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Archive for the ‘Beverages’ Category

Texas Rio Star Grapefruit (1)

TexaSweet sent me six huge grapefruit to play with.  I had ideas whirling before the package landed on my doorstep.

The juice was so sweet and my kids devoured the first two grapefruits before I could do anything with them!  I managed to keep one to prepare a bright and refreshing mojito.

Like your traditional mojito, I muddled 3 or 4 fresh mint leaves with a teaspoon of sugar in the bottom of a glass.  I juiced half a grapefruit and added it to my glass.  Plenty of ice cubes and 2 oz. of rum, then ginger ale.  To make it fancy, if you were entertaining friends, save strips of the peel and the tip of the mint sprigs to garnish the drink.

IMG_5016

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Uncorked is a cozy converted house on the east side of downtown Austin hosting a globetrotters’ gauntlet of wines. Choose your glass by country or use the icons on the wine menu to find a pallet pleasing wine. I’m not a wine savvy person but I know I prefer sweet, fruity flavors if I’m enjoying a glass in good company. The staff are more than helpful and friendly, just ask if you don’t know what to try!

uncorked moscato midnitechef.com

My first choice was right up my alley.

uncorked moscato midnitechef.com

A sweet moscato with peachy floral notes. This went down very easily. The second glass was a rose and a little dry. From what I do understand about wine, start light and work to darker older vintages. Thanks to Jordan Winery for the class at Antonelli’s Cheese Shop!

rose

If you are looking for a special night with your sweetheart, Uncorked should be on your list.   Not just for Valentine’s Day (which is this FRIDAY), but any time you need to spend some time to converse over wine and nibbles.   The view of the high rises of downtown Austin is a splendid backdrop for your evening.

Uncorked is located at 900 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702

(512) 524-2809

uncorkedtastingroom.com

 

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My friend and colleague, Jay McEvers, is on his way to compete in the Great American Beer Festival’s Pro-Am Competition with an Extra Special Bitter beer he crafted and turned over to Rogness Brewing for production.

I can’t wait to try a pint this weekend while enjoying the last searing days of summer in Texas.  Raise your glass, congratulations again!

Head to select HEB stores that carry Rogness Beer to find Jay’s ESB.

 

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My love of kale in smoothies has returned, like Luke Skywalker coming to save me from the hollows controlled by the Dark Side. Yes, I’ve eaten a burger recently. Yes, I enjoyed it. The funny thing about food and your diet is that everyone is different and you are in control of what goes into your belly.

Nom Nom Nom

You know, now that I think about it, how many characters in Star Wars do we actually see eating besides Jabba? Great, there goes my weekend, I’ll be watching all six episodes to find out if you’re looking for me.

red kale strawberry smoothie midnitechef.wordpress.com

Learning more about dealing with the kale portion of a smoothie, for instance, start blending the kale with orange juice FIRST. Wait until this is silky and free of leafy bits. You can use a strainer if you are going to be picky, or if this might be a kid’s first kale smoothie. I can handle some kale flakes, see the failure post.

I should be measuring to provide you exact amounts for you to replicate this sweet brown smoothie, but anytime before 8:00am is not my best time to be putzing around with measuring cups and spoons. Just open the fridge and grab a handfull of red kale, orange juice (just pour some in the blender, silly), strawberries, and a fat slice of fozen pineapple. Start blending the kale and juice first. Drop in the berries (tops removed) and finally the frozen pineapple, pulse until smooth. You can add a little crushed ice but I found the frozen pineapple was enough today.

Keep playing with your food. Find something new to taste. Like Gabrielle Hamilton says in the interview featured in this post: “Food, pleasure, and guilt should never be in the same sentence.” Have fun!

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While I wait for my next trip to the store or CSA or farmer’s market I was craving some green stuff for my morning smoothie.

I tend to hide things from myself, the motivation is to “save it for later”. Works well with special candy bars my parents smuggle down to Texas from Canada. Coffee Crisp bars are one of my favorites, I would arm wrestle you for one. Probably cheat by distracting you somehow just to get my mits on one of those puppies. Hiding kale from myself, in the save it for a rainy day fashion, now sounds incredibly weird when put next to chocolate. It came in handy this morning though! I tried making my own kale chips with a beautiful bunch that came in my Greenling box a while ago. I bagged up the leftovers and burried them in the freezer. It’s probably been two months, maybe more, that those kale chips sat waiting for someone to rescue them.

Have you ever seen the “Will it Blend?” series on YouTube? This is by no means an experiment of radical blending of random items. I do write with purpose (mostly), ha ha. Well, give that guy a bag of kale chips and see what happens. I can tell you that the results of a smoothie containing dried plant matter are not that appealing. Besides having large bits of kale in my breakfast smoothie, the flavor of nutty toasted kale threw me off. It was edible but I’m calling it a kitchen experiment failure.

I’d like to make this with fresh kale.

kale blueberry smoothie

The combination used here was:

  • half of a banana
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice, maybe more if too thick
  • heaping cup of blueberries
  • handful of kale (use fresh for heaven’s sake)

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My prayers and condolences go out to the Stern family today.

Allen, I didn’t know you very well personally, however your enthusiasm shone through everything you were involved with.  Your spirit was warm and welcoming.  I wish I had the opportunity to know you as a friend, someday I’ll see you on the other side.

I’m sure everyone in this room will be making a smoothie today in memory of Allen, this was taken at the AFBA Google+ class, which Allen attended with fellow Austin bloggers in February.

smoothie for allen stern 2013

Here is my smoothie for Allen.

smoothieforallen_Collage

  • 1 tablespoon Goji Powder
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup kale, chopped
  • 2/3 cup crushed ice

Blend until smooth.  Makes one tall smoothie.

Cheers, Allen.

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2013 refreshing strawberry lemonade

Making use of the five-pound bag of lemons I bought at Costco (why do I do this to myself?) I decided to make lemonade.  Those bright yellow puckers looked so lonely, so I added strawberries to the jug.  The lemon is front and center, but I love the pink hue the strawberries added.  Bonus is the pieces of fruit in the bottom of your glass!  This can be easily scaled up to serve a larger crowd for a back yard gathering or picnic.

Refreshing Strawberry Lemonade

  • 1 cup organic coconut sugar (more to taste)
  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 2 large organic lemons
  • 6 large organic strawberries

In a small pot, combine the sugar and 1 cup of water, bring this to a simmer to dissolve the sugar.  Slice the lemons in half and take a slice off each half, place these perfectly round slices in your lemonade vessel of choice.  Juice the remaining lemon, catching the seeds or strain afterwards.  Add the lemon juice to the vessel.  Add the sugar-water and stir to combine.

Chop the strawberries and cook them down until their juices are released, use the same little pot to save washing two!

Add the strawberries to the vessel.  Add the remaining 4 cups of water and stir well.  Cover and chill until ready to serve over ice.

Another idea is to make a more concentrated version by only adding 1 more cup of water then adding it to fizzy water to make a sparkling strawberry lemonade!

Cocktail time by adding vodka or gin to the sparkling version.  Although you may want to reduce the berries further and strain the seeds if you are making hard strawberry lemonade.  Seeds floating in your cocktail is not classy.

Have fun with it.  Enjoy and be refreshed.

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I’ll come right out and say that Gevalia wanted to send me coffee to test and write about their products.  Sure!  Who doesn’t like free stuff?  I’m normally a tea drinker at work and rarely prepare coffee at home.  I usually leave coffee to the baristas, it tastes better when someone else makes it.  However, this Gevalia Stockholm Roast Kaffe was so smooth, almost sweet, that I’ve renewed my hopes of finding a coffee palatable for home brewing.  I might be way off the path here, but this is my opinion after all.

I know there are local coffee vendors, hint hint, but Gevalia was the first to find me in the blogosphere.  Kudos for being first!

I’m always elated when a parcel arrives.  I also love to share the giddiness, therefore I will give one of my readers the joy of a box of coffee to enjoy while reading my blog.  Join the throngs of contestants by leaving a comment below with your favorite time of day to sip a cup o’ jo.

This coffee was also good iced.  Since Texas is too darn hot 98% of the time, this is the mode of choice for the barista prepared caffeine beverages I like.  Make a frosty with it and you are my new BFF!  Again, very little sugar was required.

Don’t know what else you can do with coffee?  Ever baked with it?  I got the idea from the Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten), you know, that episode where she made chocolate cupcakes with a ganache and put coffee in the second batch (or maybe the first… I don’t recall the order of the batches).  Her friend took the “A” batch and the “B” batch to a pack of drooling women confined to a conference room without natural light (this can bring out the PMS in any woman forced to conference chocolateless).  Anyways, guess which cupcakes tasted better?  The ones with the coffee, of course.  I must say, it does highlight the flavour of chocolate, especially dark chocolate.  If you have a chocolate cake recipe you like that calls for water or milk, try using a strong brew of coffee as the liquid (keep some portion of the milk if called for, the acidity might be a key factor).  Try Paula Deen’s Texas Sheet cake using this swap!

If only they could send that Swedish guy (who is really an actor from Cali, but hey) with the coffee….

*

* Contest Rules *

Open to US and Canadian residents

Please include your email address in the comment submission form or I can’t find you if you win!  To clarify: you don’t have to put your email in the comment field, include it in the form field *above* the comment and *below* your name.  Sorry for any confusion 🙂

Leave a comment once per day until contest closes on Oct 19, 2012.

Bonus entry if you Tweet this post, leave 1 extra comment for a Tweet.

Winner: 35th comment!

Thanks everyone who entered!

Update: The winner doesn’t want the coffee.  I’m drawing again:

Congratulations #9!   I’m sure you really want the coffee, not links, comments, and such like the last person….

OK, people… use real email addresses when entering contests.  Second person either doesn’t exist or doesn’t care.  Let’s try this one more time I will pick #28 my favorite number because random.org  isn’t working right now.  So the winner (hopefully) is Jennifer!  I will be contacting you shortly!

 

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Prickly Pear, also called tuna, is the fruit of the Opuntia ficus-indica cactus.  You can see it growing on the roadsides in South Texas and other areas of the South through to Mexico.  I don’t recommend picking them by the road, instead find them at the grocery store or possibly at local farmer’s markets.  There are spines on the fruit just like the green pads of the cactus, be careful that these have been removed before handling the fruit.

I cut open the fruit and scraped out the seeded pulp.  Then I squished the pulp to release the juice in a fine mesh strainer.

Strain the pulp twice to get a juice that is clear and sweet.  I didn’t have any alcohol to make a prickly pear potations true to the name, but you could certainly try adding a shot of tequila or vodka over ice.  I added watermelon juice prepared in the same way using my fine mesh strainer.

The cactus fruit tastes sweet and succulent, a little grassy too.  It’s a different but refreshing drink for summer.

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I was wandering through Sam’s Club when a perky woman stopped me to offer a sample of juice.  She gave the short sales pitch as I tasted, mmmed and ahhed at her words.  What really sold me was the flavor and weight of the juice.  I know you wouldn’t normally think of weight and viscosity of juices, just follow along on this one.  The more water you add to freshly squished juice, the lighter and less viscous it is.  And the more water added to the good stuff means higher profit margins to the producer.  I like to make smoothies out of real fruit (banana, papaya, berries, mango, pineapple, you name it!) so when a juice really tastes like fruit I get excited.  I bought a bottle of Acai Berry Juice right then.

Cloudiness is a good thing.

I drink about 4 ounces in the morning, and if I need a pick me up in the afternoon.  I’ve noticed a little extra pep in my step when I take it a few days in a row.  If you have kids, I’ll advise you to cut this with water as you might have jumping jackrabbits on your hands.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Maybe my kids are just nuts anyways.

I bought a different brand of Acai juice (Zola) and it doesn’t taste as good, not even close.

Here is the guy behind Genesis Today on The View

http://youtu.be/p6RaoipQN1s

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