Cranberry-Gin Cocktail

DRINKS WEEK! DRINKS WEEK! DRINKS WEEK!

OK, maybe we’re a little excited about this week around these parts, but it’s a fun one, and we have a beautilicious beverage to kick things off — Cranberry-Gin Cocktail with Candied Cranberries. Darcie’s original recipe has a great sweet-tart kick that’ll keep the party spirits high. And can you imagine a more Christmasy-looking beverage? Another nice thing — since the recipe makes loads of candied cranberries, you can snack on them by the handful, something I’ll personally vouch for, since I didn’t get to sample this drink until AFTER we’d finished shooting for the day. Those candied cranberries sustained me.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Cranberry Cocktail | Amy Roth Photo

Cranberry-Gin Cocktail

Serves 1
Meal type Beverage
Occasion Casual Party, Christmas
Get festive with this ruby-red cranberry-gin cocktail with candied cranberries. Tart & a tiny bit sweet with the scent of rosemary, it's holiday in a glass!

Ingredients

Candied Cranberries

  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Cocktail

  • 2oz gin
  • 2oz cranberry juice
  • 1 dash bitters
  • Pellegrino Melongrano e Arancia soda (to taste)
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • candied cranberries

Directions

Candied Cranberries
In a medium saucepan, heat 1/2 cup sugar with the water until fully dissolved, then remove from heat. Pour in the rinsed cranberries and allow to sit for 1 hour. Remove the berries with a slotted spoon and drain on a wire rack for 1 hour. Pour the remaining sugar into a bowl. In batches, roll the cranberries in the sugar. Return to the wire rack and allow to dry for at least 2 hours or overnight. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Cocktail
Mix the gin, cranberry juice and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour into a glass and top up with Pellegrino soda. Garnish with rosemary and candied cranberries and serve.

Himalayan Pink Salt Scrub

Himalayan Salt Scrub | Amy Roth Photo

While this is a cooking blog, I often reach into my pantry for DIY beauty treatments, so I’d love to share one of them with you today. I don’t know if my skin qualifies as “mature” juuuust yet, but it isn’t the grease bomb it used to be, so I’ve started to cleanse my face with oils rather than soap, especially in winter. As a result, I’ve accumulated a nice array of skin-friendly oils like apricot, organic jojoba, argan and vitamin E which I love to combine with sugar for a quick scrub. But it’s not the prettiest thing in the world, so I realized that changing the basic recipe can turn it into a lovely gift.

At its most basic, a scrub can be nothing more than salt or sugar plus oil, which you can then build on to your heart’s content. I kept this one simple, blitzing a cup of Himalayan pink salt in a spice grinder, mixing it with an equal amount of apricot oil, then adding a few drops of one of my favorite scented oil blends — Morocco, from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. But you can change up the base oil to the others I’ve mentioned here or pull some from the cupboard — refined coconut oil is wonderful for the skin, olive oil works well if you don’t mind the scent, and even canola oil works in a pinch! Add honey for a skin soothing effect. Instead of scented oils, you can go without or substitute essential oils — peppermint (energizing), lavender (relaxing), frankincense (a natural toner), geranium (improves skin elasticity), myrrh (a strong anti-inflammatory), and the list goes on and on. This site has a lot of great information on essential oils, if you’d like to explore the topic further. You can even add tea leaves — I think I’ll add some ground chamomile leaves in my next scrub for a nice, soothing scent.

So play around with the recipe and make it your own, then package it in a pretty jar tied up with a nice ribbon for a gift.

Be sure to check out Darcie’s post to learn more about the properties of salt scrubs and how she and her daughter enjoy their own beauty products.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Himalayan Pink Salt Scrub

Himalayan Pink Salt Scrub is easily DIY-able and makes a lovely gift.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 cup oil(s) of your choice (see associated post for suggestions)

Optional

  • a few drop essential oil (see associated post for suggestions)
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Note

Choose from any number of skin-friendly oils — apricot, jojoba, coconut, argan, or vitamin E, just to name a few — alone or in combination.

Directions

Process salt in spice grinder. Finely ground salt can be used in a facial scrub, so if that's your intention, really blitz it!
Mix salt together with remaining ingredients in a bowl. Adjust the amount of oil to your liking.
Pour into clean jar and add ribbon and a tag for gifting.

Cheddar-Bacon Dog Treats

Crunchy Cheddar-Bacon Dog Treats

Darcie and I are both dog lovers, so today’s post was a given for this year’s Advent Calendar. Gil and I adopted Ru (aka Rufus T. Firefly Roth) nearly nine years ago and, while we’ve always kept him active and never go crazy with his food, we don’t hold back from giving him treats he enjoys. Darcie’s family adopted a gorgeous puppy named Artemis this year who is every bit as active as you’d imagine a puppy to be! While Ru and Artemis may differ in age and temperament, they’re unified in their approval of these bacon-cheddar dog treats. Make a batch for your own pampered pooch or as a gift for the dog-lover in your life. We promise they’ll be gone in a flash!

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Bacon-Cheddar Dog Treats

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 pieces cooked bacon (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

In a food processor, pulse the oatmeal until floury, but still slightly chunky. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until well combined and evenly distributed.
Form dough into a ball and roll out about 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to form shapes as desired.
Bake for 30 minutes at 400°F (200°C), or until browned and crispy. Let cool, package and distribute to deserving pups!

Sichuan Party Mix

We started yesterday with sweet, and move on to spicy today with this savory and tongue-tingling Sichuan Party Mix. Check out Darcie’s post for a little backstory involving her days in Shanghai, which provided the inspiration for this terrific recipe!

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Sichuan Party Mix

Allergy Peanuts, Wheat
Meal type Snack
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
This Sichuan Party Mix couldn't be easier to make — toss everything together, then bake!

Ingredients

Sichuan Party Mix

  • 1/2 cup pretzels
  • 1/2 cup soup crackers
  • 1/2 cup sesame melba rounds
  • 1/2 cup salted, roasted edamame
  • 1 cup salted, roasted peanuts

Seasoning Mix

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried, sliced Asian chilies
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Directions

Sichuan Party Mix
Toss all of the nuts and crackers together (feel free to change up the mix according to your taste).
Seasoning Mix
Melt the butter in a microwavable bowl and stir in the spices until well combined.
Pour seasoning mix over the party mix and stir to coat. Spread the mix on a baking sheet and toast in a preheated oven at 350°F (280°C) for 10 minutes, until fragrant. Allow to cool, then arrange in gift bags or boxes.

2016 Advent Calendar — Brigadieros

Assorted Brigadieros

Hello, it’s nice to see you again! I thought I’d jump back into blogging with both feet, so welcome to this year’s Advent Calendar, a joint effort with my friend and local food stylist, Darcie Hunter. In addition to her beautiful styling work, Darcie’s an excellent cook and a recipe developer, so we thought it’d be a lot of fun to collaborate on the calendar for this trip around the sun. For the next 25 days, you’ll get holiday posts, recipes and gift ideas when you visit either of our websites.

We’ve decided to break up the month into weekly categories to bring a little more organization to this endeavor than you’ve seen in years past. Today through Sunday, we’ll have gift ideas for family and friends (including those of the four-legged/furry variety). Starting next Monday we’ll bring you seven days of drinks, followed by a week of small bites, then a strong finish for Christmas week with sweet treats to enjoy while waiting for Santa.

So let’s get started, shall we? Our first gift to you is a recipe for Brigadieros, little Brazilian candies with a caramel base that can be customized to fit your tastes. These are fun to make with the kiddos and package well in a small tin for thoughtful, homemade gifts.

We hope you enjoy them. For the rest of the Advent Calendar, you can follow along here for my daily posts and check out Darcie’s posts at her website, Gourmet Creative. We’ll also be sharing to our Instagram feeds, @amyrothphoto and @darcie_hunter, so there will be no shortage of ways to find us each day.

Now, let’s get to cooking! We’ll see you again tomorrow.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Brigadieros

Allergy Milk, Tree Nuts
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable
Occasion Christmas
These Brazilian caramel candies are simple to prepare and make a beautiful packaged gift.

Ingredients

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa per batch (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon gingerbread or pumpkin spice (optional)
  • sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut flakes, cocoa powder (optional)

Note

I've listed a few suggested flavorings and coatings as optional in the ingredients, so pair up the ones that sound good to you — cocoa with chocolate sprinkles, coconut extract with coconut flakes, etc. — or make up your own! And if you find a great combination, please be sure to let me know in the comments section.

Directions

Pour the sweetened condensed milk and butter into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 10-20 minutes, stirring continually to avoid burning. The mixture will thicken and darken. You will know it is ready when a spoon dragged through the mixture separates the caramel for a few seconds.
Remove from the heat and stir in flavorings as desired. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, scoop out small spoonfuls and roll into balls. Immediately coat in toppings such as sprinkles or nuts. Place finished Brigadieros in small candy cups and serve, or package in cute boxes for gift-giving.