DON’T THROW AWAY YOUR PUMPKINS!

Picture this :: Frosty the Snowman was a happy, jolly pumpkin! There’s an easy way to transition your pumpkins into the Christmas season. You can make a Pumpkin Snowman! Recycle your fall pumpkins with just a little white paint, an old scarf and a hat. It truly is that easy, so follow along and we’ll show you how to brighten up your front porch this season.

I know this is a big stray from my cocktail posts, but if you’d like to sip on a lovely holiday libation while building your Pumpkin Snowman, check out my Pumpkin Shandy or The Queen’s Men, both delicious and on point for the season.

While the list below looks like a lot of steps, it’s really quite easy and you’ll be pleased with the results. Read through the instructions once before diving in so you can have fun while creating your Pumpkin Snowman. Your friends and family will love the result!

Frosty the Pumpkin Snowman & his buddies

Frosty the Pumpkin Snowman & his buddies

MATERIALS NEEDED ::
3 pumpkins
White or light ivory paint {acrylic or spray enamel – Satin finish}
Painters tape {if you’re using orange pumpkins}
Paintbrush
Wood glue
Round sponge brush
Black acrylic paint
Orange acrylic paint {if you want to paint your carrot nose}
Thin paint brush
2 sticks for arms
Scarf
Felt hat

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
IMG_2798Select three pumpkins that can easily be stacked on top of each other. Play around with your pumpkins to find the best combination. You can either choose pumpkins that are all the same size or use one large, one medium and one small pumpkin.

*  Using a damp paper towel, wipe down each pumpkin to be sure they are clean and ready for paint. Let dry. 

IMG_1839*  If you’re using bright orange pumpkins, grab your painters tape and tape off a nose. Be sure to rub down along the cut edge to be sure your tape is stuck to your pumpkin so paint won’t seep through.

*  Cover the area you will be painting with a tarp or old sheet and spread out your pumpkins so you can paint them individually.

IMG_2800

*  Using your spray or acrylic paint, coat your pumpkins with a light first coat of paint. Let dry. The acrylic paint can go on a bit thicker so a second coat may not be needed, but the spray paint works well if you spray a light first coat, dry and then come back with a second coat.

*  Make sure to let the paint dry completely before continuing. This can take between an hour and a half to two hours.

IMG_1847*  Using black paint and your round sponge brush, paint your face and buttons.

*  If you’re painting on your nose, grab that orange paint and paint an elongated triangle, then paint your eyes and smile.

*  Once this detail painting is done, take your painted pumpkins to wherever you’ll be displaying them and get ready to build your Snowman!

Pumpkin Snowmen Painted*  Grab your sticks and position them on each side of your middle pumpkin, marking the spot with a pen or Sharpie.

*  With a nail and hammer, pierce a hole where your arms will go, being careful to only punch a hole slightly smaller than your stick arms. Poke the arms into the pumpkin.

*  Stack your pumpkins. If they are a little wobbly, you can use wood glue to keep them stuck together. Simply place a line of glue where the pumpkins touch and secure in place, holding for a minute or two to let the glue set. If your pumpkins fit nicely on top of each other, you might not need the glue at all.

Pumpkin Snowmen on Sleigh

Time to dress up your Snowman. I used wired ribbon and a felt hat from Michaels Craft Store for mine, but any scarf or hat will do. This is the fun part of creating the personality of your Snowman so get creative! You can also add fake snow, greenery or fun holiday picks around the base of your Snowman Pumpkins for added decoration. Now sit back, have a holiday cocktail and smile at your creation!

CRANBERRY COCKTAILS FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

Everyone I know is getting ready to prepare their favorite Thanksgiving dish next Thursday. I can’t wait for all those flavors and spending time with family and friends. One of my favorite flavors highlighted at this time of the year is CRANBERRIES! I think they’re like little fruit rubies with their glossy, scarlet red hue. And while most of us are familiar with quintessential cranberry juice cocktails such as the Cosmopolitan or a Cape Cod, let’s take you one step beyond these classics and explore that delicious little joy of a berry — the cranberry — and get you set up for the holiday entertaining season. 

Cranberries are unlike any other fruit in the world. I’m intrigued by the fact that they’re grown in a bog and each berry has a tiny little pocket of air that allows it to float to the surface of the water when it harvests. Fascinating! Cranberries are good for you, too! Fresh cranberries contain high levels of beneficial nutrients such as vitamin C, fiber, and an amazing array of phytonutrients. Now that they’re reaching their peak color and flavor from October through December, we’re just in time to add their festive hue, tart tangy flavor, and numerous health protective effects to your holiday cocktail menus. So grab a bag of these power-packed gems and let’s get started on our cranberry cocktails!

For this cocktail, the tangy flavor of cranberries is enhanced with a combination of pear vodka and the lovely floral notes of St. Germain. Top with a little bubbly and you’ll become an immediate fan of this fun and easy holiday drink.

Gidget_PearCranberrySparkler2

PEAR CRANBERRY SPARKLER

TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker
GLASS :: Champagne flute
EXTRAS :: Cranberries for garnish
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails
INGREDIENTS ::
3 ounces pear vodka
1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce St. Germain
Champagne or prosecco, well chilled

DIRECTIONS ::
Combine first 3 ingredients in an ice-filled shaker and shake well. Distribute between glasses. Top each cocktail with champagne and serve.

ADDITIONAL CRANBERRY COCKTAILS ::
For a full list of delish cranberry-based cocktails, check out my latest article for TheGoodStuff for more cranberry cocktail recipes!

source : creative culinary

source : creative culinary

source: food for my family

source: food for my family

Gidget_PearCranberrySparkler1

Pear Cranberry Sparkler from Gidget+LaRue

SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED: HOW TO BUILD A DIRTY MARTINI

Martinis play an important role in the life of James Bond. They’re nearly as famous as his fast cars and the Bond girls. But it’s that phrase, “shaken, not stirred,” that many of us have tried to mimic with just the right amount of 007 swagger when ordering a cocktail. Admit it, you’ve tried!

Well, with the latest and greatest Bond film which hit theaters on November 6th, I thought it was time to dive a little deeper into the mystique of the martini. Daniel Craig will be playing the debonair spy for the fourth time in the film, which was filmed on location in London, Mexico City, Rome, Tangier, and Erfoud in Morocco. All so exotic! When it comes to world premieres, nobody does it better than 007, so I’m here to help you embrace the secret agent way of life and mix an impressive dirty martini along with the best of them.

James certainly would have loved this one...

James certainly would have loved this one…

GETTING INTO THE SPY GAME

Bond’s cocktail of choice is the vodka martini, but did you know the reason he asks for the cocktail to be ‘shaken, not stirred’ is because a traditional martini should actually be stirred?

Mixology rule number one states that any cocktail containing only spirits — in this case vodka and dry vermouth — should be stirred over ice in a cocktail mixing glass, not shaken in a cocktail shaker. Bond claims to appreciate the extra chill shaking provides, and many people like to see those small ice shards in their cocktail, as well. If you want to follow in the footsteps of James, get that shaker out and get ready to chill that martini.

Now that I’ve cleared that up, there are other considerations for creating the ultimate martini:

Vodka or gin?
First you need to decide if you want your cocktail created with vodka or with gin. Either spirit works well, so it’s a matter of preference. We all know Mr. Bond prefers vodka, but gin is the original ingredient for a martini.

Did you know that three different vodkas have been featured in the Bond films? Smirnoff was the original endorsed brand, then it was replaced by Stolichnaya. InDie Another Day, Finlandia was the vodka of choice.

How dry?
Dry vermouth is the only other ingredient in a martini, and it’s up to you to determine how much you’d like in your cocktail. Ordering a martini without specifying will give you anywhere from six drops to about a half capful of vermouth. Ordering your martini “dry” reduces that by about half.

Some bartenders merely place the vermouth into the martini glass, swirl it around to coat the insides and then toss the leftover liquid. An “extra dry” martini either has no vermouth or less than a splash.

How dirty?
Ordering a dirty martini means you’ll get a few splashes of the briny olive juice from the cocktail olive jar mixed into your martini. Lots of people love the extra flavor this juice provides, so feel free to ask for “extra dirty” if you want to really taste that olive flavor.

Olives or onions...no one is judging...

Olives, onions or even a lemon peel  – no one is judging…


Garnish

Chances are if you’ve ordered a dirty martini, you’re looking for a few olives in your cocktail. All good — feel free to ask for the number you’d like if you don’t know your bartender. Another standard garnish for a martini is a long lemon peel. Be sure to ask if you have a preference.

 

 

 

 

The “other” martini
Keep in mind that if you’d prefer your martini garnished with a cocktail onion instead of an olive, you are ordering a Gibson martini, which is made in the same fashion as steps one and two above, but ensures you’re substituting an onion (and onion juice if you’re inclined) for your cocktail.

LIVE & LET DRINK
Now that you’ve got the intel on martinis, let’s get down to actually shaking one up for you and your guests. You’ve had time to think about your base spirit, your vermouth, and your garnish, so get all those lined up like a pro and let’s get shaking!

HOW TO MAKE A DIRTY MARTINI
Tools :: 
Cocktail shaker, extra ice
Glass :: Martini
Extras :: Cocktail olives in juice (or cocktail onions in juice or lemons for twists)
Servings :: 1 cocktail

INGREDIENTS ::
2 1/2 ounces vodka or gin
Half a capful or less of dry vermouth
2 teaspoons of olive brine from a jar

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Before mixing cocktails, place ice into martini glass and fill with cool water. Set aside. This method ensures the coldest of glasses for your cocktail. Fill shaker with ice and pour vermouth and vodka into shaker. Spoon 2-3 teaspoons of olive brine into shaker. Shake until your hand chills — about 30 seconds or more. Dump ice and water from martini glass. Strain martini into chilled glass. Garnish with olives and enjoy!

Once you’ve made a few martinis, you’ll be able to fine-tune your flavor preference by adding or reducing the amount of vermouth or olive brine to your liking. You can also experiment with the Gibson martini and see how you like the onion versus the olive.

These days, bars are also substituting dill pickles and juice instead of the olives for a whole new take on the dirty martini! While I’m not sure Mr. Bond would look quite so debonair with a dill pickle garnish, just get that accent down and you might be onto something! For another James Bond martini, check out the Vesper cocktail made famous in the movie Casino Royale.