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Need something to warm you up during this artic blast?

Published January 21, 2014 by jenmatteson

We had a long awaited drink tasting party at our house in December, with a Secret Santa theme.  We’d already had a holiday drink theme a few years ago, so we wanted to keep it holiday-ish, but also not do the same theme we’ve had in the past.  What we did was draw names out of a hat to decide who had who as a Secret Santa.  Each couple or person was assigned a secret ingredient from their Secret Santa, which was required to be in their drink.  We definitely had some interesting ingredients – wasabi, lychee fruit, Chinese five spice (what we assigned :P), and then we had some main stream ingredients, such as ginger and oranges, which is what we were assigned.

Though we had a pretty common ingredient, we still wanted to make something somewhat creative, so we made a spiced cider with brandy.  I wasn’t really sure that I liked brandy before this experiment, but it goes perfectly with this cider recipe.  Nate and I have made it on Sunday to drink with the early football game!

It’s mostly a combination of spices you’ll already have in your collection, plus cider, oranges and brandy.  Pretty simple, right?  Oh, and it tastes so good, especially if you are nursing a cold!

Spiced Cider with Brandy

Orange You Glad this Cider has Brandy In It?

(Sorry, we couldn’t come up with a better name, and I wanted to use my secret ingredient in the title – lame, I know)

Source: Adapted from Unknown Source (Nate found it and was never able to find it again :()
Servings: 8-10

Ingredients:

12 cups apple cider
1/2 cup orange juice
1 orange, cut into rounds
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
1 oz fresh peeled ginger
1 1/2 cups brandy

Directions:

1. In a deep saucepan, mix all ingredients except brandy.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain cider into mugs and serve with a dash of brandy, if desired.

Recipe Swap: Jalapeno Cilantro Pesto Crusted Tuna

Published June 7, 2013 by jenmatteson

This week’s edition of recipe swap, hosted by Sarah at Taste of Home Cooking, was Mexican.  I was assigned creamy citrus jalapeno cilantro pesto from Jey at The Jey of Cooking.  I love pesto and I WC-Recipe-Swap-badge-1love cilantro and jalapenos, so I was looking forward to making this.  The ingredients were somewhat similar to the cilantro pesto I recently made from Thug Kitchen, but with the addition of citrus, which was appealing.

Jalapeno Cilantro Pesto Crusted Tuna

I had to change a few things from Jey’s original recipe, but not much.  Her recipe calls for pistachios, which I love, but Nate is allergic.  So instead, I used almonds.  I also had to add additional cilantro because my pesto was very watery.  I used the juice of one orange and 1/2 grapefruit, but maybe my fruit was really big or extra juicy, because I couldn’t get the pesto to thicken up as pictured on Jey’s post.  I added almost no oil because it was already so runny.  I should have added the juice a little at a time, but now I know for next time.

Jalapeno Cilantro Pesto Crusted Tuna

Jey recommended serving this over chicken or tossing with pasta.  Seeing as though I’m really getting down to the wire for my 30 Before 30 list, I thought I’d take a risk and try it with tuna and check another item off.  All the flavors go really well together, so Citrus Jalapeno Cilantro Pestowhile it was a risk, it wasn’t by any means epic.  I marinated the tuna steaks in the pesto for about 30 minutes – I didn’t want to do it too long so as to start to cook the tuna with the acid in the pesto.  After quickly searing the tuna, I sliced and served it over a wasabi vinaigrette slaw and drizzled additional pesto over the tuna.  Not only was the tuna cooked to perfection (we like it rare, but feel free to cook it further if you like), but the pesto added the perfect amount of flavor, without over taking the clean taste of the tuna.  The crusted pesto added the perfect amount of crisp to the outside of the tuna, while the drizzled pesto added it a little more freshness. Nate and I both quickly cleaned our plates and adored this recipe!

Jalapeno Cilantro Pesto Crusted Tuna

Jalapeno Cilantro Pesto Crusted Tuna

Source: Cilantro Pesto slightly adapted from Jey of Cooking, Tuna is Pigzilla original
Servings: Pesto makes about 1 1/2 cups, 2 servings of tuna

Ingredients:

For the cilantro:
1 orange, juiced
1/2 grapefruit, juiced
1 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cup almonds
1 bunch cilantro
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded
6 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
2 tbsp honey
1-3 tbsp olive oil

For the tuna:
2-8 oz sushi/sashimi grade tuna steaks
salt and pepper
olive oil

Directions:

1. To prepare the cilantro pesto, combine walnuts, almonds, cilantro, onion, jalapeno and garlic in a food processor.  Pulse a few times, until ingredients are well combined.  Add juices a little at a time – you might not need all of it – until pesto comes together and has thick consistency.  With processor on, drizzle in olive oil until pesto has reach desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Season tuna steaks with salt and pepper then coat with pesto.  Refrigerate for up to 30 minutes.

3.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-high and add tuna steaks.  For rare tuna, cook for about 3 minutes on one side.  Turn steak up on one end and cook for one minute more.  Turn once more, so first seared side is facing up.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Finally, turn once more, cooking the edge that has not yet been seared.  Remove from heat and let rest for at least to minutes.  Slice thinly and dress with additional jalapeno cilantro pesto.  (I served mine over a wasabi vinaigrette slaw and a little basmati rice).

Check out what the other ladies did for the Mexican Recipe Swap:

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