Rosemary and Gin Fizz

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This time last year: Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (2013)

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I made a good friend recently- a new friend, one of those people that everyone is drawn to.

She laughs a lot, and I am so very lucky to have her around.

This new friend of mine is gentle and sweet in many ways- however she is also strong.
Thus, this sweet and salty lady is the one responsible for this drink.

The first time we went out in downtown Decatur together, I ordered my standard- something with whiskey, or orange bitters, mint, or lemon. Scratch that. I don’t really have a “standard,” just a lot of flavors I like.

However, one of the things I loved about this new friend of mine, is that she did have a regular drink. This sweet, giggly lady stepped up to the bar and ordered a gin and tonic like she’d been doing it for 80 years. Go ahead girl.

Thus, when I started looking for fun holiday drinks that could make for a festive holiday happy hour or a bubbly new years toast, I knew I had to include a gin special.

This is for my new friend. Cheers to all of yours!

XO Sarah

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Ingredients:
  • 3 one-inch sprigs of fresh Rosemary
  • 1 small lemon (+ a few slices for garnish!}
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 3 oz. Ginger ale
Directions:
  1. In a small glass, muddle the rosemary, juice from 1/2 a lemon, and honey.
  2. Fill the glass with ice, and then add the gin and ginger ale. Taste the drink, and decide whether or not you would like to add additional lemon juice. (I like the citrus tang, but take warning- it can be strong!)
  3. Stir the drink, and add a sprig of rosemary and a lemon slice for garnish.
  4. Sip and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:
  • Adapted from: Cooke + Kate
  • Make sure you don’t miss the four other drinks posted this week, for this “6 holiday drinks that aren’t eggnog” special!

Holiday White Wine Sangria

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This time last year: Mexican Hot Chocolate (2013)

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Friends, it is Day FOUR of “6 Drinks that aren’t Eggnog.” My how time flies. I hope you have been enjoying this series as much as I have!

(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, scroll through the last there days of posts, because this week is all about fun drink recipes! You don’t want to miss it!)

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A few nights ago my family went to dinner with some family friends of ours. They were providing the entree, so we offered to bring a drink and some dessert as a contribution.

This is when having a food blog gets tricky.

Due to the fact that I am coooonstantly trying new recipes, and looking for new scrumptious dishes I can share with you all, anytime I have the opportunity to try out a new recipe on a crowd- I do! Crowds provide the best food blog feed back. You can tell if something is a total hit or if it’s not the most popular dish in the room.  It’s like having a bunch of food blog guinea pigs, which is super helpful!

Despite this obvious benefit to me and my blogging efforts, constantly cooking new recipes for parties is a high-risk, high-reward way to live. Sometimes I find myself bringing new dishes to a social setting and being a little nervous about how they will go over!

Last night was one of those situations.

Although I do love sangria, I will admit this was my first time ever making it! Thus, as I stirred together these delicious ingredients I started to get anxious that it would be a bust- there would be too much fruit, or people would find it too sweet, or find the wine too bitter, etc.

I carried the pitcher into our friend’s home with lots of apologies and excuses that I had yet to try it, and it really might not be all that great! (Such a human move, am I right?)

However, to my delight, every member of the party drank a large glass with nothing but compliments! The fruit was the perfect amount, the wine was fresh and crisp, and the drink was a wonderfully festive fit.

For my first round of sangria, on a group of food-blog guinea pig testers, I got lucky. This recipe is delicious. It’s so easy to make, and was a total crowd pleaser!

Give it a try yourself! I am confident you will love it.

And make sure you come back tomorrow! More drink recipes on the way!

XO Sarah

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Ingredients:
  • 1 granny smith apple, chopped into small bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 red apple, chopped into small bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup fresh/frozen cranberries
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh Rosemary (+ sprigs for garnish- optional)1 bottle white whine
  • 2 cups ginger ale
  • 1 cup sparkling apple cider
  • 1/3 cup sugar
Directions:
  1. Add your apple slices and cranberries to a large pitcher.
  2. Bruise your rosemary to allow the flavors and juices to escape the leaves more. Do this by laying your rosemary on a cutting board, and using the backside of your knife blade, press down on the leaves.  Add the sprigs to the pitcher.
  3. Pour in the wine and stir. (At this point, you can put the pitcher in the refrigerator, and allow the fruit to marinade in the wine, or if you’re impatient like I am, you can skip to the next step!)
  4. Add the ginger ale and sparkling cider, and stir well.
  5. Optional garnish: Dip a few rosemary leaves in the wine, and then roll in a thin layer of granulated sugar. Place one in each glass, drink, and enjoy!
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Notes and Tips!:
  • Serving recommendation: Best served chilled as an appetizer drink.
  • Source: Picture the Recipe
  • Like this recipe? Make sure you don’t miss this week’s other posts for “6 Holiday Drinks That Aren’t Eggnog” (Recipe links below photos):

 

Creamy Mimosas

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This time last year: Ginger Hot Chocolate (2013)

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Well friends, it is day two of this mini-series: 6 Drink Recipes That Aren’t Eggnog.
I’m pretty excited about it, so I hope you are too!

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Yesterday was day one of the series, opening with my favorite Cranberry and Whiskey Cocktail! It is an incredibly simple drink to make, but your guests won’t know that!
Huzzah!

Today, I am bringing you yet another mix drink (I promise the whole week will not be alcohol related).

Day Two brings you my new favorite mimosa recipe!

If you love mimosas you will love this! This drink is almost identical to the classic mimosa recipe, however with an added one ounce of whipping cream. That tiny ounce of whipping cream, although small in proportion, goes a long way, making the entire beverage creamier and richer.

Who knew that one ounce of whipping cream could turn this basic mimosa into the most delicious, alcoholic creamsicle, ever?

Planning a New Years Day brunch? Have a new years goal of spending more time with your friends? Add this recipe to your list, have the group over, and enjoy!

Cheers to you, and to the New Year, and come back tomorrow for another beverage that isn’t eggnog!

xo A Rented Kitchen

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Ingredients:
  • 18 oz. champagne
  • 18 oz. orange juice, no pulp
  • 1 oz. whipping cream (1/8 cup)
  • Ice cubes
Directions
  1. Pour the champagne, orange juice and cream into a large blender.
  2. Add enough ice cubes to raise the liquid to 46 oz. (This should not take many!)
  3. Blend until the ice is thoroughly crushed and the mixture is frothy. (If you add any sugar, you will need to blend a little longer, until the sugar is dissolved).
  4. Serve immediately and enjoy!
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Notes and Tips!
  • Source: Gluten Free Recipe Box
  • Not sure about champagne? Feel free to add 2 Tablespoons of sugar to the blender to sweeten this drink up a little! I did not use it, but follow your taste buds!
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious drinks from A Rented Kitchen (recipe links found below photos!):

Fried Plantains: Sweet and Salty

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This time last year: Pudding Pops (2012)

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There was this perfect little Cuban restaurant just down the street from my apartment in Richmond.

I would run by it early in the morning and smell the freshly brewed Café con Leche. My friends and I would roll into it late at night- snag a booth and split some fresh warm cornbread, a beer, and fried plantains. It was perfect.

It was there, in that tiny neighborhood corner restaurant that I learned to love fried plantains.

I have had the privilege of enjoying fried plantains prior to that Cuban restaurant, however it was the many nights in those warm booths that caused me to appreciate fried plantains in a new way- as dessert, a salty appetizer, a warm crunchy salad topper, the perfect side dish, my snack craving on the go- the list goes on, and my appreciation runs deep!

Fast forward many moons, and I am missing those warm Richmond nights with the strong sweet smell of Cuban food floating through the neighborhood. Therefore, I did the only thing my nostalgia would let me do. I decided to try my hand at this classic recipe myself.

There are a few different ways to approach plantains- sweet and salty. I tried my hand at both, and have to say- you truly can’t go wrong! So, go ahead, try your hand at both, and let me know your favorite!

You have nothing to lose, and sweet new memories to gain.

Happy snacking!

Love, A Rented Kitchen

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil + more for frying as needed
  • Two large plantains
  • Freshly cracked Sea Salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 cup Sugar

Directions:

1. Line a large plate with paper towels and set aside.
2. Peel the plantains and slice into 1/4-inch thick pieces.
3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the plantains to the oil, flipping occasionally, and frying 2-4 minutes- or until a golden brown color. (The longer you fry the plantains, the sweeter they are)
4. Remove the plantains from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and drain on the paper towels.
For salty plantains– sprinkle the tops of each piece with a generous dose of sea salt.
For sweet plantains– combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Dredge the plantain slice through the bowl until coated with cinnamon sugar. Repeat with remaining slices.
For salty sweet plantains– dredge the plantain in the cinnamon sugar mix and then sprinkle with sea salt.
Enjoy!

 

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Notes and Tips!: 

  • Adapted from: The Food Network 
  • Ways to enjoy plantains:
    • The perfect crunchy and warm salad topping
    • Appetizer snack!
    • Serve them with whipped cream, ice cream, or drizzled with caramel sauce
    • Enjoy as a delicious side dish
    • Add them to your lunch box for a perfect office snack
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious snacks from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links found below photos)

Lavender Hot Chocolate with Homemade Whipped Cream

 

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On this day last year: White Bean Hummus with Lime, Parsley, and Cilantro (2014)

Lav. Hot Cocoa

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One of my very nerdy culinary dreams is to have a beautifully organized and fully stocked spice rack. I know that sounds silly, but it’s true. Ever since I started cooking I have drooled over the magnetic spice racks, the ones you label yourself, with all the little bottles. I’m truly revealing my inner organized nerd.

One of the spices I have always wanted to have in my stock, is a little jar of dried lavender buds. Lavender is a very affordable herb, but takes real intentionality to get. You are not likely to find it at your regular grocery store, unless you shop at Whole Foods!

I think part of the reason I wanted a little jar of lavender in my reserve, is due to its’ rarity. I had never tasted anything lavender flavored before! And who doesn’t want to incorporate edible flowers into their meal- helloooo?!

Thus, despite the fact that my little rented kitchen does not have an organized spice rack, yet, I have decided to bust the secrecy of this fragrant herb through a series of lavender food posts.

So, hold onto your apron, because this week is bringing you a series of scrumptious, sweet, and fragrant lavender meals!

On your mark, get set, lavender!

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Ingredients:

  • ½ cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 ounce dark chocolate (70% cacao)
  • 3 Tablespoons milk chocolate (I used chocolate chips!)
  • ¼ teaspoon lavender buds

Homemade Whipped Cream

  • ½ cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ Tablespoon granulated white sugar

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine the cold cream, vanilla, and sugar. Beat with a hand mixer on high until stiff peaks form (should take a few minutes!). Refrigerate until read for use.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and lavender buds over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the milk begins to simmer.
  3. Remove the saucepan from heat and allow the milk and lavender buds to steep for five minutes.
  4. Strain the lavender buds from the milk, and return the milk to the saucepan. Stir in the chocolate and continue stirring until the chocolate is melted and fully incorporated.
  5. Whisk milk mixture until frothy, about 20 seconds.
  6. Prepare the whipped cream by beating the cold cream, vanilla, and sugar with a hand mixture in a small bowl, until stiff peaks form. Keep refrigerated until ready to use, and then add a dollop of whipped cream to each mug, and sprinkle with a few lavender buds! Enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Source: a la mode
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious hot chocolate recipes from A Rented Kitchen (Recipe Links found below!)