I Made It Myself

Signature Cocktail: Prickly Pear Mezcal Mule

The double whammy of the recent Cinco de Mayo festivities and some really amazing slow-cooker pork tacos has put me in the mood for Mexican-inspired drinks. I’m not an expert on Mezcal by any means, but I wanted to give it a shot, and this Prickly Pear Mezcal Mule recipe from Freutcake provided the perfect starting point.

The guy at the liquor store said this Del Maguey Vida mezcal would be "extra smoky"

The guy at the liquor store said this Del Maguey Vida Mezcal would be “extra smoky” (and within our price range)

It began with a trip to the liquor store where a super nice employee helped me navigate the Mezcal options. He suggested Del Maguey’s Vida as a good option for a newbie like me. The Freutcake recipe calls for prickly pear syrup, and includes a recipe for a homemade version, but I’m a bit embarrassed to say I opted for the high fructose corn syrup-laden storebought version. It was partly about time and partly about access to prickly pears. I think the drink suffered for it, so, if you have the time and the access, I’d definitely recommend making your own. (Plus, then you wouldn’t end up with a giant bottle of prickly pear syrup that you will likely have taking up space in your fridge for a very long time.)

No jalapeño this time, but I'd be all for it in the future.

No jalapeño this time, but I’d be all for it in the future.

Despite the extra fructose, and despite the fact that I didn’t include a jalapeño, and despite the misleadingly pink color, this was a pretty savory drink. Super smoky, as promised! It went really well with tacos. (I eat tacos all the time.)

Prickly Pear Mezcal Mule

(adapted from Freutcake)

  • juice of 3 limes
  • 3 oz Mezcal
  • 8 oz ginger beer
  • 1 oz prickly pear syrup
  • Lime, for rimming the glass
  • Salt, for rimming the glass
  • Lime wedges, for garnish
  1. Use lime and salt to rim two glasses.
  2. Add lime juice, Mezcal, prickly pear syrup, and ice to a shaker and shake vigorously until cold.
  3. Distribute between the two glasses, and add ginger beer. Stir.
  4. Garnish with lime wedges.
  5. Serve with tacos.

 

Signature Cocktail: Fancy French Gimlet

Some days you just want to feel fancy, amirite? On a recent day like that, I decided to gussy up a classic French Gimlet while wearing my monocle and swinging a parasol. Okay, the monocle and parasol parts didn’t really happen, but the cocktail part is 100% true! See?

French Gimlet

elderflower-y!

A French Gimlet typically involves dry gin, St. Germain (which is an elderflower liqueur), and lime. To make it fancypantsier I added Lillet Blanc and a bit of agave. This was inspired by something I saw on a menu once, but I can’t for the life of me remember where. I do remember that the menu font was really fancy.

plus lime!

plus lime!

I think this one was a win. It’s bright and fresh, and the lime and agave are a great sweet and tart combination. Highly recommended!

Fancy French Gimlet

  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. St. Germain
  • 1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 T. agave
  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until chilled.
  2. Serve with a lime wheel.
  3. Feel fancy.

Signature Cocktail: Rum Spiked Horchata

Horchata is a delicious drink found all over Latin America and Spain. It can be made from almonds, rice, sesame seeds, or barley, among other things. The kind I’m familiar with is milky, though that’s not essential. Typical flavors include cinnamon, vanilla, coconut, lime, or various spices. Basically, it’s a whole bunch of goodness in one smooth beverage. I wanted a grown-up version so I made this.

rum-spiked-horchata

Though some recipes call for ground nuts or rice or corn, others just suggest soaking grains in water for a few hours or overnight. I adapted a recipe that called for soaking rice in water and adding milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. The original recipe called for sugar, but I skipped it entirely since I was also adding Orchata, a sweet cinnamon cream rum found in most liquor stores. (RumChata is another choice).

horchata-ingredients

It was super delicious—light and creamy, though a bit on the sweet side, despite the lack of added sugar. The hardest part was letting the rice soak for three hours!

Rum Spiked Horchata

(recipe adapted from A Beautiful Mess)

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 oz. Orchata (cinnamon cream rum; could also use RumChata)
  1. Blend the rice and water in a blender for a minute. Then let the rice soak in the water for three hours.
  2. Place a fine-meshed sieve over a bowl and drain the rice-y water. Discard the rice.
  3. Pour rice water, milk, vanilla, Orchata, and ice into a cocktail shaker and shake until chilled.
  4. Pour into glasses and sprinkle cinnamon on top.

 

It’s almost Pi Day! You know what that means.

Pi Day is coming up soon. On March 14th, we celebrate the most delicious mathematical constant: π! And what better way to celebrate π than with . . . pie!

I was looking for something easy and not too rich. This Coconut Cream Pie recipe from A Spicy Perspective fit the bill.

Really good pie

Really good pie

I skipped what looked like a great coconut pie crust recipe because it wasn’t gluten-free, and because I learned long ago that making a pie crust isn’t always worth the trouble. (To me, pies are not at all about the crust.) Otherwise, I stuck pretty close to the recipe.

Find all of the white foods in your kitchen

Find all of the white foods in your kitchen

Maybe if I had made my own pie crust, I wouldn’t have ended up with quite so much extra filling. I’ve got coconut cream filling for days. (Not a bad thing.)

The pie is smooth and creamy, and tastes great cold out of the fridge. It’s a little on the sweet side for me, so I might skip the sugar next time. I used unsweetened coconut for the toasted topping, and I think that was a good choice. I love that this pie holds its shape, despite being incredibly silky. This is definitely a winner.

Coconut Cream Pie

(recipe adapted from A Spicy Perspective)

  • 5.1 oz. box instant vanilla pudding
  • 15 oz. can cream of coconut
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (or cow’s mil)
  • 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tb. sugar [I'd skip this]
  • 1 cup toasted coconut
  1. Prepare the pie crust as directed.
  2. Spread the coconut out onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 3-5 minutes at 375 degrees, until just golden. Then remove and cool.
  3. Place the instant pudding mix, cream of coconut, and coconut milk in a large air-tight container. Stir gently until combined. Cover tightly and shake for 1-2 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Using an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream with 1 tsp. vanilla and 3 Tb. sugar (if you’re adding sugar). Cover and refrigerate.
  5. Use the electric mixer to beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Slowly, beat in the pudding mixture.Fold in half of the whipped cream. Mix until smooth.
  6. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Top with the remaining whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Chill for at least four hours. Tastes even better the next day.

Product Review: 3D Dinosaur Cookie Cutters

3d-dinosaur-cookie-cutters

I ordered a set of 3D Dinosaur Cookie Cutters from ThinkGeek last summer, in anticipation of an outdoor screening of the film Planet of the Dinosaurs that I attended with friends.

triceratops cookie recipe

I used the gluten-free Sugar Cookie recipe from Erin McKenna’s Babycakes Covers the Classics. The recipe is a good one—the cookies are perfectly chewy and extra delicious with a hint of lemon extract—and, even though the recipe wasn’t created with 3D dinosaur cookie cutters in mind, they actually worked pretty well. They were a hit at the movie screening.

I recently tried to re-create the magic. You can see that the dough looked pretty good going into the oven. And it even looked good on the way out.

broken dino cookies

This time, though, I had more trouble assembling the cookies. They crumbled when I tried to attach the legs. I think the cookies were a little too thick. A crisper, thinner cookie—perhaps gingerbread—would have worked better.

broken dino cookies

Even though they didn’t hold their dino shape very well, they still went extinct in my mouth!

Bottom line: The 3D dinosaur cookie cutters are a bit of a gamble, but if you can find a good recipe for a credit card thin cookie, you’ll be a hit at your next dinosaur-themed event!

Signature Cocktail: Hunny (just like Pok Pok)

If you’ve ever been to Portland, OR, you know about Pok Pok, the city’s popular spot for Thai street food. Pok Pok is famous for a few things including its cocktails, many of which feature flavored drinking vinegars. If the idea of drinking vinegar sounds strange to you, give it a shot at least once. It adds a tart bite to fruity drinks, and I promise it’s like nothing you’ve had before.

One of my favorite Pok Pok cocktails is the Hunny, which features the honey-flavored vinegar. You can order Pok Pok’s own brand of Portland-crafted vinegar here.

The secret is the honey-flavored drinking vinegar

The secret is the honey-flavored drinking vinegar

The Hunny is deliciously tart and refreshing. Between the double dose of citrus and the spot of tequila, it packs quite a punch. This recipe couldn’t be easier, so it’s a new favorite around my place.

Plus ice, and that's it!

Plus ice, and that’s it!

Hunny

(recipe adapted from Serious Eats, originally developed by Pok Pok)

  • 1 1/2 oz gold tequila
  • juice of two limes
  • juice of 1/4 large pink grapefruit
  • 1 oz honey-flavored Som drinking vinegar

Add tequila, citrus, and vinegar to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled.

Signature Cocktail: Blood Orange Mojito

Last weekend I made Blood Orange Mojitos, and they were delicious! They kind of make you feel like you’re on a tropical island, because you’re drinking a mojito, but the blood orange keeps you grounded with its wintriness.

Blood Orange Mojito recipe

Sweet and minty and bright!

I used Emeril’s recipe which calls for a simple basil syrup to be made in advance. I also got to chop up some ice in the blender, and muddle the blood orange with raw sugar and mint—muddling is the best!

Plus rum and sparkling water!

Plus rum and sparkling water!

They turned out quite tasty. The blood oranges I got were pretty sweet, so in retrospect I might use a little less sugar, but I love the combination of mint, basil, and blood orange.

Blood Orange Mojitos

(adapted from FoodNetwork.com)

  • 1 blood orange, cut into small pieces
  • small handful mint leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 4 teaspoons natural raw cane sugar
  • chipped ice
  • 2 tablespoons basil syrup, recipe follows, or simple syrup
  • 1/2 c. light rum
  • 1/2 c. sparkling water

Place pieces of orange in each of two rocks glasses, and top each glass with a few mint leaves. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of cane sugar in each glass and, using a muddler, crush the orange pieces while bruising the mint with the sugar. Fill each glass just below the rim with ice. Add a tablespoon of the basil syrup and 1/4 cup of the rum to each of the glasses.

Use a shaker to vigorously shake the contents of the glass together for at least 30 seconds. Pour the mojito back in the glass, and top off the glass with seltzer or sparkling water. Garnish each drink with mint leaves. Serve immediately.

Basil Syrup

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup packed well-washed fresh basil leaves

Place the sugar and the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the syrup from the heat, and add the basil leaves to the saucepan. Allow the syrup to sit for at least 1 hour before straining through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard the basil leaves. Store the syrup in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. Syrup will keep, refrigerated, for several weeks.

Recipe: White Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie S’mores

holiday s'mores

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of holiday s’mores danced in their heads.

All year long we dream about s’mores.

As you may have gathered, we love s’mores here at Everybody’s Invited. We usually enjoy s’mores in the summertime, gathered around a fire with friends. We even get a little competitive about our s’more-ing. The other day, we were craving a little melted marshmallow-y treat, and it occurred to us that s’mores don’t have to be seasonal. Why not try to make a holiday s’more recipe?

Introducing the White Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie S’more. Fit for Saint Nick himself.

holiday s'mores

Holiday S’more Idea: White Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie S’mores

Ingredients for one White Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie S’more:

- 2 gingerbread cookies (homemade or store-bought)
- A handful of white chocolate chips (or white candy melts)
- Festive sprinkles
- 1 vanilla marshmallow (homemade or store-bought)

Instructions for making one White Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie S’more:

- Bake or buy your gingerbread cookies (we used this recipe from Post Punk Kitchen). For festive flare, use holiday cookie cutters – trees, stockings, stars, gingerbread men, etc.

- Melt a handful of the chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds or so.

- Use a knife to spread the melted chocolate on one side of one of the cookies.

- Before the chocolate dries, decorate the gingerbread cookie with holiday sprinkles. We used gold edible star glitter and pearlized sprinkles.

- Take one plain (not chocolate-covered) gingerbread cookie and put it on a microwave-safe plate. Put one marshmallow on top of the cookie and place the decorated cookie on top of the marshmallow. Pop it in the microwave for about 10 seconds until the marshmallow has melted (microwave times will vary).

- Make yourself a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy your holiday s’more!

For a more toasted marshmallow, you can try using the oven. If you like even more chocolate, we think a piece of dark chocolate inside the s’more would make a super sweet treat.

Holiday S'mores

Breakfast of champions for elves: two White Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie S’mores and a cup of coffee with a candy cane.

Funny story about homemade marshmallows: I (Tara) tried to make them and failed miserably. It was such an awful, sticky (yet delicious) mess and I had to throw them out! At one point during the process, both of my hands were completely covered in marshmallow goo. It looked like I was wearing marshmallow mittens, which sounds way more awesome than it actually is. Oh well! At least I gave something new a shot (which is what we’re all about here at Everybody’s Invited!).

holiday s'mores

Watch out for sneaky, tiny hands trying to steal your holiday s’mores as you photograph them!

Now we can’t stop dreaming of more holiday s’more recipes, like Triple Chocolate Cookies with Peppermint Marshmallows. Yum!

What about you? What ingredients would you use to make a holiday s’more?


Signature Cocktail: Sugar & Spice Bourbon Apple Cider

The colder weather makes me want to warm up with some bourbon.

I came up with this recipe for a sweet and spicy bourbon apple cider after spending time in my future mother-in-law’s cider-scented kitchen over Thanksgiving. She had apple cider, cinnamon sticks, and orange slices in the crockpot all day, and it made the entire house smell amazing.

Sugar and Spice Bourbon Apple Cider recipe

For my version, I wanted to complement the sweetness of cider and cinnamon with the warmth of brown sugar and the bite of ground ginger.

spices

I put all of that in a crockpot to warm up for half an hour. Then I added bourbon and a pinch of cayenne for an extra kick. It’s just right for staying warm on a cold night.

cheers

Recipe

  • 6 c. apple cider
  • 2 T. dark-brown sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 t. ground ginger
  • 3/4 c. bourbon
  • pinch of cayenne

Warm cider, sugar, cinnamon, and ginger in a crockpot on Low for 30 minutes. Add bourbon and cayenne. Enjoy!

Making Things

I’ve not historically thought of myself as a crafty person. I don’t knit, crochet, or scrapbook. Nor do I fix bikes, build furniture, or program arduinos. I’m not a maker, and I’m not a tinkerer. But every once in awhile, I go through a phase where I really want to make things.

This is typically expressed via food or Halloween costumes.

My most recent efforts have involved learning how to use Adobe Illustrator to make greeting cards, posters, and infographics.

I’ve been wondering what exactly it is that makes making things so much fun. What about it is so satisfying? I think there are a few answers:

  • Making things is empowering. Knowing how to make things makes us less dependent on others, which will come in handy after the zombie apocalypse.

  • Making things is demystifying. If you make something, you understand how it works.

  • Making things is one of the surest paths to flow. Get in the zone, people.

  • Making things can be difficult. Challenge is fun.

Here are some things I want to make:

A piano doorbell, like this one by designer Li Jianye

A piano doorbell, like this one by designer Li Jia

laundry

I have a real washing machine, but this looks like so much more fun. The creator claims it’s for kids, but I think that’s discrimination.

With this abacus bracelet, I could add on the go!

With this abacus bracelet, I could add on the go!

I've already got a version of this DIY marquee in progress.

I’ve already got a version of this DIY marquee in progress.

This camera lens mug would make a great homemade gift, if I could figure out how to make it myself.

This camera lens mug would make a great homemade gift, if I could figure out how to make it myself.

What are you making these days?