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Orgeat and Zsa Zsa Gabor

We don’t enjoy going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day.

queens affinity at the swim up bar

It’s overcrowded, the service isn’t always the best and working in the food industry, I can not relax and enjoy myself knowing that the restaurant is desperate for you to finish and leave so they can sit their next reservation.

Since Valentine’s was on a Friday this year, it made it easy to go out for our Valentine’s celebration on Saturday night instead. We wisely chose Bink’s Scottsdale.

binks scottsdale


Bink’s Scottsdale is the newest more casual and relaxed venture for Kevin and Amy Binkley, chef-owners of the best restaurant in the Valley, Binkley’s Restaurant in Cave Creek.

There is also Bink’s Cafe in Cave Creek and Bink’s Midtown in Phoenix.

the queens affinity

Dinner was, of course, fantastic. The one thing I had that I thought I might be able to recreate was the Queen’s Affinity Cocktail. The menu said that it was made with Bombay Sapphire, Orgeat, and muddled Lemon and Mint.

Before I made the cocktail at home, I had to figure out what the heck orgeat is and then find out where to buy it or how to make it.


Orgeat is pronounced “or-zsa” – “zsa” as in Zsa Zsa Gabor.

After some research, it appeared that orgeat should be easy enough to find at any liquor store. I also learned that homemade orgeat is far superior to store-bought. As a result, I made my own.

First I shall share with you a recipe for my Queen’s Affinity Cocktail Knockoff and then for the Homemade Orgeat.

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February 24, 2014   2 Comments

Bienvenido cócteles – dos sangrías

If you know anything about my entertaining style, you know that I love to offer a “Signature” or “Welcome” cocktail when my guests arrive.

Vanilla Pomegranate Sangria

For the European Dinner Party, I decided I needed two. That may seem a bit excessive for only four people, but I honestly couldn’t decide between apple or pomegranate on that beautiful autumn evening, so I settled on both.

Sangria is a Spanish and Portuguese beverage that is traditionally served throughout Spain and Portugal during the hot summer months. It is made with summer fruits and juices.

I figured, why not use fall and winter fruits and juices and serve it all year long? Ole!

Apple Cider Sangria

Spiced Apple Cider Sangria

1 bottle Pinot Grigio
2 cups spiced apple cider
1/2 cup brandy
2 Honeycrisp apples, cored and then chopped
2 Bosc pears, cored and then chopped
1 cup club soda, chilled

Combine all ingredients together, except the club soda, in a large serving pitcher.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Pour sangria into ice filled glasses; use a slotted spoon to add a few of the apple and pear pieces to each glass. Then top each with a splash of the chilled club soda.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Note: I found the sparkling pomegranate soda for the next recipe at Trader Joe’s.

Pomegranate Sangria

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November 6, 2013   2 Comments

I need a cocktail…

Seriously! This is not a want, this is a need.

Construction, permits, late sub-contractors, inspections, failed inspections, rescheduling, early morning noise, dirt constantly at the front door, men, some men who act like little boys, “the city” and re-inspections.


I’ve been up since 5:45 AM, it is now 7:00 … and I need a cocktail! I did not have any alcohol (meaning a glass of wine with dinner) last night or the night before or the night before that. I am overdue and entitled!

I am going to throw caution and good sense to the wind and imbibe in a morning drink – I deserve it and I believe it will make construction more bearable.

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September 27, 2013   5 Comments

Stone Fruit week

This is stone fruit season. Are you ready for a weeks worth of stone fruit recipes? Yes? OK, let’s get to it.

stone fruits

According to the Cook’s Thesaurus -

“The family of stone fruits includes cherries, plums, apricots, nectarines, and peaches.   They all arrive in the summer, though you can sometimes find pricey imports during the off-season.  Stone fruits don’t become sweeter after they’re picked, but growers often harvest them while they’re still a bit underripe so that they won’t bruise during transit.  At the market, select specimens that have the color, if not the softness, of fully ripened fruit, then take them home and let them soften at room temperature for a few days.”

How about we start off with a cool refreshing drink on this hot summer day?

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July 29, 2013   3 Comments

worth repeating

This is a recipe I posted nearly four years ago, very soon after the birth of this blog.

Since it’s been so long and is buried deep in the archives, I feel it’s time to remind you about the summertime goodness and refreshment of my cucumber martini.

Cool cucumber, tart lime, luscious lime-simple syrup, herbal gin, and a boat-full of ice  …  what more could a parched girl living in a sweltering, arid, suffocatingly hot, dry, scorched, oven-like desert want?

OK, honestly, maybe a bowl of ice cream … but even without the ice cream, this cocktail will do just fine!


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June 29, 2013   No Comments

Twelfth Day of Christmas Gift

2 glasses

Day 12 has finally arrived.
I wasn’t positive I was going to make it!
But I did!

Yay for me!
And yay for you, 12 gifts from the kitchen.
I hope you’ve made at least one! If not, this may be the one to make…

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:

A bottle of Homemade Irish Cream
A Jar of Vanilla Sea Salt
Tins of Bacon Toffee
Rum Glazed Eggnog Bread
Fennel Cured Salmon
Spicy Guinness Mustard
Two Jars of Mustard
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Homemade Kahlua Liqueur
Lemon-Sugar Hand Scrub
Cranberry Citrus Vodka
and a bottle of Tomato Dust

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December 15, 2012   1 Comment

cranberry mojito and Christmas crafts

Yesterday, Sheila and I hosted a Christmas Crafts Party for our friends. Most of the participants from my Burlap Pumpkin Class were there and we had a great time, up in Sheila’s fabulous craft room, creating away!

The gorgeous paper cone wreath you see above was made by the very talented and patient Christa. Only four of us tackled the wreath and Christa’s won the blue ribbon!

Or maybe we’ll call it the Red Ribbon since it’s a Christmas wreath… with a red ribbon! Congratulations, Christa, your “best in show” is well deserved.

Here you see Sheila giving instruction on two of the other crafts; a rag ornament and snow balls.

There were 15 of us and along with crafting, we of course had lunch! The recipes will follow in the coming days.

Today, we’ll start with the cocktail. I used some of my Cranberry Vodka to make Cranberry Mojitos. That recipe and more craft photos are below.

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December 2, 2012   1 Comment

Second Day of Christmas Gift

The second installment of Twelve Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen.

On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:
Cranberry Citrus Vodka
and a bottle of Tomato Dust

This crimson cranberry vodka is easy to make, just a little time consuming because you must poke each cranberry to open it up so it will impart its goodness into the vodka. But it is time easily spent.  I used a wooden skewer and did the chore while I watched television. I was done in no time.

Make whatever quantity you want, but I can share with you that 3-pounds of fresh cranberries, 2 lemons, 2 limes, 3 tablespoons sugar, and a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka will make three 1-liter bottles of Cranberry Citrus Vodka.

You need to put this together at least 2 weeks before you plan to use it or give it away. When giving as a gift, it would be ever so thoughtful to include a Crantini recipe card with your gift. The recipe for the Crantini is at the end of the post.

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November 20, 2012   5 Comments

time for a vootbeer

Vootbeer. Isn’t that a great name? It is a cocktail made with Vodka and Root Beer. And from what I can find, it was created at the Boulder Distillery Home of 303 Vodka. Now, I’m quite certain that people had thought of mixing vodka and root beer for a long time now, but the name Vootbeer – now that is clever.

You know me, I’m all about the freshest and best ingredients you can find and afford.  So using anything other than real whipping cream may seem a bit uncharacteristic, but I couldn’t resist using spray whipped cream topping for this fun cocktail.  A dollop or big all spoonful of freshly whipped cream just wouldn’t be as fun.  Believe you me, this is the epitome of fun cocktail.

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October 14, 2012   1 Comment

mai tai

Every week for the last couple of months there has been a watermelon in my CSA bounty. I pray last week’s was the last one! I am watermeloned out! Isn’t it time for pumpkins instead? Anyhow, I did the only thing left to do with another huge watermelon… I made cocktails!

My new motto: When in doubt – Make a Cocktail!

I found the inspiration for a watermelon mai tai from Ted Allen on the Food Network website. After tasting his version, I changed the quantities of his original recipe so I could use more watermelon. We ended up liking the end product even more than the original.

If you’re not familiar with St. Germaine Liqueur, it is one of the “big deals” in the cocktail world at the moment. It is not new though, it has been made in Paris since 1884, it’s just the new hot thing. St. Germain is a sweet liqueur made in the artisanal French style from elderberry flowers. Personally, I would not drink it on its own, but it is delicious in this mai tai. If you want to give it a try without buying a big bottle, do as I did, and buy the “airplane” size bottle from a well stocked liquor store. I found mine at Total Wine.

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October 3, 2012   2 Comments