An Intimate Gathering With Ease!


Has Valentine’s Day almost passed by without a thought of your spouse or significant other? Or, if you are single, have you given a thought to pulling together something special at your house? Or just need an idea for the weekend, something different?

If so, I wanted to share a couple of fantastic ideas that can be used tonight, or anytime for that matter, for a small gathering.

Everything old is new again. The trend for retro/mini cocktails is exploding, and as a mixologist, I find it very interesting that the cocktails in the 20’s were mini because they were almost pure alcohol. Alas, I have come up with a classic cocktail that will be elegant, tastes great, and can be romantic, not pure alcohol, but retro all the same.

Do you have some antique martini glasses? If so, they are very small. Serve a nice port, or, mix this:

The Retro Cocktail:
The ingredients in this whiskey based cocktail are reminiscent of the famous “Sidecar” of the 1920’s. I have softened this original recipe a bit for flavor enhancement, for today’s discriminating cocktail palette.

1 ounce premium Crown Royal Whiskey
¼ ounce Triple Sec
¼ ounce Maraschino Cherry Juice
2 ounces Sweet and Sour Mix
1 Mini Lime Wedge
1 Maraschino Cherry

Add all liquid ingredients to a martini shaker with ice. Shake a pour. Garnish with a mini lime wedges and cherries on an olive pic.

To pair food with this cocktail, you need something a little sweet yet savory. My friend, Mary Ann Eacuello, came up with this delicious recipe. It is easy, ultra sophisticated, and delicious.

Duck Nachos:
1 package wonton wrappers or eggroll wrappers
1 bottle of Hoison Sauce
½ cups Brown sugar
½ cup Orange Juice
½ cup Maraschino Cherry Syrup (can use from a bottle of cherries)
Olive Oil
2 Duck Breasts
Manchego Cheese or other Mild, crumbly cheese such as mild feta
½ cup chopped scallions

Take two breasts of duck and coat with brown sugar, orange juice and maraschino cherry syrup and place in a plastic bag.

In a large non-stick skillet full with at least 2 inches of olive oil. Bring to medium heat.

Take wonton wrappers or egg roll wrappers cut into halves and fry just until they’re puffy. Then take them out and place them on a piece of paper towel to drain.

While the wontons drain, place the duck breasts skin side down into the pan for 7 minutes. Flip over and cook for another 7 minutes.

Spread wontons on a cookie sheet, then slice the duck breast against the grain and place on wontons with the marinade left over in the pan. Pour warm Hoison sauce over the duck and top off with scallions and Manchego cheese.

Bake at 300 degrees for about 10-15 minutes and serve.

These recipes are not complicated, and once you keep these ingredients on hand, you will never lack for an impromptu, sophisticated gathering!

Couples Night In!

I think you know that feeling…complete passion for another person. Or, maybe it is a long-term relationship you wish to rekindle. Create the atmosphere of a romantic restaurant, serve romantic cocktails and food…a wonderful way to celebrate some special couples in your life or even just the two of you!


Choose a spot at home that has “feeling”…for instance, your balcony if you are in an apartment. A section of your living room that is attractive and has low lighting; The goal is, a little romantic, intimate, and a little sexy; this will go a long way to treating your guest(s) to a special evening. And with a pretty martini, some chocolate covered strawberries, and other appealing delights, the guys will be in heaven and the girls smitten!

Send your date and/or couples an invitation for the event! Don’t be shy…

A small, intimate gathering such as a couples night requires some sensuality in food, décor, lighting and music, so atmosphere is very important here. You must stimulate all the senses! Candles are a must around your living area and your table setting…spruce up the floor with a few rose petals. Put flowers around the house. Have soft pillows available. Music should be flowing softly throughout. Look amazing, simply amazing! Ask your guests to wear 5 star restaurant garb…this will only add to the atmosphere! Pushback? No hostess would ever say you couldn’t come, darling, because you must wear jeans.

A bistro style table, set up French style, will do! Borrow one from a friend, or invest in a set from a home accessories shop. Or, any table will do.

A beautiful linen tablecloth, fancy linen napkins, nice votives, and a romantic table setting is a must.

If it is just the two of you, you will only have each other to gaze at! But if other special couples are present, you will become great friends. It is amazing what a great atmosphere and the right lighting will do to stimulate great conversation.

Wherever you place the table, make sure that you have good, soft lighting and your playlist ready to go! Have all of your food pre-prepared. Serve your caviar in the living area and then move to the table after your “foreplay” with your palette.

Use place cards for the ultimate at home formality. I love the look of place cards in small apertif glasses at each place setting.

After dinner, dessert is king. And, maybe a fun movie. But all in all, everyone will remember that party on the balcony, or, remember the time…


Cranberry Kiss

  • 1.5 oz SMIRNOFF® Cranberry Flavored Vodka
  • 1.5 oz. simple syrup
  • 2 oz. cranberry juice
  • Lime wedges and mint leaves

Muddle together 3 lime wedges and 8 mint leaves in a shaker. Add in the other ingredients. Shake well with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with mint leaves (I also like to add fresh cranberries to each glass).


Potato Crisps with Creme Fraiche and Caviar

Broiled Oysters with Siracha-Lime Butter

Linguine with Asparagus, Peas, and Arugula

Wedge Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing and Bacon Bits

Cinnamon Chocolate Torte with Vanilla Crème Fraiche


If you are interested in purchasing Lolita® products please visit:

Diageo North America, Inc., the maker of SMIRNOFF® Vodka, has given me this product to try for my blog.

Who Needs a Man??? It’s Valentine’s Day, Single Ladies!


Me, without a date…geeze! Can anyone relate?? My hubby is going on a trip with his brother and leaves on Valentine’s Day (I know, not very nice, but it was ny choice to not go on the trip!)  If any of you ladies are dateless, alas, there is hope. Of course, Cupid meant his arrows for boy meets girl, but love can extend to other girlies who are left alone like myself.

What do I say but Who needs a man when you’ve got you! And, hopefully, a couple of other girlfriends to hang out with. Treat yourself to a fancy dinner out with your BFF. I am taking my teenage daughters out to a chi-chi dinner, just the three of us. I plan to also have my BFF, Hilary, who is single, with us. We will exchange small token gifts…Check out my “Who Needs a Man” wine glass…a bestseller in my Collection since 2004!

More on Valentine’s Day, soon. The ideas are endless, and yes, most of them very romantic and sexy. Stand by…