Mocktail Monday: Pomegranate Fizz

Cheers it's Monday!  I'm starting my own movement, it's called Mocktail Monday.  Have you heard of Meatless Monday? I'm a vegetarian, so every day is meatless Monday in my house.  Which is why I'm starting Mocktail Monday!  It's a positive way to start the week.

I had pomegranate juice and homemade grenadine in my refrigerator, that I made for a previous post.  The mocktail for this week is called Pomegranate Fizz.  I replaced the pomegranate liquor with grenadine and used Pellegrino in place of champagne.  My handsome boyfriend was kind enough to tend bar for me while I took photos.

Pomegranate Fizz Mocktail

Pomegranate seeds
2 shots chilled homemade grenadine syrup (see September 10, 2012 post)
2 ounces chilled pomegranate juice
1-2 ounces chilled pellegrino or sparkling water
Orange peel for garnish

Mix juice and grenadine in a glass, then add the sparkling water.  Twist some orange peel around a chopstick to make a fun garnish and rub orange peel along the rim of the glass for an added citrus essence.  Throw in pomegranate seeds and enjoy.

Grilled 3-Cheese Sandwich

Cheesy goodness on grilled Sourdough. The secret to toasting the bread just right is to grill it on a cast iron griddle. My sister bought me a cast iron tortilla griddle for my birthday and claimed "It makes the best grilled cheese ever", so I put her claim to the test. Big sister was right. Crunchy bread on the outside, soft bread and gooey cheese on the inside. It was good. 

For this grilled cheese I used extra sharp cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan. I added thin slices of onion and threw thyme on the griddle, just for fun. This grilled cheese was for my boyfriend and it was gone in about 90 seconds. 

Quick Desert Getaway

It was 106 degrees in Los Angeles last Friday.  My sister had a Groupon for two nights in Indian Wells, which is 30 minutes East of Palm Springs, that was about to expire.  Even though we were having a heat wave and it would be even hotter in the desert, we decided to go and try to have a weekend of relaxation...with a pool and A/C!

The Eastbound drive out of Los Angeles has always been one of my favorites. There is something therapeutic about the desert for me.  It contrasts and balances hectic city life.  As soon as I see the landmark windmills and my favorite date shake stand...I know relaxation is nearby.  Palm Springs and the surrounding desert cities don't look like your typical desert, but more like a man made oasis.  Luscious green grass, colorful flowers and palm trees line the streets and there are water fountains, lakes and of course golf courses everywhere!

Our agenda for the weekend was as, nap, lounge by pool, read magazines and repeat.  It was a grueling schedule! The only time we ventured off the hotel premises was to go to dinner Saturday night in nearby Old Town La Quinta. 

Main Street in Old Town La Quinta is lined with quaint shops and restaurants. It was off-season and the crowds were at a minimum as the shops were only open from 11-4pm.  When the weather cools, they have outdoor concerts, art shows and weekly farmers market in the square.  We heard laughter and music at the end of the picturesque street and followed the sound to The Wine Bar at Old Town.   

We had a glass of white wine while browsing the adjoining wine shop.  My sister spotted a restaurant across the tiny street that looked like a local favorite and we could hear music.  The Grill on Main had a live band and according a kindly gentleman outside, had "great burgers".   We settled into a pub table on the patio and ordered two peach sangrias.  

Most restaurants in the desert have water misting machines set up to keep the patrons on the patio cool, which is a refreshing feature.  It seems like a waste of water to me but it did work.  I ordered a vegetarian burger with sauteed mushrooms and swiss cheese...delicious!  The gentleman outside wasn't kidding, it was a great burger.  I'm not sure I know how those onion rings got on my plate but since they were there, I had to eat them.

It was a relaxing getaway of great food, refreshing libations and exquisite scenery that I would highly recommend. Especially if you're looking for a quick retreat from big city life.

Huevos Rancheros Brunch

Huevos Rancheros and a mocktail makes a perfect Sunday morning brunch. This homemade Ranchero sauce is fresh, light, healthy and makes this dish one of my favorites. I use all natural "hand-made" white corn tortillas, that I grill on a cast iron griddle or an open flame to get a little char.  When served with my Sunrise Mocktail it makes me feel like I'm on vacation.

Huevos Rancheros

Prep time: 15
Cook time: 30
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped white onions
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup chopped tomatoes and their juice
1 cup vegetable stock
2 teaspoons olive oil
8 white corn "hand made style" tortillas
1 can black beans drained
1 can pinto beans drained
4 large eggs
extra sharp yellow cheddar - shredded
extra sharp white cheddar - shredded
1 avocado for top

To make the ranchero sauce, in a medium pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and bell peppers, and cook, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cumin, salt, cayenne, jalapeno, and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juices and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the stock and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and cover to keep warm.

Heat a cast iron tortilla griddle or skillet over medium heat. Spray each side of tortilla with olive oil spray and heat one side until just starting to brown, about 30 seconds. Turn and cook on the second side. Remove, cover to keep warm, and repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Mix black beans and pinto beans together and heat over medium heat. Mash half of the beans. Keep warm until ready to use.

In medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of olive oil, over medium-high heat. Break 4 eggs into skillet and fry until the yolk is cooked to your desired consistency. 

Place 2 warm tortillas on each of 4 plates and spread each with 3-4 tablespoons of warm beans. Place 1 egg on top of each and top with the warm ranchero sauce and cheeses. Serve immediately. DELICIOUS!

Sunrise Mocktail

I made a homemade grenadine and drizzled it in a glass filled with ice and fresh squeezed orange juice. Making your own grenadine is not only simple, but it is far superior to store bought brands. There are no preservatives, so I make a small amount. 

Grenadine Ingredients:
1 cup pomegranate juice (I used POM brand)
1/4 cup organic sugar

Bring the pomegranate juice and sugar to a boil in saucepan. Reduce the heat and cover, simmering for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow mixture to cool, then pour into a container with a tight sealing lid.  

Sunrise Cocktail:
Fill a glass with ice and orange juice. Drizzle the grenadine over the top and let it sink to the bottom. Top with a orange wedge. 


Chocolate and Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

Rich chocolate cupcakes with Dulce de Leche frosting and a sea salt sprinkle. Does it get any better than that? These are not the healthiest cupcakes, but they sure are delicious.

One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes:
(adapted from Martha Stewart's cupcakes)
Makes 48 mini cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line mini muffin tins with paper liners. With an electric mixer, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt on medium speed. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water, beat until smooth and combined.

Fill lined cups 2/3 full with batter. Rotate tins halfway through baking time. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 10-15 minutes. Since these are mini cupcakes keep an eye on them closely. Every oven is different. When toothpick comes out clean, transfer muffin tins to wire racks for cooling. Cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature.

Dulce de Leche Frosting:
1 cup Crisco all-vegetable shortening
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used pure bourbon vanilla extract)
2-5 tablespoons plain almond milk
1 can Nestles Dulce de Leche 

Usually I use a healthy fat, such as coconut oil. However since this was a hot summer day party and there would be no air conditioning, I decided to use Crisco shortening to avoid the frosting melting all over the place.

Using a mixer beat the shortening until smooth. With the mixer running on low, add the powdered sugar, vanilla and 1-2 tablespoon of milk. Add half of the Dulce de Leche, then another 1-2 tablespoon of milk. Now add the other half of the Dulce de Leche and 1-2 tablespoons of milk as needed. Mix until frosting reaches desired consistency.

Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with a touch of sea salt.