Drinks

Five Days of Smoothie

A few weeks back, William and I tried a smoothie cleanse. We were kinda sorta committed to it (at best), so it obviously didn’t end up being a full cleanse. However, we did get into the habit of drinking smoothies for breakfast each day. We have found that often, smoothies give us more nutrition than a typical quick breakfast and they keep us full for longer. They are easy to make, and what I love most is that you know exactly what goes into them. These smoothies can be easily altered to fit your taste preferences, dietary restrictions, or nutritional needs. Each one takes about five to ten minutes to make. We calculated servings off of pint-sized mason jars (so one serving is about 2 full cups of smoothie).

I decided to post all five recipes together because they are all so simple. Essentially, you throw all of the ingredients into the blender and enjoy your smoothie! There are a few places that require more planning. For soaked oats and chia seeds you’ll want to cover them with hot water in a small dish and let them sit for about half an hour to an hour. This is more important for the chia seeds because it gives them the gelatinous texture they need to act as a binding agent for the smoothie. Oats can be included without being soaked beforehand resulting in a thicker smoothie. Also- whenever a recipe calls for frozen fruit, it is actually not required that it be frozen. If you are planning to drink the smoothie immediately, you might want to stick some of it in the freezer a few hours before you make it so that you can enjoy a cold smoothie. However, if you are planning to make it the night before, it will be refrigerated and cooled overnight anyway, so there’s no need to freeze anything!

Enjoy!

smoothie

Advertisements

Winter Sangria with Cranberries and Rosemary

winter sangria

 

This is a super easy and delicious recipe for a very drinkable winter sangria (because we all need a little help to get through the holidays, right?!). It’s a white sangria, and although the recipe was inspired by the folks at cooking stoned, I did change it up a bit.

Instead of a pinot grigio, I decided to use a riesling. Currently my two favorite rieslings are the 2013 Kung Fu Girl (out of Washington State) and the cheaper, but equally delicious 2012 Sea Glass (out of Santa Barbara, CA).

Really, though, it’s up to you to choose which wine you use for this drink. My only advice would be to choose something that you actually like! This recipe adds a ton of body and flavor to a wine, but does not hide the taste of a bad wine, so this is not the time to skimp!

Additionally, I decided to use more fresh cranberries, more rosemary, and less white grape juice. I went with a mixture of white cranberry and white grape juice because I feel that white grape juice can be a bit overpowering and I definitely wanted the cranberry flavor to come through here to give it that Christmas-y feel!

winter sangria

 

Winter Sangria with Cranberries and Rosemary

makes about 6 (large) drinks

Ingredients
1 granny smith apple
1 honeycrisp apple
1 heaping cup fresh cranberries
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 cup sugar
14 oz club soda
1/4 cup white cranberry juice
1/4 cup white grape juice
1 bottle riesling

winter sangria

 

First, wash and cut both apples into bite-sized chunks. Add them to a large pitcher.

winter sangria

Next, wash and add in the cranberries and rosemary.

winter sangria

 

Add in the sugar, club soda, white cranberry juice, and white grape juice. Mix everything together with a long spoon.

winter sangria

 

Add in the riesling and mix it all together more until the sugar begins to dissolve. Once this has begun, chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least an hour. After this is done, your drink is ready to enjoy! I like the idea of decorating them, and so I followed my fellow cooks’ tip and dusted some additional rosemary with sugar for a cute topping.

winter sangria

With this added rosemary, the flavor of the herb infuses even more into the drink and it is wonderful and much more savory than sangria typically is (which I loved). This is perfect for a winter party, and so so easy to make!

winter sangria

 

Enjoy!

 

Scrumptious Smoothies: Strawberry Banana

 

Banan Strawberry Smoothie

 

When I lived on the East Coast, I was obsessed with Planet Smoothie. Their Leapin’ Lizard smoothie was the greatest thing since sliced bread and I just could not get enough of it.

After moving out to the West Coast, I tried Jamba Juice and Smoothie King, but was not satisfied.  Jamba Juice has great ingredients, but unless that smoothie is made of pure gold, it is (in my opinion) waaaay overpriced! Smoothie King is just- well, no.

 

So, after buying my blender I got to work trying to recreate the Leapin’ Lizard!

 

The result is kind of a smoothie, but it’s definitely on the border between smoothie and fruit drink. It’s very thin and not creamy, just juicy!

 

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

(makes two!)

Ingredients

1 cup frozen strawberries*
2 frozen bananas*
1 cup orange juice

Banana Strawberry Smoothie

 

First, freeze the strawberries and the  peeled bananas. The bananas should be frozen through, but the strawberries need time to defrost a bit before you use them.

 

Take out the strawberries and the bananas. Sliced the bananas while the strawberries defrost and put them into the blender.

Using your sharpest knife, cut off the stems of the strawberries. Place those into the blender along with the bananas.

Add in the OJ and blend! You can add more OJ if you want, but I really love that strawberry-banana flavor, and I didn’t want it to be overpowered by the orange.

 

Enjoy!

Banana Strawberry Smoothie

 

*You can use frozen fruit for this, but I prefer fresh fruit that has been prepared, then placed in the freezer for a few hours. At least here in California, fresh fruit also tends to be less expensive than frozen fruit.

 

Scrumptious Smoothies: Banana Almond Oatmeal

banana almond oatmeal

 

I recently purchased a blender/food processor combo. This is quite possibly the best culinary purchase I have ever made- I kid you not! I am in love with the ability to make soups, sauces, dressings, and smoothies so easily!!

 

I would definitely recommend this tool for your kitchen, as it provides a function that is not really possible manually and it also doesn’t take up too much counter space. This is not a kitchen “gadget,” as I would say. Gadgets are unnecessary. They just take up space in the kitchen- things like mixers and garlic peelers and whoopie pie molds. I mean, let’s be honest- how often are you really going to use those things? How much time to they actually save you?

 

I am not at all into excess. My kitchen is necessarily Spartan, as I just don’t have much room to store things. But ,but, but,the blender is soooo necessary. It really opens up the possibilities for your kitchen, and is functional in a way that I never suspected, but will never take for granted again!!

 

So, in honor of my new purchase, I am doing a smoothie series. These are easy smoothie/drink recipes that can be made in a blender. They are all absolutely delicious and I am convinced that it would actually be difficult to go wrong with fruit in a blender!!

banana almond oatmeal

Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
(adapted from the NYT)

 

Makes 2 smoothies

Ingredients
2 tablespoons chia seeds
8 tablespoons water
2 bananas
4 tablespoons oats
6 tablespoons boiling water
2 cups almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 teaspoons agave nectar

banana almond oatmeal

Do Ahead: Put your chia seeds in a large ramekin, and cover with the water. Let them soak in the refrigerator for 3 hours. Peel the bananas and put them in the freezer for 3 hours.

Hint: peeling the bananas is really really necessary. I did not do this the first time and a frozen banana is not easy to peel.

banana almond oatmeal

 

First, take your soaked chia seeds from the refrigerator and your banana from the freezer to let them warm up a bit.

banana almond oatmeal

Put the rolled oats in a ramekin with the boiling water and let them sit and cook for about 15 minutes.

banana almond oatmeal

 

Slice the bananas, and place them into the blender with the almond milk.

banana almond oatmeal

Add in the chia seeds, vanilla extract, almond butter, and agave nectar.

banana almond oatmealbanana almond oatmeal

 

Check on the oatmeal and make sure that it is cooked.

 

Add the oatmeal into the blender.

banana almond oatmeal

 

Blend everything together on high speed, until the mixture is smooth.

banana almond oatmeal

Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for later consumption!

banana almond oatmeal

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for a good blender, I use the cuisine art duo, (food processor/blender combo). To get the best bang for your buck, you can also check out Comparaboo’s page on blenders.

Grandma’s Cure for the Common Cold

Readers,

One thing that people do not tell you about teaching that they really should is that you will be exposed to the largest array of resistant-strain colds, flues, bugs, and God knows what else. It’s somewhat of an occupational hazard. Despite my fervent attempts at employing the use of hand sanitizer and germ-killing sprays, I have fallen sick, overtaken by whatever illness is running rampant through my place of work this week.

The long sleeves of my jackets have nobly been subjected to these germs, as I pull them over my hands to open every door and drawer, to push every button. I refused to let my unprotected skin touch anything that these children have also touched. Alas, the struggle has ended with my defeat, and oh, what a horrific defeat it is. I have been wracked with coughing fits, endured chills and night sweats, and a mighty congestion the likes of which my body has never endured before.

Children get sick on a level that is so completely foreign to me. I, in my adulthood, have suffered on very few occasions from debilitating illnesses, but most typically from slight malaise. This is a sickness on a whole new level. If children were natural experts in anything that thing would be the art of getting sick. They are the best at this skill, and I am even convinced at times that they come out ahead of the elderly.

But enough about my illness! I realize I have been slacking and I have not been updating the blog as well as I should. Today, I thought I would post something that has been particularly relevant in my life as of late. This recipe is one that my family has used for a long time to aid in fighting colds and flues and bugs. It is an extremely comforting drink for me, and I find that it is the perfect drink to share with others as flu season kicks into high gear.

One thing you will notice is that there are no pictures in this recipe. Unfortunately, being sick has really worn me out and I haven’t been able to take pictures of this process. (Truth be told, I haven’t even been making them! I taught the BF how to do it and he has been amazing in helping to take care of me while I’m down for the count!)

Honey, Bourbon, and Water

Ingredients

1 shot bourbon (or whiskey, if you prefer)
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey

First, measure your bourbon and water into a cup and mix them together. Microwave this for 30 seconds. Then, add in the honey and stir. The mixture will be very hot, but it is so comforting and it feels so good on your throat!

This drink is definitely not one that’s going to get you drunk, it is just comforting and warm. It has been perfect on these cold, desert nights when I am feeling especially wiped out by body aches, congestion, coughing, and a fever.

Also, for anyone who isn’t sick and just needs a great excuse to have some good bourbon, this makes an excellent alternative to late night hot cocoa! It’s warm and fairly rich, which makes a for a great, soothing drink.

Yours in germs and Clorox,

Katie

Cherry Ginger Cocktail

ginger cherryI have decided that I love cherries!

Do not take this the wrong way. I hate this pathetic excuse for food:

cherry gingerSoaked in weird sugar juice and some kind of chemical syrup, maraschino cherries have been the bane of my existence for decades. I have found these sneaky little buttons of nastiness in many desserts and hiding in the bottom of many drinks over the years. So, you can imagine my hesitation when the BF approached me about trying one of them.

“These are different,” he insisted, “so fresh and juicy, the way that fruit should be!”

Finally, I gave in. Boy, am I glad I did!! So many culinary doors were opened in that one, deliciously juicy bite!

These are no ordinary cherries! (Or should I say that the science-fiction monstrosities pictured above are not ordinary cherries?)

Good, real cherries have a pulpy texture like plums. They are juicy and can be darker red to almost a yellowy-orange. Also, they are much much bigger than maraschino cherries, and seldom have a perfectly, artificially even coloring.

cherry ginger

This cocktail is delicious and refreshing, great for Independence Day! The ginger ale really brings out the intricacy of the cherry flavor, and mellows out even low quality vodkas.

Cherry Ginger Cocktail
Makes one 2-shot drink

Ingredients
8 fresh cherries
2 shots vodka
2 ice cubes
ginger ale
sugar for rimming the glass

cherry gingerFirst, rim the glass with sugar. I’ve started to wipe the rim with a damp paper towel and then just dip it in sugar.

cherry gingerNext, pit the cherries. Cut them in half and dig out the pit manually. (I certainly don’t own a cherry-pitter and I found that it was actually very easy to do this the old fashioned way.)

cherry gingerAfter all of the cherries have been pitted, squeeze them with your fingers into a small measuring cup. You want to get as much juice out as you can, and then just throw the pulp in with the juice. Note: Pitting and squeezing  out cherry juice is a messy messy process! It won’t stain counter tops or cutting boards, but I would be careful with your clothes!

cherry gingerNext, pour the the mixture through a strainer and into your rimmed glass. You may need to press it down into the strainer with your fingers to get the last bits of juice out.

cherry gingerFinally, add in the vodka, ice cubes, and top it off with the ginger ale!

cherry ginger

Enjoy!

 

Monday Funday: Citrus Drop Cocktail

citrus cocktailToday was my final day of Finals, so I am dubbing it ‘Monday Funday’! I thought I would add a special cocktail that, although it does take a little more effort than most, is deliciously dangerous (read: doesn’t taste like alcohol at all).

This cocktail has lime, lemon, and orange flavors all mixed in, and it is made with simple syrup. I have included my recipe for simple syrup, but it makes way more syrup that you would need for one of these drinks. I usually just store simple syrup in the fridge and it keeps very well, which makes the second batch of citrus drop cocktails that much easier! However, if you want to make less and not have leftovers, the ratio is simply 1:1,  sugar:water. I used half dark brown sugar and half white sugar because I like my simple syrup to be really strongly flavored with that nice brown-caramel-iness!

In the ingredients, I use the term ‘shot’ as a measurement. I rechecked all of my shot glasses to make sure that these drinks will all come out the same, and they will: 1 shot = 1.5 fluid ounces.

One last warning: this is technically a 3-shot drink, so you’ll need big glasses and maybe a chaperone? 😉

Citrus Drop Cocktail
Makes one 3-shot drink!

Ingredients

For the simple syrup:
1 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar

For the drink:
1/4 cup lime juice
1 shot lemon juice (I just used juice from those plastic lemon bottles)
1 shot simple syrup
1 shot Cointreau (or any orange liqueur)
2 shots vodka (you can use anything here, because the flavor doesn’t really come through all that much)

citrus cocktailFirst, make the simple syrup: in a pot over medium heat, combine the water and the sugars, and heat it to a rolling boil. If you plan on keeping the simple syrup in the fridge, you might want to add a splash of vodka to act as a natural preservative. Continue to stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved and then set it aside to let it cool.  By my estimations, if you want to use all of the resulting simple syrup for drinks, this recipe is enough for about 7 drinks, each with 1 shot of simple syrup.

citrus cocktail

If you’re using fresh limes, squeeze the juice into a liquid measuring cup. (Once again, these desert limes took forever to squeeze out manually and it took about 4-6 limes to get only a 1/4 cup of juice! All ya’ll who don’t live in the desert, be grateful!) Pour the lime juice into a separate cup along with the lemon juice, simple syrup, Cointreau, and vodka.

citrus cocktailAdd the liquid along with a few ice cubes to a shaker and shake it up!

citrus cocktailOnce the drink has been mixed and thoroughly cooled, it is ready to be served. This drink is a totally random creation that my boyfriend came up with one night, so there is no wrong way to serve it! I like to serve it in giant martini glasses with sugar-coated rims, but it could just as easily be served humbly on the rocks in a tumbler.

citrust cocktailHave it any way you like it, and enjoy!

citrus cocktail

 

The Simplest Cocktail: Vodka & Lime

vodka limeIt is almost Friday! As the weekend approaches and a long week comes to a close, a nice, refreshing cocktail certainly sounds amazing. AND as a continuation of the Cinco de Mayo theme, I felt this the perfect opportunity to introduce the most refreshing and simplest of all cocktails: the Vodka & Lime.

This recipe is a little bit different from a typical V&L in that I like to add a little sugar. Think: Lemon Drop Martini but with vodka instead of gin and lime instead of lemon.

A warning though, this cocktail doesn’t really hide the vodka flavor, so if you don’t have good vodka or don’t like vodka at all, this might not be the drink for you!

Though limes do not cover up alcohol flavors as much as lemons do, this is still very refreshing and it always makes me think of the amazing limeades I used to get over the summer down south!

Vodka & Lime
Makes one 2-shot drink

2 shots vodka (we like Svedka or Grey Goose here, anything is good as long as it’s got a flavor that you can actually stand because it’s not going to get hidden by the lime)
2 large limes (because of the California drought, we have tiny mutant drought limes this season and have to use 4 per drink!)
2 ice cubes
1 pinch + 1 plate sugar (for rimming the glass)

vodka limeFirst, prepare the glass. Pour a light layer of sugar onto a plate and dampen the rim of the glass (I usually do this by soaking a paper towel in water and pressing the glass, rim-side down, into the paper towel). Then twist the rim of the glass into the sugar to get that nice, fancy-looking trim.

vodka limeCut the limes into halves and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup. Throw a pinch of sugar into the glass (more than that if you’re me); then, using a strainer, pour the juice into the glass. Add the vodka and ice cubes. If you’re really feeling fancy, you can decorate the trimmed glass with a wedge of lime!

Drink up!

vodka lime

 

Old Fashioned

old fashionedIt’s Monday, and Mondays are so in need of a nice cocktail. It’s the start of the week, and everyone is dragging. While it may seem like an odd choice, an Old Fashioned is actually a great cocktail to finish off a long day back to work. The Old Fashioned gets a bad rep because traditionally it’s made with a heaping dose of bitters- which are, well, sort of bitter, and we all know whiskey isn’t the most inviting of liquors. This recipe makes what I consider to be a lighter, crisper, and more refreshing Old Fashioned. It is perfect for sipping slowly during the 5 o’clock news, and it won’t ruin your appetite for dinner. It’s like a nighttime mimosa! Also, it is really basic and I have found that it is a great way to use some of those small oranges that the store makes you buy in giant quantities!

old fashioned

Old Fashioned
Makes one 2-shot drink

1/2 tbs sugar
2 splashes of bitters
1 tbs water
juice from 2 clementines/mandarins (any smallish, juicy orange works!)
2 shots of mild whiskey (our favorites are Woodford Reserve and Crown Royal Reserve)
2 ice cubes

old fashionedPut the sugar in a glass and add bitters. You really do want to avoid adding too much because this is the ingredient that can overwhelm the drink and the freshness of the orange juice.

old fashioned

Cut the oranges and strain the juices into a pitcher or a separate glass. This is simply to avoid having a drink that is too pulpy. The mandarin oranges that I use here rarely have seeds, but just in case there are a few, the straining will keep them from getting in your drink!

old fashionedAdd in a spoonful of water and the whiskey. Stir it up and top it off with a few ice cubes and some of the rind from the oranges.

Enjoy!