Ah, summer. The season of sunshine (or lots of rain), fresh vegetables (unless the slugs and critters get to them first) and heat (until Canada blows arctic temperatures southward).
While this July has been one of the oddest I can remember, one thing that has remained constant is Dudette’s activity levels. Our child is nuclear powered, I swear she is. When she moves, it’s at a run. Or bounce. Or flying side kick.
I’ve spent the summer trying to tire her out so by nightfall she’s ready to fall into bed. We’ve had hiking trips, swimming pool adventures, playground dates, and a multitude of other adventures.
Throughout all that, a constant has been hydration. Dudette normally does a great job of drinking enough water, but with the extra amount of fluids I’ve been trying to pump into her, she had no problem expressing her feelings about the stuff when she got tired of it.
Enter Sparkling ICE. The nice folks from Talking Rain®, the company that makes Sparking ICE. They sent me a note with a ridiculous good recipe for a Sparkling Lemonito, a mojito-type beverage made with their Classic Lemonade beverage.
So, I wrote back and asked for samples, as well as the promise of a goodie box for a giveaway. They said yes, and the box arrived soon after. I received six bottles that looked like jewels.
I had fully intended to make the Sparkling Lemonito, really I did. I just forgot to tell Hubby and Dudette that the Sparkling ICE was off limits until I had made the drink and had the opportunity to taste them all.
It wasn’t until I noticed a bottle missing that I realized my lapse. Then, another bottle showed up at the dinner table. The lemonades disappeared faster than I thought possible. As did the others. Poof.
So, I surrounded the Pomegranate Blueberry with barbed wire and ‘keep away’ signs, threatening serious injury to anyone who touched it and changed my plans. Dudette didn’t mind. Her favorite was Crisp Apple and she drank the whole bottle.
Saveur may have some of the best chicken and steak recipes I’ve seen this summer in their special grilling issue, but it doesn’t stop there, and this drink is proof. Page 106 has six beverages that should be required at any cook out. While I usually make a recipe exactly as printed, in this case I deviated.
I couldn’t find blood orange soda anywhere, but I had a bottle of Sparkling ICE Pomegranate Blueberry sitting in my fridge. So, I simmered it with honey, a cinnamon stick and half a vanilla bean.
Once cooled, I added rosé wine and brandy to the mixture and then poured it into a pitcher that was filled with cut fruit. The hardest part was putting it in the fridge and letting it sit for four hours before drinking.
The hardest part of today is waiting for it to be late enough so I can have a glass of sangria. It’s delicious. Hubby thought so as well. He even said that it’s a bit dangerous and I have to agree. While sangria is definitely an alcoholic drink, it’s easy to forget that and have a bit too much.
I also loved the extra flavor that the Sparkling ICE Pomegranate Blueberry soda gave to the beverage. I did taste it prior to pouring it in the saucepan and was a bit sad that I had to use all of it for the sangria. It’s delicious.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
The instructions say to add a half of a vanilla bean. I scraped the seeds into the saucepan before adding the bean. I always, always do that.
- ⅓ cup honey
- 1 stick cinnamon
- ½ vanilla bean
- 1½ cups sparkling blood-orange soda
- 4 cups rosé wine
- ½ cup brandy
- 3 cups roughly-chopped stone fruit, like plums and nectarines (apples and pears may be used as well)
- 1 cup halved grapes
- ½ cup blueberries
- 3 sprigs mint
- Boil honey, cinnamon, vanilla bean, and blood-orange soda in a 4-qt. saucepan; let cool. Stir in wine and brandy. In a pitcher, layer chopped fruit, grapes, blueberries, and mint. Strain wine mixture over fruit; chill at least 4 hours or up to overnight before serving.
Sparkling ICE combines naturally flavored sparkling mountain spring water, vitamins and antioxidants and natural fruit juices for a bold, lightly-carbonated beverage that appeals to all age groups. Available in ten refreshing flavors: Coconut Pineapple, Lemon Lime, Kiwi Strawberry, Lemonade, Orange Mango, Pomegranate Berry, Pink Grapefruit, Black Raspberry, and NEW* Crisp Apple and NEW* Peach Nectarine. Sparkling ICE can be found in retailers nationwide. A great alternative to soft drinks, Sparkling ICE is caffeine free and sweetened with Splenda.
Sparkling ICE has agreed to give a goodie box to one lucky winner, so all you have to do is enter using the Rafflecopter dohickey below. The giveaway ends at midnight on August 6 and I’ll be choosing a winner on Wednesday, August 7. Be sure to check the Q&A page for all giveaway guidelines if you’re curious about the official mumbo-jumbo.
You can find out more about Sparkling ICE by visiting them on their web site or linking up with them on Facebook or Twitter. Sparkling ICE is part of the TalkingRain® family of beverages, and retails for $1.19-$1.29. To locate Sparking ICE visit www.sparklingice.com.
As you already know, the Sparkling ICE bold sparkling waters were provided for review. My opinion of them are, and forever will be, mine. All mine.
Why would anyone name something rose hips? What’s the story behind the name? Why would anyone think that roses or berries have hips? These were questions I asked as I was grinding my spices. Since no one had an answer for me, I simply shrugged and came up with suggestions for better things to call the little red beads.
Why not just rose fruit? Or rose berries? Or, how about pomegranate mini-me’s.
Then, before I could properly let the rose hip conversation run its course, I had to add the ground sumac to the spice mixture.
Sumac. The only real introduction I’ve had to sumac is grave warnings from my mother about the horrors of eating the poison sumac berries that grew in the fields behind our home in New York.
As I ground up the red berries and added a tablespoon to the spice blend, I felt a bit like an evil villain preparing a deadly concoction for the super heroes playing Chutes and Ladders in the other room.
There’s a Jerusalem Market owned by a wonderful Palestinian man a few towns over from us that I adore visiting from time to time. That’s where I pick up the spices like rose hips, sumac and fenugreek for recipes like this. Since I don’t get there too often, I make sure to buy the seeds and grind them myself so I know the spice will be fresh when I use it.
The prep for this grilled chicken is silly easy. It’s also the best smelling work you’ll do. I just about hyper-ventilated while the coriander, cumin, peppercorns, cardamom, chiles, allspice and cloves were toasting in a skillet.
Just as a warning though, after the spice grinder stops spinning, move your nose away from the area when you pull the lid off. The aroma is amazing, but the coughing/sneezing fit it causes is pretty impressive. Trust me.
Because of the goopiness of the mashed garlic, my mixture wasn’t really something I could toss my chicken in (and I used thighs instead of a whole chicken cut in half), but instead was more of a paste that I patted on to the chicken pieces before refrigerating them overnight.
After that, it was a simple matter of lighting the charcoal and grilling the chicken.
Wow, this was good. Hubby thought the flavors were familiar and asked if I had made the rub before. I had not, and this was, in fact, the first time I cooked with sumac and rose hips. However, some of the other spices have pretty distinctive flavors so I could easily see why he thought he’d had it before. In any event, we both loved it.
Because the spice combination included three dried chiles, even though I shook out the seeds, I knew it would be too spicy for Dudette. So, I removed the skin from her chicken thigh. She got a light taste of the rub, but not so much to cause her tender mouth harm. As you can see, she liked it.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
Not a thing.
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
- 6 cardamom pods
- 4 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed
- 4 allspice berries
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 dried rose hips
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground sumac
- 2 teaspoons. ground ginger
- 11/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
- 8 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 chicken halves (about 3 lb.)
- Flatbread, such as naan, for serving
- Heat coriander, cumin, peppercorns, cardamom, chiles, allspice, and cloves in a 10″ skillet over medium heat until seeds pop, 1-2 minutes; let cool. Transfer to a spice grinder with rose hips; grind and transfer to a bowl. Stir in curry, cinnamon, sumac, ginger, nutmeg, fenugreek, garlic, salt, and pepper; add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn burner off on one side. Grill chicken on hottest part of grill, flipping once, until slightly charred and cooked through, about 45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reads 165°. If outside starts to burn before chicken is cooked, move to cooler side of grill until done. Rest chicken 10 minutes; serve with flatbread.
Trust me, you’ll want to make this dish if you have a grill. When you’re done saving the recipe, be sure to head over to check out my latest giveaway, a bottle of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. You only have two more days to enter.
My husband threw away my smoker. For some, that sentence right there is a marriage’s death knell. I have to admit, it briefly crossed my mind.
You see, I was in the kitchen when it happened. Hubby told me that he was heading out back to do ‘yard work.’ I should have known something was up right then. He’s not really a yard work kinda guy.
But, I didn’t catch on and stayed where I was, unaware of the carnage going on outdoors.
If I had looked, I’d have seen the rust-dusted empty spot where the grill usually sat. I might have even seen the trail of wood pieces that were once a beautiful food shelf, but to which time had not been kind. Over the years, bits of the shelf might have even been used as kindling here and there as it fell apart.
I only found out about Hubby’s plans when I walked out the front door to pick some herbs and saw my smoker sitting on the side of the road. Abandoned. Left for anyone to pick up and carry away.
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of an intervention, you know what how I was feeling then. Anger, grief, and somewhere deep down, the knowledge that what Hubby had done was necessary.
Not that I forgave him.
Since I don’t have a smoker anymore, I’m re-learning how to ‘cook on the cool side’ with the smaller space that a kettle grill has (mine’s a Weber). In this case, however, I didn’t even use the cooking grate. My skillet went right on top of the hot coals. I still piled them on one side in case I had to move the iron skillet to a cooler spot for a while, which I did.
Prepping couldn’t be easier. I butterflied my chicken and slid some lemon slices under the skin. After puréeing the marinade in a food processor, I rubbed the paste all over the bird, covered it in plastic and refrigerated it overnight.
Since I don’t own or even know what a plancha is, I used my big cast iron skillet. I put it on the coals and once it was ‘very hot,’ I put the chicken, breast side down in the skillet.
The initial sizzle was impressive and a bit scary. I don’t think the chicken was breast side down for more than three minutes before I got a bit concerned for the skin and flipped it over. In that short amount of time, the skin and paste didn’t sear, it scorched.
I left the chicken breast side up and an hour later, it was done.
Even though there wasn’t a whole lot of crispy, marinade-covered skin left to eat, that was ok. The tenderness, juiciness and flavor of the meat more than made up for the over-searing. It was delicious. All three of us thought so.
Marinating the chicken for twenty four hours allowed the flavors to permeate the meat deeply, as did butterflying the bird so the paste had full coverage. The lemons under the skin were a brilliant idea.
This recipe from Dr. Maricel Presilla is a keeper.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I wouldn’t start the chicken on the grill breast side down. Instead, I’d grill it breast side up the entire time, only flipping it near the end if the skin needed any crisping (which I don’t think it would).
- 1 (3-lb.) chicken
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced, plus juice and zest of 2 lemons
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons Spanish smoked paprika
- 11/2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Use kitchen shears to cut out and discard chicken backbone. Using your hands, flatten chicken and tuck wing tips back to keep them from burning. Loosen skin over breast and thighs and slide sliced lemons under skin; transfer to a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Purée lemon juice and zest, olive oil, oregano, paprika, cumin, allspice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor into a paste; rub paste over chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn off burner on one side (see Grilling 101). Heat a plancha or flat cast-iron griddle over coals until very hot. Wrap a heavy brick with aluminum foil; place on grill until hot. Place chicken breast side down on the plancha and weigh down with brick. Grill chicken, flipping once, until slightly charred and cooked through, about 45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reads 165°. If the outside starts to burn before the chicken is fully cooked, move plancha to the cooler side of the grill until the chicken is done. Rest chicken 15-20 minutes before serving.
In case you’re concerned, yes, I’ve forgiven Hubby for getting rid of my smoker. I might have to hold a fundraiser so I can purchase a new one at some point, but my new Weber and I are continuing to get to know each other and I think we’re going to have a long, healthy relationship.
A few days ago we were visiting friends, and as often does, the conversation came around to food. With a smile, The man of the house headed for the kitchen and soon came back with an Alton Brown cookbook and a cup with some murky, slightly disgusting-looking liquid in it.
I took an incredibly tiny sip and was pleasantly surprised to like its tangy, lime flavor. Hubby had the same reaction and amazingly, even Dudette took one taste and then finished off the cup before asking if anyone wanted more.
The drink was an oatmeal fiber concoction, something created for, um, regularity. Even though I think it’s genius and delicious and I’m an absolute Alton Brown fan to boot, as we drove home and chatted about the visit and that drink, in the back of my mind a little voice kept whispering that something just wasn’t right with it. Oatmeal is for breakfast and cookies, not drinking.
I have the same thought about corn syrup. Corn is a vegetable that gets served next to mashed potatoes and roast beef at the dinner table. It’s what gets put in a chicken pot pie along with onions, celery and peas. Using corn to sweeten pecan pie? Just wrong. That may be why I go through about a bottle a year.
I agreed in part because I like the name. I like both Hey Shuga! and the Stevia-blend version called Lil’ Shuga! I like that the syrup is made with a natural enzymatic process that is like the one that bees are born with. I like that it’s from sugar cane, a product that actually has the word sugar in it, unlike that whole corn deal.
I like it because this English Gingerbread Cake calls for cane syrup.
I’ve never made a cake this way and found it very intriguing.
Instead of beating room-temperature butter with sugar, those two ingredients, as well as the cane syrup and some marmalade are heated in a saucepan, then cooled. After that, the milk and eggs are whisked in.
After the dry ingredients are whisked together, the sugar, milk, egg liquid is folded in, the cake is baked, then given a brushing with a lemon syrup.
Hubby and Construction Guys were here to be my taste-testers when this cake finished it’s cooling process in the fridge. I’m happy to say that there were ‘holy cows’ all around and I agree with them. The cake is delicious.
The texture is perfect, the flavor is fantastic and using Hey Shuga! as the main sweetener was genius. In fact, one Construction Guy said he wasn’t usually fond of gingerbread cake but really, really (and I mean really) liked this one.
One weird thing is that the recipe says it makes 12-14 servings. Considering that an 8×8 pan is used, I’m not sure how that’s even possible. In this house, it was cut into 9 squares.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I like a bit more ginger in my gingerbread. I would add some sliced fresh ginger to the butter/cane sugar mixture as it simmered to infuse it with the ginger flavor.
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature plus more for the pan
- 1⅓ cups Lyle's golden syrup, Steen's cane syrup, or dark corn syrup
- ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1½ tbsp. orange marmalade
- ⅔ cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour, sifted, plus more for the pan
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Confectioners' sugar, for garnish
- Heat oven to 325°. Grease bottom and sides of an 8" x 8" metal baking pan with butter and line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Grease parchment paper with butter and dust paper and sides of pan with a little cake flour. Heat 8 tbsp. butter, golden syrup, brown sugar, and marmalade in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until syrup thins and sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes; let cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in the milk and eggs; set syrup mixture aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Add reserved syrup mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into reserved baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
- Transfer cake to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat remaining butter along with sugar and lemon juice in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Using a pastry brush, brush half the lemon syrup over top of cake. Invert cake onto cooling rack, discard parchment, and brush the remaining lemon syrup on bottom and sides of cake. Invert the cake onto a serving stand and wrap in plastic wrap; let cool completely. The cake tastes better the day after baking and will keep for up to 4 days. To serve, cut cake into squares and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.
They folks who make Hey Shuga! and Lil’ Shuga! would like to give a bottle of each product to one person to try out. If you’d like that person to be you, all you need to do is enter. Leaving a comment is mandatory, but you can increase you chances by doing a few other things too. Just be sure to enter before midnight, February 28, when the giveaway will close and a winner will be selected.
Be sure to read the terms and conditions in the little rafflecopter thingy for all the rules.