Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween (sneak peek!)

by Bex

Since today is Halloween I decided to share with you some of the progress I've made so far in decorating the house ready for our #ODP2 Halloween party THIS weekend!...

The bunting is up in the kitchen and above the fireplace although the longest one is still to be added in the living room (or maybe the hall).

Nik bought me some lovely Autumnal flowers which are part of the current fireplace display but I suspect by Saturday will have to be replaced with some orange/deep red Alstromerias.

Since I took the first pumpkin pictures (below) I've also added one of my framed invites (above) to this display.  You can see it better in daylight anyway.

I am super pleased with my gourds in various shapes, sizes and colours all looking very pretty in the fireplace surrounded by candles.  The big pumpkins will be carved nearer the time!  (i.e. this evening!)

I now have lists upon lists of things that need to be finished by Friday.  I am so excited to see everyone!  :)

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Cherry & Vanilla Liqueur recipe

by Bex

This is another recipe idea from BBC Good Food magazine - I have decided I need to keep up the subscription - I get so excited when it arrives and I always find plenty of recipes I want to try!  The great thing about this one is that it is open to interpretation - you can use it as a prompt to make all kinds of combinations of liqueur and it's SO easy.  I chose cherry as my main flavour and decided to keep this one simple with just vanilla added.  (I had planned to add some orange zest too but ran out of room in the jar after adding my cherries!)

50g golden caster sugar
350ml vodka
100g frozen sour cherries
1 vanilla pod

Add all ingredients to a sterilised jar or bottle and seal.  Turn every day for 4 weeks, strain and serve chilled over ice or add to mixer of your choice, I plan to add mine to soda water and think it will be lovely added to Prosecco as a change from the usual Kir Royal.

After 3 weeks it already looks like this - you can see how much the cherries have infused - I can't wait to taste it!

I will probably serve it at Halloween and if it's really good, I might make some more for Christmas gifts.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Cocktail party in my Living room!

by Bex

On Saturday night we hosted a cocktail party in our living room, complete with full bar!  Social and Cocktail is a fantastic website with dozens (if not hundreds) of cocktail recipes and features reviews of cocktail bars all over the country.  They've just recently started up a new side of the business taking the cocktail bar into your home.  I think it's a fantastic idea, especially during this horrible weather, you still get to sample some lovely cocktails without having to go out and worry about heels, taxis and rainy weather!  Not only that but it works out much cheaper at £25 per head for 5 cocktails and you can choose your own music and relax in the comfort of your own home while enjoying the entertainment of a bartender concocting all sorts of delicious drinks.

We still got a bit dressed up (although after a very busy day I completely forgot to do my make-up!) and I arranged for everyone to come for dinner beforehand and we all had a lovely evening!  There were just 6 of us as everyone else I asked was busy so it was just Roz, B, Nik, myself and my in-laws who were visiting for the weekend.

The Halloween decor is out!

I made lasagne and rustled up a salad which we all enjoyed before the guys arrived to set up the bar.

Possibly needed a slightly deeper dish!

Set up took quite a while as we sat around chatting and it was so worth the wait as a huge box turned into a rather impressive bar!  

From this...

To this...

If I was having a cocktail party again, I would arrange for my guests to arrive later so we could enjoy dinner while the setting up happened in the other room.  I think it would have been quite spectacular to walk through and find a huge bar had just appeared in my living room!

We were asked to choose 5 cocktails from their specially selected menu a couple of weeks beforehand.  We opted for Mojito (a classic), French Martini (and old favourite), Planter's Punch (sounded interesting and a bit different), Passion Fruit Daiquiri (I love fruity rum based drinks) and non-alcoholic Blueberry Mojito so Roz wasn't left out!  One suggestion to make it easier to decide would be to have the recipes linked on the menu page as I had to go and search for each cocktail I didn't recognise.  It would have been much easier and quicker to be able to click below the image to see what's in each one to make it easier to decide on the final 5.

Our bartender, Evan, was very entertaining and even let Roz and I have a go at mixing.  He explained a lot about cocktail mixing and we discussed our favourite cocktails.  It was fun and informative, I'm such a geek!  ;)

He made us mojitos using 3 different kinds of rum.  White and dark - Bacardi, Havana and Myers's.  You can see they use premium brands and the quality of everything is excellent, there's definitely no skimping and we could taste that in the delicious fresh drinks.  There was some debate about which was the best version, we all have different tastes but the dark rums won.

Left to right - Bacardi, Havana, Myers's

Roz enjoyed watching us all get tipsy!

Evan also told us about his favourite version of a mojito which is to put everything bar the soda water into a shaker and serve it in a martini glass.  He asked if he could make us one and we were delighted to try it - it was awesome!

Then it was my turn to have a go :)

Quite excited by the green mixer ;)

Apparently the secret to a good French Martini is adding egg white for extra frothiness and it helps combine the spirits together for a smoother flavour.  I have to agree after trying both side by side.

 I did pretty well at separating the eggs (considering I'd drunk Roz's share of Mojito and mine) but managed to spill the vodka when tipping it into the shaker!

He whipped Roz up another wee non-alcoholic mix to keep her going as we sampled all the boozy beverages!  She was very impressed with the pineapple, soda and lime with a bit of passion fruit as requested.

Next up we tried the Planter's Punch.  Nik chose this one as I asked him to help me choose so they weren't all just to my taste (i.e. fruity and a bit sweet).  Before he even made it, Evan warned us that a lot of people choose this one and then hate it so he only made one for us to taste before making all 5.  It was a hit with B and Nik!  It was pretty sour so I wasn't keen so Evan made MIL and I an adapted version with extra pineapple juice which we both really enjoyed.

The final alcoholic cocktail was the passionfruit daiquiri.  Again this was more sour than I'd expected and not to my taste so Evan added a little more gomme syrup and I loved it.

And Roz got to make her Blueberry Mojito too...

 Squeezing the lime!

 Looking smug, until...

 She managed to pour crushed ice everywhere!  lol


 We all liked these as well, MIL & FIL shared a huge shaker full!

Nik with a sneaky peek at the Halloween decor behind him!

Sad the last one is gone but still standing!

Everyone really enjoyed themselves.  I love the idea and it's actually really good value when the cocktails work out at just £5 each and you don't have to pay for taxis!  The guys cleaned up everything themselves - even taking out the bin (and replacing the bin bag!) and the only thing they needed from us was use of the kitchen sink to wash the glasses.  They used only quality ingredients and were very friendly, professional and entertaining, we had a good laugh!  I actually can't think of anything that isn't positive about the whole night.  Thanks so much to Social and Cocktail for such a fab party!  I would definitely consider hiring them for my birthday and if I hadn't already had my hen night I would have definitely liked this instead of going out to a cocktail mixing class as leaving for that part of my hen all got a bit rushed.  It would have been great to be able to stay here until later since my girls had decorated so nicely!  It's such a great way to add a different aspect to a house party and looks so professional.  I highly recommend them :)

We enjoyed a cocktail party at home free of charge in return for a review.  As usual, all opinions are my own and entirely honest.

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