Earl Grey Martini

3 oz gin
1 Earl Grey tea bag
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 oz lemon juice, plus two lemon wedges for garnish
1 oz simple syrup

Pour gin into glass and sprinkle tea leaves on top. Let steep for 2 hours.

Pour sugar into a shallow dish, run a lemon wedge around the rim of a martini glass, then dip glass in sugar to coat.

Strain tea infused gin into a cocktail shaker with ice, add lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake well, then strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with lemon wedges.

Espresso Martini

1 1/2 oz vodka
1 oz freshly brewed espresso
3/4 oz Kahlua
shaved chocolate for garnish

Combine vodka, espresso, Kahlua, and ice in a shaker. Shake well to chill. Strain into martini glass and garnish with shaved chocolate.

Optional: you could substitute Irish Cream for the Kahlua.

Heart Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
red food coloring

In a medium bowl, combine shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla at medium speed until creamy.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, and carefully blend together. Beat until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide the dough in half, and add red food coloring to one half. Shape each dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate one hour.

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Shape 1/2 -1 tbsp red dough into a rope, then do the same with the plain dough. Twist together and shape on the parchment paper in the shape of a heart, pinching the ends together. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake 10-12 minutes, until just golden brown on the bottom.

Transfer to a rack to cool.

Snack time!

Chocolate-covered cheesecake bites

1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (9-10 sheets)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
2 tbsp coconut oil

Line a 8″x8″ baking dish with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine graham crackers, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter. Stir until the mixture resembles wet sand.

Press graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the lined baking dish in an even layer. You can use your hands or the back of a measuring cup (it should be pretty compact). Place in freezer for at least 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine softened cream cheese, confectioners sugar, and vanilla. Stir until smooth; there should be no lumps.

Retrieve the baking dish with the graham crackers, and spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the crust. Return the pan to the freezer, and freeze 2 hours or overnight.

Transfer the frozen cheesecak ont a cutting board and remove the parchment paper. Cut the block into 2″ cubes.

In a medium bowl, microwave the chocolate chips and coconut oil in 20-second intervals. Stir in between and watch to make sure it doesn’t burn. You want the chocolate to be melted and smooth.

Dip the cheesecake squares into the melted chocolate to coat, dripping off the excess chocolate. Set them on a tray lined with parchment paper and return to the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Crab Cakes

2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup red and yellow peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 cup minced parsley
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 Old Bay seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp yellow mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 lb crab meat

Melt the oil and butter in a large, heavy skillet and add the onion, celery, peppers, pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium low heat until the vegetables are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, combine the crab meat, bread crumbs. eggs, mayonnaise, parsley, and mustard. Add the cooled, cooked vegetables and mix well. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

Remove from fridge and shape into patties. Heat a heavy pan over medium heat, and add just enough oil to cover the bottom.

Cook the crab cakes 5-7 minutes per side until golden brown. If they seem like they are scorching before cooking all the way through, lower the heat to medium low.

You can top with a dollop of sour cream, hot sauce, or drizzle of melted butter.

Mocktail Sangria

8 oz boiling water
1 black tea bag
1/4 cup sugar
8 oz cranberry juice
8 oz orange juice
2 cups sliced fruit (apples, pears, oranges, berries)
1/2 cup sparkling water

Pour boiling water over tea bag and steep for 5 minutes. Remove and stir in sugar until dissolved.

Combine tea, juices, and fruit. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Stir in sparkling water before serving.

For garnish, spoon in some of the fruit into each glass before pouring.

Strawberry Basil Mule

4-6 strawberries, hulled and quartered
6-8 basil leaves, chopped
4-6 oz ginger beer
2 oz lime juice
3 oz vodka

Please strawberries, basil and a splash of ginger beer in mug. Muddle well, then pour in the lime juice and vodka.

Let sit for a few minutes.

Stir in ice to chill, and top off with ginger beer. Garnish with additional strawberries, if desired.

Stuffed Mushrooms

3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp basil, julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 lb mushrooms caps, cleaned
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Place mushroom caps upside down on baking sheet.

In a small bowl, cream butter and beat in minced garlic. Divide garlic butter mixture into 2/3 and 1/3. Put the 2/3 garlic butter in the mushroom caps.

Melt remaining butter in skillet and add the breadcrumbs. Cook over low heat until toasted, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the basil. Stir in beaten egg.

Divide the breadcrumb mixture evenly between the mushroom caps, and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Steak Bites

1/2 lb top sirlion or filet, cut into 1″ cubes
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 onion, chopped
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp ketchup
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp white wine
fresh parsley, for garnish
salt and pepper

Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil, paprika, garlic, red pepper flakes, and ketchup together in a zip bag or medium size bowl. Add the cubed meat and mix well to coat. Put into the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Heat the remaining olive oil in heavy pan and add the onion. Cook onion over medium low heat until soft, then remove from pan. You want the onion to be translucent, but not caramelized.

Remove the meat from the refrigerator and take out of marinate. Reserve marinade for later. Turn up the heat to medium high, and add the meat to the pan. Cook 1 1/2-2 minutes per side until browned. Reduce heat to medium low, and add the tomatoes, reserved marinade, and wine, and cook 6-8 minutes, uncovered.

Serve with rice, noodles, crusty bread, or toothpicks for snacking.

Bacon Twists

1 premade pie crust
1/2 lb bacon
1/2 lb green beans or asparagus
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and tip green beans, or wash and break off the woody end of asparagus.

Unroll pie crust and cut into 1/4″ strips. Cut bacon into 1/4″ strips, trying to leave a little fat on the meatier side of each piece.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Place a piece of parchment paper or foil on a rimmed baking sheet.

Start wrapping each green bean or asparagus with the pie crust and bacon. You want to alternate the spiral down the vegetable. Make sure the ends are covered. Place wrapped vegetable on the baking sheet, and continue with the remaining pie crust, bacon, and vegetables.

Lightly brush each wrapped piece with beaten egg, and season with salt and pepper.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately, or let cool slightly (for snacking).

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