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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Thirsty Thursday!

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve made some vanilla-infused vodka (great for milkshakes!), a double vanilla cake, and a savory roasted chicken with vanilla bean.

Hey there, it’s almost the weekend!… and maybe you live somewhere that will actually feel spring-like on this last weekend in March? Our forecast was looking good, but now it’s taken a turn towards cold. So I’ll likely make one (or two) of these, curl up by the fire, and pretend that the snow has melted away.

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Both of the ideas are variations on traditional drinks. We just substituted plain vodka for our (super-simple) homemade vanilla vodka and made another tweak here or there.

This recipe for vanilla-infused vodka includes lime zest. I knew that I didn’t want to limit my bottle of vodka to recipes where I wanted both the vanilla and lime flavors, so I skipped the lime, but both of today’s drinks include lime, and it really is a great pairing. So much so that it’s worth considering keeping a bottle of vanilla-lime vodka on the shelf.

Vanilla Mule

Just a simple twist on the traditional Moscow Mule. Mix together ginger beer, vanilla vodka, and a splash of lime juice. So simple and so delicious!

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Vodka Tonic

This second drink is just a touch more exotic than your typical vodka tonic in that we add a splash of lime shrub. We make a vodka tonic with the vanilla vodka, add about a tablespoon of lime shrub, and then a spray of fresh lime juice if you have it.

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 yum & yum

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Cold Brew Coffee

live seasoned spring 16 cold brew coffee-1 copy The necessity of coffee is fitting for a Monday post, yeah? Brewing your coffee at home is one of the easiest ways to save money each week. I’m so used to it that buying a cup of coffee is a luxury to me and one I really enjoy, which wouldn’t be the case if I was waiting in line day after day at the coffee shop. During the winter, I usually brew a small pot in a french press or opt for the single cup pour over method, but once March rolls around it’s cold brewed coffee all. the. way. Once I discovered this method there was no turning back.

Why cold brew coffee?

  • Extremely easy to make. The directions are straight forward and there’s no fancy equipment necessary.
  • It saves time. It’s brewed in a larger concentrated batch, so you make it once for the week, not every morning.
  • It tastes better. The acidity of cold brew coffee is lower because the grounds are never subjected to boiling water, which makes the chemical profile quite different than that of a conventionally brewed pot of coffee. Lower acidity makes for a smoother taste and naturally sweeter taste and in turn is less harsh on your tummy.
  • It’s never watery. Besides the acidity issues that arise with hot coffee and rapidly cooling hot coffee with ice cubes (iced coffee), you’ll never drink a watery cup of iced coffee again. Watery diluted coffee is awful. Less caffeine and less taste – who want’s that?
  • More caffeine per cup. Cold brew coffee has a higher bean to water ratio and a longer brew time, which means it contains more caffeine. I think of cold brew coffee as a concentrate and I often add water, but more on that below.

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Malted Egg Milkshakes with Vanilla Vodka

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. We’re looking forward to a few months of both sweet and savory dishes using vanilla. Plus, we’re a huge fan of milkshakes, so if you like today’s post, you may want to check out our matcha tea milkshake and hazelnut liqueur shake!

I made a bottle of vanilla vodka last week, as you’ll see below, it’s super easy to do, and it’s even better than the store-bought vanilla varieties because this is made with 100% real vanilla, nothing artificial here… and then we added candy-coated malted eggs.

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Truth be told, vanilla vodka has never been on my radar, but since I’ve experimented with making the tea infused and rosemary infused vodkas, vanilla and vodka seemed like an obvious pairing. It wasn’t until after I made it that I wondered what to do with it. Calder said “throw it away”. Thanks. Then I did a Google search and came upon a comment board where multiple people recommended giving it away. What’s wrong with everyone?

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Kombucha! or Kombu-what?

Tea is our ingredient of the season this winter. While we love a traditional cup of tea, we also enjoy spicing it up with a masala chai and adding rose petals for a floral touch.

Kombucha seems to be a drink that can divide a crowd. People either love it or hate it. Sarah and I are strongly in the love camp! I drank my first bottle about a decade ago, knowing nothing about it, but being drawn in by the cute bottle (and wanting to taste anything named “Wonder Drink”!). The flavor of that first bottle was odd, yet addicting, and ever since I’ve loved trying new flavors and brand.

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Fast forward all these years, imagine my delight when I was biking down the bike path in Boulder and sidewalk chalk signs pointing me toward’s Rowdy Mermaid‘s kombucha taproom! During Sarah’s first visit to Boulder, we stopped in to sample the goods. Fast forward a year, and during another of Sarah’s visits, we were introduced to Upstart Kombucha while walking down Pearl Street. We’re partial to Upstart’s rose bud variety, but will take any bottle in a pinch!  Needless to say, kombucha culture (haha!) is going strong here in Boulder. We’re lucky to have some many local brands at our fingertips and love them all! Even so, we couldn’t help but get in on the DIY kombucha craze, and the nudge to do so came when our mama gave us this book for Christmas. 

The internet is full of information about kombucha, including many sites and youtube videos that walk you through the process of making a batch at home. Consider this post an introduction to kombucha and a starter brewing guide. If you have questions and/or comments, please get in touch!

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Tea-Infused Vodka

Tea is our ingredient of the season this winter. Looking for another cocktail with tea? Check out our Garden Gin. And want to experiment with more infused vodkas? We love this hazelnut liqueur and this rosemary vodka.

Today we’re here to provide a warning : tea-infused vodka may be an acquired taste… and we haven’t quite acquired it yet, but we’re trying (I’m drinking some as I type!). On a scale of 1 to 10, we’re giving this one an “ehh”.

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So, the idea is simple, take some vodka, add some tea, let it sit, then strain, and then make a cocktail. But for how simple it is, and for how much we love tea and vodka, somehow we aren’t loving the results. And this isn’t some crazy idea schemed up by us, Absolut sells a tea-flavored vodka!

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Garden Gin

Tea is our ingredient of the season this winter. We’re using that as an excuse to sit down more often and relax over a cuppa’. Check out the entire tea archiveThis post, in particular, is another one that calls for the use of Earl Grey (in ice cream sandwiches!).

I can’t believe that it took us two months to combine tea and alcohol, but the day is finally here! Today we’re sharing our take on this delicious cocktail from Sugar & Charm. As you’ll see, this drink is a complex mix of a variety of botanical flavors. The Earl Grey tea provides a dark tannin-filled foundation, and then it’s layered with lavender, lime juice, and just a hint of citrus, both from the tea and a sliver of zest. Honey adds just a touch of sweetness. Needless to say, this drink is far from the Long Island Iced Teas we all had one too many of in college.

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I mentioned that the drink gets a hint of citrus from the Earl Grey tea. Traditionally, Earl Grey is a black tea that is scented with the addition of bergamot essential oil. The bergamot orange is an extremely sour fruit with a rind the color of lemons. It is not considered edible, but with the addition of sugar can be turned into marmalade. Earl Grey tea was first produced in England in the early 1800s in an attempt to reproduce the flavors of more expensive Chinese teas. Perhaps surprisingly, combining gin and Earl Grey, as we do below, is not a unique idea. Although it’s not as fashionable today, it was common throughout the UK, particularly in the late 1800s.

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Rose Tea

Tea is our ingredient of the season this winter. We’re using that as an excuse to sit down more often and relax over a cuppa’. If you’re looking for another way to spice up your black tea, check out our masala chai. Click here for our archive of Valentine DIYs.

Hey there, thinking about surprising your Valentine with breakfast in bed and a side of tea? No? How about just surprising him/her with an afternoon cup of tea? Either way, we have an idea for making that Valentine’s Day cup extra special ~ add some dried rose petals.

liveseasoned_winter2015_rosetea1-1024x768 copyDoesn’t that look beautiful? Think about letting your sweetheart add the dried tea and petals to the boiled water themselves, that way they can see the delicate pink petals before they go in the kettle and lose their color. #itsthelittlethings

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The rose petals will add a light floral aroma and flavor to any variety of tea. I prefer a black base, but this would also go well with the lighter flavor of a white tea.

All rose petals are edible, but not all are created/tended equally; be sure to purchase dried rose petals that were grown and processed without any pesticides or additional chemicals.

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So simple, but so sweet for your special someone on Valentine’s Day.

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Masala Chai

Tea is our ingredient of the season this winter. We’re using that as an excuse to sit down more often and relax over a cuppa’. Also, if you find my talk of spices interesting, you may like this post where I use a karha mix to spice up our pumpkin popsicles.

I was stumbling over my computer keys this afternoon while starting this post because I keep wanting to just write chai, but I know that’s not correct, so let’s get some vocabulary out of the way and then get on with this post.

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Chai is the word for tea in India. Masala means spiced or spice mix. So technically, when we Americans are drinking a “chai”, we’re really drinking a masala chai, a spiced black tea, not just a tea. Somewhere along the way we shorted masala chai to chai, and so I’ll stick with that abbreviation throughout this post, even though I’m focusing here on the masala. Or is it the karha?…

There’s nothing I like more than a warm cup of chai in my hands on a chilly winter afternoon. In the past I’ve always purchased either the concentrated liquid chai from the grocery store or tea shop’s chai blend for brewing. Today I want to share a beautifully simple and delicious chai recipe that you can use as the base for personalizing your cup of tea.

Traditional Karha

Another new word: karha. It’s the name for the spice blend used for making the masala chai. Traditionally, the karha begins with a combination of warming spices. This is commonly cardamom with some ginger, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, or nutmeg; all spices that we are familiar with when baking. In addition to those spices, some karha may include black pepper, fennel seeds, or coriander. You can also add spices like tumeric for their medicinal value. And those lists are not exhaustive, if there’s a spice you like, it’s fair game!

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the spice mixture. In India, the karha varies by region and even by the time of year. And likewise, outside of India, different regions of the world add different spices to their tea depending upon a region’s access to different spices and its palette.

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