food: cocktail hour

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*note: i wasn’t able to post my drink recipe last Friday as promised, so this week’s a two-fer.  since i was going to post my {current} favorite cocktail last week, i decided to add a snack to make this the perfect way to start your friday!

it’s been a long couple of weeks in our household.  between preparing for Renegade Craft Fair (thanks to everyone that stopped by- a great weekend in weather + spirit!), both B. and I starting new classes, and the general chaos that surrounds our lives, this household has become quite a pit of despair… visually, at least.  although lack of sleep and high stress levels have also contributed to more than a few snarky comments between me and B., and even between me and the animals (hey, i’m home alone with them a lot!).  so, before we head into another weekend full of commitments, to-do lists and activities, i wanted to take a moment to relax and compare notes from the week and pat ourselves on the back for what we have accomplished.  and, what better way to share a moment than over food and drinks?  none, I say!

so, I’m firing up the oven as we speak to put these tasty crackers into the oven… they should be ready in time for B. to get home.  they are from one of my favorite chefs for delicious & refined (yet fairly uncomplicated) recipes that are excellent for easy entertaining- Ina Garten.



(makes 24 crackers)

1/4 lb. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

- in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 minute.  with the mixer on low speed, add the Parmesan, thyme, salt and pepper and combine.

- with the mixer still on low, add the flour and combine until the mixture is in large crumbles, about 1 minute.  if the dough is too dry, add 1 tsp. water.

- dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 9-inch log.  wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

- meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚.

- cut the log into 3/8-inch-thick rounds with a small, sharp knife and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

- bake for 22 minutes, until very lightly browned.  rotate the pan once during baking.  cool and serve at room temperature.

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these crackers are wonderful, but snacks are only half of the cocktail hour experience- and, most might say the lesser part.  cocktail hours mean cocktails, and while these can take on any range of spirits and mixers, i most enjoy the less syrupy-sweet and more herbaceous varieties.  gin is my favorite spirit, and lately Hendricks gin has been my favorite brand- a little more subtle than some of the more stalwart gin brands, an infusion of rose petals and cucumber lends a lovely note that makes it a good candidate for lighter cocktails or even on the rocks.  (i stay away from using it in anything heavily flavored or syrup-ed, as this just seems a waste!).  below is a gin cocktail that i’ve been drinking all summer and seeing how i probably only have a little longer to enjoy the fresh mint growing in my backyard, this seems a perfect time to share!


(makes 2 drinks)

1 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

2 oz. simple syrup (see below for recipe)

4 sprigs mint, plus more for garnish

3 oz. gin

2 oz. ginger beer

- combine lime juice, simple syrup, and mint in a mixing glass and muddle well.

- add gin, ginger beer, and ice- and shake well.

- strain into an ice-filled highball (or lowball) glass.  garnish with mint and serve!

* i originally took and adapted this recipe from GQ’s August 2008 issue, but you can find variations of it in any cocktail recipe guide or at your favorite local hangout (that serves more than PBR and peanuts, of course)!

simple syrup: heat 1 part sugar with 1 part water in a pan until the sugar is dissolved.  go ahead and make more than you need, since the left over syrup can be refrigerated in a closed container and kept for weeks.

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bake, muddle and ENJOY…


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