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A Lillet-Basil Cocktail Is The Perfect Specialty Drink For Winter

A Lillet-Basil Cocktail Is The Perfect Specialty Drink For Winter

Have you ever had Lillet?  If the answer is no, you’ve been missing out. Pronounced “li’ leh” it is a French aperitif created in 1887 by Paul and Raymon Lillet from Podensac, just outside of the Bordeaux region in France.  Lillet, considered a “tonic wine” (or quinquina) is a blend of 85% Bordeaux region wines and 15% macerated, mainly citrus, liqueurs.   There are now three Lillet varieties: “Blanc,” “Rouge” and “Rose.”  Blanc and Rose are made with 85% Semillon white wine.  Rouge is made with 85% red wine.  All are aged in oak barrels.  The Lillet brothers first created the “Kina Lillet” (the Blanc version) considered revolutionary at the time as all other aperitif at the time were red.  What made the brand Lillet so successful was two-fold.  The first was Louis Pasteur’s endorsement: at a time when people had substantial fears of terrible illnesses, he stated that “wine can be considered with good reason as the most healthful and most hygienic of all beverages”.  Second, transatlantic ocean liners began serving Lillet, pushing the drink into the cosmopolitan limelight.  Lillet took the New York City social scene by storm and cemented its popularity.  In 1962 Raymond Lillet’s grandson brought Lillet Rouge to the market capitalizing on American’s growing interest in red wine.  Lillet Rose did not emerge till 2011 and was aimed at a mainly female following.

Lillet-basil cocktail

Lillet has a taste very similar to vermouth, but has the wonderfully distinct flavors of honey, orange, lime, and even mint. It is best served chilled and can be enjoyed on its own, on ice or in a cocktail, as it is here.  The recipe here was based on a recipe by Martha Stewart, but I use the Lillet Rouge (instead of Blanc) mixed with fresh orange juice, adding to the richness and elegance.  This is a lovely, smooth Winter cocktail that is nice for sipping during the cooler months.Lillet-basil cocktail

Lillet-Basil Cocktail

January 5, 2018
: 1
: 5 min
: 5 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 ounces Lillet Rouge
  • 1 ounce Gin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 4 basil leaves torn, plus a sprig for garnish
  • splash of tonic water
  • slice of cucumber, for garnish
Directions
  • Step 1 Fill cocktail shaker with a good amount of ice.
  • Step 2 Place the Lillet, gin, orange juice and torn basil leaves in the shaker and shake well for about 10-15 seconds.
  • Step 3 Pour cocktail into a coupe glass. Top with a splash of tonic water.
  • Step 4 Garnish with a basil sprig and a slice of cucumber.

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Moroccan Stewed Chickpeas With Spinach Makes The Perfect Winter Meal

Moroccan Stewed Chickpeas With Spinach Makes The Perfect Winter Meal

Let’s talk about chickpeas and how awesome they are.  My older son eats them straight up, a habit he picked up from me.  Also called garbanzo beans, these babies are not only delicious, they are packed with protein and vitamins. Although most people think of them as a vegetable, chickpeas are a legume with a slightly nutty flavor.  One cup of chickpeas has roughly 270 calories, 45 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fat, 15 grams of protein and 13 grams (!) of fiber.  If chickpeas are not already a staple in your diet, they should be.  As we enter into the winter rainy season here in California I personally turn to simple, hearty and healthy stews and soups to get me through till Springtime.

Moroccan Stewed chickpeas Chickpeas, like many legumes, can be used in a variety of ways, from dips, to soups, to pizza crusts.  These little guys are versatile and I love them.  Vegetarians and vegans use this popular protein source regularly, since chickpeas are both healthful and filling.  This recipe for Moroccan stewed chickpeas is probably similar to something you have had before; it is not a complicated one, but it is loaded with flavor and makes a fantastic meal on its own.  I call this an easy meal and it can work for lunch or dinner in my house.  Rich flavors of garlic, curry, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and Garam Masala stewed together with tomatoes elevate chickpeas to a whole new playing field.  I could honestly live on this stuff if I had to. My husband also loves this in the morning with poached eggs on top, making great use of any leftovers—if you find that you have any.

Moroccan Stewed chickpeas

Moroccan Spiced Stewed Chickpeas With Spinach

January 4, 2018
: 6
: 20 min
: 35 min
: 55 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8-1/4 cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley, stems removed, minced
  • 2 cups packed fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped, for garnish
Directions
  • Step 1 Place a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, and when hot but not smoking, add the onion and sauté till tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an addition 30 seconds.
  • Step 2 Add the curry, cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, coriander and Garam Masala and cook for about 1 minute till fragrant.
  • Step 3 Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, chickpeas, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil use the back of a wooden spoon to carefully break up or gently smash the tomatoes in the pan. Reduce to a simmer, cover and stew, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.
  • Step 4 Add the spinach to the chickpeas, stir to incorporate and cook an additional 1 minute. Adjust the seasoning as needed, garnish with chopped parsley.
  • Step 5 Serve warm with your favorite side such as couscous, quinoa or rice.

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A Matcha Smoothie: Welcome In the New Year On A Healthy Note

A Matcha Smoothie: Welcome In the New Year On A Healthy Note

Happy New Year!  As much as I love and welcome the festive holiday season, I am always ready for January 1.  First of all, the holidays are exhausting.  Secondly, despite best efforts, chances are I have indulged a bit more than anticipated. In fairness, we all have–and that’s ok. With the New Year comes new goals, health-wise, food-wise, family wise or otherwise; it is a time for change and I welcome it.  So to “ring-in” the New Year right, I created this special mocha smoothie.  It is healthy, and has a kick of caffeine–which is something most of us need today, I know I do!

The matcha craze is everywhere these days and is showing no signs of letting up. Matcha, for those who don’t know, is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. It is special because (1) the green tea plants for matcha are shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest and (2) the stems and veins are removed during processing.  Apparently, growing the plants in the shade boosts the plants’ chlorophyll levels and it produces more theanine and caffeine. This combination is believed to have more of a calming effect on people than the caffeine might suggest. The best matcha comes from Japan, the most well-known growing areas localized to the southern half of the country: Uji, Nishio, Shizuoka, and Kyushu.  So you may want to look carefully for those regions when buying it.

Traditional Japanese tea ceremonies developed around the early 12th century.  Called “Chanoyu,” they centered around the preparation and offering of matcha.  Today’s recent rise in popularity seems to be connected mainly to matcha’s suggested health benefits.  Unlike a regular tea leaf or bag, matcha is dissolved directly into a liquid and thus is an easy addition to a smoothie.  In addition to adding matcha to smoothies, matcha—both warm and cold—can be used for other drinks such as cocktails or specialty coffee drinks.  You can also add it to baked goods, such as cakes and cookies. The naturally sweet, subtle grassy taste can adapt well to drinks or foods without being overpowering.  So, if you drank a bit too much bubbly last night, or had a few more sweet treats the past month, turn a page and start your year off with this low-fat, protein packed, slightly caffeinated matcha smoothie.  You’ll be glad you did.

matcha smoothie

Matcha Smoothie

January 1, 2018
: 1
: 5 min
: 5 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 (6-ounce) vanilla low-fat skyr yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 date, pitted
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup ice
Directions
  • Step 1 Using a kitchen blender, add the banana, yogurt, matcha powder, almond butter, date, almond milk and ice. Blend on high for 1 minute.
  • Step 2 Serve immediately.

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