St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail — Green Apple Ginger Martini

Here’s a lively twist on a classically chic cocktail perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Getting it to you now so you have time to perfect it.

When crafting cocktails, try incorporating seasonal ingredients. While apples are typically thought of as a part of the fall harvest, tart green apples offer a crispness for the sunny spring days, while ginger provides a warming flavor profile for the cooler nights. Shake this cocktail up for a cozy night in or as a dessert pairing at your next dinner party.

Craft cocktails are a bit more of an experience to mix up, as it makes them all the more worthwhile. However, if you’re not feeling as adventurous, you can easily substitute a premade simple syrup alongside a high-quality store-bought apple juice.

Ingredients

  • One green apple
  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup of water
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped ginger

Directions

  1. To create your apple-ginger simple syrup bring the water, sugar, ginger, and peel of the green apple to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Quickly transfer the simple syrup pan to an ice bath, stirring occasionally. Once cooled, strain the simple syrup to remove the apple peel and ginger.
  3. Place the peeled green apple into a juicer, and strain if necessary.
  4. Fill your cocktail shaker with ice and pour in the vodka, 2 ounces of the apple-ginger simple syrup, and ⅓ cup of the apple juice. Shake well, and pour into two martini glasses.
  5. Garnish with a fresh apple slice or apple peel garland. Enjoy!

Follow my Pinterest board Just a Sip for more ideas and fresh inspiration.

Pretty Sweaters for Spring

Spring can’t come fast enough!  Right?  But with so many beautiful sweater options….I kind of wish it would stay cool just a bit longer. Let’s see What Would Holley Wear!

Ann Taylor’s ruffled shoulder sweaters in lilac and lemon lend a feminine touch to a jean ensemble.  Or pair them with a faux leather skirt or slacks…either way, you will love their flirty flair.  An Ann Taylor long or short cardigan is a great way to layer during the winter to spring transition.  BTW…we think their long plaid boyfriend cardigan checks all the boxes!  

Click the pic to shop Holley’s style.

Speaking of trendy…we’re loving H&M’s selection of boxy sweaters.  It doesn’t get any trendier than a neon green or light purple turtleneck sweater.  Wear them with jeans or with a skirt or even over a dress….and don’t forget boots.  Wanting to dress up a tad?  H&M’s fine knit sweater with decorative gold buttons on the shoulder is the ideal spring sweater and comes in five colors.  

Click the pic to shop Holley’s style.

The best way to trick Mother Nature is by wearing pastel and bright colors.  Talbot’s has got this down to a “T”!  With the polish of a jacket and the softness of a sweater, we’re enamored with their blue sweater jacket.  If you’re looking for a way to ease into spring, Talbot’s funnel neck sweater is the look for you.  And it comes in 8 beautiful colors….guaranteed to put a smile on your face!  

Looking for a way to express yourself?  An Express black and white color block sweater has “classic style” written all over it and goes great with black or white jeans.  For a little extra chicness, you will love one of their sweater jackets.  My picks are a long black cardigan with white trim and gold buttons or a white fringe open front sweater jacket.  Sounds a little Chanel-ish…don’t you think?

Click the pic to shop Holley’s style.

Nordstrom’s selection of striped sweaters definitely welcomes springtime.  Their boatneck sweater….available in pink, navy, or light blue stripes delivers timeless style.  We’re loving how cashmere goes casual with an ultra-soft striped cardigan.  For a positive vibe, one of their pastel striped cardigan sweaters will definitely bring a chic touch to your spring sweater style!  

Sweater weather never looked so joyful and bright!  Don’t you agree?

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, and wardrobe consultation.  Be sure to check her Holley Williams Style on Pinterest.  Contact Holley at [email protected].  

Creme De Menthe Brownies – just like Andes Mints

Over 20 years ago a co-worker named Mike made this recipe for Crème de Menthe brownies for an office party.  He gave me the recipe printed from an email that I still have in my recipe binder.  The first time I wanted to make them, Mr. Bee offered to do the work and I’ve never looked back.  We refer to them as “Doug’s Brownies.”  They are rich, different and make a lovely addition to your dessert table because of the pretty green color.  These would be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!  I promise people will be asking you for the recipe.  Still amazing after all these years!

Crème de Menthe Brownies

Bottom Layer:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

4 eggs

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 16oz can of Hershey’s chocolate syrup (this is hard to find, you can substitute if needed with the syrup in the bottle)

1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar and add other ingredients in order.  Blend well. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely.

Middle layer:

3 cups powdered sugar

3/4 cup butter

3 TBL Crème de Menthe liquour

Mix and spread over cooled brownies.

Top Layer:

1 cup chocolate chips

6 TBL butter

Melt chips and butter.  Let cool until easy to spread over the middle layer while slightly warm.  Refrigerate until ready to cut and serve.

How to Style a Sweatshirt

Remember when a sweatshirt was something you wore to P.E. class?  Not these days…they’ve made a comeback as a fashion statement.  And I can’t think of anything cooler than that.  Can you?  

City girls have been seen wearing sweatshirts under their suit jacket for some time now.  If you live in a cold climate….it makes sense.  Right?  Though, between you and me, I’m pretty sure they’re wearing them as a fashion statement….and not to be practical.  Whatever the reason…I’m loving the look.  For my citified look, I’m styling a camel hoodie with black leggings, boots, and a belted blazer!

Click the pic to shop Holley’s style.

For a casual look, wear a sweatshirt with leggings or skinny jeans and an oversized denim jacket…just add sneakers or boots.  We’re loving a classic crewneck sweatshirt paired with jeans and mules topped with an oversized coat.  To give a skirt ensemble a youthful vibe, pair it with a sweatshirt and boots.  BTW…be sure to check out the sweatshirts and hoodies on Pinterest from Nordstrom Rack.

Click the pic to shop Holley’s style.A printed sweatshirt or hoodie not only makes a statement but also adds a hint of coolness to an everyday look.  I was recently gifted a Chanel sweatshirt by a brand called Designer-ish.  It goes great with faux leather leggings and black boots.  I’ve even paired it with an animal print midi skirt.  If you’re looking for a trendy new designer, look no further than Anine Bing.  Any of her printed sweatshirts will compliment a blazer, jeans, and skirt.

Click the pic to shop Holley’s style.Even if you’re still wearing your sweatshirt to the gym, it’s so easy to transition to an athleisure style after a workout.  To give your casual look a French vibe, wear a Paris sweatshirt with faux leather leggings and sneakers…Ooh la la!   Whether you’re taking the dog for a walk or just hanging out at Mutts….you’ll love all the dog lover printed sweatshirts on our Pinterest board.  And just so you know….they are wag-approved!  

I don’t know about you…but I’m loving all the new ways to transition my sweatshirts into cute outfits.  No sweat…right?  Be sure to head over to our Like to Know It or download the LiketoKnow.it app on your phone to shop pics via screenshot.

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, and wardrobe consultation.  Be sure to check her Holley Williams Style on Pinterest.  Contact Holley at [email protected].  

Holley’s Amazon Winter Favorites

So how many times have I referenced Amazon Fashion in my articles?  Too many to keep up with…right?  Since I can’t help myself, I’m sharing What Would Holley Wear – Favorite Amazon Fashions!  

No doubt, a shawl/poncho is a necessity during the winter months.  Amazon has a wonderful selection, and one of their reversible shawls/ponchos is definitely on my favorites list!  A style influencer on our Pinterest page shows us how versatile a navy plaid/striped shawl is for everyday style.  For a sophisticated look, I’m recommending one of their reversible checked ponchos…available in four color options.  

Click the pic to shop Holley’s style.

We have a few more months to wear boots and Amazon has an amazing selection.  My favorites are Trask boots…highly rated, waterproof, and on sale for $99 (typically around $300).  I recently ordered a black leather pair that perfectly complements faux leather leggings and an oversized sweater.  If you’re wanting a fur-lined chunky boot, a pair of Doc Martens is the look for you. 

Click the pic to shop Holley’s style.

Speaking of oversized sweaters…Amazon Fashion has so many awesome sweaters to choose from.  If you love a cable sweater, then you’re really going to love one of their chunky pullover cables….available in seven colors.  The same goes for their open front cable sweater…I’m a little partial to a purple one.  You too?  For a preppy look…wear an Amazon vest over a sweater or long-sleeved tee.

Click the pic to shop Holley’s style.

If you are like me and really like a deal, Amazon Fashion has amazing designer-inspired copies.  A serpentine buckle wrapped around a black faux leather belt is the only way I’m letting a snake near me.  The good news is…it’s a great designer dupe for $12 vs the $750 designer belt.  A no-brainer….right?  And an Amazon pearl buckle belt will give a designer-ish vibe to your fabulous style! 

Click the pic to shop Holley’s style.Another designer copy I’m partial to is their fur-lined mules.  We’re loving on our Pinterest page is how a fashion blogger wears her tan fur-lined Amazon mules with leggings and a sweater draped with a blazer.  So classy!  I typically wear my black fur-lined mules with skinny jeans and a blazer….ideal for our Texas weather.

So how many more times do you think I will be referencing Amazon Fashion in future articles?  Hmmm….I don’t think I can count that high!

Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, and wardrobe consultation.  Be sure to check her Holley Williams Style on Pinterest.  Contact Holley at [email protected].  

Sausage, Biscuits and Gravy Bake – Your Next Brunch Casserole

I love brunch. Sleep in, have brunch with a mimosa or a good cup of strong, hot coffee, relax in your loungewear and, if you are like me, maybe go back to bed!  The perfect thing about brunch is you can prepare it just for your family or for a crowd.

I like traditional recipes with a twist, of course. Breakfast casseroles are great because they are a “one and done” meal encompassing eggs, meat, bread, and cheese. But, I was getting tired of making, and eating, the same old egg and sausage casserole.

Here is the cutest cookbook – The Southern Sympathy Cookbook by Perre Coleman Magness.  The Southern Sympathy Cookbook includes unexpectedly humorous obituaries and anecdotes alongside staples of Southern funerals – comforting casseroles; jugs of sweet tea; creamy, cheesy potatoes― providing sympathy and sustenance for the bereaved.  Whether feeding a congregation, delivering a meal to a friend in need, or cooking with weekday leftovers in mind, home cooks will embrace these recipes, guaranteed to comfort and please a crowd. 

I flipped to the brunch section and knew this book was for me. I made Perre’s Biscuits and Gravy Breakfast Bake, and I will never look at another egg casserole the same. This recipe is heaven.  It has a drop biscuit base with eggs on top, grated cheddar cheese, then a sausage gravy layer with more cheese. It came out of the oven all bubbly and delicious. There was maybe one tablespoon left – no kidding.  I served it alongside Mother’s recipe for cheese grits – a staple we always had Christmas morning. You can find her recipe in a vintage post here.

I made Ina Garten’s Morning Glory muffins you can find on my Pinterest board.  Full of plump raisins, grated carrots, and crushed pineapple, they make about two dozen muffins that freeze beautifully.  And lastly, I set up Greek yogurt, a big bowl of fresh berries, granola, and almonds for a “make your own parfait” bar. We sipped cold-pressed orange juice mimosas and southern pecan-blend coffee.

Here is the printable recipe for the Biscuits and Gravy Breakfast Bake to file in your recipe box!  Let me know if you give it a try. I can’t wait to try other recipes from Perre’s book.

How to Make a King Cake with My Texas Kitchen

My friend Susan from My Texas Kitchen invited me to her house to teach me how to make her famous Mardi Gras King Cake.  I have the best life ever!

History lesson:

The Mardi Gras or Carnival season officially begins on January 6th or the “Twelfth Night,” also known to Christians as the “Epiphany.” Epiphany comes from a Greek word that means “to show.” Jesus first showed himself to the three Wise Men and to the world on this day. As a symbol of this Holy Day, a tiny plastic baby is placed inside each King Cake.

The King Cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870.  A King Cake is an oval-shaped bakery delicacy, crossed between a coffee cake and a French pastry that is as rich in history as it is in flavor. It’s decorated in royal colors of PURPLE which signifies “Justice,” GREEN for “Faith,” and GOLD for “Power.” These colors were chosen to resemble a jeweled crown honoring the Wise Men who visited the Christ Child on Epiphany. In the past, such things as coins, beans, pecans, or peas were also hidden in each King Cake.

Today, a tiny plastic baby is a common prize. At a party, the King Cake is sliced and served. Each person looks to see if their piece contains the “baby.” If so, then that person is named “King” for a day and bound by custom to host the next party and provide the King Cake.

Mardi Gras Day has a moveable date and may occur on any Tuesday from February 3rd to March 9th. It is always the day before Ash Wednesday and always falls 46 days before Easter. This year Mardi Gras occurred on February 16. Due to COVID-19, New Orlean’s residents transformed their front porches into colorful displays to represent the traditional parade floats.

Susan has been making her famous King Cake since her days in college at none other than our alma mater TCU! Be sure to visit her beautiful blog My Texas Kitchen for the recipe here. The recipe was passed to her by her mother’s friend, Jean. Susan’s home smelled like a bakery when my friend Jessica and I arrived. While we sipped lemon and mint-infused water, Susan led us through the process of proofing the yeast and making the dough.

The dough was like velvet.  Susan described it as a brioche, different from a cinnamon roll type dough.
Easy to roll out onto a floured mat. We covered the dough with mounds of a brown sugar and butter mixture.
Then we rolled our dough up into a log like you would a cinnamon roll and shaped it into an oval.
Then with kitchen scissors, snipping small slits on the dough.
While the cakes baked in the oven, we sat down to a lovely lunch Susan prepared for us — homemade pimento cheese sandwiches and tomato basil soup — served on a place setting of beautiful blue and white china, linens, and glassware.
The cakes were ready after lunch and it was time for the best part — the icing!  We poured the icing on top of our cakes, then Susan taught us how to make colored sprinkle sugar using Turbinado sugar and food coloring. Here’s a link to purchase sprinkles and babies for your cake.
Meanwhile, as I was walking past her kitchen counter, I saw this box of fur just waiting for me to love her!
This is Jackie, the Bengal cat, who belongs to Susan’s son Ben.  She was a love. She sleeps during the day in this box on the counter under the warmth of the counter lights.  I am sure she was glad when I left because I couldn’t resist going over and petting her every few minutes.
Susan helped us package up our cakes, but not before strategically placing the baby inside each of our cakes for good luck.  She sent us home with extra icing and sprinkles just in case we needed more.
This was definitely a bucket list moment!  Have you ever made a King Cake?  As Susan says, “baking with friends is always so much sweeter!”

“Jar” Cuterie Cheeseboards with a Twist Cooking Class

Cheese and charcuterie boards are an art-form and offer the perfect snack for your guests. But, they can be expensive. Maybe you just want a bit of cheese and a few other nibbles. Well, this fun class is for you!

Join me on Saturday, February 27, at 6 p.m. CST virtually in my kitchen where I will teach you how to prepare individual “jar”cuteries using mason jars, small juice glasses, or even glass yogurt jars. Use your imagination. I’ll walk you through how to make garnishes and we will talk about the basics of cheese and meat for a traditional charcuterie board.

Once you register for class I will send you a printable guide for supplies you can find at Walmart, Aldi, and Trader Joe’s making this a creative and affordable option for your next wine gathering.

Register here. Think about gifting someone to join you in the class. And remember it’s BYOB!

I look forward to hosting your virtual learning experiences on Zoom.  What’s unique about Mrs. Twist’s School is that you can learn from the comfort of your home and share what we cook and learn with your family and friends. We will gather in my kitchen, living room, garden, ladies’ lounge, and dining table to inspire togetherness. The full class offerings and registration are available here. Want to learn more about my School of Gracious Living – visit this post here.

Will You Brie Mine – Fun Valentine Idea

I have got the cutest idea for your wine and cheese date this Sunday, February 14th – a wheel of brie with a heart window filled with jam! All you need is a wheel of brie, raspberry jam, a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, a serrated knife, and crackers.

Unwrap the wheel of brie and set it on a cutting board. Do not fear the rind on the cheese – it is edible. Here’s a fun article on how to eat Brie from President Cheese the brand I am using.

Using a serrated knife, cut the top off the cheese.  I cut about 1/3 off.

Spread about two tablespoons of jam in the center of the bottom half of the brie wheel. Set on your serving plate.

Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut the center out of the top layer of Brie.

Place on top of the Brie covered with jam.

Save the heart-shaped piece and use it as a decoration on your plate. Serve with crackers. If you want a touch of color tuck sprigs of rosemary around the side or add green grapes. Such a fun way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

February is Heart Month: Resources, Tips and Recipes

My beautiful Mother, Earnie

February is heart month designated by the American Heart Association in an effort to raise awareness of the risk of heart disease and stroke in women. Their mission is to promote healthier living, free of cardiovascular disease.  That single purpose drives all they do.

My parents, and grandparents, had cardiovascular disease including stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart attack.  My biggest shock came when my mother suffered a stroke in 2007.  Her best friend, Margaret, called my sister and told her, “Your Mother doesn’t seem right” and wasn’t making sense on the phone.  I stopped by Mother’s house on the way to work and took one look at her and knew she was suffering from a stroke. The entire side of her face was drooping and she had a blank look on her face.  Still able to function we rushed her to the hospital where she stayed for about a week. Fortunately, Mother was able to regain her abilities, but some damage was irreversible. She lost her ability to write clearly –oh, she had beautiful penmanship and loved to send letters and cards to friends, she became easily fatigued, swallowing food was a challenge sometimes, she found it difficult to find the right words when putting a sentence together — something referred to as “word salad” and could no longer safely drive her car.   It was a huge adjustment for her but she did it with a smile and positive attitude! Thankfully, our family made the adjustments needed and that’s when my parents came to live with us.

What I remember most about that day in the ER with Mother was this:  As they were assessing Mother’s blood pressure, I couldn’t believe the result.  The nurse and I looked at each other, then looked over at Mother.  The nurse asked her, “Do you have hypertension?”  I expected Mother to reply no, but she told the nurse she indeed had been diagnosed with hypertension several years prior and was taking medication for it.  I had to pick up my chin off the floor.  How had I missed this?  Why did she not tell me this? Come to find out, this was partly true.  The nurse called her physician to confirm hypertension, then followed up with the pharmacy only to find that Mother had not filled her prescription in over a year!  When the nurse reported this back to Mother, her only response was she felt fine and didn’t think the medication was necessary.

Heart disease and stroke are the world’s two leading killers, and more than one in three U.S. women live with some form of cardiovascular disease. But studies show 80 percent of cardiac events and strokes are preventable. Please familiarize yourself with a heart attack and stroke symptoms here.

High blood pressure affects one out of three adults over the age of 20. There is a reason it is referred to as “the silent killer”  because most of the time there are no symptoms.  What is hypertension?  Here is an article to explain what it is with a helpful quiz to direct you for additional resources.  A lot of times it’s considered a man’s disease so women don’t think they can be affected.  Mother never liked to take medicine even after she came to live with me.  In the beginning, when I’d hand her medication to her, I’d watch her try to put it into her tissue.  I was always very respectful but would point out she needed to take it.  Reluctantly, she would.  Another factor that caused her non-compliance was that she devoted all her time and strength to caring about Daddy and didn’t give herself the same attention.  Caring for a loved one strains even the most resilient people. An excellent resource from the Mayo Clinic provides tips for caregivers.

More women die from heart disease than from all forms of cancer. It’s not rocket science, but why do we try to make it more complicated?  Our prescription is not complex — eat smart and exercise.  There are some factors that are unpreventable, but we can all agree that diet and exercise are two things we do have control over.

If you love to cook and want recipe inspiration the AHA has an extensive library of delicious and healthy recipes here. While you are there, scroll to the bottom of their recipe site for fun cooking skills classes.

Love cookbooks? Why not add an American Heart Association Cookbook to your library. Visit their site for current books here.

Speaking of classes – since are all involved in digital learning right now, the AHA has a series of weekly programming with health experts. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the home page for the next class coming up on February 15 at 11 a.m. CST.

If it has been a while since you have seen your physician and had lab work, do yourself a favor and give yourself this gift.  As a healthcare professional, I am a huge advocate of an annual physical examination from a family practice physician or internist AND an annual gynecological appointment.  Of course, it can be argued that your family physician can do your GYN exam, but I feel that women’s needs are best met, especially peri and post-menopausal, by a GYN.  Just my opinion, but so far it has served me well. We only get one pass in this world and you might as well make it the best you can.  We make appointments for our loved ones — children, spouses, and parents, yet why are we always at the bottom of the “to do” list?

A new resource I have added to my library is Heart Smart for Women: Six S.T.E.P.S in Six Weeks for Heart-Healthy Living . The book is easy to understand and a terrific introduction to the changes needed to live a long and healthy life. It would be the perfect book for someone who has recently been diagnosed with heart disease.

Here is a helpful link from The Heart Foundation with additional resources.

And if you love to listen to podcasts, here is a link to the American Heart Association podcasts on a variety of heart health topics including Strokes and COVID.

I hope this helps you. Please share this post with a friend or on Facebook. It could save their life.