Monday, December 7, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

Who am I kidding?  I love health and wellness and treating my body right, but it is, after all, "the most wonderful time of the year" and I love an indulgence as much as the next girl.  By the end of Wellness Week, I was making myself a little queasy with my own virtuousness, so I decided to even the balance with a week of decadent posts this week.  Good food, great cocktails, entertainment and, of course, products: if it is frothy, fun and sinful, it is up for discussion this week.  To kick things off, I have a couple deliciously naughty entertaining tips, the first of which is an idea I pinched from one of the husband and my all-time favorite brunch spots, the East Coast Grill in Cambridge, MA: the Bloody Mary bar.

If you are hosting overnight guests or a party during the brunch hour this holiday season, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  We've set these up for several parties we've had (including one at a campsite during a whitewater rafting trip), and they are always a hit.  You need:
- good quality vodka (I love Grey Goose and Ketel One)
- tomato or V8 and Clamato juices
- lemon and lime wedges
- fresh horseradish
- Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces
- celery salt for the glass rims (put in a shallow dish next to another one of water so people can dampen their clean glass and then press the rim into the salt) and for the top
- a pepper grinder
- scallions and celery sticks for stirrers, and you could also spear pineapple chunks on skewers (as above), for those who love the sweet/spicy combo
- a vast variety of jarred, pickled yummies, including but not limited to: cornichon pickles, caperberries, olives (including stuffed olives with pimentos, blue cheese, garlic or anything else you can find), and pickled asparagus and/or dilly beans
- if you really want to go for broke, add a plate of boiled shrimp as well
Set up this colorful buffet on an accessible table with the widest, deepest glasses you have, and let your guests go to town.  This is guaranteed to make for a festive, beautiful and talked-about brunch party. And while you have the heartburn medication on hand, here is a delicious Southern appetizer to try, of limited nutritional value (calcium-rich? can't think of any other redeeming qualities...) but endless deliciousness.  As a yankee, I hadn't heard of pimento cheese until recently when I saw it made on a Paula Deen show.  Tragic!  This is an appetizer with a cult following for a good reason.  It is cheap and easy to prepare, and wickedly delicious.
1 jar roasted red peppers
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups hand-grated sharp cheddar cheese
Salt, pepper and Sriracha to taste 
1) Drain peppers, and place in a food processor.  Pulse until smooth, but not liquid-y.
2) Add mayo and cream cheese and pulse until well combined.  Scrape into a bowl.
3) Stir in cheese by hand, and add seasonings to taste.
Serve with tortilla chips or crackers, or use as a spread for crostini.  Or eat with a spoon!


  1. It ain't a Bloody Mary without the celery salt!

    Another pickled addition that the wife likes is cocktail onions. She adds olives and onions to her Bloodies - they are her "suprises" at the bottom of the glass.

  2. hmmm... not a bloody mary fan. i'm sure though, if i tried one of sweet mama jane's i'd be converted!

  3. I grew up on a diet of pimento cheese sandwiches for lunch, and still crave them weekly. How do you think I got my perpetually chubby figure? Totally worth it. :-)