Welcome to The Jungle Cocktail


This one, my friends, is a stretch. When the call went out to create a team-themed recipe as part two of our three-part football recipe extravaganza, I figured I could make one of two things: more Cincinnati chili or a striped bundt cake.

I dragged my feet and dragged my feet some more until it was time to turn in our recipes. It was then I realized my Cincinnati Bengal fan counterpart chose a striped bundt cake. I was equal parts relived and panicked. I no longer had to bake a cake, but I no longer had any idea what to do.


I spent way too much time perusing the web for an answer and kept coming back to two things: a Welcome to the Jungle cocktail and the Cincinnati Cocktail.

The Welcome to the Jungle cocktail is a mix of juices, coconut water, and vodka. The Cincinnati Cocktail is soda water and beer. Yeah. I opted for the former. Plus, if you are ever in the Cincinnati area, you might enjoy a trip to Jungle Jim’s.

See how this all came together? See how this is also the stretch I claimed at the very beginning?


My version is fairly easy. I simply ventured into my fridge and freezer, found some frozen pineapple and oj, added some pomegranate juice, and topped the whole thing off with a squeeze of lime and champagne.

Seems like it could do double duty for Sunday brunch for all the non-football fans out there. Or for those who need a drink to cope with their loved ones screaming like crazed lunatics at the TV. Cheers!

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Welcome to The Jungle Cocktail
Serves: 2
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • ¾ cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 lime
  • champagne
  1. Blend the frozen pineapple and orange juice together until smooth.
  2. Divide the frozen mixture across two cocktail glasses, then pour in the pomegranate juice, and add a squeeze of lime.
  3. Top the concoction with as much champagne as the glass will hold or as desired.
  4. Sip and enjoy.

I’ve joined a group of bloggers from all over the country — all of whom are big football fans! — to bring you football-inspired recipes this season. Last month we shared our favorite tailgating recipes, and now we are sharing more than 60 recipes ideas for celebrating on game day. Click on the links below to check out all of the great recipes!

Note: This post is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by the National Football League (NFL) or any of its teams. All opinions and views expressed on our blogs are our own, not that of the NFL and/or any of its 32 teams. Any team names, logos or other symbols referenced are properties of their respective organizations. We are just big fans — and we want to share our love for our teams, the game and the food that brings us all together on game day.

60+ recipes inspired by football teams! Show off your team spirit with everything from appetizer recipes, entree recipes, cocktail recipes, dessert recipes, side dish recipes and more as you cheer on your team! #foodiefootballfansRed Sea Party Punch by Celebrating Family
Bird Gang Sonoran Nachos by Love Bakes Good Cakes
GameDay Cheesecake Bars by Body Rebooted
Healthy Dirty Bird Dip by Dash of Herbs
Purple Potato Salad by The Culinary Compass
Chocolate Blackberry Cheesecake Parfait by Mom’s Messy Miracles
Easy Buffalo Chicken Sliders by Beer Girl Cooks
Quick and Easy Baked Buffalo Chicken Sliders by The Life Jolie
Blackened Steak + Blue Cheese Nachos by Feast + West
Easy Pimiento Cheese Crackers by Family Food on the Table
Chicago-Style Deep Dish Breadsticks by Honey & Birch
Italian Beef by Bread Booze Bacon
Welcome to the Jungle Cocktail by Love & Flour
Bengal Striped Bundt Cake by Foodtastic Mom
Polish Boy Potato Skins by A Mind Full Mom
Sweet and Salty Brownies by The Secret Ingredient Is
Cowboy Cookies by The BakerMama
Cowboy Chili by See Aimee Cook
Green Chili Pulled Pork Poutine by Cake ‘n Knife
Blue and Orange Jello Shot Gummies by Sustaining the Powers
Greek Town Loaded Potato Skins by The Mexitalian
Marbled Scotcharoos by Club Narwhal
Beer Cheese Fondue by Off the Eaten Path
Easy Beer Cheese Soup by Hello Little Home
Chicken Stack Sandwich by Around My Family Table
Bratwurst Sandwiches with Pub Mustard by What A Girl Eats
Game Day Cupcakes by Polka Dotted Blue Jay
Brownie Batter Dip by The Crumby Cupcake
Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes by Two Places at Once
Tomahawk Cooler by Mixplorology
Spicy Jalapeno Popper Cheese Dip with Real Cheese by Simplify, Live, Love
Game Day Snack Tray by Coffee Love Travel
Bacon Mac Cups by West via Midwest
South Beach Punch by 2 Cookin Mamas
Miami Mahi Mahi Sandwich by foodbyjonister
Swedish Meatball Dip with Tater Tot Dunkers by Peanut Blossom
Fruity Dessert Pizza with Peanut Butter Chocolate Glaze by Bucket List Tummy
New England Rum Punch by Order in the Kitchen
Crawfish Etouffee by The Speckled Palate
Cajun Crawfish Fritters with Remoulade Dipping Sauce by For the Love of Food
Reuben Sliders with Homemade Russian Dressing by A Dish of Daily Life
Big Blue Cheese Steak Stromboli by Simple and Savory
Spinach & Artichoke Bites by Lauren’s Kitchen
Herb Pesto Arancini by A Little Gathering
Beluga Lentil Hummus by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Philly Cheesesteak Nachos by And She Cooks
Philly Cheesesteak Cheesecake by Nik Snacks
Game Day Cookie Cups by Me and My Pink Mixer
Primanti Style Sliders by Macheesmo
Pineapple Salsa by Living Well Kitchen
Tex Mex Cream Cheese Wontons with Bacon by Shaws Simple Swaps
Blue Cheese Blitz Dip by Cafe Terra
Chicken Adobo Fries by Brunch-n-Bites
Game Day Candy Bark by Life’s Ambrosia
Chicken Teriyaki Pizza by Loves Food, Loves to Eat
High Seas Sour Cherry Slush by Lizzy is Dizzy
Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs by Casa de Crews
Avery Williamson American Cake by Loaves & Dishes
Game Day Sriracha-Honey Nut Mix by An Oregon Cottage
Double-Stuffed Potato Skins by A Simpler Grace
Red Skin Potato Chili Nachos by A Joyfully Mad Kitchen

Salted Chocolate Caramel Bars

salted chocolate caramel brownies

This is my favorite post I will share this year. It’s not the prettiest or the wordiest or all that loveliness in between, but it’s worth $100. And that $100 funds pediatric cancer research.

OXO has been gracious enough to include me in their Cookies for Kids’ Cancer campaign — where they donate up to $100,000 to through efforts like this blog post — for the past few years now. I’m happy to bake in general, but if I can bake for a good cause, then all the better.

I’ve never mentioned why this campaign means so much to me, because it’s really not my story to tell. I’m not a parent who has had to care for a child with cancer, like the two OXO employees who founded Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, but I once worked with a child who fought cancer when I was a hospice social worker. Her battle was not my story, but it was a story I played a part in and that has stuck with me.

salted chocolate caramel brownies

This year, we baked from genius baking goddess Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook Dorie’s Cookies. I made her salted chocolate-caramel bars, which she describes as “the kind of cookie that makes you think you should stop everything, throw over your regular life and open a fancy pastry shop just so you can have a legit excuse to bake — and eat — these every day.”

I agree with that assessment. A simple chocolate shortbread base is topped with a caramel spiked with dark chocolate and a hint of salt. Toasted pecans top the bars for a little extra flavor and crunch.

salted chocolate caramel brownies

OXO improved my baking experience by providing a fantastic set of OXO Good Grips Glass Bakeware. The Glass 3 Qt Baking Dish with Lid and Glass 2 Qt Baking Dish with Lid (pictured) are made from BPA-free borosilicate glass and can withstand extreme temperature changes like those needed for baking delicious brownies. Generous handles and sloshproof lids make moving full dishes easier, and the clean, elegant design means you can take them from the oven directly to the family table.

Another great tool is OXO’s Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer. The mixer includes a light to guide you and intuitive digital controls to steadily increase or decrease speed. When finished, the on-board beater clip, wrap-and-secure cord, and flat, stable base allow for compact, upright storage. Last but not least, the Brownie Spatula (pictured) is perfect for serving up these brownies. Trust me, they won’t last long. Enjoy!

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars
Serves: 21
  • For the Shortbread Base
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • For the Caramel Topping
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • ½ cup heavy cream, at room temperature (or slightly warmed in a microwave)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and very soft
  • ¼ teaspoon fleur de sel or a good-size pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • About ½ cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Generously butter (or spray) an 8-inch square pan.
  2. Start the shortbread base by whisking together the flour and cocoa powder and then set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the dry ingredients that you set aside to the mixing bowl and beat on low until the dough comes together. This might take a little longer than you expect, so keep at it.
  5. Pour the dough out into a greased 8-inch square baking dish and, using your fingertips, pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan. Press down and make sure to get the dough into the corners.
  6. Bake the shortbread for 21 to 23 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes, until it is slightly darker around the edges and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan; it will not feel completely firm if poked gently. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the shortbread to cool completely.
  7. When the shortbread has cooled, make the caramel topping by putting the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan and bringing to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow the ingredients to boil, brushing down the sides of the pan with cold water and a pastry brush if there are spatters.
  8. Swirl the pan a couple of times once you start seeing some color, until the caramel turns a pale to medium amber. (Don’t let it get as dark as mahogany.)
  9. Lower the heat and stand away from the pan as you add the cream, followed by the butter and salt (these ingredients that might cause the caramel to boil up, hence the need to take a step back and avoid any splatters onto yourself).
  10. Remove the pan from the heat, drop in the chocolate, and stir to blend.
  11. Pour the hot caramel over the shortbread and sprinkle with the nuts. Allow to set at room temperature.
  12. When the caramel is firm, run a table knife around the sides of the pan, carefully unmold the cookie onto a rack and turn it over onto a cutting board. Using a long thin knife, cut into 3 strips and then cut each strip into 7 bars for 21 bars. Or just leave the cookie whole and cut individual bars as needed.

Bourbon with Basil & Lemonade Granita


I rang in the porch drinks season with a strawberry bourbon lemonade, so it seems fitting to spend the last few weeks of summer sipping on another bourbon lemonade combination.

This time around, I poured straight bourbon over a scoop of basil lemonade granita to enjoy what is essentially a grown-up slushie.

Did you know September is National Bourbon Heritage Month? It seems like enjoying a bourbon cocktail over the next few weeks would practically be considered a good deed then.


A bottle of Four Roses bourbon can typically be found on my bar cart. Which, let me be honest, is really just a kitchen cart with a few other bottles of liquor clustered together on its top shelf.

I’ve cooked, baked, and imbibed with Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon. Which again, in all honesty, was completely disrespectful to the bourbon. The Single Barrel is for sipping, while the smooth, mellow Four Roses Yellow is much more suited to cocktails.


You see, people like me need Bourbon heritage month to learn about and appreciate this uniquely American spirit!

If it’s for you too, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a great source of information into bourbon’s history and how to plan your trip along the trail, including a visit to the Four Roses distillery. Cheers!

In exchange for this blog post, I was provided with a bottle of Four Roses Yellow bourbon and a gift card to offset the cost of ingredients. The text, photography, and of course, the opinions, are all mine.


Bourbon with Basil & Lemonade Granita
Serves: 6
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • ¼ cup honey
  • juice of 6 lemons (about 1 cup of juice)
  • 7½ ounces bourbon
  1. Bring the water, sugar, basil leaves, and honey to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Allow the mixture to boil for 5 minutes, then cool to room temperature.
  3. Once the mixture has cooled, strain out the basil leaves and stir in the lemon juice.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 pan (you can use a baking dish or a rimmed baking sheet) and freeze for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the freezer, rake the mixture with a fork, and then return the pan to the freezer.
  6. Repeat this freeze for 30 minutes, rake, and refreeze cycle for about 3 hours until the granita is frozen into flaky crystals.
  7. Place a scoop of the granita into a cocktail glass, then add 1¼ ounces of bourbon. Sip and enjoy.

Here are some other great recipes to enjoy during National Bourbon Heritage Month:
Autumn Sangria
Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies
Bourbon Squash Soup
Spiced Bourbon Apricot Truffles
Bourbon Peach Bread Pudding