Mint Agua Frescas

Mint is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve used it for a couple of mojito recipes, but today we’re excited to offer some non-alcoholic options.

Ever sip on some Agua fresca?  It’s basically juice made in a blender.  Agua fresca is popular in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.  I actually first had it in Jamaica, but at the time I just called it juice.  It wasn’t until this past weekend that I realized it is known as agua fresca, which is a combination of fruit, flowers and seeds blended with water and sugar.  My recipes don’t contain sugar, but feel free to add something sweet to yours if that’s your thing.  After you blend the fruits and flowers, you separate out the pulp using cheesecloth or a strainer.

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Water is by far my favorite beverage, but from time to time I like to switch it up a bit.  Sometimes it’s hard to find a cold beverage, besides tea, that I can make on the quick and cheap, but not anymore!  Agua fresca is the perfect remedy; it’s cold, tasty, healthy and hydrating.  There are also a million and one variations.  I looked at what I had on hand and came up with these two recipes in just a few minutes.  It’s also a great substitute for juice lovers that don’t own a juicer.  I like agua fresca because it keeps really well unlike fresh juice or traditional infused water (where you leave the fruit in the container).  Don’t get me wrong, I love both of those options, but sometimes I want something that I can make ahead of time.

Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca Ingredients & Instructions:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 cup fresh mint
  • 4 cups cold water
  • Cut a 1/2 inch slice off of the end of the cucumber. Rub it against the whole cucumber, quickly, for about 15 seconds.  Repeat on the other end.  This is supposed to draw out the bitterness.  Peel the cucumber, cut it into a few chunks and toss it in the blender.
  • Wash the mint leaves and add them to the blender along with two cups of cold water.
  • Blend on high for about one minute.  Strain the juice into your desired container and add two more cups of cold water.  I used a 32 oz Ball Jar.
  • Serve with ice and garnish with a few slices of cucumber and mint leaves, if desired.

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Lemon Ginger Mint Agua Fresca Ingredients & Instructions:

  • One ripe lemon
  • 1 inch chunk of ginger or 1 Tbsp fresh ginger paste
  • 1 cup fresh mint
  • 4 cups cold water
  • Peel the lemon like you would an orange. Cut it in quarters and drop into the blender.
  • Grate the 1 inch chunk of ginger or measure 1 Tbsp of ginger paste and add it to the blender.
  • Wash and add the mint and 2 cups of cold water to the blender.
  • Blend on high for about one minute.  Strain the mixture into your desired container and add 2 more cups of cold water.

 

Quick Tip:

  • *If you want to add sweetener, I suggest dissolving it in a 1/4 cup of hot water before putting it in the blender.  Mint simple syrup would be perfect in these recipes.  You could also use honey, stevia, raw sugar or your preferred sweetener.

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I don’t know about you, but I love having multiple drinks during meals and really all throughout the day.  Teas, juice, coffee and cocktails are my favorite kinds of treats.  Whenever I sit down to work with a fresh cup of whatever, I feel a little bit pampered and more motivated to complete the task at hand.  For me, drinking is my snacking – if that makes sense?  I have to admit I favor the lemon ginger mint recipe.  The combination of spicy ginger, fresh mint and tangy lemon transports me right back to summers in Jamaica.  Drinking it over ice is perfectly refreshing and exactly what I need during this ninety degree North Carolina summer.  It also looks a lot more appetizing, but I trust that you juice drinkers out there know that sometimes the best tasting drinks and are the worst looking.  These agua frescas are so good that ca$h the dog tried to get in on the action.  I dare you to blend up a pitcher for your friends.  You could even add a few lemon ice cubes to their glass.  I bet they’ll be requesting agua fresca every time they come over.

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Quinoa Salad : Variation 1 (vegan & gluten free)

Mint is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve shared a few mojitos, perfect for sipping while using our minted foot scrub.

Have you tried quinoa yet? It’s an uber nutritious grain, or psuedo-cereal, that’s high in protein, fiber, and minerals.  Quinoa is native to the Andes, and that’s still where most of the world’s crop is grown, but with its increasing popularity over the past decade or so, it’s easy to find in most markets across the US. If you haven’t tried it before, don’t be deterred. Cooking quinoa is as simple as boiling water, and then you can eat it warm and lightly seasoned in place of rice or couscous as a side to meat and veggie dishes. Beyond side-dish status, we love to throw quinoa (warm or cold) into salads. It’s a fantastically simple use that quickly ups the salad’s nutritional content and can turn it into a hearty meal (and we aren’t the only ones singing the quinoa salad’s praises).

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Simple (syrup) Twist on the Classic Mint Mojito

Hey Seasoned sippers!  With mint as our ingredient of the season, you’re likely to see a lot of mojito recipes on the blog this summer.  Today I’m going to put a simple twist on the classic mint mojito recipe.  A mint simple syrup twist to be exact.

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Mint Simple Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1 cup roughly chopped mint (give or take)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Mint Simple Syrup Instructions:

  • Place the roughly chopped mint leaves in a heat-safe bowl or jar.
  • Combine the water and sugar in a small sauce pot over medium-high heat.
  • Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil.
  • Once the mixture is boiling and all the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat.
  • Pour the sugar mixture over the mint leaves and cover the bowl with a plate or lid of some kind to allow the mixture to steep.
  • Uncover the simple syrup after a thirty minutes and strain out the mint leaves with a mesh strainer or cheese cloth.

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Mojito Ingredients:

  •  10 mint leaves
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp mint simple syrup
  • 1-1.5 oz white rum
  • 1 cup ice (crushed if possible)
  • 1/2 cup club soda

 Mojito Instructions:

  • Roughly chop eight mint leaves and add them to the cocktail shaker along with half of the ice.
  • Cut the lime in half.  Cut one slice and then cut the remaining half into 4 wedges.  Squeeze the juice from the wedges into the cocktail shaker.  Drop the juiced wedges in as well.
  • Add two tablespoons of mint simple syrup to the shaker (add more if desired) along with 1-1.5 ounces of white rum.
  • Put the lid on tight and shake, shake, shake.
  • Empty the contents of the shaker into your tumbler, add more ice if desired and top it off with club soda. Garnish with a slice of lime and a few mint leaves.
  • Sit back, relax and sip.

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As you can see, I like to drink my cocktails while browsing through a book or two.  First I pulled out this classic Old Mr Boston Bartender Guide to compare mojito recipes, but alas there was no mojito recipe to be found.  I quickly became bored of browsing cocktail recipes (shame on me, I know) so I decided to flip through Two Eagles.  It’s a large photo book that looks at the natural history of the United States and Mexico borderlands.  It is over 200 pages filled with fantastic photos and interesting text so you may want to mix up another mojito!

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Mint, Salt & Sand Body Scrub

Mint is our ingredient of the season. Look out for a season of cool posts.

A few weeks ago we shared ideas for rosemary body scrubs, reminding you that exfoliating goes a long way towards making your stems smooth with every shave. Did you try it out? What did you think? Today’s scrub will also work on your legs, but we think it makes a refreshing foot scrub. The sand and salt give it a bit more scrubbing power where it’s needed,  the coconut oil will soften and hydrate, and the mint will cool your hard-working soles.

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Rhubarb Mojito!

In the spring rosemary was our ingredient of this season, this summer it’s mint. Today we’re kicking things off with a drink that is perfect for the spring to summer transition.

Let’s just get this out of the way. I love (lovity love love) mojitos, but I’m a purest and only ever order or make the traditional mojito. I envisioned kicking off our summer of mint with a basic mojito, but then I saw some fresh rhubarb at the farmer’s market. Knowing that rhubarb season ends soon,  what could we do but start the season with a deliciously pink Rhubarb Mojito?

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Ingredient of the Season : Mint

Every season we like to pick one ingredient and find a variety of ways to love it and use it. Rosemary was our ingredient of choice last season, we baked with it, roasted it, drank it, freshened our rooms with it, and turned it into a body scrub.

Get ready for a summer of mojitos, cool mint salads, and refreshing body potions, because mint is our ingredient of the season! We tossed around a few ideas for our summer ingredient (cucumber, tomatoes, cherries, hops (beer-filled summer anyone?)), but decided that it would be fun to roll with the herb theme for another season, and we’re all already going to have a beer-filled summer, so mint it is. Plant your mint this week (tips below), and we promise you a summer of fun, fantastic, and fresh uses for it!

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You are probably most familiar with peppermint, which is a sterile hybrid (does not produce seeds) of spearmint and water mint. Of course, when you go to the nursery you’re going to see so many more varieties. There’s chocolate mint, pineapple mint, mojito mint, apple mint, should we go on?

Spearmint, water mint, and peppermint are native to Europe and parts of Asia, but because of their popularity, today you will find these mints and other hybrids growing in Australia, North & South America, and on many island countries. The plants grow well in moist soils and, while they prefer partial shade, they can stand a range of sun exposure from full sun to shade. The plants spread quickly by growing rhizomes, shoots that will grow new shoots and roots from their nodes to produce new plants. Fortunately for us and mint lovers everywhere, the hardy and quickly spreading nature of the plants allows them to thrive in a wide variety of locations. Unfortunately, the species is considered invasive in many of its naturalized zones.

With that in mind, if you want to grow mint this season, we recommend growing it in pots. Beyond its tendency to spread, putting your mint in a pot is great for a few reasons. As we mentioned, the plants like partial shade and plenty of water. If you can put those pots near a hose or water source, that will make your work easier. The pots give you the added freedom to move the plant around until you find the best growing location at your place.  I also find potted herbs handy because I can put them on my front or back porches, where they are even closer to my kitchen than they would be if planted in the ground; this is particularly valuable when we have friends over and are making drinks. Furthermore, even if your mint wouldn’t regularly do well on your deck, you can always move it there for the party day if it’s in a pot. Thinking of planting other herbs this season? Check out this post for details on all of our favorite herbs.

In the photo above on the left, you can see my mint immediately after planting. On the right is the same pot overflowing with mint by the end of July! Just like other herbs, you’ll want to pinch off mint flowers as they form, because like other herbs, the chemistry of the plant changes after flowering and it can change the flavor of your leaves.

As a culinary ingredient, Sarah and I are both used to thinking of mint as a flavoring for desserts and drinks. We  love our mint chip ice-cream, mint tea, and mojitos, but beyond that, our mint experience is rather limited. As a result, we are excited for a season of experimenting. We have plans to use mint in a savory lamb dish or two. On the lighter side, we can’t wait for more mint in our salads, lettuce wraps, and spring rolls. Beyond the mojito, we’re going to try mixing up our own mint juleps and grasshoppers. And, of course, we’ll also use our mint oil to experiment with potions for the home and body too!

Do you have a favorite use for mint in your house? We would love to hear it!

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Rosemary Body Scrubs

Rosemary is our ingredient of the season. Today we’re using the same rosemary essential oil that we used to make those invigorating room sprays. Want the recipe for a perfect evening? Take a shower with these scrubs, pore yourself a Rosemary SAGE Fizz, and roast a plate of rosemary tomatoesliveseasoned_spring2014_rosemaryscrub7-1024x768 copy

We are always down for making our own body care products. Sure, it requires time and sometimes a bit of experimentation, but it’s almost always worth it. Why? It feels good to know the short list of ingredients we use are nontoxic. It’s often cheaper than products from the pharmacy. The options for personalization are endless! And finally, when I’m in the kitchen mixing up a big batch of this or that, I love that Calder refers to them as potions. Silly, but fun.

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Rosemary Room Spray

Rosemary is our ingredient of the season. Today we’re stepping out of the kitchen and using rosemary oil to create a room spray that will leave your whole house smelling fantastic!  If you follow this link, you’ll see some of our other favorite uses for essential oils. 

Hey readers, it’s been a fun week around here, hasn’t it? Did you check out Sarah’s profile of Connie Zamorano Tuesday afternoon? Now I’m obsessed with getting one of those cicada prints on my wall!

If the bugs left you squirming in your seat, you can channel that energy into this super simple project: homemade rosemary, mint and eucalyptus room spray. Have you tried store bought room sprays? I have a few, and I have to admit that I love them at first, but find that they can be a bit overpowering in their staying power and/or they just smell chemically over time. I don’t have either problem when I make my own. As for complexity, it’s going to take you longer to read this post than it will to mix up your spray.

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