Monday, October 29, 2012

An Apple Drink A Day….

OK, I’m sure having an apple drink a day doesn’t have the same benefits of having an apple a day but they are yummy and with fall here, it’s the perfect time to drink them.

As I’ve said before, I grew up in New England.  Fall was my favorite time of year and I especially loved taking trips to the orchards to pick up a bag of apples and a gallon of fresh cider not to mention apple cider donuts.  Yummmmmm.

Here in Florida we don’t have apple orchards though I do have to admit to being impressed by the variety of apples the do sell here.  I recently started wondering what other kind of apple drinks are out there besides the ever popular apple martini.  I found that there are indeed quite a few and I was impressed by the variety of ingredients used to make them.

One of the first I came across in mulled cider which is popular in New England.  I make hot spiced cider quite often but it rarely occurs to me to add booze to it.  I’ll be remedying that very soon since I only need to add a couple extra ingredients.

Mulled Cider


4 cloves (whole)
1 1/2 oz. gold rum
1 cup apple cider
1 tsp. honey or sugar syrup to taste
Dash  Angostura bitters
Cinnamon stick
Pinch ground allspice
Lemon twist

Heat all ingredients in a saucepan and strain into a warmed mug.

This would be great for a fall themed party.  The ingredients can be easily multiplied and kept hot in a Crockpot then everyone can help themselves.

This next drink is a different twist on an apple martini.

Apple Cart

3/4 oz.  Cointreau or curaƧao
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 oz.  applejack or calvados

Mix all ingredients with cracked ice in a shaker or blender and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This last drink sounded like it might be similar to what Zane Lamprey and Steve McKenna had at the bar they visited on their show "Three Sheets:  Kentucky."  This would be a great drink to have while sitting around a fire…not that I do much of that here.  This recipe makes A LOT so most people will want to scale down the ingredients….or maybe not!

Apple Pie In A Jar

1 gallon apple cider
1 gallon apple juice
6 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 cups white sugar, or to taste
1 (1 liter) bottle 190 proof grain alcohol (such as Everclear™)

Place the apple cider, apple juice, cinnamon sticks, and sugar into a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, and discard the cinnamon sticks. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, then stir in the grain alcohol. Pour into quart-size canning jars, seal with the lids and rings, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

You can store this in the refrigerator for at least 6 months.

Even though the weather here doesn’t get that nice fall feel, I’m hoping that these drinks will help transport me back to my favorite season in New England.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Slow Cooker Red Beans And Rice

I'm sure it's no surprise that I'm a Food Network and Cooking Channel junkie.  One of my favorite shows is "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."  It doesn't matter how many times I have seen an episode, I'll almost always watch it again.  Some of my favorite dishes to see are Louisiana style dishes...Cajun, gumbo...all that stuff.  My husband had asked a couple of times for rice and beans.  He meant Spanish style but I wanted to try a Louisiana style so I set out searching for a recipe, preferably one for the Crockpot and I was thrilled to find on that wasn't too complicated.  I, of course, tweaked it a bit but it was a hit with the family and since it's budget friendly too, it is definitely going into the meal rotation.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

1 lb. package red kidney beans
6 cups water
2 links smoked sausage, sliced and cut in half (I used turkey)
1 cup, each, chopped onion and red bell pepper
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
2 tsp.  minced garlic
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbs. or more Cajun seasoning (I used a bit more)
Salt to taste
2 bay leaves
1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce

Hot sauce (how much is up to you!)
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
3 cups hot cooked rice

The first thing you have to do is prep the beans.  Kidney beans contain a toxin that boiling will kill but slow cooking will not.  So, before you start, boil your beans for 10 minutes in enough water to cover them by an inch or 2.  Then drain them and they're ready to use.  No need to soak them.

Combine the first 12 ingredients in electric slow cooker. Cook for 5 hours on high (this is what I did) or for 8 hours on low. Discard bay leaves and mash some of the beans.  Add the green onions and hot sauce, and cook for 15 more minutes. Add a little water, if necessary. Serve over the hot cooked rice.  I made some French bread to serve along with it.  The meat can totally be left out if you would prefer to keep it vegetarian.

Serves 6. 

Adapted from Cajun Delights