May the Fourth Be With You!

Today is Star Wars Day! Here are a few ways you can celebrate your love of all things Star Wars, today or any day of the year.

Why is today Star Wars Day? How May the Fourth became the unofficial Star Wars holiday.

Star Wars Noms:

BobaFettuccine: all the ingredients you need to create your very own tribute to the galaxy’s best bounty hunter.

Chocolate Han Solo in Edible Carbonite: includes directions for making your own!

Cherry TIE Pie: includes recipe for cherry pie along with directions for TIE fighter decorations.

TIE Fighter, Millennium Falcon, and Slave One Sandwiches: are very, very simple to make.

Star Wars Beverages:

Mai TIE Cocktial: for the adult fan, a Star Wars tribute cocktail recipe based on the classic Mai Tai.

Han Shot First Cocktail Shooter: Han shot first and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise! Here’s another alcoholic beverage for the adult fan.

Star Wars Fun:

Boba Fett: How We Know He’s Badass: before he was ever fleshed out in the Star Wars extended universe, here is why many of us became fanatics of our favorite Mandalorian based on the *original trilogy films alone.*

Give Yourself Some Boba Feet: directions to create your very own Boba Fett pedicure.

List of Star Wars related events and merchandise discounts all over the web.

May the Force be with you!

Love, The Nerdista

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Boba Feet

There is an impressive bounty out on this Boba Fett pedi.

Boba Feet – no, that’s not a typo. It’s a Boba Fett pedicure! Your big toe is likely the perfect size and shape to depict Boba’s iconic Mandalorian helmet. All you need are the proper Boba Fett polish colors, a few household supplies, and a little patience. In no time at all you can be rockin’ a tribute to the universe’s most awesome bounty hunter!”

The Nerdista has always loved Boba Fett, because Boba’s been badass since the original trilogy, so I wear this pedi with pride.

Supplies:

  • Polish in the following colors: a suitable Boba Fett olive/army green, dark red, black, neon/mustard yellow, light to medium gray to emphasize his famous dent (optional), and a silver toned crackle polish,
  • Your regular pedicure supplies: base and top coat, polish remover, cotton balls, emery boards, etc. Pro Tip: I like to use a cheap, flat-edge paintbrush dipped in polish remover to clean up the edges of my pedicure.
  • Other non-polish supplies: toothpicks, painters’s tape (optional), and a black fine point sharpie

Directions:

1. After prepping your toes as you would for any other pedicure, paint the entire surface of your nail with the olive/army green polish. Allow to dry. Optionally add a second coat of polish if necessary. For best results, allow to dry for a minimum of 30 minutes. Since some areas of your finished Boba Fett pedicure will have a minimum of four and as many as seven coats of polish, it is imperative you allow extra drying time.

2. With the red polish, paint a T shape across the surface of the nail. You can use painters tape across the top of the red section to help make for line more straight and even. Make sure to leave plenty of room at the top of your nail for Boba’s famous dent! Also notice that the sides of the T are rounded down from the horizontal section across the eyes to the vertical section going down the center of the face. Allow to dry fully for a minimum of 30 minutes but preferably much longer.

3. Unless you have a very steady hand or are a pro at nail art, cut small strips of painters tape to outline the shape of Boba’s T-shaped visor section. Notice the bottom of the horizontal section is angled towards the vertical section. Carefully paint on the visor with black nail polish and remove the painters tape. Allow to dry a minimum of 30 minutes.

4. Using toothpicks, paint on the details of Boba’s yellow kill stripes. Now is also a good time, if you prefer, to add a tiny drop of gray/silver polish to emphasize Boba’s circular dent. If necessary, use toothpicks dipped in the proper colors to touch up any areas of Boba’s helmet details. Allow to dry 30 minutes, preferably longer.

5. Now here is the fun part! Using silver colored crackle polish, sparingly dab the battle damage details onto the proper areas of Boba’s helmet. Make sure to add some crackle to the circular dent on the helmet’s forehead. As the crackle polish dries, the battle damage effect will be left behind. Allow to dry and then top with your favorite top coat.

The best part of a Boba Fett pedicure is you can’t mess up! Smudge the polish a bit while painting? Cover up the smudge with a dab of battle damage. Get a little chip in your polish the next day? Instant authentic battle damage. Pedicure getting a little worn out looking after a week? It’s not worn out; it’s battle damage.

6. Now take out your black fine point sharpie marker and draw on Boba’s viewfinder. Finish your other toes any way you like. I chose to simply paint the rest of mine Boba green.

Boba Fett makes some pretty awesome Boba Feet.

Quick Chemistry Break! How does crackle nail polish work? Typically polish manufacturers formulate their polish to look as smooth and even as possible. For any shade of standard polish, nitrocellulose is dissolved in a solvent of either ethyl or butyl acetate and the desired pigment(s) are added to the formula. Your polish hardens as the acetate evaporates and leaves behind the pigmented nitrocellulose. When the solvent evaporates slowly and evenly, your polish has a smooth surface. When manufacturers use a solvent that evaporates rapidly and unevenly, such as ethanol, the difference in evaporation across the surface of your nail as the polish dries causes the polish to pull, break, and “crackle” across the surface. Add some savvy marketing and suddenly a design flaw becomes a desired characteristic! Now you know!

Fun Fact! Nitrocellulose is a very highly flammable compound, formerly used in photographs, X-rays, and motion pictures, is an explosive that’s slower than the speed of sound, and is the main ingredient in magician’s flash paper. Despite its flammable nature, there’s very little need to worry your nails will spontaneously explode.

Love, The Nerdista

Posted in Cosplay, Costuming, & CausePlay, From the Laboratory, Science!, Star Wars | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Chocolate Han Solo in Edible Carbonite

Here is a 100% edible, chocolate Han Solo in carbonite!

Boba Fett brings him to in; Leia as Boushh tries to take him out. (LEGO Boba Fett from The Nerdista's personal collection; custom LEGO Boushh by austyn2010lego)

You can make one too; it’s so very easy. You won’t even need to use The Force.

Supplies:

Star Wars Han Solo in Carbonite Ice Tray
Dark chocolate for melting
Duff Goldman Cake Graffiti – Silver/Argent
Double boiler or small saucepan and metal bowl
Water
Wax paper/paper towels/plate to catch overspray
Straight/flat edge knife or small spatula

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate in double boiler on lowest heat setting. If you do not have a double boiler, simply place a few inches of water in a small saucepan, place chocolate in a metal bowl sightly larger than your saucepan, and set the bowl on top of the saucepan with water. Heat from the water will gently melt your chocolate. The slower and lower heat you melt the chocolate, the better.
  2. Periodically stir the chocolate till it’s almost melted. Remove from heat, and continue stirring till chocolate is completely melted.
  3. Spoon chocolate into Han Solo in Carbonite Ice Tray. You will have one large and six small Hans.
  4. Use the back of a flat and straight knife or the edge of a very small spatula to scrape off the excess chocolate anywhere you overfilled the mold.
  5. Gently pick up the filled mold and from a height of about one inch and drop it onto the countertop. You’ll want to do this a few times to help any bubbles in the chocolate to come out the top.
  6. Pop the filled mold in the refrigerator. The solid chocolate is easier to remove from the mold when it’s extra hardened by the cold.
  7. Wait a few hours then remove the cold and hardened chocolate from the mold.

Now it’s time to Carbonite these babies!

Place the seven Solos on wax paper, plate, or paper towels to catch any overspray. Shake your can of silver Cake Graffiti well and spray liberally over the top and sides.

Voila! Simply wait for the silver to dry and you now have fanatic approved Star Wars treats!

Love, The Nerdista

 

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Turning a Unisex T-Shirt Into a Women’s Babydoll

There was a time when it wasn’t possible to buy a woman’s version of *any* geek T-shirt. We lady geeks have many more options these days but some shirts I crave are still only available in “unisex” sizes – i.e., only look flattering if you are shaped square-ish through the midsection.

Over the years, I’ve perfected a pretty simple technique to give a rectangle shaped beefy T  a more flattering feminine silhouette. I’ve certainly had many T-shirt freebies from various software companies on which to practice. :) If you would like simple instructions to turn a unisex shirt into a ladies’ babydoll, you’ve come to the right place!

How to turn a unisex T-shirt into a ladies’ babydoll shirt:

1. First thing you’ll need is a babydoll shirt that fits well to use as your guide. Don’t worry, your favorite T will remain intact and unharmed for the duration of the process.

You’ll want to select a guide shirt in a similar fabric blend as the shirt you want to alter. If your favorite babydoll fits because it has some poly content allowing it to stretch in all the right places, but you use it as a guide for a 100% cotton T, you can easily cut your shirt too small.

Left shirt = well-fitting babydoll; Right shirt = men's shirt to be altered

The white Stormtrooper shirt on the right is only available in mens or unisex sizes but the purple logo shirt on the left is a babydoll that fits me well. Because I know you will ask, the Stormtrooper “Super Trooper” T-shirt is from ThinkGeek (mine is unisex size S) and the Star Wars logo outline burnout T-shirt is from Her Universe (mine is size L).

Despite one being a small and the other a large, these two shirts are similar enough in size that I can use the logo shirt as a guide to altering the stormtrooper shirt. The fabric contents are different (100% cotton for the stormtrooper and 50/50% cotton/poly blend for the logo shirt) but the logo shirt is loose enough on me that I’m sure the fit doesn’t depend on stretchability.

2. Pre-wash/pre-shrink your shirt. Both of my shirts have been washed and dried a few times so they are pretty much the size they will remain.

3. Get out that iron! Turn your shirts inside out (you’ll be working from the “wrong” side of the shirt the whole time) and gently press your shirt completely flat. Most T-shirt designs can not be ironed, so you need to carefully avoid ironing the backside of your design even though you’re ironing the inside of your shirt. Make sure to line up all edge seams and center your shirt design. While babydoll shirts have side seams, unisex shirts do not so I recommend using a ruler to make sure your design is centered and an equal distance from both sides. Press a hard crease on each side of your unisex shirt.

4. Lay your pressed guide shirt on top of the shirt to be altered.

guide shirt laid on top of the shirt to be altered

Center the guide shirt on the shirt to be altered, making sure to line up the armpits of the two shirts. If your hems line up, lucky you! If one hem is longer than the other, no worries. Simply make sure the two bottom hems lay parallel. Notice there isn’t a huge difference in the shape of the two shirts. We’re not going for a fitted hourglass shape here, just a gentle curve to remove extra material at the waistline. Remember, it’s always possible to remove more material later so go conservative at first.

5. Using fabric chalk of a color contrasting your shirt to be altered, carefully trace the shape of the babydoll onto your unisex shirt. Because my shirt is white and so is all my tailors chalk, I used a pencil.

Where the shirts were the same size, I gradually blended the line into the side of the shirt.

6. Now for the sewing portion of the process! If this is your first shirt alteration, I recommend putting in a temporary seam using an easily removable long stitch length so you can check your alteration before you make it permanent. Everything look good? Excellent.

6. A. If you have a serger/overlock sewing machine simply start at the armpit and sew along your guide line. The line you drew will be the outside or cut edge of your shirt. In the places where the two shirts are even, you’ll sew just on the very edge (or very slightly off the edge) of the shirt, only catching a few threads worth of fabric.

6. B. If you have a traditional sewing machine, you’ll sew a seam about 1/4 inch *just inside* the line you drew. Then after checking again for fit, remove the extra material from the shirt by cutting along the line. Finally, change the setting on your machine to a zig zag stitch and sew over the cut edge to prevent unraveling.

Here is the inside view of the finished seam of your new babydoll! You can see on the top and the bottom of the seam where I only caught the minimum fabric necessary to make a complete seam.

Some pro tips:

Make sure the double seam on your shirt’s hem lines up front to back. If the edge of your  unisex shirt lines up with the edge of the baby doll at any point on the side, you’ll want to catch just the edge of the shirt in your seam. If you’ve ever placed a dart in a garment then you’ll be familiar with gently curving your seam so that eventually your seam is being made with only one stitch length of fabric remaining between your seam and the edge of the garment.

The seam is made so close to the edge of the shirt that the transition to the hem is made without puckering.

Have the opposite problem?

If you possess more pure geek awesomeness than a mere XL shirt has room to love then here is guide to making your geek shirt larger in the belly area. These instructions will work to enlarge a shirt to accommodate a pregnancy or a healthy appetite.

Love, The Nerdista

 

Posted in Cosplay, Costuming, & CausePlay, From the Laboratory, General Geeky Nerdiness, Sci-Fi, Star Wars | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Tribute Cocktail: The Difference EnGine

The Difference Engine was a machine envisioned by Charles Babbage in the 19th century - the first mechanical calculator capable of polynomial functions, and also the title of one of my favorite books. Due to lack of funding, Babbage never built his Difference Engine or his later design the Analytical Engine which would have been the first general purpose computer. It was more than a hundred years later that either of his two designs were built. This discrepancy in time between the Steam Age conception of the Difference Engine and our computer revolution a century later is the basis of the book The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. What if, just what if, the funding for Charles Babbage’s extraordinary machine didn’t fall through and the computer age came rushing in during the Industrial Revolution? What would our lives and the resulting history look like? Intrigued? Welcome to the literary genre of Alternate History, more specifically Steampunk.

As a tribute to Charles Babbage and the book that bears the title of his extraordinary machine, I created this cocktail The Difference Engine. It’s gin based, naturally. You can raise one in honor of William Gibson whose birthday is March 17th, perhaps while perusing his other works. A master of the Cyberpunk genre, Gibson’s works are seminal to the postmodern Alternate History genre. Pick up a copy of Neuromancer and mix yourself a Difference Engine. Neither will dissapoint.

The Difference Engine: a machine, a book, and now a cocktail.

The Difference EnGine Cocktail

  • 2 oz lime flavored gin
  • 3/4 oz triple sec
  • the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 dash of orange bitters

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a generous amount of ice. The Difference EnGine tastes best when you shake it like you’re trying to produce steam by shake power alone. Shake, shake, shake this baby till the liquid is filled with teeny, tiny shards of broken ice. Congratulations, you’ve now earned one cardio unit for the week! Celebrate by straining the cocktail into a martini glass. Serve immediately and savor slowly.

Like this cocktail? You may also enjoy the Analytical EnGine cocktail – a tribute to Ada Lovelace, the 1st computer programmer.

Love, The Nerdista

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Happy Pi Day. Here is a Pi Pineapple Pie.

Did I stutter?

Nope!

Here is a pie, with a filling made of pineapple, topped with a crust decorated with the digits of Pi 29 places past the decimal point. It’s a Pi Pineapple Pie!

Pi Pi Pie

To celebrate Pi Day, The Nerdista creates a yummy, nommy Pi-themed treat every March 15th. Last year I made a Pi Pizza Pie. This year I decided to try something a little sweeter and created a Pineapple Pie decorated with 3.14159265358979323846264338327.
Why pineapple, you ask? Because Pi, that’s why. Because I know you’re wondering and will probably ask, yes a pineapple pie is delicious. It tastes like a more tropical version of an apple pie.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 5 cups fresh pineapple, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 rolled out pie crusts*

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a medium saucepan combine cornstarch, salt, sugar, pineapple, and both lemon and vanilla extracts. Cook for 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened, and then for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and allow filling to cool completely while you prepare crusts.
  3. Place the first of two crusts in the bottom of your pie pan. Cover and refrigerate the second, top crust to keep the dough easier to work with for cutting the decorations. Trim the edge of the first crust to the edge of the pie pan. The Nerdista likes to leave a slight overhang on the bottom crust because the crust is the best part.
  4. Pour the fully cooled filling mixture into bottom crust; filling should rise somewhat above the edge in a mound in the center but will reduce slightly while cooking.
  5. Uncover second pie crust and cut the proper number shapes out of rolled out crust. I used the negative space left behind for my decoration; you could use the cut out numbers themselves to decorate another pie, if you wish. Carefully place the top pie crust onto the pie and seal the crust edges together.
  6. Place pie on a foil lined baking sheet to catch any potential drips.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes in the preheated oven until filling is bubbly and crust is pleasantly brown.
  8. Let cool and om nom nom nom nom.

*I’m afraid you are on your own for a pie crust recipe because The Nerdista’s was willed to her on the condition that I don’t reveal its secrets until my own demise. I’m sure Google can help. :)

Happy Pi Day, everyone!

Love, The Nerdista

Liked this pie? You may also enjoy the Cherry TIE Fighter Pie.

Posted in From the Laboratory, General Geeky Nerdiness, Noms | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Star Trek Uniform: More Room in the Belly

Because not everyone is or should be a size 2. Because sometimes our body shapes fall outside the range of “norm.” Because it doesn’t come in your size. Because they only make them for men and you are a lady with a ladies’ body. Because you’re pregnant. Because you love bacon. There are more than a few reasons why you may need to alter a garment.

Making an item of clothing smaller is something tailors and seamstresses everywhere have been doing for ages. It’s mostly a function of taking in seams and cutting out material. Making a garment larger can require a bit more creativity.

A friend of mine approached me with a  small job that required a bit of creative nerd problem solving and hands on construction ability. I have no clue why he came to me. :) His wife ordered an XS Star Trek uniform for herself and needed it taken in at the waistline, an exceedingly simple alteration, but his problem was a little bit harder. He needed something larger than an XXL to fit his frame.

Believe it or not, he wanted to wear this and leave his house. Apparently he forgot what happens to red shirts on an away mission!

The best way to go about making a garment bigger is by ordering two and using material from one to enlarge the other; that way the color, pattern, and material will be an exact match. Since there was no extra charge for XXL, he ordered two so I could cut some extra fabric from the back side of the second.

Depending on how much you need to enlarge your item, it’s likely that you can cut up one shirt and have enough material to enlarge two or even three shirts to fit your frame. Even then, you may still have material left over for another project (Star Trek uniform Christmas stockings? Star Trek uniform throw pillow?)

In this case, my friend only needed a little extra room in the belly region. The shirt fit everywhere else but stretched in an unflattering way across the middle. There was plenty of room in the arms; we only needed to add material to the body of the shirt and the existing side seams were the most natural place to do so.

Since both the material and the pattern disqualify this shirt as a cannon Star Trek uniform, we have no need to worry about creating non-cannon seams and tailoring.

We had three basic options to add the material to the side seams:

  1. A long, thin rectangle shaped piece – gives extra room in both the chest and belly.
  2. A right triangle with the 90 degree angle towards the rear – gives extra room mostly in the front and lower belly region but no additional room in the chest. This is the alteration for accommodating a pregnancy or a beer belly that looks like a pregnancy.
  3. An isosceles triangle – gives more room in the belly but doesn’t add much room in the chest area.

We used the measurements from one of his favorite T-shirts as a guide so we would know roughly how much material needed to be added to the sides. Because we had an abundance of material (he ordered two XXL shirts) I made one each of the different alterations and attached them with temporary basting stitches so we could see which one worked the best for his body type. For his belly shape, the isosceles triangle was the clear winner.

Here is the new side seam after I added the extra material.

I have a serger sewing machine which makes sewing projects faster and easier but this alteration can easily be done on a standard machine. Here is what the alteration looks like from the inside.

An overlock machine is what makes these professional looking seams but you can use a standard sewing machine for the seam and then zig zag stitch over the raw edge.

Using a thread color that matched the existing exterior stitches and adjusting my stitch length to match, I re-hemmed the bottom of the garment in the new section.

You want to match your thread color *and* your stitch length so your alteration blends with the garment. If this is not possible, re-hemming the entire garment is your other option.

He was so pleased with the alteration, he paid me to alter the gold captain’s shirt for him as well.

The gold one is a little safer for leaving the house.

 

Love, The Nerdista

Posted in Cosplay, Costuming, & CausePlay, From the Laboratory, Sci-Fi, Star Trek | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Star Wars TIE Fighter Pilot Tribute Cocktail: Mai TIE

    

With a Star Wars twist to the traditional pineapple and maraschino cherry garnish.

Raise a glass to the unsung heroes of the Imperial Forces, the TIE Fighter Pilots, with this interesting twist on the strong and classic Mai Tai cocktail.

The Mai Tai is a polynesian style drink revived during the Tiki Bar craze of the 50s and 60s. As a more potent than average alcoholic beverage, it is strongly advised you don’t drink one and then hop into your TIE Fighter. You may become the TIE Fighter Pilot whose poor flying skills let the rebel scum blow up the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope.

You’ll know you made your Mai Tai properly when the almond syrup and lime in the resulting cocktail are in perfect balance so that neither ingredient is easily dominant or even recognizable. I recommend making half a recipe because the full size drink contains a whopping four ounces of alcohol! Drink just one and you won’t be going anywhere.

Recipe: The Mai TIE

(Try 1/2 a recipe first in a smaller glass; this is a potent cocktail!)

Ingredients:
2 oz. Dark Rum
2 oz. Cachaca (Brazilian Sugar Cane Rum)
3/4 oz. Orgeat Syrup* (almond syrup)
1 freshly squeezed lime

Directions: Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake well. Strain into cocktail glass over ice. Garnish with Pineapple and maraschino cherry TIE Fighter.

Enjoy!
Love, The Nerdista

PS, you may also enjoy this nommable TIE Fighter tribute the Cherry TIE Pie.

Personal PPS, my Flying Black Stormtroopers represent! Huzzah!

*Although orgeat syrup can be found in some well stocked liquor stores (The Nerdista found one by a brand of syrups named Torani) it can also be made at home. Orgeat syrup recipes are often complicated and time consuming but The Nerdista developed this simplified recipe that imparts all the same flavor but with half the steps and a fraction of the time.

Recipe: Easy Orgeat Syrup

Ingredients:
6 oz blanched almonds (chopped, slivered, mashed, or sliced)
8 oz water
1 cup white sugar
1 oz Vodka
1/8 tsp Rose Flower Water (can substitute Orange Water)

Directions:
Place the almonds and water into a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Let the liquid become cool enough to handle. Pour liquid into a blender and blend on high for a few seconds; this will more fully incorporate the almonds into the fluid without additional boiling and straining steps. Using cheesecloth, strain the almond pulp out of the fluid and add the remaining milky colored fluid to the saucepan with the sugar. Allow to boil gently, stirring occasionally until the liquid gets *slightly* thicker in consistency. You now have an almond flavored simple syrup. Allow syrup to cool to room temperature then add 1 oz vodka and 1/8 tsp rose water. With the rose water, you want to err on the side of less. If you prefer, orange water can be substituted for the rose water.

Your homemade orgeat syrup should be bottled in a glass container and kept refrigerated. The syrup will be an emulsion that will separate into sugar water and almond water after sitting. This is normal. Simply shake the emulsion together before use.

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Star Trek Tribute Noms: Cargo Bay Biscuits

Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits made Star Trek insignia style

Back in the day, we Geeks and Nerds didn’t have easy access to geek tribute items through the internet and awesome geek-centric websites like Thinkgeek.com. We found what we were looking for at geek conventions, through mail order catalogs, or we made it ourself. There very well could be a Star Trek insignia biscuit/cookie cutter out there somewhere, but often in cases like this, The Nerdista defaults to Geek Creativity Old School Level: Make it Myself.

Making these tribute biscuits in the shape of Star Trek insignia is a two step process: making the biscuit cutter, then making the biscuits.

Part One: Making Your Star Trek Insignia Biscuit-slash-Cookie Cutter

Step One: find something close

Turn this heart upside down and you have the beginnings of the insignia

Step Two: use your hands to rough out the shape

Using my insignia pin as a guide, I used my hands to make the rough shape of the insignia

Step three: using needle-nosed and round-nosed pliers, refine the shape of the insignia until it no longer sets off your geek-alarm for improper form.

Ahhh, that looks so much better!

Note: The angles need to be rounded or biscuit dough will get caught in the corners and ruin the look of your biscuits.

Part Two: replicate the taste of Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Have you ever been to Red Lobster and eaten their Cheddar Bay Biscuits? There are two things I remember from my last visit to Red Lobster even though it was more than a decade ago:

1. When the server asks if I’d like to choose my lobster from the tank, I say “no.” I do not wish to stare my food in the face before consuming the tender flesh 20 minutes later. Those beady crustacean eyes and the way he so desperately flailed while being removed from the tank still haunt me in my dreams. Never again. I simply order my lobster now, close my menu, and say “just pick me a nice one, thank you.”

2. Cheddar Bay Biscuits are amazing. Did I mention they are amazing, because they. are. amazing.

Recipe: Star Trek Cargo Bay Biscuits (a tribute to Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits)

Biscuit Ingredients:
2 ½ cups Bisquick
¾ cup milk (Must be whole milk. We’re making biscuits, not diet food.)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter (remove from fridge 1 hour prior to use)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 heaping cup cheddar cheese, grated

Butter Topping Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
½ teaspoon garlic powder
a pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Measure Bisquick into a large bowl and slice butter into 1/2 tablespoon size bits into the Bisquick. Using a pastry cutter or a couple of knives, keep cutting the butter into the bisquick until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add cheddar cheese, milk, and ¼ teaspoon garlic. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined, but be careful not to over mix. Mixing makes more gluten form and gluten makes baked products tough.
3. Move biscuit dough to lightly floured work surface and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until it has a 1 inch thickness.
4. Dip your Star Trek insignia biscuit cutter in some flour and then cut out a biscuit. Repeat until all the dough has been cut. Scraps of biscuit dough can be gathered up and rolled out once more for additional biscuit cutting.
5. Place biscuits one inch apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits start to turn light brown.
6. While biscuits are cooking, melt the additional butter with the garlic powder, dried parsley flakes, and salt. After they come out of the oven, use a pastry brush to spread more yummy garlic butter goodness over the top of all the biscuits.

Makes one dozen biscuits.

Enjoy!

Love, The Nerdista

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Alien Resurrection Tribute Cocktail: The Betty

The Nerdista's version with crushed fruit

This tribute cocktail is brought to you by Kokomoka from Citizen Azeroth, a World of Warcraft podcast with his wife Renata Kane, a former co-host of World of Warcast. Some of you may know Koko as Cryler, the name he was referred to when occasionally guesting on World of Warcast during his wife’s tenure.

What you may not know is Koko is a master mixologist who earned his unofficial degree in the school of awesome. Koko, Ren and The Nerdista love to discuss cocktail crafting together. The Nerdista is proud to bring you this tribute cocktail, it’s history, and inspiration in Koko’s own words.

For those of you who might not be fans of Alien Resurrection, Betty is not a person; she is a ship. The drink named in her honor is inspired by a scene in which Ron Perlman’s character Johner, sneaks a potent homemade beverage onto the military starbase. Before I talk about the drink itself, though, I want to take just a moment to share a couple thoughts about why I love this movie.

First, the cast is really superb. Sigourney Weaver always impresses, even though we don’t get to see her with her head shaved or in skimpy prison garb in this flick. She only gets one outfit, but it’s tight and it’s leather, and that’s good enough for me. We get Ron Perlman, Winona Ryder, and an early Gary Dourdan in bad ass mode. There are underwater fight and chase scenes in which we get some terrific swimming warrior alien shots. Both Ron Perlman and Winona Ryder nearly drowned themselves filming these sequences. The realism shows.

Now, I know that a lot of people, including Joss Whedon, feel that this film falls short. It’s not my favorite in the series, but it’s still a movie I go back to and recommend to those who haven’t seen it. Whedon has said that the Betty was in some ways his first take on what later would become the Firefly concept. For that reason alone, we should all love Alien Resurrection. Anyway, on to the drinking.

My first thought in re-creating this drink was that it should be some variation of rocket fuel. But this is a path that everyone who’s ever been to a WorldCon, a DragonCon, or for that matter a frat party has already been down too many times. So, what I imagine here is something home fermented, possibly under Johner’s bunk, from alien tropical fruit. Then, perhaps he kicked it up with some wild local rum. Serve it straight up, ice cold from the thermos. And, of course, no garnish.

For the makings: first, a homemade sour mix. I used half a lemon, a whole lime, and some kumquats. That yielded enough juice for four cocktails. I scrubbed them well and used them whole in my Juiceman. If you don’t have one of these, you should. You can extract the juice from just about anything, and in this case it gives me a pungent sour mix, strong, pulpy, and redolent with the bitterness of the peels. You can use a food processor and a strainer, or just muddle the fruit and leave it in the glass. But, do use the kumquats if you can. They add novelty and tang, and make the color pop.

The main ingredients are sake and cachaca. Cachaca is Brazilian rum made from whole sugar cane. You could use regular rum or even vodka, but don’t. Trust me here. I used Momokawa Pearl sake. If you can get it, I strongly recommend it because it is an unfiltered Nigori sake. Not only does the creaminess add to the character of the drink, but it is robust in flavor and it has a pineapple and coconut note to it which is tremendous with the other ingredients. Another sake that might be fun to try with this is G Joy. It’s another big one, which is what you want for this drink. I chilled the cachaca and the sake thoroughly before beginning, rather than using a great deal of ice.

Mixing up the Betty once you have everything ready couldn’t be simpler. I used 2 ounces of sake well chilled, 1 ounce of cachaca frozen, and 1 ounce of the sour mix well chilled. If you find it too bitter and sour, by all means add some superfine sugar to your sour mix. For you cocktail culture fans, it’s a caipirinha with sake added and pulpy fruit juice instead of muddled limes. And, we pre-chilled the ingredients and serve it up, rather than with rocks. In the picture, you can see how pulpy the fruit juice is in the cruet, and the fantastic color of the finished drink. If you just smash the fruit up well with the rocks and pour on the sake and Brazilian rum, you won’t be disappointed.

The Betty, in the glass, really looks like something that might have been fermented in a plastic bag on a rogue freighter between ports of call. But the flavor, with its Latin Asian fusion and pungent citrus, will surprise you. Serve some up the next time you’re marooned in a top-secret military starbase, and something is crawling around under the floor.

Cryler's version with juiced whole fruit has a more alien-esque look and feel.

Homemade Sour Mix Ingredients:

half a lemon
a whole lime
handful of kumquats
 
Directions: Scrub outside of fruit well and juice whole. Alternately, you can use a food processor and a strainer, or just muddle the fruit and leave it in the glass. For The Nerdista’s version, I squeezed the fruit with a hand press then added the remaining fruit to the cocktail glass. 
 
yield: Juicing Whole – enough juice for four cocktails; Squeezing Fruit - enough juice for one-two cocktails
 

Cocktail Ingredients:

1 oz Cachaca, frozen
2 oz Momokawa Pearl sake or G Joy sake, chilled
1 oz homemade sour mix as outlined above, chilled (NOTE: you will only use 1/4 of the recipe above per cocktail)
 
Directions: Combine ingredients and serve straight up (no ice) and chilled. If a sweeter drink is desired, superfine sugar can be added sour mix, to taste.

 

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