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Posts Tagged ‘beverages’

Lemon Ginger Honey

October 19, 2012 5 comments

Lemon Ginger Honey

With the cooler temperatures of October, I am more inclined to drink hot tea. I enjoy hot tea with milk and sugar but that’s not the healthiest way for me to drink it (especially with my dairy and sugar sensitivities). Usually I drink it plain or with honey and lemon, unless it is spicy chai. With chai, I prefer coconut milk.

We had half a jar of local honey that crystallized so I made lemon ginger honey. I heated the honey, added fresh lemon slices (no seeds) and chunks of fresh ginger. So far, it has been in the refrigerator for about a month. The fruits are softer and the honey tastes more “flavored” as it has aged. I tried it in hot tea and by itself when I had a cold. It is nice and soothing to a scratchy throat! The ginger chunks are delicious; they taste like candy. If you are inclined, you can even eat the lemons (rinds and all). It reminds me a bit of orange marmalade combined with lemon curd. Guess that would be lemon marmalade :)

Lemon Ginger Honey

12 ounces of  honey in a 24-ounce glass jar

2 large lemons, sliced*

1 large piece of ginger, sliced or cut into chunks

Heat the honey until it is warm. You can do this in the microwave or you can place the glass jar in a pan with very hot water. Warming the honey is particularly useful if the honey is crystallized. It also helps the honey meld with the lemon and ginger. Place the fruit in the jar, alternating lemon slices with the ginger. Push down with a spoon as needed. You want the mixture packed in the jar. Store in the refrigerator for at least three days before using, this gives the flavors a chance to blend. Then enjoy it!

*Wash and dry the lemons. Cut the lemon lengthwise. Place the flat side on the cutting board and cut thin, half-moon slices. Remove any seeds.

 

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Spicy Gold Smoothie

August 17, 2012 4 comments

Spicy Gold Smoothie

My last post featured a way to preserve fresh peaches – in frozen peach cubes. This post includes a fruit smoothie recipe that uses the peach cubes. The name, Spicy Gold Smoothie, is a little silly but it is descriptive. This smoothie has plenty of golden fruits (peaches, Rainier cherries, and pineapple) and a nice spicy kick thanks to generous pinches of cayenne pepper and ginger. Use as much or as little as you like. I like icy heat, so I add plenty of spice. This smoothie is a great way to kickstart your morning!  It also makes a nice afternoon snack.

Special thanks to my mother-in-law and father-in-law for the beautiful birthday table linens from Sur La Table. I love this store! We visited one when we were in Seattle. It is probably a good thing we do not have one near us. Thanks to my in-laws, we now have placemats, napkins, and beautiful dish towels! They are almost too pretty to use. But we will :-). I will also use them as photo props and decorative accents in the kitchen. Yes, I just wrote decorative accents. For those who know me, you know how strange that sounds! I am no Martha Stewart. But with these kitchen and table linens, I can pretend!!

Peach Cubes, Etc.

Spicy Gold Smoothie

4 peach cubes

½ cup frozen Rainier cherries (fresh would also work if you have them)

½ cup frozen or fresh pineapple chunks or cubes

¼-½ cup water or juice (tangerine, apple, orange, white cranberry, carrot, pineapple etc.)

6 ounces yogurt or kefir (~½ cup, any kind works – soy, coconut, regular)

pinch of cayenne pepper

pinch of powdered ginger

pinch of turmeric

Optional add-ins: protein powder, fresh ginger, cinnamon, cloves, ice cubes if you use fresh fruit (I like cold smoothies)

Pour contents into blender container. Cover with the lid. Blend until smooth and golden. Sprinkle with more spices if you want. Enjoy!

Servings: 2 snack-sized servings or 1 meal-sized serving.

Peach Cubes

August 6, 2012 7 comments

Fresh AL Peaches!

Peaches are plentiful at farmers markets throughout North Alabama. We bought a small basket at the Greene Street Market last week. I enjoy eating them fresh, but there were a bunch in that little basket. So, I thought of ways to put them up and enjoy them this winter. Usually, I slice them and freeze them. Sometimes with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning. I might also add a bit of sugar. Frozen peaches are great for making cobblers, smoothies, peach pies, etc. However, depending on how you freeze them you can end up with a huge block of frozen peaches! Not the easiest to handle; unless you measure the quantity you need for a specific recipe and only freeze that amount in each container (I freeze 5 cups of peaches for cobbler).

I freeze pesto, tomato paste, yogurt, herbs, etc. in ice cube trays so why not pureed peaches!?! This weekend, I made pureed peach cubes! While making them, I vaguely recalled my mom doing this when I was a kid. The peach cubes are kinda boring looking, so I did not take a photo of them. A special thank you to Marilyn Evans for the beautiful photo of peaches available at the Greene Street Market at Nativity. I will take photos when the cubes are transformed in a recipe…maybe a smoothie, daiquiri, popsicle, fruit slush, something.

Peach Cubes

1 pound peaches, pitted and sliced  (you can peel them if you want or just spot-peel as needed)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Put the peaches and lemon juice into a blender container (or food processor container). Puree until smooth. If you want to leave a few large pieces, that is fine, whatever you prefer! Pour into ice cube trays. Freeze. Remove cubes and store in resealable plastic bags in the freezer.

Coming soon…what you can do with the peach cubes!

Coffee Concentrate

Coffee Concentrate

Iced coffee is great year round, but I especially like it in the summer. Matt, on the other hand, prefers traditional hot coffee. This coffee concentrate is perfect for both of us since it is versatile and makes a great iced coffee or hot coffee.

You can use a fancy cold brewing system or you can use this method. You mix the coffee and water, let it steep overnight, strain it, and store in the refrigerator. Then you add cold water, milk, half-and-half, etc. to make a refreshing glass of iced coffee. Or add hot milk or water to make a great cup of hot coffee.

You can use your favorite medium/coarse ground coffee in this recipe. I like the espresso roast that is roasted in downtown Huntsville at the Kaffeeklatsch. For those who aren’t local, you can mail order coffee and tea from them. Or if that isn’t practical, you can make a New Orleans-style iced coffee, with a can of chicory roast coffee available at many grocery stores. If you are fortunate enough to have a Trader Joe’s nearby, you can buy their house brand chicory blend, which is reasonably priced. I also like these brands: Cafe Du Monde, Community Coffee, and French Market.

Coffee Concentrate (Print recipe)

1 pound coffee, medium grind                         10 cups cold water

or*

12 oz can of ground chicory coffee                   7 cups cold water

Pour the coffee into a large container that will also hold the water.  I use my large stainless-steel mixing bowl that has a lid. Stir in a cup or two of water. Stir gently. Pour in the rest of the water. Cover. Let steep at room temperature for about 12 hours. I usually mix the coffee and water before I go to bed. Then, strain the mixture using a sieve (I use my large chinois covered with a layer of cheese cloth). I save the grounds – they are great in the garden and the compost. Pour the strained concentrate into a large Mason jar and store in the refrigerator. It keeps for about 3 weeks. Makes about 6-8 cups of coffee concentrate.

 

Iced Coffee

Ice (or coffee ice cubes**)

¼ cup coffee concentrate

¾ to 1 cup milk (soy milk, half-and-half, coconut milk, etc.)

Splash of cold water (I use milk and water, but use what you prefer)

Optional: sweetener, vanilla, chocolate syrup, peppermint, caramel

Fill a glass with ice. Add the coffee concentrate, milk, water, and optional flavorings. Stir and enjoy.

 

Hot Coffee

¼ cup coffee concentrate

¾ to 1 cup water

Optional: sweetener, milk, cream, etc.

Pour coffee concentrate into a mug. Heat water. Pour into mug. Stir and enjoy.

 

Café au Lait

¼ cup Coffee Concentrate

¾ to 1 cup milk (soy milk, half-and-half, coconut milk, etc.)

Optional: sweetener

Pour coffee concentrate into a mug. Heat milk. Pour into mug. Stir and enjoy.

Vietnamese-Style Iced Coffee

Ice (or coffee ice cubes**)

¼ cup coffee concentrate

¼ cup sweetened condensed milk

Splash of cold water

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the coffee concentrate, sweetened condensed milk, and water. Shake vigorously and enjoy. If you don’t have a shaker, just use a glass and stir it well.

Notes:

*Included quantities for either a pound of coffee or a 12-ounce can of coffee. Either quantity works fine, just adjust the water.

**Coffee Ice Cubes: When you have leftover coffee, pour into an ice cube tray. Freeze. Store in resealable plastic bags in the freezer. Make sure the bag is sealed. Otherwise, if the power goes out and the cubes melt, you might end up with coffee all over your freezer. Not that this happened to us or anything :).

Extra Sorbet

Scenario: you make sorbet for dessert. However, you eat too much dinner. So, what do you do with the leftover sorbet? Well, we ran into this situation over the weekend with extra berry mojito sorbet. Can you say too much pizza?

Sorbet needs time to ripen (firm up) in the freezer. However, it can freeze really hard. So firm, that it is difficult to scoop out of the container. The good thing is, sorbet is very forgiving – you can soften it and refreeze it without altering the texture (unlike ice cream which makes weird crystals). I kinda thought there might be too much sorbet on Friday evening, so when I was serving dessert, I made a few extra scoops and re-froze them. That way, they were in convenient serving sizes for repurposing into tasty beverages. First, I made a sorbet spritzer on Saturday evening. Then, on Sunday morning, I made a sorbet kefir smoothie. I think they were both good ways to enjoy the deliciousness that was the extra berry mojito sorbet. Hope you also enjoy them

Print Recipe Feature

I also hope you like that I finally have a print button! I know lots of folks who use tablets, smartphones, and laptops in the kitchen and I do too on occasion. Though generally, I am a Luddite and I like an old-fashioned printed recipe (often I add handwritten notes in the margins). But I do not want to print an entire blog entry because I try to be mindful of printing too much. Now, with the handy-dandy Print recipe link, you can print a plain version of the recipe. Thanks to Anastasia at While Chasing Kids for the inspiration. Her blog is awesome and she has used this feature for some time. So I peeked at the code and we figured out how to do it on my posts. Eventually, I will go back and add it to some other posts (especially long recipes).

Sorbet Spritzer
(Print recipe)

2 scoops sorbet

Sparkling water, chilled (Pellegrino, club soda, seltzer, etc.)

Garnish: few berries (or whatever fruit is in the sorbet), mint leaves, and/or lime wedges

Serves: 2

Put a scoop of sorbet in each glass. Top off the glass with sparkling water. Garnish and enjoy!

Fruity Sorbet Kefir Smoothie
(Print recipe)

2 scoops sorbet

2 spears of fresh pineapple, sliced

2 fresh peaches, sliced (pits removed)

Splash of low fat plain kefir (or yogurt)

Serves: 2

Put all the ingredients in a blender. Cover. Process until smooth. Enjoy. 

Other ideas for repurposing sorbet:

  • Sorbet ice cubes: Just before you ripen the sorbet in the freezer, take some and freeze in ice cube trays. Then you can use the cubes for spritzers or smoothies. Probably easier than making scoops, freezing them, and then storing them. Just keep the cubes in a resealable plastic bag.
  • Sorbet popsicles: You can make little square popsicles by placing a toothpick into each cube once it is semi-set. Then freeze until firm and enjoy. Or, if you have popsicle molds, even better! I guess little jars or cups with popsicle sticks would also work.

Cocktails and Kale

June 9, 2012 3 comments

Three Cocktails + Kale Chips = Friday Night

Cocktails and Kale…Today’s odd sounding post is courtesy of  a lazy Friday evening spent at home on our patio. We bought some delicious fresh kale from Tune Farm at the Greene Street Market on Thursday night and we still had strawberries from Dennison’s Farm so it seemed like a natural fit. Well, not strawberries and kale together (but it might not be the worst combination). Instead, we had strawberry cocktails served with oven baked crispy kale chips. In the last post, I shared several recipes for simple syrup. Those recipes will come in handy in the strawberry cocktails. The drinks feature strawberries because they are still so plentiful, fresh, and delicious. However, the drinks would also be good with blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries. These recipes also make wonderful non-alcoholic spritzers.

The drink recipes call for a muddler  and muddling. So, what is a muddler? It is a bartender’s tool, similar to a pestle, used to mash things (muddling). If you do not have a muddler, you can use a fork, the back of a spoon, or even a potato masher (though it probably won’t fit in a glass). I’ve used my lemon reamer and the pestle from our chinois conical strainer to muddle the ingredients. I’ve also thought about using my porridge spurtle. Yes, we have a porridge spurtle. What is a porridge spurtle? A wooden tool of Scottish origin used to stir porridge. We bought a hand-carved spurtle several years ago at the Monte Sano Art Show. We have yet to use it to stir porridge :).

Note: Each recipe makes two drinks. You can muddle and make the drinks in individual glasses, in a cocktail shaker, or even in a large pitcher if you are multiplying the recipe. The directions are for making two drinks directly in the glasses; however, feel free to change if you are using a cocktail shaker or making a pitcher.

Back to the drinks and snacks…these cocktails are light and refreshing, perfect for this early summer-like weather. The crispy kale chips are a crunchy, earthy, and salty balance to the drinks. Enjoy and have a happy weekend…

Strawberry Basil Refresher

Strawberry Basil Refresher

8 strawberries, hulled and sliced (or mashed)

2 tablespoons simple syrup (plain, strawberry, basil, or citrus)

8 fresh basil leaves, torn

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 ounces rum (I prefer white rum for this drink)

Crushed ice

Club soda

Garnish: 2 whole strawberries, 2 lemon wedges (or slices), and 2 sprigs of fresh basil

Serves: 2

Equally divide the strawberries, simple syrup, basil, and lemon juice between the two glasses. Use a muddler to mash everything together. Add rum and crushed ice. Stir. Then fill the glass with soda water. Stir again. Garnish with a strawberry, lemon wedge (I forgot the lemon wedge in the photo!), and basil.

Strawberry Mojito

Strawberry Mojito

8 strawberries, hulled and sliced (or mashed)

4 tablespoons mint simple syrup (or plain or berry simple syrup)

2 tablespoons lime juice

6 fresh mint leaves, torn

2 ounces rum (I prefer white rum for this drink)

Club soda

Crushed ice

Garnish: 2 whole strawberries, 2 limes wedges, and 2 sprigs of fresh mint

Serves: 2

Equally divide the strawberries, simple syrup, lime juice, and mint between the two glasses. Use a muddler to mash everything together. Add rum and crushed ice. Stir. Then fill the glass with soda water. Stir again. Garnish with a lime wedge, strawberry, and/or mint leaf.

Non-alcoholic version: Just omit the rum. You can add a few extra berries and lime if you want to intensify the flavor. Also, feel free to omit the syrup if you are watching your sugar intake.

Strawberry Mule

Strawberry Mule

This is one of my favorite summer beverages. I especially like how they make it at Amendment XXI; however, it is just as tasty when made at home. It might even be better! You will want to use a strong ginger brew if you can find it. I like Reed’s Ginger Brew. In Huntsville, you can buy Reed’s at Garden Cove, Earth Fare, Foods for Life, and The Fresh Market (I believe they carry it). If you can’t find Reed’s or you think it is too gingery, then regular ginger ale would be fine. 

8 strawberries, hulled and sliced (or mashed)

2 tablespoons fresh citrus juice (lime or lemon juice)

2 tablespoons simple syrup (plain, berry, ginger, whatever you prefer)

2 ounces vodka (plain or citrus)

Crushed ice

2-6 ounces ginger brew (or ginger ale)

Garnish: 2 whole strawberries and 2 lemon or lime wedges

Serves: 2

Equally divide the strawberries, citrus juice, and simple syrup between the two glasses. Use a muddler to mash everything together. Add vodka and crushed ice. Stir. Then fill the glass with ginger brew. Stir again. Garnish with a strawberry and a citrus wedge.

Non-alcoholic version: Just omit the vodka. You can add a few extra berries and citrus if you want to intensify the flavor. Also, feel free to omit the syrup if you are watching your sugar intake. If this is the case, then you can use sugar-free ginger ale. You can even substitute club soda for the ginger ale and add some freshly grated ginger if you prefer.

Kale Chips

Oven Baked Kale Chips

1 bunch of fresh kale

Olive oil

Salt*

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper.

Wash and drain the kale. Remove tough stems. Chop or tear into medium-sized semi-uniform pieces. I like a few “extra crispy” small chips so uniform is a relative term. Dry the kale – I roll the washed and chopped leaves in a clean kitchen towel. The drier the leaves, the crisper the chips.

Place the dry kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. If you have an olive oil sprayer or mister that would be great (I need to replace our broken one). Toss so the kale is coated evenly. Spread the kale into a single layer on the pan(s).

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan(s) from oven. Don’t worry if the kale has shrunk and looks funny. It will be delicious! Stir. Rearrange in a single layer. Sprinkle lightly with salt. If you used two baking sheets, now would be a good time to rotate the sheets (especially if your oven is as uneven as our oven). Bake another 10 to 15 minutes until crispy (not burned). Sprinkle with a little more salt it you want. If they look a little greasy, you can drain them on a paper towel or a clean brown paper bag. Otherwise, you can cool them on a rack. I skip this cooling step, because I prefer them right out of the oven. As they age, they can get a bit soggy so please store in an airtight container.

*Note: I wait until half-way through to sprinkle with salt. If you add it too early, it can bring out water in the kale while it bakes. Actually, this could make it steam.

Variations:  sprinkle with cayenne pepper, cracked black pepper, finely grated Parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon pepper, Greek seasoning, etc.

The End of a Nice Evening

 

Simple Syrups

June 3, 2012 2 comments

Simple syrups are great to keep on hand, particularly in the summer. They are perfect for iced beverages – tea, coffee, lemonade, cocktails, non-alcoholic punches, etc. You can also use simple syrups to moisten a dry cake, add a bit of sweetness to a fruit salad, or use to sweeten a frozen fruit granita, etc. There are many uses for simple syrups. They also make nice, simple gifts when you put them in a mason jar and tie them with ribbon or raffia.

The basic simple syrup recipe is one part water and one part sugar. You simmer it for about a minute on medium-high heat, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove it from the heat. Let it cool at room temperature. Store it in the refrigerator for up to one month.

The flavor possibilities are endless – mint, citrus, cinnamon, basil, ginger, clove, coffee, vanilla, lemon verbena, rosemary, rose petal, blueberry, lavender, strawberry, cardamom, peach, star anise, mango, pink peppercorn, nutmeg, habanero…See what I mean? There are tons of flavor combinations!

You can also make simple syrups without sugar – I’ve included recipes that use honey, agave, maple syrup, raw sugar, brown sugar, and a sugar-free Splenda version. I haven’t actually made and tried the Splenda simple syrup; but given the chemical properties of Splenda, it should work.

Coming soon to The Flaming Pot Holder:  what you can do with simple syrups. But for now, here are some simple syrup recipes to get you started…

Simple Syrup – Basic Recipe

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Honey Simple Syrup

1 cup honey

1 cup water

Combine water and honey in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Agave Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup agave

Combine water and agave in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Maple Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup maple syrup

Combine water and maple syrup in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Raw Sugar Simple Syrup

1 cup Turbinado raw sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw)

1 cup water

Combine water and raw sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about 3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Brown Sugar Simple Syrup

1 cup dark or light brown sugar

1 cup water

Combine water and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month. Interesting note (at least I thought it was an interesting ah-ha moment): when you make a dark brown sugar simple syrup, it is like molasses. This makes sense because brown sugar has molasses in it. This simple syrup would be great in fall and winter cocktails. It would also be good on oatmeal or on grapefruit (as a child, I liked brown sugar on grapefruit). If you are out of molasses, this syrup would be a good substitute in a recipe.

Sugar-free Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup Splenda

Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add Splenda. Stir until dissolved. Cool. Refrigerate.


 

 Herb Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

¼ to 1 cup fresh herbs (rosemary, lavender, basil, mint etc.) loosely packed*

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about one minute or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add the herbs. Let it sit for 25 minutes. Strain the syrup. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.
*In general, use about ¼ cup of rosemary or lavender, ½ cup basil, or 1 cup of mint. This is just a basic rule of thumb, since some herbs are stronger and you need less. But feel free to use as much as you like.


 

Berry or Fruit Simple Syrup

1 cups sugar

1 cup water

½ to 1 cup of chopped fruit or berries 

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves. Add fruit. Stir. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Strain out the fruit (add to a smoothie or serve over yogurt). Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.


 

Other Simple Syrup Variations:

Vanilla Simple Syrup: Add a split vanilla bean to the syrup after you remove it from the heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container. Keep the vanilla bean in the bottle to intensify the flavor. Store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Citrus Simple Syrup: Add citrus zest (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, tangerine, Meyer lemon, or a combination) to the syrup after you remove it from the heat. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Coffee Simple Syrup: Add 5-15 coffee beans to the syrup after you remove it from the heat. Let cool at room temperature. I leave the coffee beans in the syrup, but feel free to remove them if you prefer. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.