Category: Entertaining (page 1 of 3)

Toasted Rice Pudding Recipe with Lime, Coconut & Pistachios

Last night, the hubs and I whipped up a delicious rice pudding recipe that I just had to share.  It was that good!  However, this was not your typical rice pudding.  For one, it had a pronounced toasted flavor.  In addition, we dialed back the sweetness, adding a tropical flair with lime and coconut.  Finally, we added a little crunch with crushed pistachios.  At the last minute, it dawned on us to pair our dessert with Amaretto on the rocks, which really took our indulgent treat to the next level.  Here’s how we made it…

Ingredients:

1 cup aborio rice

4 cups coconut milk

2 teaspoons coconut oil

1 handful of pistachios, shelled and crushed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lime

2 tablespoons agave nectar–or to taste

Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

A note about the ingredients…

I chose aborio rice, because I’m partial to its texture–somewhere between white rice and brown.  It’s also a slightly shorter grain.  However, a different variety will work too.  Similarly, I chose agave nectar as a sweetener, because it easily dissolves in a liquid mixture.  Still, sugar or even honey will get the job done as well.

Directions:

In a saucepan, combine the coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) with the dry rice, browning it.  In all fairness, we basically burned it, because we like the sort of thing.  If you don’t, stop when the rice turns light to medium brown.  Once your rice is toasted to your liking, add 2 (of the 4 cups) of coconut milk to the pan and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, cover and simmer on low.

Stir in the remaining coconut milk, vanilla extract, and agave nectar.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.  As a general rule, I use about 1/3 the nutmeg that I do cinnamon.  It’s much more potent.  Once your rice pudding is seasoned and sweetened to your liking, chill it in the fridge.  If you can, let it sit in there over night.

Serve in small bowls with a dusting of lime zest and crushed pistachios.

Again, I highly recommend enjoying your rice pudding with some Amaretto, an Italian almond liqueur that’s syrupy, mild, and dangerously drinkable.  Its warm, sweet flavor compliments the spice and citrus of this rice pudding recipe.  Served over the rocks, it’s slightly less sweet and well matched by this not-so-sugary dessert.

Any Port in the Snow Cocktail

Looking for a Christmas cocktail to keep you warm this Winter?  Try Any Port in the Snow…

Any Port in the Snow Cocktail | Motley Decor

As the name suggests, it’s heavy on port (wine that’s both more flavorful and has a higher alcohol content).  Slightly sweet, with a little kick at the end, tawny port makes a nice Winter libation.

Any Port in the Snow is also loaded with quintessential holidays flavors like cloves and orange–an irresistibly fragrant mix that always recalls the holidays for me.  A mild scotch delivers a larger kick on the tail  that warms from the inside out.

The flavor profile is not unlike mulled wine or even red sangria.  However, this is a cocktail that both soothes and packs a punch.  So, please be forewarned and enjoy responsibly.)

Perhaps, best of all, Any Port in the Snow couldn’t be easier to make, which makes it ideal for entertaining.  Here’s the recipe…

Ingredients:

1 oz mild scotch (I used Pig’s Nose)

2 oz tawny port

handful of whole cloves

Orange peel

Directions:

You can either infuse the port with a handful of cloves for 24 hours prior to serving or simply throw 3-5 cloves in each drink.  Then, mix the scotch and port, using a 1:2 ratio, stir gently, and add an orange peel as a fragrant garnish.

Ice is optional.  I prefer this warming drink at room temperature.

Happy Holidays!

 

Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider

What’s better than spiced apple cider on a chilly Autumn day?  Spiked apple cider on Thanksgiving!  Luckily, you don’t have to choose between the two.  This recipe combines the the tangy sweetness of apple cider with Fall-forward spices like cinnamon and cardamom with the family-holiday-coping properties of ale and vodka.  Just in time for those heated political debates that everyone is dreading this year after the  most contentious election in memory!  You’re welcome.

WARNING: this Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider cocktail/punch does NOT taste like alcohol.  However, it is deceivingly potent.  So, pace yourself and your guests–especially the teetotalers among them.  (Every family has one.)

Motley Decor's Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need for the spiked cider:

32 oz mulled cider (see mulling recipe below)

2 12 oz cans amber ale

1 cup Absolute Pear (or other pear-flavored) vodka

the juice from 1 lemon

sprinkle of cinnamon

Just in Time for Thanksgiving: Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider Recipe

Mixing the punch…

Because this recipe contains beer, you’ll want to mix the cider in a large decanter with a stopper (rather than a punch bowl, for instance) to preserve the carbonation.  Aside from that one note, this recipe is extremely straight-forward.  You just  mix all of the ingredients and add cinnamon to taste.

If you prefer dryer drinks, add more beer to mellow out the sweetness of the cider.  If you feel like the vodka taste is too strong, an extra squeeze of lemon with balance it out.

Then, just set out the mixture  with some glasses for all to enjoy.

What to Drink This Thanksgiving | Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider Punch Recipe on Motley Decor

Mulling apple cider…

Ingredients: bottled apple cider, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cardamom pods

Note: fresh ginger, anise, and cloves are also great for mulling (although I felt that they weren’t needed for this particular drink).  If you want to use them, just be careful with the cloves.  They can quickly become overpowering.   So, taste your cider often.

In a large pot on a stovetop–or even in a slow cooker–combine all of the ingredients and let them cook at a temperature just shy of boiling for about 20 minutes.  If you catch the cider boiling, just turn off the heat and let the liquid cool.

Once at room temperature, strain and funnel the cider back into the bottle and store it in the fridge overnight.  The next day, just give it a shake before concocting the punch recipe above.

All jokes aside, Thanksgiving is not just a glutinous holiday.  It’s an important one as it forces us to take inventory of all we are thankful for.  And, despite tensions in the country at the moment, we can’t loose sight of how lucky we truly are.  Whatever blessings you cherish most in this life, acknowledge them this Thanksgiving, express your thanks, help someone out if you can, and never loose hope.

Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider for Thanksgiving // MotleyDecor.com

How to Cure a Halloween Hangover

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday.  Wearing a costume, doling out candy, and partying like a pagan are activities that I relish each last day of October.  The only problem is, November 1st often turns out to be my least favorite day of the year.  Racked by headaches, nausea, and often embarrassment; Halloween hangovers are no joke.  Luckily, last year, I finally stumbled up on the cure…

In my experience, folks generally fall into two camps: those who starve a hangover and those who eat their way through it, devouring a smrogasbord of greasy, salty goodness.  If you belong to the former camp, I can’t help you.  However, if you belong to the latter, read on!

Halloween Hangover Cure

What you’ll need:

1 can of chili (I’m partial to either Stagg Ranch House Chicken Chili or Hormel No Beans)

2 cans of corned beef hash (it will shrink at you cook it)

1-2 eggs (per person you’re feeding)

A handful of sharp cheddar cheese, grated

A handful of scallions (or green onions), finely sliced

Optional: hot sauce

Preparation is simple (after all, you won’t be operating at your best when you make this meal):

Brown the corned beef hash in a frying pan, while simultaneously bringing the chili to a soft boil in a separate pot.  Make sure you leave one burner for a second frying pan.  When the 2 aforementioned items are almost ready, cook the eggs sunny side up.  Then, it’s just a matter of layering.  Place the corned beef hash at the base, sprinkling it with some shredded cheddar.  Then, ladle the chili over top–again–sprinkling more cheese.  Next, the egg(s), which are topped with scallions.  Hot sauce is optional–as is a bib.  DIG IN!

To your sober, healthy ear, this recipe may seem a little…unhealthy or even…unsophisticated.  Still, I guarantee you that your hungover self (and even your drunk self) will love it!

Of course, it never hurts to hydrate.  Plan ahead by drinking water all Halloween day before your ghoulish night activities.  Chug water before going to bed and leave a full glass (and a couple of Advil) on your nightstand.   Maybe even keep some coconut water in the fridge.

And poof!  Your hangover is cured.  You’re welcome.  Happy (early) Halloween!  Be safe.

A Twist on the Negroni

As a devoted fan of the citrusy, slightly bitter taste of Campari, I’m naturally a proponent of the Negroni cocktail as well.  One part Campari, one part gin (another spirit I’ve grown particularly fond of lately), and one part vermouth; the Negroni is fairly simple to make.  I had the pleasure of sipping a cedar infused version of this cocktail recently, which only augmented my admiration for the drink.  Then, as luck would have it, Negroni Week came along (sponsored both by  Campari and Imbibe Magazine to raise funds for charitable organizations).  At first, I was over the moon.  This enthusiasm quickly turned to mania in an effort to create my own twist on a Negroni that–I hoped–would be every bit as clever and delicious as that cedar-scented incarnation.     twist on a negroni 1

As I mentioned, I’ve been a big fan of gin lately and, to that end, I had already set about infusing gin with bay leaves and peppercorns.  It seemed I was fated to use this concoction in my Negroni.  I was pleased with the results of the infusion.  It took that herbaceous quality of the gin and enhanced with a certain earthiness and spice.

However, when I added the Campari and vermouth to my new and improved gin, the bay leaves got a little lost due to the strong flavors of the other players in the trio.  Instead, the mixture became medicinal and perhaps too intense.  I decided it needed some sweetness to balance the other forces.

motley negroni 5

After a great deal of contemplation and experimentation, I finally developed a plan, using these…

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz bay leaf, peppercorn infused gin
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • 5 grapes, cut in half and charred with a culinary blow torch
  • Ice

Directions:

Muddle 4 of the 5 grapes with the Campari, gin, and vermouth in a cocktail shaker.  Add ice and shake.  Drain into a short glass.  Slide the 2 charred grape halves onto a cocktail pick for garnish.  Enjoy!

negroni cocktail for negroni week 4

As noted earlier, my dilemma was how to add sweetness to this drink.  Some kind of citrus would have been the obvious answer to play off of the Campari’s notes.  Instead, I looked to grapes, the fruit from which vermouth is distilled.  To make it a little more interesting and marry with the more intense, savory flavors of the spirits, I decided to char the grapes, imparting a subtle taste of charcoal into the mix.

The end result had the balance I was hoping to achieve.  Citrus and sweetness are balanced by bitter herbs and a peppery, cinder finish.  It’s a little more complex than the classic Negroni.  Was it as good as the cedar Negroni?  That’s tough to say.  I guess I’ll have to revisit that one.

negroni on motley decor 3

Happy (end of) Negroni Week!  Cheers!

A Cocktail with a Certain Gin e Sais Quoi

My husband and I went nuts recently when our neighbors left a huge bag of kumquats on our doorstep.  For several nights, we punctuated our dinners by feverishly devouring the orange gems like they were popcorn.  However, we soon had to face reality…we would never be able to eat them all before they started to go bad.  Panicking, my mind immediately went to one place: cocktails!

Some of the kumquats were used to infuse vodka, which gave birth the Kumquat Fennel Vodka Soda.  The remaining fruit was distilled into kumquat simple syrup and underwent several rounds of imbibing experimentation.  Of all of the would-be kumquat cocktails, one recipe involving gin, the essence of rose petals, and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice rose to the top.  You might say it had a certain “gene gin e sais quoi”.  And so it was named.

Here’s the recipe…

A Cocktail with a Certain Gin e Sais Quoi on MotleyDecor.com | Gin, Kumquat & Rose Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

2 oz gin

1 oz kumquat simple syrup (recipe below)

1 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

2 spritzes rosewater

Rose petals for garnish

Directions:

Combine gin, kumquat simple syrup, and grapefruit juice in a cocktail shaker with a couple of ice cubes and shake.  Drain (strain) into a champagne coupe.  Spritz twice with rosewater and garnish with a floating rose petal.  Enjoy with your pinky high in the air, because you’re classy like that.

Kumquat Simple Syrup Recipe:

Boil water, stirring in an equal volume of sugar.  Shut off heat and let cool for a couple of minutes once the sugar is completely dissolved.  Add a handful of chopped kumquats, stirring occasionally.  Let the mixture sit for several minutes, tasting it from time to time.  When the syrup has enough kumquat  flavor for your liking, strain the mixture and transfer it to a sealed container.  Store your kumquat simple syrup in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  This may mean you will have to make a lot of kumquat cocktails in a two week period, but such is life.

A Cocktail with a Certain Gin e Sais Quoi on MotleyDecor.com | Gin, Kumquat & Rose Cocktail Recipe

Happy Friday!

Kumquat Fennel Sparkler Cocktail

Tired of the same old vodka soda?  This is a light, refreshing cocktail that’s perfect for summer.  Kumquats are citrusy with sweet skins that balance their tart interiors.  Fennel, on the other hand, acts as an herbaceous, almost anise-like compliment to the fruit.  Soda water adds the sparkle.  And, of course, there’s vodka…

Here’s how to make a Kumquat Fennel Sparkler…

Ingredients:

2 oz kumquat infused vodka*

1 oz kumquat simple syrup**

1 handful chopped fennel bulb

Soda water

Ice

1 stalk  of fennel, trimmed for garnish

kumquat fennel sparkler 3

Directions:

In an old fashioned glass, muddle the chopped fennel.  Add syrup, vodka and 2 or 3 ice cubes.  Fill to top of glass with soda water.  Stir with fennel stalk and serve.

* Kumquat infused vodka:

To make your own kumquat infused vodka, simply chop up a handful of kumquats and put them in vodka.  Let the two sit in the fridge together for at least 2 weeks.

** Kumquat Simple Syrup:

Creating your own kumquat-flavored simple syrup is easy.  Boil water and stir in an equal amount of sugar, dissolving it completely.  Remove from heat and add a handful of chopped kumquats, stirring occasionally until cool.  Once cool, strain and transfer to an airtight container, storing it in your regrigerator.  The simple syrup will be good for about 2 weeks.

Kumquat Fennel Vodka Soda

Orange Carrot Caraway Mimosas

This Easter, serve a unique Mimosa that tastes great and celebrates the Easter Bunny’s favorite vegetable, the carrot.  Orange and carrot juice combine to create an interesting and tangy nectar that’s elevated by the spicy addition of caraway.  And the little carrot garnishes look so cute!  Here’s how to make ’em…

Orange Carrot Caraway Mimosas, The Perfect Drink for Easter Brunch via Motley Decor

Ingredients:

1/2 bottle orange juice

1/2 bottle carrot juice

1 bottle dry or brut sparkling white wine

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

6 small carrots with the tops in tact

Directions:

The night before, combine the two juices in a carafe that fits in your fridge.  Using a mortar and pestle, grind the the caraway seeds into a fine dust.  Add them to the juice mixture, shaking or stirring thoroughly.  Cover and set in the fridge.  This will allow the flavors to really mix and intensify.  The next morning, rinse your carrots and trim away any brown or wilted parts of the tops.  With a vegetable peeler, remove the outer skin of the carrots, being careful not to take off the tops.  Place a skinned, trimmed carrot in each champagne flute.  Arrange them next to the chilled sparkling wine and carafe of spiced juice, advising your guests to mix the two 50-50.

Enjoy!  Happy  Easter!

The Perfect Drink for Easter: Orange Carrot Caraway Mimosas

P. S. If you like that art work, check out my DIY pop art tutorial and learn how to make your own.

How to Host a Stress-Free Easter Brunch

If you’re not a “morning person”, hosting brunch can be a task of Herculean proportions. But Spring (and especially Easter) beg for a late morning get together with eggs, pastries, and those few cocktails you can drink before noon without being judged. So if you’re going to brave hosting an Easter brunch this year, here are some tips for prepping the night before and saving yourself enough time in the morning to put on makeup before your guests arrive.

Plan your menu

Sometimes this the hardest part: deciding what to serve. Examine your guest list. Consider the occasion. And, most importantly, don’t make too much work for yourself. For my early Easter brunch, I had about 10 close friends, a handful of whom are U.K. ex-pats and one “sometimes vegan”. To be honest, I was stymied. Luckily, my husband had the idea to do our own version of a full English breakfast, which seemed both hearty and low maintenance. Here’s what we settled on…

Scrambled eggs (whipped up at the last minute in the microwave)
Baked eggs (in convenient ramekins)
Heinz beans (an authentic side that comes in a can)
Olive oil-brushed, grilled: tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, sourdough bread, and sausages (sharing the workload with my husband who never turns down a chance to man the grill)
Roasted mushrooms and bacon (I just popped them in the oven with the eggs)

To round out the menu, I added a few extras…

Deviled eggs (because it’s Easter and it’s pretty much expected)
Fruit and pastries (which I purchased at the grocery store and simply arranged on platters)
A mixed herb, citrus vinaigrette (optional for the veggies)
Apricot jam & butter (for the grilled toast)

Easy peasy. Right?

How to Throw a Stress-Free Easter Brunch

Then there were cocktails. I mentioned earlier that there are really only a few you can get away with for brunch, most notably mimosas and Bloody Marys. But how could I make them a little more interesting?

For the mimosa, I took my cue from Peter Cottontail and decided to use carrot juice–in concert with the traditional choice of orange juice. To take it a step further, I decided to spruce up the juice with caraway, since it compliments carrots so nicely. I was also adamant that little carrots with their tops still intact be used as garnish. This proved a little difficult as most of the tops get mangled. However, I found a few in decent shape and then skinned the carrots to remove their less appealing skins.

For Bloody Mary inspiration, I thought about micheladas and decided that the most important compliment to a tomato-based cocktail is lime. What goes well with lime? Cumin. What else? I settled on celery for it’s fresh taste and ability to be used as a garnish.

2 Brunch Cocktails to Serve for Easter Brunch

With my menu and cocktail plan settled, it was time to think through the logistics. My strategy was this:

Do as much as you can the night before

So, I sliced up the mushrooms, zucchini, and bread. (I held off on the potatoes so that they wouldn’t turn brown and the tomatoes so that they wouldn’t release too much liquid.) For the deviled eggs–which were a mayonnaise-free, cheesy, lemony, herb-forward variety–I did everything BUT squeeze the filling into the egg white halves. I also blended up dill, parsley, chives, basil, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt for the vinaigrette. In short, anything that didn’t need to be cooked was ready to serve and anything that needed to be cooked was prepped and ready.

The only thing left to do was:

Style the space

How to Throw a Stress-Free Easter Brunch

Thankfully, this too can be done in advance. Since I was expecting to feed 10 people with a dining table that only sits 6, a more casual set up was in order. So, I dragged my dining table across the room and sat it in front of the fireplace to hold the food. This way, the spread became part of the room’s focal point. Then I arranged every chair I had into intimate clusters, using stools as side tables. I even placed a few cocktail napkins on each one so that folks had a place to set their cocktails.

Then, I turned to the serveware, arranging the platters and chafers I wanted to use for each dish on the table in a logical sequence. Hot items went on one side and cold on the other and I used sticky notes to remind myself which dish would go where in the morning. Next, I chose my glassware: water goblets, champagne flutes, and rocks glasses. Plates, napkins, and utensils were similarly laid out.

And last, but certainly not least, I created a few flower arrangements. One near the entry, another on the buffet table, and a few blooms in the empty vessels on my mantel.

Long story short, the morning was a breeze and brunch was a hit. I hope your Easter Brunch goes just as well and that one or two of these tips help in some way.

Cumin Lime Celery Bloody Marys

Bloody Marys are one of the few libations that are socially acceptable to drink before noon.  So, when it comes to brunch–especially Easter brunch–they are an obvious choice.  They also lend themselves beautifully to variation upon variation.  Here’s a version to try this Easter: Cumin Lime Celery Bloody Marys.  And they’re easy to make.  Here’s how…

Ingredients:

64 oz bottle of V8 Spicy Hot Vegetable Juice

Juice of 2 limes

2-3 limes, cut into wedges

2 stalks of celery, washed & chopped

4-6 celery tops for garnish

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, ground

Vodka, chilled

Ice cubes

 

Directions:

Open the bottle of V8 juice and pour a little out to make room.  Add the lime juice, chopped celery, and cumin.  Shake well and let rest in the fridge over night.  In the morning, transfer the juice to a pitcher and stir.  Select your glassware and cut the remaining celery stalks to be 2-3 inches taller than your glasses are deep.  Place the trimmed stalks in the glasses.  Place everything in the area that you’ve designated for your guests to mix their drinks.

I also highly recommend having some kind of Mexican beer available.  (I like Tecate or Dos Equis.)  Bloody beers (or micheladas) are a great lower-alcohol-alternative to Bloody Marys that are easy to drink.  I made this option available at my last brunch and–surprisingly–the beer was a more popular choice than the vodka.

Enjoy!

If you’re hosting this Easter, don’t miss my tips for hosting a stress-free brunch.

 

 

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