Archive for the ‘Beverages’ Category

Strawberry Ice

The last three days, I think I’ve been on my first faux-cation. That’s right. A vacation that’s not real. It’s not like I’m actually even on vacation but just not going anywhere, which is a staycation. I’m not on one of those. I just emerged from one of the more intense periods of work I’ve ever experienced, culminating in a hugely successful film festival. It was fun in that mind-bending, 17-hour work day sort of way, ya know? Rewarding, exhilarating, but exhausting. And since we wrapped up late on Sunday night, it has been nearly impossible to force myself to do ANY activity that remotely resembles work: putting dishes in the dishwasher, cooking at all (seriously, I feel like I’m at the beach, we’ve been eating at restaurants with patios to take advantage of the nice weather), grocery shopping, nothing. Each time I’ve tried to get something done, I drift into daydreams of real beach vacations, lazy days in the sun, and the slower pace that simply MUST be coming soon.

But I miss you guys. I miss testing recipes, playing with food, editing photos, and writing to you. So I finally got myself back on track, though admittedly, the “recipe” that follows is vacation-inspired, and possible even in a stress-triggered faux-cation.

I made some dang strawberry ice.

Strawberry Iced Lemonade

Why? Because summer is coming, which brings lemonade. And strawberry lemonade is the best lemonade, and hiding strawberries in ice cubes seemed like fun! It’s an easy, splashy way to step up your beverage game at summer cookouts and spring brunches. And all you need to make it is ice, sugar, water, and your favorite ice cube tray.

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A little taste of summertime
Not to add to the din, but I feel like I’ve seen a ton of smoothie recipes popping up in the food blog universe. Despite the typically chilly weather outside, I’d wager a guess that January is the number-one month for smoothies, juice cleanses, and salad-eating.

And even I have this conflict. The desire both for thick, warm soups that shut out the cold of January but also for light, fresh meals that taste like the spring and summer to come.

Plus, Santa brought me an immersion blender for Christmas, and what better way to break it in than by crushing the heck out of some frozen raspberries?

Blenderrrrrrr

The disparate parts

This is a little smoothie. I can never get through a full-size smoothie, so this recipe is for about a half-pint. You can easily double it if you are full-size smoothie drinker.

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I’m not entirely sure where November went, but December (and with it, the holiday cooking season) seems to have arrived quite suddenly. Before Thanksgiving, I felt like I was finally on it for my holiday planning: I had lists, I had a rough cooking schedule (don’t judge me), I had some hard-to-find ingredients ordered. But now we’re here, hurtling through the first week of December, and I feel overwhelmed and scrambled and concerned that I won’t get everything done. As usual, I’ve probably scheduled waaaaaay too many recipes to try, I decided months ago that throwing a food-filled holiday party this weekend would be a good idea, and I have a fantastically busy schedule at work.

However, at least one of my gift-giving projects is already under way and is actually right on schedule. And just in case you think it’s a swell idea too, I’m gonna go ahead and ruin the surprise for those of you on my Santa list this year.

Everyone on my list is getting homemade mulling spices! And, because it’s fun and I like sharing, I’m hosting a little giveaway so that three of you readers can have some too!

Last year, my holiday crafty-gift-project was making these little hot chocolate sticks. They were a hit, and they make a mean mug of hot chocolate, but this year I wanted to come up with something a bit more versatile. After seeing tiny containers of mulling spices being sold at a market in Ohio, I knew I had found my next project.

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Apple cider. It is,without question, my favorite thing to drink. I’m rather fond of apple cider cold and unpasteurized, straight from an orchard, but I also believe that apple cider is truly at its best served warm, in a cozy little mug, for a soothing drink on cool nights in the fall and winter. From early October to New Years Eve, I need only the tiniest hint of a social gathering to bust out the crock pot and a half gallon of cider and am forlorn when parties I attend elsewhere don’t feature this essential holiday beverage.

The singular challenge I face with my affection for spiced hot cider? Unless I am hosting a party, I simply need one mugful. I’ve tried various packets of instant cider mix, but I usually find them far too sweet and not apple-y enough for my tastes. And the Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks? Tasty, but not good for the wallet. And again with the too sweet.

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I’m about to get real crafty on you.

I love making gifts. Buying a gift is fun, especially if you get to see the recipient open it, but making gifts is hugely entertaining. For me, it’s an excuse to try ridiculous and absurd and totally unnecessary edibles. Like this.

I’ve been wanting to make homemade hot chocolate as a gift now for some time, but felt somewhat neutral on the idea of mixing together cocoa and sugar in a jar to create a mix. Finally, I found what I was looking for: a cube of chocolate ON A STICK melted into hot milk, for a creamy, interactive hot chocolate experience. After making a double batch for my friends and family, I most certainly now want to make a batch for myself, and I thought you might, too.

The concept is simple enough: take a really, really good chocolate, melt it, add cocoa and powdered sugar, pipe into mold, add a stick, and call yourself Willy Wonka.

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