Best of 2014

Here were are again dear readers, at the close of another year.  Time to look back and reflect on our successes in the kitchen.  Mine are almost all recipes that add little nutritional value to your life.  So if you’re looking for help with your resolution, that’s another blog.  Sorry!

Click on the pictures to go to the recipes.

chocolate crunch bars.

banana walnut baked oatmeal.

funfetti cookies.

garlic and herb bread twists.

black bean burritos.

best chocolate chip cookies.

pounded cheese.

swedish pancakes.

chubby hubby cupcakes.

brown butter cherry bars.


toffee tiramisu.

cheddar tailgating bread.


chocolate peanut butter globs.

candy cane cookies.

And two non-recipe posts:

brownie taste test.


Want to know what else is good here?  Check out the best of 2013, and 2012.

Cocktails {sidecars}

All of you non-Type-A-ers out there know what you’re doing, don’t you?  At least, when it comes to summers.


In the past, my summer lists have been chock full of FUN THINGS that I MUST DO.  Pretty sure that making any sort of to-do list in the summer is illegal.  Or, any to-do list with FUN THINGS.  FUN THINGS shouldn’t be on to-do lists to be crossed off as fast as possible.  They should be done because the mood is right and because you intend to enjoy them fully. That’s more what I was going for with this year’s list.  I wanted to kick my Type-A tendencies to the side and see where the summer took me.  I wanted to set an attitude for the summer and see if I could keep it up all 10 weeks.

So far so good.

When my husband and I sipped blood orange margaritas on the fourth of July (a new annual tradition I fully embrace), I asked if we could spend the rest of our summer trying out new cocktails.  He was game.


I’m not counting that as adding to my list.  I just want to drink more cocktails.  No specific plans for what they are, what’s in them, or how many I have to make.

We started with Elsie and Emma’s take on the sidecar. I didn’t have sweetened lime juice, so I made a batch of simple syrup (you can do it, dear readers, it’s called simple for a reason…boil 1 C water, add 1 C sugar, stir till dissolved), and added a squeeze of the fresh stuff.  We don’t have mason jars at home, but I hoard Bonne Maman jam jars like, well, it’s my jam, so I shake my cocktails in those.

To make one drink, you need to:

Combine 3/4 ounce triple sec, 3/4 ounce bourbon whiskey, 1/2 ounce sweetened lime juice (make your own or buy one—I used Rose’s brand), a small squeeze of lime juice in a small mason jar seal, shake and pour over ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Pesto Week – Friday

Dear readers, welcome to pesto week here at A Glass of Milk.  I’m hoping your garden is bursting at the seams with basil, just like K’s.  Since she asked me what to do with all that green, we’re spending the week talking about my favorite herb, and my favorite sauce.  Which also means taking a trip down memory lane.  Enjoy the ride!

Except today isn’t about pesto.  Today is just about basil.  It’s Friday.  It’s my birthday!  We’re breaking the rules!  It’s time for a drink.

I dare you to slip some vodka into this baby.  It remains the beverage of my dreams.

You know the day you can smell spring coming?  When it has been too cold for too long and suddenly you walk outside and it just feels different?  The first day you roll the windows down in your car?

I call it a Dave Matthews day, because that’s the kind of mood I’m in.  I switch to my “Chill” playlist and need fresh flavors in the kitchen.

In the fall and winter, I drink milk, water, beer and wine.  That’s it.  I don’t drink juice, I don’t drink soda, I don’t drink coffee(!).  Empty calories.

In the spring and summer I break my rules for lemonade.  I cannot resist fresh-squeezed.  I played around with the perfect ratio of lemons to water to simple syrup (and the ratio of sugar to water in that) and then I found this.  Giada.  You have truly outdone yourself.  Many reviewers called for more water, and I got on board with that.  But if you watch Giada make this, you’ll notice the glasses into which she pours the finished product are almost completely filled with ice.  In my head, a happy place where Giada can do no wrong, she has the situation covered with her large, ice-filled glasses.

The basil simple syrup makes the lemonade (do you believe it?) even cooler and more refreshing.  It feels like a drink someone would offer you at a spa.  Definitely one worth sipping on the porch.

**Updated** Ummmmmm, this is pretty much destiny, folks!  Now back to the show…

Italian Lemonade

*adapted from Giada De Laurentiis…I did add more water, and only filled the glasses with a couple of cubes of ice.  I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live their life.  Lemonade is a matter of taste as well as personal convictions.  You may enjoy different amounts of water, sugar and lemons.  This was what worked for me.

  • 2 C lemon juice (12-15 lemons)
  • 4 C water, flat or sparkling (ooh la la)
  • 1C water
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 bunch basil, washed and stemmed
  • Ice
  • lemon slices and basil sprigs for garnish (ups the glam factor)

First, you’re going to make basil simple syrup.  Simple syrup is sugar that’s heated up with water until it dissolves.  Basil simple syrup is sugar that’s heated up with water until it dissolves but also has basil added for infused flavor.  Don’t you want to be able to say you made a basil infused simple syrup?  You’ll be ready for Top Chef in no time!

Pour 1 C flat water in a small sauce pan, with basil and 2 C sugar.  Stir, stir, stir, until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Strain syrup through a fine mesh sieve.  Discard the basil leaves.  They’ve given you all they could.

From there, pour the lemon juice, simple syrup and water in a pitcher and give it a stir.  Serve in cute little glasses with ice and a lemon twist.  Get ready for spring.

*I am posting this under drinks as well as cocktails because it has serious potential.

It’s Cocktail Time!

Man, do I miss me some Sandra Lee.  Is she still on TV?  I remember watching her in high school and cracking up over her excited, “It’s Cocktail Time!” at the end of each episode.  I don’t think I understood what an exciting time cocktail time is.  Now I know.  In fact, the way my summers go, the months of June through August are pretty much one giant, extended cocktail time.  Here are three recent faves:

blood orange margaritas

1.  Blood Orange Margaritas

Holy yum!  These are a handmade specialty of one of my childhood neighbors, and you’re going to have to invest in some blood orange concentrate (nectar of the gods) if you want to make them as he did.  Until I can be convinced to spend $100 for three containers (check out the shipping costs!), I may have to tide myself over with Deb’s version.  In the meantime, here’s my neighbor’s:

In a cocktail shaker, mix 2 oz. tequila, 3/4 ounce Cointreau, or other orange liqueur, 1 T blood orange juice concentrate.  Fill with ice, and round out any remaining space in that shaker with margarita mix. Shake and serve on the rocks.

2.  Rum and Tonics

Said neighbor’s wife joined us for an impromptu barbecue on the fourth and showed up at our doorstep with hard liquor.  That’s my kind of gal.  She introduced my vodka-inclined little self to rum and tonics, and I’m so glad she did.

Start with some ice in a fun glass.  Looks like Crate and Barrel has the right idea.  Pour in a little bit (no more than an inch) of Mount Gay Rum, and fill the rest with tonic water (not to be confused with sparkling water or seltzer).  Squeeze in a slice of lime before serving.


3.  Panaché (pictured here without ice because I can’t be bothered)

This is the simplest of shandies, which seem to be having a moment this summer.  I’ve enjoyed this stuff for years, but never thought to make my own at home.  Panaché (pan-nah-SHAY) is refreshing, bubbly, and a lightweight’s version of hillbilly lemonade.  Perfect after you’ve come in from a hot, sticky day.

Fill a glass with ice (or don’t, if your ingredients are cold and you’re okay with it).  Fill half with beer (nothing with too much flavor, I always go Miller Lite in this case), and half with Sprite.

No matter which you choose to make, happy Friday, and cheers, dear readers!

The Way You Know About a Good Melon

You know what I’m talking about.

When I saw this, the most gorgeous video in the world, which I’ve since watched at least 8 times, I knew exactly what my evening would look like.  I just knew.

cheers to boozy milkshakes

Side note–my evening was already scheduled to involve Breaking Dawn, Parts 1 and 2.  Adding boozy milkshakes to the mix was the icing on the cake.  Or in this case, the whipped cream on the milkshake.

And so I went about my day.  I walked on the beach with Wooden Nickels and CV(D), I started a book I need to read, and I went to the grocery store.  I cuddled with Baby O.  I made dinner, much like I usually do.   I tried to eat my veggies.

boozy assembly

But all the while, there was this nagging thought in the back of my head.  Boozy milkshakes.

And so, in between (spoiler alert!) Bella becoming a vampire, Renesmee growing up at a frightening rate, and Baby O joining everyone who’s anyone on Team Jacob, my night became complete.

boozy aerial view

These milkshakes, quite simply, are the best things to come out of my kitchen in longer than I care to think about.  It’s not that anything I made was bad,  It’s not even that anything I made wasn’t good.  These are just in an entirely different category.

boozy milkshakeTo make them, you’ll want some quality homemade hot fudge.  You can make this as early as 10 days in advance.  Though I would venture a guess that if you make it 10 days before you want boozy milkshakes, there will be no hot fudge left.  The hot fudge is deep, and dark, and silky smooth.  I made mine while sipping on my first beverage of the day.  I’m on vacation.

hot fudge

To make a generous amount of hot fudge, you will need:

  • 2/3 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 C light corn syrup
  • 1/3 C dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped and divided
  • 2 T butter

Place cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and 3 oz. chocolate in small saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until just so slightly thickened.  Remove mixture from heat and stir in remaining chocolate and butter.  Use immediately, or let cool, and store, covered, in the fridge.

You’ll also want some whipped cream.  I find it works best if you ask a friend to make it, so you can focus on what’s most important.  Which booze should be a part of your boozy milkshake?

CV(D)'s whipped cream

Thanks for whipping the cream, so I could agonize about liquor, CV(D).  You’re a true friend.

To make whipped cream, you will need:

  • 1 friend who knows whipped cream tips and tricks, like putting the mixer beaters and bowl in the freezer in advance of needed them
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 2 T powdered sugar (fun fact…CV(D) uses granulated sugar)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (CV(D) won’t hear of this; she deems it unnecessary)

Beat all ingredients till you can flip the mixer or whisk over, and the mixture holds its shape.

When you’ve settled on the booze of your choice (Baileys, please), get things whipped up in your blender.

To make the milkshakes you will need (for each shake):

  • 3 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 1 C milk
  • 1-2 oz. Baileys Irish Cream (or liquor of your choice)

Blend ingredients in blender till smooth.

Lace a drinking glass with hot fudge, pour in your milkshake, and top with whipped cream and more hot fudge.  Enjoy with vampires and werewolves.

team jacob

*If you, like so many, are wondering on which side of the Jacob/Edward battle lines your baby lies, may I suggest placing her in front of the television when one character appears alone.  If, five seconds later, she begins to wail like her life depends on it, she is likely not a member of said team.  Just a suggestion.

You Could Use a Drink

When Wednesday hits, its annoying little sister, Midweek Slump, always comes right along with it.  In case you need a pick-me-up dear readers, swing by Whole Foods on the way home and grab what you need to make this little cocktail, the Pom Pom Fizz.

Three items.  That’s it.  Vodka (which happens to be something I always have in stock), pomegranate soda (I found this at Whole Foods), and lime.  Really, it’s only half a lime, so mix drinks, and whip up some guacamole while you’re at it.  Bam.  Feels like the weekend now, doesn’t it?

I found the recipe for this gem in a recent West Elm catalog.

To make a Pom Pom Fizz, mix 2 oz. vodka, 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice, and 4 oz. pomegranate soda* in a glass.  Add lots of ice, give your cocktail a stir, and garnish with a slice of lime.**

*You can absolutely use pomegranate juice here.  Pomegranate soda is some hard stuff to find.  You’ll just have to take the “Fizz” out of the title.  Or, add 1 oz. club soda and 3 oz. pomegranate juice instead.

**Now I have leftover pomegranate soda/juice.  What the heck do I do with it?  Great question, dear readers.  You have two options.  1.  Make more drinks!  2.  Add it into your next mimosa, either with, or without OJ.

Week in the Life, Wednesday

Last Wednesday was super low key, but I ended up taking as many pictures as I had on my busier days.

I also used that watermelon I cut into for lunch to make some Watermelonade.  Which I kept wanting to call waterlemonade.  See how they’re different but confusingly the same?  I can’t believe I haven’t made a single batch of lemonade yet this summer; it was long overdue.  This was my post-run, cool-down drink, but I wouldn’t be opposed to adding a splash of you-know-what if you used your watermelonade as a pre-dinner cocktail.

Blend 4 C watermelon in a blender.  This took some stopping and stirring on my part, and I have a good blender.  I did lots of pre-wedding blender research like a good desperate housewife.  Pour through a strainer and into a small container.  Pull together your favorite lemonade recipe (I wouldn’t judge if it came from the grocery store), and add 2 or 3 tablespoons of watermelon juice to each glass.  Serve over ice.


*No idea what you just came across on your favorite cooking blog?  Last week, inspired by Ali Edwards, I took my camera everywhere to document a week in my life.  Read more about the project here.



Social Networking, or, Embracing Your Inner Hillbilly

Folks, let’s talk about Twitter, shall we?  Brother Bear asked me to join a couple of years ago, and I started as a big Twitter lurker.  You know, I followed a couple of people I knew in real life (Brother Bear, Queen Cupcake and my uncle), and a handful I admired from a great distance (The Pioneer Woman, Bakerella, Sprinkles Cupcakes, you know, important people).  I tweeted once on August 18, 2009 and promptly fell silent.  Twitter was just another vehicle for stalking, but I rarely shared my own insights.  Time passed.  I spent said time learning the nuances of social networking.  Something major happens–do you update your Facebook status or Tweet about it?  Both?  I picked up all kinds of nifty tricks like how to use a hashtag and how to retweet someone else’s billiantly witty comments.  And I fell in love.  I don’t follow a crazy number of people, nor do I tweet more than a couple times a day, but that doesn’t mean I’m not completely and totally hooked on Twitter.

It recently helped me put together the best summer drink I’ve had in a long time.

As I’ve already let you know, I have a penchant for slipping vodka into unsuspecting fruit juices all summer long.  Have you tried it yet?  Please do.  It works with just about anything.  You could have vodka and orange juice if you’re missing your college days (or if you’re still in the middle of them–and then I’m jealous), you could have a vodka cranberry if you’re about to head out on the town for a night of dancing, or you could have a vodka soda if you’re a straightforward kind of person.

Or, you could mix up some Porch Crawlers and let the night take you wherever it wants to go.  Because these are serious business.  I found them on one of my favorite haunts, The Bitten Word.

An aside–Do yourself a favor, click on that link, and read through the comments.  People have been making this drink for a long time, and have all kinds of nicknames for Porch Crawlers, a decidedly trashy cocktail. That particular moniker comes from the way you’ll have to make it up your front steps after a night of these.  Although I also liked Hillbilly Lemonade.

Through the power of Twitter, Zach and Clay helped me scale the recipe back from a drink made with a handle of vodka and a case of beer, to something that would quench the thirst of a much smaller crowd.  Which is not to say I didn’t make more than enough to go around.  Or that we didn’t finish every last drop.  Or that my husband and I haven’t polished off another pitched on our own this week.

To quote Cari Faye, these “smell like beer, but taste like lemonade.”  They’re like homemade summer shandies, with hard liquor to boot.  After one small sip of my own, each of our friends eagerly signed up to drink these for the rest of the night.  Pour them in Solo cups for an extra touch of class.

To make plenty of drinks for 6, you will need:

  • 2/3 bottle vodka (doesn’t really matter which)
  • 6 beers (something that isn’t packed with its own flavor, I used Miller Lite)
  • 2 cans frozen lemonade concentrate
Dump in a pitcher and stir.  Feeling really classy?  Mix this in a cooler (that’s how the original is whipped up).  Taste to see if you want to add more of anything.  Serve over ice.

Ugh [nantucket reds]

Moving is a marathon kids, not a sprint.

*Picture courtesy of my new Shake It App.  LOVE!

What they don’t tell you about moving is that it also involves packing, bubble-wrapping, sorting, giving away, downsizing and cleaning.  Oh, and unpacking.

But it’s not like I’m a stress eater or anything.

The one perk I found is that you have to drink yourself out of your old place before moving into your new one.

Nantucket Reds!  They were a great send off for summer.  Perfectly bubbly and refreshing.  And they hit the spot after a marathon session under piles of cardboard and packing tape.   You will need:

  • champagne
  • cranberry juice
  • lime wedges or slices if you’re going for elegant

Fill a champagne flute with 2/3 champagne, 1/3 cranberry juice.  Squeeze in your lime juice and throw in the wedge for garnish.