Celebration Cocktail

Have you ever wanted a refreshing cocktail and realized that you forgot to pick up your favorite frozen drink at the grocery story? Fear not! With a few simple ingredients, you can make your own cocktail and celebrate whatever you like.

Most of us have things lurking on pantry shelves and in the freezer that can be put to good use. Any concentrate, any alcohol, any soda; the combinations are endless. Some are more natural slush buddies than others, but don’t be afraid to try a new pairing – you might surprise yourself.

In my case, a long-forgotten can of lemonade concentrate. The last bit of rum at the bottom of the bottle. A smidge more of vodka. A small can of ginger ale. Ice.

A blender to make an alcoholic slushy.

Gather the ingredients, put them in the blender in proportions that please you, and alternate between puree and blend.

The lemonade concentrate was too tart, which was when I added ginger ale to it. The fizz and flavor went well with the lemonade and took the tart edge off.

Celebration Cocktail

Makes 1 blender-full (3 drinks)

Fill blender half full of ice

Add lemonade concentrate to taste (I used 2/3 of large can)

Add 1 part rum

Add 3 parts vodka

Blend above ingredients, alternating between puree and blend until mixture is slushy.

Add ginger ale, and blend to incorporate.

Pour into 3 glasses, and garnish with a lemon quarter.

It occurred to me after the drinks were already in the glass that a sugared rim would have been tasty also. Next time 🙂


Three Compound Butters – One Sweet, Two Savory

I love the ease and convenience of compound butters. Honey butter is probably the first one I ever had, and I love the way it melts into warm bread or rolls.

When I went to college at Rutgers University, I sometimes went to a restaurant that served steaks with savory compound butter. A round of herby butter would be placed on top of the hot meat just before serving, and by the time it came to the table the melted butter oozed over the sides onto the plate. That was over 30 years ago, and I still remember how delicious it was!

I mixed up three compound butters: Honey Butter; Lemon Garlic Parsley Butter; and Ginger Parsley Sesame Butter.

Sweet Honey Butter is wonderful on rolls, bread, toast, and sweet potatoes.

Lemon Garlic Parsley Butter is tasty on pasta, and makes a fast dinner special with no more effort than putting a dab or two of this compound butter on hot pasta, or spread on a baguette to make garlic bread.

Ginger Parsley Sesame Butter is one I made to put on grilled salmon. We grill salmon wrapped in foil, and I thought this would be a terrific alternative to the usual olive oil and sesame seeds we usually season the salmon with. Put some of the compound butter on the fish, wrap to seal, and grill or cook as usual. The butter will melt over the fish, and the ginger, parsley, and sesame seeds will coat the top and sides.

Compound Butter is as easy as mixing tasty ingredients into room temperature butter. I add a pinch of salt to my unsalted butter, even to sweet honey butter.

Honey Butter (Bottom – Photo)

3 T unsalted butter, room temperature

1 T honey, or to taste

Pinch of salt

Lemon Garlic Parsley Butter (Center – Photo)

3 T unsalted butter, room temperature

Zest of one lemon

1 t chopped garlic, (or a pea-sized squeeze of Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic)

1 t chopped parsley

Pinch of salt

Ginger Parsley Sesame Butter (Top – Photo)

3 T unsalted butter, room temperature

1 t grated ginger

1 t chopped parsley

1 T sesame seeds

Pinch of salt

For each compound butter: Combine ingredients, roll in wax paper or put into a ramekin, wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze or chill in refrigerator.



Memorial Day Dessert: Red, White, and Blueberry!

Today we celebrate Memorial Day.

It’s a day to remember the service and sacrifice of those who joined the military to fight for our right to the many freedoms we so often take for granted. I thank those family and friends who served, and those whose names I will never know.

Memorial Day traditionally kicks off the start of summer. There is always a place for a fast dessert that incorporates patriotic colors, but is easily made with other seasonal flavors and ingredients.

Red, White, and Blueberry Parfait


Strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 3.4 oz box Vanilla instant pudding mix

2 C Milk, any variety you like (I used fat-free)

1 C Frozen whipped topping (I used So Delicious dairy-free)

1 t vanilla extract

Combine pudding mix and milk in a bowl; whisk together for 2 minutes. Let set up for 5 minutes. Mix in frozen whipped topping, using whisk to break up lumps.

Spoon pudding mix into a clear container (I used a short glass). Spoon blueberries around the sides, and layer in more pudding mix. Spoon strawberries around the sides, and top with another layer of pudding. Top with three blueberries.


Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole

Sunday was my birthday. Fun Fact: Every few years it falls on Mother’s Day. My next-youngest sister and I are 13 months apart, but our birthdays are five weeks apart. The years when my birthday falls on Mother’s Day, her birthday falls on Father’s Day.

My mother gave me this sweet card. I love the sparkly koala bear in his fancy shades and festive headgear 🙂

We celebrated my youngest niece’s college graduation in Miami on Friday, then drove to Jacksonville Saturday to meet the newest member of our family: my youngest sister’s new granddaughter. Family weekend all around!

Mother’s Day was a wonderful celebration with four generations of our family. My nieces and nephew took care of everything, and my oldest niece made today’s recipe.

We started with coffee and mimosas, with all the fixings on two tables.

Brunch followed, with a crustless quiche, mixed berries, watermelon chunks, bacon, and bagels with a variety of cream cheese spreads to choose from. The feast included this delightful Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole.

Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole

2 packages (17.5 oz) cinnamon rolls, separated and each roll cut into quarters

2 T butter, melted

4 large eggs

1/2 C milk

1 t cinnamon

1T vanilla sugar

1 t vanilla extract

Maple syrup

Packaged icing cups for cinnamon rolls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour melted butter into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish to cover the bottom of the dish and brush it up the sides. Distribute cut cinnamon rolls evenly in baking dish. Combine eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla sugar, and vanilla extract, mixing well. Pour over cinnamon rolls.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until center is set and top is golden brown.

Put reserved icing from both packages into a small bowl; add maple syrup to thin into a sauce to pour over casserole after it comes out of oven.

Serve while hot, or at room temperature.

Fresh fruit makes a delicious side, as does crisp bacon. We had a Mother’s Day and birthday feast, and celebrated being together for two special occasions rolled into one!

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