Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reverend Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy, a rookie defenseman who's familiar to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fans, had himself an interesting game against the Florida Panthers last night. He got into his first NHL fight, scored his first NHL goal, and received his first NHL stitches after inadvertently blocking a shot with his face. The 5-2 win might have happened without him, but it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun. That deserves some recognition.

I was in love with variations on the caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil, last season. It's fruit crushed with cachuaca or clear rum, basically. But recently, I wanted to try something a bit different. No fruit, just spices. It doesn't look pretty, but it came out awesome.

Reverend Lovejoy

2 1/2 ounces cachuaca or white rum
1/2 inch of peeled, fresh ginger root, cut into slices
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 teaspoons sugar
crushed ice

After you prepare the ginger root and cinnamon stick, place at the bottom of a wide-mouthed glass. Add sugar. Pour in cachuaca or rum. Muddle spices. (A wooden spoon works best for this.) When the spices are blended in, fill the glass with crushed ice.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Letestu Limeade

Yes, yes, we all know Sidney Crosby is brilliant and blossoming into the hockey god potential people have known he had since he was a kid. The write-ups of last night's game included his name in the headlines. The 11-game win streak wouldn't have happened without his amazing 17-game point streak.

But, you know, Mark Letestu also scored two goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs last night. Along with Chris Conner, he's the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton call-up who I want to have a permanent place on the roster. He's worked hard on a small yet very feisty line with Conner and Tyler Kennedy.

I chose to name this after him because the alliteration was just plain irresistable. I loved Captain Morgan Lime Bite since I tried it this summer. Essentially, this is a spiked Sonic limeade, so if you live by a Sonic, you can just buy one and stir Lime Bite into it. But this is easy.

Letestu Limeade

1 can (12 ounces) lemon-lime soda
Half of a lime
2 1/2 ounces Captain Morgan Lime Bite
crushed ice

Fill a large tumbler halfway with crushed ice. Squeeze the lime over the ice, taking care not to let too many seeds get into the glass. (Pulp's fine.) Pour in the Lime Bite, then the lemon-lime soda. Stir gently.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kunitz Comes Back

Have you ever felt like maybe you were losing your touch at something you used to be okay at? And then you have a moment where you realize, "No, I'm still pretty good at this"? I had it when I made this particular drink earlier this week. I used Bigelow's Cinnamon Stick black tea as my base. When I tweeted about it, the person behind Bigelow Tea's account tweeted me back to say it sounded good!

Chris Kunitz might have felt that way, sort of, last night. Last season was a bummer for him--he spent much of it injured, and just wasn't right when he was on the ice. He was absolutely diesel against the Hurricanes last night, doing everything he needed to. He ended up scoring two goals, although the second needed to be cleared with the war room in Toronto.

I've named a drink after Kunitz. It's the first of these cocktails ever, the Cussing Penguin. It lightened up a loss when he hollered "Aw, fuck!" into a hot mic on live TV. But it's nice to have actual good hockey stuff to remember Chris Kunitz by, so I felt I should name this after him, too.

Kunitz Comes Back

1 bag Bigelow Cinnamon Stick or other cinnamon-flavored black tea
2 ounces bourbon
half a clementine orange (if you have a particularly big one, you may want less)
1 teaspoon sugar or Splenda
hot water

Steep the tea bag in a large mug filled 2/3 of the way with hot water. Give it 3-5 minutes while you peel your clementine and get the bourbon. When the tea's done, take the bag out. Pour the bourbon and sweetener in; stir. Gently squeeze the clementine half into the mug (don't let seeds or a lot of pulp get into it). Stir once more, and drink immediately.

Note on ingredients: If you can't find the cinnamon tea or don't want to buy a whole box, use a standard bag of black tea and add 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon to it while it brews. Chai tea will *not* work, trust me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Atlanta Beauty

I hadn't felt inspired lately. Neither had the Pittsburgh Penguins. After the debacle on 11/10/10 which I'll forever refer to as the Boston Bruins Massacre, things were looking pretty bleak indeed for our guys. There were several question marks. Two big ones were Marc-Andre Fleury and Evgeni Malkin.

Then on the 12th, the Penguins roared back to life with a 5-1 win over a severely injured Tampa Bay Lightning. (Hey, our team started the season with tons of injuries, so fair's fair.) Last night, they went to Atlanta to play the Thrashers.

The influx of former Chicago Blackhawks into Atlanta, as well as the fact that the Penguins were playing the second of back-to-back games, had me worried for a moment. So did the fact that Brent Sopel, a Thrashhawk who I normally like, scored the first goal, and it went unanswered for a very long time. But Fleury made some amazing saves. Then Evgeni Malkin, bless his heart, scored the first Penguins hat trick of the season! 4-2, baby! Everyone's right. I worry too much.

This is a drink that I made as a tribute to Atlanta. I actually drank this last night. It's a beautiful city. It gave us Coca-Cola and OutKast, the zoo has a lovely panda family, and it's got a fascinating mixture of old and new. It's also still a wonderful place for slumping Penguins players to come back strong. I love Atlanta!

Atlanta Beauty

6 ounces Coca-Cola or Coke Zero
2 1/2 ounces Southern Comfort Peach

Combine ingredients in a glass with a few ice cubes. Stir gently.

Didn't say it was gonna be complicated, right?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Go-Go Mojo

The Pittsburgh Penguins finally won their first game at the Consol Energy Center last night!

Really, that's the important thing. Alex Goligoski's game-winning goal in overtime broke the Consol Curse, *and* he did it in the cursed blue uniform! On the power play, even! That's some powerful mojo on Goligoski's part right there. Of course, the reason last night's game against the New York Islanders was tied in the first place is because the referees screwed up. They called a clean shoulder-to-shoulder hit by Kris Letang on Blake Comeau (who has a future in Hollywood) an illegal head shot, giving Letang a major and a game misconduct. Since the Islanders actually aim for the net when they have a power play, they scored two goals fairly quickly. Comeau "healed" enough to assist on the second. I'm hoping the referee's smart enough to feel incredibly stupid today.

Last night, I made Mexican-style hot chocolate. This is the kind with the solid bars, not the powdered mixes. I added espresso-flavored vodka. When the Penguins couldn't seal the deal in the 6 minutes of power play Nino Niederreiter handed them, I added a bit more! I made the chocolate super-thick because the vodka thinned it out a bit. This isn't going to be an every-game thing for me simply because it's very rich and I don't want my super-loose jersey to fit perfectly again, but it's good for one night.

The measurements are weird for a reason. I want to stress that this will make 2 servings. A tablet of Mexican chocolate usually makes 4. I mixed in 2 ounces espresso-flavored vodka, but as I said, I added more a bit more and ended up with 3 ounces. My wife doesn't drink; she combined her hot chocolate with coffee and liked that lots.

Go-Go Mojo

1/2 tablet Mexican-style chocolate
2 cups milk
1 or 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash cayenne pepper
3 ounces espresso-flavored vodka per mug of hot chocolate

Heat 2 cups milk and 1/2 tablet chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Keep mixing with a wire whisk until mixture is frothy and starts to boil. Remove from heat; add sugar and spices. Pour into 2 mugs. Let it cool just a little, then stir 3 ounces espresso-flavored vodka into each mug.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Think of Engelland

The Penguins have had 4 regular-season games so far, but I haven't really felt like celebrating any team member's accomplishments. The fact that only one game has resulted in a win--against the badly mismanaged New Jersey Devils--is part of it. We're experiencing an early season Injuryfest again, with Staal, Orpik, Michalek, and Asham out. Frankly, I've been seeing a lot of lackluster play. The first few minutes of last night's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs (3-4 Penguins) pissed me off. Should've been watching the last miners come out of the Chilean mine anyway...

That doesn't mean there weren't a few enjoyable moments. The best by far was this fight between AHL call-up Deryk Engelland and the Leafs' goon Colton Orr. Orr got knocked the hell out, and that doesn't happen very often!

orpikEYES, a fan of the Penguins (duh) and cocktails, suggested naming a blood orange mimosa after Eric Godard, who's usually our designated goon. But I've already named this wasabi-spiced Bloody Mary after him. So, since Engelland took Godard's role by fighting Orr, he gets this named after him instead. It's simple but effective, like the Penguins' power play should be. Brunch is served, bitches!

Think of Engelland

Blood orange

Slice blood orange in half. Squeeze the juice from it, using whichever method is available to you. Strain out any seeds or pulp.

Pour champagne into a flute, filling it about halfway. Fill glass the rest of the way with blood orange juice, and stir gently.

Note on ingredients: Don't waste really expensive champagne on this. Also, if you don't want to squeeze an orange or can't find one, 2 ounces of bottled blood orange juice will work.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Staal-Healing Rum

I wasn't going to post this here. Sometimes I get complicated, and that doesn't seem right for this blog. Things like the lavender limoncello I made this summer are So Not Hockey. But when I mentioned that I'd made rum infused with pumpkin and spices on my Twitter account, a couple of my Penguins fan tweeps were very interested. So I'm posting the recipe here.

You can use this rum in many ways. I combined it with cream soda last night, which made the Penguins' first pre-season loss more bearable. Actually, I think my eyes rolled back, it was so good.

It won't be ready for the start of the season. You need at least 5 days to let the flavors really get into the rum; I let it go a week. You'll have quite a bit of the pie pumpkin left, so this is good if you're also planning to make something else with pumpkin.

One of those Penguins-fan tweeps suggested naming this after something else that's going to be worth waiting for--the healing of Jordan Staal's foot! I know I'm looking forward to that, as much as I looked forward to drinking this all week. This may not actually have curative properties, but you won't care.

Staal-Healing Rum

Small pie pumpkin
1 vanilla bean
2 cinnamon sticks
About 5 whole cloves
1 750 ml/quart bottle dark rum

Cut the pie pumpkin into pieces and remove seeds. Use a vegetable peeler to shave several thin ribbons, about 5 inches long, off a piece of pumpkin. Break the cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean in half.

Place pumpkin ribbons, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, and cloves in a 1 1/2 quart glass container. (Pitcher, jar, etc.) Seal tightly. Put it in the fridge or not, but do not touch for at least 5 days! Use as you want (straining out pumpkin and spices, of course) after that.

If you use vodka instead of rum, the flavor's a bit different, but it makes awesome martinis for Halloween.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Big Taste Sangria

I promised simple recipes that can be assembled right before the game or during intermission here. Sangria is simple, but you can't make just one serving and, if you really want it to be good, it needs to chill in the refrigerator overnight. But you have time before the Penguins' season officially starts on October 7. This is enough to give 6-8 people a glass, so it's good if you're having people over to watch the game or were asked to bring something to someone else's house.

Evgeni Malkin not only scored a goal in September 25's pre-season game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, he proved that Russians can too fight by beating the hell out of Rick Nash. He stated that he liked sangria in an interview during the summer of 2009, and so I named this sangria after his description of the champagne he drank from the Stanley Cup. Sangria almost always has "big taste."

I made this last week using fall fruits--figs, pears, plums. Tempranillo is a Spanish red wine. It's usually inexpensive. Any Spanish red will do; if you can't find that, shiraz will work. Sangria's a great way to salvage cheap wine, so don't go wasting an expensive bottle on this if you try it. Also, maybe you'll want to wear the black jersey on opening night.

Big Taste Sangria

1 bottle Tempranillo or other Spanish red wine
2 shots apricot brandy
2 Tbsp sugar
1 plum, well-washed (not peeled) and quartered
1 small-to-medium pear, well-washed (not peeled) and quartered
2-3 ripe figs, peeled and cut in half
Half a lemon, sliced
2 cups ginger ale

Get a large pitcher. Give the wedges of plums and figs you've prepared a squeeze into the pitcher, then put them in. Put in the pear quarters. Squeeze the lemon slices over the other fruit, then put them in. (The lemon will keep the pears and plums from turning brown.)

Pour the entire bottle of wine over the fruit. Add the brandy and sugar, then stir well. Chill overnight. Stir again and add the ginger ale just before serving.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hockey's Back!

Today, on the whole, has been a bad day. (I won't go into it; you've had yours, too.) We'll have bad days between now and Spring 2011. But now, we'll also have hockey on TV most nights to distract us! This automatically makes them a whole lot better than bad summer weekdays.

Okay, it's not the start of the season yet. As Penguins fans, we wait for October 7 with baited breath. But pre-season's just fine for now. We'll enjoy these games and see what the newcomers do and hope against hope that our favorite players aren't injured by the time the games that count roll around.

Since I'm married to a Red Wings fan, tomorrow's pre-season opener is particularly special in my household. It's special even though we can only listen to it on internet radio. We'll kiss on every Penguins or Red Wings goal, as per cherished tradition, which means we get to kiss on every goal tomorrow night! I hope all the goalies are sieves and the Wings' goalies are just a little leakier. Oooossss-goooood...

I've decided I needed to do a few things with the blog this season. I'm still finding a new layout I like. I decided that I will never again use my blog as part of a pride-bet with my wife, her best friend, or any other Red Wings fan. Last year, I talked myself into having to turn this blog red and white for 24 hours, including this disgusting and hastily-assembled logo:

*shudders* Never, ever again. I also had a real thing for using cinnamon schnapps in warm cocktails last year. I figured that I need to diversify my repertoire as we get into winter. I made this last night. There isn't a drop of schnapps, cinnamon or otherwise, in it. Depending on where you live, the weather may be cool enough to make you want to try it tomorrow night. If it isn't, it'll get that way soon, and isn't that awesome?

Hockey's Back!

1 bag licorice tea (I used Stash Tea's Licorice Spice)
2 ounces Pernod
1 ounce vanilla vodka
1 teaspoon sugar or Splenda

Brew the licorice tea in a mug half-filled with hot water for a few minutes. While that's brewing, combine Pernod and vanilla vodka, either by stirring in another small glass or shaking. When the tea is brewed, remove the bag and stir in sweetener, then Pernod and vodka. Sip slowly while it's warm.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Driver 14

"Stupid risks are what make life worth living."--Homer Simpson

Yes, this is still a hockey blog. But it's also still off-season. Many hockey fans coped with summer by turning to baseball (not fun for Pittsburgh sports fans). Some enjoyed the World Cup. Some are thrilled that football's back. And then there are a few of us who like NASCAR, meaning that we always get to watch at least one sport we enjoy.

I was a NASCAR fan first--took me a couple of years to stop referring to a hard check into the boards as "putting him into the wall"--and the love of my sports-watching life is Tony Stewart. Yesterday he had one of the strongest cars at the Loudon, New Hampshire race track. He came painfully close to winning, but he and his crew had taken a gamble on fuel, and he ran out on lap 298. Unfortunately, it was a 300-lap race, and stupid Clint Bowyer won it. Stewart came in 26th at 5 mph on fumes. Of the 12 drivers eligible to win the Sprint Cup championship this year, Stewart starts the Chase for the Championship, a/k/a "playoffs", in 11th place. Y'all better believe I cried.

I like many of the same things about the Penguins and Tony Stewart. Stewart thrives on adversity, even if he has to make it himself. His face is easier to read than the Cat in the Hat, a quality I also love about Sidney Crosby. He's quirky and funny. He'll piss me off, break my heart in three places, make me shake my head, but never, ever bore me. And then there are those lovely occasions when he cuts the bullshit, summons up his abundance of natural talent, and wins big. That makes days like yesterday worth it.

How boring would it be to watch a driver, player, or team who didn't make you sick occasionally? If you don't want your emotions taken from the mountaintop to the ocean floor and back, don't watch Tony Stewart or the Penguins. Don't watch racing or hockey, for that matter. Try Dancing with the Stars or some lame nonsense like that instead.

Oh, yes, and there's a recipe. This is what I've been drinking most weekends this summer. Who else would I name it after?

Driver 14

About 5-6 ounces cherry soda (Boylan's, Cheerwine, and Dr. Brown's are good)
2 ounces Captain Morgan Lime Bite
Lime wedge
Crushed ice

Half-fill a large tumbler with crushed ice. Pour in the rum, then the soda. Stir gently. Squeeze juice from lime wedge into drink.

Next post is about pre-season hockey--hell yeah!!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Hockey's coming back! The Penguins are coming back! No, really! So I decided to organize my blog a little bit better, update my links list, and finally make my logo grammatically correct. If you think I should link to your blog or someone else's, please let me know.

The roster's not completely set yet, but there will be some changes. We say goodbye to several players, with varying degrees of enthusiasm: Mark Eaton, Sergei Gonchar, Bill Guerin (okay, I keened over him for a day on my Twitter account, don't judge me), Jordan Leopold, and Alexei Ponikarovsky. The drinks I named after them are under the "past Penguins" tag.

We say hello to Arron Asham (several tomato juice baths and a Little Tree around his neck will help with the Flyer stink), Paul Martin, and Zbynek Michalek. I look forward to getting inspired by them, and any other new additions to come. Also, I completely forgot to name one after Alex Goligoski! I'll be fixing that next season.

While you wait and bite your nails, maybe you'd like a drink. This milkshake is nice and cold while it's hot outside, but uses good autumn-y flavors.

Taste of Hockey Season

1 scoop black walnut ice cream (butter pecan will do if you have to)
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce milk
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (maple/agave blend is a cheaper substitute)

Pour all ingredients into blender; blend until everything's mixed. Pour into a glass and drink immediately.

This one is perhaps a bit better for you, but it's cool and tasty and has an excellent green color.

Summer Street Hockey

1/2 cucumber, peeled
1 cup honeydew melon, in chunks
2 ounces light/white rum
1 ounce Midori melon liqueur
Handful of ice cubes

Blend all ingredients in blender until everything's the same consistency. Pour and drink immediately.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hockey and Cupcakes--What Else Do You Need?

Even though it's mid-July, cupcakes and hockey dominated my Twitter timeline late last week. The New York Islanders, who I really want to stay in the area just because I hate the Rangers so so much and don't want them to be the only hockey team in town, gave a local businesswoman a contract to sell cupcakes during games. Other hockey teams' fans made fun, but they're probably just jealous. You don't get tons of food choices in a hockey arena.

I can't have their cupcakes (although I'm certain a few will be thrown at me and L'Ailee's direction should we show up in Pittsburgh Penguins gear next season.) I can't have most cupcakes, because they contain eggs and I'm allergic to them. However, I could indulge in the Twitter hashtag trend that inevitably resulted. I tend to indulge in lots of Twitter hashtag trends. Oh, there was lots of fun to be had with #NHLCupcakes. These were mine:

Marc-Andre Fleury: Sweet, flaky, often tasty, but OH GOD STAY IN THE WRAPPER!
Martin Brodeur: Big enough to share with your sister.
Sidney Crosby: It only looks super-sweet and plain vanilla.
Brooks Orpik: Comes with Free Candy sprinkles, may damage internal organs.
Daniel Carcillo: Can be eaten without incisors, but tainted with rat hairs.
And the one my wife liked best:
The Detroit Red Wings: Bitter old ginger

Given all this, I wanted some cupcakes. L'Ailee bought me vegan chocolate-orange cupcakes from one of NYC's many, many cupcake shops for my birthday in March, but she can't remember which one. So really, my only choice is to get baking. (Hey, grocery stores need support, too!)

Non-vegetarians tend to get all lemon-faced at the mention of vegan baked goods, but if I'm going to be eating them, I can't really bake anything else. To make these, I blatantly ripped off a moist, tasty cake recipe at the Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen, poured it into a cupcake pan, then ripped off an orange frosting recipe from Southern Food. These don't rise quite as high as regular cupcakes, but you won't care. L'Ailee and her best friend sure as hell didn't!

Vegan Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup soy yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (I used Florida's Natural with pulp instead, because it's summer.)
2 tablespoons grated orange peel

Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray and dust the cups lightly with unsweetened cocoa. Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, vanilla, balsamic vinegar, water, and orange juice. Beat by hand or with a mixer on low speed just until well-combined, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the grated orange peel, and pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then pull out, using a knife if necessary. Cool the rest of the way on a wire rack. Then ice with...

Orange Frosting

4 tablespoons softened margarine
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons orange juice
finely grated zest of 1 orange

Beat margarine with vanilla until light and well blended; beat in powdered sugar slowly. Add a few tablespoons of orange juice and the orange zest. Beat and add more orange juice as needed to make the frosting spreadable.

Hungry yet? No, I don't know which hockey player or team those cupcakes should be compared with.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pina Colada Pie for Pensburgh

There was talk of having a baked goods recipe exchange at Pensburgh today among some of its Twitter users. (Thanks for the idea, @CariGoPens!) My favorite pastry has always been pie. This is a very summery one that won't heat up your kitchen too much. I had to make it tonight. It is actually half of an absurdly complicated recipe I found in Food and Wine magazine a few years back, poured into a pre-made pie crust. Even though this is a cocktail blog, there's no alcohol, sorry!

Pina Colada Pie

Nilla wafer pie crust, pre-made or homemade

2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water
10 thin lemon slices, seeded
1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
One 3-pound pineapple—peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (4 cups)

MAKE THE COCONUT CREAM: In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk with the sugar, butter and vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water; whisk the mixture into the coconut milk and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean. Pour the coconut cream into a shallow bowl, press plastic wrap directly on top of the cream and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

MAKE THE POACHED PINEAPPLE: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, lemon slices and vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the pineapple and cook over moderate heat until the fruit is translucent, about 15 minutes. Transfer the pineapple and its cooking liquid to a bowl and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

MAKE THE PIE: Spoon pineapple onto bottom of pie crust. Spoon coconut cream on top of pineapple. Serve and eat!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Trade Rumor Tamer

Just because hockey is over for the summer doesn't mean it's ever really, you know, *over*. We've been through the drafts, and now we have trades and impending free agency. My Twitter feed (@greeneyedlilo, if you're interested) and RSS feed have been bristling with rumors, what-ifs, and the attendant arguments about them. I'm sure yours have, too. My favorites are the ones about the Pittsburgh Penguins getting Dan Hamhuis and the squillionth Colby's-coming-back rumor. And if Marc Staal's really not happy with the New York Rangers, maybe he'd like it better in Pittsburgh with his brother...?

Whatever happens, July 1st is bearing down on us, and you're gonna want something to numb the pain a little bit. You'll also want something to cool you off in this hot weather.

Here it is. I got the idea for the flavor combination from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, whose owner is full of amazing ideas for things to do with ice cream. (Bananas pureed with Valrhona chocolate on top, anyone?) Yesterday, he suggested vanilla ice cream topped with peppermint syrup and cacao nibs for sweltering New Yorkers. I decided I wanted to try this at home, but use peppermint schnapps instead of syrup and run it through my blender. He compared his sundae to a York Peppermint Patty. Drinking this milkshake, I get the sensation that the heat and rumors will soon leave us, hockey will eventually come back, and one way or another, Ray Shero's gonna put together a winning Penguins team for the 2010-11 season.

The Trade Rumor Tamer

1 1/2 tablespoons cacao nibs
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
1 ounce milk
2 ounces peppermint schnapps

Pour all ingredients into a blender; blend until everything's mixed. It should look like a chocolate chip shake. Pour into a glass and drink immediately.

Note on ingredients: You can find cacao nibs in a health food or gourmet store. If you can't find them/can't afford them/don't like them, dark chocolate chips would probably do just fine.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Carrot Top on a Dare

MouthGuard, a frequent reader/commenter, dared me to make a drink and name it "Carrot Top" in, um, honor of the Philadelphia Flyers' Scott Hartnell. Since I am superstitious enough to make Sidney Crosby shake his head and say "Damn, girl," or whatever they say in Nova Scotia, there was no way in hell I'd try it until the Stanley Cup was safely in the Chicago Blackhawks' hands. (Anything but a Flyers win, was my philosophy.) I tend to Google recipe ideas so nobody can come here and tell me that, for example, the drink I named after Brooks Orpik was first created by Pierre McGuire, named "Leadership," and has been served in Philadelphia's best sports bar for years. Turns out there's already a cocktail called Carrot Top. I'm sure it's fine, but I had other ideas.

The "carrot" made me think of something that would taste like carrot cake in a glass. This cocktail purports to do that, but you'll see that something crucial is missing--namely, carrot. So I started with carrot juice. Also, I wanted to do something with Absolut Brooklyn, which is flavored with red apple and ginger. Frankly, I'd have liked it better in the fall and don't think there's anything particularly "Brooklyn" about this flavor combination, but it's good.

I came up with this. The Frangelico adds a bit of nuttiness and creaminess. Though it's martini-sized and worked nicely in a martini glass, I don't think it qualifies as a martini. My cocktail mentor sure wouldn't think so. Whatever it is, it matches Scott Hartnell's hair and his team's uniforms, but isn't nearly as repulsive as the Flyers organization or most of its players. Since it's the off-season, I'd even serve Hartnell one if he could swear he understands that Penguins are opponents, not food.

Carrot Top

2 ounces carrot juice
2 ounces Absolut Brooklyn vodka
1 ounce Frangelico
Dash or two of cinnamon
Cinnamon sugar to rim the glass

Combine all ingredients except cinnamon sugar in a cocktail shaker with 2 or 3 ice cubes. Shake thoroughly. Place cinnamon sugar on a plate; moisten the rim of a martini glass with water. Dip rim of glass into cinnamon sugar to coat. Strain liquid into martini glass.

Note on ingredients: I don't like to specify brands if I can avoid it--nobody's paying me to advertise for them and I don't want any perception that I am unless the company is actually delivering product to my home. However, I don't think any adequate substitutes for the liquors mentioned here exist.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Just because the Penguins' season is over doesn't mean the NHL season is over. Like me, many of you have probably decided that you may as well keep watching and see who wins the Stanley Cup. I knew the Chicago Blackhawks versus the Philadelphia Flyers was going to be difficult to watch. Game 1 last night proved me absolutely correct. NBC was at least considerate enough to bring in Ryan Miller as a commentator to balance the Flyers' collective ugliness. But as both goalies became sieves, the teams traded leads, and Scott Fucking Hartnell* scored, that wasn't quite enough.

When NBC broadcasted Penguins games during the regular season, I responded by posting recipes for blender drinks, mostly high-octane. The cocktails I post here are meant to be quick beer alternatives that can be fixed during intermission or right before the game. But nobody minds if one runs the blender while Pierre McGuire or Mike Milbury are talking, right?

A favorite high-octane drink of mine is the classic Zombie, which I based Salvaging the Game on during a particularly miserable game against the Vancouver Canucks. It certainly seemed appropriate for suffering through this series. However, I also wanted something cold and slushy. Also, I didn't want to track down a bottle of apricot brandy which I'd have to blow the dust off of before I could open it. Also, I had, as usual, lots of good fresh fruit and half a bottle of bourbon in the house . So I tweaked the basic recipe once again and made a...zombie-rita? Zombie-quiri? Either way, it's gonna get me through the rest of this horrid series just fine. The name reflects the reason to drink it.


1 apricot, peeled and seeded
1/2 cup cubed pineapple, fresh or canned
2 ounces orange juice
2 ounces light rum
1 1/2 ounces dark rum
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce Bacardi 151 (or other 151-proof) rum
2 handfuls of ice

Put the fruit and juice into the blender with 1 handful of ice; blend for about 15 seconds. Add all the liquor, excpt for the 151-proof rum, and the other handful of ice. Blend another 15 seconds. Pour into a tall glass. Float the 151-proof rum on top. Take a sip whenever a Flyer scores or NBC *sniff, sniff, sob* shows footage of Sidney Crosby hoisting the Cup.

* Isn't it amazing how, despite their varied ethnicities, Scott Hartnell shares a middle name with Chris Pronger, Alex Ovechkin, Martin Brodeur, Jimmie Johnson, and Carl Edwards?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Closing the bar for the season

I don't know what to say that many other Pittsburgh Penguins fans haven't said already, and probably better and with more knowledge than myself. If you're actually interested in reading my feelings about the Penguins, the season, and what hockey in general has done for my life, take a look at this entry in my personal blog.

I don't know if I'll be updating at all this summer, either. I'll probably do things like clean the house and go to museums and surf. And, of course, there's NASCAR. It's all up to Tony Stewart (who really needs to figure out what his problem is soon) and Kevin Harvick (who's leading in the points, yay!) to satisfy me and my wife's sports jones.

What I do know is that the Penguins' core players are young, and ungodly talented, and have a lot of exciting games left in them. It won't hurt them any to enjoy just one long summer, and they'll probably be all the better for having gained some perspective. I know we'll be saying goodbye to a few players, probably including ones we've come to like such as Bill Guerin (gonna miss looking at him!) and Sergei Gonchar. We'll be saying hello to some new players, too, and hopefully we'll come to like them as the 2010-11 season progresses. We'll say hello to the Consol Energy Center, too. As I thought real hard at Sidney Crosby during his exit interview last night, "They built a new playground for you and the rest of the team. Play like you own the place next year, 'cause you kinda do."

I couldn't help thinking of this song. It's one of my very favorites, has been since I was a little girl. Indulge me one more time.

"Hard Candy Christmas," Dolly Parton

Hey, maybe I'll dye my hair
Maybe I'll move somewhere
Maybe I'll get a car
Maybe I'll drive so far
They'll all lose track
Me, I'll bounce right back.

Maybe I'll sleep real late
Maybe I'll lose some weight
Maybe I'll clear my junk
Maybe I'll just get drunk on apple wine
Me, I'll be just...

Fine and Dandy
Lord it's like a hard candy Christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won't let
Sorrow bring me way down.

Thanks to all the terrific people who made this blog happen. See y'all next fall!

Cleaning out the Lockers--the Ukraine Train

I wish I had more to say about Alexei Ponikarovsky and Ruslan Fedotenko. Really, I do. If either or both come back, I look forward to the opportunity to get to know them well. If not, well, safe travels.

Watermelons and cucumbers are some of my favorite things about summer, and it's gonna be a long one. The watermelon one's named after Fedotenko 'cause it matches his cheeks.

Tenk Top Margarita

1 cup cubed, seeded watermelon
1 1/2 ounces gold tequila
1 ounce triple sec
1 teaspoon lime juice
Handful of ice

Blend all ingredients in a blender until good and slushy. Pour into a chilled margarita glass.

Pittsburgh Poni Daiquiri

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 ounces vodka
Handful of mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice
Handful of ice

Blend all ingredients in a blender. Serve in a tall glass.

Cleaning out the Lockers--the Shot Blocker

What else for Jay McKee but something that will have you taking lots of shots in one go? Those familiar with this blog know that when I want to get more than lightly toasted--like, oh, if the unthinkable happens and the Flyers are contending for the Cup, knock on wood--I head in the direction of the tiki bar.

The Shot Blocker

3 ounces pineapple juice (fresh if possible)
3 ounces orange juice
1 1/2 ounces Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (NOT blue curacao)
1 1/2 ounces dark rum
3 ounces bourbon
Crushed ice

Blend all ingredients in a blender for a few seconds, or shake if your shaker's big enough. Fill a big glass about three quarters of the way with crushed ice. Pour the liquid into it. Make sure the number of the local cab company's programmed into your cell phone.

Cleaning out the Lockers--the Backup Goalie

It's over. Damn it. But there are still a few items of business. I intended to name a cocktail after everyone who played for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2009-2010 season. I am missing four: Ruslan Fedotenko, Brent Johnson, Jay McKee, and Alexei Ponikarovsky. (I do not recognize Chris Bourque.)

This is a drink I made out of necessity. It is similar in execution to my SIL's "Punch in the Mouth," which was her way of dealing with half a bottle of sub-par syrah. What I had was sub-par New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a lot-lot of strawberries. Due to weather conditions, the market is awash in good, cheap strawberries, plus this had to be the year that I first successfully grew some myself in my container garden. The puckery-citrusy white wine and the strawberries played pretty nicely together, actually, so much so I want more this spring.

As a backup goalie, Brent Johnson was by definition called upon to help salvage a sub-par effort and keep resources from going completely to waste. He did a pretty decent job of it, including last night against the Montreal Canadiens. This therefore seems to fit.

The Backup Goalie

1 cup strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced in half
1 cup cheap New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
1 teaspoon sugar or Splenda
Handful of ice

Blend all ingredients to a puree in the blender. Pour into a tumbler. Easy.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Grilling is good for your hockey team

I haven't posted a single recipe during the semifinals, and we've already seen the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens play Game 4. (I'd prefer to just wipe that from my memory.) A lot of it is because nobody's really stood out yet. In some ways, this is a good thing. Versus had a cool statistic Thursday night--the 11 Penguins goals during this series so far were scored by 11 different Penguins players. This means we have some depth and most everyone on the ice is doing what they need to most of the time. In other ways...well, there are some issues that need to be worked on, including giving the Habs too damned much space. Also, Sidney Crosby has been as bottled up and frustrated as a teenage couple at a church youth group retreat.* As Penguins fans, we know that won't last forever. There's absolutely no reason why the Penguins can't take the Habs to school. Determination is a wonderful thing, but it can only go so far, and the Penguins have some, too.

My mother hasn't watched much hockey since she left Michigan for Florida in the early 1970s. Last year, she found it strange-sounding when I mentioned that I was grilling before a Penguins playoff game. Apparently hockey never used to be played when the weather called for grilling. Things have, of course, changed significantly since the 1970s. I decided then and there that a fan's grilling before a hockey game is a very good sign for their team. It means they're going deep into the playoffs and that much closer to the Cup. (Or else it means you're a Florida Panthers fan. Whatever.) The even better best thing is if your team keeps it going into June, so you wind up making salsa out of good fresh tomatoes and peppers before the game.

Anyway! Should the rain leave Brooklyn in time before Game 5, I'm grilling all kinds of yummy things this afternoon. The people who like to come to my house to watch games and races have varied tastes--meat eaters and vegetarians, those who love spicy things and those who can't stand them, Penguins fans and Red Wings fans. But everyone agrees on this recipe. It's not a cocktail, but it is sweet and involves a splash of rum. I hope to be making this before a few more Penguins games this postseason.

Grilled Pineapple Skewers

1 fresh pineapple
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
12 wooden or bamboo skewers

Cut the pineapple into 1 inch square chunks, or get it done for you where you buy it. (I try to do the latter whenever I can.)

Stir the rum, spices, lime juice, and maple syrup together. Lightly coat pineapple chunks with the syrup mixture. Wet the skewers some, then thread the pineapple chunks onto them. After you've licked and washed that yummy syrup off your fingers, brush the pineapple skewers with the syrup mixture one more time. Grill on a clean grill (or aluminum foil) for about five minutes, until it gets soft.

These are terrific on vanilla ice cream, or Greek yogurt if you're trying to healthify it a little. Spoon any leftover syrup mixture on top of that.

Ingredient notes: If you can't afford to use maple syrup that way, try a maple/agave mixture, mixing maple with honey, or just plain orange blossom honey. The honey will give it a different (but still very good) flavor. Whatever you do, please don't do like one of my friends and use that travesty sold as "breakfast" or "pancake" syrup!

*Yes, I used that simile on another forum. Like I'm gonna let it go to waste.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Superstar Daiquiri

Honestly, sometimes I come up with a cocktail and just wait for a particular Pittsburgh Penguins player (say that five times fast!) to "earn" it. So it was with this one. I fixed it over a month ago right before a game, just because I thought it would look cool, and it tasted good, too. I immediately thought of Max Talbot. But it wasn't the playoffs yet, so it had to wait a bit. He's been awesome against the Ottawa Senators in this first round, though, hasn't he? Last night, when he scored that shorthanded goal, there was no doubt that the Superstar was back and in fine postseason form.

Longtime (and unusually attentive) readers may have seen me post things about how I like to take advantage of in-season fruit, how I understand that nobody wants to go chasing all over town for ingredients, how I like to keep things easy, and how I hate garnishes. But as Talbot would no doubt tell you himself, he's a special case and worth a bit of extra effort during the playoffs. We're at the tail end of kiwi season. Fresh starfruit's pretty hard to find--what you'll get right now is grown in hothouses, and can probably only be found in Asian markets and/or stores in larger cities. Starfruit's pretty bland-tasting and is basically only there so I could get the "super star" garnish, so two kiwis would actually be better if you want to save time and money. Either way, it has a cool, almost poisonous-looking yellowish-green color that Talbot would probably love in a shirt.

Superstar Daiquiri

1 1/2 ounce light (a/k/a "white") rum
1 ounce Midori melon liqueur
1 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced in half
1 starfruit, sliced horizontally and peeled. (Save biggest piece for garnish.)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar

Pulse all ingredients in a blender until they're thoroughly mixed. Add a handful of ice cubes; blend until the drink's cold and frothy. Pour into a tall glass. Garnish with starfruit slice on the rim. Don't wait too long to drink it!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Annual Goal

My basil's coming up next week, I'm sure of it! Hopefully I'll be drinking this cocktail with some of those leaves as the Penguins continue in the playoffs. I have faith that they will, though, as much faith as I do in my basil, despite the fact that they lost Game 1 of the first round to the Ottawa Senators last night.

One of the reasons why I have faith is the fact that Craig Adams scored his annual goal. What a wonderfully well-timed goal it was, too. It brought the Penguins back from the 2-4 brink and energized the fans at Mellon Arena. I might have been bouncing on the couch shrieking, "Hell yeah, we can DO THIS!" I may be a bit late by my own standards, but I'm not letting that go unnoticed.

I put this together last summer. It's prepared like a mojito, but...well, not exactly. My decision to try basil because it was ready and the mint wasn't led me to a few other substitutions, though the end result *looked* like a mojito. The flavor, however, is refreshingly different. Enjoy!

The Annual Goal

2 ounces gin
handful of fresh basil leaves
1 scant tablespoon sugar
About 1/2 ounce lemon juice
2 ounces club soda

Put basil leaves in the bottom of a large glass. Fill halfway with crushed ice. Add gin, sugar, and lemon juice, then muddle the basil. (I like a wooden spoon best for this.) Top with soda water.

Note on ingredients: I usually use Sugar in the Raw, a/k/a demerara, for a regular mojito with mint, lime and rum. It'll be distractingly, jarringly sweet here. Plain white sugar works best.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Best Decision

Okay, the Washington Capitals have officially swept the Penguins. (I threw up in my mouth a little typing that.) There were a couple good things about last night's game, though. Really. The first is that, as so often happens when he plays the Capitals, Sidney Crosby went from "cute kid, great butt, super-awesome hockey player" to "oh, my, sexy as hell!" for the night. The second is that one of the two new guys, defenseman Jordan Leopold, scored not one but two goals for the Penguins last night. Leopold is a very capable defenseman, but not exactly a goal-scoring machine--these two goals brought him up to ten for the season. I find his attempts at Capitals-killing really charming. So does a Penguins fan I follow on Twitter, who described him as "BEST DECISION WE MADE ALL YEAR" last night. She gave the cocktail I fixed myself last night its name.

I'm warning y'all, this is gonna look *so* gross on the page. But it's pretty decent in the glass. My beloved L'Ailee thought she wanted grape juice this weekend, so she bought a big bottle. She enjoyed a couple of glasses, then got sick of it. I got sick of that bottle taking up valuable real estate in my refrigerator, so decided to try it as a mixer.

I love to, as a cooking mentor of mine put it, "echo" a flavor in multiple ways within the same dish or drink, so I bought myself an airplane bottle of Ciroc grape vodka. As you can imagine, Ciroc stirred into grape juice was awfully sweet, so much so I wanted to pour it down the sink. But I don't want to be wasteful, so what could I cut that grapey sweetness with? Why, grapefruit soda, of course. I got out a can of Fresca. I took a sip. I settled down with the resulting cocktail. Much like Leopold, it worked out pretty well after I gave it a chance.

Best Decision

4 ounces chilled Concord grape juice
1 1/2 ounce Ciroc vodka
2 ounces Fresca

Pour grape juice into a tall glass. Stir Ciroc into it. Float Fresca on top. Stir lightly.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Out of the Penalty Box!

I have got to be more careful when I pride-bet. But the 24 hours with that awful, awful red-and-white color scheme are OVER! So, I hope, are the Washington Capitals tomorrow night. The Caps may be a bit distracted--wonder why?

As I said, I'll be drinking Crosby Sucks in honor of the chants we'll be hearing all week. However, I thought of what I want to be chanting at my TV. This isn't my recipe--it's a classic cocktail that I enjoyed in my early twenties on the rare occasions when I really, really wanted to get hammered. Basically, it's jungle juice, but since it's blue and tastes citrusy, I loved it.

Adios Motherfucker

1 ounce gin
1 ounce light rum
1 ounce tequila
1 ounce vodka
1 1/2 ounce blue curacao liqueur
2 ounces sweet-and-sour mix
1 ounce lemon-lime soda

Shake all the alcohol plus sweet-and-sour mix in a shaker. Pour into tall glass with ice. Float lemon-lime soda on top.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sometimes I bet pride.

You'll notice the blog looks disturbingly different. Well, once again I pride-bet L'Ailee's best friend A., who is a rabid Detroit Red Wings fan like her. This time, the Penguins and I lost. I must maintain this disgusting color scheme for 24 hours. I have my beloved wife's ugly-ass Winged Wheel earrings in my earlobes, also for 24 hours. (This is the kind of fun two-woman couples can have!) I must put up a Red Wings screensaver on my work computer for the day tomorrow, and not change it until Wednesday morning. And I need to post this drink which would be good, except for the name. This was first created and named years ago.

The Detroit Red Wing

6 ounces Vernor's Ginger Ale
2 ounces cinnamon schnapps

Combine ingredients with ice in a tall glass. The Vernor's is important--it's very Detroit, and is the only good thing to come out of Detroit lately. My Michigander mother believes it has medicinal properties.

You can make that if you wanna, but I'll be making Crosby Sucks for the upcoming Capitals and Flyers games. Hopefully our captain will give them something to really complain about once again.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Stupid Shutout

It happened. Marc-Andre Fleury finally got his first shutout of the season against the Boston Bruins tonight! I have already named a cocktail after MAF, but so what? After all the hype about the asswhoopings about to be given and received, this is what I think needs to be remembered, especially since Fleury and our defenders had an awful performance against the New Jersey Devils just the night before.

I just put this together tonight out of things that looked appealing to me. Boy, I was craving strawberries. It's a bit girly and faintly pink, but hell, we *are* talking about a guy who allows people to nickname him "Flower". This is sweet, but with a bit of pucker to it, and it's as good as finally getting "that stupid shutout".

The Stupid Shutout

About 5-6 strawberries, washed and tops cut off
Dash balsamic vinegar
2 ounces Absolut Berri Acai
Lemon-lime seltzer

Place strawberries in cocktail shaker with just a small dash of balsamic vinegar. Mash them in the shaker with a spoon. Add Absolut Berri Acai and a couple of ice cubes. Shake like crazy for a minute. Strain out liquid into an old-fashioned glass; discard ice and strawberry pulp. Top with seltzer; stir or shake lightly.

Notes on ingredients: I have seen other acai-flavored vodkas besides Absolut Berri Acai, but not many. The Absolut has other flavors to it--blueberry and pomegranate. (I'm trying this with blueberries when the time's right!) Also, I do mean seltzer--Sprite, 7-Up, and the like would be far too sweet and overwhelm the other, more interesting flavors.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Of Staals and Shooters

We've gone an awful long time without Penguins hockey, haven't we? And the last game was marred by Matt Cooke's possibly season-ending hit to Marc Savard's head. Tomorrow night's game against the Carolina Hurricanes should be much better. I'm going to have to TiVo it because it's my birthday and I don't want to spend it in front of the TV, but I hope Bill Guerin gives me the gift of a hat trick and/or a really hot decisive fight.

What this game will almost definitely bring are a few (hundred) references to the fact that the guys named Staal on each team, the ones who look really similar, are, big shock, brothers. Last year, Kim and Zoe at Puck Huffers came up with the Staal Brothers Drinking Game. A drinking game requires a good shooter, and so I came up with this earlier in the season. It tastes good, and it's green, like the famous sod farm. (Some of you may therefore wish to try this next week.)

Staal Sod Farm Shooter

1 ounce vanilla-flavored vodka
1 ounce creme de menthe

Shake ingredients in cocktail shaker with a couple of ice cubes; pour into shot glass. Can be easily multiplied for multiple shots.

After I posted that, FrankD at Pensburgh suggested that I make a cocktail that is appropriately grassy, with chlorophyll or wheatgrass. Homer Simpson (okay, his writers) beat me to it. I'd have to drink a lot of something else in order to drink this, but I'll share it here anyway.


1 oz vodka
1 oz wheatgrass juice

Stir together in a shot glass, and serve.

Me, I'll probably be having a bourbon and "Come onnnnn, y'all, ya gotta have Diet Pepsi, not just Coke, right?" Hooks Orpik can help with morning-after recovery. To quote the great Sinead O'Connor, "If we can't be good, we'll be careful."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Open Bar

I didn't see anything particularly "cocktail-worthy" about tonight's game against the New York Rangers. It was an ugly game with a beautiful result--the Penguins gutted out a win. However, I've decided to take a moment just to explain a few things about this blog, now that the Olympics and trade deadline craziness is over.

I am an almost-36-year-old woman who loves to cook and fancies herself an amateur bartender. People came to our house all the time even before we won a huge hi-def TV. Back in early November, when it seemed that a new defenseman was getting injured every day, my friend B. decided to give me a penguin-shaped cocktail shaker "for watching your games with", as a joke. (I promptly told him I'd make him Hurricanes, as his Carolina Hurricanes had been having an even worse season at that point.) I shared this at Pensburgh.

During the next game, which was a loss, Chris Kunitz yelled "Aw, FUCK!" really loudly near an open mic. It was what everyone in Penguins Nation was thinking. I'd used that penguin-shaped cocktail shaker to fix a super-lemony variation on the French 75 cocktail. The drink seemed so right--sour, but tinged with sweetness. The Cussing Penguin was born. I posted the recipe to Pensburgh as a wry commentary on how the team was doing.

"I hope you can post a celebratory drink," said Hooks Orpik. The very next game, I could. My beloved Bill Guerin scored an unbelievably lucky goal in literally the last few seconds of the game to turn it from a loss to a tie. The Penguins would win in overtime. I'd whomped together another drink in the kitchen before the game, and it was delicious. I named it The Lucky 13 after Guerin and posted that.

From then on, I was hooked. I decided to create cocktails for all the Penguins players and post them when they accomplished something particularly cool, whether it was taking a hard hit and staying in the game or a hat trick with two assists. I posted the recipes at the Puck Huffers blog, too, in comments. People at both PH and Pensburgh suggested that I create a blog for the recipes, and so I did in December, backdating posts containing earlier recipes. I hadn't thought of putting together a Penguins fan blog, but one featuring recipes as commentaries seemed fun and unique.

Of the players we began the year with, only Max Talbot, Ruslan Fedotenko, Brent Johnson, and Jay McKee haven't had a cocktail named after them or their accomplishments yet. They will. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jordan Leopold have joined us; Martin Skoula, who showed some promise earlier in the season, was traded. Since I have the freedom to write without considering other peoples' space here, I have shared cocktail recipes for other hockey-related occasions, including the Winter Classic. Because most puckheads think NBC's hockey coverage sucks, I thought it was funny to post drinks that involve running the blender (who cares if you can't hear Pierre McGuire, right?) and a lot of alcohol in "honor" of the fourth-place network.

I try to keep the recipes relatively simple, alternatives to beer that you can put together from ingredients you can find in your local supermarket or liquor store during intermission or right before the game. (Okay, I'm not counting the food. That's just here because I can do it.) I've had some flights of fancy with cocktails, and that has its place. But that place is not hockey night. I won't be asking anyone to track down lavender honey or make their own rosemary-infused simple syrup, not that any hockey fan would be doing that before the game!

Every recipe I post is tried and true. My own tastes sometimes show out loud--I don't usually care for garnishes. I try to support local farmers, so there's always lots of fruit in my house. I love citrus and spices. I love fresh ingredients, yet I also have an irrational fondness for soda and blue food dye. I try to remember that I'm not just doing this for myself, and I try not to make the recipes I post too-too girly. While this blog will probably always skew female, I'm not going to spray the place with virtual man repellent, at least not on purpose.

Oh, and I still hope to come up with something worthy of being called the Pittsburgh Penguin before the season's out.

I hope, above all, that other Penguins fans are enjoying this. Please share your thoughts and suggestions.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Not Even a Bronze Borscht

So there's no medal for Evgeni Malkin or Sergei Gonchar this year. After last night's beatdown of Team Russia at the hands of the Canadians in Vancouver, Russians worldwide are going to want comfort food, like the borscht that Malkin's mother famously makes him when she's in Pittsburgh. I knew I was going to post a borscht recipe here; this gives me an excuse!

I can't claim that this is anything like Mama Malkin's magic borscht. For one thing, traditional Russian borscht has some kind of meat in it. Also, parsnips and cider vinegar are not traditionally Russian--they're just tasty. But my L'Ailee is Russian, and she'll happily eat this. I found this online years ago, adapted it a few times, and it's become a favorite way to use up root vegetables from the farmers' co-op box ever since. I can also get hockey-loving children to eat a big bowl of it by saying I made it in honor of Geno. It tastes gold medal on a bad, sad, not-even-a-bronze night.

Serve it with good dark bread, and if there's a Russian at your table, they'll want the *large* tub of sour cream to top it this week.

Not Even a Bronze Borscht

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound white mushrooms, trimmed, wiped clean, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large onion, cut into 3/4 inch dice
10 small or 7 to 8 medium beets (about 1-1/2 pounds), with greens, peeled, quartered, and cut across into 1/4-inch slices
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut across into 1/4 inch rounds
1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut across into 1/4 inch rounds
1 small celery root (about 3/4 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 pound white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 small green cabbage (about 3/4 pound), cored and shredded
2 large cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and very finely chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 medium bunch dill, fronds only, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For Serving:
Coarsely chopped dill
Sour cream

Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup hot water for 15 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid, and squeeze out the excess liquid. Strain all the soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve. Reserve the liquid and the mushrooms separately.

In a tall narrow stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the fresh mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.

Add the beets, carrots, parsnip, celery root, 8 cups water, and the mushroom soaking liquid. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, cabbage, garlic, and the beet greens. Dissolve the tomato paste in 1/2 cup of the liquid and stir it back into the soup. Return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the reconstituted dried mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the dill, sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Pass bowls of chopped dill and sour cream at the table. Makes about 8 servings.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I promised red, white, and blue cocktails, but I had surgery planned this past week and underestimated just how much that would cut into my blogging time (no pun intended!) Tomorrow, my "cocktail" for watching USA versus Canada mens' hockey will be Percocet chased with Stash Tea's Red, White, and Blueberry Fusion.

This is a favorite of mine for times when I feel patriotic, though. There are a gazillion variations--the point is to pick liquors and mixers that will sit on top of each other, in red, white, and blue, equal amounts, and not stir. This is mine.

Bomb Pop

2 ounces blue curacao liqueur
2 ounces pre-made lemonade, without pulp (Turkey Hill's works)
2 ounces pomegranate liqueur

Pour pomegranate liqueur into old-fashioned glass first. Slowly pour in lemonade, then blue curacao. It'll mix, but don't stir it!

A few other All-American cocktail ideas, some of which are more complicated than I'll ever make during intermission:

the Boston Pops Martini, which I like because it's rimmed with Pop Rocks instead of sugar. (Free Candy!)

Food and Wine magazine's recipes and illustrations

It's gonna feel weird rooting against Sidney Crosby tomorrow. Having Brooks Orpik on Team USA makes it tons easier. USA! USA! USA!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Free Candy

L'Ailee and I had Valentine's night last night in order to accommodate the Daytona 500 today. Not a great tradeoff, as it turned out--Tony Stewart's car sucked all day, there were over 2 hours' worth of delays to fix potholes in the track, and Jamie McMurray won it. Another tradeoff we made for the 500 was only watching the Pittsburgh Penguins/Nashville Predators game during commercials and part of that first long red flag delay. We missed Sidney Crosby's 42nd goal, but we did get to watch Brooks Orpik score his annual goal! It was the sports highlight of the afternoon.

I meant to post this before Orpik went to play for Team USA in the Olympics anyway. I wouldn't have considered something sweet for Orpik, except that "Free Candy" just seemed like such an obvious name for his cocktail. Something named "Free Candy" almost has to be quite sweet, and then we had the cotton cannnDEEEE at Mellon Arena, and Jones' vanilla sodas taste a lot like cotton candy, so...I ended up with this. It's good.

Free Candy

About 6-8 ounces Jones Vanilla Bean soda or Jones Zilch Vanilla
2 ounces (1 shot) strawberry-flavored vodka

Half-fill a large tumbler with ice. Pour ingredients in. Stir or shake gently.

There are lots of red/white/blue cocktails out there, which seem appropriate for celebrating Team USA. Those will be coming within a couple days.

Let's go Pens! Um, I mean, USA! USA! USA!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

TK Slammer

It's been a while! I haven't been updating--just haven't, you know, *felt* it--and therefore missed the Road Trip from Hell and several other games. But last night against the New York Islanders, Tyler Kennedy brought the energy to a game that desperately needed it by dropping the gloves. Now, it was an ill-advised fight, and Matt Martin won easily, but it was still far more fun to watch than anything that had preceded it. As TK skated to the penalty box with a smirk, I knew the tide had turned in the Penguins' favor. It's time to honor our little bundle of hate energy.

I kept thinking of a tequila shooter for TK--small, scrappy, awesome energy. I don't like to work with or drink tequila very often. My friends who knew me then joke that Joe Nichols' song "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" was written about me in my early twenties. That said, nothing else seemed to work. So I came up with this twist on the classic Tequila Slammer/Popper.

TK Slammer

1 ounce lime-flavored Diet Coke or Pepsi
1 ounce gold tequila

Combine ingredients in shot glass. Slam the shot glass down on the bar or table to make it super-fizzy, then slam the drink. Enough of these, and you just might wind up picking a fight with a person who's much bigger than yourself or licking a hockey stick!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Oh, God, McGuire's talking."

Another week, another Sunday afternoon Penguins game on NBC. This time, the Pens take on the Detroit Red Wings! This means either way, L'Ailee and I will be kissing to celebrate every last goal, so I'm kinda hoping both goalies are sieves and the Penguins win by, like, 11-10. I have also pride-bet. L'Ailee's best friend loves the Wings, too. If the Pens win, his daughter and I get to decorate his cab with Penguins-iana so he and his customers can enjoy it all Monday. If *shudder* the Wings win, I have to turn this page red and white all Monday and post the official recipe for the Detroit Red Wing cocktail. Let's go Pens!!!

Have I mentioned that there needs to be a cocktail worthy of being called the Pittsburgh Penguin yet? I'm still soliciting suggestions. Something black and/or Vegas gold, maybe? Or something really Pittsburgh? How about something that'll start out awesome, make you sick in the middle, then make you really glad you stuck with it until the end?

Anyway. Some of you may feel that it's too early to drink (and if you're in Detroit or further west, you're probably right.) Some of you may not want a cold drink, since it's pretty damned cold in many parts of the US already. But some of you might really want to run the blender while the idiots on NBC are talking and get yourself into a mellower frame of mind. To this end, I post another blender drink.

You know how that Verizon commercial with the hockey teams stranded in an airport with an icy runway is pretty cool even though the teams are the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers? This is kinda like that. I hate bananas, with a passion, and I can tolerate this. Other people I know really like it. Essentially, it's most of a Bananas Foster dessert--no flambe-ing, sorry--turned into a daiquiri.

Bananas Foster Daiquiri

1 whole ripe banana
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
2 ounces dark rum
1/2 cup crushed ice

Break the banana into several pieces. Put all ingredients in the blender. Blend at a low speed for a few seconds, then on high until everything's together and the drink is firm. Pour into a cocktail glass.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Eaton's 500th

By my own standards, I'm a bit late with this. But last night's game, frankly, kinda sucked. It didn't help that I was in an evil mood to begin with and the "cocktails" I personally had last night were ginger tea with honey and lemon, chased with a shot of Nyquil.

I have learned to really hate Chris Neil from the Ottawa Senators this season, and I rather enjoyed it when he tried to board Sergei Gonchar and ended up hurting himself worse. Then he managed to push Mark Eaton into the corner and hit his head. It looked awful. As a lifelong NASCAR fan, I'm still tempted to refer to such an incident as "putting into the wall and wrecking." Fortunately, Eaton was not wrecked. He got up right away and didn't miss a beat. His 500th NHL game may not have been good, but it sure was memorable!

My cocktail recipes tend to be sweet. But something sweet wouldn't really do justice to the impressive toughness Eaton showed last night, would it? So this is the least-sweet thing I can think of. It resulted from me starting to make a classic dirty martini for a friend at a party a few years ago, accidentally getting out dill pickles instead of olives, and wondering, "Why not?" He liked the result, and so have a couple of other friends since. I don't, but that's okay.

Eaton's 500th

2 ounces gin
1 tablespoon dry vermouth
1 tablespoon dill pickle brine. (Don't let garlic bits and other herbs get into it, of course.)
1 dill pickle spear to garnish (optional)

Put liquid ingredients in cocktail shaker with two ice cubes; shake hard for about 30 seconds. Strain into martini glass. Include pickle spear, if desired--I've been told it "adds something", presumably something good, to stir the drink with it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Conner's Comeback

Bill Guerin was unable to play against the New York Rangers last night, and I was *not* happy about that. Even though he's Mustache Boy this month, and February can't come soon enough, if Guerin made me an offer I', cry as I explained that I'm flattered, but I'm happily married and want to stay that way. So I was already predisposed to dislike Chris Conner, who was sent up from the Wilkes Barre/Scranton team to replace him for the night. I also remembered that Conner's performance with Pittsburgh had been less than stellar when he was called up in November. So he was on the first line with Sidney Crosby. Damn it all to hell...

I wasn't going to post this cocktail. It's so good, but the composition is similar to the Happy Goalie (named after Marc-Andre Fleury, of course), and I've already posted lots of recipes involving citrus-y flavors. I wouldn't have posted anything for Chris Conner, either. I don't know much about him, and he's not technically a Pittsburgh Penguin. But the thing is, I hate the Rangers with an undying hate. I live in NYC, and there are some very vocal Rangers fans at my office who love to point out anything wrong with the Penguins, real or imagined. My 9-year-old "niece" (actually, a good friend's daughter) gets teased by Rangers fan classmates for being a Penguins fan, too.

Conner totally endeared himself to me last night by scoring two goals on the Rangers! Sure, he had Crosby as his center, but we all know that's not always a guarantee of success for a winger. Because Conner allowed me to hip-switch into the break room at my office and grin like a Cheshire cat at a Rangers fan exec, who held up his hand and told me not to say a word, I absolutely had to post something for him. Therefore:

Conner's Comeback

About 4 ounces sparkling blueberry juice
2 ounces citrus-flavored vodka

Pour vodka into champagne flute. Top with sparkling blueberry juice. Shake gently; don't stir.

The sparkling blueberry juice is available at health food sections of supermarkets and Trader Joe's, and these flavors play very nicely together.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Letang Stands Up

Sometimes I kinda have a cocktail matched with a player in my mind. Like, Jay McKee's is going to involve many shots of liquor, and I've got one that can fairly be called "Free Candy" on deck for Brooks Orpik. Kris Letang's was almost certain to be a chocolate martini. Yeah, I know they're common. Hear me out: chocolate martinis seem sweet, even deceptively harmless, but can kick your ass. Both Letang and chocolate martinis have lots of female fans. And then there was the big basket of chocolate associated with him during the Penguins' holiday gift basket auction this season. It seemed obvious.

I post it tonight because Letang demonstrated why the Penguins are such an awesome team this afternoon. The Flyers' Darroll Powe appeared to hurt Alex Goligoski some with a check from behind. Letang swooped in and jumped Powe. Not only did Letang stand up for his teammate, but he got the better of Powe. So, tonight we celebrate the way Letang out-bullied one of the Broad Street Bullies.

Letang Stands Up

1 1/2 ounces Stolichnaya Razberi or other raspberry-flavored vodka
1 ounce creme de cacao

Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker; shake with a handful of ice. Strain liquid into martini glass.

Incidentally, for anyone interested, my performances went just fine this afternoon. Even got zaghareets (cheers) from women whose talent intimidated me. It was a great time, and my instructor had all kinds of delicious Middle Eastern food, including really excellent baklava, waiting for us when our performances were done. Then I came home to TiVo and the Penguins beating the Flyers at their house once again. Sundays don't get better than that!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"It's NBC, go ahead and run the blender"

I hope that I don't ruin it by typing this out, but I'm pretty confident that the Pittsburgh Penguins will win tomorrow's game against the Philadelphia Flyers even though it's in the afternoon. You see, I have a pretty good track record. Every month this season, there's been a game late in the month that I've had to miss because I was unavoidably busy doing something else, whether it was clubbing in Orlando with friends I hadn't seen in a year or watching the Detroit Red Wings with L'Ailee at Joe Louis. Inevitably, as I was getting drawn into a bar fight with some woman who thought I was stealing her boyfriend (won it, by the way) or whining because I'd paid to watch the Wings get their asses handed to them, the Pens would have themselves an amazing game that I'd have to learn about via text updates.

Tomorrow, I will be performing with other members of my belly-dancing class. I am extremely nervous, because there will also be actual Middle Eastern women who've danced all their lives in that room and I am at the shallow end of the talent pool. No way in hell can I get out of it, especially since I have a tandem performance with my best friend in addition to my solo. I will have to watch everyone else, and I will be expected to stick around for tea and snacks with my instructor. Our guys lost against the Flyers the last time. They lost the first game of the season against the Washington Capitals on Thursday. They can't be anything but motivated tomorrow. I fully expect that while I'm dancing to the Revels' "Comanche" and hopefully not tripping over my own feet, the Penguins will be playing on fire.

I'm gonna be drinking herbal tea and lots of it. I hope somebody has a Crosby Sucks for me. (It seems like that's the signature drink of this blog, at least for the moment.) But since y'all are going to have to endure NBC's hockey commentary in order to watch this game, you might want something that makes it a little more bearable. Something that involves running the blender to drown their gang of idiots out during intermission. Something like the Pensacola Bushwacker, a true Floridian original that is so bad for you in so many ways that it's excellent. Some people say you should use half-and-half, some people say ice cream, and some people say both. I come down firmly on the "ice cream" side.

Pensacola Bushwacker

4 oz cream of coconut
2 oz Kahlua
1 oz dark rum
1 oz creme de cacao
1/2 cup vanilla ice cream

Pour all ingredients into a blender with two cups of ice, and blend until completely mixed. Serve in a hurricane glass.

And, for another multi-recipe post, a cocktail that is somewhat less horrible for you, but probably much more horrible for your jersey, couch, and carpet if you're not careful. Tasty, though. This is something my sister-in-law likes to do with cheap red wine. Her name for it seems more appropriate for Flyers hockey than anything I can think of, too.

Punch in the Mouth

3/4 cup merlot or shiraz
3/4 cup frozen berries. (Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, or a combination of those will work)
1/2 cup pomegranate juice

Put all ingredients into blender; blend until completely mixed. Serve in a hurricane glass or large tumbler. You notice that there is no ice in this one. This is why I emphasize that the berries should be frozen...and, of course, your blender should be strong enough to handle such a job.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Y'all make the drinking game, I'll make the shooters

I've thought of creating a Ovechkin versus Crosby Capitals versus Penguins drinking game for a week. The problem is, I've had a few other things on my mind, and I don't have a lot of inspiration left for a drinking game. I do, however, have a few excellent ideas for shooters. So, I'll post a couple shooters, and as we count down the hours, maybe other Penguins fans can make suggestions in comments.

Each of these is a single shot; you can multiply the quantities for multiple shots. The Goldfish is my adaptation of the Finnish fisu (fish) shot, which combines Fisherman's Friend cough drops with chilled vodka--mine tastes, but doesn't feel, a little gentler. Being a Southerner, I regard the Alabama Slammer Shooter as a classic. The Peanut Butter and Jelly...well, readers of Puck Huffers know why.


1 ounce Pernod
1 ounce vodka
2 Fisherman's Friend cough drops

Combine ingredients with a handful of crushed ice in a shaker, then shake. Strain liquid into shot glass.

Alabama Slammer Shooter

1/2 oz sloe gin
1 oz amaretto
1 oz Southern Comfort
dash of lemon juice

Pour all ingredients into a highball glass with ice. Stir well, then strain into a shot glass.

Peanut Butter and Jelly

3/4 ounce Frangelico liqueur
3/4 ounce Chambord liqueur

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour ingredients into it, shake well. Strain into a shot glass.

I close with a haiku I wrote:

Go ahead, call him
'A caveman-looking asshole'.
We know you want to.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Salvaging the Game

I very seldom drink to get drunk. My cocktail recipes tend to reflect my preference for getting relaxed, not hammered. However, last night's game against Vancouver called for something stronger than the Lucky 13 I started with. Oh, it had such promise at first. Evgeni Malkin finally broke his goal-less streak in the first period--it was weird and fluky, but we screamed over it anyway. L'Ailee was born and raised in Siberia, and though she loves her Red Wings, her real loyalties lie with "all good Russian players." We didn't know she'd find another Russian player to love very soon.

InjuryFest 2009/10 claimed the Penguins' goalies. Our solid backup goalie Brent Johnson had a groin injury. Then Marc-Andre Fleury broke a finger on his glove hand during the Edmonton game. The Penguins called John Curry up from the Wilkes Barre/Scranton team. No problem--Curry's good for the Baby Pens, and he was solid when Pittsburgh needed him last year. But just in case, they signed up Alexander Pechursky, a 19-year-old Russian WHL goalie, for a one-day contract. Basically, Pechursky would have an awesome view of the Penguins/Canucks game...right?

Curry would let two Canucks goals freak him out and shrink in the net, very quickly allowing a 2-1 lead by the Canucks to become a 5-1 lead. The game wasn't even halfway over. I was masochistic loyal enough to see if the Pens could at least close the gap some. It was time for a Zombie. I have a fondness for classic tiki bar drinks, and Zombies are my favorite way to get real hammered real quick. But I didn't have everything for a proper Zombie and wasn't about to go out on a Brooklyn street at midnight to get dark rum and apricot brandy, even if the liquor store is ten steps away from my place. So, like the Penguins, I improvised. As Pechursky was put in goal, I fixed a lazy woman's Zombie in my kitchen. Like Pechursky in his cheap-ass mask, misspelled jersey, and borrowed pads, it actually turned out pretty damned good!

I considered several names for this drink. "Lazy Zombie," which probably fits the defense poor Curry got. "The Little Goalie Boy," as my wife called Pechursky twice. Then there was "Oh, Make It Stop," "Don't They Know They Don't Have Fleury?", and, as I exclaimed several times in the second period, "Fuck Me Raw!" But as my head cleared this morning, I settled on...

Salvaging the Game

1/2 ounce Bacardi 151 rum (or other 151-proof rum)
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce orange juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce cherry liqueur
3 ounces light rum

Shake all ingredients except 151-proof rum with crushed ice. Pour, ice and all, into a Collins glass. Pour 151-proof rum on top. Don't stir, just drink. Hope, hope, hope that you don't feel compelled to fix this again for the rest of the season.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another Drink for Geno

No doubt any Penguins fans reading this have already read today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column by Ron Cook. He compared Evgeni Malkin to Jaromir Jagr, and not in a good way. Apparently if a 23-year-old living in a foreign country turns to his support system and kicks his own ass when he's underperforming, he's got massive personality disorders and is an albatross around his team's collective neck. I don't know what Ron Cook was like when he was 23, but I was a mess then, and so were all my friends. Which reminds me--one day I'll tell y'all why I don't often work with or drink tequila. ;-)

Even though Geno doesn't have to decide which bills he'll pay this month or eat ramen five days a week like I did, he's still human, and Cook's column is, to say the least, remarkably unhelpful. Don't get me wrong--Malkin can do better. He should do better. But I have faith that he will do better. And so, I post a second cocktail recipe in honor of him. I have no delusions that anyone associated with the Penguins will ever read this, and more knowledgeable fans like Hooks Orpik at Pensburgh have already given Cook the takedown he deserves, but I just kinda feel like chiming in.

I remember reading that Geno likes sangria and therefore isn't one of those guys who thinks a sweet cocktail will interfere with his testosterone production. So, something sweet and fruit-flavored, with good Russian vodka, seems appropriate. Like Keri Russell's character in the great little movie Waitress, I name my recipes based on my state of mind at the moment, when I bother to name them at all. So, I give my fellow and sister Pens fans:

Fuck Off, Ron Cook

1 1/2 ounces Stolichnaya Gala Applik vodka
1/2 ounce Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps
1 or 2 ounces apple cider (sweet/nonalcoholic)

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Strain into a martini glass. If you really want to be fancy about it, rim the glass with cinnamon sugar first. But hey, tonight's game night, and if you don't want to bother cleaning up after that, this martini's good enough that it doesn't need to be messed with too much...kinda like Geno.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Two in One

During a losing streak in which I tried very hard not to despair over the Penguins' direction, broken only by a win against the Atlanta Thrashers, I wasn't really inspired to celebrate the team with cocktails. That's why there haven't been new posts. (Well, that and I was kind of busy.) Last night's win against the Toronto Maple Leafs put me in the happy position of being unable to choose which of two Penguins players I wanted to celebrate. So, to make up for a recent lack of cocktails, I am going to post both.

Before I do, a little bit of business. It's hard to come up with something truly innovative when you're mixing drinks, particularly if, as I do, you'd just like to quickly whomp something together in your kitchen for watching the game. I came to like the combination of bourbon with a teaspoon of maple syrup and a dash of lemon juice this winter. Apparently this is called a Maple Leaf. Obviously that was unacceptable last night.

I've done a couple of internet searches, and while there are cocktails named after several hockey teams, there are none named after the Pittsburgh Penguins! By the end of the regular season, I'd like to create something simple and good that is worthy of being called the Pittsburgh Penguin. If you have suggestions, or if anyone has beaten me to it, please let me know in comments.

Anyway. Sergei Gonchar came roaring back from a leg injury with a vengeance last night. Two goals, including a power play goal! Yes, that power play goal was awfully weird, the way it bounced off the back of the net. Yes, it sucked that there was a dispute with the referees and that Gonchar wound up spending two minutes in the penalty box for hooking. But it counted, goddamn it, it counted! Soon after Gonchar left the box, he scored a much clearer and more decisive even strength goal that not even the referees could doubt.

Y'all probably figured that I love citrus by now. My brother, who knows his artisanal spirits, gave me a bottle of Compass Box' Orangerie as a present. It is delicious. You can't technically call it Scotch--it is a Scotch infusion with notes of orange and cloves, and I like it just with club soda. I'd like it in my bath if that was an option. Since Gonchar is a grown-ass man who likes the finer things in life, I bet he'd want the second-to-last shot of my Orangerie if I were serving him. He can't have it. However, after last night's performance, I'd be willing to get him some good single-malt Scotch and make the following:

Gonchar's Revenge
(a/k/a "I'm Blind, I'm Deaf, I Wanna Be a Ref")

1 1/2 ounce Scotch
1/2 ounce orange liqueur
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash cloves
About 3-4 ounces club soda

Put all of the ingredients except the club soda in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice; shake like crazy for a minute. Pour the Scotch mixture into a highball glass, straining out ice. Fill glass with club soda. Yes, it's almost a basic Scotch-and-soda, with added flavors. It doesn't taste quite like the Orangerie, but it's good nonetheless.

The other player I'd like to thank for the Penguins' win last night is Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins' goalie has been in a bit of a slump. (I may have used the phrase "Swiss cheese" to describe his recent performance.) But he was awesome against the Maple Leafs. The Leafs kept throwing rubber at him, especially during the third period--22 shots in that period alone. He allowed one goal by Matt Stajan. There could have been so many more. His performance was one of the big reasons why the Penguins won by a wide margin.

There exists a drink called the Depressed Goalie. That's not our Flower, not even when he's a sieve, and certainly not last night! This is a very simple drink with a really nice flavor, and it might put a big Fleury-esque smile on your face. Look for the sparkling pear juice in health food aisles at the supermarket, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe's.

the Happy Goalie

2 ounces amaretto
About 3 ounces sparkling pear juice

Pour amaretto into a champagne flute. Top with sparkling pear juice. Don't stir--a light shake is plenty. (You don't want to break the bubbles!) Sip slowly.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lucky Little Black-and-White Cookies

I blame our favorite bakery. Totally. I can't think of anyone else to blame for the Pittsburgh Penguins' five-game losing streak, can you? All y'all can drink just fine without my help, and probably are. It's time for another food recipe.

The owners of that bakery went on vacation the day after Christmas. They will be out until next weekend. They got me hooked on that quintessentially NYC dessert, the black-and-white cookie. They make an egg-free version that accommodates my allergies, too. I like to pick up a few minis every week. (Like I said with the hummus recipe, I'm not interested in becoming Discovery Health channel fat, so I don't get the regular CD-sized cookies.)

I eat one of these cookies before the game, every game, to "help" the Penguins have better luck. Except lately, I've had to eat small portions of inferior black-and-white desserts before the game--chocolate chip ice cream or a Tofutti Cutie sandwich even though it's too damned cold for that, an Oreo even though I think the "cream" is disgusting. Well. We see how that's worked out.

I suppose I could take my chances and buy my pre-game black-and-white cookies elsewhere this week. But I'd feel all weird about it. I can also bake my own cookies. I don't feel weird about that at all. So, if you're not completely baked out after the holidays, let's consult the website for the late, great Gourmet magazine and see if we can help our players out! These are pretty simple, honest.

Mini Black and White Cookies

For cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg (or, Lilo notes, substitute to equal one egg. It'll work here.)

For icings
2 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 to 6 tablespoons water
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Special equipment:
a small offset spatula

Make cookies:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 2 large baking sheets.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and mixing just until smooth.

Drop rounded teaspoons of batter 1 inch apart onto baking sheets. Bake, switching positions of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed, edges are pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Make icing while cookies cool:
Stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl until smooth. If icing is not easily spreadable, add more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as vanilla icing. Cover surface with a dampened paper towel, then cover bowl with plastic wrap.

Ice cookies:
With offset spatula, spread white icing over half of flat side of each cookie. Starting with cookies you iced first, spread chocolate icing over other half.

Well, I've done what I can here. The owners of that bakery are just going to have to step up when they get back. After all, we certainly can't blame the Penguins players for blowing those games.

Let's go, Pens!!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bruins Fan for a Day

Happy New Year to all y'all!!!

Like any self-respecting Penguins fan, I hate the Philadelphia Flyers with all my heart. Yet I enjoy the Winter Classic, even though it's a blatant gimmick and I don't have a dog in this hunt. So I decided I'm going to be a huge Boston Bruins fan today. My future stepdad loves his Bruins and thinks I'll be converted. I don't see it. I love that Sidney Crosby and Max Talbot's new Reebok commercial with the infamous dryer will be played during the game. Don't you know the Flyers' fans are going to enjoy the hell out of that?!

Probably many of you don't want a cocktail at all. You had plenty last night and would just like some coffee. (We like to mix it with hot chocolate at my house.) I actually don't like to drink when lots of people around me are, and my insistence on keeping a clear head when most people aren't means I've got champagne chilling in my fridge. This is how I'm going to use it this afternoon. It's actually two recipes in one, and will get rid of some leftovers.

We begin with something L'Ailee's uncle taught me. It's a holiday tradition at his house. I suppose you could chill peppermint schnapps or something, but I really liked this.

Candy Cane Vodka

2 ounces vodka
2-3 ice cubes
1 medium peppermint candy cane, broken in pieces

Put all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, then shake like crazy for a couple of minutes until the vodka is cold and a milky light pink color. Strain out the ice and candy pieces; pour. By itself, it could make a decent shooter. Or make a....

Winter Classic

2 ounces Candy Cane Vodka
About 3-4 ounces of chilled champagne

Pour Candy Cane Vodka into champagne flute. Fill flute with champagne. As with the Worst Coach in the NHL, cheap and cheerful champagne is probably best for this.