Author Archives: Gwen McCoy

Gwen McCoy

About Gwen McCoy

Gwen McCoy is a full-time wife, mom, business woman, volunteer, friend and astronaut (well, 5 out of 6 ain’t bad!). Between planning parties and chauffeuring her kids to baseball games, she spends her time traveling, reading and stealing decorating ideas from magazines and HGTV. In lieu of good parenting advice, she can give you creative lines to use to keep the kids quiet. Learn more about her life and general tomfoolery on her blog, Southern Sass with a Side of Laughs.

Cocktail Recipe

Want to See Stars at Your Oscar Party? Make a Starry Night Martini

Oscar Party Ideas

All the ingredients needed to make the deliciously infamous Starry Night Martini—except your self-control.

Guest blogger Gwen McCoy knows how to throw an Oscar party where the cocktails play a starring role. The signature Starry Night Martini is so good it comes with a warning label.

Oscar Night: It’s all about the fashion and the parties, right? Oh wait, they give awards? Huh, who knew?!

Actually, award season is one of my most favorite times of the year. Fancy dresses, hilarious and heartfelt speeches, and nonstop celebrities—all perfect excuses for a party!

So every year for the last 12 years, I have hosted a girls’ night for the grand finale of awards shows, the Academy Awards.

We have fabulous food, a little friendly wagering on the winners, and of course, a signature cocktail. We have a great time laughing at the fashion mishaps (Bjork and a dress made in the shape of a swan, need I say more?) and ogling over the leading men in black tie.

The signature cocktail has changed over the years depending on the theme for the night’s food and festivities. But one of the most popular—and, well, possibly infamous—cocktails is the Starry Night.

The Starry Night Martini is a perfect mixture of liquors that makes for a great dessert drink. It’s deliciously and dangerously smooth, making it easy to forget that it is 99% alcohol. After serving it one year, it has now become a cocktail that comes with its own warning label.

The Starry Night Martini

1.5 oz Chocolate Vodka
1.5 oz Vanilla Vodka
1 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 oz. Kahlua
1 splash heavy cream

Fill shaker with ice. Add ingredients and mix well. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Yes, you read that right. The only non-alcoholic ingredient in this tasty drink is a splash of heavy cream. Seriously! In years’ past I have served this as the “welcome drink” with the warning that I am only serving each guest one, maybe two, of these delectable concoctions. Then we switch over to more tame libations to enjoy with the dinner and dessert.

I can neither confirm nor deny that any of these warnings listed below have actually happened to me or any guests of my Oscars Party. Just proceed with caution. Or proceed with the camera on standby to document the insanity that is sure to follow with this fun drink!

WARNING: JUST ONE of these martinis is likely to cause one or all of the many side effects noted below. Please proceed with caution and at your own risk.

  1. You will believe that this martini is in fact, a weak dessert drink and start slamming them back two at a time.
  2. In the event that side effect No. 1 affects the guest, he/she may be physically constrained to the couch and/or bed for at least 24-48 hours following the side effects. Chocolate vomit = not cute.
  3. You may believe that you are a fabulous dancer and challenge everyone you know to a dance off, Breakin’ 2: Electric Bugaloo style. 30-something woman doing the worm Oscar night = visit to the chiropractor tomorrow.
  4. You may have the urge to call everyone you know and leave incoherent messages, often making odd references to Donkey Kong and getting it on. Or perhaps getting it on, all night long, like Donkey Kong.
  5. You may fall and break common household items or unknowingly destroy functional items—e.g., shoe racks, dish racks, contacts and their cases, etc.
  6. You may be overwhelmed with that loving feeling and seduce your significant other with some classic Barry White or Michael Bolton. Nine months later, I really think that love child should be named either Starry or Oscar.

So, mix up your favorite cocktail and find a great spot on the couch to catch all of the fun, fashion and fabulousness of Oscar Night. If Anne Hathaway doesn’t win for Les Miserables, you will find me downing a Starry Night or four in serious protest. Then watch for me on YouTube doing a remake of “I Dreamed a Dream” while attempting the worm. Cheers!



Stalking Nashville’s Best Food Trucks and Discovering Their Must-Have Eats

The Old Timer from Hoss' Loaded Burger is stuffed with cheese. Don't think old-fashioned, think heavenly.

Guest blogger and self-described food truck chaser Gwen McCoy tracks down the best fare on wheels in Nashville. Before you take a bite out of life, try her five must-haves.

If you haven’t jumped aboard the food truck phenomenon yet, it’s time to take your lunch adventures on the road. Nashville has seen an influx of mobile eateries, serving anything from gourmet burgers to Thai food.

I’ve become a bit of a food truck chaser, following them on Twitter and forcing my family to drive all over Nashville in search of one we haven’t tried yet.

Here are my top five and my must-have picks for each. With so many choices, it was hard to narrow it down, but these five are the ones I would stalk over and over again.

No. 5: The Latin Wagon (@TheLatinWagon)

Why do I like it? It’s super fresh! Sometimes you just want a taco without having to use your online dictionary to describe the ingredients. Just call me a Latin Lover!

Must-Have? The Cuban sandwich is one of their most popular and is fresh and tasty. The brisket tacos were no joke. If I could just get a beer truck to follow them around, the meal would be perfection!

No. 4: Smoke Et Al (@SmokeEtAl)

Why do I like it? Having grown up in the South, I would probably eat any type of varmint if smoked right and covered in BBQ sauce. But don’t worry, no mystery meat here. They take your traditional BBQ and put a nice, new spin on it. I love all types of BBQ and the smell of the hickory smoke coming out of the truck is intoxicating. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I will try to wipe the drool from my keyboard. And I repeat, baste it with BBQ and they will come.

Must-Have? The Hammy is a “slap yo momma” treat for your taste buds. (No mommas were harmed in the eating of this sandwich, mind you.) It is a burger made of all pork—country ham, bacon, smoked pork shoulder, ground pork—and then covered with what they call Bama white sauce. No matter your collegiate allegiance, this burger will have you screaming, “Roll Tide!” Another popular item on the menu is the Fiddler’s Biscuit. Well, you had me at biscuit. Because nothing says health nut like a Southern biscuit covered in shredded smoked chicken and Tennessee honey. Yes, please, and thank you.

From Strawberry Lemonade to Sweet Potato, you can make a meal out of The Cupcake Collection's sweets.

No. 3: The Cupcake Collection (@cupcaketweets)

Why do I like it? Sweet mother of Betty Crocker—this ain’t no Easy Bake Oven Cupcake! I hesitated to put this in my top five because it wasn’t a “main course” food truck. But who says you can’t have cupcakes for lunch? Life is short and I declare it should be an eat-dessert-first kind of day. And to quote my 7-year old, “DUHHHH! It’s cake.” That about sums it up right there.

Must-Have?  The Strawberry Lemonade is ridiculous—light, fresh and delicious. It is lemony without being too much. The frosting is so light and creamy. I think I just got lightheaded thinking about it—please pause while I collect myself. Whew. My favorite is the Sweet Potato cupcake because well, I DO love my veggies! And this counts, right? The cake is moist and the cream cheese frosting makes me want to do a happy dance. Sweet heaven in a cupcake.

No. 2: The Grilled Cheeserie (@GrlldCheeserie)

Why do I like it? You may think, “It’s a grilled cheese—how great can it be?” Well, stop right there, my friend, because this is no ordinary grilled cheese. No, it doesn’t come with its own superhero cape, but I would crown it the “King of Cheese” if I had the authority. It is the ultimate in comfort food.

Must-Have? Any melt of the moment features the best seasonal ingredients and is usually a best seller. Try the specialty B&B—made of buttermilk cheddar, Benton’s bacon, apricot and orange marmalade on multigrain bread. The Pizza melt is also amazing and includes pizza toppings (as if the name didn’t give it away) that are always a favorite.

No. 1: Hoss’ Loaded Burgers (@hossburgers)

Why do I like it? I feel like there should have been some sort of a drum roll before the big announcement. Actually, a drum roll should be sounded every time these guys serve up one of their outstanding burgers. Juicy, fresh and filled with cheese—three signs of a happy marriage…I mean, burger. With beef and veggie options, there is a burger for anyone and any taste.

Must-Have? The Old Timer is your basic burger—only STUFFED with cheddar. Biting into the burger and then watching the warm, gooey cheese seep out of the burger—I think that is what Heaven looks like. If they have the Big Kahuna on the menu, go for it. It’s stuffed with Swiss cheese, covered with teriyaki sauce and topped with a grilled pineapple. Yes, yes, and YES!

The bottom line? Venture out and try a food truck. This is my kind of fast food!