Monday, October 25, 2010

boo-zey halloween concoctions...

Throwing a bash this Halloween?  Cast a spell on your guests with a spooky cocktail or two to get the evening started right.  Cue the full moon and serve up some "witches brew" in the form of these vamped up cocktails that will definitely add some Halloween fun to your party without sacrificing that sophisticated touch...

Add a little mystery and brew up some mischief with this fabulous, award-winning black vodka cocktail, concocted by Micheal Ring at Jay's Catering:

Photo courtesy of

Black Vodka Ghost Martini
[Recipe courtesy of Jay's Catering and the International Caterers Association]

Individual Serving
1/3 part Black Vodka
1/3 part Chambord
1/3 part Cranberry Juice
Club Soda (to top off)
Blackberry (skewered for garnish)
Dry ice pellet (optional)
Fill a shaker halfway with ice. Combine equal parts Black Vodka, Chambord and Cranberry juice. Shake vigorously and pour mixture into a cocktail glass.Top off with 1 part club soda and garnish with a skewered blackberry.  For an additional "ghostly" effect, add a dry ice pellet to the glass.*  

If you are unable to find Black Vodka (Blavod), simply add a few drops of 
black food coloring to the cocktail to get the same effect.

*Note: dry ice can be dangerous to work with.  Please warn guests not to swallow the pellet by accident.  
Always handle dry ice with heavy duty gloves to avoid serious frost burn.

Or, add an "eerie" twist to a traditional favorite...

 Photo courtesy of

"Screwed Up" Screwdriver
[Recipe courtesy of Martha]

Individual Serving
1/4 cup of ice
1/2 cup tangerine or orange juice
1 1/2 oz. black vodka
1 piece of black licorice (for garnish)

Add 1/4 cup of ice to a tall highball glass with 1/2 cup of tangerine or orange juice into glass. Pour 1 1/2 oz. black vodka into the glass over the back of a cocktail spoon so it creates a top, black layer over the juice. Use a piece of black licorice as a festive straw but trimming each end. Serve immediately to avoid the colors blending.

And for those looking to warm up before a chilly evening out on the town, try this great take on the classic Hot Toddy...

Photo courtesy of Tesco Magazine
 Ginger-Lemon Hot Toddy
[Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen]
 Individual Serving
2-3 oz. top-shelf bourbon
1 oz. honey
1/2 oz. ginger syrup (see recipe below)
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice 

Warm the bourbon, honey, ginger syrup and lemon juice in a small saucepan until the honey is completely dissolved and the drink is hot (but not boiling). Pour into a large snifter or glass Irish coffee mug and serve warm, immediately.  

Ginger Syrup
1 lemon
2 cups coarsely chopped ginger with peel (about 8 oz.)
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of water 

Remove the outer peel of the lemon with a vegetable peeler, taking care not to include too much of the bitter white pith. Finely chop the lemon peel and ginger in a food processor. Transfer the lemon-ginger mixture to a medium saucepan and add the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer (partially covered) for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture and cool. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

petite seasonal treats!

Once Starbucks comes out with their infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte, I can't help but get excited for all of the fall goodies to come!  As we all know, the cupcake craze is literally out of control, and the flavors are equally amazing. I stumbled across my new favorite cupcake blog, Ming Makes Cupcakes, which offers great flavor ideas...definitely check it out! And I couldn't resist including ideas from a local favorite, Georgetown Cupcakes, famous for their perfect, pint-size creations.  Here is just a sampling of what a few boutique bakeries are offering this season...and a recipe or two for you to try your own versions!

Pumpkin Cupcake
Pumpkin Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Garnished with Candied Ginger
Courtesy of Ming Makes Cupcakes

Cinnamon Cupcake
Cinnamon Cupcake with 
Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
Courtesy of Georgetown Cupcakes

Maple Cupcake
Maple Cupcake with 
Maple-infused Cream Cheese Frosting
Courtesy of Georgetown Cupcakes

Salted Caramel Cupcake
Caramel Cupcake with Salted Caramel-infused Buttercream Frosting
Topped with a Caramel Drizzle
Courtesy of Georgetown Cupcakes

These Carrot Cupcakes are from my absolute favorite spot in London, Hummingbird Bakery. It's a dream-like bakery located in Portobello Road (and they just added new shops in South Ken & Soho!). Check out their great new cookbook so you can make all their treats at home - I've spotted it at Anthropology or its available on  

Carrot Cupcake
Carrot Cupcake with Fresh Carrot, Walnuts, Cinnamon & Nutmeg
Topped with Cream Cheese Frosting & Dusted with Cinnamon
Courtesy of Hummingbird Bakery

Courtesy of Hummingbird Bakery

And a few seasonal recipes from Ming Make Cupcakes to try yourself! Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

bippity boppity boo: the gilded pumpkin!

Love traditional fall decor but need a chic alternative on the average orange pumpkin?  Don't fret - pull a fairy godmother and transform your gourds into metallic masterpieces.  Simply pick out some favorites from the patch and use metallic spray paints to wash them in a chic, shiny finish.  Try using small silver or gold painted baby pumpkins at each place setting for Thanksgiving dinner, or use larger, carved pumpkins set in groupings as votive holders.  Just a little paint can glam up even the simplest of pumpkin porch decor! 

Photos courtesy of:  Martha Stewart Living [top left]; Jaimee Rose at [top right];
and Caromal Colours [bottom]

If you're too busy to paint this season, try picking up some simple white pumpkins for a modern, minimalist take on typical fall decor.  Your elegant Jack-o'-lanterns will be anything but ordinary, and won't require the additional effort!

Photos courtesy of Southern Living [top left]; Martha Stewart Living [top right]; 
and [bottom]

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