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Mara’s Cold Brewed Coffee

For many, many years I was not a big coffee drinker. I instead enjoyed an afternoon PG Tips tea with a spot of milk and honey with the occasional thin biscuit on the side. Then I met our real estate agent Mara. During our open house tours, Mara got me completely hooked on her delicious cold brewed coffee which was rich and smooth and unlike any coffee I had yet encountered. I’ve since completely reworked my approach to an afternoon beverage and I’m now one of the coldest brewers out there!

I think what gives Mara’s coffee a little something special is the addition of a few raw cocoa nibs to the brew. It gives the whole beverage a luscious texture that is at least three degrees beyond the usual levels of delicious. Another tip is that you want to do your brew in a glass container, and use freshly ground coffee for the snappiest results. I really like this drink served over a few ice cubes with a splash of cream. It’s just like drinking coffee ice cream!

Here’s how simple it is to make:

Cold Brewed Coffee Ingredients:

    4 Cups filtered water
    1.5 Cups coarsely ground coffee
    2 Tbs. raw cocoa nibs
    (Optional: Star anise, cinnamon stick, nutmeg)

If you need to get yourself a good brewing vessel to fit all these ingredients, these nice big Bormioli Canning Jars are pretty great. You can also use them to make iced tea, which is also pretty darned refreshing!

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Chocolate Snack Cake

I’m not sure what makes this cake “snack” cake, as opposed to just regular old cake, but it sure is delicious and easy to make! Hero, my guide in snack-caking, is a super kid from my neighborhood who often has a weekend lemonade stand going with her brother Poet (From the Rice Krispie treat episode). When I hear them sounding the lemonade gong, I always head over because you can count on them having some great treats to go with their lemonade. Plus it stops the gonging! Hero’s parents say that she loves to bake things, especially treats, and she proved to be a great, and very well organized instructor. Hero is an excellent measurer of ingredients!

A couple cooking notes before we get to the video. It helps if you have a really nice quality cocoa powder when you make this, as that flavor is really what comes through. Scharfenberger, Valrhona, Callebaut, or even Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened will do you well. The folks at Cooks Illustrated like Callebaut, and you can get some Callebaut here if you can’t find it at your local store.

Hero’s guide to Chocolate Snack Cake:

Hero’s Chocolate Snack Cake Recipe:

Dry Ingredients:

    1.5 Cups All Purpose Flour
    1 Cup white sugar
    1/4 Cup quality cocoa powder
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients:

    1/3 Cup vegetable oil
    1 tsp white vinegar
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 Cup cold water

Toppings:

    Ice cream
    Berries
    Whipped cream
    Anything else you think would be yummy!
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Ruby Red Vodka Punch

When Kendra had her family visiting for the holidays a little while back, I knew I had to find a great beverage that was going to keep everyone happy. Since Kendra’s people don’t speak a lick of English, I’ve found that having a cocktail or two lubricates any friction imposed by language barriers. Emily’s Ruby Red Vodka Punch turned out to be the recipe I was looking for. Wow, just pour a few of these beauties, and stand back and watch as everyone bonds with laughter inspired by impromptu pretzel mustaches!

When you’re serving a cocktail for a crowd, there’s really is nothing better or easier than a delicious bowl of punch. In this video, we get a wonderfully refreshing libation recipe from Emily that’s perfect for the holidays. It’s bursting with berries and citrus, so this goes down in a refreshingly dangerous manner. The secret, aside from the fancy berry lined ice cube that Emily creates, is to have all your ingredients chilled beforehand so you have cold punch when everything is all mixed up in a nice looking glass punch bowl!

Here’s how to get your punch on:

Ruby Red Vodka Punch Recipe:

    1/2 Cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
    2 Cups Pomegranate Juice
    1 Cup Cranberry Juice
    (Juice note: Use just straight juice! No sweeteners or blends. Also chill it in the fridge before making your punch)
    1 Cup Vodka
    1 Cup Triple Sec
    1/2 Cup Simple Syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
    Splash of soda (or sparkling wine!)

Serve up each punch with a skewered cranberry for a little seasonal flourish. Then sidle up to the nearest hearth, say hello to a new friend, and extend them a hearty cheers!

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Baked Eggs, Margot style

There are few things as wondrous as a yummy breakfast, and this “baked egg” technique was a revelation! I’m new to the world of putting eggs into the oven, but after this lesson from my friend Margot you can count me amongst the converted. Instead of a Clam Bake, why not invite your friends for a weekend morning Egg Bake party? My wife Kendra loves eggs, so this was a great addition to our ovoid repertoire and a big hit with the members of her volleyball team.

I’ve discovered that you can actually go a lot of different directions with this recipe, if you want. Try adding a wedge or two of fresh tomato, some steamed red peppers, or some beautifully sautéed onions, or anything else you think would be yummy. There are no rules to Egg Bake! (Except to try not to hard cook your yolks. That’s one rule I guess.)

Here’s how Margo bakes her eggs:

Baked Eggs for 2 people

    4 Eggs
    2 Split and toasted Thomas’ English Muffins
    4 or 5 strips of Bacon
    3 healthy handfuls of washed spinach (about 1 bag, or 6 ounces)
    4 teaspoons of cream (one for each muffin)
    Salt & Pepper

Baking Note: Keep an eye on your eggs to make sure you don’t overcook them!

Don’t have any ramekins to bake your eggs in? This is a great ramekin set to get! Otherwise, I’ve gotten creative and have baked eggs in a pyrex dish too. You just need to build little walls with your spinach on top of the muffin to keep your egg controlled. My wife Kendra loves kitchen engineering challenges, so she just has the greatest time constructing walls and moats and bacon buttresses to make this work without a ramekin.

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