Tag Archives: the recipe redux

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Shrubhattan

22 May

With summer right around the corner, it’s time for more than just wine and beer! I love a good cocktail, but have realized that’s just not my preference during the colder months (which makes up the majority of the year in Wisconsin). So when The Recipe Redux challenged us to post a creative cocktail concoction this month, I was right on board!

This cocktail has all sorts of flavors going on. First, you must make the shrub. In its most basic form, a shrub is an acidulated beverage. According to Wikipedia, “the word “shrub” [refers] to a cocktail or soft drink that was popular during America’s colonial era, made by mixing a vinegared syrup with spirits, water, or carbonated water. The term “shrub” can also be applied to the sweetened vinegar-based syrup, from which the cocktail is made; the syrup is also known as drinking vinegar. Drinking vinegar is often infused with fruit juice, herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks.”

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Shrubhattan | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

In the case of this recipe, we’ll be using the latter definition of “shrub,” as we’ll mix our homemade shrub with a spirit, flavoring, and soda water to create a refreshing and complex cocktail.

If a “vinegar-based syrup” makes you pucker up in disgust, hear me out! The syrup is made from equal parts of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. It’s slightly tangy, but retains a sweetness that makes for a wonderfully balanced drink. It’s a great way to make a cocktail that’s not too sweet (like an Old Fashioned), and not too bitter (like a gin & tonic).

The twist in this shrub comes from the chocolate-balsamic vinegar! My mom found this vinegar on a trip to Door County, WI and thought I’d like it. What better way to use a special vinegar than in a special cocktail? 🙂

Speaking of special, this cocktail is great for celebrations of all types. Simply make the shrub ahead of time, and with a bottle each of bourbon and chocolate bitters, you’ll have an easy cocktail ready to make for an entire gathering!

Chocolate-Balsamic Strawberry Shrub

Makes 2 cups shrub

  • 1 C quartered strawberries
  • 1 C cane sugar
  • 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 C chocolate-balsamic vinegar

Wash, de-stem and quarter the strawberries. Place the berries in a bowl or wide-mouthed mason jar and pour the sugar on top. You can muddle the berries a bit with a wooden spoon. Cover and let sit in the fridge 24-48 hours.

Next, stir in the vinegars, cover and shake/stir. Let this refrigerate for two to ten days! Shake/stir this mixture a few times per day to ensure the sugar dissolves. The flavor mellows over time, so the longer you let it sit, the more mellow it will taste.

Finally, strain out the fruit into a bowl using a fine-mesh strainer. Use a large spoon to press down on the fruit to ensure all the syrup is expelled. Transfer the shrub to a clean bottle or mason jar and make some cocktails! The shrub can be refrigerated until you drink it all.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Shrubhattan

Makes 1 cocktail

  • 2 oz bourbon, my favorite is Eagle Rare, but Buffalo Trace or another smooth bourbon would work
  • 3/4 oz chocolate-balsamic strawberry shrub
  • 2 dashes chocolate bitters, I used Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
  • Soda water, to fill

Stir together the bourbon, shrub, and bitters over ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and top off with soda water.

For a non-alcoholic drink, mix one ounce of the shrub into a glass of soda water for a refreshing, yet complex beverage.

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Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies {vegan, gluten free, low fat, dye-free}

21 Apr

Over the years, I’ve dabbled with a variety of new-to-me foods: vegetables, fruits, grains, superfoods, and preparations. I’ve learned to love all the beans, figured out the best way to make tofu so it tastes good, and even started putting any manner of frozen vegetable in my healthy smoothies. Inspiring, right?

Except when it comes to beets.

Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

I’ve tried them pickled, diced, sliced, hot, cold, with feta, without feta, and as juice. And I just cannot.

Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Seriously, they taste like dirt. Not in the way that vegetables fresh from the garden might have specks of dirt left on them after washing. No, beets legitimately taste like licking a playground.

However, I’m not one to give up! I don’t know what was going through my head on the day when I saw prepared beet juice in the store. Maybe it was the display, maybe I had just read an article about how beets can prevent death from a variety of causes, maybe I was just a tad crazy. But I bought it! And promptly put it in my fridge door, where it sat for a solid two months (thankfully it was a shelf-stable variety).

I remember reading that beet juice is particularly beneficial after hard workouts, so in my post-race delusion, I finally popped open that lonely bottle and poured myself a glass.

And it was AWFUL. I chugged it down, just to get it over with. Then, I immediately began recipe planning.

You see, I dislike wasting perfectly good food. My thought was that while beet juice might taste like pureed dirt when on its own, it might actually be ok in baked goods. Ridiculous, right?

Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

No. Not ridiculous at all. Beet juice adds a moisture that water and milk (dairy or otherwise) can’t hold a candle to. I’ve heard of bakers using beet powder as a replacement for red food dye, particularly in red velvet desserts. And I had some leftover crock pot black beans in the freezer, waiting to be used.

Pair all of this with the Recipe Redux challenge this month, which asked us to develop a recipe that reduces food waste, in honor of Earth day.

Naturally, I thought of brownies! I know, that doesn’t seem totally natural. But have you ever had black bean brownies? Have you had red velvet cake? Do you see where I’m going here…

Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

These brownies taste NOTHING LIKE black beans or beets!

They simply taste and look like a delightfully red brownie that’s chewy, sweet and full of chocolate flavor. And it just so happens that the chocolate comes from chocolate protein powder. So these are an absolutely viable breakfast option! No joke, one brownie has 3 grams protein and 2 grams fiber. They’re gluten free, vegan, low fat, and contain no dye whatsoever!

These were so good that Chris couldn’t identify any “strange” ingredients. I’ll call that a win.

For the record, since I opened this bottle and made these brownies, I have since found additional ways to consume beet juice without actually tasting it. My smoothie-matching series on Instagram might give it away – I love beet juice smoothies now!

Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Red Velvet Black Bean & Beet Protein Brownies, partially adapted from Vegan Richa

Makes 20 brownies

  • 3/4 C ground oats (measure after you grind them)
  • 1/2 C almond flour
  • 2 tbsp  cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 scant tsp salt
  • 3/4 C coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1/3 C vegan chocolate protein powder
  • 2 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 1/2 C prepared beet juice
  • 3/4 C cooked black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C nondairy milk
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8″ baking dish with parchment paper, so the sides fold over the edges.

In a medium bowl, mix together the oat flour through the flaxseed meal.

In the jug of your blender, combine the beet juice, beans, vanilla, and milk. Puree until completely blended. You don’t want to be able to see that there are black beans in it.

Pour the beet-bean puree into the dry ingredients, along with the melted coconut oil.

Stir with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated. The batter will be thick – thicker than most brownie batters.

Scoop the batter into the prepared dish and press down into an even layer using your hands.

Bake at 350 for 25-27 minutes.

Remove and let cool completely before slicing into squares of your desired size. I cut mine into 20 brownies.

One more meme for good measure, courtesy of The Office:

Red Velvet Black Bean and Beet Protein Brownies | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

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Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans

21 Mar

We finally took another trip, and this time, it was centered around bourbon! Yep – Chris and I drove down to Kentucky with our friends, Matt and Ashley, and met up with another couple, Barry and Stacey. We spent four glorious days visiting distilleries, learning about the history and creation of bourbon, and of course: sampling a wide variety of delicious bourbons! We ate good food, drove around Kentucky, and laughed way too much.

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Lunch stop on the way to Kentucky at Milktooth in Indianapolis. Mango Michelada, strawberry-kumquat poptart, and a savory Dutch baby pancake with roasted broccoli, hazelnuts, aged cheddar, micro greens, and fennel.

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Bourbon flights!

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

The crew at Buffalo Trace – definitely the best tour and experience!

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Kissing a barrel of what will someday turn into Eagle Rare – my favorite bourbon, aged 10 years!

After four distillery tours and several bourbon bars, I have expanded my palate for bourbon: something I have only been interested in for a year or so now (thanks to Chris!).

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Maker’s Mark has beautiful rolling hills!

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Makers Mark also has fantastic artwork and bourbon!

Unfortunately, the trip had to end and we were on our way back home on Sunday in no time. The 6.5 hour drive wasn’t too bad, and we stopped for lunch in Lafayette, IN (nothing to write home about). But that meant that we’d be home for dinner…after four days away and a rather barren fridge.

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Bulleit Experience @ Stitzel-Weller Distillery

Luckily, the monthly Recipe Redux challenge asked us to develop a recipe made with at least three ingredients that we had on hand, with the intent to do a little “spring cleaning” of the kitchen. How perfect, given our current situation after several days away!

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

As a Wisconsinite, I always have cheese on hand; usually several types of cheeses at any given point have residence in our fridge. Upon returning home, there were full blocks of herbed Havarti and aged cheddar, a half bag of shredded cheddar, and a half tub of whipped cream cheese (Chris’s favorite). What’s more, there were a few fresh vegetables leftover from the week prior, begging to be cooked into a tasty dish.

Finally, I always keep a variety of grains stocked in the pantry. It had been a while since I cooked couscous, so it seemed the best choice in the effort to spring clean the pantry. Add in a high-protein beefless ground, and I have a dinner that’s healthy, vegetarian, and uses up quite a few ingredients!

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables

Serves 4

  • 1 C frozen green peas
  • 1 C frozen corn
  • 2 red or orange bell peppers, diced
  • 6 stalks celery, diced
  • olive oil and black pepper, to roast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 C vegetable stock
  • 1 C medium-grain couscous
  • 2 C beefless ground or other ground meat-free product
  • 4 oz herbed Havarti cheese, diced

Preheat oven to 400. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with PAM. In a single layer, place all the veggies on the sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with black pepper. Roast for 23 minutes at 400.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil and vegetable stock in a pot. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and stir in the couscous. Cover and set aside for six minutes.

Heat the beefless ground in a microwave-safe bowl for two minutes.

Once the couscous is done, stir in the diced cheese and heated beefless ground. Cover with the lid and let sit until the vegetables are done roasting.
Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com
To serve, spoon the couscous mixture onto plates or bowls, and top with the roasted vegetables. Enjoy hot!
Vegetarian Cheeseburger Couscous with Roasted Vegetables, and Bourbon Trail Shenanigans | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

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