because what is life without good food?

Drinks

Strawberry Banana Kiwi Smoothie

Kiwi Strawberry Banana Smoothie

The other day I could feel my body needed something packed full of good nutrients and protein … I didn’t have much time to cook, so I quickly whipped up this delicious smoothie. I like how the kiwi adds a little “zing” to the taste, along with being a nutrient powerhouse. According to a study at Rutgers University, the kiwi is the most nutrient dense fruit, ounce for ounce. It’s high in vitamin C and one study showed that eating 2-3 kiwi fruits a day can reduce the potential for blood clots and decrease triglycerides. Yet another study cited the kiwi’s ability to protect and repair the body from DNA damage, which could protect against cancer. (Source: Super Kids Nutrition)

All of that, plus it makes a really yummy smoothie.

Kiwi Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Strawberry Banana Kiwi Smoothie

  • 2 small kiwi fruit
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 of a frozen banana
  • 3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup lowfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • A few fresh mint leaves

Cut the kiwi in half and scoop out the fruit from the fuzzy skin. Put the flesh of the kiwi along with the rest of the ingredients in your blender and blend everything till smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck and Scrumptious Sunday.


Skinny Peppermint Mocha Slushie

Skinny Peppermint Mocha Slushie

It’s National Coffee Day … I intended to make it to the coffee shop this morning to buy myself a fancy coffee, but then I got busy with other things … When I finally got home this afternoon, I still had a craving for coffee. I opened the fridge and there sat a pot of cold coffee that my son had made. It’s very warm (almost summer-ish!) for late September, so I decided a peppermint mocha slushie would be a fitting way to celebrate the occasion.

If I had thought ahead, I would have frozen some coffee ice cubes. Oh well, it was still delicious.

Skinny Peppermint Mocha Slushie

  • 1/2 cup coffee, brewed double strength, then chilled
  • 1 cup 2% lowfat milk (or fat free half and half would be even creamier … I am sure almond or coconut or soy milk would work fine for this too)
  • 3 teaspoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons Stevia in the raw
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • several fresh mint leaves (if you have them)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups crushed ice (or frozen coffee)

Pour everything into a blender and blend till it’s a nice smooth, slushie texture. Add more ice if needed to get it to the desired thickness.

Skinny Peppermint Mocha Slushie

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous FridayShare it Saturday, Scrumptious SundayWeekend Potluck, All my Bloggy Friends and Everyday Mom’s Meals.


Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

My dad loves cantaloupe. He loves it so much that one time he even built a “cantaloupe accelerator” so that his cantaloupe plants would start producing fruit earlier in the season. He doesn’t do the “accelerator” anymore, but he still grows cantaloupe every year, and he has perfected the art of growing them to the point where eating cantaloupe from dad’s garden is almost a spiritual experience. It is the sweetest, most flavorful cantaloupe you have ever tasted …

So we went to visit my parents the other weekend and his cantaloupe are ripe (but he’s having trouble with the gophers eating them … can you blame them for wanting a bite?) He mentioned to me that he and mom have been blending up the cantaloupe with some yogurt and drinking it just like that. I said to him “you mean like a lassi?” … well, he didn’t know it was called a lassi; he just knew he liked blending his cantaloupe with yogurt.

For those of you who don’t know, a Lassi is a drink made with yogurt. It is common in India and Pakastan. I was most familiar with the Mango Lassi which is a blended mango drink with yogurt, but I did a little research and discovered there are many ways to make a lassi: some are spiced and savory, some are fruity and sweet, but all of them are made with yogurt.

Anyway, my dad gave me some cantaloupe to bring home, so I had to try making his Cantaloupe Lassi. I added vanilla because I just love vanilla so much. I also froze some of the cantaloupe chunks to make it extra cold and smooth, almost like a milkshake. My dad is right (as usual!) … a Cantaloupe Lassi is truly a wonderful thing. It’s healthy, it’s cold, it’s quick, it’s easy, but most importantly: it’s delicious!

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

  • 1/2 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt … I have tried both plain (with no sweetener) and vanilla yogurt … I think I like the vanilla better, but they were both really good!
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour and drink!

Here’s another delicious variation …

Maple Mint Cantaloupe Lassi

  • 1/2 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • Several fresh mint leaves

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour and drink!

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

This recipe was shared at Manic Monday, Melt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty Tuesday, 1 Month of Fun and Cast Party Wednesday.


Lavender Lime Rose Fizz

Lavender Lime Rose Fizz

I started writing tonight and found myself pouring out my heart about what it feels like, as a divorced woman, planning my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary … thoughts on what I wish I had known when I was younger … what I hope my kids will know and what I STILL haven’t figured out yet  … and all sorts of things about love and life and being true to yourself and finding the right person …

… but you probably don’t want to hear all that stuff. You came here for the recipe. It is a recipe I stumbled across because of the A-Z Health Challenge I’m doing on facebook … the other day we talked about the health benefits of lime and everyone was sharing their lime recipes and this Maple Lavender Limeade was one of them. Maple Lavender Limeade … doesn’t that sound like such a lovely thing to drink? I grew lavender this year. I bought this teeny plant and it has been growing … It hasn’t bloomed yet, so I have just been waiting … but … hey, here is something I could use it for now!

Oh I had to try it! … I really really really MEANT to leave the recipe alone, but as I finished up the syrup part, I couldn’t help but think ooh, what if we did this with bubbles? … and then, well, hey, it’s Friday, it needs a little alcohol and I have this pretty rose vodka … so I had to add it … so that’s my story of how the Lavender Lime Rose Fizz came to be

… and then I went out for dinner with my two teenagers and we had a nice waiter and ate well and everything was so lovely that my son urged me to give him an extra nice tip … so I did.

Lavender Lime Rose Fizz

Lavender Lime Rose Fizz

Adapted from Project Healthy Ever After. You can use rosewater if you don’t want the alcohol … or if you’re making this for young ones who are not ready for adult beverages yet. Or leave out the roses and just make limeade. It’s really wonderful just like that too.

For the lavender lime syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Grade A maple syrup
  • 2 sprigs of fresh lavender (or 1 1/2 heaping tsp. of dried culinary lavender)
  • 1 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice (for me, that was about 7 limes)

Put the water and maple syrup in a pan and bring it to boiling. Remove from heat, add the lavender, then cover it up and let it steep for at least 15 minutes. Let it cool completely, then add the limes. Use immediately or funnel into a bottle and store in the fridge for future use.

To make each drink:

  • Lime wedges (use the ones you squeezed for the syrup!)
  • Club soda
  • 1/4 cup lavender lime syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons rose vodka (or rosewater for a non-alcoholic drink)

Stick a wedge of lime in the bottom of a tall glass, add ice & lime wedges to fill it. Pour in a splash of club soda on the bottom, then the lavender lime syrup and the rose vodka or rosewater. Top with club soda, then taste it. Add more of the lime syrup and/or maple syrup to suit your tastes. Garnish with a fresh organic rose, if you have one, or a slice of lime if a culinary rose isn’t available.

Lavender Lime Rose Fizz

This recipe was shared at Tastetastic ThursdayFoodie Friends Friday, Fit & Fabulous Friday and Scrumptious Sunday.


White Wine & Red Roses Sangria

White Wine and Red Roses Sangria

This is a white wine sangria with red rose petal-infused vodka and a tumble of wonderful fruits. It’s romantic and beautiful and tastes so wonderful that it’s a little dangerous. Please be careful not to drink too much of this if you’re driving … it’s probably best just to get a designated driver if you’re going to drink this, or stay home. I had a hard time keeping myself from drinking the whole pitcher myself …

My sister and her husband came for a visit this weekend and they left early this morning. I felt a little sad when they left, wished we could have made the visit longer somehow, but we both need to get back to our lives. I wish I had had time to make her some of this sangria too, but really we ran out of time.

White Wine & Red Roses Sangria

  • 1 bottle of white wine (I used Riesling)
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 1/4 cup rose petal vodka (you can buy it, but if you have organic roses, it’s easy to make … here’s my recipe)
  • 2 Tablespoons very berry syrup (recipe here)
  • 1/2 of an orange
  • 1 lime
  • 2 plums
  • 3 strawberries (or more if you have them … I just had a few left so I tossed them in)

Put some of the fruit in a pitcher and muddle it around a bit to release the flavors. Add the rest of the fruit, the wine, and the liqueurs. Set the pitcher in the fridge to “steep” for at least a couple hours, then enjoy over ice. You can top it with a little club soda when you serve it to add some sparkle if you like. I didn’t this time and was perfectly pleased with it just like this.

White Wine & Red Roses Sangria

This recipe was shared at Serendipity & SpiceScrumptious SundaysFamily Fresh MealsWeekend Potluck, and Tastetastic Thursday.


Red Cherry Rosemary Sangria

Red Cherry Rosemary Sangria

I made this sangria last weekend and finished it off last night and I miss it already. I am going to have to go get more fruit so I can make it again … the recipe came to me when I read my friend Ann’s recipe for classic Spanish Sangria. It looked so good, but of course I had to mess with it. I can never follow a recipe. I had to add some of my current obsessions … cherries. and rosemary. yes. wouldn’t that be perfect in Sangria? OMG, it was … soooo perfect.

(Slight basil tangent here, but bear with me, this will make sense later …) Last weekend at my party when I was explaining to one of my friends “what that taste was” in the watermelon sorbet … (basil) … and also mentioning that I put basil in my daughter’s berry syrup for the Italian Cream Sodas … he said (jokingly) “Ann, it sounds like you need a basil intervention!” … I laughed so hard! … yes, I probably do … I really love basil … (and can you believe I didn’t even mention the basil gelato!)

Red Cherry Rosemary Sangria

Of course then I mentioned this basil intervention joke on facebook and another friend said I need an intervention for roasted garlic and rosemary too. Yes, he’s right. On both counts. I have two garlic cookbooks from the Gilroy Garlic Festival (which I dream of attending someday!) … and I have a rosemary plant that I tend in a pot year round so I ALWAYS have rosemary. Yes, you could definitely say I have a rosemary obsession. I recently discovered it goes very well in drinks. Water (yes, water! put a sprig of rosemary in a jar of water in your fridge in the morning … it adds such a lovely flavor to it!), cocktails, and now, sangria. I have yet to try it in tea, but yes, I will try that too.

So this beautiful dark red sangria features two of my current obsessions: rosemary and cherries. It has been years since I’ve had fresh, sweet cherries so I am reveling in them.

Red Cherry Rosemary Sangria

Red Cherry Rosemary Sangria

Adapted from the Fountain Avenue Kitchen

  • 1 lime, halved and sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 2 handfuls of sweet cherries
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary syrup (recipe here)
  • 1 bottle fruity red wine (I used a bottle of my dad’s Trinity Red)
  • 1/2 cup berry or cherry brandy (I used my mulberry liqueur)
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
  • A couple sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup seltzer or club soda, chilled
  • ice cubes

 Directions:

  1. In a large pitcher or bowl, add the lime and some cherries. Muddle the fruit a bit with the back of a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except the seltzer or club soda and ice.
  3. Chill several hours or overnight. Just before serving, stir in seltzer or club soda and ice. What I did, actually, was as I mixed each glass, I put a few cubes of ice in the glass, add some fruit from the sangria, add a bit more ice and fruit, then pour in the sangria to fill 3/4 of the glass and put a splash of club soda over each glass.

Red Cherry Rosemary Sangria

This is my self-portrait/blooper shot. Do you see me there?

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayTastetastic Thursday and Weekend Potluck.


Making Rose Petal Vodka (or Rosewater)

Rose Petal Vodka

If you happen to have a rose bush that produces tons of flowers (or an organic florist), you can make this easy rose vodka with them. You’ll need at least a dozen big-sized roses that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides for at least a couple years. My house came with three big rose bushes in the front: two pink ones and a red one. The red one is my favorite, but together they bring so much color and joy to my front door.

It was my friend Melissa at ChinDeep that got me started on the idea of doing something besides looking at my roses. She makes wonderful things like rose butter tea sandwiches and rose petal ice. I tried rosewater first which was insanely simple, so I thought it can’t be too hard to make rose vodka either.

Whether you want to make rosewater or rose vodka, first you need some roses. Pick them and wash them to make sure they are free of bugs.

Roses for Rose Petal Vodka

Then pluck off the petals, removing the white part at the base of the petal (that I hear can be kind of bitter). Put them in a quart jar. Keep packing rose petals into the jar till the jar is packed full of rose petals, then pour vodka over the rose petals, covering them completely. If any stray petals are sticking up out of the liquid, push them back into the vodka.

Rose Petal Vodka

Set the jar in a dark place and let it sit for at least 10 days. Shake the jar every few days. You’ll notice the color from the rose petals will fade into the liquid over time.

Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth with a bowl underneath to remove the rose petals and funnel the liquid into a bottle. Once it’s strained it’s ready for making insanely romantic drinks like Vanilla Rose Vodka Iced Tea.

To make culinary rosewater:

Follow the same process to fill a quart jar with rose petals, but instead of pouring vodka over the petals, pour boiling water over them to cover. Let the roses sit and steep in the water at room temperature for 24 hours, then strain through a cheesecloth. Keep in a covered bottle in the fridge. I like making watermelon slushies with rosewater. They make my daughter happy because she loves roses.

This recipe was shared at Scrumptious Sundays, Tip JunkieWeekend Potluck and Totally Tasty Tuesdays.


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