Category Archives: Food & Drink

Food & Drink

Mint Mojito Iced Coffee

May 26, 2017

A friend recently described Philz Coffee Mint Mojito Iced Coffee to me and I immediately went home and made my own version. I already had mint simple syrup in my fridge, so a couple of shots of espresso and a dash of cream later, I was enjoying the best iced coffee I’ve ever had.

Mint Mojito Iced Coffee

Mint Mojito Iced Coffee

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 shots of espresso or strong cold brew
  • crushed ice
  • half and half
  • fresh mint for garnish

Start by making the mint simple syrup. In a small pot, place the water, sugar and mint. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. I like to leave the mint leaves in the syrup as long as possible. When you are ready to serve the drinks, stain off the mint leaves with a fine metal sieve. Store the syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

In a glass filled with ice, pour two shots of espresso or a generous amount of your favorite cold brew (I like this kit). Depending on how sweet you like your coffee, add 1-2 oz. of mint simple syrup. Then finally top the glass off with half and half. Stir and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Mint Mojito Iced Coffee

I’m telling you, this might sound kind of weird, but it’s sooooo good. It’s sweet and refreshing and there is not a more perfect pick-me-up for a warm afternoon. This will be my Summer go-to coffee of choice. And now I need to get to Philz and try the real deal.

Mint Mojito Iced CoffeeMint Mojito Iced Coffee

Food & Drink

Cherry Limeade

May 22, 2017

It’s Monday, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to need a Mocktail to get through it.

Cherry Limeade recipe - a healthier take on a drive-thru classic.

This weekend we hit 100 F. The heat makes me crave trip to Sonic for a huge Cherry or Strawberry Limeade. So, this year I’ve come up with a healthier version of one of my favorite hot weather drinks. Without all the sugar and artificial colors and flavors, I feel I lot better about serving this Cherry Limeade recipe to me kids and guests.

I’m actually not a huge fan of cherry flavor, but real, fresh cherries – YES, I love those!  My fridge is always stocked with an assortment of La Criox, so as long as I can find fresh cherries this Summer, this drink will definitely be served often.

Cherry Limeade recipe - a healthier take on a drive-thru classic.

Cherry Limeade

  • 2 cups of fresh cherries pitted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • a pinch of salt
  • La Croix Cerise Limon or sparkling water

Start by making the cherry syrup. In a small pot bring the cherries, honey and lime juice to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 5 mins. Remove from the heat and pour the cherry mixture into a blender or food processor. Blend or pulse on high to make a puree. There will still be some little bits and chunks of cherry, but you kind of want folks to know that this was made from real cherries.  All the cherry syrup to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

In a glass filled with ice, pour about 2-3 tbsp. of the cherry syrup (depending on how sweet you want the drink) then fill the glass with La Croix Cerise Limon or you favorite sparkling water. Stir and garnish with a wedge of lime and a fresh cherry on a pick.

Cherry Limeade recipe - a healthier take on a drive-thru classic. Cherry Limeade recipe - a healthier take on a drive-thru classic. Cherry Limeade recipe - a healthier take on a drive-thru classic. Cherry Limeade recipe - a healthier take on a drive-thru classic.

I hope you have a fabulous Monday friends.

Cherry Limeade recipe - a healthier take on a drive-thru classic.

Find / Food & Drink

How to Make French Press Coffee

May 17, 2017

There is a lot of debate on how the perfect cup of coffee is made. But, in my opinion french press might be the most accessible “good” cup of coffee out there. A french press is one of the least expensive coffee makers out there and I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a bad cup of coffee poured from one. So, here’s my “how to make french press coffee” guide.

There are a lot of instructions out there of how to use a french press properly. A lot of those guides require a timer and a scale. My process is a lot less technical and and a little more approachable. Like with any cooking or baking I do, a little experimenting is always apart of the process.

I’ve put together a little guide of all the things that you might need to make a great cup of coffee with a french press. Now, you definitely don’t NEED all of these items, but a lot of them are very helpful. The only item on guide that you have to, have to have is a french press. We can find substitutes for al the other items.

  1. Start by grinding your coffee. I always start with whole beans. I feel like the flavor of coffee immediately starts to change once the beans are ground. You coffee will taste so much better if you grind your beans right before you brew them. A coffee grinder is one of the first appliances I bought. I think I was in college and they usually cost around or less then $20 for a great basic grinder.
  2. Measure your coffee. This really comes down to personal preference. But, 1 tbsp. of fresh ground coffee to each cup of water is a good starting place. I LOVE strong coffee so I tend to add a couple more tablespoons of coffee to my french press.
  3. Put water on to boil. You definitely don’t need a fancy electric kettle, but they do make the job a little more hands off. Water can be boiled in a simple pot. Experts say that the water should be a very specific temperature for brewing coffee. My simple trick to knowing when the water is ready is to watch the water and just before it hits a rolling boil, that’s when you use the water. If it does hit a rolling boil, just let it sit a few minutes before adding it to the coffee.
  4. Add the water. Pour about 1 cup of water over the ground coffee. Allow it to sit for about 30 seconds and then stir it. Then add the remaining water. The brew time can vary. But 4 mins. is perfect brewing time as far as I’m concerned. Then press the plunger down.
  5. Serve the coffee immediately. If you leave it in the french press, the coffee will continue to brew. So either pour it in cups right away or store it in an insulated thermos till you are ready for a second cup.
  6. And if you want to take it to the next level. Sweeten your cup with a little simple syrup and top with warm frothed milk.

  1. Coffee Grinder – Once you have a french press, a coffee grinder should be next on your list. You’ll never want to buy ground coffee again.
  2. Whole Coffee Beans – Counter Culture is one of my favorite roasters. They source beans from small scale farms around the world.
  3. Simple Syrup Bottle – I make all my own syrups and don’t worry and simple syrup 101 is coming soon as well.
  4. Bodum French Press – this is the best of the best. I still use a Bodum that was my mom’s and she used it back in the 80’s. The best part of Bodum is that all the pars are replaceable, even the glass.
  5. Coffee Scoop + Bag Clip – these are so handy for both keeping your beans fresh in their bag and also for measuring out the coffee.
  6. Electric Kettle – I actually haven’t owned an electric kettle in years. But, they really are so handy. Maybe I’ll add this cute mint one to my Christmas list.
  7. Insulated Coffee Mugs – if your cup of joe isn’t piping hot, what’s the point? I also love that you can see your coffee through this mug. So much of drinking coffee is a ritual and experience, the right mug can make all the difference.
  8. Milk Frother – this is for taking your coffee enjoyment to the next level. When we lived in both Papua New Guinea and Yemen, I had one of these hand frothers and it worked so well.

 

etc. / Food & Drink

Rosemary Shortbread with Strawberries, Ice Cream and a Balsamic Reduction

May 9, 2017

Rosemary Shortbread

Shortbread cookies have always had my heart. I love these little buttery treats so much. I also love to play with interesting flavor combinations. These herby cookies hit all the right notes for me. Earthy rosemary, paired with sweet strawberries and tangy balsamic reduction make for an unforgettable sundae.

Rosemary Shortbread

Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • a pinch of salt

With an electric mixer, beat the butter on high for a minute. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add the flour and salt and beat again until smooth. Add the rosemary a mix until it is incorporated evenly.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thickness on a well floured surface. Cut out 1 inch by 3 inch rectangles. Prick the tops of the cookies with a fork. Place the cookies on parchment lined baking sheet. Place the cookies in the freezer for at least 30 mins. Preheat the oven to 350 F, bake the cookies until just golden brown on the edges, about 12 mins.

Rosemary Shortbread

Serve with vanilla bean ice cream, fresh strawberries and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Balsamic reduction sounds super fancy, but it’s one of the easiest things to make. Simply bring 1/2 cup of good balsamic vinegar to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the vinegar reduces to 1/4 cup of liquid. Allow to cool completely and you have a rich, think sauce to serve with meat, veggies or in this case – ICE CREAM!

Rosemary Shortbread

Food & Drink

Kentucky Derby Party

April 19, 2017

Kentucky Derby PartyKentucky Derby PartyThrowing a party doesn’t have to be a tone of work or super stressful. I think if you have a great drink, a sweet and a savory snack and a fun take-away – everyone is guaranteed to have have a good time. If you want to appear a little more on the fancy side, may a suggest throwing a little Kentucky Derby Viewing Party. Really I love any excuse to host a get-together, but one with a little Southern charm feels classy.Kentucky Derby Party This year, Ghirardelli is an official sponsor of the Kentucky Derby and they have just come out with the NEW Dark Chocolate Bourbon Caramel SQUARE. It is soooo good. Bitter sweet dark chocolate filled with creamy, rich bourbon flavored caramel – it’s a match made in heaven. Any good Southern-inspired party definitely needs these delicious chocolates served. Oh man you guys, I’ve had to limit myself to one a day, because they are the perfect little sweet treat.
Kentucky Derby PartyKentucky Derby PartyFor my little get-together, I’m serving Ghirardelli‘s NEW Dark Chocolate Bourbon Caramel SQUARES, Chipotle Lime Pecans, and Virgin Mint Juleps. As a little party favor, all the guests are going home with a mini trophy filled with a tine mint plant, so they can go home and make more mint juleps. To bring a little winning good luck, I used pretty ceramic trophies to hold flowers and treats. Party decor doesn’t have to be complicated and time consuming. Some fresh flowers can really make a party festive in no time at all.Kentucky Derby PartyKentucky Derby PartyWhen I think Southern treats, pecans always come to mind. These sweet, salty and a little spicy Chipotle Lime Pecans and the perfect pairing for Ghirardelli’s NEW Dark Chocolate Bourbon Caramel SQUARES.Kentucky Derby Party

Chipotle Lime Pecans

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp. chipotle
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups whole pecans
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

Toss all the ingredients in a bowl together to coat all the pecans evenly. Spread out on a parchment lined baking tray. Place in a 350F over for about 20 mins. Toss half way through the baking time. If the nuts are starting to get dark brown, remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely and then break apart any nuts that a stuck together. Store in an airtight container.

Kentucky Derby Party

When I think about a warm Southern day, a refreshing Mint Julep comes to mind of course. And since I’m a fan of the mocktail, I’v come up with a fun virgin version of this Southern classic.Virgin Mint JulepVirgin Mint Julep

Virgin Mint Julep

  • 1/2 cup fresh mint chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ginger ale
  • lime juice
  • crushed or small pebble ice
  • powdered sugar, lime wedges and sprigs of mint for garnish

Start by making the mint simple syrup. In a small pot, place the water, sugar and mint. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. I like to leave the mint leaves in the syrup as long as possible. When you are ready to serve the drinks, stain off the mint leaves with a fine metal sieve. Store the syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Fill a glass with crushed ice. Add two  2 oz. mint syrup, the juice of half a lime and ginger ale to fill the glass. Stir and top the glass with more ice. Sprinkle the top of the drink with powdered sugar and garnish with a wedge of lime and a sprig of fresh mint.

This drink can also be made in a pitcher if you are serving a large crowd and you don’t want to fuss with mixing individual drinks. 1 liter of ginger ale, mixed with the full batch of mint simple syrup and the juice of 3 limes make enough to serve 6-8 guests.Virgin Mint JulepKentucky Derby PartyKentucky Derby Party

Here’s to getting lucky in Kentucky!

This post is sponsored by Ghirardelli Chocolate, thank you for supporting the awesome companies that help make this blog possible. 

 

Food & Drink

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

April 18, 2017

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

I must be ready for Summer, because I want strawberry flavored EVERYTHING! We planted a few strawberry plants about a month ago and we are already enjoying a few berries every couple of days. Picked from the garden, they are perfection, so sweet and juicy.

A strawberry mocktail is definitely Summer in a glass. And you know how much a love a fruit and herb combo. Basil gives this drink a fun earthy twist. This drink is on the sweeter side, so salt rim is kind of nice.

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • lemon/lime soda
  • lime juice
  • strawberries, basil, salt and lime slices for garnish

Start be making the Strawberry Basil Syrup. In a food processor, pulse strawberries, basil and sugar. Pour the puree into a small pot, and add lemon juice. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 3 minutes. Cool completely, and pour through a metal sieve. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks

Rim a glass with salt and then fill with ice, squeeze the juice of half a lime, add one part Strawberry Basil Syrup to two parts lemon/lime soda (sprite or sierra mist). Stir and garnish.

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

If you are locking for a real margarita recipe and think that maybe the tequila is missing, you can check out this recipe.

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

Food & Drink

Boysenberry Basil Limeade and the Boysenberry Festival

April 11, 2017

Boysenberry Basil LimeadeBoysenberry Basil Limeade

Today I’m sharing a fun mocktail with you inspired by Knott’s Berry Farm‘s Boysenberry Festival. This year, this Boysenberry Basil Limeade will definitely be served at out Easter brunch.

Last weekend, we headed a couple hours South to visit Knott’s Berry Farm for all the fun festivities. I think it’s going to be an annual tradition for the McConnels. We went last year and were instantly hooked. The kids loved the rides of course and all the Boysenberry treats were out of this world. The Boysenberry Festival is open from April 1-23. Yes, there is lots of delicious food, but there is also a lot of special shows and entertainment happening as well.

I picked up a few Boysenberry treats from their shop so I could bring home some of that yumminess – Boysenberry Syrup, Honey and Tea.

Boysenberry Basil Limeade Boysenberry Basil Limeade

Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival

This is the perfect time of year to visit Knott’s. The weather is perfection in California right now and the park is full of gorgeous flowers. All throughout the park, there are lots of Boysenberry treats to be found. The boysenberry donut is still my favorite treat in the park. But with the Boysenberry Festival Tasting Card, we got to try a little of everything. How can you pick a favorite with a delicious menu like this:

  • Boysenberry Pizza
  • Boysenberry Ravioli
  • Boysenberry Buffalo Wings
  • Boysenberry BBQ Meatballs
  • Boysenberry Fry Bread
  • Boysenberry Panna Cotta

Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry FestivalKnott's Berry Farm Boysenberry FestivalKnott's Berry Farm

This might be one of best mocktails I’ve made in a while. I’m a huge fan of an egg white in a drink. Not only does it make the prettiest drink, it’s also tastes delicious.

Boysenberry Basil Limeade

  • 1 oz. boysenberry syrup
  • 1 oz. basil simple syrup
  • 1/2 cup limeade
  • 1 egg white
  • ice
  • lime slices and fresh basil leaves for garnish

Start by making the basil simple syrup. You will want to make this drink one glass at a time. You will want to serve it right away, while the drink is super frothy. Pour 1 oz. boysenberry syrup, 1 oz. basil syrup, 1/2 cup limeade and the egg white in a shaker or large mason jar. Shake vigorously to combine all the ingredients. Once it begins to get a little frothy, add a couple ice cubes and shake some more. Pour the drink into a glass, straining out the ice. Garnish and serve right away.

Basil Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 fresh basil leaves finely chopped

In a small pot, bring the water, sugar and basil to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Strain the syrup through a fine metal sieve. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Boysenberry Basil LimeadeBoysenberry Basil Limeade

We are in Northern Cali with my parents this week. They live in Eureka. It’s our Spring Break. We are excited to enjoy Easter with family. And I always love exploring this area. Follow along on IG stories, I’m share lots of fun destinations and yummy things to eat.

 

Food & Drink

Blood Orange Jalapeno Mock-Margarita

April 4, 2017

Blood Orange Jalapeno Mock-MargaritaI’m a huge fan of sweet and spicy combinations. This Blood Orange Jalapeno Mock-Margarita has hint of heat, just enough to make it interesting. We love Mocktails, because the whole family can enjoy them. But, if you are looking for a more serious drink, be sure to check out this recipe, for a fun twist on a traditional margarita.

This might just be one of the prettiest drinks out there. And you’d be surprised, even kids like the touch of jalapeno. The only change I might make for youngsters is to rim the glass with sugar instead of salt. Personally I love the salt, it’s such a satisfying combination with a fairly sweet drink like this one. Blood Orange Jalapeno Mock-MargaritaBlood Orange Jalapeno Mock-Margarita

  • 5 cups blood orange juice
  • juice of 2 limes
  • Jalapeno Simple syrup (see recipe below)
  • ice
  • course salt
  • blood orange slices and thin slices of jalapeno for garnish

In a large pitcher with lots of ice, mix the blood orange juice, lime juice and simple syrup. Rim the glasses with raw sugar and lime zest. Garnish with limes and jalapeno slices.

Jalapeno Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 jalapenos sliced

Bring the ingredients to a boil and boil one minute. Remove from the heat and then chill for 1-2 hours. Pour through a metal sieve to remove the jalapeno slices and seeds. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Blood Orange Jalapeno Mock-Margarita

Cheers to a great week ahead! I’m celebrating having my taxes done with one of these refreshing drinks tonight.

Food & Drink

Lemon Chicken Garbanzo Bean Salad

March 29, 2017

The air is warm and I’m ready for some quick easy salads for lunches and even dinner. This Lemon Chicken Garbanzo Bean Salad will definitely going to be on repeat here in the McConnel house. It’s packed with lots of good stuff and definitely is not lacking in flavor. I love salads like this that make me feel like I’m eating a treat instead of depriving myself.Lemon Chicken Garbanzo Bean SaladAs you know, I was in Sweden last week. One thing I noticed about Swedes, is that they don’t have very much fast food. Everywhere you are, you are guaranteed to find a hearty salad and veggie loaded sandwiches. This salad was definitely inspired by the healthier choices that were readily available in Sweden.Lemon Chicken Garbanzo Bean SaladA touch sweet, tangy and loaded with crunch, every bite of this salad will make your mouth happy.

Lemon Chicken Garbanzo Bean Salad

  • 2 cans of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 1/2 a red onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup cucumber chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives pitted and halved
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 cup cooked farro
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breast. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chicken and sprinkle it with the fresh rosemary. Cook 5-7 mins. on each side, or until the chicken breast is cooked through completely. While the chicken is cooking, make the dressing. Remove the chicken from the pan and allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 mins.

In a large bowl combine all the veggies, garbanzo beans and farro. I like to by pre-cooked farro for convenience, but farro can be easily cooked on the stove top. Bring to a boil 3/4 cup farro with 2 cups of water. Reduce to low and simmer for 25-30.

Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and toss with the veggie mixture.

Lemon Garlic Dressing

  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a blender or food processor. Blend on high to mix the ingredients together well. Pour over the salad and toss.

Sprinkle the salad with a little extra feta and serve chilled.

 

Lemon Chicken Garbanzo Bean Salad

This salad gets better with time. So, you’ll definitely enjoy this salad the second day as well.

Food & Drink

Orange Mango Turmeric Tea

March 27, 2017

Oh my goodness, Sweden has been amazing! I’ve had an amazing trip with my mom. We’ve walked, visited, laughed, tourist-ed, and eaten WAY TOO MUCH!

Healthy eating starts are soon as I hit the ground. And this Orange Mango Turmeric Tea will be the perfect refreshing drink to get me through this week of getting back into normal life. Turmeric is a fun addition to this drink, it adds a yummy earthy flavor and also lots of anti-inflammatory benefits.

Orange Mango Turmeric Tea

Check out the full recipe HERE!

Orange Mango Turmeric TeaOrange Mango Turmeric TeaOrange Mango Turmeric Tea