Thursday, July 12, 2012

Basil-mint mojitos for a crowd

Well, technically these are for a small crowd, but you can easily make a double batch.

It drives me a little crazy that when I search for drink recipes they are almost always for a single serving. I get it, I do. I'm sure lots of people classily mix themselves a single fancy drink each evening. It's just that I rarely make cocktails unless they're for a party, in which case I have no intention of mixing them individually.

We heard a brief blip about basil-mint mojitos on Good Food a couple weekends ago and our garden happens to be producing both and we were going to a party. Serendipity. I found several recipes online (all for single servings), started scaling up and adjusting the proportions and we ended up with something pretty amazing. It's a little more herbaceous than the standard mint-only mojito and I added more rum and took the sugar down several notches. You can adjust for your own taste, of course, but I think this is a good start.

basil-mint mojitos
{basil-mint mojitos}

Basil-mint mojitos (makes just under 7 cups, serves 8 tipsily)

about 3 cups basil + mint, loosely packed
1/2 cup superfine sugar (or regular, but superfine dissolves well)
3.5 cups light rum
2 cups fresh lime juice
sparkling water (about 1 cup, possibly a bit more)

Muddle* sugar and herbs with a small amount of rum.
Add remaining rum and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours.
Strain the herbs out, stir in the lime juice.
Add sparkling water to taste and serve over ice.

We've made them twice already and I've severely depleted our basil. I think that means I didn't plant enough.


* Muddling is just crushing the herbs to release the flavor. I have a really ugly muddler that I got free with a handle of rum years ago and it works perfectly fine. If you don't have one, I'd try using a wooden spoon instead (and then maybe go buy yourself a muddler). The point is to crush, rather than cut. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Beyond vinaigrette

I spent years only eating oil + vinegar based dressings, and I still love them. But lately I find myself making creamy salad dressings almost all the time. I think it started with that amazing broccoli slaw from Jeanette and just hasn't stopped. It's a phase, I guess.

creamy herb salad dressing
{creamy herb salad dressing}

I don't have a strict recipe for the dressing and it varies depending on what I have on hand. It's loosely inspired by the classic Caesar, but flavored with herbs and sans raw egg. You end up with this creamy, tangy dressing that's really fresh tasting because of the greenery.

My current favorite creamy salad dressing 
(aka vaguely Mexican style Caesar salad dressing) 
3 - 4 big spoonfuls of 2% greek yogurt
1 big spoonful of mayo
Small handful (maybe 1/4 cup?) of sunflower seeds
Handful of cilantro, stems removed
1 small can of chopped green ortega or hatch chilies
Dash of Tapatio
Salt to taste (maybe 1/2 tsp? I like my food salty) 
Blend* thoroughly. Makes enough for a couple salads, depending on how heavily you dress them. Stores just fine in the fridge for a couple days, just shake it up before using. 
To change the flavor, you swap out the herbs and omit the chilies (you'll need a little bit of extra liquid if you don't have the chilies, a few teaspoons of water is fine) and Tapatio and add in some other flavors. A little bit of lemon or lime juice can be a great addition. Basil pairs nicely with walnuts and sundried tomatoes packed in oil. I'd like to see if there's a way to make it work with more delicate flavors like thyme. I'll be playing around with it all summer, for sure.

* I've always hated our full size blender and now I'm obsessed with this tiny one we got as a wedding gift. You blend directly in the container and then put a lid on it to store or take with you (really handy for smoothies). Fewer dishes, less waste and it takes up much less space in the cupboard. Love.

Guys! While I was searching for the one I have so I could show you, I just realized the same company makes one really similar but fitted so you can blend directly in mason jars and avoid the BPA in plastics (not a huge issue of mine, but I do feel more comfortable with glass in general). I might switch over at some point.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012



drinks to share
{drinks to share}

party lights
{party lights}

clearing out
{clearing out}

afternoon drinks
{afternoon drinks}

:: notes ::

Spending some time in the kitchen together - making my favorite salsa and trying out fancy drinks for a party.

Quality time with friends - I love how summer means lots of low key get togethers.

Attacking some of our accumulated stuff - I have a terrible fear of suddenly waking up and realizing I'm a hoarder (not totally unfounded, because I do tend to save things and I have a lot of craft supplies) so I want to periodically go through everything and re-evaluate. The process tends to bring out the worst in me, so I set a time limit of 3 hours per session and then we reward ourselves with drinks and some time on the couch.