Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections #2

This is a photo that I took over the summer when the Weekly Photo Challenge theme was urban; but when I was putting that post together, I decided to focus on local architecture instead. I still like this image of a broken down car’s reflection in the window of a tattoo shop, though, so I decided to resurrect it for the reflections challenge.TattooShop

Weekly Photography Challenge: Reflections #1


One of my projects for this past week was to put away our Thanksgiving decorations and put up our Christmas ones. I put the last ornaments on our Christmas tree just this afternoon. It is tempting to share a bunch of photos of the tree; but since it is still November, I figure that my readers will hate me in a few weeks if I go overboard so early. So here is just a peek … our tree lights reflecting in one of the living room windows.

ChristmasTreeReflections

Caramelized Grapefruit

Caramelized Grapefruit

An elegant yet easy to make fruit dish for holiday brunches …

1/2 c. light brown sugar

1 t. ground cinnamon

2 lg. red grapefruit

4 large grapes or maraschino cherries

Preheat oven broiler. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. Cut grapefruits in half crosswise. Use a grapefruit knife to section the grapefruits and to remove centers. Sprinkle brown sugar onto each grapefruit half. Place grapefruits 6 inches under broiler and cook for about 5 minutes or until brown sugar is melted. (Watch grapefruit carefully during this time.) Remove from broiler. Place in dessert bowls or on dessert plates. Put a grape or cherry in the center of each grapefruit half. Serve immediately.

Note: If you do not have a broiler, you can use a chef’s torch to melt sugar. If you do not have a chef’s torch, let the sugar soak into the grapefruit for about 10 minutes before serving. The sugar will not caramelize, but the flavor will still be pleasing.

Black Tea “Sangria”

We served wine and cocktails on Thanksgiving, but I wanted to be sure that we had a special non-alcoholic drink as well. Inspired by a “mocktail” that I came across recently, I created this Black Tea “Sangria” which uses chilled black tea in place of wine. It turned out quite well. Even though Thanksgiving is over, I thought that I would share this easy recipe because it could be served at any holiday party. It is very festive. Enjoy!

Black Tea Sangria

(approximate measurements)

6 c. cold water

4 black tea bags*

1/2 c. sugar

4 1/2  c. pomegranate juice**

2 1/2  c. orange juice

Orange, lemon, and/or apple slices

1. In a medium-size pot, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat, add tea bags, and cover with a lid. Allow tea to steep for about 15 minutes. Remove tea bags. Stir in sugar until completely dissolved. Allow to cool.

2. Pour cooled tea into a pitcher. Stir in fruit juices. Refrigerate for several hours to overnight. Add fruit slices an hour before serving and continue to chill. If desired, garnish with additional fruit when serving.

* I used black tea with cinnamon. If using plain black tea, one could add a cinnamon stick while it is steeping.

** If pure pomegranate juice is not available, a pomegranate juice blend, or even a cranberry juice blend, would also work well in this recipe.

Preparing for Thanksgiving

I ordered some Amaryllis bulbs early in the Fall in the hopes that they would be in bloom for Thanksgiving. Somehow, I timed it just right. It’s always so nice when things work out that way.

One of the side dishes that I will be preparing on Thursday is Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  The recipe was sent to me by one of our guests. It’s delicious. I tested it out this summer while I was visiting my mother.

Tim’s Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes

4 – 5 large sweet potatoes, washed

8 T. unsalted butter

1/2 c. good Bourbon, or to taste*

1/4 t. vanilla extract

1/2 c. honey, or to taste

1/4 c. brown sugar, or to taste

1/4 t. ground cinnamon, or to taste

milk or cream, just enough to achieve desired consistency

(1) Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork. Cook in microwave until tender or wrap  in buttered aluminum foil and bake at 425 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes or until tender.

(2) Remove sweet potatoes from their skins. Mash together with the remaining ingredients, making adjustments as needed to achieve desired flavor and consistency.

* Note: the alcohol is not “cooked out” in this recipe.

Another one of the side dishes that I’ll be serving is my Cranberry Compote, which I make every year. I prepared the base this morning (photo below) and will add fresh apple just before serving on Thursday.

Cranberry Compote

1 c. granulated white sugar

1/2 c. cold water

6 whole cloves

3 whole allspice

2 cinnamon sticks

1/2 c. dried cranberries

1/2 c. dried apricots, diced

1/2 c. raisins, currants or chopped dried dates

3 c. whole fresh cranberries, washed and picked over

1/2 c. pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped

zest of 1 fragrant orange, finely minced or grated

1 1/2 c. chopped fresh apple or pear, or orange slices, optional

(1) In a medium pot, stir together granulated sugar, water, cloves, allspice and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low so that they syrup is barely at a simmer. Cook 10 minutes. Carefully remove spices.

(2) Add dried cranberries, apricots and raisins, currants or dates to sugar syrup. Bring dried fruits to a simmer  and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in cranberries, pecans and orange zest. Cover. Remove from heat. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes. The cranberries should just begin to pop. If they do not, you may need to return the pot to a low heat for a few minutes.

(3) Serve warm or chill before serving. If desired, stir in apple, pear or orange right before serving.

Note: Cranberry Compote is very versatile. It can be served on its own, mixed into yogurt, or mixed with maple syrup, warmed and served over French Toast. For Thanksgiving, I will be serving it as a chilled side dish.

Now, I’m off to do some more cooking! I’ll try to do a Thanksgiving Preparation, Part II tomorrow or Thursday morn. Just in case I don’t manage to get another post in before the holiday, Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Crazy Good Coconut Oil Coffee

When Veronica of Veronica’s Cornucopia blogged about coconut oil coffee, which she had read about on The Veggie Nook, I thought that it sounded quite strange. Nevertheless,  her enthusiasm about this drink, made me curious; so I decided to try it. At first, I just wound up with an oily cup of coffee because I didn’t read the instructions and so neglected to put the ingredients in a blender. Once I whipped the coffee, though, it turned out perfectly.

I substituted turbinado sugar for stevia and added some shaved chocolate to the top. When I tasted it, I thought that it would make an excellent dessert coffee, especially with a splash of brandy. Being 8:30 in the morning, though, I decided to try that variation on another occasion. Nicole thought that amaretto would be a good addition and then one could have an Almond Joy Coffee (almond, coconut and chocolate).

While I was photographing the coffee, my husband came along and polished off  my prop in about 3 “sips”. So that was the end of my photographs!

One note: since virgin coconut oil is rather expensive, I would save this coffee for special occasions.

Coconut Oil Coffee:

Whip the following together in a blender until frothy and serve topped with shaved chocolate.

1/2 c. hot coffee

2 T. virgin or extra-virgin coconut oil

2 t. turbinado sugar

Whipping the coffee cools it off somewhat. If desired, microwave the coffee afterward to make it hot again.

Enjoy!