonic has always been one of my favourite go-to summer drinks (especially the Super Sonic Gin & Tonic at Joey’s). Last year however, I tried a Cucumber Gin Fizz and fell in love. Most recipes call for lime juice; personally, I think fresh lemon juice tastes the best. I also recommend using Hendricks gin, as it is infused with cucumber and really makes your drink top notch. So, here you go, if you love gin, you are sure to love this recipe!

Cucumber Gin Fizz

 – 3 cucumber slices (1/3 inch)
 – 2 oz gin (Hendricks)
 – 1 oz fresh- squeezed lemon juice
 – .5 oz Simple syrup (optional)

Muddle cucumber in bottom of shaker, add other ingredients and ice, shake and strain over ice and top with club soda. If you are serving to company, add a cucumber peel and sprig of rosemary or mint to garnish.

How to: Dress for St. Patty’s Day at the Club

How to: Dress for St. Patty's Day at the Club

This next look is what I would wear if I were going to the club on St. Patrick’s Day. There are a ton of parties to go to, especially with St. Patty’s Day falling on a Saturday this year, and I’m sure if you’re going out, you want to look like you’re full of Irish spirit.  It’s a bit hard to tell in this photo, but this skirt is actually a dark green. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know I’m partial to glitter and sparkle. So I love this skirt. Again, a festive and toned down way to add some St. Patty’s Day cheer to your outfit is some layered charms and necklaces.  

Want to sound like the smartest person in the bar? Here are some fun St. Patrick’s Day facts I found while snooping on the web:

  • The actual color of St. Patrick is blue. Green became associated with St. Patrick’s Day during the 19th century.
  • The very first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not in Ireland. It was in Boston in 1737.
  • In Chicago, on St. Patrick’s Day, the rivers are dyed green.
  • The phrase, “Drowning the Shamrock” is from the custom of floating the shamrock on the top of whiskey before drinking it. The Irish believe that if you keep the custom, then you will have a prosperous year.

How to: Dress for St. Patty’s Day at the Pub

How to: Dress for St. Patty's Day at the Pub

Hey guys! In case you forgot, St. Patrick’s Day is this Saturday, March 17. I thought I would do a post on how to dress for St. Patty’s day without looking hokey. You’ll thank me when you don’t get pinched! This first look is what I would wear to a St. Patty’s Day celebration at the pub. If you’re going to be sipping green beers and eating chicken wings all day you definitely want to be both comfortable and stylish. I think that a completely on-trend idea is to incorporate a pair of green coloured jeans into you outfit. Now you’re comfortable, cute and trendy! And, don’t forget to bring a bit of the luck o’ the Irish with you by wearing a few charm necklaces! Check back in a bit and I will show you a club worthy, St. Patty’s Day outfit.

How to: Pair cheddars and wine

I love a good cheddar cheese. Really I love any cheese, but a fantastic, aged cheddar is just perfection in my opinion. I’m not talking about the orange cheese you find in the grocery store either. Many people automatically associate cheddar with an orange cheese, but, as my mom likes to say, have you ever seen a cow with orange milk? This colour comes from dyes being added to the cheese for a change in colour (kinda gross right?). Cheddar cheese also has different flavours, which are dependent on the make of the cheese as well as the aging process.

According to the Australian Dairy Corporation, there are 13 types of cheddar cheese. I know, I was surprise too, I knew there were a few but 13 is a lot! Below are the various different types of cheddar cheese, now you‘ll sound just as smart as your cheese monger when you go to buy it!

Processed Cheddar – has a smooth texture with a uniform mild flavor, and is good for sandwiches, on vegetables, in baked goods and salads.

Cheedam – combines the characteristics of Cheddar and Edam cheeses with a fresh and mild flavor. It is used in salads, sauces and cheeseboards.

Steppen – is a firm, low-fat cheese similar to Cotto.

Double Gloucester – has a distinctive high color and a fine, tangy flavor. It is excellent on toast or on cheese boards.

Matured Cheddar – is 6 – 12 months old, and sometimes called ‘tasty’. It has a tangy flavor and is ideal for souffles and sauces.

Flavored Cheddar – is usually matured cheddar cheese with a flavor added to it, e.g. port wine, cumin, caraway seed, bacon, garlic, etc.

Cheshire – has a mild, slightly acidic flavor or a more pronounced flavor depending on age. It is an ideal all-purpose cheese.

Cotto – is a fresh, mild-flavored cheese made from skim milk. Ideal for the diet conscious, it is good for grating and slicing.

Flavored Processed Cheddar – has an added ingredient such as pecan nut, spring onion, curry or garlic.

Red Leicester – is noted for its faint lemony bite. Its red is from a natural vegetable dye (annoto); it is an excellent melting cheese.

Vintage Cheddar – has been aged up to 18 months. Also known as ‘extra tasty’, it has a full-bodied to biting flavor.

Semi Matured Cheddar – has been aged for 3-6 months and has a rich full-bodied, but not sharp, flavor. It is good for the cheeseboard and in soups and quiches.

Mild Cheddar – has been aged for three months and has a delicate children’s sandwich taste.

My favourite types of cheddar are Vintage Cheddar, Aged Cheddars and Double Gloucester. I love the sharp, flavorful tastes and they way they accompany wine so perfectly. I’ll let you know what I think are the best wines to pair with my favourite cheddars.

Far a general wine, one to pair with any type of cheddar, you can’t go wrong with a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Champagne or Sauvignon Blanc. If you want to get more specific, so as to match you wine and cheese perfectly, decide on either the wine or cheese you want to serve first then match the other accordingly.

For sharp cheddars, such as your Mature and Vintage Cheddars I would suggest a Merlot or a Cabernet Sauvignon. Overall, most red wines pair nicely with a sharp cheddar.

For milder cheddars, an unwooded Chardonnay or a Pinot Noir pair nicely.

For Double Gloucester cheese, I would suggest pairing it with a Sauvignon Blanc or a spicy red like a Syrah.

Does anybody have any other cheddar and wine pairings they think I should try? These are just a few of the many possible pairings you could try, and if you prefer a different wine go ahead and give it a try. At the end of the day you can’t go wrong with wine and cheese!

Neon for the timid

Neon for the timid

Neon seems to be one of those trends that “comes back” every year. Lets face it, everyone loves a good 80’s revival. For those too timid to go full out with this trend, or those who would rather not invest in a decade they’d prefer to forget, I suggest finding a way to incorporate one or two neon elements into your spring wardrobe. Why not brighten up a drab look with neon nail polish or a splash or orange on your wrist? Has anybody bought a neon item for thier spring wardrobe this year?

My favourite red sangria recipe

Sangria is one of my all-time favourite drinks to make in the summer. If I am ever hosting a party or backyard BBQ, it’s my go-to contribution. It’s relatively simple, refreshing and lots of people enjoy it. Sangria is quite flexible, in that you can use what you have in the house. I’ve tried it using different types of wine, fruit and fizzy drinks, and I always like the outcome. My favourite recipe is this though:

Ingredients

  • Two bottles of red wine (buy something cheap, you don’t really notice quality)
  • Four shots of Triple Sec
  • Two lemons, cut into slices
  • Two limes, cut into slices
  • Two oranges, cut into slices
  • One large bag of frozen mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)
  • One bottle of lemon-lime pop
  • Ice

Instructions

Add all of your fruit (fresh and frozen) into a large pitcher. Next add the Triple Sec and wine. It is best to let the flavours soak together as long as possible. Right before you are about to serve, add in your pop and ice and you are good to go.

Does anyone else have a favourite drink that they like to make for parties, or a different Sangria recipe you think I should try? Let me know in the comments!