Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Homemade Ginger Ale and Taco Bowls

About a month ago Todd and I went to dinner at Communal in Provo.  A neighbor friend highly recommended their homemade ginger ale and I can say without reservation that after my first swig I was officially obsessed.   

After a couple of weeks of ginger ale on the brain it was time to make my own version at home.  The recipe I found makes a ginger ale that is refreshing, light, and leaves a slight burn in the back of your throat; it's perfect and was the perfect thing to wash down our taco bowls inspired by Smitten Kitchen.

I love making a meal that has no meat, but is completely satisfying, delicious and leaves no one complaining (except for Noah who doesn't like rice (Who doesn't like rice?)). 

I am also obsessed with anything I can top with sour cream, diced onions, pickled onions and jalapenos, cheese, avocado, and cilantro (oh and some crunched up tortilla chips).

This meal came together in a flash thanks to my handy, dandy pressure cooker that makes cooking brown rice a snap.  Without the pressure cooker it would still be a breeze it would just add a little extra cooking time for which ever grain fits your fancy. 

Homemade Ginger ale

1 1/2 cups peeled, diced ginger (7 ounces)
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
Chilled club soda
Fresh lime juice

Cook ginger in water in a saucepan at a low simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes, turn off heat and let steep, covered, for 20 minutes.

Strain ginger/water mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing on ginger.  Discard ginger and return liquid to saucepan.  Add sugar and a pinch of salt.  Heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved.  Chill syrup in a covered jar until cold.

To assemble ginger ale, gently mix together 1/4 cup ginger syrup, 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, and 3/4-1 cup chilled club soda.  Pour into a cold glass jar with lots of crushed ice and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Recipe from Epicurious

Red Bean and Green Grain Taco Bowl

2 fresh poblano chile peppers
1 cup cilantro leaves (I just chopped off the leaves and a few stems from one bunch)
1/2 large white onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*3 cups water (amount needed for wheat berries, adjust if needed)
*1 cup uncooked wheat berries
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 finely chopped chipotle from a can
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup water
2 15-ounce cans small red beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt to taste

Minced white onions
Pickled onions
Pickled jalapenos
Shredded Cheese
Sour cream
Sliced Avocado
Crunched up tortilla chips

In a blender, combine poblanos, cilantro, onion, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher with a splash of water and puree until smooth.  In a medium saucepan, combine wheat berries, 3 cups of water, 3/4 of green poblano puree and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 1 hour or until grains a chewy-tender.  Add remaining green puree and cook 5 minutes more.

In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until sizzling and fragrant.  Add chipotle, cumin, oregano, and tomato paste and cook together for one minute.  Add water, beans, salt to taste, and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 10 minutes on low.

To assemble, add a scoop (or two) of beans and grains side by side to a bowl.  Top with whichever topping float your boat (I say go big or go home, but my kiddies think otherwise).

*I used brown rice instead of wheat berries because it is what I had.  I cook my brown rice in a pressure cooker because it's faster and I use 2 1/2 cups water, 2 cups brown rice, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and for this recipe I added 3/4 of the green poblano puree.  Right before serving I added the remaining puree.

Recipe barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen