Archive | December, 2012

Champagne cocktails

31 Dec


Astoria Prosecco holding bottle

In advance of New Years Eve, I decided to try three different variations on sparkling cocktails. I absolutely love sparkling wine of any kind, and it’s always fun to try new drinks. For this experiment, I actually used prosecco, specifically Astoria Prosecco. Below are three different drinks with commentary from myself, and my boyfriend George.

Pineapple and rum prosecco cocktail

Pineapple and rum
This is a cocktail that I made up myself. I originally was just going to do a pineapple mimosa, but decided to add rum. The drink includes: 1 jigger rum, 1 jigger pineapple juice, and the remainder sparkling wine.

Lauren: This drink is fairly alcoholic. Maybe it is the type of rum I used, but even after adding more pineapple, it is still very strong. I feel like this drink losses much of the “fun” of a sparkling beverage

George: My initial reaction to this drink was “Wow, rum!” It was definitely strong, so after having our first sips we diluted the rest with more pineapple juice. Even after that, the rum was the dominant taste in the drink. I may try this again with less rum and/or using clear rum.

black velvet champagne cocktail

Black Velvet
This drink combines both beer and champagne. We used ½ a glass of Guinness and then filled the rest of the glass with prosecco.

Lauren: I feel like this makes Guinness better, but it is still a bit yucky (I’m not a fan of stout beers). I’m not sure about the flavor. This isn’t something I would request.

George: I’ve had canned and bottled Guinness before and feel that they fall flat when compared to Guinness on draught. This drink had a nice sweetness from the prosecco, but I’m too distracted by the bad bottled Guinness taste to enjoy it. I’d love to try this made at a bar that has Guinness on tap.

Poinsettia drink

For this drink we did ½ a jigger of triple sec, 1 jigger of cranberry and then filled the rest of the glass with prosecco.

Lauren: This was the best drink so far. I felt like you could taste both the orange and the cranberry, but neither flavor was overpowering. This is a nice sipping drink, and I would certainly serve it at a party. I think the presentation would be really nice with a cranberry or other fruit floating in the glass.

George: I agree with Lauren, I think this one was the best that we tried. The sweet and distinct taste of cranberries went well with the triple sec and the prosecco. I would use a tad less cranberry juice next time, as I felt it obscured the other tastes a bit. Overall, still very drinkable.


Final Thoughts
The Poinsettia was the favorite champagne cocktail we tried. Based upon this sampling, we wouldn’t add a significant amount of strong alcohol to our prosecco. Just a splash of juice or other mixer is enough to enhance basic sparkling wine.

Happy New Year!


Vegetarian Chili

30 Dec

It snowed all day yesterday. I spent much of my time watching TV (I’m bad, I know!), but I also squeezed in a couple projects. To warm myself up, I made vegetarian chili.

Ingredients for veggie chili

What I love best about making chili is that you can use a wide variety of ingredients, depending on what you have on hand. For this particular chili, I included: half an onion, a couple garlic cloves, 2 stalks of celery, a little bit of carrot, a bell pepper, kidney beans, black beans, diced tomato, and tomato sauce. When I have it available, I also like to use fake meat crumbles (ground beef substitute) and corn.

Adding in Spices Chili

For this meal I also added some spices, including loads of chili powder.

vegetarian chili

I like to scoop my chili with tortilla chips after adding cheese on top.

This was a really delicious and simple meal. I even have leftovers for today!

Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

GH and I Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you!

Streaming Christmas Movies and Shows

24 Dec

It is a tradition in my family that we go out to the movies every year. It began when we were small, when my Dad took my brothers and I out of the house so my mom could wrap presents and get things done. We’ve continued the tradition, although now my Mom gets to come along and someone needs to stay home with my baby niece! I’m not sure what movie we are seeing today, although the top contender is “This is 40.”

Eating Popcorn by the Christmas Tree

You don’t need to go out to enjoy holiday programming. There are always specials on TV, and streaming options on Netflix and Hulu.

Some Netflix options include:

Christmas Classics: Vol 1  – All of the classic cartoons from way back when. This is one of my oldest brother’s favorites

12 Dates of Christmas – This is a really silly made for TV movie. It is a good one for wrapping presents

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation – This movie is a Christmas classic, and a favorite in my boyfriend’s house. I just saw it this year, and I thought it was a little sad!

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular – In case you weren’t able to make it to New York, you can watch the Rockettes in the comfort of your own home.

The Polar Express – I love this book. I haven’t yet seen the movie, but I hear it’s great!

Fireplace for your home – I had this on the other night, just for fun.

Another blogger has a complete list of all the holiday Netflix options here.

In case you don’t subscribe to Netflix, there are also free options on Hulu. I noted holiday episodes of Glee, New Girl, America’s Funniest Home Videos, and Parks and Recreation. There’s even a Christmas Fireplace option on Hulu!

I hope you have a very peaceful day making all the final preparations for Christmas.

Squash seeds

21 Dec

I recently cooked some butternut squash for dinner. I keep things very simple: cutting the squash in half, scooping out the “guts,” brushing the halves with olive oil, and cooking the squash upside down.

butternut squash insides

In addition to making the squash, I also decided to try roasted butternut squash seeds. I love freshly cooked pumpkin seeds, so I figured it was worth a shot.

I cleaned the seeds off with warm water, trying to get rid of as much of the stringy “guts” as I could. Usually I use a colander to help. I put the seeds in a dish with olive oil and salt and cooked it at 375 degrees. Every 5-10 minutes I shook the pan to stir up the seeds. I believe it took approximately 20 minutes for the seeds to cook so they were crunchy but not burnt.

roasted butternut squash seeds

Please note that I ate some seeds before snapping this picture. The squash yielded a little more seeds than are pictured.

I thought they were very good! The squash seeds weren’t as delicious as pumpkin seeds, but it was certainly worth the tiny amount of effort to have my food go a little further.


19 Dec

This week I am finishing up the last of my Christmas “to-do’s,” including some lingering gifts. On Monday I worked on a present for two men in my life- reinbeers!

Reinbeer Supplies

For supplies you’ll need beer (or bottled soda), brown pipe cleaners, red pom poms, and googly eyes. For the beer I went to a local shop where I assembled loose six packs. Both reinbeer recipients like to try new beverages. The other supplies I found at Joann’s, and paid $3.75 for.

I removed the labels off of the neck of the beer bottle before moving on. This is optional, but I decided the bottles looked better without the top label. To remove the labels from the top of the bottle, I first peeled as much as I could off. I then soaked the remaining label with a wet paper towel. When it was wet, the label remnants were much easier to remove, and I used a metal nail tool to help. This was by far the most annoying part of the project.

pipe cleaners for reinbeers

I then cut the pipe cleaners to roughly 9 inch and 3 inch pieces. I wrapped the longer piece around the top of the bottle, and twisted the smaller pieces on each end to make antlers. After attaching the antlers, I used hot glue to put on the googly eyes and nose.

12 reinbeers diy craft

I think these guys look so cute! It was a simple project, and is a perfect Christmas DIY gift for two of the men in my life.

a single reinbeer

My Gingerbread House

17 Dec

Last week George and I made a gingerbread house. I started with a kit, but added additional candy, like mini candy canes and more gumdrops.

Front of gingerbread House

I especially love the little candy canes as hearts on the roof.

back of gingerbread house

What do you think?

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