Toasting March Madness

Toasting March Madness

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OK, we admit it: We have Final Four fever. And the only cure is… well, more basketball.

And if we’re going to stay inside Saturday watching games, we want to be drinking something good, too. So, naturally, we turned to top mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, who famously set up the cocktail program at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas when it opened in 1998. He’s slaked the thirst of countless sports fans who flock to the city every year during the NCAA tournament.

What goes best with buzzer-beaters and triple-doubles? Abou-Ganim recommended two recipes from his new book, Vodka Distilled, which was published this winter.

Abou-Ganim suggests starting out with his Bloody Bull. The spin on the Bloody Mary, includes Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and some beef bouillon — the perfect pairing for a testosterone-fueled contest (not to mention a late brunch).

You deserve a reward if you catch both semi-final matchups, so make Abou-Ganim’s tropical Monkey Shine, which he calls "tall, restorative and refreshing." It combines vodka, Campari, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice and pink guava nectar. We think it tastes like sweet victory.

Click here for the Bloody Bull and Monkey Shine cocktail recipes.

This story was originally published at Toasting March Madness. For more stories like this join Liquor.com and drink better. Plus, for a limited time get How to Cocktail in 2013, a cocktail recipe book — free! Join now.

Subway partners with NBA stars Draymond Green and Jayson Tatum giving fans a BOGO deal

Subway is getting in the March Madness spirit by partnering with pro basketball stars Draymond Green and Jayson Tatum to share their custom footlong orders and a footlong deal. The footlongs are meaty but also packed with flavorful veggies to help the athletes fuel up for big games. Both footlongs are available for a limited time at participating Subway locations.

Tatum’s go-to footlong since he was a kid features delicious turkey, crispy bacon, lettuce, jalapeños, mayo, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Tatum dubbed his footlong as “the most FIRE sub around” and said his sub “will help you put points on the board unlike some other subs.”

Meet the Green “Perfection” Footlong

Green’s winning footlong includes tender steak, melty provolone cheese, green peppers, onions, and Chipotle Southwest sauce on a warm toasted footlong bread. Green refers to his footlong as a “winning trifecta.”

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All-Star Cake

Make our showstopping jersey cake in the colors of your favorite NCAA team.

Cut a 13x9-inch cake in the shape of a basketball jersey, as shown. Frost the entire cake with your frosting color of choice. Create stripes along the armholes with candy-coated milk chocolate pieces. Use candies to write "All Star" (or your favorite team name) and a player number in the center of the jersey.

Decorate the bottom edge of the jersey with Yellow Cutout Stars (below) and red shoestring licorice.

Yellow Cutout Stars: In a small bowl combine 1/3 cup white frosting, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and a few drops of yellow food coloring. Add additional powdered sugar until mixture is firm enough to roll out. On a surface lightly dusted with powdered sugar, roll the frosting mixture to a 1/4-inch thickness. Use a small star-shape cookie cutter to cut out stars from the frosting mixture.

How to Make Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches &ndash the Recipe Method


Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk them together until nice and smooth and thick. Set aside until ready to use.


Season the Chicken. Season the chicken generously with your seasoning blend. I&rsquom using paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Cook the Chicken. Heat the oil in a large pan to medium heat. Sear the seasoned chicken 5 minutes per side, then reduce heat to low. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of Buffalo sauce. Cover and cook another 5 minutes, or until you reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F when measured with a meat thermometer.

You can also grill the chicken or use a slow cooker, like this easy shredded chicken recipe.

Chop or Shred the Chicken. Remove from heat and chop or shred the chicken. The choice is yours.


Extra Buffalo Sauce. Smother the chicken with the remaining Buffalo sauce and distribute to the toasted buns.

Toppings. Garnish with jalapeno slices, blue cheese crumbles and blue cheese dip or ranch dip, if desired.

Boom! Done! Your Buffalo chicken sandwiches are ready to serve! Bust out the chips, my friends! Or serve them with carrots and celery on the side for dipping into your extra blue cheese or ranch dressing. Get a little crunch factor.

This will make you 6 good sized sandwiches. You can easily make more sandwiches with less buffalo chicken on them.


Après-ski, which literally translates to “after-ski,” is a time-honored tradition, as essential to skiing as dodging moguls on a double black diamond run. At ski resorts around the world, powder hounds, ski bums and park rats can be found socializing and celebrating their success on the mountain with a round or two in classic après fashion.

This late-afternoon activity is so popular that many snow bunnies skip the lifts altogether and simply appear for the après part of the day, creating a winter drinking culture unto itself. One popular place to ski and drink: Lake Tahoe.

“The après scene in Tahoe is different all around the lake,” says Grace Rainwater, a bartender at Caliente in Lake Tahoe’s Kings Beach in California. The North Shore, where Rainwater bartends, is known for having a more local, less corporate feel. “As a local, coming down off the mountain has a mellow feel to the day, compared to summer when the sun stays out later and people are usually more in a party mode.”

Nothing can compare to a warm, boozy cocktail to reheat your frozen bones après-ski. The Rumplesnuggler is made with hot chocolate, Baileys and Rumple Minze peppermint schnapps, plus whipped cream on top, if you want it. “It tastes like winter in your mouth,” says Rainwater. “And it definitely screams Lake Tahoe. Rumple Minze is one of the top sellers in the area, as is Baileys for coffee in the morning.”

You don’t have to ski to enjoy the Rumplesnuggler. Maybe you’ve been shoveling snow for the past hour. Or maybe you’ve spent all day lying on the couch under a cozy blanket. It tastes great no matter your level of activity, so break out this fun drink any time your body requires the warming influence of minty, creamy, spiked hot chocolate.

Punch El-Ahrairah

Going session, or lower ABV, is a great way to keep up with the pace of the tourney without running the risk of falling asleep or nursing a hangover the next day. This session cocktail by Chantal Tseng of Custom Cocktails for the End Times, incorporates carrot, ginger, and fresh herbs. Without as much alcoholic heat, it’s a great sipper for some of the midday games.


  • 2 oz Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry
  • 1 oz fresh carrot juice
  • .5 oz La Copa Rojo Vermouth
  • .25 oz ginger juice
  • 3 torn mint leaves
  • 3 torn sage leaves

Method: Chill a punch glass or coupe. Add cracked ice to a shaker and shake for about 10 seconds. Double-strain into chilled glass. Garnish with fresh mint and sage leaves and some freshly grated nutmeg.

Tomato Bruschetta

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The term bruschetta gets thrown around anytime a piece of fancy toast with toppings is served, but technically bruschetta is just a grilled piece of bread brushed with olive oil and rubbed with garlic. Most often you see it topped with fresh tomatoes and basil, but the possibilities are endless when you start thinking about what to pile on. Here’s the basic tomato version to get you started.

Special equipment: You will need a pastry brush.

This recipe was featured as part of our story on Bruschetta, the Fancy Toast for Parties. Try it as an appetizer before an impressive main dish like grilled prime rib.

Robin's Healthy Take: March Madness Munchies

So what if your bracket is busted? You can still cheer along your favorite teams, old and new, with these snacks by your side. These crowd-pleasing appetizers are lighter than your average party food, but still packed full of flavor. Enjoy the games and, more importantly, the munchies!!

Game-Winning Guacamole

I took my kids to Coronado, Calif., last week, and David Woods at the Loews Coronado Bay in San Diego sent us home with a giant batch of their killer guacamole. (Thanks, David!) The restaurant has some of the best guac I've ever had, but since the recipe is proprietary, I'm giving you a basic recipe to create your own crave-worthy version at home. I call it "As You Wish" Guacamole, because you simply add more or less of a handful of ingredients for a custom flavor.

"As You Wish" Guacamole: Scoop the flesh of 2-3 ripe Haas avocados into a bowl, add grated or finely diced white onion, minced jalapeno peppers, ripe tomato, fresh cilantro and fresh lime juice. Mix well, season to taste with salt cover with plastic and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

These super-simple chicken fingers are perfect for dunking in your favorite tomato sauce. They're baked, so they have fewer calories and less fat than the typical fried kind, but they still pack a flavorful, crispy punch thanks to grated Parmesan cheese.

Parmesan Chicken Fingers With Tomato Sauce (pictured above): Cut 1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts into thin strips roll in 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese until coated on all sides transfer to a baking sheet that’s been coated with cooking spray bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through serve with warm pasta sauce or pizza sauce on the side.

You can jazz up these tomatoes any way you like, but I like the briny olive-caper combination.

Olive and Caper Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes: Slice off the top of 16 cherry tomatoes. Use a small spoon to scoop out the flesh and seeds season the inside with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then set aside. Mix together 4 ounces cream cheese, 2 tablespoons chopped Greek olives, 1 tablespoon chopped capers, and 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley transfer mixture to a small freezer bag and press into one corner slice off about 1/4-inch of the corner pipe the cream cheese mixture into each tomato. Sprinkle the top with chopped fresh chives.

Open Faced BBQ Chicken Sandwich PRINT RECIPE

Time: 20 minutes (sweet)
Yield: 5-6 servings
Recipe from Jamie Cooks It Up!

1 loaf french bread
2 Tb butter, softened
1 rotisserie chicken
3/4 C Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce
3 C mozzarella cheese, grated
3 green onions, chopped
3 Tb cilantro, chopped

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Grab a handy loaf of french bread. I love this bread from Wal-Mart. (Yes, I typed the words “love” and “walmart” in the same sentence).

3. Slice the loaf in half, lengthwise.

4. Line a large cookie sheet with tin foil and spray it with cooking spray. (This will make for easy clean up!). Lay the bread on top of the foil and spread 1 Tb of softened butter over each half of bread.
5. Pop it in the oven and allow it to toast slightly. Should only take 4-5 minutes. This will help the bread get nice and crispy, and keep it from getting soggy with the saucy chicken. Toasting it also heightens the flavor of the bread.

6. Grab a rotisserie chicken…

and cut the breast meat, and a bit of the dark meat from the carcass. Chop it into bite sized pieces.

7. Place the chicken in a bowl and pour 3/4 C Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce over it. Stir it well to combine. Cover the bowl and heat it in the microwave for 4 minutes.

8. Stir the chicken and carefully place it out evenly onto the toasted loaves.

9. Sprinkle 3 C mozzarella cheese over the top of the chicken.

10. Pop it back into the oven and allow the cheese to get all melted and delightful looking. Should only take 5 minutes.

11. Chop 3 green onions, and about 3 Tb cilantro…more or less to your own liking. Sprinkle them all over the melted cheese. Yum. Totally, fresh tasting and delicious! Don’t skip the green onions and cilantro, gang. They really kick up the flavor.

Looking for more Rotisserie Chicken Recipes? Click the image below.

Follow me on Instagram at jamiecooksitup_ or by clicking here.


Here are some recipes Jessica has created for the Cabernet Inn. Simply click the link to go to the recipe. Enjoy!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Truly a Cabernet Inn specialty.

Maple Walnut Stuffed French Toast

Soft Gingerbread

Greek Omelete

Maple Mac & Cheese with Pancetta

Winner of the 2009 March Maple Madness recipe.

Tuscan Spaghetti Squash

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Spaghetti Squash Fritters with Roasted Corn and Zucchini Salsa

Ghost and Goblins recipe 2010

We have stayed at many bed and breakfasts, and the Cabernet Inn has just raised our bar of expectation considerably.

Inn the News

The Cabernet Inn. featured in New York Magazine as one of the 52 recommended getaways in their annual Travel Guide and on the cover of the 2000-2001 Official New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Guide

Also featured in . . .
NewYork Annual Travel Guide • Boston Globe's Real Deals • The Discerning Traveler • The Educated Traveler • Inn Traveler "Fall 2004" • US Airways "Reader's Choice"

Watch the video: Fishing Stereotypes (August 2022).