Friday, April 28, 2017

Ginger Lemonade

Recently I was at a bookstore with a nice café for a signing. Since I was supposed to read something and I was thirsty, I ordered a cold drink. I was in a daring mood and asked for a ginger lemonade, which I’d never tried. And I really liked it!

I’m trying to find alternatives to caffeinated drinks—I confess that I love coffee and tea and various forms of iced tea, but that can add up to a lot of caffeine. But I haven’t been impressed by the non-caffeine commercial varieties of drinks. This, however, fit the bill nicely.

So I went looking for recipes for ginger lemonade. (I admit that you can always go the easy route: buy a gallon plastic jug of supermarket lemonade and a bottle of ginger syrup (if you can find or order one), mix and pour over ice. Done.) But where’s the fun of that? And how many preservatives come along for the ride? Ginger lemonade is pretty simple to make.

I was surprised to find a range of possible recipes online, and no two were the same. although they all boil down (a pun!) to making some sort of ginger/lemon syrup.

Variations include: how to deal with the ginger (slice or grate), what ratio of lemon juice to water to use, whether or not to include lemon peel, and what kind of sweetener to use and how much. But no matter how you make it, it makes a great drink for a hot day. Me, I opted for simple (I hate to grate anything—I’m always sure I’ll grate my fingers).

Ginger Lemonade


That thing in the middle is my lemon squeezer
6 cups water
1-1/4 cup sugar
2 ounces of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced 
     (you should have about 1/3 cup of slices)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (three large lemons)

Sliced ginger


Steeped ginger and sugar
Combine one cup of water, the sugar and the sliced ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool (the longer it sits, the more intense the ginger flavor).

Juice from three lemons
Strain the mixture through a sieve into a pitcher. Add the remaining 5 cups of water and the lemon juice and stir. Serve over ice.

I was happy with the results. It might taste a bit sweet to some people at first, but if you add ice it will get diluted. I thought the juice:water ratio was just right. Feel free to experiment, especially on hot summer days!

One interesting point: I have a lot of vintage cookbooks, so I went looking in them to see if there was a ginger lemonade recipe from the past. I couldn’t find one. There are plenty of gingerbread or ginger cookie recipes, going back centuries, but nothing using fresh ginger. And then it hit me: it probably wasn’t available. Powdered ginger is easy to make and ship, but most ginger grows in exotic and distance places, and the fresh kind wouldn’t last over a long ocean voyage. So oddly enough, ginger lemonade seems to be a relatively modern recipe.

A note to my readers: I will be attending the Malice Domestic mystery conference in Maryland for a few days, along with many of my writer friends. If I don't respond to your comments immediately, that's my excuse! But I will read them when I return, I promise!

And if you're looking for summer reading and it's hot, try my County Cork series--the weather is pleasantly cool there all summer. The most recent book, Cruel Winter, takes place during a snowstorm!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Roasted Veggies on a bed of Spinach, #recipe from Linda Wiken, author

Spinach is my new favorite veggie. It must be. I use it all the time. I have it steamed or sauted at least once or twice a week; I sometimes have it for breakfast with a poached egg on top; and sometimes, I come up with something new.

Like this recipe. It may be based on something I read on one of the blog sites I regularly go to:  Food 52, Bon Appetit, Add a Pinch to name a few. Or maybe it’s from the newspaper or one of the food magazines I subscribe to -that would be a total of  four, with another two I pick up at the store whenever the front cover entices me to take it home.

I think this recipe would go great with anything – meat, fish, other veggies. And, it’s so easy to switch out the veggies you choose to include.

Let me know what you serve it with if you try it, please. I’m interested.

Here’s what I used: (for two servings)

8 medium sized mushrooms, quartered
2 sweet orange peppers, sliced
2 sweet yellow peppers, sliced
1 fennel, cut in half then sliced; use the fern part as garnish
1 lb. fresh spinach
virgin olive oil (about 2 tbsp)
regular olive oil (about 3 tbsp)
Mrs. Dash or another herb mixture to taste

What to do: 

1.  Preheat oven to 400 F.

2.  Wash then slice the veggies, except for the spinach, placing them in a large bowl. Add enough virgin olive oil to cover; add Mrs. Dash or whatever herb mixture you're using and toss.  

3.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange veggies on it. When oven is ready, place inside for about 20 minutes.
3. Wash the spinach, taking care to remove any sand; remove long stems; set aside.

4. When time remaining for the veggies is 5 minutes, heat regular olive oil in skillet (enough to coat the bottom) and saute the spinach for about 3 minutes. 

5. When everything is ready, place the spinach in the bottom of a serving dish and arrange the roasted veggies on top. Garnish with the fern portion of the fennel.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Gluten-free Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits #recipe from @DarylWoodGerber

With a treat for his pals!

From Daryl aka Avery:

Sparky has been having a few, um, disorders, and I simply had to figure out why. He's a sensitive little guy. Quite highstrung. Was it going to the groomer? Nope. He loves it there. They don't give any unwarranted treats. Going to play time? Nope, loves it there, too, and comes home exhausted. No treats I hadn't authorized there, either.

Our vet had already put him on WD kibble for "diabetic" dogs just because the food was specifically for dogs with sensitive stomachs. That was fine, but Sparky wasn't enamored with the food. It was just "there" if he had to eat. I added chopped turkey or chopped beef and he liked that.

But then the problem started.

I reviewed the treats I was giving him. He's never had any problem with Iams Puppy biscuits, so I ruled those out. He has the occasional treat of peanut butter on a chew bone or antler. No problem.

It had to be the chopped turkey or beef.

I tried removing that and offering cooked yams. Yech. Not a chance. I tried a few other "human" foods. Nope. He wanted nothing to do with them. He wanted meat!

So I read up on sensitive dogs and realized that he really needed to "chew" his food, so I switched his "meat" to stew beef that I cook and cut into Sparky-sized chunks, and voila, new dog. No problems whatsoever. Yay!

In the meantime, I decided to make gluten-free dog biscuits, just in case the Iams or the WD were the issue because of the gluten in them.  His human mom eats gluten-free; maybe he needed to be like me. LOL 

I found this easy recipe. He likes them so much, but he's willing to share with his buddies.

I hope your four-legged pet will like them, too!


1 1/4 cups sweet rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon honey
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients.  This will be a stiff dough. It’s okay. Roll it into a ball.

Set the ball on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Pat down.  Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and roll dough to about 1/2” thickness.  Remove upper parchment paper and work the dough around the edges to seal any “frayed” edges.

If you want, you can cut this with cookie cutters into cute shapes. Nice for giving as gifts to other friendly doggies.

Being lazy, I simply made the rectangle, cut it into approximate square, and moved the squares apart on the sheet. The cookies do not spread. 

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Make the dough

Roll it out.

Parchment paper really helps.

Nice and smooth, about 1/2 inch thick.

Cut into squares. You can probably use cookie cutters.

Squares are easy.

These don't spread.

Nice and crunchy. Keep airtight.


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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Little Chocolate Clouds from Coffeehouse Mystery author Cleo Coyle #Chocolate

With warmer weather finally making its appearance here in New York City, my craving for something chocolate needed to be tempered into something light.

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

The result is this recipe for Little Chocolate Clouds, which I make every spring and throughout the summer. These simple chocolate meringues are easy to whip up and bake. They are bursting with chocolate flavor, yet they're very light and have the added bonus of protein, thanks to the egg whites.

My husband (and partner in crime-writing) loves these sweet, little morsels. He describes them as "little chocolate cotton candies," which perfectly captures their melt-in-your mouth appeal, especially after you soften their crunchy exteriors by dipping them into a cup of warm coffee or tea.

The only tricky technique in making this simple
recipe is whipping up the egg whites...

To watch a quick video tutorial on how to
whip egg whites properly, 
click on the little
white arrow in the window below.



If you don't see a video above, watch the
video on YouTube by
clicking here.

"I had some dreams, they were
in my coffee..." ~ Carly Simon

Little Chocolate Clouds

You can serve these little clouds as a light, after-dinner treat or eat them as a satisfying coffee break snack. You can even float one in a hot coffee or espresso. It will melt into the liquid, giving you a lovely hint of mocha in your cup...

To download a free PDF
of this recipe that you can
print, save, or share,

click here.

Click here for the
free recipe PDF.

Cleo Coyle's
Little Chocolate Clouds

Makes 24 to 30 cookies, depending on size


4 egg whites (room temperature)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (to stabilize the egg whites)
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

Optional decorations: chocolate sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and chopped nuts


Step 1 – Before You Begin: First preheat the oven to 300° Fahrenheit. Some notes to help you get the best results here: Start with a mixing bowl that is glass, metal, or ceramic. The bowl must be free of grease for your egg whites to whip up properly. (Grease clings to plastic bowls, which is why you should not use plastic.) Also, for best results, your egg whites should be room temperature. I simply set my cold eggs in a bowl of warm tap water for 2 to 3 minutes before cracking.

Step 2 – Whip Egg Whites: Place egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt into bowl. Using an electric mixer or handheld whisk, begin to whip the whites. When you see soft peaks begin to form (see "soft peaks" photo below), continue beating while slowly sprinkling in the sugar.

When the egg whites have become stiff and glossy (see "stiff and glossy" photo below), stop whipping. Sift the cocoa over the egg whites and gently fold into the mix. The whites will deflate a little, but that’s okay.

(Below) Egg Whites Beaten into "Soft Peaks"

(Below) Sugar Slowly Added and 
Egg Whites Beaten Until "Stiff and Glossy"

Sifting in the Unsweetened Cocoa

Folding in the Unsweetened Cocoa 

Step 3 – Form Little Chocolate Clouds: Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Make rustic little chocolate clouds by dropping batter by heaping teaspoons onto the paper. As a fun option and to create variety, try sprinkling some with finely chopped nuts, others with shredded coconut, chocolate sprinkles, or a few mini chocolate chips.

Step 4 – Bake in the preheated (300° F.) oven for about 25 to 35 minutes. Meringues should be dry and firm on the outside (not hard just firm) and still gooey in the center. Remove from oven and carefully slide the parchment paper off the hot pan and onto a rack to cool. 

Note: Warm meringues will stick to the parchment paper. But as they cool, they will harden. Then you can easily lift them free and…eat with joy!

Click here for the
free recipe PDF.

☕ ☕ ☕

Eat with joy! 

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Alice and Marc in Central Park. 
Together we write as Cleo Coyle. 

Learn more about us here.
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Visit our online coffeehouse here.

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