Friday, May 22, 2009

Simply Lovely

The time of year is here when all I want to do is get outside! The weather is starting to turn nice - beautiful blue sky, temps in the high 70s. And to top it off, a three-day holiday weekend - what could be better?!

Well, for starters, take all of the above, add one icy cocktail of your choosing, one handful of some delicious cocktail almonds, and you've got yourself the makings of one glorious day (or evening) out on the deck, porch, yard, etc.

My current favorite drink of choice is Vodka-Cranberry Lemonade (so refreshing!), and it could not be easier. I've just recently discovered "Simply Lemonade," this from the people who bring us "Simply Orange," and probably other "simply" drinks. The lemonade is not too sweet and mixes very nicely with Skyy vodka and a splash of cranberry. I'm sure some hip bartender somewhere has conjured up a cool name for this concoction, but my "simple" name will do.

Ah, now for the all-important cocktail nuts. I found this recipe on Epicurious (actually, on the very handy Epicurious app for iPhone/iPod Touch). Only five ingredients and made on top of the stove. You can whip these up in 5 minutes. They are just the ticket for a little spicy-salty snack to accompany your libation. Have a fabulous holiday weekend!

Chile-Roasted Almonds

3 TB peanut or canola oil
1-1/2 t dried crushed red pepper
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 pound whole natural almonds with skin (about 3 cups)
coarse Kosher salt

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add crushed red pepper and black pepper and stir to distribute evenly in skillet. Add almonds and stir to coat with oil-pepper mixture. Cook until almonds begin to darken slightly and mixture is fragrant, stirring frequently about 8 minutes. Transfer mixture to rimmed baking sheet; sprinkle generously with coarse salt. Cool completely. DO AHEAD: nuts can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temp.

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