How to Spritz like an Italian

Friends of mine are in Italy right now, and every so often I get a glimpse of their adventures on my socials- the ancient streets, the vibrant markets…the afternoon spritz

I might have been jealous of their travels if my Italian friend, Margherita, hadn’t invited me and a few friends over to her place for a little aperitivo of our own. We each brought a few appetizers to share, popped open a bottle of prosecco and toasted the beginning of summer with Aperol spritz.

Lo spritz‘, afternoon happy hour in Italy, is designed to be social. It involves sharing plates, small bites and of course, the spritz cocktail. This effortless entertaining over seasonal, simple fare is my strategy for gathering with friends this summer and in a short blog series, I’m going to show you how to spritz like an Italian.

[Read more…]

Sparking Vanilla-Scented Apple Cider Party Punch

Last week, I gave in to the chilly weather and started wearing socks and sweaters. I simmered two pots of soup, made a pie and roasted off a few butternut squash for future baking projects.

October arrived, as did a carpet of ochre oak and maple leaves on our forest floor. Yes, fall is here to stay, and it’s getting me in the mood for Canadian Thanksgiving next week.

Because of our large extended family, we will celebrate Thanksgiving with a couple of events here and there over the holiday long weekend. Then on Monday, Danny and I are hosting twenty people for a mid-day turkey dinner around our table. I’m still finalizing the full menu (so many favourite dishes to narrow down!) but I have settled on a punch to serve.

I have a go-to party punch for spring and summer – a raspberry rhubarb collins – and it serves me well for a range of warm weather occasions. But truth be told, I didn’t have a favourite punch for fall until I started testing in earnest quite recently.

Spices. Spirits. Syrups. Sweeteners. There are a dozen different directions one can go when it comes to creating a crowd pleasing drink. In the end, I stayed true to this blog’s mantra and kept things simple; today’s recipe for Sparking Vanilla-Scented Apple Cider Party Punch is my pick for pre-Thanksgiving dinner cocktail hour.

[Read more…]

Herbal Homestead Gin & Tonic

The summer days are long and hot here on our homestead, filled with chores that never quite seem to finish. But occasionally in the late afternoon, when the sun has already drifted down into the trees and the footsteps of the children are starting to tire, Danny and I cool down with a cocktail.

We sit on the edge the garden and absentmindedly tug at the weeds while conversing about our respective days. Time seems to speed up all of a sudden and the moments slip away as quickly as our gin and tonics are depleted.

Lately I’ve been mixing our drinks right in the garden, with a handful of herbs and a warm, sun-ripened tomato. Today’s Herbal Homestead Gin & Tonic is undoubtedly our new summer cocktail of choice, thanks to its fragrant herbaceousness and cucumber sweetness.

[Read more…]

A Simple Holiday Cocktail Hour (Recipe: Cookies and Cream Cocktail)

Written by Kristen.

This time of year it is so easy to get caught up in the elaborate and forget all about the simple. We host a much anticipated holiday party each year with friends but to be honest with you, although I love our holiday party, I have really been struggling with how I was going to fit it in with our already crammed packed schedule.

Our party is typically big, with a full dinner, dessert, cocktails, presents and games… but it was more than I felt like I could handle with life being so crazy this year. So instead of completely cancelling the party, I had to simplify.

A simpler option to a full holiday party is to host a simple holiday cocktail hour. This way we can still see our friends, celebrate the season together, yet I won’t be so stressed about losing an entire day devoted to planning and preparing for a big party.

Our friends are also busy, so they have welcomed the opportunity to socialize yet not eat up an entire evening. [Read more…]