Category Archives: Drinks

Fresh Watermelon Margarita

Although cool fall nights are creeping on the horizon, I’m not ready to put away my white pants just yet. This fresh watermelon margarita is a great way to sip the last few weeks of summer. It is great for an evening dinner on the patio or a Labor Day BBQ.


2 C cubed, fresh watermelon
3/4 C. tequila
1/4 C. Triple Sec
1 Lime, juiced
1 TBSP powdered sugar
3 C ice

Add all ingredients except ice to a blender and blend until watermelon breaks down. Add ice and crush. Serve with a watermelon cube garnish.

What are you doing to soak up the remaining days of summer?



Filed under Drinks

Pineapple Chai

Last week I had the HAP ladies over for an evening meeting.  It has been a HOT summer here in Wisconsin and I wanted to serve something cold and refreshing that we could enjoy outdoors.

I came across this Pineapple Chai recipe in my Fresh Home Magazine.  It was the perfect recipe for a nonalcoholic summer cocktail.  It becomes thick and frothy in the blender and is only slightly sweet.  The black pepper is a surprising but perfect flavor booster.

Pineapple Chai
2 cups water
2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
2 chai flavored black tea bags
2 cups ice cubes
1/2 cup 2% milk
2 Tbsp honey
Pineapple sliced into stir sticks
ground black pepper

In a large pan, bring water and pineapple juice to a boil. Add the tea bags, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 mins.

Discard the tea bags and refrigerate the pineapple chai mixture overnight or until chilled.

Place the pineapple chai mixture, ice, milk and honey in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into 4 glasses and top with freshly ground black pepper and a pineapple stir stick.

Sip, enjoy and relax!

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Cooking & Drinking with Belgian Beers

As you read this, I’m probably wandering canal-side in Amsterdam. Yep, the hubs and I are on vacay in Amsterdam, Belgium and Luxembourg and since Belgian beers are playing a starring role on our trip, I thought it would only be fitting to spotlight them today.

Belgians beers are complex enough for beer lovers but easy drinking, making them great to cut your teeth on if you’re just getting into beer. Like a fine wine, most Belgians should be served it in a snifter or a tulip glass to get the full aroma.

Belgian styles can vary greatly from a spritzy, champagne-like saison or grand cru to a sweet, malty dubbel to a fruity lambic. When you’re drinking one, keep an eye out for key flavor characteristics like clove, banana, bubble gum, citrus and coriander, which come from using Belgian-style yeasts.

Some of my favorite Belgian beers include:
Belgian Imports: Duvel, La Chouffe, Grimbergen, Saison Du Pont, Delirium Tremens, Chimay
US Micros: Ommegang Hennepin, Goose Island Matilda, Russian River Damnation, New Glarus Imperial Saison

But beer isn’t only great for drinking! It’s an unsung hero of cooking too that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes like this one that I created:

Belgian Shortbread with Whipped Cream

Lemon Shortbread with Rhubarb Framboise Sauce & Belgian Whipped Cream
2 C flour
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1/2+ C powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp granulated sugar
zest of 1 lemon

Framboise Sauce
1 pkg fresh raspberries
6 stalks rhubarb, chopped
1/4 C framboise beer (such as Lindeman’s)
1/2 C sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Grand Cru Whipped Cream
1 C organic heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp Grand Cru beer

For shortbread, preheat oven to 300. Beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt. Grate lemon zest into butter mixture. Steadily beat in flour mixture until well combined. Cover cookie sheet with a double layer of parchment paper. Form dough into a ball and place on top. Roll dough into a 1/2″ thick circle and use your fingers to pinch the edges into a fluted shape. Using a fork, poke holes in the top in a ring-shape, working your way from the center outward. Dust with granulated sugar and bake for 40-45 minutes.

For sauce, combine rhubarb, beer and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Dust in cornstarch and whisk well, then add raspberries. Cook over med-low heat for another 10 minutes or until fruit is broken down.

For whipped cream, combine cream, sugar and beer in a medium bowl or mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer until soft peaks form.

Bonus!: Save the extra rhubarb sauce for ice cream, waffles or pancakes!

Au revoir and Dag! I’ll share more about my trip when I return in June for HAP Wedding Month – don’t forget to get your wedding submissions in!


Filed under Cook, Drinks, Haute Destinations

Summer Margaritas

This weekend the dreary weather finally broke and summer appears to be back on its way.  So when I had dinner with my husband’s family last night and was promptly handed this juicy, jewel-toned margarita, the world felt right again.

Margaritas are just perfect for an afternoon on the patio or for dinner with fish tacos. But if you’re going to make margs this summer skip the syrupy mixes and make them with fresh fruit instead.  Your tastebuds (and your friends) will thank you.

fresh orange margarita

Fresh Orange Margarita

3/4 z fresh orange puree (see instructions)
2 oz tequila
3/4 oz orange liqueur, preferably GranGala*
1 1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
salt or sugar
orange or lime slices

In a food processor or blender, combine 4 Cara oranges or blood oranges (navel if you can’t find those) with 1 Tbsp simple syrp and 1 tsp lemon juice. Puree until smooth.

Pour salt or sugar onto a plate. Use a wedge of fruit to wet the edge of a margarita glass and dip glass into salt/sugar to rim the glass. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, puree, tequila, GranGala, lime juice and simple syrup. Shake well and strain into the margarita glass.

*GranGala is an Italian liqueur similar to Gran Marnier but with a more pronounced orange flavor
Recipe from: Mixshakestir

Use this recipe as a base and experiment with flavors. To serve on the rocks, just puree the fruit well and strain. Or try freezing the fruit into small cubes and pureeing with a little bit of ice to serve it frozen. If you have a secondary flavor, use only a little so it creates a “what-is-that?” effect instead of overpowering your star fruit.

I think I’ll be trying:
Ginger Peach
Watermelon Mint
Strawberry Basil
Raspberry Lime

Watermelon Mint margarita

Have a great margarita recipe?  Do tell!


Filed under Drinks

GIVEAWAY!: Organic, Shaken & Stirred Cocktail Book

Here at HAP, we’re pretty big on finding ways to be sustainable, budget-friendly and fabulous all at once. So with Earth Day coming up on Thursday, we’re dishing up a full week of earth-friendly posts and we’re kicking things off with a great GIVEAWAY!

One lucky reader will win a copy of Organic, Shaken and Stirred by Paul Abercrombie, which is full of delectable cocktail recipes featuring organic ingredients and organic alcohols. To enter, just leave a comment telling us one thing you’re doing this year to be more eco-conscious and we’ll pick a winner this Friday.

Organic, Shaken & Stirred, Organic Cocktail Recipes

Paul also gave us the insider scoop on extending organic from your plate to your glass and a sneak-peek at one of the recipes in his book (which sounds perfect for a summer BBQ!):

1. Give us your one minute bio.
I first became interested in mixology – beyond the teenage tippler’s sloshing rum into a half-empty can of Coke – during a trip to Italy. My then-girlfriend-now-wife Gail and I happened into the beautiful lobby bar of the Grand Hotel in Florence and asked the bartender to suggest a drink. “Negroni”, he said. At the first sip, we were hooked. Pleasingly bitter and sweet and tart all at once, Negroni was a revelation. For months after it was pretty much our house cocktail.

Of course, this was the only grownup drink I knew how to make. I began to seek out recipes new and old, and fresher, better-tasting ingredients for cocktails. Eventually, I connected with West Coast mixologists who were among the first to emphasize organic fruits, vegetables, and even spirits in their cocktails. As soon as I tasted these drinks, I was hooked all over again.

2. How did you get interested in organic cocktails and what inspired you to write a book?
My interest in organic cocktails was in many ways an extension of my interest in organic foods. As organic and farm-fresh foods began to take off some years ago, I noticed a disconnect at restaurants. Here you’d sit, enjoying a delicious meal of fresh, in-season foods, yet in the cocktail glass you’d be served the same pre-fab cocktail mix with Day-Glo cherry colored ingredients. I wondered why people didn’t care as much about what’s in your glass as what’s on your plate. Luckily, I began to run into mixologists such as Scott Beattie and H. Joseph Ehrmann who were already leading the charge to bring the kitchen into the bar. I began reaching out to them (read: pestering them). Soon it was a minor obsession.

3. Organic is a hot health topic but alcohol is not exactly “healthy” per se. Are there any health benefits to buying organic booze? Are they offset by the alcohol?
True…booze, organic or not, is still booze. You’re not going to be healthier if the 11 daiquiris you drank last night were organic. Still, as with food, the advantages of avoiding alcohol made with pesticides, fertilizers or fungicides are manifold. Though spirits are distilled – which, it’s argued, cleans the potentially toxic “junk” out of the mix – experts argue that organically grown grain has a better cell structure and that its natural microorganisms encourage the process of fermentation. Let’s face it: organic growing methods are healthier for growers, more sustainable and just plain taste better. (Oh, and most fans swear that organic cocktails are a recipe for more humane hangovers.)

4. What’s your favorite “ingredient” to use when making cocktails?
I’m really enjoying playing with organic ingredients typically found on plates or soup bowls – like rosemary, ginger and carrots. The sweetness and “carrotness” of an organic carrot is amazing.

5. For the home bar, what are 3 key bar tools and 3 key ingredients one should always have on hand?
Without a doubt, my can’t-live-without bar gizmo is my OXO Good Grips Mini Angle Measuring Cup, which allows you to accurately measure ingredients without having to crank your head sideways to check your measure. Also, a good old-fashioned hand lemon/lime juicer. And ice. Don’t skimp on the ice!

With only three ingredients – an alcohol, sweetener and some form of fresh citrus – you can make any number of sours, a foundational category of cocktail that’s sort of the equivalent of rock songs built on three chords. Simple, but great. For example, a margarita is tequila, agave nectar and lime juice. A daiquiri is rum, simple syrup and lime juice.

Once you get the hang of sours, introduce new ingredients such as elderflower liqueur or muddling in an herb. Don’t be afraid to deviate from recipes. If you like more or less sour or sweet in a drink, that’s the right way to make the drink – for you.

Spiked Blueberry Thyme Lemonade Organic Cocktail

Spiked Blueberry-Thyme Lemonade
8 organic blueberries
4 springs organic lemon thyme
3/4 oz simple syrup*
1 1/4 oz organic vodka (such as Reyka, Square One or Prairie Vodka)
1 oz spring water
1/2 oz elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
1/2 oz yellow Chartreuse

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the blueberries, 3 thyme sprigs and simple syrup until blueberries are mashed.  Add vodka, water, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice and Chartreuse.  Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously.  Strain into a tall glass filled with ice and garnish with the remaining thyme sprig.

* To make simple syrup, combine 1 C organic sugar with 8 oz water in a small saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and cool.  Syrup can be refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to a month.


Filed under Drinks, Interviews

Budget Barista: Make Your Own Latte

Trying to kick your pricey Starbucks habit but not willing to give up your daily coffee fix? Over the holidays, I watched my aunt, Synara, make her own easy, cheap “lattes” – without an espresso maker or a fancy, expensive cappucino machine. Her secret weapon is just a simple, $12 tool: a frother!

Bodum Schiuma milk frother

I tracked down a Bodum Schiuma frother at Target on sale for $6 but even at full price, you can make hundreds of drinks for less that what you’d pay for a few stops at your favorite coffee shop and they taste just as good. Now I know the purists out there will say this isn’t really a latte because by true coffee standards, it isn’t.  However, it’s still a great way to satisfy your cravings without breaking the bank!

How to make a latte

“Faux” Latte for One
1/2 mug milk
4-5 scoops ground coffee (stronger varieties, like a French Roast, work best)
approx 2 C water
optional: 1/2 – 1 Tbsp flavored creamer or honey

Make coffee using your standard coffee maker, only double the ratio of coffee beans to water to make the coffee extra strong. Pour milk into a large, microwave-safe coffee mug. Add creamer or honey, if you are using it.  Microwave milk for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Stick frother into milk and froth until milk is foamy. Microwave for another 30 seconds.

Pour brewed coffee into mug by tilting the mug slightly and pouring coffee along the inside of the glass, as you would a beer.  This allows you to avoid ruining your foam.  Simply clean off your frother with a little soap and water and enjoy!


Filed under Drinks, Fab Finds

New Year’s Eve Cocktails – Part III

When it comes time for New Year’s Eve, I always feel, the less fuss the better. Making a big bowl of punch is an easy way to quench the thirsts of a big crowd. This following recipe should come with a warning, it is delicious and goes down easy. Very easy. But be careful! It will catch up to you…

If you’re looking for a crowd pleaser, try: Champagne (packs a) Punch

1 C. Triple Sec
1 C. Brandy
1/2 C. Chambord
2 C. Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
1 qt. Ginger Ale
2 Chilled Bottles Dry Champagne

In bowl, combine Triple Sec, Chambord, Brandy and pineapple juice. Chill covered 4 hours or overnight.

In a large punch bowl, combine cooled mixture, champagne, ginger ale and ice cubes.

Serves 10-25 people (depending on how much is poured!)

A great way to spice up a punch bowl is to add an ice ring with some color. Pour some fresh cranberries into a round Jell-O mold. Add water and freeze overnight and you have instant decor to your bowl!

If you are pregnant, try: Blood Orange Sparkling Juice

This year, I have to go for a slightly less potent drink. For those of you out there who are in my situation, or prefer a non-alcoholic beverage, try Gavioli’s Blood Orange Sparkling Juice. It will give you your bubbly fix and something to sip on for the evening.

Please remember, if you are going to partake in any of these delicious beverages this New Year’s Eve, have a designated driver.

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy New Year!

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New Year’s Eve Cocktails

If you’re looking to indulge, try: Bailey’s Irish Cream in a Chocolate Shot Glass

This is decadence at its best!  I was served one of these delicious shots at a family party many years ago and it has become a special event staple for me ever since.  First you take the shot, then you eat the glass!  If you have a specialty chocolate store in your area, chances are they sell these chocolate dessert cups.  If not, you can purchase them here.

Bailey’s Irish Cream in a Chocolate Shot Glass

1 shot Bailey’s
1 Chocolate Dessert Cup

Fill the chocolate shot glass to the top with Baily’s Irish Cream.  Drink, Eat, Enjoy!

If you’re looking to sip bubbly, try: Champagne with Pear Liqueur

This champagne cocktail is the perfect way to add variety to your New Year’s Eve Champagne.  The pear flavor is subtle, but still adds a little elegance and flavor.  For a special touch, add a fresh slice of pear.

Champagne with Pear Liqueur

1-2 tablespoons pear liqueur
Champagne or sparkling wine
1 ripe pear, thinly sliced

Pour 1-2 tablespoons of pear liqueur into a champagne flute. Top each glass with champagne or sparkling wine. Finally, place pear slice gently into the glass.

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New Year’s Eve Cocktails!

The holidays are almost over and we hope you had a great time with friends, family and food. But there’s still a little more celebrating to be done before the resolutions kick in!  This week we’ll be serving up some tasty cocktail options to help you ring in 2010, no matter what your New Year’s Eve plans are.

If you’re looking to relax, try: Cucumber Lime Gin & Tonic
I fell in love with Hendrick’s gin one late night in Vegas last summer. I used to despise gin but have gradually come to love its fresh, clean taste.  Hendrick’s is a craft gin from Scotland with hints of rose, cucumber and of course, juniper.  It’s quirky taste fits perfectly with the quaint apothecary bottle it comes in.  It may not be for everyone but this G & T upgrade is a perfect spa-like splurge for a relaxing NYE at home.

Hendrick's Gin & Tonic

Cucumber Lime Gin & Tonic
2 oz Hendrick’s gin
splash tonic
splash ginger ale (*optional)
1 lime wedge
1 slice cucumber

Fill a lowball glass half way with ice.  Add gin and a splash of tonic and/or ginger ale.  Squeeze in a lime wedge and garnish with lime wedge and cucumber slices.

PS: Hendrick’s web site has tons of tasty looking recipes that I can’t wait to try!

If you’re looking to liven up a party, try: Strip & Go Nakeds
Although the name sounds scandalous, this recipe originally came to me via my mother from my grandmother’s friend who is a nun! A staple among my friends at many a college party and summer BBQ, Strip & Go Nakeds are refreshing but pack a big punch. Alternate this one with a less boozy drink (or water!).

Lemonade Vodka Cocktail

Strip & Go Nakeds
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate, partially thawed
1 concentrate can filled with vodka
2 light lager beers

In a large pitcher, pour one can of partially thawed lemonade concentrate.  Fill the concentrate can with vodka and add to pitcher.  Pour in two light lagers (this is one time when I would recommend a cheap light beer) and mix well.


Filed under Drinks, Entertain, Holidays

Wine vs. Beer: Holiday Pairings

Want to instantly improve your holiday meal? Pair it with the right drink! I am SO excited to have two of my favorite beverage makers sharing their tasting and pairing tips with us today.

Brian Brown, winemaker at Napa Valley’s Round Pond Estate and owner of Emerson Brown winery, and Bill Kregel, homebrewer and “haute” husband, will offer up their favorite holiday drink selections. So before you head out to stock your bar this week, check out their tips:

Microbrew beersred and white wine

Give us your one-minute bio
I knew when I was 17 that I wanted to be a winemaker. My parents’ appreciation of the dining table and all the aspects that go along with it – good food, family, and friends – rubbed off on me and I became interested in wine. I have a degree from UC Davis in Viticulture and Enology and have worked in Sonoma, Australia and Napa.

Bill: I’ve been an avid homebrewer for the past two years. I brew “all-grain”, meaning I don’t use kits or extracts, and I grow a lot of my own hops. I’ve sought out great microbrews for a long time and am constantly encouraging family and friends to expand their beer horizons.

What do you recommend to someone looking to develop their wine/beer palette?
Brian: Get some friends together and open up 3-4 bottles of the same variety of wine. Taste the wines side by side and see how they differ. Don’t worry about what words to use… everyone tends to get caught up on the vocabulary. Just notice how the wines differ and the descriptors will come with experience.

Bill: If you’re used to light lagers like Miller or Bud, start by trying an American or English pale ale, an American brown ale or a citrusy wheat beer. These are easy drinkers with lots of flavor. Also, get adventurous with the brands you buy – there are so many great breweries out there!

What’s the best way to taste wine/beer and what flavors are you looking for?
Brian: Focus on the best way to ENJOY wine as opposed to trying taste it. Wine should be about enjoyment not work. I think the best way to enjoy wine is with food so I look for flavors that compliment whatever I am eating at the time.

Bill: Serve beer cool but not “ice” cold so that it doesn’t kill the flavors. Flavors come from the malt (sweetness), hops (bitterness) and sometimes yeast (in Belgian beers mostly). They can be expressed in countless ways so read the label on the bottle to see what you should look for in each beer and try to pick it out.

What wines/beers pair well with typical holiday foods like turkey, potatoes or pumpkin pie?
Brian: I always try to start the night out with bubbles, especially for the holidays!!! A good rule of thumb for rich, buttery foods is to balance them with a wine with plenty of acid – oaky, buttery Chardonnay doesn’t work. Riesling pairs fairly nicely with turkey and Pinot is a good choice for red. With pie? Pumpkin, I would do a Tokay and pecan, a Tawny Port.

Bill: I’d go with a robust Porter or American brown, like Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar, to stand up to the turkey and all the fixings. For champagne lovers, I’d go with Dogfish Head’s Red and White or Black and Blue.  Both are spritzy Belgians and the Red and White is actually aged in wine barrels!

Emerson Brown Sauvignon Blanc wine

Brian’s Top 5 Wine Steals
1. Argentina makes some really good value wines, like Malbec or Torrontes.
2. Kendall Jackson does a great job with a value Chardonnay from Sonoma Coast
3. Just about any Gruner Veltliner… its cheap and delicious…
4. Paso Robles has some good deals – hearty red blends for less than Napa or Sonoma
5. There’s always Two Buck Chuck!

Brian’s Top 5 Wine Splurges
1. Anything from the top producers out of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
2. Traditional Spanish Rioja and the newer Spanish wines from Toro
3. A highly rated South Australian Shiraz
4. Pinot from Martinborough, New Zealand
5. Any good sparkling Rose… Billecarte-Salmon is a good go to.

Sites to check: Vinfolio, Wine Spectator

Microbrew beer taps

Bill’s Top Beer Picks
1. Boulder Beer Company Hazed and Infused
2. Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
3. New Glarus Cracked Wheat & Unplugged Series
4. Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Rogue Morimoto Imperial Pilsner
5. Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale
6. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
7. Stone Brewing Ruination IPA
8. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Sites to check: Beer Advocate, Rate Beer

What’s your favorite holiday drink?  Share with us!

Happy Thanksgiving!  And don’t forget to designate a driver when you’re trying all these tasty drinks!


Filed under Drinks, Holidays, Interviews