Make it icy, add some fizz: Summer cocktails

Homemade tonic & ginIt’s been really hot around here lately. The sort of warm early summer evenings where you sit out on the back porch, and think, “Huh. Wish I had something cold to drink. Wonder what we’ve got?”

Not enough drinks for you in Summer cocktails? You might also enjoy I wish I could drink like a lady… Already smashed? Then you’re probably looking for All the Muddled Ladies (we know it’s hard to remember your password when you’re seeing double, but hopefully it’s already stored in your browser; this thread is members only)

You too? Check out this thread for some inspiration: Make it icy, add some fizz: Summer cocktail.

If you’re feeling up to it, try this recipe for Fresa Bravas, (borrowed from Death and Company in NYC):

2oz Jalapeno infused Tequila (this is surprisingly easy to do, but does require some advance planning as the infusing can take several hours)

0.75 Yellow Chartreuse
0.75 Fresh lemon juice
4 Strawberries (muddled)
0.5 Simple Syrup

shake well with ice, strain and serve with a strawberry garnish.

These are pretty lethal – the strong flavors mean you don’t notice how boozy they are until too late!

Need something easier? Try a hit of vodka in your lemonade (or Fresca, if you’re really too hot to hit the kitchen). You might also like Rhubarabaritas, blackberry gin fizz, Aperol Spritz, or Rhubarb Dark and Stormy.

Got some suggestions for your own favorite drinks? Add them in the forum under Make it icy, add some fizz: Summer cocktails, or just add them in the comments below.

Image credit: Homemade tonic & gin by fabulousfabs

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Summer Meal Solutions

Memorial Day Barbecue

If you’re looking for some summer food ideas, from big salads to entire-meal-on-the-grill, check out the thread Summer Meal Solutions (or please don’t heat up my house!).

Here’s a sample recipe to start you off:

Classic Gazpacho

This classic gazpacho I learned to make while living in Spain is foolproof and delicious. When it’s really hot, I find just a big bowl of this with plenty of garnishes and some really good bread to be a perfect dinner.

–2 1/2 lbs very ripe tomatoes, quartered
–2 to 3 inch piece of stale baguette or two slices of dry white bread, soaked in water (if the bread is not dry, you can toast it slightly and let cool)
–1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into large pieces (seeded if there are a lot of seeds)
–1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
–1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I usually use a bit less myself in my constant effort to diet)
–1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
–1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (if you don’t have it, use more red wine vinegar)
–Salt and pepper to taste
–Chopped garnishes for serving (see below)

Working in two batches, combine half the amount of every ingredient into a blender each time and puree very well (you can use a food processor if you prefer, but a blender will make the gazpacho smoother and creamier). As you finish blending each batch, strain the mixture through a fine wire colander or a food mill into a bowl to remove seeds and peels. Recombine the two batches and blend all of the strained gazpacho once more and put in the fridge (you can just leave it in the blender jar) to chill for at least four or five hours, preferably overnight. Adjust for seasoning only after the soup has chilled completely. The gazpacho will thicken as it chills—you can add some water and re-blend before serving if you prefer a thinner texture.

Serve with any or all of the following chopped ingredients as garnishes: red onion, cucumber, red or green pepper, hard boiled egg, Serrano ham, homemade garlic croutons.

Serves 4 to 6 (I usually serve as four generous portions).

Image credit: Memorial Day Barbecue by slgckgc

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One More Notch

Every so often, I notice that I have stepped my family meals up a notch. It’s gradual, but concrete. If you took a week of dinners from two years ago and compared it to this week’s dinners, the difference would be clear: more greens, more vegetables, less simple carbs, less sugar and more fermented foods. It would be the same if you took the dinners from two years ago and compared those to two years before that. A slow, yet steady, upward trajectory on the healthy eating scale.

Interested in stepping up your cooking game? Check out the thread on Eating Clean in the Health, Wellness, and Medical Concerns board, or browse any of the discussions on the public Cooking board.

These past few months the change has been by a few different factors: the loads of interesting greens we get each week from our new CSA, conversations (and taste tests) with my brother, who has adopted a raw foods based diet, a desire to bring more fermented foods into our kitchen after Reuben was on a course of antibiotics, and, finally, my desire to lose a few pounds (my first ever “diet”).

Day-to-day, and meal-to-meal, these changes look like this: less pancakes and waffles for breakfast and more fermented oatmeal and homemade granola, less pastas for dinner and a big salad and a vegetable along with our protein, less bread and sandwiches, more quinoa and garbanzo beans; more sauerkraut, more carrots, more kale, more sunflower seeds.

I’m getting inspiration from the following whole foods websites:

Do you step it up a notch every once in a while? What are you cooking these days?

About the author: Lisa Weiner is a (not practicing) women’s health nurse practitioner and a (practicing) mama, writer, wife, cook, sewer and owner of a small children’s consignment business. You can find her sporadic attempts to capture various parts of her family’s world over at MamaPie. One More Notch was first published on May 3. 

Featured image credit: amazingly colorful swiss chard by woodleywonderworks

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Smoky Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas

smoky black bean & sweet potato enchiladas

True story: Until the other day, I had never made an enchilada. Even more shocking: I’d never eaten one, either. Too much gooey cheese, ugh. So not my bag. But then I found myself with an abundance of fabulously fresh tortillas from Tortilleria Nixtamal—where they not only make the tortillas, they grind the corn too. Then a borderline-wrinkly sweet potato caught my eye, and a can of black beans called out from the cabinet… And when the chipotles in adobo beckoned from the fridge, well, who could say no to those smoky little sweethearts?

I made my own enchilada sauce, which sounds much more difficult than it is. One of the many wonderful things about Mexican cooking: Sauce recipes often call for tossing ingredients into the blender. Verrry little actual work involved. (I wrote about Mexican cooking for Weight Watchers, if you’d like to learn a little more.) The flavor deepens if you have a few minutes to sear the sauce in a hot pan after pureeing, but it’ll be cooked further in the oven, so I won’t tell if you skip this step. Remember my New Parents’ Motto: Who needs authenticity? We just want to eat.

You could also use your favorite prepared enchilada sauce, in which case the recipe becomes super-simple. Just know that you’ll lose the “smoky” part of the recipe, since the chipotles appear only in the sauce.

This is a Nap-Friendly recipe. If you’d like to prepare it in stages, make the sauce and bake the sweet potatoes during one nap, assemble during the next, and bake right before dinner. Refrigerate everything in between.

smoky sweet potato & black bean enchiladas

Smoky Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas
Serves 4

For the enchilada sauce:
2 cups canned tomatoes (chopped, diced, crushed, whole—whatever you’ve got)
1 chipotle in adobo, with seeds (that’s one pepper, not one can! remove seeds if you’d like less heat)
1 small onion roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

For the enchiladas:
2 sweet potatoes, baked and cooled slightly (I do them in the microwave while preparing the sauce)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, optional
8-10 small corn tortillas
1-2 cups shredded Jack or Cheddar cheese (amount depends on how gooey you like your enchiladas)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a small rectangular baking dish.

  1. Make the sauce: Put all the ingredients except salt into a blender and puree. Add salt to taste.
  2. OPTIONAL: If you have a few minutes, intensify the flavors with a quick spin in a hot, dry skillet over medium heat—cook, stirring occasionally, until it thickens slightly and color darkens. No time? Skip this step.
  3. Now make the filling: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Scoop out the insides of the potatoes and add to the skillet—discard or nibble on the skins. Mash slightly with the back of a spoon. Add the beans, broth, chili powder, and salt & pepper to taste. Lower heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, just to let the flavors meld. Stir in the cilantro.
  5. Now assemble the enchiladas: Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sauce into the baking dish and tilt to spread. One at a time, heat the tortillas over a gas flame (use long tongs so you don’t get burned)* Once softened and lightly charred, spoon a few tablespoons of filling down the center and bring the edges of the tortilla over the top. Place seam-side down into the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. If you have extra filling, reserve for quesadillas tomorrow!
  6. Once the baking dish is filled, pour about a cup of sauce over the enchiladas, then top with shredded cheese. (Refrigerate any extra sauce, and use within one week.) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until cheese is browned and edges are bubbling.

MAKE BABY FOOD:  You’ve got several options here: Puree some plain sweet potato with milk or broth if you’re at the very beginning. Serve as chunky finger food along with plain beans and cheese if you’re a little further along. Or if your baby likes spice, serve the prepared filling, either pureed or as finger food.

* No gas range? Heat them in the microwave, stacked and wrapped in moist paper towels, for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or one at a time in a dry skillet.

About the author: Debbie has been a member of ADL since its inception, and is the mother of a preschooler. Her first cookbook, Parents Need to Eat Too: 150+ Simple, Healthy Recipes for Sleep-Deprived, Frazzled New Moms & Dads, was published by HarperCollins in 2012. Smoky Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas was first published on March 16.  

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