The BEST Apple Cider Ever!

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I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with apple cider. I love the seasonal aspect of it but the flavor usually disappoints. It’s frequently way too cloyingly sweet. Not this recipe. I swear! It’s delicious, smells great, and is a delightful mix of sweet and tart flavors. Also it’s the perfect drink to make when you (or a friend) have a cold or a scratchy throat. I serve it at Fall and winter parties during cold/flu season. It’s just the ticket when you know some loyal friend has dragged herself to your house for a function when you know she’d rather be home! Offer this up and she’ll be grateful and comfy. This recipe is based on a recipe from my good friend Carol. She taught me this in college many years ago.

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Today I had 25 ladies over for a garden walk, so I served the cider in this punch bowl. I used a Crate and Barrel glass bowl, clear cider cups and a METAL ladle. The metal ladle is key because the cider will be hot and pouring it SLOWLY over it will minimize the chance that the hot liquid will crack the bowl. I then took a fall garland from Michaels and made a wreath around the punch bowl. Lastly I plugged in a strand a white light for fun fall ambience.

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Here are the two darling cakes one hostess brought. They’re from Whole Foods and we’re delicious. The white mummy was a white cake and the orange monster was chocolate. They were 5 inches in diameter but easily served all the 25 guests.

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Apple 🍎Cider Recipe:

Ingredients:

-I gallon old fashioned apple cider

-One orange 🍊,sliced crosswise into 5-6 slices 

-30 whole cloves

-2 whole cinnamon sticks

-Canned pineapple 🍍juice, 36 ounces (4 1/2 cups) (I use a 6-pack of canned Dole pineapple juice)

-Fresh orange 🍊juice, 2 cups

-Lemon 🍋juice (3-4 cups) (I use bottled “Real lemon” brand juice)

Steps:

  1. Take a large pot and pour the cider into it.  Save the container for step 9 below.

  2. Stud each slice of orange 🍊with 5-6 whole cloves.

  3. Float the orange slices in the cider.  Add the cinnamon sticks.

  4. Add the pineapple 🍍, orange 🍊and 3 cups of the lemon 🍋juices.

  5. Over a medium heat bring the mixture to a soft boil.

  6. Summer for 20 minutes on low.

  7. Taste the cider.  It should be a nice mixture of sweet and tart flavors.  If it’s too sweet add another cup of the lemon 🍋juice.

  8. Enjoy!

  9. Once the party is over,  take the cooled leftover liquid and pour it back into gallon container that the cider was in originally, using a funnel.  Then if you want to enjoy it again, just pour yourself a cup in a mug and microwave it until hot! Yum!🍎🍊🍍🍋🍁

His and Her Salad for Supper

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The other night was warm when Mr. G.Q. requested salad for supper.  I frequently order salad when I go out for lunch but somehow I find making salads at home to be somewhat challenging.   I decided to carry on and make His and Her Salads for Supper.  I picked up a Costco cooked rotisserie chicken (huge, delicious and economical), and found every thing else in the frig.  

My hubby likes hard-boiled eggs and I don’t.  I love avocados and he does not.  Lastly, he likes bacon but not in a salad.  

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Ingredients: (Quantities are for one salad)

-1/4 medium sized head of iceberg lettuce (torn into bite-sized pieces) 

-6-7 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

-1 hard-boiled egg, chopped into small pieces 

-I/2 ripe avocado, diced into 1/2 inch pieces

-2 T shredded cheddar cheese

-1 1/2 T blue cheese crumbles

-1 cup rotisserie chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces 

-2 pieces of center cut bacon, fried until almost crisp, drained on a paper towel, and cut into bite-sized pieces 

Steps:

  1. Arrange the lettuce on a dinner plate.

  2. Arrange all the ingredients you prefer in rows.

  3. Prepare any dressing and serve in a gravy boat or glass carafe.  We usually have Good Seasons Italian dressing made from the dry mix, combined with red wine vinegar and olive oil.

  4. Enjoy.

As you can see from the photos, the salads are appetizing and delicious.  It’s actually a fun thing to make for friends as everyone can personalize their meal.  You could also make these salads early on the day and then put them in the refrigerator covered in plastic wrap.

This is a surprisingly fun meal to make and one that cleans out lots of items from the refrigerator.  Try one tonight.  Let me know in the comments below what items do you enjoy when having a home-made salad.  Thanks and happy salad eating 🌶🥒🥗!

Easiest Appetizer Ever

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This is truly the easiest appetizer I make. It’s made out of one ingredient. These lacy cheese crisps are so delicious. People never believe me when I tell them they’re homemade. Well here you go:

Lacy Cheese Crisps

Ingredient:

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) packaged sharp cheddar cheese (I use Sargento’s brand)

Steps:

  1. Adjust oven racks to low and middle positions and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Spoon about 1 Tbsp of cheese onto the sheet and spread into a round single layer. Repeat with remaining cheese keeping cheese disks about one inch apart. (You should get about 12 wafers on a large sheet.)

  3. Bake until crisps stop bubbling, 9 to 10 minutes, switching sheets after 5 minutes if they appear to be cooking unevenly.

  4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

  5. Stored in a airtight tin, the crisps will keep for 1 month.

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These crisps are from one of my favorite cookbooks, Pam Anderson’s Perfect Recipes for Having People Over. I know people say they’re not buying cookbooks any more because all the recipes are on line. I get that but this cookbook is so special because with every recipe, the author has a section on when to serve the item, how to vary it, how far ahead can I make it, and what to do with leftovers. This book is worth it’s weight in gold.

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Yup this recipe frequently shows up at my parties. I think you should make this for your next gathering and invite me over to make sure you did it right 😉! Happy entertaining!

The Best Dry Rubbed Grilled Chicken

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This is the chicken dish we made this weekend. It was so delicious when we had it and was even better a few minutes ago when I awoke in the middle of the night raiding the frig looking “for a little something”. For those of you following my blog you know I’ve been WAY under the weather for the past twelve days. Tonight was the first night in many that I wasn’t in a major cough medicine coma. I’ve slept so much I almost have bed sores 😉. And thus here I am bringing you my readers up to speed with my great dinner.

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In addition to the chicken, we had grilled summer veggies. By the way these are also EXCELLENT cold in the middle of the night. (I’m just saying…)

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These rolls completed our meal. I learned about these recently from my dear friend Molly. They’re delicious and heat up straight from the freezer in nine minutes.

So let’s get down to the recipes;

Dry-rubbed Grilled Chicken 🐓

Ingredients:

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs

2 tsp lemon zest (from two lemons)

1 tsp sumac

1 tsp za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice found at specialty markets)

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Steps:

  1. Mix together all the spices and zest.

  2. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.

  3. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over both sides of the thighs.

  4. Pop in the frig for at least an hour.

  5. Grill over low heat until done (about 15-20 minutes).

  6. Enjoy!

Grilled Summer Veggies 🌶 🌽 🌶

Ingredients:

One red onion (medium sized), sliced into 1/2 inch rings

One green, one red, and one yellow peppers, all seeded and cut into quarters

One zucchini cut on an angle into 1/2inch thick slices

One medium eggplant, cut cross-wise into 1/2 inch slices.

Olive oil (about 3 Tbsp)

Kosher Salt (about 1 1/2 tsp)

Freshly ground pepper (about 1/2 tsp)

Steps:

  1. Take all the cut up veggies and put them in a gallon sized ziplock.

  2. Add the olive oil to coat all the veggies. Now sprinkle in the salt and pepper and massage all that all around until everything looks coated and seasoned. (This can be done early in the day and left on the counter until cooking time.)

  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. You could also grill these, but I find it easier to stay inside to roast the veggies in the oven instead.

  4. Dump all the veggies on two large sheet pans (with edges on all four sides). Be sure there’s a bit of space between each vegetable because if the items are too close together they will not roast but instead will just steam. The idea behind roasting is to develop the natural sugars in the veggies and get that to carmelize a bit.

  5. So what I do is after I put the pans in the hot oven, every 20 minutes or so, I take the pans out, rotate them, shake the veggies a bit and brush on a little more olive oil and sprinkle on more salt if things are looking too dry. I usually cook these bad boys for a good 30-40 minutes.

  6. Take out of the oven and consolidate the two pans of veggies into one (as the items shrink with roasting).

  7. Enjoy!

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So make this easy and delicious dinner soon. Or maybe just swing by my house for great leftovers 😉!

This chicken recipe is adapted from Marissa Lippert’s of NYC’s Nourish Kitchen and Table.

Let’s Go to Grandma’s for Cake

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When I heard my daughter and her young family wanted to stop over for a visit on Labor Day I forced myself to get out of bed (I’ve been down with a virus for 10 days!) to make a cake.

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And there was another method to my madness. I had just picked up this red rocker from the needle point shop and I wanted to give it to Baby Jack. Here’s how that story unfolded: Way back in 2016 when I knew my first daughter was engaged I thought I should start on a needle point cushion for some future grandkid. So start it I did and was slowly stitching away…

And then I find out in the space of two months that I was going to have not one but two grand babies three months apart! Yikes! So I stitched faster…

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So above is Baby Simon with his chair as he’s three months older than his cousin Baby Jack.

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And here’s Baby Jack taking his virgin ride! He loved it!

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And to make the visit even sweeter this was the cake I made. It’s from the Barefoot Contessa and it’s her lemon yogurt cake. For you yogurt haters, have no fear. You can’t taste the yogurt. (Just the mention of yogurt grosses out Mr. GQ.). All you taste is a yummy lemon cake that’s lighter than a pound cake but really lemony with a lemon glaze. Perfect with a glass of milk.

Here's the recipe;

Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Yogurt Cake

Ingredients:

1 1//2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

3 extra large eggs

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt

1 1/3 cups sugar (divided)

2 tsp lemon zest (2 lemons)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbsp lemon juice

(Note: the 1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp of lemon juice both come from the two lemons you zest).

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8 1/2 “ x 4 1/4” x 2 1/2” loaf pan with cooking spray and line the pan bottom with parchment paper. Then spray the parchment paper with cooking spray and dust with flour.

  2. In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, ONE CUP of the sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking constantly. Fold in the vegetable oil, stirring until it’s completely combined.

  3. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes. (I start checking at 45 minutes.)

  4. While the cake is baking (and the house is smelling incredible) combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar with the 1/3 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is transparent. Set aside.

  5. When the cake is done, cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then loosen the cake all around with a spatula. Transfer it to a baking rack placed over a sheet pan. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer and then pour the syrup all over the cake. Let it cool.

  6. When cool combine the powder sugar with the 2 Tbsp of lemon juice in a small bowl and pour over the cake.

  7. Enjoy!!!🍋🍋🍋!!!

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Yum! What a fun visit to Grandma’s. Now I better start stitching for the next baby. He or she will be here before you know it!

This cute striped placemat is from Pier One. The red napkins are from Amazonhttps://amzn.to/32IsXFy. The sunflower plates are old but here are similar ones (https://amzn.to/2Lv3tp8). The tumbler and flatware are from Crate and Barrel. The mason jar is from Amazon (https://amzn.to/32IUdno). Mason jars are useful for many different things I use them as vases as seen here as well as for making salad dressings. Just put all the ingredients in the jar and shake! Then after the meal you can store the leftover dressing in this same container.

*Please note referral and affiliate links in my posts may generate a small commission for me at no extra cost to you.