homemade mocktails

Recently, I’ve been trying to come up with fun non-alcoholic drinks.  Sometimes your liver can only take so much, right?  You also don’t have to conjure up the excuse that it’s five o’clock somewhere when in fact it’s early in the day… and a Sunday (and you’re not even at a classy brunch!).

Earlier this week, I picked up some goodies in anticipation of making this fun homemade soda this weekend.  Today, I finally got around to it.

Homemade Raspberry Lemon/Lime Soda

Ingredients:
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
6 oz raspberries, pureed and strained for seeds
2 freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 cups sparkling water, chilled
Lime slices or lemon slices, for serving

To make your simple syrup, add the water and sugar in small saucepan over medium heat.  Give it it a stir every now and again, until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

In a pitcher or a fun glass bottle like the one I picked up at the mall today, combine the lime juice, raspberry puree, and lemon juice. Stir in the simple syrup. Just before serving, add the sparkling water. Garnish with lime/lemon slices.

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It’s refreshing and a fun change of pace.  Plus, when it is actually five o’clock you can bust out some vodka if you so choose.

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what up tuna?

Happy National Taco Day!!! I only found out around 11:30 today and the tuna taco inception seed was planted. I made a run to Whole Foods, got home at 8 and by 8:30, dinner was on the table! This recipe is easy and is SO, SO delicious.

Tuna & Taco stuff

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 12 ounces ahi tuna, cut into 1-inch-thick steaks
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 hard taco shells
  • 2 limes, halved

In a small bowl, combine cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, and coriander. Rub spice mixture generously on both sides of the tuna.

Heat a nonstick pan on the stove over high heat. When pan is smoking hot, add olive oil, wait 10 seconds, then add tuna. Sear for 1 minute per side, or until fish is cooked on the outside, but rare on the inside. Beware! Your spice mixture on a very hot pan will smell very similar to mase. I would know. I was practically choking. Once you begin to breathe normally, transfer to a plate.

In the meantime microwave or heat your taco shells according to the box’s instructions.

Avocado Salsa

  • 3 ripe avocados, pit and skin discarded, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to a medium-size bowl. Toss gently. DO NOT MASH AVOCADO. The chunkier, the better!

Assemble and voila!

happy birthday to me[nton]

25 is a big year, right?  You’re at the midway point of your twenties when society suddenly views you as a grown up and as a reward, you no longer have to pay some exorbitant fee to drive a rental car.  What better way to start such a year than to attend an exceptional chef’s tasting menu by the lovely, never disappointing Barbara Lynch (love to love you, baby).

Why yes we will.
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the pumpkin king

Attention, sane people — it is September 20th and I’ve already whipped out my Halloween sprinkles and harassed friends for canned packed pumpkin (thanks Kate!).  Apparently, canned packed pumpkin is seasonal and now is not the season.  LIES!

Pumpkin Cupcakes With Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe by David Leite

Yields 20 cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 15 oz can of solid packed pumpkin

Frosting
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with fabulous Halloween cupcake liners.

2. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.  You may choose to sift the dry ingredients together, but I typically skip this step because I’ve had no idea where my sifter’s been for the past 7 months.

3. Add the eggs one at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — you’re looking to get them 3/4 full. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely before frosting.

Make the frosting:
In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. To assemble the cake, frost the top of one cake, place the other cake on top. Frost the cooled cupcakes and decorate with any crazy sprinkles and Halloween candies you have around.

These cupcakes are tremendous.  They are moist, super delicious, and so season appropriate (especially if you’re a crazy early bird like me!).  As you can probably tell, I had a very fun time decorating them. I even bought those damn pumpkin candies that I hate.  Those didn’t make it to the picture because I was having an inner debate whether to add them.  I really don’t like them… candy corn either.  Gross.  I did give in though, because they are just too cute to boot!

If you like pumpkin pie and feel like mixing it up a bit, definitely give these bad boys a try.

As a side note, yesterday was my 25th bday.  WOOOO! I went to Menton, a Barbara Lynch restaurant (of course).  I snapped some pretty snazzy pictures of the tasting menu goodies, so be on the look out for that in an upcoming post.

el pescador

To know me is to know the fish taco.  A bold sentence that barely scratches the surface of my intense love for this tasty gem.

In 2008, I began my love affair of a lifetime.  It happened during senior week, when emotions and my fast metabolic appetite ran high.  I arrived back to BU after being up all night at Mohegan Sun, only to be shuffled onto another bus and off to Martha’s Vineyard. I was exhausted.  I still remember clear as day, Krissie telling me I was passed out the entire bus ride to the ferry. Of course by passed out, she was nicely telling me that I was snoring lightly with my giant trap wide open for all bus occupants to see and hear. I’m sure I was greatly appreciated.

This picture summarized our trip. We threw rocks… lots of them. Mind you, this was early June, MV’s off season.  The other portion of the day was spent on a 4+ hour adventure, biking around all parts of Martha’s Vineyard. We got lost, mostly because we deviated to find a bathroom, which was conveniently located at a Stop and Shop very off course.

The day was wrapped up in a hard shell. That’s right! A fish taco and a nice cold Corona brought my long day to a close. By far, Martha’s Vineyard was the most fun I’d had doing any sort of physical activity for a long time. 4 hours of exercise = not having to feel bad about skipping the gym for my entire senior year.  Mind you, my logic hasn’t changed over the past 3+ years.

I’m not sure if it was the fact that I was famished or whether it truly was the greatest meal I’d ever had, but that grossly unauthentic fish taco was the most superb piece of food I ever put in my mouth. Thankfully, Yelp has since guided me to some of the “holy grails” of fish tacos in the greater Boston area — El Pelon Taqueria (which subsequently closed due to fire), Dorado Tacos, La Verdad, etc.  Oh yes. You savory little morsels will be mine!


Wah! No longer available!

On Ray and my recent trip to the west coast, it shouldn’t come as a shocker that the ultimate San Diego fish taco was on our list.  After a very long day at Mission Beach and a few rides on the Giant Dipper, we found ourselves at El Zarape in University Heights.  I went for the classic fish tacos – one grilled and one fried.  The grilled was a nice flavorful piece of mahi mahi and the fried was your average piece of white fish encased by a very light fried shell.  The fish taco is humble served in a warm corn tortilla with tomatoes, shredded cabbage or lettuce, and a healthy squirt of white sauce.  Add a very cold Corona and you are transported to flavor town.


Between the Corona and Ray, I’d choose the Corona (Sorry Ray!)

Grilled and Fried Fish Taco from El Zarape // my specialty, seared tuna fish tacos

Fish Taco and Carne Asada Taco from Lolita’s in San Diego

Random fish taco pic from Hawaii (circa 2008) I found on my phone

Now I want to go run to Whole Foods and make my own.  Yes, the pescado taco de la casa!!!! Arrriiiiiiiba!  I know, I get very excited.