The Holiday Post That Wasn’t…

Hi all, so sorry I’ve been gone for so long! This heat wave has been unbearable and thank goodness the heat is finally starting to break! I’ve been on a popsicle diet since the 4th…kiddin’…but seriously, it’s been so hot that the last thing I wanted to do was turn on stove or oven. I did however have a fourth of July cookout and was so ready to write about all the food and festivities but planning a BBQ for 15-20 people in 98 degree weather with chance of rain is not as pretty as all those food magazines make it seem. Now I’ve planned events before for large groups but the heat, compounded with a rainy forecast and my puppy chewing up my laptop’s power cord kind of threw things into a tailspin and by that point I was just done, spent. So the puffy pom poms I was going to use to decorate outside, the cute red, white and blue cupcake flags, the banner and streamers, the sparklers, all those party props just went out the door. I was so disappointed but then thought who can actually do all of that without a crew of people? Next time I’ll be a little more prepared and appoint a few but not going to beat myself up about it now. So here is a little something I made that maybe you can make for Labor Day or when ever your heart desires.

I saw these on Pinterest a while ago and just thought they were so adorable. Since I always like to spice things up I made my own version with white chocolate and cayenne pepper. You can also make these with milk chocolate or dark chocolate and skip the sugar.

Strawberries dipped in Spicy White Chocolate

1 pint strawberries
1/2 lb white chocolate
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
blue sugar

Melt the chocolate in a double broiler and stir briskly. Add the cayenne pepper and stir. Dip a strawberry then dip again in a bowl of blue sugar. Repeat until all strawberries and dipped. Keep in the refrigerator if you’re not going to serve right away.

Ginger Tea Time! Or as my family would say “Jengibre!”

I started getting the house ready for the holidays this past week. I bought my Christmas tree, started putting up decorations, and turned on my chili pepper lights! Yes, I’ve had those lights for about 10 years and they still light up.

To kick off the festivities that always surround the holidays I hosted a ginger tea party at my place last night with a small group of family members. Ok, this was not of the pinkies raised variety with cute little sandwiches (which I love) but a traditional Dominican holiday gathering that has gone on in my family since I was a kid. Visit any Dominican household in the month of December and you’re sure to be offered a very spicy cup of jengibre (which by the way just means “ginger” and also the name of event). Usually the events are held weekly with someone from the family hosting at their home and is done until Noche Buena (Christmas Eve). Jengibre is always served with plain soda crackers but I always use it as an opportunity to try new appetizers or desserts before serving the tea. This breaks a little from tradition since the tea is the main focus of the event but it’s a nice way to keep everyone around a bit longer and marks the beginning of the holiday season. This is a time to sit back and relax, catch up with friends and family, and enjoy a hot, spicy drink on a chilly December evening. It’s such an easy drink to make and the house smells wonderful afterwards.

To make Jengibre, add about a pound of mashed up ginger root to a pot filled with water and let boil for about an hour. You’ll boil off about half the mixture. You can also add a couple of cinnamon sticks if you like but I usually go without. The longer you let it boil, the spicier the tea. Be sure to mash up the ginger well with a wooden mallet or anything heavy that will break up the root. You want to extract as much of the spicy juices as possible when it’s boiling. I can tell it’s done when color turns a dark caramel or dark amber. Pour yourself a cup and sweeten however you like.

Enjoy the holidays! Traditions are so important in our family and looking forward to our next Jengibre! What are holiday traditions in your family? Please share, I’d love to hear about them!