Real, Homemade Egg Nog

Rich, creamy, and unapologetically boozy, this is an egg nog whose virtues are sung by poets. Probably. Once they’ve had a few. 

Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Bars

These salted caramel peanut butter bars – in bite-size form – are about the best way to win over someone’s heart, kidneys or spleen. They’re that good.

Thanksgiving Recipes Round-Up 2017!

When I was growing up, an “annual” was a comic-strip-based holiday gift that kept you chuckling for about a day and a half before being stuffed into a cupboard and forgotten about. I like to think our annual Thanksgiving roundup follows that tradition. 

Spring Pasta with Ramps, Peas and Pancetta

Spring Pasta with Ramps, Peas and Pancetta

Spring Pasta with Ramps, Peas and PancettaA versatile pasta dish that combines spring vegetables (in this case, ramps and peas) with crisp pancetta in a light, creamy sauce. 

Every spring I’m reminded of how happy I am that we bought a house in the Hudson Valley. The sun is out and I’m sitting on our deck, watching the chickens romp around the ‘garden’. Yes, ‘garden’ is in quotes because it’s mostly weeds, rocks and buried concrete (why, previous owners? Why?). And yes, those pesky chickens are obsessed with destroying the few plants we’re actually trying to grow. But none of that matters! Gardens can be planted. Chickens can be strangled penned. The important thing is that it’s ours and we love it (sometimes).

Another fantastic thing about spring is all the wonderful fresh green things that are just beginning to show up at the farmers’ market (or your own garden, if you’re lucky and/or talented). A simple pasta dish like this takes full advantage of these fresh flavors, pairing the tender vegetables with crispy pancetta* and a light, creamy sauce.

*You could absolutely leave the pancetta out for a vegetarian dish. You’ll probably want to add a bit more salt since the pancetta is salty.

Spring Pasta with Ramps, Peas and Pancetta

Ramps (wild leeks) have a lovely garlicky flavor. I love them with peas and pancetta but you could use any tender spring vegetable you like.

Beacon Mule (Bourbon & Ginger Beer Cocktail)

Beacon Mule (Bourbon & Ginger Beer Cocktail)

Spicy and smoky flavors combine to create a delightful bourbon ginger beer variation on a Moscow Mule that we’re calling, simply, the Beacon Mule. 

Beacon Mule (Bourbon Ginger Beer Cocktail)

Bourbon adds a deep, almost honey-like flavor to this cocktail, typically made with vodka.

It’s nice to know that, even though this world can feel like a dark and frightening place sometimes, good things still happen. Yes, an infected toenail that fell off and became sentient (kind of) is the GOP nominee for President of the United States, but on the flip side, a package arrived at Nerds with Knives headquarters and there was bourbon inside it!

See, it all evens out in the end (sob).

Okay, okay. I know a cooking blog is not an appropriate place for politics but I’ll say this: I’m going to need a lot of cocktails to make it through this election cycle. Let’s see what a bourbon ginger beer combination can do to warm our cockles.

Luckily, the nice folks at Heritage Distilling sent us two bottles of delicious whiskey which we’ve been drinking on ice as well as making tasty cocktails with. The Brown Sugar Bourbon is a little sweet, with notes of cinnamon and clove. It would be fantastic in a Fall or Winter cocktail with apple cider. With the barrel aged bourbon, we made a whisky version of a Moscow Mule (vodka, lime, ginger beer) and it was so good, we knew we had to share it with you.

Beacon Mule (Bourbon Ginger Beer Cocktail)

The Barrel-aged Bourbon has notes of honey and caramel. The Brown Sugar Bourbon tastes of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Quiche with Ramps, Bacon and Gruyere

Quiche with Ramps, Bacon and Gruyere

Quiche with Ramps, Bacon and Gruyere Quiche with Ramps (wild leeks), Bacon and Gruyere is fantastic any time of day. It’s creamy, cheesy and so satisfying. And don’t fret if you can’t find ramps, scallions make a perfect substitute.  

Spring has finally sprung in the Hudson Valley and, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know what that means: the Cliftons have ramp breath.

In the last week we’ve made sautéed ramps with mushrooms and fried eggs (delicious), spaghetti with ramps and brown butter sauce (heavenly), and this quiche, with ramps, bacon and gruyere. So, yeah, it’s been pretty rampy up in here.

Ramps and eggs

Ramps and eggs are a delicious combination. The ramps were foraged about a mile away and the eggs are from our chickens so this is just about as local as it gets.

Grouper Fritters from the Florida Keys

Grouper Fritters from the Florida Keys

grouper fritters

Grouper Fritters

*** Sponsored post ***

A favorite destination for Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Buffett, and many more, Key West is known for its palm-lined streets and fish fresh enough to draw any committed culinary traveler. With a distinct mixture of cultures, the island is not only home to a strong seafood scene, but a tantalizing fusion of cuisines. At night, the streets are lit up with vibrant sidewalk cafes that lure in passersby with delicious scents. Live music and hopping bars are the perfect pairings to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

The Florida Keys is home to five districts, each with their own personality and attractions that make visitors feel like they are a world away. The southernmost paradise, Key West, is just miles from Cuba and is home to an enviably temperate climate and a delicious array of fresh seafood set to a beautiful backdrop. Bringing together a multitude of cultures that have made Key West home during its history, Key West’s food scene has delicious flavors, like African and Cuban, that are difficult to find anywhere else in the US.

Cheeky Nando’s! One-pan Peri Peri Chicken and Rice

Cheeky Nando’s! One-pan Peri Peri Chicken and Rice

One-pan Peri Peri Chicken and Rice

So who is this ‘Nando’ and why is he so cheeky? No, seriously, I really want to know.

Being an American, the phrase ‘cheeky Nandos’ means almost nothing to me but for some inexplicable reason, it became stuck in my head the other day. I asked Matt (a Brit) what it meant and all he did was laugh, jump around and scream “Cheeky Nandos! Cheeky Nandos!” for about an hour until I was forced to distract him with a shiny Doctor Who marathon. Not helpful.

In this rare case, even the internet failed me. When I googled “What is cheeky nandos. Help, confused american.,” it suggested this article. This a sample explanation:

you know when you go down town with the lads and you all realize you’re hank marvin’ so you say “lads let’s go Maccers” but your mate Smithy a.k.a. The Bantersaurus Rex has some mula left on his nandos gift card and he’s like “mate let’s a have a cheeky nandos on me” and you go “Smithy my son you’re an absolute ledge” so you go have an extra cheeky nandos with a side order of Top Quality Banter  

So… yeah. Much clearer now. Thanks.

One-pan Peri-Peri Chicken and Rice

Peri-Peri is a spicy sauce made with chilis, garlic and vinegar. Add some crispy, moist chicken and creamy rice and you have a delicious, easy dinner.

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