Saturday, January 03, 2015

Pizza, Crafts, & Cocktails, January 2, 2015

Tonight was my sweetheart's night to pick dinner and she was hungry for pizza. I usually insist on ordering Jet's. I like it the best of the places that deliver around here, for one thing. Also, I am boycotting Domino's and Papa John's for political reasons. Mostly, though, I just like Jet's a lot. Jeannene, however, is, I think, tired of Jet's or of having always to order what I want. So, she made it very clear that she wanted to order what she wanted to order---then, when it came time to order, she was very solicitous about asking me what I wanted. Very cute! She did decide to order from Chicago Brothers, a local joint that I've not been terribly impressed with in the past. However, I was game to give them another try. We got a Chicago-style deep dish pizza with Italian sausage, pepperoni, and, inexplicably, a ton of onions when we had been expecting spinach. It was fine and my sweet wife loved it, so I was happy she chose that.

We also started a new Friday night tradition. We'd been to a pottery class, throwing pots on the wheel at a studio which offers semi-private lessons. We had a really good time (although my pot turned out looking pretty funky!), so I thought it'd be fun to start picking one of the gazillion crafts from my Pinterest boards to try every Friday night, to go with the cocktails & nibbles tradition I've been trying to institute for months. Jeannene heartily agreed, so tonight, I made queso blanco, guacamole, and cranberry orange margaritas. Of course, we had tortilla chips, too. Then, we made picture frame ring holders.

The queso turned out way too cumin-y, even though I doubled the amount of cheese and half & half called for in the recipe once I saw the amount of cumin recommended. I'm not sure in what universe it's a good idea to use 2 tsp. cumin in a recipe calling for a cup of cheese, but it's not my universe. The recipe I present here should turn out better than what we had. I make guacamole simply by mashing the avocado in my molcajete, then adding lime juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder (I like the texture of the powder better than using fresh garlic).

Queso Blanco
2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2-4 oz. chopped green chiles
1/2 c. half & half
2 tbsp. minced onion
1/8-1/4 tsp. cumin
Salt & pepper
Minced hot pepper like a serrano or jalapeño, optional

Mix everything together in a heavy-bottomed pan. Stir over moderate heat until smooth and melted. We kept this warm in a fondue pot. Serve with tortilla chips.

Cranberry Orange Margaritas
1 1/4 oz. tequila
1/2 oz. Triple Sec/Cointreau
1 1/2 oz. sweet & sour mix*
1 1/2 oz. orange juice
1 1/2 oz. cranberry juice
Crushed ice

Whirl in the blender with crushed ice. Garnish with an orange slice and 3 cranberries, if you have them, on a swizzle stick. Me, I had pineapple chunks & strawberries, so that's what I used. This makes one drink. 

*It's actually really easy to make sweet & sour mix from scratch and it keeps well in the fridge for about a week. It's lots more delicious than the bottled sort. Just make a simple syrup using 3 cups water and 3 cups sugar. To do this, in case you don't know, you simply stir them together over medium heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Then, allow the mixture to cool thoroughly. When cool, add 2 cups lemon juice and 2 cups lime juice to the simple syrup. Chill thoroughly before using in cocktails. 

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