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Cool and Refreshing Natural Spicy Soda

I gave up soda years ago but I still want a cool, fizzy drink everyone once in a while. To satisfy that craving I make my own soda mixing natural juices with seltzer so I can control the sweetness. It’s a lot easier than you think and much more healthy with none of the added chemicals or preservatives!

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What’s great is you can adjust the amount of syrup you want based on how sweet you like it. Also, the flavor combinations are endless! This ginger hibiscus spicy soda doesn’t burn as you might think but does give the drink a nice kick that will perk you right up. I also made lime ice cubes for a little added tartness.

hibiscus-soda

Making simple syrup is easy, just equal parts sugar and water and heating it up until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear. Just think of all the natural flavors you can add. Get a little creative too and make a mojito soda by infusing mint leaves and limes when making the syrup or ginger and basil! It’s a wonderful alternative to the sugary stuff that’s out there now!

Spicy Ginger Hibiscus Natural Soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
handful of dried hibiscus flowers
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, smashed
2-3 slices of serrano chile
seltzer water

1. In a saucepan on medium heat add sugar and water and stir. Add the hibiscus flowers, ginger and serrano chiles and continue stirring until all the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil then remove from stove and let mixture cool off.

2. Strain mixture so you are left with just the syrup. In a tall glass, add ice, 2 ounces of syrup and top with seltzer.

Store the remaining syrup in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

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Last Minute Gift Idea: Hibiscus and Ginger Simple Syrup

Attending a dinner party and forgot to get your cocktail loving host/hostess a gift? Instead of rushing to the wine shop and getting the usual, impress them with something homemade! This hibiscus and ginger simple syrup will add a nice personal touch and will only take minutes to make!

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All you need is a pretty bottle and nice ribbon, labels or tags. I’m sure the cocktail enthusiasts and non-drinkers alike would be pleased knowing you took the time to make them something special.

This hibiscus and ginger simple syrup can be used to make hibiscus mojitos, or mixed with vodka and seltzer for a cocktail spritzer or added to sweeten your lemonade or ice tea. The recipe ideas are endless!

Hibiscus & Ginger Simple Syrup
yields 2+ cups

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/4 cup dried hibiscus
1 inch piece of ginger, cut into small pieces and mashed
2-3 cinnamon sticks

1. Dissolve sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Keep stirring until liquid turns clear as water. Add the hibiscus, ginger and cinnamon stick and let mixture simmer for about 2 minutes. Do not allow mixture to boil. Remove from heat and let syrup cool down completely.

2. Wash and dry two 8 oz bottle or a few smaller size bottles. Add a couple of ginger pieces and cinnamon sticks from mixture into each bottle and pour in the cool syrup. Decorate bottles as you like.

Here are a few more simple syrup flavors you can make!

Mint and Lemon Simple Syrup
Add a bunch of mint leaves, juice of a lemon and lemon rind to the syrup.

Spicy Thai Basil Simple Syrup
Add a bunch of Thai basil and a Thai chili to the syrup.

Raspberry Jalapeno Simple Syrup
Add 1/4 cup of mashed raspberry to syrup with a 1/2 jalapeno sliced. You can strain the syrup to remove the raspberry seeds but add the jalapenos back and into bottles.

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Spicy Jalapeno Lemonade

What’s better than an ice cold lemonade during these humid days of August? A spicy ice cold lemonade! It’s a kicked up version of the ones from your old lemonade stand days and one you’ll enjoy just the same. Lemonade always evokes childhood memories of being carefree, without a worry in the world and of Mom.

My Mom always always made the best lemonades. Go ahead, roll your eyes but she did! She always added something extra and later learned that was the Dominican style lemonade…with a little vanilla extract. She added it to our orange juice or Tang (remember Tang? lol I believe the early astronauts had it too!), she added it to our papaya shakes and our morir sonado (similar to an orange julius) and today I do the same but add my own little twist…extra spice!

I got these cool ice cube trays with slots for lemon or lime slices and thought it would be great to make lemonade ice instead of water. This will ensure that your lemonade doesn’t get watered down and you’re left with a lemony, tart, cool  drink!

You can insert a whole slice but I cut mine in half since I didn’t have the height in my freezer. Either way it’ll work.

Spicy Jalapeno Lemonade

5-6 Lemons
1 Qt Water
Sugar or Agave syrup, to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 slices of jalapeno

1. Squeeze the lemons, except for one, and mix with water, sugar and vanilla extract to make the lemonade.

2. Slice remaining lemon and insert into ice cube trays filled with lemonade. If you don’t have trays similar to above get creative and cut your lemons to fit your trays.

3. Add the jalapeno slices and let lemonade chill in the refrigerator so it can get nice and spicy. Drop in your lemonade ice and enjoy!

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Weekend Brunch: Huevos Rancheros and Michelada, Que Bueno!

This here is one of those dishes that’s perfect after a night of partying…just in case there’s any imbibing planned for this weekend! Huevos rancheros with a ice cold Michelada!

Huevos rancheros are just fried eggs with a spicy tomato based sauce. I’m sure there are a hundred varieties out there but here’s my version, a nice fried egg over-medium and a sauce made with jalapenos and fresh, vine-ripe tomatoes.

Pair the huevos rancheros with a Michelada for a great brunch. A Michelada is a spicy beer frequently made in Mexico and some Latin American countries. Everyone makes it slightly different depending on the city or region of country. I’ve seen it made with tomato juice but prefer it without but most importantly, it has to have chiles or a great hot sauce!

Spicy Beer

Huevos Rancheros with Corn Tortillas

The guajillo red salsa brightens up the eggs in this dish and gives it a light smoky flavor. The fresh tomatoes make a huge difference and definitely better than using a canned sauce. You can also add chorizo sausage to make this a heartier dish.

2 eggs
1 vine ripe tomato, diced
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced and chopped coarsely
1 jalapeno, diced
guajillo salsa roja (red salsa) – see below for recipe
1 tsp of cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 corn tortillas

Michelada

1 amber lager
1 tsp of agave syrup
1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tsp of your favorite hot sauce
juice from lime wedge
habanero salt

Rim a tall glass or beer mug with habanero salt, add agave syrup, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and swirl around. Slowly add an ice cold beer and stir (not too much), add squeeze of lime wedge and pinch of salt!

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Warm the Soul with Spicy Hot Cocoa and Strawberry Marshmallows

Snow in the forecast, chilly winds, wearing my goose-down parka and my hand knit wool scarf and the only thing I can think of is getting inside, peeling off the layers and sinking into the sofa with my spicy hot cocoa and my furry little, long-haired Chihuahua, Diego.

I’d like to say I sit and curl up with a book or a good magazine but truth is, every time I grab something to read, little Diego perks up and wants to play. I’ll try to calm him down by scratching behind his ear which works for about a minute! He loves the attention and soon enough he’ll have his little paw, face or bottom on my book. Never fails! So the local news will have to do for now and that’s fine by me. Spicy hot cocoa, a pooch that doubles as a heated water bottle and catching up on the world outside, it’s just good for the soul.

*gotta get a better pic of him! took above with my phone

Spicy Hot Cocoa with Strawberry Marshmallows

8 oz of milk
8 oz of evaporated milk
2-3 oz of dark chocolate, about 2 sq inch depending on how dark you like your cocoa
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Melt your favorite dark chocolate over low to medium heat, stirring constantly making sure chocolate does not burn. Add milk, evaporated milk and all the spices until well blended. Turn heat up and continue to stir until milk boils.

I topped my spicy hot cocoa with handmade strawberry marshmallows I purchased from one of my favorite desserts shop in the city, Three Tarts. They have wonderful desserts and a very cute gift boutique.

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Post-Holiday Spicy Elixir to Get You Back on Track

Feeling heavy, a little bloated? Eat and drink a bit too much during the past couple of weeks? No worries, don’t beat yourself up over it, that’s what the holidays do to just about everyone. Family gatherings, food, drinks, friends, more food and drinks, sweets, parties, champagne, confetti, YAY! Hopefully by now you’re caught up on sleep, had your hangover helpers, gotten out of your jammies and are ready for a fresh start. New year, new day, new you!

Never mind New Year’s resolutions, they never work, well at least not for me. Every time I resolved to do something I’d forget about it by the end of January anyway so I will not be making any new promises. I’ll just continue to work on the things I need to work on and do exactly what makes me happy. So needless to say, I will not be joining a gym, or vow to eat more veggies but whenever I feel like working out, I will, and when I’m feeling sluggish, I’ll make my spicy elixir.

This drink is so delicious and incredibly good for you too. I use fresh beets, carrots, spinach and ginger, all of which provide wonderful health benefits. Ginger is great for nausea and any general stomach issues and inflammation, beets are known to help combat iron deficiency and anemia and the carrots and spinach are loaded with vitamins and beta-carotene.

This drink is mildly sweet from the beets and carrots and a bit spicy from the ginger. Sort of makes you forget you’re drinking veggies. It’s a great way to start your day and easily get in your recommended daily vegetable servings in just a few ounces! Also, use the leftover ground up veggies in the juicer to make vegetable cake, bread or cookies. No waste, how great is that!

Spicy Beet, Carrot and Spinach Elixir

2-3 Medium Beets, peeled
8 large Carrots, cleaned, stems cut
Bunch of Spinach, rinsed well under cold water, stems cut
2 inch piece of fresh Ginger, peeled

Juice all the ingredients one at a time. Makes about 18 oz of juice. Chill and drink it all if you like but I like having just a little each morning for a quick pick me up. The ginger in this drink will definitely get you going and get you back to a renewed you!

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