Thursday, March 22, 2018

Blood Orange Vanilla Lemonade

Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii-EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Let's make some lemonade, you guys! Yes, I know it's still basically winter, but hear me out. This IS winter lemonade. Since blood orange season is only December through May, you can only make this in winter or spring soooooo I'm not crazy! Or at least, I'm not crazy because of this idea.

I love, love, love blood orange so much more than regular oranges. I think they're sweeter and have an almost berry-citrus flavor. Does that make sense? Yes? No? Maybe? Maybe the color is playing with my brain!? I buy them as often as I can get my hands on them. This lemonade is a must, a cocktail often occurs, maybe toppings for a salad, glaze for salmon, a pound cake with champagne, oh the possibilities! 

I made this a few years ago on a whim, for a family game night and we drank almost all of it that night. My sister took the rest home and has become a hardcore fan of it. Which reminds me, I set some aside for her. I need to take it to her ASAP. There is a good chance if I don't hurry it won't last long enough. 

Blood Orange Lemonade
Makes approximately 1/2 gallon

1 1/2 cup simple syrup (recipe follows)
3-4 lemons to equal 1/2 cup lemon juice
4-6 blood oranges to equal 1 1/2 cup blood orange juice
3-4 cups cold water * to taste
2 vanilla beans

Juice and strain lemons and oranges until you reach the needed measurements, add to drink container or pitcher. Stir in water and simple syrup. Split vanilla beans and add to lemonade and stir. Remove the vanilla bean after about an hour if you don't want a strong vanilla flavor. Store in refrigerator up to a week.

Simple Syrup 
makes about 1 1/2 cups simple syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar

In a sauce pan, combine and heat water and sugar, stirring until all sugar dissolves. Allow to cool to room temp before refrigerating. 


Monday, March 5, 2018

Taco Chili

Guess who's back, back again! Ashley's back, tell a friend! Did I just quote Eminem!?!?!? Sorry, I got sick, then my kids were sick, then I was sick again, then there were holidays, then I was sick again, then we lost a dear family member, then I lost my memory card, then my dad was sick. It's a been a long few months. But, I'm back at it with something perfect for a rainy day. It's rainy here today and I wish I still had some of this! Instead, as I type this, I'm eating left over drive thru chicken tenders. Womp womp... 

Both my boys actually like it, my husband loves it and I love it. It is perfect. When I'm making it for the 4 of us I leave out the beans, but I will put them in when I'm cooking for more people. If you're a bean lover, I'm sure you could double or even triple the amount just fine. My oldest always picks them out when I use them, the rest of us tolerate them in the chili. I often swap out the beef for lean ground turkey as well. But, I use 93/7 ground beef normally anyway, so it's not overly fatty. If you use a fattier meat, you may need to skim out any fat that you render when browning the meat.

My favorite  way to customize it for each person, is by the toppings. Of course, I loaded everything in when I took the pictures but I often just top with, cilantro, avocado and a squeeze of lime. When I'm feeling it though, I will load it down with all the toppings. My kids love to use tortilla chips scoops as spoon.

Taco Chili
serves a whole bunch of people
click to print

1 bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 tablespoon of salt (omit if you are using a taco seasoning with salt in it)
1 tablespoon cilantro paste or 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro* optional
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 pounds ground beef
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn
32 ounces beef broth

In a pot or dutch oven, over medium high heat, saute peppers and onion, stirring often for 3-5 minutes until softened, translucent and starting to brown. Add taco seasoning, salt, cilantro and garlic, continue to cook for 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally. This allows the flavors of the seasonings and herbs to release and deepen. Add in and brown beef, stirring to break it up. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes, usually. Pour in tomatoes, corn and broth. Turn down to low heat, cover and cook stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. Remove lid, bump heat back up to medium, stirring often and allow to thicken, just slightly. Taste for seasoning. Top with all your favorite ingredients.

I use:
avocado or guacamole
sour cream
cheese (this picture I used a shredded blend, but cotija is my favorite)

Hope you enjoy! See you soon!