Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sangria Saturday

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! I know for most Americans this is just an excuse to have a taco and a Mexican beer, but the holiday does of course have deeper roots. Fortunately, recent years have brought us ignorant Americans greater enlightenment, so most people no longer believe that it is a Mexican Independence day. Before that wide information wave, the rumor probably started because 5th of May sounds so much like the 4th of July, but Mexico's independence is celebrated on September 16th. El Grito de Independencia is marked as the day that Father Hidalgo (and others) rang the bell of a local church to signal the start of their fight for liberty from Spain. My understanding is that original plans had the revolt starting in October, but they were discovered and started things a bit early. Just like my rum mixing this morning. ;) ;)

No, Cinco de Mayo marks the Battle of Puebla, an unlikely win the Mexican army pulled against French forces during the American Civil war. That was about 50 years after Hidalgo did his thing.

And since the Spanish had nothing to do with Cinco de Mayo, I have no problem serving (vaguely) Spanish Sangria at my boyfriend's birthday party tonight. While I love celebrating Mexican heritage and culture (and all cultures!) I love celebrating him more. ;)

The ingredients for this recipe are approximate, and per pitcher. If you are having more than 6-8 people over, I recommend 2 pitchers and up. You don't need very many glasses of this stuff to really really feel it, but it is super tasty with all the fruit and people will come back for more! The apples soak up rum really well and give a great burst when you bite them. YUM.

Sensational Sangria
a joyful foodie original

750ml bottle of red wine*
1 1/2 cups spiced rum
1/2 cup sugar
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 apple, cubed
any extra fruit you can find, including strawberries, blueberries, peaches, plums, pineapple, mango, etc. (I've never tried
1 can lemon-lime soda or flavored seltzer

Wash ALL fruit (even the citrus, the peel is going in the pitcher). Slice all citrus into thin rounds. (Be sure you start at the stem, so you get a nice cross section. Chop the apple into bite size pieces. Add rum, sugar, and fruit to a pitcher. Stir or swirl to make sure the sugar isn't sitting on top of the fruit and is down in the rum and to coat all fruit.
Great pitcher drink for backyard bbq parties, cinco de mayo celebrations, taco night... favorite go to spiced rum drink!

Chill for at least 6 hours, overnight would be best! You can speed it up if you must, but maybe use simple syrup instead of sugar so it is dissolved.
In the morning, or at least 2 hours before party time, add the red wine and continue chilling.
When ready to serve, add 1 can of lemon-lime soda OR 1 1/2 cups of seltzer in a complementary flavor (think: mixed berry seltzer if you went heavy on the berries, etc).

*Red wine note: I've always used box wine. That works out to be 3.17 cups of red wine, so I do basically 3 1/4. A little extra wine won't hurt. ;) If you want to use an actual bottle, I've heard really good things about Blackberry Merlot in this recipe. :)

Tips and tricks:

If you are an organic produce shopper, this might be a good occasion to bend your rules. Usually, you only need to buy organic produce that you will not peel, ie apples, pears, berries, etc. However, the whole peel is going in the pitcher on this recipe, so if you are really conscious of pesticides etc, consider picking up all your fruit on the organic wall of your local shop this time. :)

If you are having a big big party, and going big punch bowl with this one, you can expect to need something more like:
2 apples, 3 oranges, 3 limes, 3 lemons, 2 quarts of strawberries, and much more of a 5L box of wine!

Depending on your punch bowl this is super easy to scale. Basically, you want 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 cups rum for every three cups red wine. Keep in mind that a box of wine is almost 7 bottles (like 6 2/3), so you can scale up a LOT with one box, but you will need extra bottles of rum. (I need a whole 750ml bottle of rum for 3 pitchers, consider doing a handle if you are scaling up a lot.)
Add as much fruit as you want from there!! The more the better, really! It makes the punch bowl super pretty and adds such great flavor.

If you don't have a punch bowl and want to have refills handy, soak extra fruit in rum and sugar in a sealed container in the fridge. Then you can add to the pitchers as necessary throughout the night. The balance won't be quite the same, or mingled, but people will be quite a bit along and they won't notice. ;) Do keep an eye on the fruit though, as people tend to try to snitch pieces. XD

Whatever you are up to this lovely cinco de mayo, I hope you have a lovely time at it. And maybe have an extra one for me. ;)

Edit 2/10/13: I'm trying to make my recipes more printer friendly. If you like this format for printing, please do drop a comment and let me know so I can decide how best to proceed with user-friendlyfying this place!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Ooey Gooey chocolatey goodness! Ultimate warm chocolate dessert, easy to make, you probably have all the ingredients in the cabinets already!

I am so excited about this recipe I have to start the post before they are even finished cooking!! The last chocolate lava cake recipe I tried was from Cooking Light. They were just OK. They called for espresso powder and I found they were just a little too... dark. The flavor was kinda smokey. Don't get me wrong, we ate most of the cakes the batch yielded, but I knew there had to be better.
Tonight's recipe came from my new favorite blog. I found it while trying to refresh my memory on an old favorite salmon recipe. The pictures are gorgeous, the recipes simple and encouraging, and the whole thing made me completely miss cooking. As you may have noticed (or forgotten due to my looooooong absence), I have had a new teaching position this year. (Did I even mention? 4th grade math.) It has been exhausting (beyond any teaching job I've had before, with the exception of student teaching and the semester with mono).

Brian has done all of the cooking since I got the job.

I think I have made breakfast two or three times on the weekends. And there was a chicken pot pie (which he learned how to make and made the next time). And something else more recently... that I can't remember.

So when I stumbled on this blog tonight, I was... engrossed. Perhaps obsessed. Every few entries was another "ohhh, I want to try this one" or "Oooooh, look at this picture!!" So while Brian finished making our salmon dinner, I read about lemon poppyseed cake and latkes and chocolate lava cakes. After dinner I seemed restless. When queried as to what was the matter, I whined, "I miss cooking." Brian asked if I wanted to make dessert. He had trouble reading my reaction, as I limped my tired feet back to the couch to check the still open laptop. Did I have the ingredients for those magically looking molten chocolate piles of heaven?? Butter... check, Brian restocked tonight. Eggs... check, exactly the right amount. Flour... always. Semi-sweet chocolate... I buy the chips in bulk at Costco. Powdered sugar... I always have powdered sugar, in case there is a frosting emergency. And whipped cream. Hmmm. Maybe?? There was a can at least... maybe?? Brian checks; there is! HOORAY! I leap into action.

Everything on the counter.

No powdered sugar.

I realize then that I have not baked since we arrived in August. Well, French Toast while the family was still here. But not a cake. Nothing with icing. All the powdered sugar I remembered was in Massachusetts. Not North Carolina. I had decided it was cheap enough to not bother packing, and left it for the roommate (who also bakes). That would save me worrying about a powdered sugar explosion in the moving boxes.
Then I got the job. And stopped cooking, for reasons of sanity. Lesson plans, assessments, paperwork, new acronyms, filing systems, 53 fourth graders (at last count, if the "he moved" rumors prove false). o.0

Brian, seeing my disappointment, ran to the store. Is that love or what? (I joke sometimes I can't tell if it is of the dessert or me, but we all know. <3

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes
from Rachel at homesweetandsavory


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