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Just The Two of Us

Photography by Robert Demetrius

Last night’s get together was the perfect end to 2014. Hubby and I celebrated with dear friends, eating Southern fried chicken, collard greens, yams, carrots and cold slaw from The Coop in Winter Park and Hubby put in his own touch by making gluten free macaroni and cheese. We also watched the last episode of Downton Abbey Season 4, trying to refresh our minds before the new season starts on Sunday.
We then rang in the New Year, toasting with champagne and mini chocolate cupcakes with fresh berries. How much better could the year have started, right? Nice and easy!

With the holiday season coming to an end, Hubby and I spent a quiet morning together. Of course, I had to start off the morning with a steaming cup of latte. Then we went on a nice long walk, reminiscing about some of the highlights of the past year, as well as making plans and resolutions for the New Year ahead.

After our walk, a simple brunch was most definitely on the menu: Creamy Scrambled Eggs with Chives, Sweet Grape Tomatoes with Basil and a refreshing Campari and Orange Juice. Since Hubby doesn’t drink alcohol, I made him a Non-Alcoholic Campari and Orange Juice, which I made with Blood Orange Bitters and Grenadine Syrup. Although it was quite simple, it really just hit the spot. Nothing beats simplicity.

I believe that a new year gives us the opportunity to start anew. It’s like starting a new painting. We are given a blank canvas to create whatever we want, and the sky is the limit. I am looking forward to all the deliciousness 2015 will bring!

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!


Tangy Homemade Ranch Dressing

As a self-proclaimed vinaigrette type of girl, I usually avoid creamy dressings. It’s not because of some dietary issue, but I think it goes all the way back to childhood. My Dad was an executive chef who owned a German/Austrian/Hungarian restaurant in Jamaica during the 70’s and I always remember him making creamy type salad dressings at home. I know he made other types as well, but the creamy ones are most prevalent in my memory. They always seemed to have a sweetish kind of taste, which is why I never gravitated to them and I still haven’t changed. Since I was a very young child, I have never had the palate for sweet and sour in my food. I have however always liked savory and salty flavors.

In my older years, I am becoming much more tolerant and have tried a few creamy dressings that have made me change my mind, like the Ranch Dressing that I tried Red Wing Restaurant in Groveland, Florida. it is the best Ranch Dressing that I have ever tasted and they make it from scratch. After having a wonderful meal with friends one Sunday, I promised myself that I would try and re-create the dressing.

This one is a cool creamy dressing. Now I have tried so many varieties of Ranch dressing and each has a different flavor using a variety of herbs.

Flavored with fresh herbs, this is a refreshingly cool and creamy dressing with just the right amount of zing from tangy buttermilk, sour cream and vinegar. This dressing is not only used on salads, but goes well as a dipping sauce for raw and fried vegetables.

You will need:
(Printable Recipe)
⅓ cup of mayonnaise
cup of sour cream
¾ cup of buttermilk
½ teaspoon vinegar
splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chopped onions
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon freshly chopped dill
2 tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons chives
2 pinches salt (or to taste)
2 turns freshly ground pepper

Place all the ingredients in a blender or a food processor, blend until smooth.

This recipe yields 1½ cups of dressing. Voilà. Enjoy the goodness!


Spicy Basil Oil

This is an oil that we like to use pretty often. Make preferably in small batches.
Basil adds an aromatic sweet yet savory taste and then the red pepper flakes adds a nice kick to the oil. 

It can be drizzled on garlic bread, pizzas, soup, grilled meats or used in salad dressings, on sandwiches, mixed in mayonnaise…the options are limitless. 
Photography by Robert Demetrius


Red Wine Vinaigrette

As you all know, we love eating salads in our household. Twice daily preferably. I guess old habits die hard. A tart, yet mustardy vinaigrette is my favorite. It also happens that I get very complacent when doing my dressings and will use the same vinegars over and over. It’s quite amazing that when you change the vinegar, you get a totally different flavor, even when using the regular ingredients.
Photography by Robert Demetrius


Minted Blood Orange Pomegranate Punch

Hubby doesn’t drink any alcohol so I try to make drinks or cocktails when we have invited friends over, that he can enjoy without feeling left out! I start out with a non-alcoholic base, and then add alcohol. So at times it means getting really creative.
Photography by Heaven on Hearth


White Wine Bowle

Light, refreshing…it’s a drink that I love to serve starting in spring and going straight through summer.
Photography by Felieca A. Cordle

 A “Bowle” is a cold beverage made of wine, sparkling wine and fruit, which can also be infused with herbs, rum, cognac or vodka and is served in a Punch Bowl. In Germany and Austria, it’s usually served at a party or for a special get together.
White Wine Bowle with Orange and Lemon Slices
I can remember the very first time I had a Bowle. It was at my friends Ursula’s house in Vienna. She had invited a few friends over. It had been a beautiful and warm afternoon and she made a Strawberry Bowle.

I remembered her using Remy Martin Cognac, sugar, Grüner Veltliner and a bottle of Henkel Trocken Sekt along with the strawberries. I have made many Bowles ever since for many occasions, in different ways, using a variety of fruit and liqueurs.

For this Bowle, I decided not to use any fruits that we would eat, just fruits that would look beautiful and spring like in a bowl or punch glass.

I used St. Germain Liqueur, made of elderflower blossoms that have a sweet delicately fragrant taste of citrus and tropical fruits. So, citrus slices would be perfect.
1 bottle of white wine, Sauvignon Blanc
1 bottle of sparkling wine
½ cup St. Germain Liqueur (Elderflower Liqueur)
1 orange in thin slices
1 lemon in thin slices
Lemon and Orange Slices
In a punch bowl, slice 1 orange and 1 lemon in thin slices with an OXO hand held mandoline slicer hand mandolin. They really come out nice and thin and will look beautiful floating in the drink, because all the slices will be exactly the same thickness.

Pour in ½ cup of St. Germain Liqueur. Then add a bottle of white wine, I prefer a sauvignon Blanc because it’s quite versatile and ranges from grassy to fruity flavors.
White Wine Bowle in a Universal Wine Glass
And just before serving, add 1 bottle of sparkling wine. The punch glasses turned out to be too small for my guests, so I packed a universal wine glass with ice and spooned 2 ladles of Bowle in each glass.

This really is a refreshing drink. This serves 8. Voilà. Prost!


An Easter Celebration

Easter…a time to celebrate surrounded by family and friends, a time for laughter, nourishment of the soul and the stomach. It’s a wonderful time to prepare for a feast. This was really going to be a special Easter because my Mother and Aunt had come to visit for the weekend.
Photography by Robert Demetrius

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