Ciambotta Twiins Style (Italian Summertime Vegetable Stew)

Ciambotta Twiins Style (Italian Summer Vegetable Stew)

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy

If you’re lucky enough to have a have a garden with an abundance of fresh vegetables, you must try making some Ciambotta (pronounced chim-botta)! Even if you don’t have a garden, grocery stores are full of a variety of fresh, local produce during the summer. It’s a delicious and nutritious way to use your harvest or take advantage of the fresh produce available now. Ciambotta can also be spelled giambotta, depending on the region of Italy. This version is a southern Italy farm dish. The great thing about this dish is you can use whatever veggies you like. The key is big, equal size cubes or chunks... and it’s naturally Gluten-Free. I served it with crusty whole wheat French bread drizzled with EVOO and Za’atar seasoning. It was delicious. Enjoy. 😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, cubed
  • 8-10 cloves large garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 4-5 golden Yukon potatoes, cubed
  • 6 large Roma tomatoes, skin & seeds removed, cubed
  • 2 medium eggplants, ends removed and cubed
  • 2 medium zucchini, ends removed and cubed
  • 1 large green bell pepper, washed, seeded & cut into big chunks
  • 1 large red bell pepper, washed, seeded & cut into big chunks
  • 1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, washed, seeded & cut into big chunks
  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach (optional)
  • 1 jalapeño (I used jalapeño) or long Italian hot pepper (optional)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 20 fresh basil leaves, torn right before adding
  • 1 sprig Greek oregano, (optional)

Directions

  1. Boil the Roma tomatoes for a few minutes until the skin starts to crack. Remove from boiling water and cool. Once cool enough to handle you can easily peel off the skin., Cut them in half, remove the seeds and cube.
  2. In a minimum 6 qt deep Dutch oven, On medium-high,  heat EVOO until it starts to shimmer.
  3. Add the onions and garlic and turn several times until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeño pepper, zucchini, potatoes, give it a good turn.
  5. Add the eggplants last. Turn well and cook about 10 minutes.
  6. Add salt and black pepper to taste and tear the basil leaves, sprig of Greek oregano (if using) and add to pot. Stir together.
  7. Lower flame to medium-low and cover. Cook about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Now is a good time to prepare any pasta or crusty bread.
  9. For the bread: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Slice the Italian or French bread into 1/2-inch slices and place on foiled baking sheet. Drizzle each piece with EVOO then sprinkle with Za’atar seasoning, garlic powder, & a little sea salt.
  10. Bake about 4 minutes until golden brown. (Bake when Ciambotta is just about done)
  11. Serve in pasta dishes with crusty bread on the side or over pasta & garnish with  fresh basil leaves.

Notes: Serve with crusty gluten-free bread to keep completely gluten-free or use Italian or French bread to soak up the juices! Can be served with pasta too.

Recipe adapted from Pasquale Sciarappa.

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Summertime Bean Salad – Twiins Style

Summertime Bean Salad - Twiins Style

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy

I'm always looking for ways to use the herbs I'm growing in my garden. I have quite a bit of Thai basil which I've made delicious chicken salad and Thai basil Chicken with but I wanted to experiment with other dishes. I made a summertime bean salad and added quite a few Thai basil leaves to see how it tasted...we loved it. You're still getting protein through the beans and this dish delivers big time on flavor. Enjoy by itself in lettuce leaves or as a side dish with no cooking as an added bonus during the hot summer! Naturally Gluten-Free. Enjoy. 😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 oz) Chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 Tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4- 1/3 cup fresh Thai basil, chopped

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, parsley, Thai basil, garlic & pepper. Slowly whisk in the EVOO & set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the rinsed & drained beans, celery, and red onion.
  3. Pour the vinaigrette over the mixture and gently toss to coat evenly.
  4. Garnish with a few Thai basil leaves.

Notes: Leftovers can be added to rice & cooked green beans for a delicious side to basil pesto chicken.

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Zucchini Shrimp Boats

Zucchini Shrimp Boats

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy

With zucchini being so plentiful we’re always trying to come up with new ways to prepare them. Usually, we make zucchini boats stuffed with sausage, and while they are delicious we’ve been trying to incorporate healthier substitutes for sausage & red meat. So, while going through the freezer I found a 2 lb. bag of frozen large uncooked shrimp (from Costco) and decided to make the zucchini boats using the shrimp. This simple recipe came out delicious...mimicking a creamy shrimp scampi minus the pasta. It’s naturally gluten-free and oh so good!😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 4 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 lbs. large shrimp
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons EVOO
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  •  8 oz mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese,  grated
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • parsley, chopped for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Cut each zucchini lengthwise in half. Score the inside leaving a bit of an edge, then scoop out zucchini flesh and set aside in a medium bowl.
  3. Place each zucchini in a large casserole dish and drizzle with EVOO. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, salt, pepper, & garlic powder to taste. Bake about 20 minutes in the preheated oven until tender. (Keep oven on because you will return the filled zucchini boats to finish baking)..
  4. While zucchini is baking, heat a large skillet over medium heat, add EVOO.
  5. Add shrimp & season with salt & pepper. Cook until pink 3-4 minutes turning once.   Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle then chop into bite-size pieces.
  6. Add reserved zucchini, tomatoes, and garlic then cook 1-2 minutes more.
  7. Return chopped shrimp to skillet & add heavy cream, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, & lemon juice. Cook until slightly reduced about 3-4 minutes.
  8. Fill the zucchini boats with the shrimp mixture & top with mozzarella and a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Cook until cheese bubbles, about 10 minutes.
  9. Garnish with fresh parsley & more Parmigiano Reggiano. (optional)
  10. Serve immediately and wait for the compliments! ❤️

Notes: Serve as a main dish with a side salad and crusty bread.

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Zucchini Pie

Zucchini Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy

I came across an Italian cooking video which was demonstrating a delicious-looking zucchini pie/casserole. They called it Sformato di zucchine semplicissimo, which translates into Very Simple Zucchini Pie...and simple it is. Since I don't speak Italian, I guessed at the quantities for the ingredients so I channeled my inner Italian and came up with this. These are my approximate measurements and you can use more or less as you go along. Surprisingly, there was no garlic, salt, or pepper and Gary & I loved it. 😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 2 large zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 Tablespoons EVOO, divided
  • 1 spring rosemary, leaves removed
  • 1/2 cup 4C seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 lb provolone Picante cheese, 1/2-inch large cubes (divided) (get this at deli counter, not sliced but whole . Not the hard provolone that you serve with crackers & pepperoni or sausage )
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiana Reggiano grated cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Slice zucchini into 1/4-inch slices and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add 2 Tablespoons of EVOO and the rosemary leaves to the bowl then make sure the zucchini is coated well.
  4. In a deep-dish pie plate, lightly coat the bottom with 1/2 tsp EVOO and spread around with your clean hand or a pastry brush.
  5. Take a handful of the breadcrumbs and sprinkle on the bottom.
  6. Place zucchini slices all around the dish, slightly overlapping until the bottom is covered.
  7. Sprinkle a little more breadcrumbs all around.
  8. Sprinkle a handful of Parmigiano Reggiana cheese.
  9. Sprinkle 1/2 the cubes of provolone cheese.
  10. Lightly drizzle a little EVOO in a circle going around from outer dish to inner dish.
  11. Repeat steps 5-9.
  12. The last layer is zucchini, Parmigiana Reggiana then all remaining breadcrumbs, add additional breadcrumbs if needed as the top layer should be completely covered
  13. Repeat step 9.
  14. Place pie dish on middle rack and bake about 20-30 minutes. The top should get slightly crusted but not burnt.
  15. Best served immediately by itself or pair with a protein of your choice,

 

Notes: Recipe adapted from cibodoc.it

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Mediterranean Couscous

Mediterranean Couscous

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy

This is an amazing side dish using pearl (Israeli) couscous which is much larger than regular couscous. Combining onions, garlic, blistered tomatoes, roasted mashed garlic, and herbs give you a hearty side dish that you can add your favorite vegetables to! 😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 1¾ cups pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous)
  • 2¾ cup chicken broth
  • 1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 6-8 large cloves garlic peeled & minced
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 6-8 large cloves garlic, cut off the end but keep the skin on
  • fresh baby spinach (a few handfuls)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 6 ounces Feta cheese (we use President’s Chunk)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet add the Israeli/pearl couscous to a dry, hot skillet. Gently stir to prevent burning. After a few minutes, the couscous will start to brown.  Do not burn. Not all the couscous will brown & that’s ok.
  2. Add the chicken stock, cover, and cook about 10-15 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove cover and set aside.
  3. In a small skillet, saute the onions until they start to caramelize then add spinach. Cook until it starts to wilt then add the garlic & cook another minute. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  4. Add the cooked onions, spinach & garlic to the couscous. Stir well. Cover and set aside until fish is done.
  5. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Turn oven to 500ºF or broil. Once hot, reduce the oven temperature to 425ºF.
  6. Rinse tomatoes with water (no need to dry them). Coat the cherry tomatoes & whole cloves of garlic with 1 Tablespoon of EVOO. Sprinkle with salt. Combine well. Place on the lined baking sheet.
  7. Place baking sheet on the top oven rack and bake for 15-20 minutes, until tomatoes blister & garlic is soft (there should be a bit of juice too)
  8. Remove from the oven when done. Using a fork or a wooden spoon, smash the garlic (it slips right out of the skin). Take half the tomatoes plus the juice and garlic then add to couscous, mixing well.
  9. Just before serving, crumble & add the Feta cheese to the couscous.
  10. To serve, place cooked couscous mixture on a serving platter and sprinkle with remaining blistered tomatoes & garlic. Garnish with sprigs of fresh oregano & thyme.
  11. Enjoy!

Notes: This dish makes the perfect side dish to any meat or fish or serve alone mixed into a fresh mixed-greens salad for a refreshing summer main dish.

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Butternut Squash & Zucchini Spirals with Italian Sweet Sausage – Gluten-Free Twiins Style

Butternut Squash & Zucchini Spirals with Sweet Italian Sausage-Gluten-Free Twiins Style

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy

We strive to prepare healthy meals that are big on flavor, have fresh ingredients, are quick to prepare and very satisfying. Barbara & I love vegetables but our hubbies are extreme carnivores! This makes it challenging for us to balance our meals so we all can enjoy them. I had the squash spirals & sausage on hand and we created this meal which ticks off all of the boxes. The addition of a small amount of Gluten-free spaghetti added to the mix of spiralized squash certainly made it satisfying for all. So, if you also have a carnivore you want to help eat healthier give this recipe a try...Our carnivores loved it and so did Barbara and I. Enjoy!😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 10 Sweet Italian Sausage links, cut into bite-size pieces (1/4 inch slices)
  • 12 oz zucchini spirals, (pre-spiralized save time & are sold in the supermarket produce section)
  • 12 oz butternut squash spirals, (pre-spiralized save time & are sold in the supermarket produce section)
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 6-8  large garlic cloves
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 6 oz Barilla Gluten-free thin spaghetti
  • 2 Tablespoons EVOO
  • Parmigiano Reggiano to sprinkle on top
  • Fresh basil, chopped for garnish

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil then add salt. While the butternut squash & zucchini are cooking, add 6oz of thin spaghetti to boiling, salted water, and cook according to package directions. Drain.
  2. Slice each sausage link into bite-size pieces or 1/4-inch slices.
  3. Heat a very large skillet to medium heat & drizzle with EVOO. When hot enough, add the sliced sausage and brown on both sides. Remove and set aside in a bowl.
  4. Add additional EVOO and saute onions, tomatoes & bell peppers.
  5. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute until fragrant.
  7. Add the spiralized butternut squash & zucchini. Mix well to combine. Cook  covered until softened (about 8-10 minutes)
  8. Take the cooked pasta and add it to the skillet. Toss gently.
  9. Place in a serving platter and garnish with fresh basil and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Notes:  If gluten isn’t an issue no need to use gluten-free ingredients.

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Thai Shrimp and Vegetable Stir-Fry Twiins Style Gluten-Free

Thai Shrimp and Vegetable Stir-Fry Twiins Style Gluten-Free

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy

We love Thai food so when we came across this recipe we knew we had to try it. It's delicious and full of authentic Thai flavor. We added our homegrown sweet Thai basil to give it more of an authentic taste and we hit a home run. The sauce has a lot of ingredients but is well worth the effort. We used all gluten-free ingredients and it's delicious. It has just the right amount of sweet & heat... Enjoy!😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, gluten-free (can be found in the grocery store Asian section)
  • 3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, gluten-free
  • 2 Tablespoons Dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce (can be found in the grocery store Asian section)
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 fresh squeezed lime, divided into 1 tablespoon & reserve remainder of juice to add later
  • 1 Tablespoon peanut oil, divided
  • 2 tsp Samal Oelek (ground fresh chili paste – can be found in the grocery store  Asian section)
  • 1½ tsp garlic paste
  • 1½ tsp Tamarind Concentrate (or paste – can be found in the grocery store Asian section)
  • 1 tsp peanut oil
  • 2 lbs. uncooked Shrimp, deveined (defrost if frozen – tails can be left or removed, your preference)
  • 2 large onions, sliced thin
  • 4  large Red Bell Peppers, sliced thin
  • 4 medium uncooked scallions (spring onions – we used our homegrown scallions grown from bulb end with roots, see Notes: below)
  • 28-32 ounces shredded cabbage & carrots (2 packages coleslaw mix can be used)
  • 1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, minced
  • 6 Thai Sweet Basil leaves, minced (more or less to taste)
  • 2-4 Tablespoons Peanuts, salted, chopped

Directions

  1. Sauce: In a medium bowl combine chili sauce, soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce, tomato paste, 1 Tablespoon lime juice, 2 tsp oil, sambal oelek, garlic paste, and tamarind concentrate; whisk to combine. (Sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator)
  2. Heat remaining tsp oil in a large wok or very large nonstick skillet over high heat.
  3. Cook the shrimp, tossing frequently, until they turn pink & opaque, about 5-8 minutes. Remove to plate.
  4. Add the sliced onions and peppers to wok; cook while frequently stirring until onions soften and peppers are crisp-tender, about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add the cabbage & carrot slaw and the cooked shrimp to the wok. Pour the sauce & remaining lime juice over top and toss well to combine; heat through, tossing gently.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the scallions and cilantro; sprinkle with peanuts & minced Thai Sweet Basil.
  7. Garnish with a sprig of Thai Sweet Basil & Enjoy!

Notes: Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers.

If gluten isn’t an issue no need to use gluten-free ingredients.

This dish may be served by itself or over Jasmin rice or rice noodles.

To grow your own scallions (spring onions), cut the white bulb about 1½ inches from the roots. With the roots attached, take your index finger and push down into a container filled with potting soil deep enough to leave about 1/2 inch above the dirt. Water daily but don’t overwater. In a couple of weeks, you will see new green shoots coming out of the bulb.  When they are about the height of pencils, you can cut off what you need. Do not pull the bulbs out of the dirt. They will continue to grow additional green stalks. If the tips start to brown, cut to the base of dirt.

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Fig Sauce

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy

This year, 2020, we finally have an abundance of figs from one of Gary's fig trees. He has been growing 2 fig trees for 4 years here in North Carolina. The one we transplanted from our NY home is not as big as the one we purchased here in NC so the figs I used in this recipe are from the NC fig tree. The first couple of years the figs were so sparse that we were lucky to get a few to pop in our mouths for the whole season. In contrast, today we picked so many figs that now we can be creative with different ways to prepare and enjoy them. This fig sauce is so simple to make, does not require any tedious canning, and is delicious with Feta cheese or goat cheese on a cracker, meat & cheese board, or topping chicken or pork. It's naturally sweet without the addition of any sugar, and it's naturally gluten-free. We love it and so do the hubbies! 😋 😋

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ripe figs, stems removed and cut-in-half
  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (ready-made is fine)
  • 6 Tablespoons quality Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients together. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer at least 20-30 minutes until figs are soft enough to mash & liquid is 3/4 evaporated. (It may take longer)
  3. Using a potato masher, mash the mixture. It should look like a loose jam but not watery.
  4. Remove from the heat. Spoon onto your favorite protein or use as an appetizer with goat cheese & crackers.

Note: This recipe can be served at room temperature as an appetizer or hot over your protein. It can be made ahead of time & stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. Will keep for several days refrigerated.

 

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Mediterranean Style Cod over Couscous

Mediterranean Style Cod over Couscous

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy

While relaxing on my front porch after repotting some plants today, Teresa pulled up with some cod for tonights dinner. Cod is one of those fish that takes on the flavor of whatever you season it with making a Mediterranean style dinner absolutely delicious. We were wondering what we had on hand to make with it and I found a half-full jar of pearl couscous! We had some grape tomatoes, plenty of garlic, onions, & feta cheese, along with a garden full of fresh herbs. We set about making dinner. We've said this before and it's very true...some of the best dinners we make are thrown together with what we have on hand. This dinner turned out fabulous...we were counting on leftovers but NONE were to be had!😋❤️

Ingredients

For the Cod

  • 2½  pounds fresh cod fillets
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • garlic powder to sprinkle lightly over fish
  • 1 sprig fresh greek oregano, chopped (approximately 1 Tablespoon)
  • 2-pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
  • EVOO to drizzle over fish and tomatoes & garlic

For the Couscous

  • 1¾ cups pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous)
  • 2¾ cup chicken broth
  • 1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 6-8 large cloves garlic peeled & minced
  • fresh baby spinach (a few handfuls)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 6 ounces Feta cheese (we use President’s Chunk)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet add the Israeli/pearl couscous to a dry, hot skillet. Gently stir to prevent burning. After a few minutes, the couscous will start to brown.  Do not burn. Not all the couscous will brown & that’s ok.
  2. Add the chicken stock, cover, and cook about 10-15 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove cover and set aside.
  3. In a small skillet, saute the onions until they start to caramelize then add garlic & cook another minute. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  4. Add the cooked onions & garlic to the couscous. Stir well. Cover and set aside until fish is done.
  5. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Turn oven to broil. Once hot, reduce the oven temperature to 425º.
  6. Coat the grape tomatoes & whole cloves of garlic with 1 Tablespoon of EVOO. Sprinkle with salt. Combine well. Place on a lined baking sheet.
  7. Place baking sheet on the top oven rack and bake for 15-20 minutes, until tomatoes blister & garlic is soft.
  8. Remove from the oven when done. Using a fork or a wooden spoon, smash the garlic. Take half the tomatoes plus the juice and garlic then add to couscous, mixing well.
  9. Just before serving, crumble & add the Feta cheese to the couscous and combine.
  10. Using the same rimmed baking sheet, drizzle EVOO and arrange the pieces of cod on sheet. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt & pepper, chopped fresh greek oregano. Drizzle lightly with EVOO and place on center rack of 425º oven.
  11. Cook 10-16 minutes, depending on the thickness of cod until it’s opaque & flakes.
  12. To serve, place cooked couscous mixture on a serving platter and top with fish fillets. Sprinkle with remaining blistered tomatoes & garlic. Garnish with sprigs of fresh oregano & thyme.
  13. Enjoy!

Notes: To make this Gluten-free for Jack, we served him brown rice with quinoa as a substitute for couscous. He loved it.

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Chocolate Mint Mojito – Twiins Style

Chocolate Mint Mojitos - Twiins Style

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Easy

Two years ago Barbara bought a small chocolate mint potted plant because she loved the smell of it. She left it in the original 3-inch pot so it never grew much. There were enough leaves for maybe a few cups of tea every now and then. This year she decided to transplant it in the early spring into a much larger pot. She now has so much chocolate mint that we decided to try a new cocktail. Our Chocolate Mint Mojito was born! If your a fan of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies, this delicious cocktail is for you and it can be enjoyed all summer long. ❤️ ❤️

Ingredients

  • 16 fresh chocolate mint leaves (regular mint may be substituted)
  • 2 ounces Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice
  • 2 ounces Torani Dark Chocolate syrup
  • 4 ounces Bacardi Coconut Rum (substitute with plain light rum if you’re not a fan of coconut)
  • 6-12 ice cubes
  • 4 ounces club soda
  • lime twist
  • sprig of mint for garnish

Directions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint leaves with the lime juice.
  2. Stir in the chocolate syrup and rum. Add the ice.
  3. Shake at least 30 seconds. Stir in the club soda (don’t shake once you add the club soda).
  4. Pour into a highball glass or your favorite martini glass.
  5. Garnish with a lime slice and a sprig of mint. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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