Tag Archives: winter

chai pomegranate whiskey spritz | on winter survival

Happy new year!!

I know we are a solid five weeks into 2021. I can still celebrate. 😏 We took down our Christmas tree only six days ago, I just finished writing out my goals for the year, and I’m still sending out HNY cards into February. I honestly don’t know where the last few weeks went, so I’ll blame my tardiness on the haze that was the month of January. I think we can all agree that the month was, for lack of a better descriptor, weird.

With the darker days thankfully growing longer and brighter, I have been embracing all-things-cozy to keep me grounded and positive. It’s been rainy, snowy, and muddy here at the vineyard, so we have had to postpone outdoor projects and either remain glued to our computers or work on finalizing the blends for our 2020 wines. To keep my spirits high, I’ve been making time for muddy walks with the dog, cooking with my husband, giving the house a deep clean, and whipping up some new cocktail recipes.

This Chai Pomegranate Whiskey Spritz was one of my favorites that I made in January, and it features an easy-to-make chai syrup that works well with wintry drinks. The cocktail is rich and savory, with bright, pomegranate notes, and it finishes with a dry, refreshing pop of bubbly.

I’m also sharing the recipe for another cocktail that uses this chai simple syrup, the Rum Reviver, a rum-forward cocktail, which first appeared in the fall 2020 issue of Spoke + Blossom magazine. Both of these cocktails require low-maintenance prep and yield high-impact reward.

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winter citrus salad + blood orange shrub dressing | paired with chenin blanc

Don’t we all wish we could view and present our lives through an Instagram filter? We could give our day-to-day messiness a hazy, golden glow; smudge away the imperfections, late-fees, traffic tickets; paint a ray of sunshine on our grey days; make our piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and dark circles look, somehow, like awe-inspiring works of art; and delete those harsh remarks we’ve made. Count me in!

But how do we ever make changes in our lives, unless we examine ourselves, under close scrutiny, raw and un-retouched? How else do we know when we need to progress or say goodbye to places, people, or habits, which no longer serve us? I remember visiting with a financial planner years ago, a time when my finances were in a bad place. In order to see where my problem areas existed, I was instructed to look back, tally up my past expenditures, and write down everything I was spending on a daily basis. I begged to skip this step. I just wanted to scratch the past and simply move forward from where I was.

Exposing my poor choices to a stranger was terrifying to me. But even more terrifying was coming to grips with my own addictions, my lack of discipline, and my frivolity. I can tell you, however, that if I hadn’t gone through that bitter process of digging deeper, realizing the patterns I’d created, I would most likely be making those same poor choices today.

winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend

You know what’s even more difficult than self-evaluation? When someone else evaluates you, without a prompt, unsolicited. Gulp. I recently came across a blog comment that I must have overlooked somehow. It was written back in October in response to a recipe I had posted. As I read the words, I cringed inside and felt defensive, at first. I adjusted my robe, mirroring the way I felt inside: like someone saw something I didn’t want them to see. But really that was just my ego getting in the way. Someone actually took the time and let me know that the recipe was unclear and even offered a suggestion to enhance my post’s readability.

You know? I am seriously grateful that this person deemed it important to kindly share his thoughts in a constructive fashion. I immediately fixed the problem and even began to look at my recipes with a keener eye {that’s not to say that I am mistake-free from now on!}. If that reader hadn’t taken the time to share his thoughts, I wouldn’t have grown as a writer or matured a little as an individual.

My boyfriend and I sat down together this past week and took a critical look at our garden. The promise of spring, along with the time change and some warmer weather, has gotten us into “planning mode” for our garden. We took out a piece of paper and sketched out three categories: garden failures, garden successes, and aspects we need to improve upon. Granted, it is much easier to discuss the ins and outs of gardening, as opposed to deep soul-searching, but the concept is similar. You’ve got to know your starting point, know your strengths and weaknesses, so that you can move forward and see the results you want – in your life or in your tomato patch.

winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend

Okay. I’ll bring a little levity to this post and talk about a salad I’ve been making lately. I don’t really follow recipes for making salads. In fact, most of the time, I end up either grabbing what’s in season at the store, pulling something from the garden, or sifting through my fridge and assembling something tasty with what’s on hand. I’ve also mentioned it before: you don’t need to follow a strict recipe for a salad dressing, either. And you definitely don’t need to purchase salad dressing from the store. Ever. It is really a simply process and tastes so much more delicious, when you make your own. I tend to follow the following ratio, and it suits me perfectly every time:

—  3 parts oil + 1 part vinegar + squeeze of citrus + seasonings  —

I have recently caught the shrub-making bug and have made three kinds already. I detailed a how-to post last week, in case you missed it. I used my blood orange shrub in the dressing for this citrus salad. It provides a tangy, sweet-sour taste and can substitute the vinegar usually found in dressing recipes.


blood orange shrub vinaigrette


  • 1/3 cup great quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange shrub
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 cup crushed raw pistachios
  • If you don’t have blood orange shrub on hand, you may substitute the shrub with 2 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar. This combo makes a great vinaigrette, but if you’d like a little more blood orange flavor, just add the juice of half a blood orange, or more to taste.
  • I like to combine all of the ingredients in a mason jar and shake well until emulsified.

winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blendwinter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blendwinter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blendwinter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend


winter citrus salad


  • 5 oranges {a mixture of your choice}, skins removed and sliced width-wise
  • 1 Meyer lemon, skins removed and sliced width-wise
  • 1/2 a fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a head of radicchio, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • chiffonade of mint leaves {about 10 leaves}
  • handful of raw, sprouted pumpkin seeds
  • sprinkle of feta cheese
  1. Remove the skins of the citrus with a knife. Slice the citrus width-wise.
  2. Using either a mandoline or a very sharp knife, thinly slice the fennel bulb and the radicchio.
  3. Peel the shallot and slice it super thin.
  4. To make the chiffonade of mint, take the 10 mint leaves, stack them on top of each other, roll them from top to bottom, and slice the roll of leaves thinly.
  5. Arrange the citrus slices, fennel, radicchio, and shallot on two plates {or one, if you’re hungry} and sprinkle the mint, pumpkin seeds, and feta over the top.
  6. Drizzle the salad with dressing and enjoy with a glass of Chenin Blanc.
  • This video show an excellent example of removing the skins of citrus with a knife. Be sure to remove the pith {white part} from the fruit. It’s perfectly fine to eat, but it offers a bitter taste.
  • Don’t know how to chiffonade? Here’s a great visual.
  • This recipe yields about 2 salads.

winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend

I paired this salad with Marvelous “Yellow,” which is a Chenin Blanc-dominated blend from South Africa. This wine is one of my favorite white wines I’ve tasted this past year, and it pairs perfectly with this citrus-fennel salad. The Marvelous wine portfolio is a collaboration among winemaker Adam Mason, chef Peter Tempelhoff and passionate wine entrepreneur Charles Banks. They also make the “Red” {a Syrah-led blend} and the “Blue” {a Cab Franc-led blend}.


Marvelous “Yellow”, Chenin Blanc Blend, South Africa, 2012


  • Off the vine  –  Chenin Blanc {60%}, Chardonnay {30%}, and Viognier {10%}, sourced from the Western Cape.
  • On the eyes  –  brilliant, pale yellow.
  • On the nose  –  wildly aromatic, with notes of white flowers, lush, tropical fruits, and a hint of golden apple and lime.
  • On the palate  –  dry, medium-bodied, with a silky mouth-feel, vibrant acidity, and a mineral-driven finish. The palate confirms the nose with bright, tropical fruits, a hint of vanilla, citrus, and ripe, golden apple. It’s the perfect balance of flavor, texture, and acidity. You can really sense what each grape brings to the wine.
  • On the table  –  perfect with citrus salads, grilled chicken, or a buttery, spring pea risotto.
  • On the shelf  –  around $15, which is a crazy value.
  • On the ears  –  paired with some Samia Farah from her 1999 self-titled album. This Tunisian-French singer’s style mingles among the jazz, pop, and reggae genres and conjures up images of lazy, hazy summers. This album is a standard for the sunny months of June, July, and August. It is the perfect putzing-around-in-the-yard music. I especially like the track, “Je Sais”; I tend to blast it on mornings-off, over coffee, out in the garden. This video will clue you in on her sound even further.

tulips before the snowstormour backayard in the snowcat pawprints in the snow

I’ll close with some wintry shots I took with my iPhone on a walk a few days ago. We finally got some well-deserved sunshine and warmth today, and I even cracked some sparkling rosé and donned the tank top. Maybe it was a bit premature {insert goosebumps and a little teeth-chattering}, but it was worth it!

Cheers to an amazing rest-of-the-week, peppered with a little introspection and some self-growth!

XO,

Jayme

snowy walk snowy walk snowy walk snowy walk snowy walksnowy walksnowy walksnowy walksnowy walk...and my sorrelssnowy walk

 

jalapeño-infused blood orange margaritas + savoring the goodness of winter

Although it has been nearly three weeks since my last post, believe it or not, blood oranges are still showing up at my grocery in vibrant form.  Aside from recently attempting blood orange marmalade for the first time, making blood orange vinaigrette for a winter salad, and enjoying a few Sunday blood orange mimosas, I have also been dreaming up renditions of blood orange margaritas.  They’ve kept me quite busy on my evenings off and have quenched the thirsts of a couple of friends, who have stopped by.  The conversations lingered, and the juicing continued long after the first sip.

Margaritas are a rather simple cocktail to craft.   Traditionally, the classic recipe calls for 2 ounces Tequila, .75 ounces Cointreau, .75 ounces lime juice, with the option to add simple syrup for additional sweetness or balance.  This is a great place to start.  You can always add different citrus juices, change up the style of Tequila, or even infuse the simple syrup or the Tequila for some interesting iterations.  I had some jalapeño peppers from last season’s garden waiting for me in the freezer, so I placed one of them, sliced and unseeded,  in a jar, and filled it up with a cup of silver Tequila.  I let it sit and mingle over night in the refrigerator.  By morning, it was a beast of a spicy spirit, perfect for pairing with tart blood oranges and fresh limes.  Seeding the jalapeño is probably a good idea, for those who are rather faint at heart.  I tend to walk on the wild side.

Jalapeño-Infused Blood Orange Margaritas

  • 2 ounces jalapeño-infused Tequila {I use a silver or blanco Tequila for a clean taste}
  • 1/2 ounce orange liqueur {Leopold Bros. makes an excellent example, #coloradorepresent!}
  • juice of one lime
  • juice of one large blood orange
  • agave nectar, to taste {you may need more, if your Tequila is super spicy}

Build the ingredients in a shaker tin, filled with ice, and shake it like crazy to integrate.  Pour the liquid, along with the ice into a salt-rimmed highball and grace it with a slice of lime or blood orange round.  I love the balance of spicy, sweet, citrus in this particular margarita.

Closing with some photos and Instagrams from the past couple of weeks.  Denver never leaves you bored, as far as weather patterns go.  After a few snow-filled days, balmy afternoons hovering around the upper 60s returned, thankfully.  I took full advantage of them and visited one of my favorite local parks, Castlewood Canyon State Park.

The south trail of Castlewood Canyon is an excellent cardio session first thing in the morning, with a nearly vertical rocky stairway. The park covers 12 miles of trails.

The lower trail that follows the creek, boasting views of waterfalls and fallen rocks. I’d wait until mud season is over before braving the snow-covered shadowy trail along the creek. Cleaning my car from all of the acquired mud on my shoes was a lot of fun.

Another impromptu blood orange cocktail, made with Prosecco, thyme simple syrup, Solerno blood orange liqueur, and Campari.

The first pops of green in our garden about a week ago! Crocuses have arrived.

Giant alliums have emerged, as well, signalling spring’s upcoming debut.

My wish came true this week, and I was able to taste a portion of the Egly-Ouriet Champagne portfolio, one of the best grower Champagnes around. I seriously thought about it the night before, and the next day, one of our representatives brought a bottle by. Talk about instant gratification!

They follow us, wherever we go…corks outside our house. The neighbors must think we have a serious problem.

Sweet Ash cat, sharing some tea and sleeping beside me, while I study up on Argentine Malbec.

Enjoy your weekend and make some margaritas the right way, with freshly squeezed juices and quality products.  You’ll thank me in the morning!  If you need further inspiration for what to do with your overabundance of blood oranges, look no further than here:

whole wheat pancakes with blood orange butter + thyme maple syrup

If you ever drop by our house mid-morning on a Sunday, you will most likely find us in the kitchen, creating something decadent.  Regardless if I work that evening, I make sure that Sunday is a day for gratitude, enjoyment, celebration, and general relaxation.  I want to savor those feelings and take them with me for the rest of the week.  Why wouldn’t you?

With blood oranges showing up everywhere lately, I was immediately inspired to do something creatively with them last Sunday.  Blood orange butter sounded just about right, paired with thyme-infused maple syrup over whole wheat pancakes.  This brunch spread sounds complicated, but it all took under 45 minutes and was completely worth the effort.

I adapted a recipe for whole wheat pancakes from Fifteen Spatulas and added toasted pecans, a touch of cinnamon, and some delicious vanilla extract, locally crafted by Ashlae of Oh, Ladycakes.  I think I ended up eating about five!  No regrets.

Whole Wheat Pancakes – adapted from Fifteen Spatulas

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  •  1 cup buttermilk {or 1 cup milk, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice}
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter, plus a little extra for cooking the ‘cakes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

Firstly, if you do not have any buttermilk available, combine 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, stir, and set aside, while you prepare the other ingredients.  Sift the dry ingredients.  Whisk the wet ingredients together.  Combine the two, leaving plenty of lumps.  The lumps give pancakes their fluffiness factor, so don’t whisk them away.  On a hot griddle, melt a little butter and pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter, flipping them over, once their sides are bubbly.  Serve with blood orange slices, thyme maple syrup, and blood orange butter.

Blood Orange Butter – adapted from Food Network

Ingredients:

  • zest from 1 blood orange
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice {citrus is easier to juice at room temperature and releases the most juice}
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur {I used Leopold Bros. orange liqueur}

Whisk the sugar and butter in a standing mixer, until light and fluffy.  Add the blood orange juice, salt, and orange liqueur, incorporating completely.  You may store the butter in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks or freeze the butter for future use.  My boyfriend handed out some of the leftover blood orange butter to friends at work last week.  Many of them ate it directly out of the jar, and several friends suggested spreading it on top blueberry muffins or serving it alongside steamed Dungeness crab.  I think having this on hand will prompt many creative opportunities!

Thyme Maple Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quality, grade B maple syrup {why grade B is better}
  • 2 sprigs of fresh, organic thyme
  • pinch of salt

In a saucepan, combine the maple syrup, salt, and the fresh thyme.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about five minutes to “steep.”  Strain the sprigs through a chinois or strainer and keep the syrup warm on the stove, until you are ready to serve the pancakes.  Keep any unused syrup in the refrigerator for up to a week and simply heat, when you are ready to make some more pancakes.  We didn’t even have to run to the store for this one!  Despite the recent cold weather, there were several sprigs from our perennial thyme plants in the garden, ready for picking.

What brunch recipes are you enjoying?  Have you been obsessed with all of the readily available citrus?  As I type, I am sipping a jalapeño blood orange margarita, while tangerine and habañero marmalade is cooling in the kitchen.  I think I’m officially infatuated.  If only I lived back in Florida, where I could merely pull over at any given fruit stand and enjoy them as fresh as possible!  Florida friends, you are more than invited to box up some citrus and send it my way!

DIY rose salt bath soak | ruinart brut rosé

These recent frigid, snowy days have left me in cozy-up and slow-down mode here lately.  It seems as if I can’t get quite warm enough or relaxed enough or cheered up enough.  And I refuse to stay in that frame of mind.  As I type this post, I am anticipating a long, decadent soak in the tub later this evening to get me out of my {temporary} funk.  And out of my writer’s block for an upcoming post at the Kitchn.  Maybe a hot bath and a glass of bubbly will fix it all.  Here’s hoping!

I made a batch of this rose salt bath soak in late December with my friend, Yvonne, the same day we made candles and other goodies for our families’ Christmas gifts.  After testing out our recipe, I decided that I had to make several baths’ worth of this treat to stow away for myself.  A trip to Apothecary Tinctura in Cherry Creek inspired this recipe.  I spied a jar of their own rose bath salts and noted the ingredients.  I already had the baking soda, sea salt, and Epsom salt on hand, so all I needed to complete the concoction were some dried roses, pink Himalayan sea salt, and rose essential oil, which they conveniently had on hand.

If you are new to the Epsom salt experience, you are in for a serious treat.  Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, is a natural muscle relaxation aid that eases sprains and diffuses aches.  You don’t even need to get all fancy and duplicate this recipe; you simply need to add a cup or two to a hot bath, soak for at least 20 minutes, and experience relaxation nirvana.  That’s a lofty goal, but Epsom salt shows up and follows through.  Just add a few drops of an essential oil of your choice, and you can take it to another sensory level.

Ingredients for Rose Salt Bath Soak:

  • 3 cups Epsom salt
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • crushed, dried rose buds
  • rose essential oil

Gather the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to integrate.  Add a few shakes of the rose essential oil, to your personal taste, stirring along the way to distribute any clumps.  This recipe yields a large jar for yourself or about five 8-ounce jars to give to weary, winter-weathered friends.  You may opt out of the pink Himalayan sea salt, if you are unable to find it easily; I love using it, however, for the rosy color it imparts to the blend.  If you aren’t blessed with a local herbal shop, visit Mountain Rose Herbs for all of the ingredients listed here.  After making my batch, I discovered another rose salt soak interpretation that I can’t wait to try.  Via Erin Boyle at Gardenista, apothecary diva, Briar Winter, shares a rose, cardamom, and ginger body soak that exudes warmth and radiance.

And what indulgent salt soak isn’t complete without a chilled glass of bubbly?  And since I am on a pink streak, I selected one of my favorite Champagnes, Ruinart Brut Rosé, non-vintage.  It is definitely a splurge, but it is worth the monetary expense.  Opt for a half bottle, like I did, to ease any pain to the pocketbook.

Ruinart, Brut Rosé, Reims, France, NV

Breaking it down:  Ruinart is the producer; Brut Rosé is the style of the wine; Chardonnay {45%} and Pinot Noir {55%} are the grapes; Reims is the region within France, pretty much the best spot to source grapes destined for Champagne; and “NV” indicates that the grapes were picked from multiple years and blended.  Ruinart is France’s oldest established Champagne house, producing Champagne since 1729.

  • On the eyes  –  pale pink with hints of orange and salmon, actively bursting with fine bubbles.
  • On the nose  –  vibrantly aromatic, with ripe, red cherry, complemented with floral notes and spicy undertones.
  • On the palate  –  dry, with a lively, delicate mousse; silky, fleshy mouth-feel that confirms the nose with lush pomegranate and a hint of spice.
  • On the table  –  outstanding alone, with light appetizers, with poached salmon or broiled fish…or a lavish bath!
  • On the shelf  –  around $75 for the 750 mL bottle, $45 for my little half-bottle-for-one.
  • On the ears  –  Part of me wants to pair this with Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly,” but that’s way too easy.  This one, however, absolutely nails the very essence of this wine:  The Bird and The Bee‘s “My Love,” off their 2009 album, “Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future.”  Catchy, dreamy, head-over-heels-in-love giddiness, with Inara George’s lilt-like, ethereal voice.  I listen to this song at least once a week.  My boyfriend, Steve, added this track to a sweet playlist he made for me back in 2012.  I fell even harder.

Closing with some recent projects and life around the house.  There seems to be a trend of bringing in the sunnier side of life into the picture, right?!  Do any of you have creative ways that you bring life into the winter season?  Have you tried any fun bubbles lately?  Cheers to a beautiful week ahead!

Our Super Bowl wines, which far surpassed our anticipated outcome of the game: Moet et Chandon’s 2002 Grand Vintage, Domaine Chandon’s étoile, Veuve Clicquot’s Rosé, shown left to right.  #denverstyle

My first foray into cactus terrariums. A how-to post will follow shortly, with the requisite wine pairing, of course!

…and day two of the current terrarium obsession…

Another snippet of the forced paperwhite bulbs experiment.

Tulip and daffodil bulbs were on sale at the garden center for $1 apiece! Completely worth a try at planting them for some spring color.  #score

Blending up our “yard blend” of dried culinary herbs from our summer garden. So excited to release this with our “hot” pepper blend in a couple of weeks!