Thirsty Thursday--Tequila Blackberry Basil Shrub

Have you ever tried a cocktail made with a shrub?
If you haven't, then hold on to your horses because we are about to take a cocktail ride.

I had my first cocktail ever made with a shrub in New Orleans
(definitely the cocktail capital of the universe).
It was tangy and sweet.
A great flavor combination.
It was made with peach and basil.
(I definitely plan on making this next time.)

Fortunately for me though,
I have been swimming in blackberries this summer and decided to take the berry route for my first ever shrub cocktail.

This cocktail was DELICIOUS.
Just the right amount of sweet paired with the tanginess of the vinegar,
the smokiness of the tequila, 
and the bite of the basil.

Tequila Blackberry Basil Shrub

(adapted from Taste Love and Nourish)

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For the shrub:
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup blackberries
6-8 large basil leaves
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Combine the sugar, blackberries, and basil in a small bowl.  Crush the blackberries and basil and mix to combine with the sugar.  Allow to sit at room temperature for one hour.

In a clean jar, add the vinegars and berry mixtures.  Cover with a tight fitting lid and give it a shake. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 5 to 7 days.  Shake the mixture once or twice a day.

Strain the mixture with a fine mesh sieve and store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

For the cocktail:

3 ounces tequila
3 ounces blackberry basil shrub
4 ounces sparkling water or club soda (I used lime Perrier)
basil leaves for garnish

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice add the tequila and shrub mixture.  Shake well until combined and pour into a chilled glass.  Top with sparkling water or club soda.  Garnish with basil leaves.


Prosciutto Figs with Cream Cheese and Walnuts

I am loving, loving, loving all of the figs that I am able to gather from my fig tree this year.
We have an LSU fig tree that we planted about 3 years ago.
It's a beast.
Last year it was about 4 stalks and this year it's exploded.

It's a very hardy tree and the figs are really sweet once ripened.
This is really the first year that it has produced more than a few.
(I even have enough to share with the birds.)

Right now there are about 200 unripe figs covering the tree and I've already picked a around 4 gallons this season.

Figs are such a decadent little fruit.
They are sweet, yet have a very distinct flavor when cooked.

I usually only use them for special occasions or during the season because they are so darn expensive at the grocery store.
This year, I've canned several different batches so I'm excited to have them out of season this year.

Now this recipe is probably going to be one of those "special occasion or in-season kind of recipes" because of the use of fresh figs.

Prosciutto Figs with Cream Cheese and Walnuts

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16 ripe figs
2 ounces cream cheese
16 walnuts
8 slices of prosciutto, slice in half vertically
honey to drizzle

To prepare figs--cut and remove stem, cut each fig into quarters about half way down so that you can split it open but it remains intact.  Next stuff the figs with about 1/2 teaspoon of cream cheese.  Top with a walnut (push into middle).  Wrap each with a slice of prosciutto and secure with a toothpick.

Grill at 350 degrees until the prosciutto is crisp, about 15 minutes.

Drizzle with honey and serve warm.


Dining Room and Foyer Updates

Our dining room is finally getting to a place that I'm really loving.
Whenever I'm decorating I always tend to lean towards the traditional.  
A neutral color scheme, simple accessories,
and lots of classic antiques.

You can see the before pictures here.

I've replaced the tapestry chairs,
changed the orientation of the table, 
and exchanged a few antique chests from other parts of the house.
The room actually feels twice as large
(and it's not a large room).

The antique chests are being utilized for storage and as a bar surfaces for when we use this room.

Decanters, a simple silver tray, and lots and lots of crystal
(thanks to my MIL).

I've kept the table arrangement simple--
a simple red ginger jar to bring in the colors of the rug in the foyer.

The lily pad plates in the foyer COULD NOT be replaced
(because I love them so).
I did add a few rustic accessories and a few pieces of copper and brass to the exchanged bookcase.

 I plan on adding a more copper and brass pieces as soon as I find the right ones.

Hopefully I'll be happy with the rooms for a short time and I think that adding a few fall accessories will take me into the next few months.

Sources for dining room and foyer:
paint-Ambiance by Benjamin Moore
dining table, accent table, and chests--antiques
dining chairs-Pottery Barn and Havertys
art--panels-Canatella Interiors, Robert Rucker print, oyster plates, sconces--antique
drapes- Restoration Hardware--old
All decanters, silver, and copper-- Waterford, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany
Lily Pad plates-Global Views
ginger jar-Canatella Interiors
copper jugs and plate-Medina

Thirsty Thursday--Late Summer Sangria

I know that everyone is always looking forward to summer,
but living in Louisiana,
(and not working a job that has the summer off-that's probably the real reason to be quite honest)
I'm always looking forward to fall.

Our fall is like summer to certain parts of the country.
When my peppers and figs start reaching their peak I know that the end of summer is only about a month away.

Now, I am totally getting ready for cooler temps, 
but I am still loving all of the awesome produce that summer is famous for.

So when the awesome folks over at Williams-Sonoma asked if I could share a
fresh fruit juiced Sangria
recipe I was all in.

I absolutely love Sangria.
Really, I love wine and I love fruit.
Therefore, I automatically love Sangria.

And, I thought that this would be the ultimate opportunity to combine my love of freshly juiced fruits with my love of wine with a
Sangria in honor of late summer.

I've been hooked on Sauvignon Blanc wines this summer and I thought that nothing would be better than a pairing with a few of my fresh LSU figs, pears, apples, and St. Germain for the  most perfect sangria.

(It's also really beautiful.)

The combination of figs, apples, pears, and St. Germain with Sauvignon Blanc wine is perfect.
I also took the ingredients to the next step and freshly juiced them to release the most flavor.

Juicing is probably the key to this recipe.
The flavors of the freshly juiced fruit knock you out and add extra sweetness without the use of artificial sweeteners and sugar.
Perfect, perfect, perfect.

Late Summer Sangria

2  Fuji or Ambrosia apples, 1 juiced (1/2 cup) and 1 sliced
2 Bosc or Bartlett pears, 1 juiced (1/2 cup) and 1 sliced
16 figs, 10 juiced (2 tablespoons) and 6 sliced
1/2 cup St. Germain 
1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc
1/2 cup to 1 cup Ginger Ale

In a large pitcher, combine all ingredients and let sit for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours to chill.

P.S. I use a Breville Juice Fountain Plus which I absolutely love
(I've had it for years).
It's a true workhorse--will juice anything.
Definitely an essential for any home cocktail connoisseur.


Roasted Eggplant, Potatoes, and Green Beans

Roasted vegetables really are the ultimate side dish and often pair well with any meal.
They are so versatile and easy to just throw together.

All you need are vegetables, olive oil, and a few herbs and you've got a winner.
The roasting process really brings out the true flavor of the vegetables.

I made this dish for a dinner party paired with polenta and pork tenderloin.
All of it was delicious,
but the vegetables were my favorite part.

Roasted Eggplant, Potatoes, and Green Beans

1 eggplant, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 pound green beans, stems removed
1 pound tiny yukon gold potatoes
1 large shallot, sliced
2 tablespoons rosemary, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place all vegetables on a baking dish and sprinkle with the rosemary, olive oil, and salt.  Roast in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.

(If your potatoes are larger, you might want to parboil them for 3-5 minutes.)

Remove and serve warm.


Sausage and Three-Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

I truly might be turning into a 
Jalapeno Popper Junkie.

With loads and loads of jalapenos growing in the garden I'm experimenting with them in every conceivable way.
Poppers, salsa, jelly, in cocktails just to name a few.

And yes, 
these are the epitome of yummy, cheesy deliciousness all stuffed into a spicy jalapeno and wrapped in bacon.
 (Also, a very good use of a jalapeno if you ask me.)

These little beauties were so darn good,
you just can't stop eating them.

(I think I burnt my tongue because I was eating them straight off the grill--don't do this.)

Sausage and Three-Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

12 jalapeno peppers, split lengthwise with seeds/veins discarded
1/2 pound hot sausage, cooked and drained
3 ounces cream cheese
3 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
3 ounces shredded monterey jack cheese
12 slices of bacon, cut in half

Preheat grill to 350 degrees. Prepare pepper and lay on a flat grilling pan.  In a large pan, cook sausage and drain. Set aside.  Add cheese to sausage mixture.  Stuff each jalapeno with sausage/cheese mixture. Wrap each with piece of bacon.  Secure with a toothpick.

Grill at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until bacon is crispy and cheese is melted.


Thirsty Thursday--Blueberry Lemon Martini & Blueberry Infused Vodka

I am really into infusing my own liquors right now.
It is so neat to pour liquor into a jar, 
add fruit or herbs,
wait a little bit and you've got a mighty tasty cocktail liquor.

I made this blueberry infused vodka a few weeks back and I'm loving it.
The fresh blueberries add a sweetness to the vodka.
(You could even drink it by itself if that's your thing--
no judgement here!!)

Combine 1 cup blueberries and 2 cups vodka-
and you've got infused vodka.
Easy as pie.
I'm sure there are harder, more complex recipes,
but I'm all about simple.

I decided that this sweet blueberry vodka would go perfectly in a lemon based martini.
Sweet + tart = perfect
(I absolutely love blueberry and lemon together).

Blueberry Lemon Martini

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3 ounces blueberry vodka
3 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
lemon wedge for garnish

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup.  Shake until well combined and pour into a chilled martini glass.  Garnish with a lemon wedge.

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