hot toddy

It's starting to feel like winter in Denver. There's just a little bit of snow on the ground. I finally had to close my windows. My car is covered in frost each morning. I'm using gloves and hats and winter coats on a regular basis. And to make the transition complete, I now have my first (and hopefully last) winter sinus infection. I'm currently sitting on the couch, waiting for my Mom to bring over some soup (yes, your Mom can still bring you soup when you're sick, live alone and are almost 30 years old). And the only thing better than soup when you're sick is a Hot Toddy. These delicious winter drinks will help you feel better if you're fighting off a cold or if you're just plain cold from the winter weather.

There are so many different ways to make the Hot Toddy, making it a very versatile drink.

Here are a few Hot Toddy Recipes to keep you warm! (PS. Are you wondering whether it's wise to drink Bourbon when you're sick? I like to tell myself that the honey and vitamin C from the citrus more than compensates for the alcohol...)

The Traditional Hot Toddy

hot toddy

For me, this is a traditional hot toddy. It has cinnamon, cloves, lemon, honey and bourbon. Simply add hot water. It's warm, delicious and I'm not ashamed to admit I drank two of these last night...

See all the details from The Boulder Locavore

hot toddy

The Intensi-Toddy

This hot toddy calls for spiced rum, tea bags and cayenne pepper in addition to the traditional ingredients. It sounds (as it's name would imply), intense. I'm not sure it's best for curing a cold, but it sounds like a fun little twist on the traditional version.

Find all the details for this hot toddy from Joylicious

Grapefruit Toddy

grapefruit hot toddy

I love love love grapefruit. Since a hot toddy works well with all citrus fruits, why not swap out lemon for grapefruit? I think I'm going to try this version tonight. Grapefruit + bourbon? How can you go wrong?

Edible Finger Lakes has all the specs for this drink

Gin Hot Toddy

Gin or Tequila Hot Toddy

Traditionally, hot toddys are made with bourbon or rum. But if you're up for something a little more adventurous, check out these recipes from Shoot to Cook. One uses bitters, another gin and the last tequila. A tequila toddy doesn't sound too appealing to my sick body right now...but the gin and tequila options would be perfect as a fun holiday drink.

Blood Orange Toddy

One final hot toddy option uses Meyer Lemons and Blood Oranges. I love the color of this toddy. It has the look of a tropical drink, but the taste of winter.

You can find out more about this hot toddy from food52

Do you have a favorite version of the hot toddy?

Excuse me while I go blow my nose, eat my soup and boil some water for one of these...

an italian feast

I'm currently in week two of a brand new job. It's going well so far, but I've been feeling a little overwhelmed as I settle into a new routine, new job, new situation.

Before I started the job, I threw a big dinner party for 9 of my friends in my little apartment. I moved a few tables into the living room for a banquet style table. I borrowed chairs from neighbors. For some reason, I only have sets of 9. Nine chairs, nine wine glasses, nine plates. My neighbors (who also came to the dinner party) let me borrow one extra set of everything.

I decided to make an Italian feast to celebrate.

 

On the menu:

Red wine (lots of it)

Garlic rosemary flatbread (plus a gluten free variety)

Roasted pepper salad with capers, kalamata olives, and garlic

Pasta e Fagioli (my grandmother's recipe)

New York Cheese Cake with Cherry Topping (from Smitten Kitchen)

The recipe for pasta e fagioli (or pasta and beans) is a "recipe". My Mom just knows how to make it. She learned by watching her Italian grandmother and her Mother while growing up. When I asked her for the recipe a few years ago, she sent me a 3 page email describing how to make it. So I have a "recipe", but not in the traditional sense.

The pasta takes a long time to make, but it's worth every minute. It's a lot of work and I don't make it that often--definitely a special occasion treat. And apparently it was so good that I forgot to snap a picture of it. But believe me, it was enjoyed by all.

Someday, I'll sit down and turn my 3 page email into an actual recipe and post it here. But that day is not today. I need to get to bed early...it's supposed to snow tonight and I might need a little extra time to scrape the snow off my car and commute.

My dinner party was a success...in fact, it was so successful that my downstairs neighbor complained about the noise. I guess that's the true definition of a loud Italian feast!

saltine toffee recipe

My camera is sitting on a shelf in my living room. It isn't small. It's there staring me in the face every day. Yet I somehow managed to forget to take pictures of my last two knitting projects. It's a shame since they were both so cute. Maybe I was too excited to give them to an expectant mother and a mother of a newborn.

The first project I forgot to photograph is the Sunnyside Baby Sweater. I knitted it with grey wool and found the cutest little aqua buttons for it. This project knits up quickly since you make it all in one piece and attach the arms afterwards. Maybe I'll take a picture of the little guy wearing it when he's born in November.

The second project I forgot to photograph was for my neighbors. They had an adorable baby boy 2 weeks ago and I made him a simple Baby Beanie with self striping yarn. His parents put the hat on him when I went over to deliver food on Friday and he looked so handsome. (And even more exciting, the hat fit him well! I'm notorious for bad hat sizing.)

So enough about the things I didn't take pictures of...let me share something that I did manage to photograph!

saltine toffee, one of my favorite desserts! (from paintinglilies.com) #desserts

I can't believe I've waited this long to share one of my favorite recipes. This has been a staple dessert for me since college. It's so easy, incredibly delicious and only uses a few ingredients (most of which you probably have in your pantry). Best of all, you can make this in about 30 minutes.

My favorite part about this dessert is that it looks and tastes like it took hours to make. No one will believe you when you tell them you made it saltines, butter, sugar and chocolate.

It's addictive. Just try to only have one piece.

Saltine Toffee

Ingredients:

About 40 saltine crackers (or enough to cover your baking sheet) *Note* I've also used matzo crackers. They produce a slightly different consistency, but are just as delicious.

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pinch of salt

1 package of chocolate chips (semi-sweet)

1 cup toasted almonds (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet first with foil and then with parchment paper, making sure to cover the entire baking sheet.

In a medium saucepan, heat up the butter and brown sugar. Stir the mixture until it starts to boil over medium heat.  The mixture will thicken as it heats, so make sure to stir it continuously. Once it starts to boil, continue to let it bubble for about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt.

Quickly pour the mixture over the saltines. Spread it out so that the mixture covers the saltines evenly. It will begin to set pretty quickly, so work fast.

Bake the covered saltines for 15 minutes. Watch it closely so it doesn't burn. If the edges start getting dark, you can reduce the heat.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle on the chocolate chips. Let the chips sit for about 5 minutes or until they start to melt. Then use a rubber spatula to spread the chocolate out evenly over the crackers. Sprinkle on nuts.

Allow the chocolate to set. I typically put the entire sheet in the freezer.

Once the toffee is set, break it apart and serve!

fresh basil pesto

One of my friends describes cities as if they were his girlfriends. He says New York is the city he loves and wants to be with, but isn't sure would be good for him. He loves Denver and is having a good time here now, but isn't sure whether he wants to commit for the long term. If cities are people, then Seattle is my ex-boyfriend.

Whenever I go back to Seattle, I feel like I'm going back to my ex. Seattle is comfortable and familiar. It greets me with sunny skies, amazing lattes, fresh seafood, delicious produce from the market, a beautiful skyline. I only remember the good parts.

But the longer I'm there, the more I realize why I left. It's rainy and cloudy. It never gets very warm. It's passive aggressive. And while there are things I love about Seattle, there are things that never quite fit or feel right.

During the "I-love-Seattle-why-did-I-ever-leave" phase of my visit last week, walked to Pike Place Market on a perfect, sunny Seattle afternoon. I explored the rows of fresh berries, veggies and peaches. I bought berries to snack on, flowers for the friends I stayed with and some other things I knew would make it back to Denver in my carry-on suitcase.

basil pesto

Then I saw what I really wanted. Piles and piles of basil. Fresh basil. Basil that you can smell from 10 yards away. Basil with the roots still attached.

I paid $2 for a huge amount of basil that might have cost me $20 in Denver. And I figured that if it arrived back in Denver wilted and unusable, at least I tried.

Fortunately for me, it (mostly) survived the journey in my laptop bag. I knew it wouldn't last much longer before wilting, so what to do with tons and tons of fresh basil? Make pesto of course!

basil pesto
basil pesto
Fresh Basil Pesto RecipeIngredients:

2 cups fresh basil (packed down)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts work, too)

3 garlic cloves

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Combine basil and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.

Add garlic and pulse a few times.

Add in olive oil and mix together.

Add in the grated cheese and mix until all the ingredients are blended together.

Serve!

I thought this basil would last forever. I dreamed of making spaghetti sauce, pesto, bruschetta, pizza...but I only had enough for a double of the pesto recipe above. After using it on pasta and on crackers, I barely have any left. It certainly won't last me through the weekend. (Note: you can freeze pesto if you have more than you can eat. Or if you have more self-control than I do.)

My fling with Seattle and its food, cool weather, beautiful views, ferry rides, lattes and hipsters is over for now.  I'm happy to be back in Denver. But that doesn't mean I won't be planning my culinary delights for my next visit to the Pacific Northwest!

basil pesto