Heavenly Mai Tai

Happy snowy Saturday! As promised in last Saturday’s Coconut Chicken recipe, here’s my take on the ever-popular tropical Mai Tai drink. This is without a doubt one of my favorites to make and drink, but be warned – it’s deceptively strong!

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This is a shaken drink, so you’ll need to put some ice into a cocktail shaker and then fill a hurricane or sangria glass with ice. To the shaker, add 2 ounces of Bacardi Gold, 1 ounce of Disaronno, one ounce of grenadine, and four ounces of pineapple juice. Shake vigorously for a few seconds and then strain into the prepared glass. Float 1/2 an ounce of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum on top of the drink and serve!

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This is sure to be a hit at any party – or if you’re snowed in on a cold February Saturday!

Full Recipe:

Heavenly Mai Tai

Yield: One drink

Ingredients:

2 ounces Bacardi Gold Rum
1 ounce Disaronno
1 ounce grenadine
4 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce Captain Morgan Spiced Rum

Process:

1) Fill a hurricane glass or sangria glass with ice, and then add ice to a cocktail shaker.

2) Add Bacardi, Disaronno, grenadine, and pineapple juice to shaker and shake vigorously for a few seconds.

3) Strain into prepared glass. Float Captain on top of drink and serve!

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Perfect French Toast

Wow! What a year it has been. It’s hard to believe it’s been over 10 months since I last posted. Here’s the obligatory explanation and apology, before we get into the meat of the post:

As you may have read somewhere in my About, my profession is a professional wedding photographer. I own my company, and I have been growing exponentially. (Yay!) I also made the decision to go back to school for my Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies, and that started up last January (2014). Both of those things by themselves are big time commitments. Both of those things TOGETHER took up nearly all of my free time while I adjusted to dealing with the two coinciding. I let Sweet, Spicy, and Neat tragically fall by the wayside as I determined how to allot my time and remain successful, and for that I deeply apologize.

With that being said, I can’t promise updates as frequently as I was once posting them. However, this little blog was a great source of happiness for me, and I loved reading comments from people who were excited to try the recipes! I will be doing my best to pick it back up with a moderate amount of frequency. You may have to bear with me for a while as I get back into the swing of things, but the best way to encourage continued updates is to FOLLOW and COMMENT and LIKE! 🙂

And now, onto the real reason you’re here!


Folks, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s only a WEEK away! Hopefully you already have your evening plans set in stone with your Valentine, but I’m hoping this post might give you an idea to start that romantic day a little bit earlier! (Hint: No woman ever turned down breakfast in bed…)

Of course, this little gem is good for more than Valentine’s Day. It was written partly out of my sheer exasperation at the plethora of sad, flimsy, flavorless, and otherwise pathetic versions of French Toast I’ve had the misfortune to be exposed to throughout my adult life. Now, I get it. Kids don’t care. Give ’em good ol’ Wonder Bread dipped in eggs and milk, and to them, that’s the breakfast of the gods. My four year old cousin will easily 4 pieces of that all by himself. But we’re all adults here. And darn it, it’s time for some decent, ADULT French Toast.

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Now, don’t be intimidated. It’s really not hard. It’s just that the devil is in the details here. French toast is a really basic staple breakfast dish. And it’s time we stop insulting it and start giving it the reverence it deserves.

The first step in your journey to French toast nirvana is ditching the Wonder Bread. It practically dissolves in your mouth. It just doesn’t have the stability and stamina to stand up to truly good French toast. Instead, grab yourself a loaf of unsliced Italian bread. You know, the kind your grocery store makes every morning in their bakery. Little tip: usually, a loaf of bread from your grocery store’s bakery is far cheaper than your favorite sliced loaf from the big companies.

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MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Make your slices about 1 to 1.5 inches thick, and cut the bread with a long serrated knife.

Since I’m gearing this for Valentine’s Day, this recipe will be set for two people, but it’s very easy to double to make more, if needed. So, cut 4 slices of bread and set them aside. Then, in a shallow dish, whisk up your egg batter.

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This batter is everything. This is a huge part of what makes this French toast so good. Whisk together 3 large eggs, 1/4 cup whole milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp almond extract, and a shot of spiced rum.

Yes, rum. It’s distilled from sugar cane, and then aged and spiced. What part of that DOESN’T sound like it belongs in French Toast?? Bacardi Gold or Captain Morgan are my favorites, but you can use whatever spiced rum you prefer.

So, once your eggs are all broken up and it’s looking pretty consistent (see photo), it’s time to start cooking! Put a griddle pan over medium low heat and melt a 1/2 tablespoon of butter on the pan. Yep, we’re using good old butter. No canola oil or cooking spray here! It’s all about FLAVOR.

Once the pan is heated, soak each piece of bread one at a time in the egg mixture, making sure to let each side really soak up the egg. (Read: don’t just dip it in and move on! Take your time with it. If you get to the end of your four pieces and you still have a lot of egg left, you did it wrong.) Lay each piece in the pan, spacing them accordingly. Now, here’s the really sweet part of the deal: liberally sprinkle the top side of each piece with cinnamon sugar, while the egg is still wet.

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For those of you doubters wondering why there was no cinnamon in the egg batter… this is why. If you put cinnamon loose in the egg mixture, it all floats on top. Consequently, your first piece of French toast is nice and cinnamon-y, and your last piece gets totally shafted. Not so nice!

Since your pan is on a nice medium low, they should cook nice and evenly. Let them stay on the first side for 3-5 minutes, and then flip them over.

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They should be a nice golden brown! Now, here’s where the magic happens. Once you flip them over, that cinnamon sugar caramelizes with the butter on the hot pan and fuses into the egg. Let them cook for another 3 minutes or so, then remove them from the heat and serve them cinnamon side up! If you’re feeling really fancy, slice up a large banana and cover the toast in bananas before drizzling with syrup and sprinkling with powdered sugar.

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There you have it, folks. Doesn’t get any better than that for a lazy Saturday morning breakfast! Also, just a disclaimer: I know I sometimes talk about healthy ways to eat, and I’ve even done some posts where I post nutrition info. However, there are some things in life that just shouldn’t be messed with, unhealthy as they are. French toast is carbs dipped in cholesterol and fat… let’s just let it do its thing, and not try and slim it down!

Full recipe:

Perfect French Toast

Yield: 2 servings (4 pieces)

Total time: 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

Four 1-inch slices good Italian bread
3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 shot spiced rum
1/2 tablespoon butter
Cinnamon sugar, to taste
1 large banana, sliced into 1/4 inch coins (optional)
Maple syrup and powdered sugar, for serving.

Process:

1) Whisk up eggs, milk, vanilla extract, almond extract, and rum in a shallow bowl until eggs are well beaten.

2) Melt butter on a griddle over medium low heat. Soak both sides of each piece of bread in the egg mixture and lay on the heated pan.

3) Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top of each piece while the egg is still wet. Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

4) Serve cinnamon side up and top with banana, syrup, and powdered sugar. Enjoy immediately. 🙂

Barbados Sunrise

The temperature is slowly creeping back up, but I’m still wishing for summer, so here’s a super-fab summer drink for you all! (Tune in on Monday for some St. Patty’s Day themed drinks!)

This is a layered drink, so it does take a tad bit of skill, but once you get the hang of it, layering is pretty simple!

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I love tropical drinks, and I especially love “sunrise” drinks, so this is like the epitome of perfection for me! Start off by mixing 1 ounce of Bacardi Rum and 3/4 ounce of blue curaçao in a small glass and set that aside. (I have little parfait glasses that work perfectly for holding 2 ounces or so of liquid.)

Fill a collins glass (or other tall glass) with ice and then pour orange juice about 2/3 of the way up. (The amount will vary, of course, based on the size of your glass, but it’ll probably be about 6-8 ounces.)  Then, slowly pour about 1/2 an ounce or so of grenadine syrup into the middle of the juice. Since it’s heavy, it will settle to the bottom.

Now comes the tricky part! Take your small glass of rum and blue curaçao and slowly pour it over the back of a spoon so it flows slowly into the glass and sits on top of the orange juice. Ta-da, that’s it! You’re done!

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Of course, all the liquor is on top, so you’ll want to stir it before drinking, but just be aware that it looks like horrible dirty dish water once it’s mixed!

Full Recipe:

Barbados Sunrise

Yield: 1 drink

Ingredients:

1 ounce Bacardi rum
3/4 ounce blue curaçao
6-8 ounces orange juice
1/2 ounce grenadine

Process:

1) In a small glass, mix rum and blue curaçao. Set aside.

2) Fill a Collins glass with ice and pour in orange juice, then slowly pour grenadine into the center so it settles to the bottom.

3) Carefully pour the rum and blue curaçao mixture over the back of a spoon so it slowly pours on top of the orange juice. It is lighter than the juice, so it should sit on top of it. Serve immediately!

*Super Bowl Week* AFC/NFC Champion Cocktails

The big day is almost here, and we all know it’s not a Super Bowl party without some good old fashioned alcohol. Feel free to supplement these cocktails with a 12-pack of your favorite beer, but these two team-color-themed drinks are sure to get your head a-buzzing no matter which team you’re rooting for!

Unfortunately, my team didn’t make it this year, so I’m not really rooting for either one of these teams to win – I’m mainly watching the game for the commercials and won’t care who wins one way or the other – but I know plenty of folks out there are ready to see their team hoist that trophy, so I’ve put together drinks for either team’s supporters!

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As I said, I really don’t have a preference for who wins, so no judging me based on which recipe comes first! I decided that since my preferred team is in the AFC with the Broncos, I’ll start with the Bronco’s cocktail, which is a great spin on the tried-and-true tropical Rum Punch.

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In a large pitcher, combine 2 cups Barcardi rum, 1 cup triple sec, and 1/4 cup grenadine syrup. Stir to combine, then add 5 cups of orange juice. Chill until ready to serve, and then pour over ice in punch cups or sangria glasses.

If you’re looking to only make one:

Fill a glass with ice. Add 2 oz Bacardi rum, 1 oz triple sec, and 1/4 ounce grenadine syrup. Allow the grenadine to settle, and then fill the glass with orange juice. Stir and enjoy!

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If you’re a fan of tropical drinks, you’ll definitely love the Bronco’s cocktail!

If you’re more of a vodka lover and like a drink with a bite, then the Seahawks drink is definitely your speed! This cocktail is a spin off of an apple-tini.

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Begin by combining in a pitcher: 2 cups vodka, 2 cups sour apple schnapps, and 1/2 cup blue curaçao. Stir this to combine and chill until ready to serve. When serving, pour into ice-filled glasses until half full, and then fill the rest with Sprite or another clear, citrus-based soda. Don’t stir too much so you don’t make all the carbonation disappear!

If you’re only making one:

Fill a glass with ice. Add 2 oz vodka, 2 oz sour apple schnapps, and 1/2 oz blue curaçao. Fill the rest of the glass with Sprite, stir lightly, and enjoy!

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Full Recipes:

Broncos Bacardi Punch

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups Barcardi
1 cup triple sec
1/4 cup grenadine syrup
5 cups orange juice

Process:

1) In a large pitcher, add Barcardi, triple sec, and grenadine. Stir to combine.

2) Add 5 cups of orange juice, then chill until ready to serve.

Seahawks Sparkling Martini

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups vodka
2 cups sour apple schnapps
1/2 cup blue curaçao
4 cups Sprite or other clear soda

Process:

1) In a pitcher, add vodka, apple schnapps, and blue curaçao. Stir to combine.

2) When ready to serve, fill glasses with ice and pour liquor mixture until glass is half full. Fill the rest of each glass with Sprite and serve!

Bacardi Rum Punch

I think I’m going to go ahead and start posting drink recipes every Friday – mainly because these will probably be the most likely things to cause people to run to the store and buy something to complete the recipe, and the weekend typically provides ample time to do that! I’ll try and mix it up between non-alcoholic and those containing liquor!

Today’s is definitely a liquor drink – I made it for a large group of friends and everyone was demanding the recipe, so here it is! Rum has long been my liquor of choice – there aren’t many drinks made with it that I don’t like – so this is naturally one of my favorite drinks of all time. The best part is that you can make it ahead of time and then serve it later!

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In a large pitcher, combine 8 ounces Bacardi rum, 8 ounces triple sec, and 4 ounces raspberry pucker. Raspberry pucker is a pretty off the wall liquor, I know, so if you don’t have it and feel like you’ll never use it again if you were to buy it, you can either skip it entirely or use another red-based liquor. 2 ounces of grenadine would work, too. But I have to confess, I was even a little leery when I bought my bottle of raspberry pucker and it didn’t take it very long to get almost gone!! It’s fabulous for giving a little extra flavor to almost any tropical based drink.

On top of the liquor, add 4 cups of Pineapple-Orange-Banana juice. The kind I buy is by Dole and it’s usually between $2-3 for a 59 ounce bottle. Pineapple Orange Banana is basically the most awesome base for tropical drinks, especially because it works with drink recipes that call for either pineapple or orange juice. Using the combo gives a slightly different flavor but it’s still fabulous! (There’s also a ton of tropical drinks that call for both pineapple AND orange juice, which this is also, obviously, excellent for.)

Stir everything together and stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Just before serving, add 4-5 cups (or 3 cans) of any clear soda. I really like Black Cherry Citrus Fresca for this, which has a ton of flavor, but you can use Sprite, Ginger Ale, 7-Up, or any other clear soda you prefer.

Serve it over ice in your favorite glasses!

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Full Recipe:

Bacardi Rum Punch

Yield: 10-12 servings

Ingredients:

8 ounces Bacardi White Rum
8 ounces triple sec
4 ounces raspberry pucker
4 cups pineapple orange banana juice
3 cans Black Cherry Citrus Fresca

Process:

1) Combine rum, triple sec, and raspberry pucker in a large pitcher.

2) Stir in pineapple orange banana juice. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

3) Add Black Cherry Citrus Fresca, stir 1-2 times (just enough to mix flavors without removing the carbonation) and serve over ice in your favorite drink glasses.