Cocktail Recipes, Spirits, and Local Bars

A Guide to Cava for the Holidays

A Guide to Cava for the Holidays

If your budget can’t afford Champagne, and you’ve had one too many glasses of prosecco this year, consider ringing in 2013 with Spain’s popular sparkling wine, cava.

Here’s are the top ten things you should know about cava to raise your glass with confidence:

1. Native grapes at work. The three traditional grapes of cava are Macabeu, Xarel-lo, and Parellada. Macabeu provides a fresh, green apple flavor. Xarel-lo gives more vegetal aromas and adds structure. Parellada provides more tropical fruit flavors and has less body but more acidity.

2. Penedès is the place. Ninety-five percent of cava is produced in Penedès, located in Catalonia, not far from Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea. The area is also known for olives and almonds.

3. A taste all its own. Cava is not as dry as Champagne, nor is it as fruity as Prosecco. Cava has its own distinctive flavor profile because of the traditional blend of grapes. While taste will vary among producers, the wine often has notes of lemon, green apples, nuts, and brioche.

4. Chardonnay is the new kid on the block. This grape, a major player in the Champagne blend, is now being used in cava, too. Sometimes winemakers mix Chardonnay with the traditional cava grapes. Less frequently, producers will make a Chardonnay-only cava.

5. Look for vintage. While Champagne is normally a blend of several years’ wines, in Spain, many high quality cavas are made from the wines of a single year. Vintage cavas that are a few years old can have greater depth of flavor.

6. Spend a little more. There’s a reason that cava has not been as well-regarded as its French counterpart. Cava-producing factories crank out lakes of cheap product for less than $10 a bottle. For just a few dollars more, you can get a high quality cava--often from a smaller producer-- that will be a far better representation of how these wines can shine.

7. Bubbles are top quality. Just like Champagne, cava uses the “traditional method,” meaning the wine undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle. This technique produces a superior sparkling wine compared to other methods of creating bubbles, such as adding CO2 to a tank of still wine.

8. Variety is the spice of life. Rosado cava, which can be made from Pinot Noir, will look terrific in your flute when toasting the New Year. Other variations include Brut Nature (also known as zero dosage), which has no sugar added during the wine-making process. There are also sweeter styles of cava, including, in increasing order of sweetness: Brut, Extra Seco, Seco, and Semi Seco.

9. Quality is on the rise. Like other Spanish wines, cava has quality levels related to how long the wine ages before it is corked and sold: 24 months for Reserva cava and 36 months for a Gran Reserva. But today’s Catalan winemakers are looking to raise quality across the board, so you can get great cavas that are not necessarily of the Reserva or Gran Reserva level.

10. Affordablity is still there. You can find delicious vintage cava starting around $15. To pay so little for a high quality sparkling wine is a very good start to the year.

So on December 31, if your wallet is a little thin from buying holiday gifts, reach for a cava. You’ll be rewarded with a crisp Spanish wine that delivers value as well as
sparkle.

Diane Letulle, Snooth


Your Easter Dinner Guide: Recipes and Tips for a Delicious Holiday

If you’re planning Easter dinner and looking for recipe inspiration and a few smart tips, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’ve decided to make a ham or a leg of lamb, we’re here to walk you through it, step by step. Or maybe you want to cook something else for the main event? We’ve got a few ideas.

We’ve also got plenty of sides that taste like spring to round out your table. Don’t forget the rolls (the best part!) and a pretty dessert to finish.


Icelandic Fish and Seafood

Photo from Golden Circle and Icelandic Food Tour

As an island nation, nothing has been more vital to these people's survival than fishing.

It not only put food on the table, but exports also helped transform the country from one of the poorest in Europe at the beginning of the 19th Century to one of the richest today.

Fishing, therefore, is an integral part of Icelandic culture and heritage.

Pictures of fish decorate Icelandic coins, and the country has even fought wars over fishing rights.

These examples show just how serious this nation takes its fish and the lengths it will go to protect its most valuable product.

Icelandic Fish Specialties

Photo from Von Mathus

Before the turn of the 19th century, grain was hard to come by in Iceland. It needed to be imported from Denmark, making it too expensive for most Icelanders.

Whatever grain or flour they could get was put in gruel to make it last longer, and bread was considered a luxury.

This scarcity meant that instead of eating a piece of bread with a meal, as was the custom in neighboring countries, Icelanders ate dried stockfish.

Although people don&rsquot eat it quite as much today, stockfish remains one of the most popular dishes of the old Icelandic tradition.

Photo by Þormóður Símonarson

This protein-rich food is only produced using fresh fish, mainly haddock, Atlantic wolfish, or cod that has been caught by angling using live or artificial bait.

After cleaning and deboning, the fish is hung up to dry. Traditionally, this was done outside, near the ocean, where winds blow salty air through the product.

This method takes about 4-6 weeks, but thanks to modern technology, the time can be shortened to 36-48 hours.

As refrigeration methods improved, fresh fish became more and more noticeable in the nation&rsquos diet.

In the 1950s and 60s, Icelanders still ate fish every single day, with some opting for the dish for breakfast!

Today, Icelanders eat fish on average twice a week, and over half of the population consumes fish oil, or lýsi, at least four times a week.

Best Icelandic Fish Dishes

Photo from Midnight Wonders | Super-Jeep Tour with Dinner & Caving

Most restaurants in Iceland serve &lsquofish of the day.&rsquo The country is dotted with numerous seafood restaurants, serving mostly cod, haddock, salmon, and monkfish.

Today&rsquos chefs are masters at creating excellent dishes, infusing the ocean&rsquos bounty with herbs and spices found in Icelandic nature.

But aside from a great meal at a restaurant, you should definitely try out these items:

Harðfiskur or stockfish - can be purchased in any grocery store or at the Kolaportið flea market and is eaten as a snack, either straight out of the bag or with a good amount of butter spread on it.

Plokkfiskur or fish stew - a simple mix of white fish, potatoes, onions, flour, milk, and seasoning but recently, some recipes also include ingredients like chives, curry, bearnaise sauce, or cheese.

Humar or Icelandic lobster/langoustine - caught in the South Coast waters, langoustines are known for their tasty, tender meat. You can find it grilled, baked, fried, or even topped on pizza.


Quick and Easy Holiday Recipes

Serve something impressive this holiday season — and still have time for family and friends. These simple recipes come together quick, giving you more time for what's really important.

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Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Brian Kennedy ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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Photo By: Marcus Nilsson ©Marcus Nilsson

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Photo By: Marshall Troy ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Brian Kennedy ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Antonis Achilleos

Photo By: Antonis Achilleos

Photo By: Antonis Achilleos

Photo By: Antonis Achilleos

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Antonis Achilleos

Balsamic Roast Pork Tenderloins

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Foolproof Popovers

Christmas Tree Tarts

These miniature cherry pies come together in under an hour, thanks to premade pie crust and canned cherry pie filling.

Toasted Gruyere and Cranberry Cups

Nutty gruyere cheese is the perfect complement to sweet-tart cranberry. Served together in a bite-size phyllo cup, they make the perfect holiday appetizer.

Sauteed Green Beans and Mushrooms

Easily upgrade fresh green beans for the holidays with just a few flavorful ingredients. In this recipe, spicy chili flakes, savory garlic and fresh rosemary work together to make an otherwise simple side dish shine.

Easy Parmesan "Risotto"

Christmas Tree Cheese Ball

Wondering how a tasty cheese ball becomes a festive Christmas tree? A coating of fresh green herbs and pomegranate seed 'ornaments' will do the trick!


10 Champagne Cocktails That Are So Good You'll Never Stop Saying "Cheers"

These holiday recipes will work for any brunch, lunch, or dinner you have from now until New Year's Day.

Nothing says "it's time to celebrate" like a champagne flute filled with bubbly. Whether you're getting ready for a holiday party (bring on the sparkly outfits!) or playing host yourself, a fizzy drink is the perfect accessory. But just because regular champagne is the traditional star of the holiday season doesn't mean you can't mix things up this year &mdash and by mix things up, we mean create your own delicious champagne cocktail.

To help you step up your holiday game, we've rounded up the best champagne cocktails anyone can make. These recipes include all of the great flavors of the season, from cranberry and rosemary to ginger beer and chocolate stout. Stir them up before a Christmas party, dole them out at New Year's brunch, or kick back with one on any day in between. And for more drink ideas, check out these Christmas cocktail recipes.


How to make holiday recipes healthier

Holiday meals can be made healthier, without any significant difference in taste, by using some basic recipe substitutions or alterations, said Jenna Anding, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Texas A&M University, Bryan-College Station.

Reducing fat, sugar, calories in traditional recipes

“The sugar, fat or sodium content of many holiday recipes can be reduced without a noticeable difference in taste,” Anding said. “If a recipe calls for a cup of sugar, try using three-fourths or two-thirds of a cup. If it calls for a half-cup of oil, shortening or other fat, try one-third of a cup instead.”

Anding also suggested using reduced-fat or non-fat cheese, milk, cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt or mayonnaise instead of higher-fat counterparts like regular cheese or cream.

“For mashed potatoes, try using defatted broth instead of butter to reduce both fat and calories,” she said.

Modifying a complicated recipe may not always produce the desired texture, so Anding suggests testing the recipe on friends or family before going “all in” on a holiday meal.

Keeping traditional holiday foods nutritious

Many traditional holiday foods are by themselves healthful and nutritious but are “embellished” in ways that take away from their innate nutritional value.

Many holiday foods are already nutritious so long as they are not “embellished” with too much added sugar or fat. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo)

“The sweet potato, for example, contains fiber as well as vitamins A and C,” Anding explained. “A medium-sized baked sweet potato contains about 100 calories, but many people add sugar, butter and other ingredients, which really ups the calorie count. A baked sweet potato with a little brown sugar and cinnamon is far healthier than one topped with butter, sugar and marshmallows.”

Fresh cranberries are another healthy option for holiday recipes, she said. Unlike canned cranberries or cranberry sauce, which often contain added sugar, fresh cranberries are naturally healthful.

“Fresh cranberries contain phytonutrients and have anti-inflammatory properties that can promote health and may reduce the risk of disease,” Anding said. “Adding fresh cranberries to salads and baked items such as muffins, cookies and pies is also a good way to sneak in some extra nutrition and flavor.”

Cooking methods for healthier eating

Anding also suggested leaving the skin on a turkey during cooking and then removing the skin before serving to reduce the overall fat content.

For holiday vegetable dishes, the healthiest method of cooking is either steaming or roasting the vegetables, using a small amount of oil or cooking spray, Anding said.

And, for many dishes, adding herbs and spices can enhance flavor without adding fat or calories.

Low-calorie and healthful recipes from Dinner Tonight

One source of healthy holiday recipes is AgriLife Extension’s Dinner Tonight website. The Dinner Tonight program aims to promote family mealtime by providing quick, easy, healthful and cost-effective recipes. In addition to such recipes, the program provides free weekly video demonstrations of cooking tips and techniques along with information on nutrition, menu planning and healthy living.

“The goal of the Dinner Tonight program is to improve health and wellness through nutrition education,” said Odessa Keenan, AgriLife Extension program specialist for the Healthy Texas initiative. “We try to make recipes healthful and nutritious, and we have assembled a variety of recipes for dishes that are 400 calories or less.”

Keenen said a number of these recipes could serve as main or side dishes for the holidays.

“In my experience, however, people usually know what their holiday meal main course is going to be — turkey, chicken, brisket, ham, etc. — but the sides are more difficult to decide on,” she said.

Keenan recommended the following recipes as healthful versions of some classic holiday sides:

Balance is key to healthful holidays

Even with healthier ingredients and preparation techniques, it is important to show restraint when eating holiday meals.

“You can expect you’ll take in some extra calories during the holidays but try to plan accordingly so you can keep your calorie intake in check,” Anding said. “And don’t forget to schedule in some type of physical activity to help burn off those extra calories. Take a walk or do some light exercise.”

For more information about healthful recipe substitutions, see the AgriLife Extension publication Altering Recipes for Good Health.


A Healer’s Guide to the Holidays: 9 Tips for a Conscious Christmas.

As people who work with healing energy, it’s important—if not imperative—that we maintain a high level of follow-through when it comes to all aspects of our lives.

And Christmas is no exception.

Whether you believe Jesus rose from the dead or not, December is the one time of year when everybody is pretty much programmed to celebrate, take their annual holidays, and basically partake in a range of socially acceptable festivities. We’ve been following the Gregorian calendar marking December 24th and 25th as two of the holiest days of the year for eons, but in truth, this is only one religious story of many.

As healers, we have two big jobs, or priorities. First, we have a duty of care to our fellow humans to ensure they are seen, heard, and respected for who they are, regardless of whatever wounding their spirit may be carrying. And second, we are responsible for setting a good example—a higher example, if you will—and of leading the way forward through innovative, inspiring, and conscious ways.

So, here are a few things that I think are essential for both believers and non-believers, and certainly for anyone who identifies as an earth warrior or spiritual teacher/student of any kind. This is a guide to help you get through the silly season with minimal damage to your wallet and, most importantly, minimal damage to Mother Earth.

The sharp end of the year is when we must walk our talk with even more conviction and resist the temptation of single-use, sparkly baubles with matching table settings and spreading toxic tinsel to the moon and back.

You’ll feel all warm and fuzzy for doing your bit, and Pachamama will definitely feel the love.

1. Reuse paper from household products and use it to wrap gifts. The perfect example I found the other day is the “Who gives a crap?” toilet tissue paper wrapping (which is actually quite colourful and non-offensive). A great option instead of buying reams of expensive Christmas printed paper.

The wrapping isn’t the gift, after all, and once it’s ripped off, where do Rudolph, Santa, and all the Christmas penguins go? Straight in the bin. So let go of your fixation with presentation and just give your gifts naked.

2. Avoid buying gifts that need to be wrapped in plastic or bubble wrap. You know this stuff is evil, so don’t condone it by purchasing products that are suffocated within it.

3. When ordering online, check the packaging is eco-friendly before you buy, and if it’s not, don’t compromise your values. Look elsewhere. There are plenty of choices.

4. Swap commercial perfumes and chemical-laden body products for essential oils and natural/organic alternatives that are not just safe for the ocean and the earth, but safer for your loved ones as well.

5. When asked to bring a plate to your family (or friends), make it vegetarian (or even borderline vegan). By subtly avoiding the traditional meat dishes, you will hopefully inspire others to not only become aware of healthier options but also make them more concerned about where and how their food is actually being sourced.

6. Don’t worry about giving people what they say they want and instead, give them what they (subconsciously want) and need—that is, Earth-friendly, recyclable, non-toxic, ethical products. Things like keep-cups, beeswax wraps, EMF-fighting plants (electro magnetic frequency), and big chunks of crystals (shungite and black tourmaline are your best ones). You could also give them a creative selection of seeds so they can start their own herb garden.

Gifts like these always go down well, but they’re not necessarily things that people will think to buy for themselves. They will also feel good about being part of the solution and not perpetuating the problem once they receive them, and you have created a new conscious customer in the process.

This is what waking people up is all about, and, as a healer, you are ahead of the eight ball and in the know, so spread your wisdom and lead the way.

7. Better still, make your gifts! Candles are always welcome, as are homemade bath and body salt scrubs, and people will appreciate the effort you went to, for them and for the earth. Get creative and spread the love so people know you have taken the time to make them happy (and healthy).

8. Choose live Christmas trees for your home—but not the chopped off ones. I’m talking about real ones growing in pots so you can pop it back in the garden and shower it with love until next year. All those faux trees out there just gather dust in the box and never look (or smell) as good anyway.

Our Christmas tree is now growing happily in our garden, and I have just purchased a smaller one for the next round of Christmases—complete with various eco-friendly wooden, felt, and handmade ornaments.

9. Think about giving people gift vouchers to (only) eco-conscious shops or sponsoring a child or animal on their behalf (and giving them any associated certificates, of course). Organise a massage, facial, or body treatment of some sort to help them detox from 2019 and start the new year and decade in their body and heart.

As earth-loving healers, we have chosen to be in service as sacred advocates for Mother Nature and all things natural, so it follows that no matter what time of year it is, we will be working to align ourselves with the seasonal energy, more than what is showing up on our social calendars. Express this by giving gifts that draw people’s attention to the importance of “living lightly” on the planet. This is what being a true custodian of the Earth is all about.

Wherever you live and however you are planning to celebrate the festive season, please encourage other people to get in touch with the elements within themselves, to sync with the vibration of the season where they live, and to hold their own private (and group) rituals to honour and support Mother Earth. Because trust me, this goes a long way to helping restore global balance—on both macro and micro levels.

When you raise people’s awareness and show them what they can do to help, you empower the individual and the tribe.

Being a healer at this time of year can be challenging, but if you stand strong in your beliefs and don’t cave in to albeit well-intentioned peer pressure to “C’mon, indulge with us, just this one time,” you will not only avoid the stifling indigestion that always comes with eating and drinking too much, but you’ll be proud that you showed up as authentically as you could and disconnected from another social paradigm.

Ignorance is a choice in this day and age of technology and social awareness, so remember why you got into healing in the first place and approach Christmas with the same commitment to shining your light and remaining true to yourself.

Remember: the greatest gift you can give anyone is to open their eyes and heart to something they had never previously considered.


The Manly Man&rsquos Guide To Drinking Rosé

Rosé, it&aposs the quiche of wines in some men&aposs minds. But learning to love it ain&apost hard. Really, it&aposs just a two-step process.

Step 1. Get Over Yourself

Rosé is made from red wine grapes. It&aposs lighter in color and body because the juice is pulled off the grape skins early. It&aposs the compromise that let&aposs you "drink red" in the summer heat. So if it helps, think red, as you drink pink. There&aposs nothing to fear.

Step 2. Drink the Wine

Seriously, it&aposs time. It&aposs fine. Drink the wine.

If you must, before daring a stunt like sipping pink wine in public, start out with baby steps. Pour yourself a glass of rosé in the privacy of your own home. Start in the garage. Then move to your Man Cave. Then the living room. The kitchen. And finally, the backyard (the grill will be there to comfort you). Then introduce fellow human beings into the equation. You might also begin with darker shades of rosé and gradually progress to lighter shades of pink.

The thing is, rosé is super refreshing, and you can drink it nice and cold. Plus, rosé pairs with just about everything you&aposll be eating this summer. So don&apost deny yourself the pleasure just because you&aposre carrying around a Y chromosome. Make the Y stand for YES, and reach for rosé!

Here are some summer foods to pair with your new favorite summertime wine:

Rave Review: "This was fantastic," says Ruth. "Very flavorful, and a health conscious recipe. It&aposs great to have healthy options that taste great too!"


Festive Punch Recipes to Serve at Your Next Holiday Party

The holiday season is synonymous with parties, and plenty of them. Caroling parties, office parties, cookie exchange parties, ugly sweater potlucks, white elephant gift exchanges, neighborhood open house buffets, New Year's Eve galas, and more. For most of us, there so many parties but so little time. What does every great holiday party have in common (besides indulgent appetizers and plenty of cookies)? Good cheer&mdashespecially in the form of free-flowing festive beverages. This is the domain of the punch bowl, where guests can gather round, make conversation, and serve themselves&mdashand you don't need to play bartender.

Another great feature of holiday party punches? You can make them ahead of time! Just about every ingredient in a punch&mdashspirits, juices, fruits, spices&mdashcan be mixed several hours ahead of time and stored in pitchers or jars in the fridge until party time. There are just a few ingredients that shouldn't be added until the punch is ready to serve. The obvious one, of course, is ice, as it will just melt and water down the drink before anyone can enjoy it. Another last-minute ingredient is anything with bubbles: sparkling wine, seltzer, and soda. Preserve maximum effervescence by waiting to pop those bottles open and add them to the punch once the first guest rings the doorbell.


Michael Symon's Baklava Is the Best Edible Gift to Send Your Family

Just ask his mom, who ships it cross-country to him every year.

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If you can't celebrate the holidays with loved ones this year, try spreading some cheer with a batch of homemade baklava. The gooey and delectable Greek treat is chef Michael Symon's mom's specialty — and every Christmas, she makes sure that he has a big batch, no matter where he's spending the holidays.

According to Michael, his mom Angel used to host "baklava parties," where she'd invite her friends over to assemble and bake trays upon trays of the gooey sweet. Then she'd cut them to send out at the holidays.

In his latest episode of Symon's Dinners, Michael and his wife Lizzie recreate his mom's holiday tradition by baking up her tried-and-true recipe that features flaky layers of paper-thin phyllo pastry filled with a melt-in-your-mouth mixture of minced pistachios, walnuts and graham cracker crumbs. Once the whole thing is baked, Michael and Lizzie drench the tray in a delicious honey-citrus syrup, which the pastry absorbs as it sits — making this the perfect treat to tin and ship anywhere.

So this year, start a new family tradition with your own batch of baklava. And for more tips and tricks on how to send sweets to your loved ones, check out our tips for packing and shipping cookies.


Watch the video: Χημική τουαλέτα. Ετοιμασία, Χρήση, άδειασμα, καθαρισμός, αποθήκευση. (December 2021).