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.


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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. 


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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 follows...eat, 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.


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NFL Sunday: Huevos Rancheros & Mocktails


In case you didn't know, football season has started! From now until February my boyfriend will be yelling at the TV every Sunday. I try to make it more festive with food. So yesterday, I put on my Packers t-shirt and we kicked off the season with huevos rancheros and a mocktail. Go team!

This is a lighter, fresher tasting rancheros sauce and the natural hand made style white corn tortillas (grilled on a cast iron griddle) give this dish a delicious authentic flavor.

Huevos Rancheros


Prep time: 15
Cook time: 30
Serves 4

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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!


My Sunny Mocktail


I made a homemade grenadine and drizzled it in a glass filled with ice and OJ. Grenadine is simple to make and homemade is far superior to store bought brands. There are no preservatives of course, so I make a small batch. It lasts a week or two in the fridge.



Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.  



Fill a glass with ice and orange juice. Drizzle the grenadine over the top. It will sink to the bottom. Top with a orange wedge, cheer for your favorite NFL team and enjoy!


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Chocolate + Dulce de Leche


Oh my little cupcake you are so delicious! Rich chocolate cake paired with Dulce de Leche frosting, topped with sea salt. Does it get any better than that?

My girlfriend just had a Labor Day BBQ, with tacos and mexican fare on the menu. She was making black bean/quinoa tacos for the vegetarians and marinated steak and carne asada for the non-veggies. I wanted to make a cupcake that would compliment the spicy cuisine. Originally I was thinking of some kind of mexican hot chocolate cake with a touch of chile spice. However it was a daytime party and 100 degrees in Los Angeles...maybe mexican hot chocolate wasn't the right choice. I'll try that in the Fall when its cooler. 

I researched traditional mexican desserts and of course Dulce de Leche stood out as a classic.   

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.

Now onto the frosting. Generally I like to use a healthy fat, such as coconut oil. However since this was a day party and there would be no air conditioning, I had no choice but to use Crisco shortening. I didn't want my frosting melting all over the place!

This frosting has a delicate balance of Dulce de Leche flavor without being to over the top sweet. I think you will enjoy it.

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 


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.


I used my Wilton cupcake decorator to swirl the frosting on top.  No need to make the swirls perfect, it gives them character. I sprinkled half of the cupcakes with Alaea Sea Salt, which added a wonderful salty crunch. The other half I sprinkled with some cupcake crumbs. I took one cupcake and broke it in half and crumbled the cake to make crumbs and used them as decoration.  Next time I will put the sea salt on all of them! It was good.


The BBQ was so delicious. Amazing veggie tacos, beans and rice, guacamole, homemade salsa, margaritas on the rocks and Chocolate Dulce de Leche mini cupcakes. Yum! Makes me very happy.


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