Drinks

Strawberry Basil Gin and Tonic // www.acozykitchen.com

I was going start this paragraph by saying, “Cocktail season is here!” But then I stopped myself because we all know that it’s always cocktail season on this blog. Duh. This cocktail in particular is seasonal, I suppose, though I see nothing wrong with using frozen strawberries, making this drank doable year-round.

Sure this looks like a pretty simple strawberry basil situation mixed with some gin, but I can assure you it’s a bit more special. I can’t get near strawberries without thinking of adding a dash of black pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. It’s just too easy! So this cocktail has a bit of weird stuff added to it, but do you expect any less from me? No, you don’t.

Strawberry Basil Gin and Tonic // www.acozykitchen.com

In other news, thanks for all your concern with Amelia. I’m happy to report that she’s back to barking a lot, stealing shoes, drinking my afternoon tea when I’m not looking and so on. So she’s better.

Strawberry Basil Gin and Tonic // www.acozykitchen.com [click to continue…]

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Homemade Irish Cream // www.acozykitchen.com

While I can totally do without Valentine’s day, I absolutely LOVE St. Patrick’s Day. I love Irish food and adore the color green, though just like Valentine’s Day, I don’t think food should be turned green against its will. Can we just let food live? Another reason I’ve always loved St. Patrick’s Day, in college when I worked at a brewery, it was always my highest grossing day of the year. People love an excuse to drink. Me included.

If I’m being honest, I don’t always go for cream or milk mixed with my alcohol. I think it goes back to the days when I used to have to bus glassware that had the remnants of stout mixed with irish cream and whiskey. It was curdle-central all up in there and it was not cute, my friends.

Having said all that, I’ve had dreams of making Homemade Irish Cream without a curdle in sight.

Homemade Irish Cream // www.acozykitchen.com [click to continue…]

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Tangelo Gin Rosé Spritzer // www.acozykitchen.com

I’m listening to Aaliyah, planning something fun for Joshua for Valentine’s Day. Doughnuts are involved. I’m excited. If all turns out well I might remake it and share it next week.

Now, this cocktail. I was gonna call this a Tangelo French 75 because an old school French 75 was the inspiration but it wouldn’t be completely accurate. French 75s have champagne and since I’m not a big champagne-drinker, I swapped in a rosé and added a splash of sparkling water for a little fizz.

Tangelo Gin Rosé Spritzer // www.acozykitchen.com [click to continue…]

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DIY: How to Filter Water Using Binchotan Charcoals // www.acozykitchen.com

Ok, so let me preface this post by saying that this isn’t a recipe. This isn’t a recipe for filtered water because that would be RIDICULOUS. And it’d be much like Paula Deen’s recipe for English peas. Remember this? It was amazing. No salt, no pepper, no nothing. Just lots of butter and peas. Very Paula-style!

A few months ago Rikumo offerred to send me a few pieces of Binchotan charcoal. I was super intrigued after reading about its purifying capabilities so I said yes, and a few days later it arrived wrapped in a piece of brown paper. As I did some research I found some interesting things. For starters, Binchotan charcoal is made in the Kishu region of Japan and is activated through extremely high burning temperatures, along with a rapid cooling process.

After this process, these charcoals are extremely porous and end up having a variety of uses; mainly ones that call for absorbing impurities. They’re specifically known for enhancing blood circulation when placed in hot baths, absorbing odors when placed in closets, smelly fridges or shoes, stimulating soil in your garden and lastly, purifying drinking water.

Purifying drinking water with these Binchotan charcoals is a bit of a process (albeit a very short and easy one), so I figured I’d show you, in case this is very new-to-you (it was to me too, like, two days ago).

If you’ve ever seen the film Chinatown, you know that water is a big deal in Los Angeles. There is heavy debate as to whether Los Angeles has super healthy water or water that follows outdated regulations. Because I can’t do a full-on investigation myself, I always filter my water or use bottled (though I try and stay away from the bottled stuff whenever possible). And honestly, I don’t love the way Los Angeles water tastes. When I lived in North Carolina, I thought the water was delicious! It tasted like it was straight from a spring. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I could taste the difference from these charcoals.

Step 1: When you receive the charcoals, they’ll be dusty. This isn’t a big deal if you’re putting them in a bath or placing them in your fridge, but since we’re purifying water with them, we’re going to start by rinsing and brushing off the excess ash.

DIY: How to Filter Water Using Binchotan Charcoals // www.acozykitchen.com

Step 2: Transfer the charcoals to a pot of water and boil for 10 minutes. Drain the water and allow the charcoals to cool completely.

DIY: How to Filter Water Using Binchotan Charcoals // www.acozykitchen.com

Step 3: Fill your container with water and place the cooled charcoal inside. Allow the two to sit for several hours; about 2-3 hours. During this time the charcoal will absorb the impurities in the water.

Step 4: Feel free to leave the charcoal in the container and refill it when you’re low on water. The charcoal will work for 2 to 3 weeks until it needs to be refreshed.

DIY: How to Filter Water Using Binchotan Charcoals // www.acozykitchen.com

Step 5: Refreshing the charcoal is super easy. Simply boil it for 10 minutes and it’s good to go. The company that makes this charcoal recommends replacing it all together every 3 months or so.

DIY: How to Filter Water Using Binchotan Charcoals // www.acozykitchen.com

This cool-looking Chikuno Cube has replaced the box of baking soda that used to be in my fridge—it’s very effective! I also have my eye on this charcoal toothbrush. I think they’re pretty cool.


*This is not a sponsored post. I just think it’s a super cool product and wanted to share.

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Grapefruit Old Fashioned // www.acozykitchen.com

It’s the last day of 2013, my friends. You deserve a cocktail.

Pull up a chair, let’s talk about the highlights of 2013 and the goals for 2014. Was 2013 kind of a crummy year for you? Was it the best ever? Tell me…I have drinks for us!

I feel like I’ve waxed poetic about my love of bourbon and old fashioneds before, but this entire blog doesn’t have a single recipe for an old fashioned, which is kinda sad.

In my experience, there are a lot of people who know how to make terrible old fashioneds, so I usually steer clear of them if I know I’m not at a fancy mixology kinda bar. The last time I went to a dive bar and ordered an old fashioned, the bartender pulled out a packet of Sweet ‘n Low and mixed it into the bourbon. I ’bout freaked out.

I’ll need to do a classic recipe for a good old fashioned soon, but in the interim, I bring you a fun new twist: Grapefruit Old Fashioned.

Grapefruit Old Fashioned // www.acozykitchen.com [click to continue…]

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Grapefruit Oatmeal Banana Smoothie // www.acozykitchen.com

I can assure you that cookie week isn’t over, it’s just sort of postponed for a few hours because I came down with a surprise case of food poisoning. I won’t go into details because this is a food blog and we’re all friends but let’s just say that yesterday all I wanted was something that was healthy and light on my stomach. Enter: this smoothie.

I’m not the best at taking care of myself. If Josh isn’t around to make me a smoothie and coffee in the morning, then I usually don’t drink a smoothie. (I always figure out my coffee situation.) But I’m trying to get better. This is a big part of an initiative I like to call “being an adult.”

Grapefruit Oatmeal Banana Smoothie // www.acozykitchen.com

Outshine Fruit Bars sent me over some fruit bars and I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at the ingredient list. No weird stuff. Basically just grapefruit juice, but frozen, so I figured it’d be an easy, nice addition to my morning smoothie.

My normal smoothies in the morning look horrifying. Like the most unattractive green color you’ve ever seen. So, I decided to skip the spirulina and maca and acaî in this smoothie recipe, and just keep it sort of classic and simple.

Grapefruit Oatmeal Banana Smoothie // www.acozykitchen.com [click to continue…]

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Satsuma Orange Margarita

I realized between all of these sweet treats (and the upcoming COOKIE WEEK on this lil’ blog! WHAT!), we need a little cocktail, which is why I’m sharing this Satsuma Orange Margarita with you. If you take the jump over to the PBS Food blog, you’ll learn that I am not a “margs and guac” girl. Very rarely will you see me sipping on a margarita. They’re simply too sweet and tart for my taste. And I like beer. But, every now and then I like to give liking margaritas another try and this time it worked VERY well.

Satsumas are usually the first of the Winter Citrus to hit the markets. When I walked in the market last week and saw them with their pretty green stems still attached, I was in. Fruit with its stems still attached get me every time.

Most of the time I don’t have the patience to juice satsumas because I end up just eating them one after the other (they’re the most perfect eating orange), but luckily I was able to restrain myself because the juice from these things is so amazing.

If you’d like the recipe, jump over to PBS Food where you’ll find that and more. See you on Monday!

Satsuma Orange Margarita

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How to Make Fancy-Ass Hot Chocolate // www.acozykitchen.com

I don’t think anyone would argue that hot chocolate is the coziest of cozy drinks. And since this is lil’ blog is called A Cozy Kitchen I think I’ve gone way too long without sharing a proper hot chocolate recipe. And not just any hot chocolate but the fanciest of hot chocolates.

Let’s talk about the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate. Hot cocoa is exactly that – cocoa powder dissolved into milk or (God forbid) water. I have good memories of hot cocoa, actually. When I was a kid, I used to sit in my way-too-long PJ t-shirt and watch cartoons, sipping on Swiss Miss. I also loooved dipping whole wheat bread into my hot cocoa. (I was a weird child.)

But during the holidays, it was always hot chocolate. My mom would tell us stories about how in Peru, on Christmas Eve, right before midnight mass, a big pot of hot chocolate was made. They’d take big blocks of chocolate, melt it and then mix it into warm milk until it dissolved. Real, thick hot chocolate is a game changer.

How to Make Fancy-Ass Hot Chocolate // www.acozykitchen.com

If it’s cold where you live and you’re feeling some fancy-ass hot chocolate, here’s what you need to do. There’s like two or three steps–this ain’t rocket science.

Step 1: Get your hands on some good chocolate. I had some Scharffenberger chocolate in my pantry. Other brands I love: Tcho, Green & Black or Ghiradelli. I chose a bittersweet (70%) to use in this hot chocolate. I think it adds a nice depth and lends a lot of richness to this hot chocolate, but feel free to go sweeter if you like.

Step 2: Don’t be shy to add some other stuff like a cinnamon stick, 1/4 of a vanilla bean, some Ancho chile powder and salt. I looove steeping the milk with a cinnamon stick and vanilla bean–it smells like heaven.

How to Make Fancy-Ass Hot Chocolate // www.acozykitchen.com [click to continue…]

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Cranberry Thyme Gin & Tonic | www.acozykitchen.com

When it comes to the beverage of choice, Thanksgiving has always been about wine. And beer. But mainly wine. Even growing up, Thanksgiving was that time when my parents would bust open the “fancy” bottle of wine a relative brought back from some region of Spain and we all discussed its legs and body like we knew what we were talking about.

Thanksgiving was the time when my parents would serve me a glass of wine at the ripe age of thirteen because that’s what you Latin people do – we give our kids wine! My fellow American friends always thought that was so strange and awesome, but in South America alcohol and kids isn’t that big of a deal. You give ‘em a little sip because it’s a special occasion, you know? Sharing is caring.

Now, cooking is different. When you’re cooking it’s a cocktail time…and in this case, thyme. Cocktail thyme! (I’m annoying myself today, too, don’t worry.) I love a good spritzer. It’s because deep down I’m a grandma who loves her spritzers and maybe, just maybe when no one’s looking I put a few ice cubes in my wine, too.

Cranberry Thyme Gin & Tonic | www.acozykitchen.com [click to continue…]

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Pear and Ginger-Sage Cocktail // www.acozykitchen.com

Yesterday as I was procrastinating aka staring out the window, I started to think about all the terrible jobs I’ve had in my life. Let me start by saying I’ve had some super great and easy ones. Like that time I worked for Earthlink at a kiosk in the mall and literally did absolutely nothing and just watched movies on my computer. Best job ever for a 16 year old. There was also that time I taught kids how to play tennis and got paid way too much for having that much fun.

My worst job was pretty depressing, especially now looking back at it. During the summer between the end of high school and beginning of college I wanted some money, basically to buy clothes and hang out with my friends. I responded to a Craigslist ad asking for someone who was a “self-starter, liked talking and personable.” I arrived to a run-downed office and greeted by some bro dude who gave me a schpeel about “helping older people who were trapped by owning timeshares they were unable to sell.” I was to sell them a service, which DID NOT exist, that’d help them sell their timeshare. Basically, my job was to rip off seniors. I failed miserably because I’m not that great of a sales person and since I was a naive person, it took me a good week to catch on to what was going on. I was lectured about being more of a “go-getter and understanding the place they were coming from.”

I feel like attempting to rip off older people might go down as the worst job ever. Waiting tables was SO much better.

What does this have to do with a cocktail? I dunno. I basically just wanted to share with you my terrible job. Hopefully you’ll share one too. We’ve all had (or have!) terrible jobs.

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