Soda jerks.

Did Scott like my Blackberry Mint Soda recipe, or did it put our marriage in peril? Let's find out.

Say, do you remember last week when we made three types of vodka sodas? If you don’t, then I bet you’ve been making them every night since! Now, if you would, sober up just long enough to see how my taste test went.

As soon as I wrapped up taping for the vodka soda video, my husband walked in from work. Is there anything more American than having a cocktail ready to go when you’re husband walks in the door? I mean, aside from the overwhelming amount of camera gear, the ingredients in the glass that were not vodka and the fact that we’re both dudes, it was like a scene out of “Mad Men.”

Remember, the Strawberry, Lemon and Basil Soda and Spicy Ginger Soda recipes were from bon appetit, and I made up the Blackberry Mint Soda recipe on the spot. Did Scott like mine as well as the chef’s recipes? Watch and find out.

Also: I told you about how protective he is of that flour sifter!

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Soda three ways

Blackberry Mint Soda, Strawberry, Basil and Lemon Soda and Spicy Ginger Soda

I read about the trend of restaurants making their own sodas in the latest bon appetit and was intrigued. I decided I’d give it a shot soon. Moments after that, I thought, “Oh boy — I can add lots of vodka when I make mine!” Moments after that, I was at the grocery store. Moments after that, I was making this video for you so you can make your own, too. All told, these were some pretty productive moments.

I decided to try bon appetit’s Strawberry, Lemon and Basil Soda and Spicy Ginger Soda recipes. Then I created my own — a Blackberry Mint Soda.  The idea here is simple enough: take fresh fruits, herbs and spices and bring soda water to life with their flavors. I used a different technique for each — muddling the ingredients, making a puree and making a simple syrup. This is easy stuff, and definitely worth doing. Mashing strawberries and basil in a glass with some lemon juice, sugar and salt takes but a few moments.

There’s nothing special about the soda water here, either. It may be called seltzer water or sparkling water. Club soda works, too, if you can’t find those, but it may have a slight flavoring to it, whereas soda water is just carbonated water.

I shot a taste test with a very special guest for these three sodas; I’ll have that video ready for you soon. But suffice to say, my Blackberry Mint Soda was an experiment and an attempt to compare the muddling method with the pureeing method. Truth be told, next time around, I’m just going to muddle everything in the glass or make a simple syrup. The puree took a few extra steps that didn’t add much to the flavor or texture.

Blackberry Mint Soda (in the video)
Puree 2 pints of fresh blackberries. Pour two tablespoons of the puree into a glass, rip up six mint leaves, fill the glass with ice, fill with soda water and top with a shot of vodka.

Blackberry Mint Soda (just do it this way)
Muddle eight blackberries, a tablespoon of sugar and six mint leaves in a glass. Fill the glass with ice, fill with soda water and stir to chill. Strain into another glass filled with ice (unless you’re fine with a chunky soda … . (I am.)). Top with a shot of vodka.

Before shooting this video, I asked on Facebook and Twitter what flavors I should make. Two flavors that piqued my interest: pear cardamom and lavender lemonade. What flavors of soda would you make?

Enchilada leftovers

Last week, we made Layered Potato and Spinach Enchiladas as we drank Tequila Fresca and snacked on nacho. A good time was had by all. If you did not have a good time, you did something wrong.

Those enchiladas were delicious. And they were easy. But I still had some oopsies along the way. And so, in the grand tradition of that one other time I offered you my leftovers, today I give you my enchilada leftovers — the things that didn’t make the cut.

Mistakes are part of what make cooking fun. Enjoy mine.

Layered Potato and Spinach Enchiladas

Hello, friends. It’s Fat Tuesday. Let’s get fat together by eating a generous portion of delicious Mexican melting cheese.

Today I made my Layered Potato and Spinach Enchiladas for you. Why layered, rather than rolled? To cram in as much food as possible into a single baking dish. More food means more cheese. More cheese means more happy. Unless you’re lactose intolerant, in which case our definitions of true happiness likely differ a great deal. I’m a healthy eater, but, dude, I like cheese.

OK, I have a trick to make this not fattening at all, but you’ll have to watch the entire video to learn the six steps involved in getting there.

Layered Potato and Spinach Enchiladas

Layered Potato and Spinach Enchiladas

Layered Potato and Spinach Enchiladas

  • 2 lbs. red, fingerling or purple potatoes (or a whimsical combination)
  • 20 oz. fresh spinach or 2 10 oz. packages of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of corn
  • half an onion, diced
  • 1 T olive oil or vegetable oil
  • chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (optional)
  • serrano pepper (optional)
  • love (optional)
  • 18 corn tortillas
  • 2 10 oz. cans of enchilada sauce (I grab a 28 oz. can just to play it safe)
  • 4 C Chihuahua cheese
  • 2 T cumin
  • 2 t chili powder
  • sour cream
  • green onions, diced
  • tequila
  • Peach Fresca
  • sea salt
  • single tortilla chip

First things first. Make your Tequila Fresca.

Boil the potatoes, whole and unpeeled, about 25 minutes.

Heat the oil and sauté the onions until glistening, about two minutes. Add the spinach and, if fresh, toss with tongs until wilted.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Chop one chipotle pepper and add to spinach mixture, as well as some of the adobo sauce. Slice the serrano pepper and add as well. Stir. If you’re feeling brave, add one more chipotle pepper. If you’re trying to impress someone with your heat tolerance, add the whole can. I will miss you.

Coat the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with enchilada sauce. Layer six tortillas evenly. Coat lightly with more enchilada sauce.

Drain the potatoes and cool slightly. Either cut into 1-inch cubes or just break them up with a spatula. Throw them in a mixing bowl. Add the black beans, corn, cumin and chili powder. Stir well.

Add the potato mixture to the baking dish. Smash it in. We need room for a lot of food. Add cheese. Be generous.

Check your Tequila Fresca. Are you 1/3 of the way through? Try to keep up.

Add six more tortillas. Coat lightly with enchilada sauce. Layer the spinach mixture evenly on top. Smash it down. Add more cheese. Yes, be generous again.

We’re going into the later layer. Is your Tequila Fresca 2/3 gone? Go on. Catch up.

Add the last six tortillas. Tuck them into the dish if necessary. Coat with enchilada sauce. Don’t let any part of the tortillas remain exposed. Add the rest of the cheese. If you have extra cheese, reward yourself with nacho.

Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for another 10 minutes, ensuring cheese has had appropriate time to melt and hug other ingredients. Now you’ve got 40 minutes. Make more Tequila Fresca. Make more nacho. But only one at a time! You don’t want to fill up.

Let the enchiladas cool about 10 minutes. Slice into 8 pieces, equally are according to how much you enjoy the company of those you are serving. Garnish with sour cream and green onions. Serve with Tequila Fresca.

For when you require one nacho

Last night, I made Layered Potato and Spinach Enchiladas. And I filmed it all. Just for you.

Now, I don’t have the video ready to go yet, but I do have another offering for you. In the grand tradition of using tortilla chips as vehicles to eat all of the ingredients as you cook a Mexican dish, I give you this — my top-secret recipe for making nacho.

That’s right. Nacho. Singular.

Earlier this week, I gave you my leftovers. Think of this as an appetizer, before those enchiladas are ready for you.

Fun Fact: It’s really hard to look like a normal person in the randomly assigned screenshot YouTube assigns. Please enjoy how strange I look. I do it all for you.

Fun Fact 2: Want to stay in touch? Use the e-mail sign-up form on the right to get an update every time I publish a new post.

Fun Fact 3: I think you’re great.

Let’s have leftovers

Butternut Squash and Asparagus with Rigatoni in a Ricotta Cream Sauce

Butternut Squash and Asparagus with Rigatoni in a Ricotta Cream Sauce

I wanted to show you how to make my layered vegetable enchiladas last night. I couldn’t. I couldn’t because our fridge is packed so full that I could not fit another thing in it, much less the ingredients I needed to make the dish.

I’ve been cooking faster than we can eat lately, despite hosting two dinner parties in a row this weekend. I cook, and shop at Costco, as if I’m a caterer, regardless of how many people I’m serving. I admit it. I have a problem. I say, if you’re going to have a problem, make it a delicious one. Like cooking too many meals. And whisky!

So, in an effort to make room in the fridge, we had leftover spinach and goat cheese tarts from one of the dinner parties, and a dish I made up last week with what I happened to have. It turned into rigatoni tossed with butternut squash and asparagus in a ricotta cream sauce.

I’m having a lot of fun cooking for you. But most of my fun moments are the ones nobody will see — the oopsies that get cut out of the final videos. But then it occurred to me … why not share my leftovers with you, too? So, today, I give you the leftovers — what was edited out of my first few videos, and a few things you haven’t seen yet.

Cooking should be fun. Mistakes happen. I’m also a grown man staying up late at night talking to a camera on a tripod in his kitchen in the name of documenting his cooking. Odds were pretty good that my conversations with the camera wouldn’t always make sense.

What you can do to help public broadcasting

I don’t have a recipe for you today. I have a request for your time.

You could say Lynne Rossetto Kasper is my hero. She’s the host of American Public Media’s “The Splendid Table,” and her program has nurtured my love of food and cooking for years. Every week, “The Splendid Table” reminds me why I cook, and why it has such an important place in my life.

That’s just one of the ways I use public broadcasting every day. From investigative journalism to unparalleled cultural programming, it informs me and entertains me, and it’s helped shape my life.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution to eliminate federal funding for public broadcasting. Soon, the Senate will begin work on its version of the bill.

Public broadcasting has played a big role in my life. The prospect of communities losing public media frightens me, and I know I’m not alone. I urge you to go to 170millionamericans.org to see how you can take action.

Update: I was absolutely thrilled to receive a short note from a producer at “The Splendid Table” saying they loved the video. It made my year.