Have Plate Will Travel : 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cocktails trend towards savory, culinary creations for 2015



The New Year comes with predictions on food trends, flavor explosions and culinary exploration. Food isn’t the only culinary area with hot trends for 2015. Cocktails and alcoholic beverages have become an expansive category and the topic of trends. 

In the Chicago area, several restaurants and bars have been leading trendsetters in the world of cocktails and alcoholic beverages. From the popularity of the craft beer and microbrew movement to artisan cocktails, Chicago has a wide variety of cocktail focus locales. 

For 2015, restaurateurs and culinary experts predict the following trends for alcoholic beverages and cocktails/cocktail ingredients. 

Alcoholic Beverages
1. Micro-distilled/artisan spirits
2. Locally produced beer/wine/spirits
3. “New Make” whiskey
4. Food-beer pairings
5. House-brewed beer

Cocktails/Cocktail Ingredients
1. Onsite barrel-aged drinks
2. Regional signature cocktails
3. Culinary cocktails
4. Food-liquor/cocktail pairings
5. Edible cocktails

Whether you head to the newest Tiki Bar, local watering hole or upscale cocktail lounge, explore the menus for the 2015 trends in beverages. One sip could change your perspective on the traditional cocktail.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Seasonal batch cocktails are a perfect excuse to raise a glass

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Thomas’ seasonal flavors satisfy all day long

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thanksgiving cocktails toast to warm memories around the table

Thanksgiving celebrations bring families and friends together around the table. While the plans for the food may be elaborate or simple, a festive drink for the day can make the food taste event better.

Sauza Tequila and Skinnygirl have created some thanksgiving inspired cocktails that pair perfectly with the turkey and fixings.

Sauza® Pumpkin Pie-tini
  • 1 ½ parts Sauza® Blue Reposado 100% Agave Tequila
  • 3 parts cream
  • ½ part Torani® Pumpkin Spice Syrup
  • 1 part simple syrup
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • Whipped Cream and cinnamon for garnish (optional)
Preparation: Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with whipped cream and cinnamon (optional). Enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Margarita
  • 1 ½ parts Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • ½ part DeKuyper® Triple Sec
  • 4 parts cranberry juice
  • 2 parts orange juice
  • 2 oranges
  • ½ cup cranberries, frozen
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
Preparation: First make your garnishes. Freeze ½ cup of cranberries. Using a channel knife cut a long spiral from on orange (see if you can make it all the way in one try!) and cut into 6 inch pieces. Twist the peels around your bar spoon and reserve for garnish.
Zest the other orange with a spice grater to remove just the peel and none of the pith and combine with sugar.
Cut the zested orange into wedges. Rub a wedge of orange around half the rim of your glasses. Roll the glasses through the sugared orange zest.

In a shaker, combine the rest of the sugar and orange zest mixture with the cranberry juice, orange juice, Sauza® Blue Silver, orange liqueur, and the juice from the orange. Twist the orange peel over the drink and place on the prepared glass. Top with frozen cranberries and serve your cocktail! Salud!

Pumpkin Spice Sipper
  • 1 ½ parts Skinnygirl® Bare Naked Vodka
  • 1 part canned unsweetened pumpkin
  • ¾ part fat free sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ part unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ tbsp pumpkin pie spice
Preparation: Shake ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

Turkey Day Toast
  • 3 parts Skinnygirl® Prosecco, chilled
  • 1 part grapefruit juice, chilled
  • 1 part cranberry juice
  • 1 part ginger ale
  • Grapefruit slice for garnish
Preparation: Mix all juice ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Top with Skinnygirl® Prosecco and ginger ale. Garnish with grapefruit slice and enjoy!

Holiday travel is less stressful with careful preparation



Starting with the Thanksgiving holiday, families start traveling near and far. From a quick trip to family for Thanksgiving dinner to a longer, relaxing journey over the Christmas holidays, these trips can be stressful for everyone. The key to keeping everyone happy on any trip is preparation. Whether the trip is an hour or a full day, a bag full of the right travel accessories can make any trip a happy one.

These six must have travel accessories can make your family’s holiday travel m
ore successful.

Energy water: Perfect for keeping energy up during a long road trip, HYDRIVE Energy Water is a lighter and more refreshing way to get a caffeine kick. At only 30 calories per bottle, HYDRIVE Energy Water comes in a variety of nutrient-enhanced flavors to help travelers stay alert and energized for the entire trip.

Noise cancelling headphones: Enjoy music in comfort with Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones. Music sounds deep, powerful and balanced while outside sounds are blocked out. With their sleek design and lightweight around-ear fit, they can be worn all day long and are easy to fit in a carry-on.

Therapeutic eye mask: Stay relaxed during holiday travel using Earth Therapeutics eye mask to sleep peacefully. The form fitting REM sleep mask contours to eyes for pressure free relaxation by molding away from eyes and lashes instead of pressing up against them. The mask allows relaxed eye movement and visual stimuli while blocking out distracting light, allowing for an easy sleep in a car or plane.

Portable power bank external charger: Don’t let the stress of a dying cell phone or laptop ruin a long trip. Charge electronics in a car, train or plane with the AViiQ Portable Power Bank. The power bank is packed with a large 4600 mAh battery bank and high output charging which can simultaneously charg
e two devices at the same time.

Packing cubes: Pack smarter this year with Eagle Creek’s Pack-It Specter Cube Set. Keep clothes organized without having to worry about the weight – three ultra-lightweight sil-nylon cubes weigh less than 2.2 oz., come in a variety of fun colors and are stain and water-resistant.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Foodies show their Disney Side at the Epcot International Wine and Food Festival

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Celebrate National Pumpkin Day with yummy recipes

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Flirty and festive with SkinnyGirl Cocktails, all the fun without the guilt

Taking a few moments to unwind over a cocktail with friends can be the highlight to a weekend. With all the festivities, everyone can overlook the empty calories consumed. But as Monday morning’s workout looms, the guilt from drinking too many extra calories can start the week with a lull. With Bethenny Frankel’s Skinngirl Cocktails: 100 Fun & Flirty Guilt Free Recipes, everyone can toast to the good life without calorie overload.

Enjoying a delicious libation doesn't have to be an indulgence of calories. With the Skinnygirl Cocktails: 100 Fun & Flirty Guilt Free Recipes, the classic cocktails have been revamped to ditch the calories yet keep the flavor. Simple modifications to the recipes creates drinks with approximately 150 calories per serving. In general terms, these cocktails allow drinkers to enjoy the moment and not focus on the punishing workout required to compensate for calories consumed.

The cocktails featured in this book are modifications to some class favorites as well as modern artisanal specialties. From a light aperitif prior to an elegant dinner to a decadent sweet night cap, the 100 recipes will keep the boredom at bay.

The key to keeping the calories low are the use of fresh ingredients. Fresh fruits bring enhanced flavors to each cocktail. Skipping the pre-made sugary mixes, these recipes focus on simple ingredients to highlight the taste of the cocktail. The result is a lower calorie cocktail that satisfies the drinker.

At the end of a meal, an after dinner drink can be better than a big heavy dessert. The Death by Chocolate is a sweet treat that satisfies the chocolate craving better than any cake. With just three ingredients, vodka, espresso and chocolate liqueur, this after dinner drink is sweet yet it overpowering. A few sips are better than any calorie laden chocolate cake.

Skinnygirl Cocktails: 100 Fun & Flirty Guilt-Free Recipes is published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. It will be available for purchase in paperback form on October 28, 2014.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Kitchen prep goes pink with Epicurean’s pink cutting boards

Incorporating pink in the kitchen isn't just a color statement. With the Epicurean pink recycled poly cutting board, pink raises funds for the Breast Cancer Research Fund. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Epicurean will be offering these fundraiser cutting boards throughout October on an annual, on going basis.
“We believe very strongly in BCRF’s mission, and are proud to be partnering with them on this endeavor,” said Tony Ciardelli, CEO of Epicurean. “At Epicurean, we are dedicated to giving back to the community, and joining the fight against Breast Cancer gives us another opportunity to help women and men in our own community, as well as around the globe.”

Epicurean creates strong, durable boards that are nonporous. With these boards, cooks do not have to worry about delamination, splintering, chipping or moisture absorption. The board’s measurements are 14.5” x 11.25”. It retails for $24.99.

The sales of the new pink board will benefit Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). Ten percent of all retails sales will be donated to this charity.

Epicurean believes that cutting boards can be fun and colorful. These recycled poly cutting boards are environmentally responsible, knife-friendly and dishwasher safe. Made from 100% post-consumer, high-density polyethelene, (like a milk jug), the cutting board can be recycled when its useful life is over. Epicurean cutting boards come in many fun shapes and colors. They retail between $19.99 and $34.99

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Combating jet lag during holiday travel

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Halloween inspired cocktails capture the spooky spirit

With Halloween falling on a Friday, adults are getting into the spooky spirit with their own celebrations. From an adults’ only Halloween party to a libation after trick and treating, adults are inspired by the holiday and flavors of the season.

While the kids are coveting their haul of candy, the adults can conjure up one of these Halloween inspired cocktails. From a warm, comforting toddy to a tart margarita, there is nothing scary about these cocktails.

Hot Pumpkin Tequila Toddy
  • 2 parts Sauza® Blue Reposado 100% Agave Tequila
  • ½ part DeKuyper® Mixologist Collection Ginger
  • 6 parts apple cider
  • ½ part real pumpkin puree
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Small lemon sliced into wheels
  • Whipped cream for garnish (optional)
  • Dash of fresh ground nutmeg
Preparation: In a non-reactive sauce pan, combine all ingredients except the whipped cream and heat just until steam rises then lower heat to keep warm. To serve, ladle into coffee mugs, top with whipped cream and dust with fresh ground nutmeg.

Candy Apple Margarita
  • 1 ½ parts Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • ½ part DeKuyper® Hot Damn! ® Cinnamon Schnapps Liqueur
  • 1 part lime sour
  • 1 part candy apple soda
  • 1 lime wedge (for garnish)
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge and enjoy!

Café Loco
  • 1 ½ parts Sauza® Blue Reposado 100% Agave Tequila
  • ½ part Kamora Coffee Liqueur
  • 4 parts coffee
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon sugar (1 part cinnamon, 4 parts sugar) plus more for dusting
  • Whipped cream
  • Cinnamon stick for garnish (optional)
Preparation: Combine hot coffee and tequila. Mix in cinnamon and sugar until dissolved. Float whipped cream on top and dust with cinnamon-sugar. Garnish with cinnamon sticks (optional) and enjoy!

Witches’ Brew-ski
  • 1 part Skinnygirl® Bare Naked Vodka
  • 1 part chilled light beer
  • 2 parts raspberry lemonade concentrate
  • Apple slice for garnish
Preparation: Mix all ingredients over ice and serve. Garnish with apple slice.

Scary Skele-tini
  • 2 parts Skinnygirl® Tangerine Vodka
  • 1 part fresh blood orange juice
  • Candy corn for garnish (optional)
Preparation: Combine blood orange juice and vodka in an ice shaker. Strain and pour into a frosted martini glass. Optional: garnish with candy corn. Enjoy!

Spooky Sipper
  • 1 part Skinnygirl® White Cherry Vodka
  • 3 parts lemon-lime sparkling water
  • Splash of cherry juice
  • Lime wheel for garnish
  • Cherry for garnish
Preparation: Pour vodka and cherry juice over ice. Top with lemon-lime sparkling water. Garnish with a cherry and lime wheel.