two cocktails recipes from julibox to help you say goodbye to 2013



Lets face it. We don’t make cocktails nearly enough at home. Sure, we serve beer and uncork wine bottles a couple times a week, but when was last time you got out the cocktail shaker and mixed one up? One of our (more fun) resolutions for 2014? Make more cocktails! Starting tonight, with New Year’s Eve 2013. On our bar menu is an old favorite with a slight twist, and a fancy little number that puts the same bottle of cognac to use. Helping us along the way is a new site and subscription service called Julibox. If you subscribe to Julibox for about $40 a month, you will get a box mailed to you that has the fixings for four cocktails plus recipes. (True, a bit expensive for four drinks you make yourself, but a nice gift idea for those want to move beyond craft beer of the month!) These aren’t just any recipes, but recipes that have been developed and heartily tested by expert curators, including Paul Sevigny, a well known Miami bartender (and Chloe’s brother). What we’re excited about is the idea of a cocktail community that exchanges recipes and tales of mixology, which is what the Julibox site curates. In the spirit of sharing, here are two recipes of theirs, both of which use pear cognac. Cheers — And happy new year!!

Winter Side Car

Side cars are one of our favorite cocktails to drink on a cold blustery night. This version is made with pear cognac (or brandy if you can’t find the cognac) and Disaronno. We’ll make this one in a pitcher — so times it by six!
What you need:
1 3/4 oz Xante Pear Cognac
3/4 oz Disaronno liquor
the juice of one lemon
For garnish:
lemon rind twist
sugar rim
How To Make
1. Rub the a slice of lemon around the rim of a martini glass.
2. Pour a pile of sugar into a saucer plate and dip the glass into it.
3. Pour the cognac and Disaronno into a shaker filled with ice.
4. Squeeze in the lemon juice.
5. Shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds.
6. Strain into the sugar-rimmed glass and garnish with a twist.

Because everyone needs a little bubbly on New Year’s Eve, this lovely drink uses the same cognac as the Winter Side Car, but is topped off with some sparkling wine.
What You Need:
1 3/4 oz Xante Pear Cognac
2 oz brut champagne or sparkling wine
1 tsp of granulated sugar
juice of half a lemon
Lemon twist
How To Make:
1. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
2. Add cognac and shake until very cold.
3. Strain into a large coup glass.
4. Top with champagne and garnish with a twist.

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real life test kitchen: pumpkin queso fundido

This recipe was originally published in 2012, but it is a one of our favorites. Finally something to do with all those gorgeous market pumpkins that doesn’t involve feeding squirrels!

A few weeks ago, we hosted a Halloween-themed party at our place. I was determined to do something inventive with a pumpkin and when I spotted this recipe in Food Network magazine, I had to give it a try. It looked so cheesy and delicious, I knew that if I could pull it off, it’d be a party hit. To make this dip, you have to first make the queso in a pan on the stove, then pour it into a scooped out pumpkin to bake for about an hour. Advance planning is needed. The hardest thing, I realized, was finding the right sized pumpkins. After I made my dip, I poured it into a pumpkin that was much too large. Luckily, I had two smaller ones handy and was able to make a quick switcheroo. The nice thing about having two small pumpkins is that I served one at a time, and reheating number two mid-way through the party was a breeze. It was great to have some cheesy hotness halfway through the night. I also made my recipe slightly less meaty, by using a vegan-based chorizo substitute that we get at Whole Foods. To make it truly vegetarian, replace the chicken broth with vegetable stock.

Here’s my take on Pumpkin Queso Fundido
What you need:

2 1-to-2-pound sugar pumpkins
8 ounces chorizo (or veggie) sausage
1 jalapeno pepper (remove seeds for less heat), chopped
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or veggie broth
2 cups shredded mozzarella or Oaxaca cheese
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
Tortilla chips, for serving

How to make:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Slice off the tops 1 1/2 of the pumpkins and discard. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp.

2. Heat the chorizo or veggie version in a medium pot over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until browning begins. Add the jalapeno, green chiles, cumin and cayenne and cook, stirring, until the jalapeno softens, about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until the flour is slightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken or veggie broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the cheeses. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheese melts and the mixture is creamy, about 3 more minutes.

Place the pumpkin in a small baking dish and fill the pumpkin with the cheese mixture. Add 1 inch of boiling water to the baking dish. Cover loosely with foil and bake until the pumpkin is tender, about 1 hour, 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the cheese is golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 more minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm with tortilla chips and watch it disappear.

Note: The best part is when you get near the end, and scoop up the baked pumpkin flesh along with the dip. Extra yum!

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sponsored video: swooning over paola navone’s crate & barrel collection

When I grow up I want to be like Paola Navone. The renowned artist and designer exudes warmth and a love a life that is evident in all her work, whether it be Anthropologie’s vibrant color-pop bedding, overly-tufted, welcoming sofas or her new vibrant and playful pieces at Crate & Barrel. She’s also a not-to-be overlooked Italian who gained prominence in the male-dominated design space, and displays a short hairstyle and a prominent nose that I can’t help but identify with. If I can’t grow up to be like her, perhaps we could have dinner one day?

I’m not sure how or when that may happen, but in the meantime I am going to take some inspiration from Crate & Barrel and channel a little Paola for my gatherings this fall. She’s created three collections all centered around entertaining.

The Como collection features bold blue on white designs with organic swirls and patterns. It reminds me of dining al fresco in Sicily, with smells of almond pastries mixing with Mediterranean breezes. Splashes of red wake you up.

The Mallorca collection is more calming, with white on white ceramics that have delicate, feminine edges. Aluminum trays with gentle dimples appear ready to elevate any dish.

And the Riveria collection focuses white pieces with scalloped edges that meet sea green glasses and bamboo serving pieces.

All three themes bring a worldly sophistication to the table, without being stuffy or too precious. As the holidays encroach it’s easy to get drawn towards Northernly designs, but a few Navone bits sprinkled about will make sure your dinners always have a sunny disposition. Here’s a little peak at the artistry behind the work.

As if her new designs weren’t enough to inspire some noteworthy dinners of our own, Crate & Barrel even offers up a few recipes from the master herself. This one below, pasta with zucchini, in an interesting take on one of my favorites. I would add a sprinkle of crushed pastachios before serving, to give it a final hint of richness.

Pasta with Zucchini by Paola Navone

What You Need:

2 lbs. baby zucchini; no more than 1¼’ in diameter
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup fresh mint (smallest leaves only), thyme, rosemary
Saffron threads, a pinch
Fresh cracked pepper
Ground red pepper
Coarse sea salt
1 lb. uncooked dried mezzi rigatoni – shorter, ridged rigatoni
1/4 cup coarse sea salt to season pasta cooking water
To pass at the table:ricotta di bufala *
** Buffalo milk ricotta is less sweet than cow’s milk ricotta.

How To Make:
1. Wash and drain the zucchini. Slice into ¼-inch-thick “coins” and set aside. If using larger zucchini, slice lengthwise, core out the seeds, then slice.

2. Place a large, nonstick sauté pan over low to medium-low heat. Glaze the pan with olive oil. Add crushed garlic, herbs and saffron to the pan to flavor the oil. (Reserve a small handful of the herbs for garnish.) Stir and cook until the garlic just starts to color and become fragrant. Do not let the garlic burn. Remove garlic.

3. Add the zucchini to the pan and season with ground pepper and sea salt. Sear the zucchini until slightly soft and the zucchini begins to brown and caramelize. Remove from heat.

4. Remove ½ of the zucchini mixture; place in a food processor and puree.

5. Add a small drizzle of olive oil to the sliced zucchini still in the pan; gently fold in pureed zucchini. Add more olive oil to taste, but sparingly. The consistency of the sauce should be creamy, not thick.

6. Fill a large pasta pot ¾ full with cold water and place over high heat. Add ¼ cup** of course sea salt to water and bring to a rolling boil. Add dried pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente.

7. Drain pasta (reserving a cup of the pasta cooking water) and place in large serving bowl. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.

8. If needed, thin zucchini sauce with a bit of the pasta cooking water. Add zucchini sauce to pasta and toss gently. Garnish with fresh mint and serve immediately. Pass ricotta di bufala for guests to stir into their pasta, to taste.

Note: This post is sponsored by Crate & Barrel.

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want it now: leather tangram coasters

It’s hard to imagine getting excited about coasters, but these gorgeous metallic leather coasters from Of A Kind bring entertaining to a whole new level. They are insanely chic and on trend for fall. And, yes, you can use the seven geometric shapes to create different shapes, like a horse or a sailboat, while you wait for guests to arrive. Made in Los Angeles from cowhide. $65 for a set of seven at

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real life test kitchen: banana nilla wafer pudding + other 4th of july yums

Occasionally we like to do a deep dive into the recesses of our 1970s childhood memories and make something that is just not good for us. By that I mean it is a “faux recipe” — one made up mostly of processed foods and that would make Michael Pollen cringe. It’s funny how something that used to be so everyday is now an indulgence of sorts. At the top of this list is a banana dessert made of Jello instant pudding, Nilla wafer cookies, whipped cream and bananas. My husband refers to it as “white trash tiramsu.” The other night the book club gathered at my house to discuss (what else) Cooked, and I couldn’t resist serving up a big a dish of this light, fluffy, banana-y treat. It was enjoyed by all without too much guilt, and I guarantee it would be a welcome finale to any 4th of July meal.

Banana Nilla Wafer Pudding


2 small boxes of jello banana instant pudding and ingredients to make it.
1-8oz tub of cool whip whipped topping
1 box Nilla wafers
4 bananas cut in thin slices


1. Make the pudding according to instructions. Set aside to thicken in fridge if need be.
2. Grab a casserole dish and put a layer of cookies down on the bottom.
3. Using a spatula, spread a layer of pudding on top. Put a layer of sliced bananas on top of that, followed by whipped cream.
4. Repeat until the dish is full.
5. Chill for a few hours before serving.
6. Enjoy!

If this recipe doesn’t quite jive with your current palette, here are a few more 4th of July treats to choose from:

Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad

Charred Corn Salad

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberry and Pea Salad

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