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Cleveland Green Living Examiner - The NatureMill Automatic Composter

Black-kitchen-compost-binWhen we lived in the country, composting all of our food scraps was very easy practice!

 All I did was take everything out to the huge pile of horse manure by the barn, wait a few months and it became compost. 

Living in an urban apartment it is not quite as easy to compost our leftovers but what do you do if you don't want to waste your food scraps!

Being a food writer I tend to generate alot of scraps and peelings so I was at a loss, but I've happened onto a fabulous  product from a company called Nature Mill that is sure to be my next "lifesaving" purchase

Given the coveted "Best of What's New Award", by Popular Science, the Nature Mill Automatic Food Composter is a wonderful blend of technology and common sense..........

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Frozen Cocktails From Xrated Fusion!

My friend Katrina Taft at the Rose Group sends me fabulous press releases about cocktails all of the time. I though that this one was too good not to share! All of these recipes feature my summer favorite, XRated Fusion Liqueur, a sexy blend of passion Fruit, blood orange and mango. Delicious and refreshing, make any of these your signature cocktail at your next party!


"Almost everyone remembers cooling down in the summer heat with the Slurpee or the Icee.  Those may have been the good ol’ days, but our predilections have matured since – time to chill with a sexier, more sophisticated, and more tempting bevy of ice-blended drinks.  As the nights heat up this year, prove your party-throwing prowess with a sexy soiree thrown right at home.  The margarita is always a hit, but expand your horizons and earn points for ingenuity with these ice-cold summer libations. 

Since your friends bring all the heat, focus on keeping the temperature down with frosty, easy-to-make cocktails.  Straight from the get-go, greet guests with an explosive and icy treat from X-Rated Fusion Liqueur.  It’s always been great on its own, but when blended with ice and a few easy-to-find ingredients, X-Rated Fusion Liqueur cocktails are undeniable showstoppers – perfect for this bash and the next.  
X-Rated Fusion Liqueur is a sensuous blend of smooth, French vodka mingling with blood orange, mango and passion fruit, ideal for quenching your summertime thirst.  June, July, and August are the perfect months to experience this sensual blend in a sensational blended cocktail.  The long-awaited heat should be enjoyed in style, and the sun is best enjoyed with X-Rated Fusion Liqueur with ice – blended and cubed.
It’s the perfect accessory to toast with under the scorching summer sun!" 
Blood Orange Freeze  

3 oz X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
1 oz Light rum
∏ oz Grenadine
Blend ingredients in a blender with ice.  Garnish with a slice of blood orange.
Created by Dave Grimes at the Mattison Park in Asbury Park, New Jersey

Racer X
2oz X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
2 slices of Peeled Cucumber
12 Red Seedless Grapes
Blend all ingredients with ice in a blender.  Garnish with slices of cucumber.
Created by Kevin Baker at the Isla Cantina in West Hollywood, California

1 oz X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
1 oz Cabo Wabo Tequila
2 oz Sour Mix
2 oz Blood Orange Puree
Blend ingredients in a blender with ice.  Garnish with slice of lime and lemon.
Created by John Coyne at the Pub 17 in Ramsey, New Jersey

Pink Pineapple
2 oz X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
2 oz SKYY Infusions Pineapple
3 slices of fresh pineapple
1 pineapple slice for garnish
Blend all ingredients with ice in a blender for 20 seconds.  Garnish with pineapple slice.
Created by Barbi Caruso at Luau in Beverly Hills, California

Smooth Fusion
Blend the following Ingredients:
2 oz X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
2 oz Half & Half
1π oz of Simple Syrup
π oz Banana
1 Strawberry for Garnish
1 Scoop of Ice (this may vary based on the quality of ice)
Pour into wine glass and rim with pink sugar (dip glass rim in grenadine and then rim granulated sugar). Place a strawberry on the rim of the glass and serve.
Created by Derwayne Chesterman in San Diego, California

Blend the following ingredients:
1 Scoop of Ice
1 oz White Rum
3 oz Pina Colada Mix
1 Wedge of Pineapple (no skin) or1 oz of Pineapple Juice
In a frozen Hurricane glass, pour a dash of blended ingredients into the bottom of the glass and then add an ounce of X-Rated Fusion.
Pour more of the blended cocktail to halfway up the glass and add: 1oz X Rated Fusion.
Top off the glass with the rest of the blended cocktail.
The effect should be a swirl of pink throughout the glass.
Created by Derwayne Chesterman in San Diego, California

Chicken Legs braised in Garlic, Mushrooms and Red Wine

Sometimes, I'm not sure where the inspiration for a recipe comes from! Those are the days when I know that it's going to be good if I just follow my instincts and allow myself to simply create whatever it is I think that I want to eat.

The other night I was longing for a long, slowly braised aroma intoxicating meal, but I didn't have a lot of time. What I did have was a package of free range chicken legs and a bottle of red wine! What followed pleased me very much and satisfied my desire for some serious comfort food in a hurry! This recipe contains quite a lot of garlic as you will see, but it gets soft, sweet and mellow in the cooking process! This also calls for about 2 cups of red wine. Always cook with wine that you'd want to drink, because you will taste it in the food!

For 4 servings you will need:

4 free range, organically fed chicken legs -
I cannot stress enough that you should be using free range and organic poultry products. Not only is the flavor better, but you will sleep a bit more easily knowing that you are participating in a global community that is devoted to create good and healthy food! Always wash them first before cooking!

1 Can of organic diced tomatoes with garlic and basil

20 peeled cloves of Garlic 

2 cups of a good red wine

2 and a half cups of fresh mushrooms- mixed varieties
The exotic mushroom mixes definitely have more flavor than the plain button mushrooms!

1 cup of diced onions 

About 3 tablespoons of assorted fresh herbs, dill, thyme, chives and parsley- finely minced

Truffle Salt and pepper to season- You can use regular salt, the truffles just add an extra dimension of flavor that I love.

To begin:

Swirl some very good olive oil into a saute pan and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Turn up the heat to medium and add the chicken legs and allow to caramelize until golden. Season them with the herbs and the salt and pepper and continue cooking on a lower heat while you add the tomatoes,mushrooms, onions, garlic and wine. Simmer gently until the cooking juices are reduced and everything just tastes and smells really good! You'll know if the chicken is done because it will begin to fall from the bone, about 45 minutes to one hour.

Serve with a nutted rice pilaf or mashed potatoes, a simple salad of mixed greens and vinaigrette and a glass of that delicious wine that you've used to prepare this dish. Then relax, you deserve it!

Hosting a Springtime Cocktail Party!

  I love cocktail parties and seasonally themed parties are so much fun! I tend to give a lot of them all throughout the year starting with New Years eve and ending with Christmas! Right now, everythings blooming and it's a perfect excuse to get outside and play! So I'd love to give you a few suggestions for making your next cocktail party easy and fun!

First of all....Keep it simple! You don't need a full bar to throw an amazing party, you need one signature drink like a simple martini (keep it savory, nothing too sweet!) , an aperitfi like Herbsaint or Pastis , a red wine , a white wine and a champagne cocktail! If you have a punch bowl I've found that there's nothing more festive than creating a champagne punch. This is very simple, just chill several bottles of nice champagne, as well as a bottle of peach nectar. Pour the bottles of champagne into the bowl along with the peach nectar. Add quite a few shots of peach schnapps and Blackberry brandy and stir. Do this to taste. Now comes the pretty part. Take an old fashioned ring mold and fill it with a little bit of water and add all kinds of berries and herbs. Put it into the freezer and let it set until partially frozen. At this time add more berries, fruits and herbs and more water to the top. Freeze completely. I tend to really load up on the fruit because as it melts it's so pretty! At the time of serving, put the mold in a bit of hot water to loosen it and put the ring in the punch bowl. Beautiful and easy!

Hor's De Oeurvres for a spring themed party are really very simple. Bruschetta , that simple Italian treat with freah pesto and tomato on toast that's been brushed with a touch of olive oil is so easy to make. Also, because fresh asparagus is in season, you could easily steam the spears, wrap them with fresh rosemary ham or prosciutto and drizzle with a bit a fine olive oil and parmesan. Another easy appetizer is a baby redskin or Yukon gold potato steamed and sliced in half with each half topped with a chevron of smoked trout , fresh dill and Creme Fraiche. Right now you can get little heirloom tomatoes of all varieties at your local Whole Foods. Simply cut the tops off, scoop them out and fill them with the deviled egg salad mixture of your choice. Mine is mustard, curry and currants with a bit of mayonnaise. Put all of these good things on a lovely tray, pass them and wait for the compliments!

Then add a simple charcuterie platter with fresh cheeses, grapes, simple sausages and some fresh french bread. Don't forget to have a gluten free alternative such as a rice cracker for those who can't eat wheat!

Also, I usually make one larger thing, like a roasted pork tenderloin to slice and serve alongside of the cheese platter for simple sandwiches. This way, those who are craving something a bit more substantial are happy. Simply place a pork tenderloin in a roasting dish and cover it with salt , pepper, diced onions and a can of sliced peaches in lite syrup. Bake according to your butchers directions, let cool and then slice thinly. Arrange the tenderloin on a platter of fresh arugula and rosemary and serve with a side sauce of honey mustard mixed with a bit of mayonnaise. 

Make sure that you have enough cocktail napkins for everyone, this is usually the one time that I break down and buy really pretty ones. Good paper napkins DO set a mood, but I always would prefer to use real plates for the food. If you can find pretty melamine plates, they are worth the initial investment and they will serve you well for many years. I saw some wonderful Italianate plates yesterday whilst meandering through Smith and Hawken and they would be perfect for a simple springtime soiree! I've suggested food that really needs no cutlery but have some available just in case. Set every up on a pretty patio table , pass the finger foods for a special touch and make sure that your ipod is ready and plugged into some speakers that you've strategically placed outside. How about a little Gershwin....nothing sets the mood in the spring like Gershwin! Keep the flowers simple. A monochromatic arrangement in the French style is very pretty for this sort of party and very easy to create. Choose a color and work with several different flowers in the same color family. Keep the arrangement simple , compact and sophisticated and perhaps tie the bouquet with beautiful cloth ribbon. You could also arrange your flowers in a pretty basket, so nice for spring. Either way your flowers will accentuate and not dominate, leaving the food that you've so lovingly prepared to be the star! 

Now that you have everything set and ready, light the candles (low and unscented please!), place the flowers on the table and get ready to enjoy yourself. It's all done and clean up is easy!

The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and your guests! Write me and share some of your recipes and above all....Have fun!

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