Pomegranate Ginger Ale

I mentioned before, when talking about the infused cranberry vodka, that I was also making pomegranate vodka.  Well, now it’s ready.  I used a small handful of the seeds in the same sized bottle as the cranberry.  I muddled them a bit (that’s the fancy bartender way of saying ‘mushed them up’).  They turned stark white and the vodka is a light pink.  I didn’t have a plan for what to mix it with when I made it, I just had a pomegranate and was excited about infusing vodka.

So when the vodka was ready to use, I wasn’t sure what to do with it.  The hero suggested some ginger ale we had and I thought that was perfect.  It was surprisingly good.  I mean I thought it would be good, but it was really good.  It has a really complex and full flavor.

This recipe makes 2 drinks.

Pomegranate Ginger Ale

2 shots pomegranate infused vodka

1 can ginger ale

ice

Mix one shot of pomegranate vodka and half of the can of ginger ale in a pint glass over ice.  Enjoy.

Advertisements

Homemade Chai Mix

I have had good chai and I have had bad chai.  But sometimes, the best chai is easy chai.

In the spirit of this, I made some instant chai mix.  Also, a bag of this makes a good gift.

Chai Mix

3 cups vanilla sugar
3 cups powdered milk
1 ½ cups unsweetened instant tea
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
2 tsp cardamom

Mix everything together in a bowl.  At this point it will look grainy and not terribly appetizing.

DSCN9545

But through the magic of food processing, it becomes a lovely uniform powder.  You’ll probably have to do a few different batches in the food processor, unless you have a mondo one.  This recipe makes about 3 pint jars full of mix.  The jar of instant tea I bought had the perfect amount for making this recipe twice.

DSCN9555

To make a cup, mix hot water with 2 Tbsp of mix.  You can also cool it off and pour over ice.  It’s really good both ways.

DSCN9535

Fun fact: chai is the Hindi word for tea so saying chai tea is a little redundant.

Cucumber Basil Smoothie

I have a basic recipe fort smoothies that I embellish on with various things (such as dandelion leaves).  I use frozen strawberries, a banana, and kefir and then add other ingredients as desired.  This time I used cucumber and basil.

Cucumber Basil Smoothie

4-5 slices cucumber

1 full banana

2 leaves of basil

a handful of frozen strawberries

about 1/2 a cup kefir (don’t bother measuring, just know more kefir = more liquid smoothie)

Blend.  Enjoy.

.

It was really good.  Very cooling on a summer day.  There was first the taste of strawberry and then the after taste of basil.  The cucumber adds a bit of froth and coolness to the smoothie.

Peppermint “Tea”

We tried a very haphazard version of mint tea using lemon mint a few days ago.  This time I used peppermint and actually dried it before brewing.

DSCN7268

I took the peppermint leaves and dried them in my dehydrator.  You could air dry them too, it would just take longer and I already had the dehydrator running. If you do air dry them you can hang them upside down in a paper bag.  Make sure they have enough room around them for air to circulate and leave them for a few days.  The time they take to dry will depend on your weather.  The paper bag is to keep dust off of them.

DSCN8059

After I dried the leaves I ground them in my mortar and pestle and put about a tablespoon of the ground up leaves in a reusable tea ball.  Then I put that in a pitcher of hot water and let it brew for a few minutes.  Then I put the pitcher in the fridge and had some cold later.  It was really good.  I was afraid it would not be minty enough and the hero was afraid it would be too minty, but it was perfect.  A very refreshing and healthy drink!  I suspect it would be good hot too.

DSCN8054

Lemon Mint “Tea”

Lemon mint is a type of mint that smells very lemony when you tear a leaf in half.

DSCN7935_2

It also makes a light and summer-y beverage.    My dad grows lemon mint and he decided to try this today.  Take a couple handfuls of leaves and haphazardly crush/tear them up in your hands.  You probably would get a stronger flavor if you ground them up more in a mortar and pestle.  Take the leaves and stems and cover them with just enough water so they are mostly covered and put it to a boil.  Keep the water boiling for about 10 minutes and then strain out the liquid.  Add sweetener of choice to taste.  We used agave nectar, but you could also try sugar, honey, maple syrup, maybe even molasses.

DSCN7957

Pour over ice and enjoy.  It was good, we think the very slight lemony flavor needs something to compliment it.  Maybe a bit of orange zest or something.  We don’t know but suspect other mint that doesn’t have the lemon flavor might not need that.

You could also try making this as sun tea, where you place the leaves and water in a clear container (preferably glass) and leave it in direct sunlight all day.  By dinnertime, you have a yummy drink.

DSCN7950

It would be interesting to try various mixtures of herbs such as peppermint and basil.  Or maybe cilantro.  What ideas do you have?

A Quick List of Healthy Smoothie Tips

  • If you use frozen yogurt, it’s a milk shake not a smoothie
  • You can, however, freeze regular yogurt, just make sure it’s plain since the flavored kinds have loads of sugar
  • Bonus points for Greek yogurt or kefir
  • Juice has more sugar that you think, stick to whole fruit
  • Nut butters add protein and strong flavor
  • Avocado can be used frozen or fresh and adds healthy fats with an easy to cover flavor
  • Flax seeds can be added to include omega fatty acids
  • You can use green tea as a liquid for antioxidants
  • You can use any type of ‘milk’ cow, goat, soy, rice, hemp, almond, ect

Dandelion Smoothie

I know most people don’t really care for dandelions.  They’re a weed right?  In my opinion any plant that doesn’t have a use is a weed.  Like grass.  But that’s for another post.

I have heard about many uses for dandelion, the root can be roasted like coffee, the sap can be used as a glue, and there are medicinal uses for the flower.

The leaves can also be used.  They can be eaten just like salad greens.  Now, I’m not a fan of straight salad, maybe it was too much bland iceberg in my youth, but I still want to get the nutrients from the greens.  So my solution is to put them in smoothies.  I’ve done this already with a variety of lettuce, spinach, cilantro, and celery greens.  But this was the first time with dandelion.

I picked some leaves off a plant in the yard.  I made sure to only get the greenest and avoid any with obvious rot or bug holes.  I washed the leaves well in the sink and patted them dry.  Remember when picking the leaves, the sap can be used as glue, so it can get a little sticky.

DSCN7309

I made this smoothie with a variety of fruit, almond milk, and the dandelion greens.  It was yummy.  If you’ve never had greens in a smoothie, you may want to ease into it.  Start with just a little and slowly add more as you get used to the taste.  Also consider using stronger flavored fruits to help ‘hide’ the taste.  This is the recipe I used, but feel free to experiment with different fruits, different greens, and different liquids.  Just keep in mind my quick list of healthy smoothie tips.

Dandelion Smoothie

1 Banana

About 5 large frozen strawberries

About half of an avocado that I had frozen earlier

A few small pieces of pineapple

A splash of almond milk

Dandelion greens to taste

Blend

Enjoy

DSCN7316