Sangria with Oranges, Figs + Cinnamon

Sangria with Oranges, Figs + Cinnamon

My husband and I sit outside on the deck after our two-year-old twins are finally in bed—not asleep, but at least confined in their cribs after a witching hour that felt like four hours. There’s a faint smell of citronella as candles flicker on the table, a bottle of Pinot Noir between us, and a glimmer overhead from the lights strung on the pergola. It’s one of those summer nights with all the trappings of romance and beauty.

But the newborn in my arms and the whines from the twins’ room keep us grounded in the reality of parenting little ones. I refill my wine glass as cries of protest against bedtime punctuate the evening. The baby begins to root around in search of food. We're exhausted.

“I can’t handle three kids,” I shamefully confess to my husband.  

I love all three fiercely, and I am grateful for them beyond measure. But right now? This feels impossible. The twins know exactly when they can get away with doing all the things we’ve told them not to do. When I sit down to nurse they rush upstairs, and I hear the water of our bathtub running. If I don’t follow them, the sound of the faucet will soon be followed by the sound of slipping on the wet floor or worse. How am I supposed to get anything done with three under three? And by “get anything done,” I’m not talking about repainting the master bedroom or even emptying the dishwasher. No. I mean more like, how do I stop long enough to feed the third kid?

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Sangria with Oranges, Figs + Cinnamon
Sangria with Oranges, Figs + Cinnamon
Sangria with Oranges, Figs + Cinnamon

Full post and recipe instructions can be found at Coffee + Crumbs!


Pomegranate, Cider + Lemon Mocktail

Pomegranate, Cider + Lemon Mocktail

Well, shortly following my announcement over a week ago on Instagram that "I was back!", the kiddos and I went down for the count for another week. After a nasty stomach flu (which I won't go into too much detail about), a trip to urgent care, more bananas, applesauce, and toast than I care to ever see again for a while, and being quarantined for what felt like months, we are back to normal - which means I'm also craving something different than Pedialyte or water. 

But pregnancy with Baby #3 means it's a season of mocktails for me - which, to be honest, hasn't been all that bad. I've craved sparkling cider the last couple weeks, and there's something special about making a fun drink in a fancy glass...even if it lacks your favorite spirit. 

This mocktail is a combination of sparkling cider, pomegranate juice, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I prefer it on the tart side, but if you like your drinks sweeter, add a splash more cider. It's garnished with a sprig of rosemary, but to get more herb flavor, try muddling a few rosemary leaves in the cocktail shaker before adding the pomegranate and lemon juices. (And of course, if you're not avoiding alcohol feel free to add a shot or two of vodka.)

Cheers!

Pomegranate, Cider + Lemon Mocktail
Pomegranate, Cider + Lemon Mocktail
Pomegranate, Cider + Lemon Mocktail

Pomegranate, Cider + Lemon Mocktail
Yields 1 drink

1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce 100% pomegranate juice
3-5 ounces sparkling apple cider
Sprig of fresh rosemary
Ice

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the lemon and pomegranate juices. Shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. 

Strain into a cocktail glass and top with sparkling cider to taste. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary. 

Notes: Want more rosemary flavor? Muddle a few fresh rosemary leaves in the cocktail shaker before adding the lemon and pomegranate juices. 

To serve a crowd, just add 1 part lemon juice, 1 part pomegranate juice, and 3-5 parts sparkling cider to a pitcher with ice. Stir gently, and serve with rosemary sprigs.


Ancho Chile Manhattan [featuring Heritage Distilling Co.]

Ancho Chile Manhattan

It's the first snow day here in the Chicago area! The timing couldn't be more perfect. We set up our Christmas tree yesterday, and there's nothing sitting by the fire while the snow quietly falls. And to make room for the tree, we moved our TV to the basement...a move we're hoping will be a permanent one.

Ancho Chile Manhattan
Ancho Chile Manhattan

That means that if I want to enjoy the fire, falling snow, and twinkling lights, I have to do so without the accompaniment of The Office reruns or football games. We're not about to get rid of television all together, but at least this way, watching something won't be my immediate default. The option is no longer sitting there staring at me. It's a change I'll probably hate for the first couple weeks, but I think overall it'll be for the better.

I'm hoping to spend more time reading, which to me is the perfect cozy wintertime activity...and a good book requires a good beverage.

Ancho Chile Manhattan

I first started playing around with this recipe a few months ago, when I was trying to figure out how to use the huge stash of ancho chiles I acquired. Yeah, random, I know. My brother was using ancho chiles for something and had extras, which then ended up at my house. So, if you've been following me for a while and you're wondering why I have two ancho chile posts in the last couple months, now you know why. (There will probably be more to come, too.) 

This drink is a twist on the Manhattan, one of the most quintessential cocktails. Part of me doesn't want to mess with the perfection that the Manhattan already is, but then again, I can't help but change things up. I used Elk Rider Bourbon Whiskey from Heritage Distilling Company, and instead of the traditional angostura, this version uses orange bitters. The sweet vermouth is partially subbed out for ancho chile simple syrup, which gives this a spicy kick.

It's a cocktail that will warm you from the inside out - perfect for snow days, by the fire, with a good book in hand. 

Ancho Chile Manhattan

Ancho Chile Manhattan
Yields 1 cocktail

Cocktail
2 1/2 ounces bourbon (such as Elk Rider Bourbon)
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce ancho chile simple syrup (recipe below)
2 dashes orange bitters
Strip of lemon or orange zest
Ice

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, along with a handful of ice. Stir well, for about 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled glass. Serve with a strip of lemon or orange zest. 

Simple Syrup
1 ancho chile
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Cut the ancho chile in half, and toss it in a small saucepan (along with all the seeds). Add the water and sugar. Heat over high heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar melts and the mixture comes to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, and simmer about 5-7 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. The syrup will thicken slightly as it cools.

Strain out the chile and the seeds using a fine mesh strainer. Store syrup in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Yields about 10 ounces of syrup.

P.S. Need an affordable cocktail shaker set ? Click here to check out the one I have!


Elk Rider Bourbon was provided by Heritage Distilling Co. All opinions are 100% my own.

Mulled Cider with Cinnamon + Ancho Chiles

Mulled Cider with Cinnamon + Ancho Chiles

This past week has been marked by cloudy, rainy days and crisp, fall weather. All I’ve wanted to do is curl up on the couch with a hot drink and a good book. And to be honest, that's exactly what I've done. I've unabashedly taken advantage of the days when my kids took a good, long nap (which definitely didn't happen ever day, but I'll take what I can get). 

Mulled Cider with Cinnamon + Ancho Chiles

I know chores and to-do lists can't be put on the back-burner forever, but sometimes you just have a to let good things go in order to fill up with the best things. My kitchen may still be a mess, but my soul is refreshed - and for that, I'm grateful. 

Mulled Cider with Cinnamon + Ancho Chiles
Mulled Cider with Cinnamon + Ancho Chiles

Of course, during this season, if you've got a good book in one hand, you need a mug of hot cider in the other. I changed things up from my normal orange-clove-cinnamon combo and threw an ancho chile into the mix. I absolutely loved it. I know the added heat may not be for everyone, but for me, there's something calming, comforting and pleasantly surprising about the slight kick after every sip. Rest assured, this is a drink that'll keep you warm during those cool fall days!

Mulled Cider with Cinnamon + Ancho Chiles

P.S. Want to know what I'm reading? Check out the new "Reading Now" section on the sidebar, and let me know what you're reading in the comments below!

Mulled Cider with Cinnamon + Ancho Chiles

Mulled Cider with Cinnamon + Ancho Chiles

2 quarts apple cider (make sure it doesn't have any added sweeteners or spices)
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
1 lemon, sliced
1 ancho chile

Add the cider, cloves, cinnamon sticks, lemon juice and lemon slices to a large saucepan. Cut the ancho chile in half and add it to the cider (seeds and all).

Bring the cider to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cover. Let the cider simmer for at least 30 minutes. Pour into mugs and garnish with a slice of lemon or a cinnamon stick. Enjoy!

Quick Tip: You can also make this recipe in a slow-cooker. Just let it mull for at least a couple hours before serving.