Ginger & Pomegranate Punch

I made this punch last weekend for a cookbook club meeting (more on that soon!). I’m not normally a punch-maker and was a little bit nervous putting it together, but it ended up being amazing! I think it was all due to the ginger beer… If this is any testament to the punch’s deliciousness, it was the first thing to go at my little cocktail bar that night. This recipe is our party gift to you at the beginning of what’s sure to be a long, fun, and punchy (ha!) holiday season.

With the realization that we had a winner of drink on our hands, I knew that I wanted to share it on the blog, but forgot to take any beautifully staged drink shots, instead, we have some after-party empties. #oops

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The ingredients for this bad boy couldn’t be simpler : ginger beer, pomegranate juice, and mango nectar. The ginger beer provides a ginger flavor (obvs), but I really like it because it also adds a fiery warmth to the drink that you aren’t going to get with ginger ale. Don’t accept any ale substitutes. The pomegranate juice provides the punch’s tart flavor and the mango juice its sweetness.

I used 25 oz of ginger beer, 8 oz of pomegranate juice, and about 12 oz of mango nectar. After you put that all together, you can give it a taste and adjust things to your preference.

Originally I was going to spike this with light rum, but then decided against it since we were going to have some non and light drinkers in the group. Instead, everyone had the option to add whatever alcohol they would like (we had rum, gin, vodka, and SNAP available). I loved it with rum and stuck with that for my two glasses, but I know a lot of other guests were excited by the ginger-snap description of SNAP and ended up enjoying that paired with the punch.

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Since I was serving this for an October event, I used it as an excuse to experiment with dried ice for the first time! My goal was to serve the punch in a pumpkin with dry ice creating a smoke or haze that would flow out and around the punch bowl. I would give the final result a C+. The punch in the pumpkin looked super seasonal at the drink station (I even kept the pumpkin top and it made a cute lid on the punch before party time), but I couldn’t get the volume of smoke that I was looking for. Maybe you’ll have better luck.

Here’s what I did : I cut the top off of an extra-large pumpkin and cleaned out the insides. Then I carved out the insides slightly until I was able to fit a metal* bowl down inside the bottom of the pumpkin, BUT I tried to not carve too much of the top rim of the pumpkin away so that my glass “punch” bowl could rest on the pumpkin and not sit down in the metal bowl. I think the following two pictures will help to illustrate the set-up.

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At party time, I placed the dry ice in the lower metal bowl and poured some water over it to get it smoking, then I placed the glass punch bowl on top for serving. While the ice would smoke some, it would also peter out fairly quickly. We would pour more water over it, causing another big release of smoke, but again, it was quickly exhausted…. maybe I just needed more dry ice in the lower bowl? While it wasn’t a dramatic success this time, everyone loved that we gave it a shot, and I’m still game to do a few more dry ice experiments.

*Metal is essential here since the dry ice gets so cold that it could shatter glass bowls (I even worry about pyrex because there have been some issues with lower quality pyrex being manufactured in recent years).

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See what I mean? It’s an ehh, on the scale of awesome, but hopefully I’ll have my dry ice game down by the time the boys are teenagers (gotta impress them with something).

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Midsummer Magic

It’s the middle of summer, food is at its freshest, and the livin’ is easy, or at least it should be.

There’s nothing we love more at this time of year than the intense flavors and colors of fresh fruits, and there’s no easier way to enjoy them than to just throw them in whatever you’re making. Need some ideas? That’s why we’re here.

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Last week I put some fresh raspberries and cherries in my mojito – smashing them up just a bit in the bottom of the glass before adding the rest of the ingredients.

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Serve cubed watermelon with mint for a refreshing treat on a hot day. If you like that combo, you’ll love our watermelon mojitos!

And if your garden’s still overflowing with mint, make some aqua frescas.

Add fresh figs and blueberries to your mocktails (or cocktails!).

Throw watermelon and blueberries in your smoothies with a tea-based twist.

What about watermelon in your gazpacho?!

Any ripe berry would go well in these yogurt-based popsicles. These lemon pops are another refreshing option.

Yesterday Alex asked to bake a cake (nothing makes my heart melt faster than his request to do something in the kitchen!). He wanted a cake with “a blue middle and red paint on the frosting”. I let him add some food coloring to our batter, but then transformed his idea for red paint into a splattering of berries and their juices across the top. This is a basic yellow cake with our favorite coconut milk buttercream (scroll down).

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Summer, and particularly July, is such a special time of year for us, and nothing tastes more like summer than perfectly ripe fruit; it’s pure midsummer magic. If you can get your hands on some, especially if you have the chance to get out there and pick berries, do two things : 1. eat as much as you can while picking, and 2. do something creative and special with the leftovers. You won’t regret it! xo

 

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Dutch Oven Chili

We’re half way through JULY! I think Kate will agree, this is our favorite time of year. We’re both July babies so this month has always been special for us. Growing up, we would have joint pool parties together even though there’s a nine year gap between us! This year we haven’t managed to get together, but both of our Julys have been packed with outdoor adventure and ample family time.

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Last week, I took a family of Brazilians out into the mountains for the first camping trip of their lives. We had a wonderful time hiking, learning new skills, and hanging out at camp. I plan on sharing more aspects of that adventure in future posts, but for now I wanted to share a Dutch Oven Chili recipe that is perfect for a camping crowd. The way I make chili is incredibly simple.. So simple that it’s almost one of those recipes that’s not really a recipe, WTF do I mean? You’ll see..

Even though this post is entitled Dutch Oven Chili, you can also make it on the stovetop by following this recipe. If you’re making it in a dutch oven, you’ll want to get a great layer of hot coals going. Another option, and perhaps a more reliable one, is to light a couple dozen charcoal briquettes. For the first half of the recipe have the dutch oven sitting directly on a bed of hot coals or charcoal briquettes. The lid should be kept off while you brown the meat and cook the fresh veggies that way you can monitor the heat, ensuring you don’t burn your dinner. Once you add all the canned items there will be a good amount of liquid in the pot so you shouldn’t have any trouble with burning or sticking. Place the lid on the dutch oven, cover it with coals or briquettes and wait twenty minutes or so (this really depends on the condition of your coals and briquettes) until the contents of the pot comes to a bubble.

Dutch Oven Chili

Ingredients

  • Onion
  • Bell Pepper
  • Jalapeño (or a small can of Jalapeños)
  • 3-5 cloves Garlic
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 15oz can Kidney Beans
  • 1 28oz Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 jar of Salsa
  • Ann Schu's homemade Chili Sauce*
  • Chili Seasoning Packet

Instructions

  1. Start by cooking the ground beef over medium heat. Break up the beef into smaller pieces with a fork while it's still raw.
  2. Once the beef is cooking, begin chopping your onion, bell pepper, jalapeño and cloves of garlic.
  3. Add the vegetables to the meat as you chop.
  4. By the time the beef is completely cooked, the onions should be clear and the peppers a little soft.
  5. Drain off the grease if necessary - this is totally your call. When I make it in the kitchen, I drain the grease, when I make it in the Dutch oven I keep it because more liquid and flavor is better than less (usually it's a small amount anyway).
  6. Now it's time to work those arms - open all the cans: beans (drain off the liquid), tomatoes, jalapeño, salsa, and add them to the cooked beef and fresh veggies. Splash a bit of water in each can too, swirl it around, and add it to the chili mixture.
  7. Add your chili seasoning (or your own special spice mix) and mix well.
  8. If it's looking dry, you could add a splash of water or tomato paste and water to add a little liquid.
  9. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover with a lid and allow the mixture to bubble before enjoying.
  10. If the mixture looks extra juicy, allow it to bubble a bit with the lid off, this should take care of some of the extra liquid.
  11. Serve over couscous or rice and top with shredded sharp cheddar cheese.
  12. *Ann Schu's homemade chili sauce is obviously optional and most times I don't have it, but when I do, I receive five times the compliments!
http://liveseasoned.com/dutch-oven-chili/

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There you have it. Super simple. How do you make chili? Do you serve it over rice or couscous? Are we the only ones?!

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Arugula Walnut Pesto

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. We’ve been using them for sweets, drinks, and snack bars. Today we’re finally using them for a savory condiment!

Sarah here: Comin’ at ya with a republished post today – I’m making this tonight and I’m papapumped about it. Pasta and pesto all day please. Carry on.

I didn’t even know I was looking for it, but I found my new favorite condiment in this arugula walnut pesto! I think I overdid the traditional basil and pine nut pesto, because the past few times I’ve had it, I just wasn’t excited by the flavor, but the peppery-ness of the arugula and parmesan combined with the savory walnuts and olive oil and the zing of fresh garlic allows this pesto to brighten any dish, creating the perfect cure for grey days when you’re faced with another late spring snow!

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I have to admit, I didn’t go to the grocery store with arugula on my list and the intention of making this pesto, but when a super-sized container of arugula landed in our fridge,  I was looking for a way to use it up!

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