portrait of a cocktail // The Bees Knees

Today’s cocktail is an un-bee-lievable good concoction that is sure to get you happily buzzed: meet The Bee’s Knees. All bee humor aside, this is one serious cocktail, seriously good that is!

If images of flappers, The Charleston, and Speakeasies come to mind when you hear the name, you wouldn’t be wrong! This cocktail originated in the roaring ’20s and has stuck around for its simple and perfectly proportioned ingredients. It became an instant classic upon its inception almost 100 years ago. It gets it’s name from a popular saying at the time, “You’re the bee’s knees!”

portrait of a cocktail // The Bees KneesWe love how the flavors come together beautifully while remaining simple, which makes it a great, easy cocktail for parties. The floral, pine notes of the gin mingle with the sweet honey while a splash of lemon juice pulls it all together with a tart punch. We have added egg white to the traditional recipe because drinks are so much better with egg white, don’t you agree?! They give a creamy and frothy feel to the cocktail that provides a wonderful texture that has you coming back for another sip.

portrait of a cocktail // The Bees KneesIngredients:

  • 1 oz Honey Syrup (recipe below)
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz fresh egg whites

Honey Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup water

Bring honey and water to a boil in a saucepan. Take off the heat and let cool before using.

portrait of a cocktail // The Bees KneesRecipe:
Combine all ingredients in a shaker without ice. Shake hard for one minute. Add the ice to the shaker and shake for 30 seconds. Pour into glass (we suggest a coupe) and enjoy.

Cocktails are first and foremost about balance and taste, but one thing you may not know plays a big roll in delicious libations is texture. The texture of a cocktail gives it body and depth that plays off all of the other components such as sweetness and acidity. The egg whites add some of the best texture, but many shy away from adding them because they may not know how to use them properly. With a few tips you’ll be whipping up an egg white cocktail worth of being given the title of the bee’s knees!

When it comes to using egg white, get the freshest eggs possible, it will help with the emulsion of the whites that makes them creamy. Alcohol essential “cooks” the eggs so no need to worry about ingesting raw eggs. Start off by mixing your cocktail using the dry shake method. This is when you add all ingredients except the ice and shake for a good minute. This allows the egg whites to get that desired frothy texture that tastes so good! After a minute, add ice and shake to chill to the perfect sipping temperature.

portrait of a cocktail // The Bees Kneesportrait of a cocktail // The Bees KneesWe love a well made drink- it is a bee-utiful thing!

Happy Imbibing!

Pumpkin Ale Donuts_featured

Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg’d i the dark…
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

October might be the most perfect of months to explore traditional donut making, i.e. frying. Take a note from Shakespeare’s MacBeth, and gather ‘round the bubbling caldron. Or rather, fill a deep, cast-iron skillet with safflower oil, and behold the spellbinding transformation of dough to doughnut.

Pumpkin Ale and Donuts

As a lover of fall and its traditional flavors, pumpkin was an obvious choice for October’s Donut ‘o The Month, but I put a spin on the recipe. This donut uses a pumpkin ale to capture the essence of fall. For a very novice beer drinker (my adventure to buy two pumpkin beers in puritan Pennsylvania could be a blog post in itself), I really hit the nail on the head with Block House Brewing’s Pumpkin Ale. Brewed by the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, in Latrobe, PA (bonus points for this Pittsburgh-based blogger), this sipper of an ale is sweet and spicy. It would make a great ice cream float, but as it turns out, it makes an addicting donut!

Donuts and Ale

What’s really exciting about this recipe is whole-wheat pastry flour, natural ingredients and a healthier frying oil make these donuts pretty guiltless. Make these once for you, and you alone, and then maybe invite friends for batch number two and scary movies. ‘Tis the Season!

Bon Appétit!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Ale Donuts

  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 packet rapid rise yeast (or 2 ¼ tsp)
  • ¾ cup pumpkin ale/beer
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large local egg yolks (room temperature)
  • ¼ cup local heavy cream (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter, softened
  • Non-GMO Safflower Oil for frying

Pumpkin Ale Glaze

  • 1 ½ cups organic confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin ale/beer


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook add the flour, sugar and yeast. In a saucepan over low heat, heat the beer until it reaches between 120 and 130 degrees F. Add the beer to the stand mixer, mix until most of the flour has been moistened. Add the vanilla then the yolks, one at a time. Add the cream, salt and softened butter. Building up speed, beat on high until the dough comes together and gathers around the blade. The dough will be very soft. Add dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour or until doubles in size. Punch down the dough and knead lightly to remove any air bubbles. Return to oiled dough,  and allow to rest for 1 hour. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1-inch thickness. Cut donuts out with a 3 ½ inch biscuit cutter with 1-inch circle holes. Place donuts on a baking sheet that has been covered with parchment paper. Loosely cover with a towel. Allow to rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 30 minutes (or longer if you’re living in a cold apartment like yours truly). Fill a large heavy bottomed saucepan with safflower oil until about 4-inches deep. Add a deep fry thermometer, and bring oil to about 360 degrees, adjusting heat to maintain temperature. Be careful not to overheat oil. Working in batches, fry the donuts on each side until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from oil and allow to cool on a wire rack.

To Make the Glaze:
Whisk together the powdered sugar and the pumpkin ale until well combined. Dip each donut in the glaze. Allow glaze to set before serving.

photography & recipe by With The Grains for Jojotastic.

RECIPE // 3 travel-friendly snacks #ziploc #holidaycollection

Traveling is stressful enough. Finding healthy and affordable snacks for the whole hungry crew shouldn’t add to that stress! I find that with just a little bit of planning, I can bring healthy snacks with me, wherever I’m going. Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or car, these 3 snack ideas are travel-friendly and totally delicious.

RECIPE // 3 travel-friendly snacks #ziploc #holidaycollection
There are 3 recipes to check out: apple “cookies,” homemade granola bars, and kale chips.

Head over to Ziploc to see more!

RECIPE // 3 travel-friendly snacks #ziploc #holidaycollection RECIPE // 3 travel-friendly snacks #ziploc #holidaycollectionphotography by Nathan Michael

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Ziploc. All opinions are my own and I would never endorse something I didn’t completely love. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Jojotastic going.

I love classics like popcorn, but I also love to put a twist on traditional treats! Popcorn is a great base for all kinds of flavors, plus it’s the perfect treat to bring to a party, or just to have at home as a snack. During the holidays I like to gather my best girlfriends around the TV with a giant bowl of popcorn to watch sappy holiday movies. This year I plan to surprise my ladies with these 3 delicious fancy popcorn recipes.

RECIPE: fancy popcorn #ziploc #holidaycollection
There are 3 recipes to check out: Sea Salt, Lavender & Caramel popcorn, Trail Mix popcorn, and Party popcorn.

Head over to Ziploc to see more!

RECIPE: fancy popcorn #ziploc #holidaycollectionRECIPE: fancy popcorn #ziploc #holidaycollection
photography by Nathan Michael

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Ziploc. All opinions are my own and I would never endorse something I didn’t completely love. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Jojotastic going.

jojotastic - donut o' the month // nutella & coconut

I’m so excited to launch a new series today: Donut o’ the Month featuring recipes by my friend, Quelcy! In addition to fancying herself a professional picnicker, Quelcy T. Kogel is a food stylist and event designer. Quelcy combines many of her interests on With The Grains, her blog about “Whole Grains, Film Grains, Wood Grains, Words & Wanderings.” You can typically find Quelcy at a local farm dinner or playing with her puppy, Julep.

Who complains when someone hands them fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar?!?

This girl.

Though I’m a grown-ass woman, my mom deserves a chance to slap me in the face. When I was a wee picky thing, she used to make homemade donuts. Yours truly had the gall to turn up her nose and complain because these odd, amorphous treats were not the recognizable rings topped with shiny glazes or powdery mounds oozing with all too brightly colored jams. How dare she call them donuts, I thought.

Fast forward to a very lucky day at Goodwill when I discovered a working, $8 donut maker – you know one of those all too specific kitchen gadgets on par with a Magic Bake oven. Now I’m cranking out donuts that would cause purists (or 6-year-olds with zero filters) to scoff.

donut o' the month // nutella & coconut True, these donuts are not 100%, technically donuts in the heavily fried sense of the word. However, with a proper greasing of organic butter or coconut oil, they have just enough of a fried exterior to satisfy a donut craving and appease the adult side of the brain that wants to eat wholesome foods. That pretty much sums up my food philosophy- how can I appease my sweet tooth without the tremendous guilt of disgusting ingredients?

On that note, let the donut adventures begin! I’m really excited to be joining Jojotastic to bring you a Donut o’ the Month post, and to kick it off, we’re covering everything in the rich decadence of homemade nutella!

Bon Appétit!

donut o' the month // nutella & coconut Nutella & Coconut Donuts

  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons packed organic, light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup homemade Nutella
  • 3 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large organic, cage-free egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup organic half & half (or whole milk)
  • Organic coconut oil
  • Garnish
  • Homemade nutella
  • Unsweetened, shredded coconut

In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, on medium speed, beat together the cane sugar, light-brown sugar, Nutella and butter until well blended, about 20 seconds. Stir in egg and vanilla. Working in three separate batches, alternate adding the flour mixture and the half & half, starting and stopping with the half and half. Mix and fold until just combined. Prepare donuts according to your donut maker’s instructions, using melted coconut oil to thoroughly grease the surface before adding the dough.

Alternatively… Preheat oven to 400F. Use coconut oil to grease a donut pan. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into doughnut comes out clean, about 7 – 9 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes, then run a butter knife around edges to loosen and invert onto wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Top each mini donut with a dollop of homemade nutella and a sprinkling of coconut.

donut o' the month // nutella & coconut photography & recipe by With The Grains for Jojotastic

spiked sweet tea popsicles #popsicleweek

While Maryland isn’t exactly the South, I grew up with an affinity for sweet tea unlike no other. Now as an adult, I still maintain this love, but I like mine a little more spiked, if you know what I mean. Because it’s Popsicle Week, I decided to turn my favorite beverage into a frozen treat… but with a touch of booze!

spiked sweet tea popsicles #popsicleweek
Recipe: Spiked Sweet Tea Popsicles (adapted from this sweet tea recipe on Food52)


  • 8 oz. water
  • 8 tea bags (I used classic Lipton)
  • 8 tablespoons white sugar
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 2 oz. Southern Comfort

spiked sweet tea popsicles #popsicleweek
To start, bring water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, turn off the heat and steep teabags for 20-25 minutes.

spiked sweet tea popsicles #popsicleweek
Once the tea has steeped, remove teabags and transfer into a bowl with spout for easy pouring into popsicle molds. Pour sugar and lemon juice into the tea. Stir until all sugar is dissolved. (I like to add lemon for a touch of brightness. This ingredient is totally optional.)

spiked sweet tea popsicles #popsicleweek
Now the fun part: pour your shot of whiskey and stir into tea mixture. Bonus points if you pour a second shot for yourself.

spiked sweet tea popsicles #popsicleweek
Pour into popsicle molds (I like these from Zoku) and freeze.

spiked sweet tea popsicles #popsicleweek
Have leftover tea mixture? Spike a bit more and pour yourself a cocktail while you wait for the pops to freeze! Garnish with a sprig of mint.

photography by Jojotastic

PS – Lots of bloggers are participating in Popsicle Week! Be sure to check out the entire list here!

portrait of a cocktail // bombay government punch

This is not your grandmother’s punch. Bombay Government Punch is a deliciously fierce elixir concocted by the English Governor of Bombay, Sir John Gayer, back in 1694. Throw out your notions of dowdy pink punch, and usher in a rich and complex cocktail, that just happens to be served in a huge bowl.

I know, I know. This might not be the prettiest punch to look at. (I happen to enjoy its beautiful amber glow.) But I promise everyone who sips this for the first time says the exact same thing, with the exact same wide-eyed expression. Whoa! This is delicious! And then they guzzle it. There are so many layers of flavor to this punch, it’s impossible to not go back for more.

Did you know that making punch is a bit of a science experiment? A true punch follows the proper proportions. For example, our punch here is based on the oldest and most classic ratio: 1 sour (lime juice), 2 sweet (mandarin orange syrup), 3 strong (the booze), and 4 weak (black tea). Once you have this ratio down, you can make any quantity of punch, like maybe just cocktails for two, or you can start to sub out the different elements. Instead of lime juice you could use lemon, instead of black tea, try green. The possibilities are endless!

portrait of a cocktail // bombay government punch

There are a lot of steps to this punch, but in the end it’s so worth it. Instead of having to mix drinks on the spot for guests, everyone can just help themselves. The ice block is beautiful and, as it melts, the mandarin slices begin to garnish the drink.

Ingredients for punch:

  • 13 oz lime juice (about 13 limes)
  • 3 cups mandarin orange syrup (directions below)
  • 1 bottle dark rum (750 ml bottle)
  • 1/2 bottle VSOP cognac (750 ml bottle)
  • 6 1/2 cups water
  • 3 black tea bags
  • 20 dashes of orange bitters
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 ice block (directions below)

Boil 6 1/5 cups of water. Once boiling, turn off heat and steep 3 tea bags for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, remove tea bags and let tea cool to room temperature. Combine cooled tea and syrup in punch bowl with lime juice, rum and cognac. Add bitters and sprinkle in cinnamon. Give it a strong stir to make sure the cinnamon doesn’t clump. Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, but no longer than a day if you’ve prepped ahead of time. About 30 minutes before serving remove punch from your fridge and add the ice block. This last step is important. The punch is much better once the ice has melted a little bit.

portrait of a cocktail // bombay government punch

Ingredients for mandarin orange syrup:

  • 3 cups demerara or turbinada sugar (This is real brown sugar and can be found at just about any grocery store.)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 5 mandarins, thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat. Watch the pot closely, once it reaches a simmer remove from heat. Stir occasionally to make sure all the sugar is dissolved and to help release juice and oils from the mandarins. Let syrup cool completely.

Ingredients for ice block:

  • water
  • 7 mandarins, thinly sliced
  • loaf pan

Place 1 layer of mandarin slices at the bottom of the loaf pan and enough water to just cover the slices. Place in the freezer about 2 hours, then add another layer of slices and water. Let this layer freeze for 2 hours. Repeat these steps until the loaf pan is full. I recommend doing this the day before so that it has all night to set and freeze. To remove the ice block from the pan turn it upside in your sink and run hot water over the pan until you hear the block fall out.

portrait of a cocktail // bombay government punch

Cin cin!

P.S. More cocktail recipes!