About Rodney Brazil

Enjoying life, wine, and great cocktails.

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How to Throw a Housewarming Party

As if moving into a new home wasn’t stressful enough, as soon as you get moved in, it’s time to throw a party. Housewarming party ideas can be tricky, and if you’ve never hosted one, the etiquette can be confusing, as well. Who should be invited? Do I ask for gifts? What are we supposed to do at the party? What if someone spills wine on my brand new carpet? All very valid questions, but fear not. We know exactly how to throw a housewarming party. From invitations, to drinks, to decorations, we’ve got party planning ideas to help your housewarming party do exactly what it’s supposed to: bring warmth to your home.

Invitations

Housewarming party invitations are important. Many of your friends will not find out you’ve moved until they receive this invitation. Even those connected to you through social media may not realize that all those pictures you posted of empty closets and missing shoes you found under a chair were clues to that fact that you were moving. Therefore, housewarming party invitations should be carefully thought out. Housewarming Party IdeasDo them the old fashioned way, through snail mail. Get them custom printed, or create invitations yourself to make them stand out. Invite a larger number of people than you would for, say, a dinner party. Housewarming parties have a tendency to be more come-and-go than other at home events, and you should consider including that idea in your invitation. Open up your home for a three hour window, and suggest that your guests “drop in” and take a look at your new digs. Even casual acquaintances and co-workers may be interested in seeing your new place, and having a simple way to socialize with you outside of the office.

The big question when it comes to housewarming invitation wording is whether or not to ask for gifts. Some people prefer to request no gifts, while others like the idea of creating a housewarming registry. The choice is yours, and both are completely acceptable. Realize, though, that many of your closest friends and family will want to contribute something to your new home. One of the reasons people like going to housewarming parties is to get the chance to offer a token of love and friendship. Try leaving any wording about gifts out of the invitation, but including a special email address for RSVPs and questions. This allows guests to inquire about a gift registry, or more often, ask about your preferred retailer for gift cards.

Decorations

After you’ve just spent thousands of dollars moving into a new home, and buying new curtains, and painting all the walls, housewarming decorations may seem unnecessary. Everything looks new already! Parties should seem festive, though, and this can only be accomplished through a few party decorations. Don’t go overboard, because you do want the focus to be on your great new house, but definitely do a few small things. Tie balloons to your mailbox so people know where to stop. Get fresh flower arrangements for the table and kitchen counter. Hang streamers around the bathroom door. Let your friends see that you know how to throw a housewarming party with pizzazz.

Etiquette

Socializing today is pretty casual, so housewarming party etiquette is flexible, and should be more about making people comfortable than anything else. Your guests will definitely want to take a tour of your new home, so assign your best friend the role of tour guide to alleviate some of the pressure from yourself. If you don’t have a planned backup, you might sit down at the end of the party and realize you spent the whole day pointing at the track lighting in your garage. Avoid scheduling a time to open all of your gifts, as you might at a birthday party. If a guest specifically asks you to open their gift, do it away from the main party area to avoid long drawn out sessions of applause and reading cards. At a come-and-go party, this is a sure fire way to make everyone go. Also, your close friends will know what to do at a housewarming party. Let them know before hand that you are counting on them to keep the room up.

Food

A housewarming party menu should be simple, containing mostly bite sized food. Housewarming Party FoodYou want to make sure that most items will still be good, even after sitting on the counter for a couple of hours. Things such as homemade cookies, savory pastries, and party mixes should take up most of the table. Chips are great, of course, but memorable housewarming food ideas make much better crowd pleasers.

Most restaurants offer catering, so pick your favorite lunch spot, and pre-order a batch of something you love. Tell the restaurant that you are looking for housewarming party food ideas, and they will help you decide, and might even provide the supplies you need to keep your food hot or cold. Here are a few other party food ideas, too.

Drinks

Everyone who knows how to throw a housewarming party will tell you that a party punch is the way to go when it comes to drinks. Create an alcoholic punch that’s not too strong, but perfect for guests to sip on when they drop by. Have a second non-alcoholic punch as well, especially if your housewarming party is during the day. Keep a few bottles of water handy, along with club soda and ginger ale. Keeping the drink menu simple will save you a lot of headache, but also make sure there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Party Favors Engraved Glasses

Housewarming party favors are a way for you to thank your guests for stopping by, and bringing love and friendship to your new home. Mints and chocolates are always a hit, but consider giving your friends something that they can add to their own homes. Tea light candles are inexpensive, but can be useful to anyone. Engraved glasses are also a great way to commemorate a housewarming party, and if you don’t hand them all out your guests, you have more drinkware to keep in your own new cabinets.

Gifts

For those of us who aren’t planning on moving any time soon, there’s a much greater chance that we’ll be guests at a housewarming party than hosting one.

Electric Corkscrew

Bottles of wine are housewarming gift staples, so a great housewarming gift idea is an upscale wine bottle opener. Skip the gift wrapping, and show up with a bottle opener ready to go to work. You might even get to pick the first bottle opened in your friend’s new home!

A recurring problem at parties is running out of ice. On your way to the housewarming party, pick up a nice large bag of ice. It will always be welcomed with open arms. You can even go all the way, and wrap said bag of ice in a new beverage cooler or mini fridge.

Personalized housewarming gifts are a wonderful way to congratulate loved ones on a new home, but also share a memory with them that might become part of their everyday routine. Engraved Cutting BoardEngraved cutting boards are perfect for people who like to cook, and will definitely be put to good use.

The greatest give you can bring to a housewarming party is a new friend for the host. If they’ve just moved to town, or even relocated to a new neighborhood, it can be tough starting out. If you’ve been invited to a housewarming party, ask the host if you can bring a plus one, and find someone with common interests to invite. There’s always an open spot at the weekly poker table.

Steak Seasoning Ideas to Make Your Meat Awesome

A vital step in the meat grilling process is choosing the best steak seasoning. There are an abundance of BBQ recipes available, and each one can help give your great cuts of a meat a palate-pleasing flavor, but we are always searching to find the best of the best. We turned to a few experts for advice on creating memorable grilling and steak rub recipes that will give your food a unique, signature flavor. From tips on using great grilling technique, to unexpected flavors, to giving ready-made favorites a signature spin, here are the best steak seasoning ideas to help any cut of meat reach its maximum flavor potential.

Even when using the best dry rub you can find, great tasting meat starts with good grilling technique. Grilling expert Jeremy Tannehill, Executive Chef at Public House gastropub in Chicago, Illinois, says you should always know your heat source. “There are two types heat – direct and indirect. When it is quicker food items to cook, like asparagus and steak, then use direct. Otherwise use indirect heat [such as coals] when cooking slower cooked foods i.e. pastrami!” Chef Tannehill also recommends using seasonings judiciously. “Too much garlic, salt and/or chili powder… Don’t do it!” At Public House, he uses sumac spice in all of the steak rubs. “The middle-eastern spice is really enriched in the primal, animal flavor of the beef.”

Star AniseShaunya Hartley, Editorial Director of ShopEatandSleep.com, suggests that exotic flavors make the best BBQ dry rub. “I like to do a dry rub from time to time with Saffron, sometimes a red or green curry, [or] Star Anise…Star Anise gives a slight licorice component.” Highly popular in China, India, and other Asian countries, star anise is among the primary ingredients in the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. It’s also frequently found in absinthe, making it truly unexpected among steak seasoning ingredients.

Many times, backyard chefs have the best grilling ideas. James Andors, a Keller Williams real estate professional by day, has been developing his signature BBQ recipes for years. His father was a professional chef, who worked with famed chef Jean-Georges. “I grew up cooking, and our favorite thing to do was grill steak.” When it comes to the best steak seasoning, Andors has a clear favorite. “I would say there is little better than a Montreal steak seasoning, but not the kind from the bottle. Make it yourself with only seven or eight ingredients, stuff you likely already have in the spice cabinet.” BBQ Seasoning IdeasIngredients in Montreal steak seasoning include paprika, black and white pepper, kosher salt, coriander, granulated onion and garlic, thyme and rosemary, and something for a little heat. “If [you're] willing to stray from strictly dry rub, substitute for fresh items. Rub the steak with minced garlic, dice some jalapeños, and use a grinder for the coriander seeds (instead of the powder). Always use fresh ground black pepper (or pepper medley) as well. Fresh herbs (thyme and rosemary) are always advisable. Both can grow in anyone’s back yard with zero effort.”

Brian Sullivan, Senior Vice President of Culinary Innovation for California Pizza Kitchen, recommends making quick and easy flavored sea salts. He shared his recipe for Pinot Noir Sea Salt. “As a general rule of thumb, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of flavoring for every 1/4 cup of salt. Be careful not to over mix when blending, so that the salt crystals remain intact. The steps below outline the reduction method. This is a technique using liquid and reducing it to a syrup, which makes the flavor and color of the salt more intense while at the same time preventing the salt from dissolving on contact.”

Pinot Noir Sea Salt

  1. Bring the wine to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer until the wine is a syrup thick enough to coat a spoon. This can take 15 to 20 minutes depending on the amount of liquid and the size of the pan you are using.
  2. Once reduced, immediately add salt and blend until the salt has completely absorbed the wine and changed color.
  3. Transfer to a baking sheet or a piece of parchment paper and allow to air dry for 12 to 24 hours or until completely dry.
  4. Once the salt is dry, store in an airtight container.
  5. Enjoy!

Flavored Sea SaltsFlavored sea salts are a really effective way to enhance the taste of foods every day. Flavors such as alderwood, smoked guava wood, and chipotle give a woodsy flavor to grilled meat and vegetables without the need to keep a stockpile of logs hanging around the house. Some sea salts are even infused with flavors like coconut and lime, making it easy to give the most basic grilled foods an unexpected flavor.

If you are looking for a simple steak seasoning, or easy rib rub, choosing a favorite store-bought steak seasoning blend might be just the answer you’re looking for. Jonathan Toner, founder of Pirate Jonny’s Caribbean Rubs and Seasoning, is a long time foodie, with an award from the National BBQ Association under his belt. Using a blend of coffee, chili powder, garlic, cocoa, and a touch of Jamaican jerk, his ready-made barbecue rub captures an awesome balance of flavor. He’s created a number of great grilling recipes, including one for Roundup Coffee Roast Beef, for those days when you have no choice but to cook your meat inside. Bar Brew Q Recipe

An important ingredient in most great grill recipes is salt, which can be a problem for meat lovers who need to watch their sodium intake. Danielle Marullo, Assistant General Manager of The Todd English Food Hall in New York’s famed Plaza Hotel, is also the blogger behind GotRoomForMore.com, and creates delicious recipes that are also low in sodium. Marullo shared a unique recipe for Bar-Brew-Q Steak that incorporates coffee, coriander seeds, and LoSalt®, a low-sodium seasoning. “I often add coffee to my chocolate desserts to enhance the flavor, but the spiciness and earthiness of these beans are a match made in heaven for meat.”

Experience the Great American Beer Festival


Every year, the Great American Beer Festival celebrates the brewing industry by serving an enormous assortment of U.S. beers in a public tasting event. The Great American Beer Festival brings together top national brewers and a diverse selection of beers that prove why the United States is the world’s finest brewing nation.

This event started in 1982, and like the American craft brewing industry, has been growing ever since.  

8 Best Cocktails for Day Drinking

Day drinking is a far different practice than boozing it up with your friends at night. It’s fine to have a day drunk every now and then, and who doesn’t love a good brunch cocktail? But drinking all day must be carefully done, taking caution not to become too intoxicated for late afternoon and evening social activities. There’s also the issue of getting too tipsy about mid afternoon, and losing half the day to an impromptu nap. Therefore, it is important to take it slowly, and treat yourself with interesting cocktails that enhance your day drinking experience, rather than quickly rushing you into a post-happy-hour-like stupor. Here are the top 8 best cocktails for day drinking, each with its own special purpose.

To Energize: Earl Grey Tea Cocktail

Earl Grey Tea Cocktail

Morning cocktails must be subtle, but flavorful, and the Earl Grey Tea cocktail is a perfect fit. Made with freshly brewed Earl Grey tea, gin, honey, lemon juice, and lavender, it’s a yummy mixed drink that will energize your day. The caffeine from the tea helps you focus and feel awake, while the floral flavors will invigorate your spirits, figuratively and literally.

To Refresh: Sparkling White Peach Sangria

Sparkling White Peach Sangria
Sangria is a daytime drinking classic. Made with wine, brandy, and slices of fruit, this sparkling white peach sangria is sweet and refreshing. This recipe calls for seltzer water as well, adding a burst of bubbles to every glass. Definitely try to find fresh white peaches, because their tangy flavor will give these tasty mixed drinks a zing that you won’t get from regular peaches.

To Get Motivated: Moscow Mule

Best Moscow Mule Recipe

Ginger has been used for medicinal purposes for years, so ginger beer is a natural ingredient for a great day drinking cocktail. The classic Moscow Mule will help you get motivated with a spicy kick that comes from the ginger beer, boosted by a hearty shot of vodka. If you serve your Moscow Mule the traditional way (in a copper mug), the chill of the icy-cold metal rim will enhance your wake up call even further.

To Unwind: The Papal Maple

The Papal Maple
If you’ve had a stressful morning, and taken to day drinking as a way to unwind during the afternoon, The Papal Maple cocktail is what you want to go for. Made with cognac, maple syrup, blood orange juice, and cranberry bitters, it may not have ingredients that are readily available, but taking the time to bring them together is well worth the effort. Shaken and strained over ice, this is also a great brunch cocktail idea, giving a huge twist to the more pedestrian mimosa.

To Rejuvenate: Coconut Champagne Punch

coconut-champagne-punch
Coconut water is packed with natural electrolytes, and when you are drinking all day, it’s important to stay hydrated! This coconut champagne punch combines fresh fruit, coconut water, juice, and sparkling wine for an incredible way to rejuvenate the senses. One of the most delicious mixed drinks on our list, this punch is perfect for morning cocktails or afternoon parties where you need to mix your drinks in large batches. Opt for a dry sparkling wine, rather than sweet, for the perfect balance of flavors.

To Contemplate: The Garibaldi

Garibaldi Cocktail
If the skies are calm on a weekday afternoon, and the temperature is just right, taking time to sit back and contemplate on life can be very rewarding. When you take time to reflect, mix up a Garibaldi cocktail. This Italian-inspired list of ingredients includes three different spirits, citrus juice, and mineral water. These complex flavors will give your taste buds something to think about, and draw your mind into a quite place of thoughtful contemplation.

To Relax: The Painkiller Prescriptive

The Painkiller Prescriptive
Made with high-proof rum, citrus juices, and seasoned with nutmeg, the Painkiller Prescriptive was created to help ease those aches and pains and help you achieve relaxation. Originating on the island of Jost Van Dyke in the Virgin Islands, you can be sure that these great cocktails will transport you to an easy-going place. The recipe also incorporates cream of coconut, which adds a smooth, milky taste and texture, making it easy to close your eyes and dream of sunny beaches.

To Nourish: Bloody Caesar

Bloody Caesar Cocktail
Never forget to nourish yourself when day drinking. The Bloody Caesar cocktail is a Canadian spin on the Bloody Mary, and can be packed with as many celery stalks and pickles as your glass will hold. Using clamato juice instead of just plain tomato, you get a rich, satisfying sip every time. Rounding out our list of the best cocktails for day drinking, the Bloody Caesar is the perfect drinking companion for morning, noon, or even late at night.

10 Low Calorie Cocktails You Can Order Anywhere

If you are looking to trim your waistline, or at least maintain its current circumference, removing cocktails from your diet can seem like an easy place to cut back. It becomes hard when you are out with your friends, someone orders a round of drinks for the table, and you are relegated to squeaking out a quiet, “Just water for me, please.” Not that water is bad. We all need hydration, but there are plenty of low calorie cocktails to order at a bar, without blowing your diet. The best low calorie alcoholic drinks keep plenty of the good stuff (booze) while reducing or eliminating the bad stuff (sugary mixers). While ultra-light beers are easy to find, there are far more flavorful options when you opt for low calorie mixed drinks. We’ve created a list of the 10 best low calorie cocktails you can order anywhere.

Wine SpritzersWine Spritzer

Any type of wine can be turned into a spritzer to create a healthy alcoholic drink available at any bar or restaurant. At approximately 25 calories per ounce, an average glass of wine is about 150 calories. Not all that bad to begin with. A wine spritzer, however, typically contains only three ounces of wine, coming in at only 75 calories. A spritzer is topped off with calorie free club soda, giving you bubbles and more to drink. White wines tend to be lower in calories, but most of it depends on alcohol content. The best bet is to just go with whatever wine you like best.
Total calories: 75

Malibu Rum & Diet Cola

Rum is definitely not a low calorie alcohol. However, Malibu brand coconut rum has 51 calories per ounce, which is less than most. Twelve ounces of cola come with a hearty 120 calories, and that’s where a rum and Coke gets us into trouble. Diet cola, however, has no calories. Add in a standard shot of Malibu rum, about 1.5 ounces, and you’ve got one of the lowest calorie alcoholic drinks you can find.
Total: 77

Flavored Vodka on the Rocks with a Twist

Flavored Vodka on the RocksTypically, 80 proof vodka has 64 calories per ounce, or 96 calories per shot. Flavored vodkas are everywhere, and splashed over the rocks are great for sipping. Most flavored vodkas use natural and artificial flavors which add no calories. Have them add any available fruit garnish for even more flavor. If you just can’t handle straight vodka, ask the bartender to top it up with a little club soda.
Total: 96 calories

Seabreeze

Low calorie vodka drinks are tricky, since many of them contain juices that are loaded with sugar. A Seabreeze cocktail is made with vodka, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice, and standard fare in almost any bar or restaurant. When you order, it’s important to tell the bartender that you want mostly grapefruit juice with just a little cranberry. One ounce of grapefruit juice is only 11 calories, while one ounce of cranberry juice is almost 20. Including a shot of 80 proof vodka, you’ve got a tasty low calorie cocktail that looks just like the regular version.
Total: 113 calories

Tequila & Soda with LimeTequila and Soda

Frozen margaritas are popular and incredibly tasty, but run in the 250 calorie range. Some restaurant margaritas are even worse, with enough sugar to exceed 350 calories. As with many things, taking it back to the basics is the way to go. The classic margarita is made with just tequila, triple sec, and lime juice, which leaves out the sugary rim and flavored mixers, getting the calorie count down to 150 calories. To take it even further, order tequila and soda with orange and lime garnish. Squeeze the orange and lime garnish into the drink, and muddle them in with your straw.
Total: 95 calories

Anything Mixed with Tea

Most popular spirits come in under 100 calories for a full jigger, and they all taste great mixed with iced tea. A staple found in almost any restaurant, iced tea has zero calories, and a relatively neutral flavor. The waiter might give you a weird look, but pick your favorite spirit, and ask for it mixed into a glass of iced tea. Make sure to avoid sweet tea, though, since prepared sweet tea can have nearly 5 tablespoons of sugar per serving.
Total: under 100 calories

Rob Roy

Rob Roy cocktailA prime candidate for the manliest low calorie mixed drink, a Rob Roy is made with scotch, vermouth, and bitters. Simple, classic, and can be ordered with confidence and authority.
Total: 145 calories

Cranberry Gin Martini

In case you haven’t noticed, many of these cocktails contain only one shot of alcohol. If you want a mixed drink that packs a punch, try our Cranberry Gin martini. It’s not a restaurant menu standard, but any well stocked bar will have the ingredients to make it. Your bartender will probably have fun trying something new. Other than taste, the best part is your friends will just think you are a sophisticated drinker with discerning taste, and never know you’re on a diet.
Total: 205 calories

Rosé

If you prefer to keep things simple, try a glass of rosé. Although it’s less common than other sparkling wines, popularity is increasing, keeping you on the cutting edge of drinking trends. If your friends give you any crap at the brunch table, just smile and nod as they throw back mimosas at nearly 220 calories per glass.
Total: 85 calories

Sake

If other low calorie cocktails are making you lose your buzz, try sake. This dry rice wine has higher levels of alcohol per ounce than grape-based wines. Even though this adds calories, sake is lower in other sugars. Traditionally served at room temperature, sake is easier to sip slowly, meaning a four ounce glass can be enjoyed for much longer than a chilled cocktail.
Total: 150 calories

Cocktail Recipe: Cranberry Gin Martini

Even though I love a good, dirty martini, the resulting olive-juice-breath can be a deterrent, especially in intimate settings. One of my favorite alternatives is this cranberry gin martini. Featuring the fragrant botanicals of gin alongside tangy cranberry juice, you get a stunning cocktail worthy of enjoying at a slow pace. Since the gin flavors are so exposed, I always reach towards a higher shelf for something like Tanqueray No. 10 or Bombay Sapphire. You’ll get a slightly different flavor from the orange vs. Angostura bitters, so try both to see which you prefer.

Cranberry Gin Martini

  • 2 1/2 oz top shelf gin, such as Bombay Sapphire
  • 1/2 oz cranberry juice
  • orange twist
  • dash orange or Angostura bitters

Pour the gin over ice, into a cocktail shaker. Add cranberry juice and bitters. Shake for a few seconds until well blended. Strain into a frozen cocktail glass, and top with an orange twist.

 

The Cranberry Gin Martini

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Personalized Brewmeister Metal Sign

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NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO PARTICIPATE OR WIN. Prize package for the Oktoberfest Sweepstakes includes the Brewmeister metal sign #3846, European glass beer stein #3054, Village Square wooden tap handle #3938, and Two (2) 18 oz German beer boots, #715. A representative from HomeWetBar will contact the winner directly via email. A purchase will not improve odds of winning. For a free entry into our Oktoberfest Sweepstakes, please print your name, address, phone number, and email address on a letter or post card and mail to HomeWetBar.com, 425 E Hill St, Oklahoma City, OK  73105. Mailed entries must be received by EOB on Monday, September 29, 2014. Telephone entries will not be accepted. Available only to residents of the United States and Canada.

How to Infuse Vodka Naturally

Using infused vodka in your cocktails is a great way to add fresh flavor without a lot of calories and artificial ingredients. The vodka infusion process used by large distilleries is just as easy to replicate in small batches, right in your own kitchen. Homemade infused vodka has limitless opportunities, with any combination of fresh fruits and herbs contributing to one-of-a-kind flavors that perfectly suit your taste. Here’s an easy set of steps to help you flavor your own vodka.

The most important step in making infused vodka is picking out your flavors. There are plenty of infused liquor recipes online, but let your own taste buds be your guide. Any kind of fruit will taste great, especially citrus. If you choose a sweet fruit, like apples or grapes, consider adding a little citrus fruit, such as lemon or pineapple, to help ignite the flavors. Fresh herbs add unique flavor, especially if you plan to make a dry martini, or are experimenting with infused gin. It’s best to start with small sprigs at first, so you can test the potency.

Once you’ve picked out your flavors, you’ll need to find an infusion jar.

Naturally Infused Vodka

This naturally infused vodka maker combines everything you need in one, including the jar. If you get several infusion jars, you can invite your friends over for a vodka tasting.

Cut your fruit and herbs into small pieces. If you are using berries, or small fruit, you won’t need to cut them too small, but it’s essential to break the outer membrane of the fruit so that the juices can soak into the vodka. Place the chunks of fruit into the bottom of the jar, and depress the cutter into the top. The cutter will aid in the vodka infusion process, and also keep pieces separated so the vodka can flow by more freely.

Infused Vodka Maker

Screw on the top canister of the infusion jar. Make sure it’s sealed tightly to prevent leaks. Pour as much vodka as you like into the jar. You can pour just enough for a drink or two, or fill it all the way so you can share with friends. Top shelf vodka is not necessary, but you want to start with a good neutral spirit that’s been filtered at least three times. This will ensure the alcohol taste won’t interfere with your fruit flavored vodka.

Fruit Flavored Infused Vodka

Now, it’s time to wait. For small batches, an hour or two is fine. Larger batches should rest for a few hours.

After the flavors have had time to infuse, you’re almost ready for a cocktail! Simply pour your beautifully infused vodka out of the jar, and into the cocktail shaker or glass. The infused vodka maker will strain out any chunks of fruit or pulp for a smooth finish.

Martinis with Infused Vodka

The more you experiment with your liquor infuser, you’ll find the best flavored liquor is made in your own home. Vanilla infused vodka, made with a real vanilla bean, is surprisingly memorable. Fresh basil infused alcohol is incredible in a Bloody Mary. If you’re really adventurous, vodka infused with scallions and radishes will make a dirty martini so good, you won’t want to share. This same technique works well for infusing bourbon and other spirits. Have fun, and feel free to share your ideas for making naturally infused vodka at home.

 

Amazing Mustard Uses, Other Than on a Sandwich

From the ballpark to the kitchen table, mustard is the unsung hero of the condiment community. People take for granted its semi-spicy zing of flavor, and the way it can give a boost to even the blandest of sandwiches. The name “mustard” comes down to us from a Latin phrase meaning, “burning wine,” due to the fiery flavor mustard seeds added to ancient unfermented grape juice. Although I can’t imagine any situation where I would squirt a dollop of mustard into my glass of pinot noir, there are a number of amazing, unconventional mustard uses that can improve your everyday life. As if tasting awesome on a corn dog isn’t enough?

Mustard Seed Benefits

Mustard Seed Benefits

Yellow Mustard Seeds

Mustard seed contains selenium, which has been found to lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. It also contains magnesium, which is needed for healthy bones, muscle function, and has been shown to lower blood pressure in some studies. Even though prepared mustard dilutes these minerals somewhat from the original seed, your body will still absorb the nutrients from your lunch, and reap these mustard seed benefits. So go ahead, add a little extra mustard nutrition to your hoagie, and say to your wife, “It’s like vitamins, honey.”

Mustard for Burns

One of the best mustard uses is for burns. Since many minor skin burns occur near the kitchen stove, mustard can usually be found nearby. Although there are many home remedies for burns, such as a cold pack or oatmeal, many people who’ve tried it actually head for the refrigerator door first, and slather on a generous smattering of yellow mustard. Mustard for burns relieves the stinging almost instantly, and stimulates healing.

Soothe a Sore Throat

Mustard has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. One of the oldest apothecary tricks uses mustard to soothe a sore throat. Heat up about one cup of water, then stir in two tablespoons of mild mustard, a pinch of salt, some lemon juice, and a spoonful of honey (locally farmed honey, if it’s available). If you’re feeling especially daring, add half a shot of whiskey, too. Do the finger test to make sure the water is not too hot, then slowly sip your concoction until it’s gone. The taste won’t make you rush back for more, but it’s not terrible, either. It will soothe the pain of your sore throat, and the effect will last for a day or so.

Get the Smell Out of Containers

Mustard Seed Oil

Brown Mustard Seed

One of the oldest tricks in the book is using mustard to neutralize skunk smell. If you’re like me, though, I’ve been lucky enough to avoid the spray of the skunk. Mustard, however, is great for removing all types of odors. If you have a reusable plastic container or glass bottle, and the scent of the previous contents seems to linger inside, just fill it up with hot water and some mustard. Seal the lid, and shake it for a minute or so, then let it sit. After a couple of hours, pour out the mustard solution, and give it a quick rinse with soap and water. Almost any smell will have disappeared.

Mustard Face Mask

Remember all those times that your mom got fussy with you for having dry mustard on your face and she cleaned it off with a tissue soaked in her own saliva? Little did she know you were actually preserving your own youthful appearance. The vitamins and minerals found in mustard are great in all-natural face masks. Spread a bunch of mustard all over your face, let it dry for about 15 minutes, then rinse it off. You’ll have a smoother, brighter looking face. Part of the effects of a mustard face mask might be residual golden tones from the the yellow mustard, but who knows. Try testing a small area of your neck or jaw line before you do your whole face, because the stimulating benefits of mustard can be pretty intense to sensitive skin.

Relax Muscles & Soothe Sore Feet

Yellow Mustard

Mustard to Relax Muscles

People all over the world use mustard to relieve soreness. Many athletes carry around packets of mustard for leg cramps and tightness of the muscles. The vitamins and minerals, along with the vinegar found in prepared mustard, cause the nervous system to relax, and reduce cramping and muscle contractions. Just eat a tablespoon of mustard when you start feeling those muscles twitch. Mustard can also be used externally to soothe muscles. In fact, some synthetic topical pain relievers were designed to replicate the stimulating effect of mustard on muscles. To make a paste, use dry ground mustard, along with a little bit of flour and water, and an egg if you’ve got it, and stir it into a thick goop. Soak a piece of gauze or a washcloth in the mixture, and apply to the sore area. You can also mix dry ground mustard and salt into warm water to create a foot bath, or even a full body soak to sooth sore feet and relieve all-over achiness.

Mustard Oil for Hair Growth

Everyone loves great hair. It’s a signal of virility and coolness. Mustard oil, when used as a hair treatment, offers a number of benefits to help you get a more dapper ‘do. Whether you suffer from dry hair, or slow growing roots, mustard oil contains vitamins like beta-carotene, and fatty acids that strengthen hair follicles and stimulate growth on the scalp. Rubbing table mustard into your forehead won’t change the direction of a receding hairline, but many cultures have used mustard oil for hair growth through the millennia, and the tradition shows no signs of stopping.

Put it in a Cocktail

It might sound crazy, but yes, mustard can be used in a cocktail! A Bloody Mary cocktail is an easy home for mustard, since some recipes already call for horseradish. Sweet mustards, like Dijon, are also great in a shot of tequila. For the adventurous cocktail lover, try this recipe for Mustard Punch cocktails, which combines gin, lime juice, and brandy.

Mason Jar Condiment Dispenser

 

Develop Your Tailgate Party Game Plan

Getting the right game plan together for your tailgate party can have a huge impact: less work; more fun. Tailgating seems simple enough, and in some ways, it is, but packing up an entire backyard’s worth of lawn chairs, food, and grilling accessories can be trickier than it sounds. But tailgators, take notice! We’ve got an awesome list of tailgate party ideas, just in time for the season. From outdoor gear to tailgate accessories, these great tips will get you all the way to the playoffs.

Pack Supplies Inside Your Other Supplies

Tailgate Party Tips

A truck full of kids, food, and outdoor gear doesn’t leave a lot of storage room left to spare. Economize on space by packing your tailgating supplies inside other supplies. Fill a beer mug with condiments. Tuck flashlights into your folding lawn chairs. Shove a stash of beef jerky into your toolbox. As an added bonus, when you store things in unexpected places, only you hold the knowledge necessary to find the hidden treasure, leaving everyone else at your mercy, and more beef jerky to gnaw on when the kids aren’t looking.

Put Everything in Party Cups

Tailgate Party Tips

Disposable party cups are commonplace at a tailgating party, and with good reason. They are lightweight, stackable, and shatterproof. However, disposable party cups won’t keep beer cold for very long. If you are fan of the ubiquitous red Solo cup, opt for the sturdier, reusable, high capacity alternative for your beverage, and put everything else in the throwaways. Plastic forks, napkins, toothpicks, peanuts, straws, and all sorts of small items can be hard to manage outside. A plate full of potato chips will go flying in the wind, but a plastic cup full of chips firmly planted in a deserving hand will stay right where you say. You can serve everything from watermelon to chicken wings in a disposable plastic cup, so be sure to pack plenty.

Cooking on a Stick

Cooking on a stick

It wouldn’t be a tailgate without cooking food over an open flame. While steaks and hamburgers are never a bad choice, cooking food on a stick is fun for the entire family, and gives you more time to relax and enjoy the game. Hot dogs and marshmallows are a start, but chicken strips, shrimp, potatoes, and corn on the cob all cook perfectly when skewered and held over a fire. Extra long roasting sticks are great, because you can stand further away from the heat while your food gets charred and delicious.

Make a Bucket of Jello Shots

Bucket of Jello Shots

Jello shots are a hit every time, but fussing around with trays of little sticky cups is too much of a hassle on the go. Smart tailgators opt for the bucket of jello shots. Just mix up one huge batch of jello and alcohol, pour it into a party bucket or large container, refrigerate, and you’re done. Party goers can scoop out the gelatin with disposable plastic cups, and shoot away. It’s a little messy, but hey, that’s why we brought the portable handwashing station.

Set Up a Portable Handwashing Station

Portable Handwashing Station

Some party ideas have more to do with maintenance than the actual party. As any tailgate party progresses, messes and spills are inevitable. With no access to running water nearby, it’s good to have some clean up plays in your game plan. Take a used, disposable laundry detergent dispenser, fill it with water, and presto! A portable water faucet, complete with handle, ready to rinse hands, feet, and cooking utensils. You’ll want to wash the container out thoroughly to remove any traces of detergent, but after a few minutes with the garden hose and an overnight soak, you should be good to go. Many laundry detergent jugs hold over a gallon of liquid, which should be plenty of water for a few hours of tailgating. It might taste a little like soap, though, so don’t plan on drinking it.

Hide Booze from Your Friends

ways to sneak alcohol

Friends are great. We all want lots of friends to make life more fun. But friends will also drink your alcohol without asking, and sometimes all of it. You stay silent because you don’t want to be a party pooper, so you need some great ways to sneak alcohol during your tailgate. May we recommend hiding a stash of booze in a stealth container like our binoculars hidden flask. It even holds two types of liquor, so you can be ready for anything. When you need to sneak a swig, just put the binoculars around your neck, and say, “I’m going over there to do some bird watching!” And no one will follow you, because bird watching, really? All the while you slip away with your own private stash of booze while your friends fight over your last can of beer.

Sneak Booze into the Game

how to sneak booze into a stadium

Once in awhile, tailgating is interrupted by someone who appears out of nowhere with an extra ticket to the game. Should this occur, be prepared to sneak a few drinks into the stadium with the help of a flask hidden inside a sports seat cushion. A durable vinyl pouch is housed withing a real functioning stadium cushion. Just plop it down on the bleachers, take a seat, and when you are ready for a refill, unzip the side panel to get access to an easy release nozzle. The foam of the seat cushion even provides insulation to the liquid inside. With practice, you’ll be able to sneak this play by even the toughest ref.

 

13 Ingenious Uses for Sriracha You Need To Know

Sriracha sauce is one of the hottest condiments around, and not just because it’s spicy. This sweet hot sauce has been available for decades, found on tables in barbecue shacks and Asian restaurants everywhere. But what is sriracha sauce? Named after the island in Thailand where it was created, sriracha sauce, sometimes known as “rooster sauce,” is a particular hot sauce recipe featuring chili peppers, distilled vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic, and occasionally a few other spices.  This unique flavor combination has acquired legions of devoted fans who cringe at the idea of having any other hot sauces on their food.

As sriracha has grown in popularity, new uses for this hot sauce have naturally been found. From the best ways to kick-start your food, to medicinal uses, here are 13 ingenious uses for sriracha sauce that you need to know.

Add to Eggs

Eggs with sriracha hot sauce

The perennial breakfast favorite, eggs, has always suffered from one thing: bland flavor. There’s many solutions, such as salt, paprika, cheeses, and salsa, but you haven’t truly tasted amazing eggs until they’ve been topped with sriracha. For scrambled, while you are whisking together your eggs and milk, add a pinch of salt and one tablespoon of sriracha chili sauce for every two eggs. Scramble as normal, then get ready for a plate of eggs so tasty you may never turn back. If you’re preparing your eggs any other way, just squirt some over the top.

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Mix with Ranch Dressing

We’ve seen ranch dressing on tons of different things, from cornbread stuffing to pepperoni pizza. In some ways, sriracha is the new ranch dressing. When the two are mixed together, you double the possibilities. Sriracha ranch is great on tuna salad sandwiches, egg sandwiches, french fries, your fingers, and the list goes on. Use two parts ranch dressing to one part hot sauce, mix thoroughly, and you’re golden.

Stir into a Bloody Mary Cocktail

bloody-mary-with-sriracha

The age-old hangover cure and favorite of people who like to drink before noon, the Bloody Mary cocktail, just got better. You can start with Bloody Mary mix, or just simple tomato juice. Add one tablespoon of sriracha, and then your vodka. Stir it all together with a celery stick or giant pickle, and you are ready for brunch. You can add as much hot sauce as you like, and if your cocktail gets too spicy, just add more vodka!

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Make Boring Soup Taste Better

Canned soup sometimes tastes more like the can than it does any kind of soup. Even a tiny dash of sriracha will take the flavor of any bowl of soup from boring to beautiful.

Keep Cats Off of Your Furniture

Keep Cats Off of Your Furniture

Have a cat who won’t stop scratching at your wooden coffee table? Smear on a little sriracha to his favorite scratching zone. The spiciness will get on the cat’s claws, and the flavor will deter them from scratching the same surface again. Don’t worry about your cat getting sick from the spiciness. If it makes you feel better, just set a bowl of beer on the ground. Drinking beer always helps me when I eat something spicy.

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Add to Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

Shrimp cocktail is a party favorite, but store bought cocktail sauces can all start to taste the same. Make yours stand out by adding a dash of sweet chili sauce. Your guests will still recognize that signature cocktail shrimp flavor, but find an unexpected kick from your secret ingredient, as well.

Add to your Popcorn

sriracha-on-popcorn

This amazing idea is actually two in one. Popcorn is a great crunch snack that’s tasty and easy to make.  You can take it to the next level by adding sriracha for a spicy sweet treat. There are two recommended techniques, and you should try both.  First, you can stir together one tablespoon of sriracha with 1/3 cup salt, then spread out on a plate and let it dry. After a few hours, you’ve got a flavor-infused salt that can be sprinkled over popcorn, or anything else you want. Alternately, you can melt 1/3 cup of butter, then mix in 1 tablespoon of sriracha, and pour this beautiful buttery mixture over your fresh, hot popcorn. Prefer to go four star spicy? Use both!

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Natural Pain Relief

Peppers and vinegar have been central ingredients in home remedies for centuries, and the magical sriracha sauce has both. Whether you’ve got a bruise, muscle aches, or an insect bite, rub on a little hot sauce for instant pain relief. The capsaicin in the peppers, along with the soothing qualities of the vinegar, will relieve minor topical aches and pains without the need for a trip to the pharmacy. Careful to avoid open wounds, though. Even though the vinegar has antiseptic properties, the thought of rooster sauce running through my veins is just weird.

Use as a Fruit Topping

If you are looking for an interesting way to enjoy tasty, healthy fresh fruit, look no further than your kitchen cabinet. Sriracha sauce is great on pineapple, cantaloupe, mango, and all sorts of berries. You can mix it into a fruit salad, or just squirt it onto individual pieces as you go. The pepper flavor brings out the sweetness in the fruit, and it’s way healthier than sugary chocolate coatings.

Mixing with a Vodka Shot to Relieve Congestion

Sriracha Vodka Shot

Wheezes and sneezes and chest congestion are a common side effect of allergy season and the common cold. If you want to knock some of that mucus out of your sinuses, and get a little kick in the process, mix a half tablespoon of sriracha into an ice cold vodka shot. The spice will clear up your nasal passages, and the alcohol will sooth your chest. Don’t pretend you’re at a college party, though. Too much sriracha at one time can cause stomach irritation. One shot should be plenty, anyway.

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Make Your Own Breakfast Sausage

Little known fact: breakfast sausage is just ground meat with seasoning in it. You can take any kind of ground meat, including pork, chicken, or turkey, and turn it into sausage just by adding a tablespoon of sriracha for every pound. Thoroughly mix it in a bowl before cooking the meat, and if you have some dried sage, and a teaspoon of that, too. Cook as normal, and then tell your family you are treating them to your very special “homemade” sausage.

Add to Left Over Mac & Cheese

Sriracha Mac and Cheese

Left over mac & cheese is a staple in my refrigerator. When I finish my last helping, I usually reach for a pot to make another batch. It’s an easy comfort food that stays good in the fridge for several days. Cheese, though, can loose some of it’s flavor after it’s been reheated, so try refreshing your leftover noodles with a splash of sriracha. You can even stir it in with some fresh grated cheese, and your leftover mac will be as good as new.

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Make It Yourself

Making hot sauce is incredibly easy, and primarily involves combining ingredients most people keep on hand. Learn how to make hot sauce with this great homemade sriracha recipe, then experiment to create your own signature version.