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.


Vanilla Rose Vodka Iced Tea

Vanilla Rose Vodka Iced Tea

Hey, it’s Friday! Time for a cocktail … I’m using my roses and rosemary to make a beautiful cold beverage to cool me down on this hot summer night. And there is so much to celebrate! So many of my foodie friends are reaching 3k and 5k milestones and my page is up to 8,000 plus … wow. I’m so grateful and blessed and happy. Thank you. We had a garden party to celebrate … if you want to see all the wonderful things my friends brought, go visit the Pinterest board.

Vanilla Rose Vodka Iced Tea

You can buy the rose vodka or if you have a good organic rosebush, it’s quite easy to make! (Rose vodka recipe is here.)

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened fruity iced tea (I made up some Lipton Peach Passion Tea using one of their iced tea bags and a quart of hot water)
  • 2 Tablespoons rose vodka
  • 1 Tablespoon rosemary syrup (recipe below)
  • 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • Club soda to top
  • Garnish: Organic rose or other edible flower petals, frozen into the ice cubes + a sprig of fresh rosemary

Fill a tall glass with ice cubes (for extra effect, freeze rose petals in the ice cubes). Add the tea, rose vodka, rosemary syrup and vanilla and stir to mix the flavors, then top with club soda and garnish with a sprig of rosemary (or better yet, a rose!) … and enjoy :)

Vanilla Rose Vodka Iced Tea

Rosemary syrup

  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar (to reduce calories, substitute stevia for part of the sugar)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rosemary leaves (I just cut a bunch of twigs from my little rosemary plant … I didn’t measure them, and I didn’t bother to take them off the stalks either … they are going to get strained out in the end, after all)

In a saucepan, mix together the sugar and water for the rosemary syrup and heat to boiling, stirring till the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the rosemary. Let the rosemary sit and steep for at least 15 minutes, then strain out the rosemary. Store in a covered bottle in the fridge.

This recipe was shared at Scrumptious SundaysWeekend Potluck, Manic MondayTotally Tasty Tuesdays and Foodie Friends Friday.


Rhubarb Rosemary Country Cocktail

Rhubarb Rosemary Country Cocktail

In the continuing saga of my search for something “different” to do with rhubarb, I discovered this cocktail recipe from Bon Appetit that really intrigued me. They call it a Double R Daiquiri, and I had a little time last night and it was SO hot outside that a nice cold cocktail sounded totally perfect. So I decided to give this little cocktail a try.

Now, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly — I accidentally threw all the sugar into the rosemary syrup, leaving none left for the rhubarb. Also, I didn’t wait several hours after cooking up the syrups like the recipe said. The two contrasting liquids seemed quite cool enough within a half hour or so to throw over rocks to me …

But really, I have to say the taste of this drink struck me more like a country cocktail than an upscale daiquiri. Perhaps it had something to do with the mason jar glass I put it in, but that light pink lemonade-ish tone along with the combination of sour, sweet, and earthy flavors just said “country roads” to me. I could almost break out singing a John Denver tune when I sip on this one … so forgive me, Todd Thrasher (the creator of this drink), I love your drink recipe and I hope I don’t offend you by doing so, but when I serve it, I’m going to call it a country cocktail.

Rhubarb Rosemary Country Cocktail

Rhubarb Rosemary Country Cocktail

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

Rosemary syrup

  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rosemary leaves (I just cut a bunch of twigs from my little rosemary plant … I didn’t measure them, and I didn’t bother to take them off the stalks either … they are going to get strained out in the end, after all)

Rhubarb juice

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

For the cocktail:

  • 1/2 cup rhubarb juice
  • 1 shot rum (I used Bacardi golden rum)
  • 2 Tablespoons rosemary syrup (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 of a lemon
  • Slice of lemon and sprig of rosemary, for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, mix together the sugar and water for the rosemary syrup and heat to boiling, stirring till the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the rosemary. Let the rosemary sit and steep for at least 15 minutes, then strain out the rosemary.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the rhubarb, water, and lemon juice in a blender and pulse into a coarse puree. Strain through fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. I strained it through a cloth, then squeezed the cloth to release most of the juice out of the puree.
  3. Now, the recipe says to refrigerate the rhubarb for 4 hours or more … I didn’t have THAT much time last night! So stick them in the fridge (or freezer?) and wait until both the liquids are cooled down enough to make a cocktail. You can make these in a pitcher if you want … see the original recipe for instructions on that. I wasn’t going to drink a pitcher-full last night by myself, so I had to improvise on an individual serving. This is what I came up with: fill a tall glass (or mason jar) most of the way with ice. Pour in 1/2 cup of the rhubarb juice, add a shot of rum, a couple tablespoons of rosemary syrup, then squeeze the juice out of 1/4 of a lemon and put it in the glass along to release the oils from the peel as well. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a slice of lemon (or a lemon peel twist) and enjoy!

Rhubarb Rosemary Country- Cocktail

This recipe was shared at Summer Drinks Potluck Party.


Very Berry Basil Wine Spritzer

Very Berry Basil Wine Spritzer

Soooo I found another use for that wonderful Very Berry Syrup from the Very Berry Italian Cream Sodas. Add it to a little white wine with some club soda and it makes a really nice refreshing spritzer. The thing that makes this magic is really the syrup, which has two kinds of berries and a bunch of basil in it, along with a splash of vanilla. It’s delightful.

This is what I was sipping on as I was grilling up the pizzas last night …

Very Berry Basil Wine Spritzer

Very Berry Basil Wine Spritzers

  • White wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • Very berry syrup (recipe here)
  • Club soda
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: basil leaves and/or edible flowers like violets

Fill a wine glass about 1/2 full of wine, add a few ice cubes and a teaspoon or two of the very berry syrup. Taste it to see if it’s to your liking, and add wine or a bit more syrup to adjust to the level of sweetness you want, then add a splash of club soda (for the bubbles!) and garnish with flowers and/or basil leaves.

Very Berry Basil Wine Spritzer

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Very Berry Italian Cream Sodas

Very Berry Italian Cream Sodas

One day my daughter and I were shopping downtown and we got thirsty, so we stopped at this cute little coffee shop where they make all sorts of wonderful things and I suggested she try an Italian Cream Soda. She wasn’t really sure she wanted to, but I talked her into trying one … especially since they had several berry flavors to choose from. One taste and she was totally hooked. She has loved Italian Cream Sodas ever since. Every time we go to that little coffee shop … or any Italian place … she wants a cream soda.

So with all these berries in my house lately, I couldn’t help but think of making some syrup for her favorite sodas. And then last night we were going over to my friend’s house for dinner, so we brought along the syrup and the club soda and some half & half and everyone had a cream soda. or two. or three. I wasn’t really counting …

I’ll share the normal (non-alcoholic) version first and then at the end I will give you a grownup version.

Very Berry Italian Cream Sodas

Syrup:

  • 1 pound strawberries, washed, hulls removed (frozen unsweetened strawberries would work too)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen mulberries (you could substitute raspberries or blackberries if you don’t have mulberries)
  • A big handful of fresh basil leaves (the basil is what makes these so amazing …)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of sugar (or you can use a sugar/stevia mix … I think honey or another sweetener would work well too)
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Put all the syrup ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium high heat till boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the berries are soft and mushy and the liquid is bright red. Strain through a cheesecloth into a bowl, then funnel the sweet syrup into a bottle, cover and put it in the fridge to cool. Don’t toss the berries, though! You can blend those up and make a nice berry sauce. I have great plans for those berries …

Anyway, now that you have this beautiful red syrup, you’re ready to make a cream soda … oh you are going to love this.

For each soda:

  • Ice
  • 1/2 cup Club soda
  • 2 Tablespoons Very Berry Syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons Fat free (or regular) half & half (we used the fat free version)

Fill a tall glass mostly with ice, then add about 1/2 cup of club soda and 2 tablespoons of the syrup. The glass should be mostly full at this point. (If not, you can add more soda & syrup.) You could drink it just like this, but you would be missing the BEST part! I had to enlist my daughter’s help for this photo shoot …

Very Berry Basil Italian Cream Sodas

Gently pour 2 Tablespoons of cream over the top of the soda … it will start to swirl around in the glass, making a beautiful display …

Very Berry Basil Italian Cream Sodas

Keep pouring, taking care NOT to spill over the side like we did … ;)

Strawberry Mulberry Basil Italian Cream Sodas

Watch the cream dance and swirl in the glass till you can’t stand the suspense anymore, then stir up the soda with your straw to mix all the flavors and savor the deliciousness …

Strawberry Mulberry Basil Italian Cream Sodas

Adults-Only Version of Very Berry Italian Cream Sodas:

Fill tall glass most of the way with ice, but when you add the club soda, leave a little extra room on top. Add 1 Tablespoon of the syrup and 1 shot of Chambord (or homemade berry liqueur). Drizzle a Tablespoon or two of cream on top, stir and enjoy.

Blooper shot!

We had to do this photo shoot twice … the first time, we made a bit of a mess and we had to clean up the spilled cream and the poor drowned strawberry, BUT the swirl in the glass looked really cool, didn’t it? (Added Bonus! We got to make two sodas : )

Very Berry Strawberry Mulberry Basil Italian Cream Sodas

This recipe was shared at Scrumptious SundaysCast Party WednesdayTastetastic Thursday, It’s a Keeper ThursdayFull Plate ThursdayThursday’s Treasures and the Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Watermelon Rosewater Slushies

Watermelon Rosewater Slushies

There is something insanely romantic about roses. When my roses started blooming this year, don’t ask me why, but I desparately wanted to make some rosewater. I had no reason why I was doing it or what I was going to do with it, but I wanted to make it. So I did. The jar of rosewater has been just sitting in my fridge, waiting for me to find something to do with it … I could easily drink it in an hour, but it seems too special to just drink like water.

And then today it was so hot and windy … my daughter and I went out on a short shopping expedition and when we came back, we were both all hot and thirsty. I opened up the freezer to look for some food for my son and there right on the top was a bunch of frozen watermelon cubes.

I wasn’t really sure what I was doing; I just started doing it. I knew both my daughter and I needed some serious hydration. Something to cool us off. I threw a bunch of the frozen watermelon cubes in the blender, added some rosewater and some water and started blending. It turned out lightly sweet, rose-scented, frothy and slushy, pink on the top, and bright red on the bottom. Refreshing, cool, inviting, and insanely romantic. What I really love about it is: you can taste the roses.

Watermelon Rosewater Slushie

Watermelon Rosewater Slushies

  • About 4 cups of watermelon cubes, frozen
  • 1 cup of culinary rosewater (recipe below)
  • Water, as needed (I used 1 1/2 cups, I think)
  • Honey or juice concentrate or a simple syrup made with rose petals or rosewater, to taste (I didn’t add any, but if you’re used to a sweeter drink or serving to children who want it sweeter, you might want to add some … my parched 13-year-old daughter said it was fine just like that, with no sweetener)

Put the watermelon cubes and rosewater in a blender. Add water as needed to make a slushie consistency that you can sip through a straw. Add sweetener if you like. I really don’t think it needs any; the watermelon and the roses both have such a lovely flavor, but make it to suit your own tastes. Garnish with a fresh organic rose, if you have one, or a slice of watermelon.

Watermelon Rosewater Slushie

How to make Culinary Rosewater

Cut fresh organic red roses and wash to remove any residue or bugs. Remove the petals and snip the white part at the bottom off of each petal. Fill a quart jar with the snipped rose petals, packing them in. I think I used about 18 big roses. Boil water and pour the boiling water over the roses, filling the jar. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours, then strain out the rose petals. Store in the fridge in a sealed container.

To make a rose-scented simple syrup: mix 1 cup rosewater with 1 cup sugar. Add some rose petals (with white parts trimmed off) if you like. Bring to a boil, then cook for a few minutes and strain out the rose petals. Let cool before using. Use in beverages or anything that needs a little sweetening.

This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth Mondays, Makin’ you Crave Mondays, Totally Tasty TuesdaysSummer Drinks Potluck Party and Thursday’s Treasures.


Watermelon Basil Chia Smoothie

Basil Watermelon Chia Slushie

It’s time for the Crazy Cooking Challenge and this month we are all making smoothies. The assignment is to find another blogger’s smoothie recipe, make it, and blog about it.

I chose this watermelon smoothie (slushie?) from the Full Belly Sisters because as some of you who follow me on facebook know, I recently bought a watermelon that was less then stellar. To put it bluntly, it sucked. I asked my facebook friends what to do with it and I had such an amazing response! There were some really great ideas there, and this just happened to be one of them. I also just so happen to have some chia seeds that I won from Lauren at Nutri-Savvy and Ruth’s Foods.

Justine used mint in her slushie, and I have a tiny bit of mint that I planted, but it’s just starting and doesn’t have many leaves yet, so I decided to use some of the basil instead, since that plant ALWAYS needs trimming–and besides, basil is a member of the mint family and it goes very well with watermelon. The other change I made to the recipe was I had to add some liquid because my blender did NOT want to blend up the watermelon cubes “dry”. If you have one of those juicer kind of blenders, perhaps you won’t need any extra liquid, but mine was NOT budging without adding some liquid. I added it 1/4 cup at a time, till it was liquid enough to drink through a straw. It was still plenty thick, though, as you can see.

Basil Watermelon Chia Slushie

Watermelon Basil Chia Smoothie

(yields about 24 ounces)
  • 4 cups cubed watermelon, frozen
  • about 5 or 6 basil leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • juice of one lime
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup of juice (I used apple cherry juice)
  • 1/4 cup of culinary rosewater (or you can substitute water or juice)
  • Thin watermelon slices and basil leaves, for garnish

Put the watermelon, basil, chia, lime juice, and salt in a blender. Add 1/4 cup of juice and try blending. Add juice (or rosewater) 1/4 cup at a time until the smoothie blends, then add more as needed to get the smoothie to the thickness that you like.

If you drink the whole thing yourself, it will be like eating a meal. You will be full for a long while. The chia seeds add fiber, calcium and protein, so they give this drink a lot of “staying power”, and with all the nutritional benefits of the watermelon and the juice, you will be getting a lot of the vitamins, water, and nutrients that your body needs. Not to mention that it’s quite refreshing to drink this sweet slushie on a hot summer day.

Basil Watermelon Chia Slushie

This post is for the Crazy Cooking Challenge

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Click here to see all the other awesome smoothies in the Crazy Cooking Challenge …

This recipe was also shared at I’m Lovin’ It.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Chia Smoothie

(a.k.a. “Healthy Muck”)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie ... Health-ified

So far, I have a total of one smoothie on this blog. One. I guess if you count this one, that’s two, but it’s really the same smoothie (this one is a health-ified version of the other one), so does that count? I think it’s still just one.

I do really love smoothies … but I realized a while ago that many smoothies are packed with enough calories for a meal for a petite little middle-aged person like me. I like to maximize the enjoyment of my limited number of calories, and I tend to drink fast … so smoothies are not normally such a good dietary choice for me. I would much rather have a salad I can munch on for a long time … it satisfies my palate much better than a quickly-downed smoothie. For my son on the other hand, he is well over six feet tall and still growing … he loves smoothies and I’m quite glad to oblige him.

Anyway, the ONE smoothie that I do have on my blog is the cream of the crop. It’s my son’s favorite smoothie … AND the only smoothie I would choose to have to replace a meal, and I would enjoy every drop of it. My dad invented it. We used to call it “Grampa smoothies” up until my son’s friend said it looks like muck. So it was re-named “Muck”.

Anyway, I got a couple new ingredients to try out. First I won a bag of chia seeds from Lauren at Nutri-Savvy and Ruth’s Foods. I had never used chia seeds before, but I’ve heard they are a nutritional powerhouse: packed with Omega-3s, plus protein and fiber, they are even better than flax seed or quinoa. AND then a friend was telling me how wonderful PB2 is. It’s powdered peanut butter with most of the fat removed. I used to think that sounded just totally gross, but after talking to my friend, I thought what they heck: I’ll give it a shot. And did you know they have a CHOCOLATE version of PB2? Who can resist chocolate and peanut butter? Only 45 calories in two tablespoons? Um, yeah. I’m in. I found it in the health food section at our grocery store, but if you can’t find it there, it is available on Amazon.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Chia Smoothie

I expected that my health-ified version wouldn’t really be as good. And really, I can’t say it has the same rich decadence as the original, but it was pretty darn close. The chia seeds added a slight bit of crunch … but they didn’t change the wonderful chocolate peanut butter banana taste. And the Chocolate PB2 did EXACTLY what I wanted it to do: gave it all the chocolate peanut butter taste without all the fat, sugar and calories of peanut butter and chocolate syrup.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Chia Smoothie (a.k.a., “Healthy Muck”)

  • 1 1/2 bananas, frozen
  • 1 cup lowfat milk (I used 1% milk, but you can use skim or I am sure almond or soy milk would work well too)
  • 2 Tablespoons Chocolate PB2
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in blender and blend till smooth. Pour into a nice tall glass (or two smaller ones) and enjoy! Drizzle with a tiny bit of real chocolate syrup if you like …

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Chia Smoothie

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Banana-Smoothie-Nutrition-Facts

Just for fun, I put it in the Calorie Count Recipe Analyzer on About.com and it gets an “A” for a Nutrition Grade!

With 10.6 grams of fiber and 17.1 grams of protein, not to mention 39% of your day’s needs for calcium and 26% of your vitamin C, it’s a fantastic way to start your day.

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous FridaysWeekend Potluck, Manic Mondays, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Cast Party Wednesday, and Thursday’s Treasures.


Barefoot in the Garden Basil, Wine & Rum Spritzer

“When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, There is always the garden.”– Minnie Aumonier

Barefoot in the Garden Basil Rum & Wine Spritzer

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”– Robin Williams

Barefoot in the Garden Wine Basil Rum Spritzer

“Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul.” — The Koran

A rose in my garden

“Earth laughs in flower.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson

A rose in my garden

Barefoot in the Garden Basil, Wine & Rum Spritzer

  • 1 1/2 oz. white wine
  • 1 oz. golden rum (I used Bacardi Gold)
  • 1 1/2 oz. basil syrup
  • Club soda
  • Basil leaves & edible flowers for garnish

Fill a large wine glass 2/3 full of ice cubes. In order, add the white wine, golden rum, then the basil syrup. Top with club soda and garnish with basil leaves and a flower.

To make the basil syrup: Mix equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan. Heat till boiling. Toss in a handful of basil leaves. Cook for about 5 minutes, then strain out the basil. Let the syrup cool before using and store in a bottle in the fridge.

Barefoot in the Garden Basil Wine & Rum Spritzer

“All the wars of the world, all the Caesars, have not the staying power of a lily in a cottage garden.”– Reginald Farrer

This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck and Summer Drinks Potluck Party.


Dandelion Flower Iced Tea

Dandelion Iced Tea

I’ve been eating my dandelions (from my chemical-free yard!) in salads lately, but wanted another fun way to use them. I saw some beautiful wild violet and dandelion lemonade that I also want to try, but I drink a lot of iced tea in the summertime and I thought, “why not put them in my tea?”

Dandelions have many health benefits (this is from the Herb Companion):

“The dandelion has long been used as an herb for its medicinal properties. This edible plant is rich in vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamin A. It can be applied externally or taken internally to address a number of health problems, most prominently kidney disorders, liver dysfunction and mild digestive problems. Preparing a root infusion or a tonic often aids in strengthening the kidneys and eliminating toxins from the body. The dandelion is also helpful with its powerful diuretic properties, flushing the system without depleting potassium levels.”

It’s a simple thing to make. Just gather some fresh, clean dandelion flowers that have not been sprayed with any pesticides or herbicides. Put them in a jar. I used a quart jar and filled it about 1/3 of the way with flowers.

Dandelion Iced Tea

Pour hot boiling water over the flowers, add a tea bag or two or four (depending on how big your tea bags are … if the tea bags you’re using are meant for one cup of tea, you’ll want to use one tea bag for each cup of water you put in). Any kind of tea will work! Herbal tea, green tea, white tea, black tea. I used a Peach Passion Iced Green Tea bag from Lipton.

Let it steep for 10 minutes. You can then strain out the dandelions and remove the tea bag (or do that step at serving time). Chill in the fridge and serve over ice. Of course you can sweeten it to your liking. I have learned to like my tea unsweetened.

I found the dandelions added a nice floral note to the taste of the tea.

This recipe was shared at Fabulous FridayFit & Fabulous FridaysWeekend Potluck and Trick or Treat Tuesdays.


Basil-Infused Strawberry Peach Sangria

Strawberry Peach Sangria with Peach Basil Syrup

I suddenly had the urge to make some peach sangria yesterday and we were headed to my friend’s house for dinner. It seemed like the perfect thing to bring to go with our barbecue on an unseasonably warm spring night. We had chile lime burgers and chicken drumsticks, salad, strawberries and sangria on the patio. It was a lovely meal with  lovely friends. And we got to meet their new puppy. She is SO adorable.

Last summer my parents went on a peach canning spree. They decided instead of buying the cans of peaches at the store for the grandchildren to eat in the wintertime, they would just can the wonderful fresh peaches they had. So they canned a bunch … well they didn’t all get eaten over the winter like they planned and they ended up with too many peaches in their pantry. Which means I was the lucky recipient of some home-canned peaches. Woo hoo!

This sangria was such a nice refreshing drink. The basil adds a little subtle hint of taste to it that really makes it wonderful.

Strawberry Peach Sangria with Peach Basil Syrup

Basil-Infused Strawberry Peach Sangria

Basil-Infused Peach Syrup

  • 1 cup peach juice (the light syrup from canned peaches works well)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened peach-flavored iced tea (I used Lipton Peach Pomegranate Green iced tea)
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves
The Sangria
  • 1 750 ml bottle of white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 2 Tablespoons orange liqueur or Grand Marnier
  • A few kumquats or an orange or two, sliced or cut into wedges
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Fresh or frozen peach slices
  • Optional: sparkling water or sprite

Directions:

First, make the basil-infused syrup: In a small saucepan, mix the peach juice, sugar, tea, and basil leaves. Heat over medium high heat till boiling, and boil for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and strain out the basil leaves. Set in the fridge or the freezer to chill.

Once the syrup has chilled, mix the basil-infused syrup with the wine, fruit, and orange liqueur. I think it would be fun to make ice cubes out of some of the liquid at this point, but I hadn’t planned ahead enough for that … I just froze my peach slices to keep the sangria nice and cold.

Put the fruit in the pitcher and add the wine mixture. If you want it bubbly, add a cup of sparkling water or sprite. If it’s too sweet for your tastes, add some of the unsweetened peach tea. Make sure to scoop some of the fruit into each glass as you serve the sangria. Eating the fruit at the end makes a lovely little dessert at the end of your drink.

Basil-Infused Strawberry Peach Sangria

This recipe was shared at  Talent Show Tuesdays, Trick or Treat TuesdaysCast Party Wednesdays, and Full Plate Thursday.


Yellow Watermelon Kumquat Margaritas

Kumquat Watermelon Margaritas

Happy National Margarita Day! I went to my fridge to make a classic lime margarita and discovered I had NO limes, but still a few kumquats … hmm … kumquats are kinda like limes. They’re tart but also sweet … I bet they would be good in a margarita.

And the watermelon? I know, it’s not watermelon season. But I had some yellow watermelon in my fridge that I had “pickled” a while ago by drowning it in tequila. It makes a really nice watermelon-flavored tequila. And the bonus is that you can use the drowned watermelon chunks in margaritas. I think you could really use this same idea with just about any fruit you like in your margaritas. Berries, mangoes, guavas, hey, whatever! Watermelon is REALLY nice in margaritas, though.

So this is my way of celebrating National Margarita Day. The way I see it, with all that blended fruit in there, it’s really quite healthy, right?

Watermelon Kumquat Margaritas

Yellow Watermelon Kumquat Margaritas

Adapted from Saveur

To make the drunken watermelon and watermelon-infused tequila:

  • Yellow Watermelon, seeded and cut into chunks
  • Silver Tequila

Put the watermelon in a glass jar. Fill the jar with tequila, completely covering all the watermelon chunks. Seal the jar, and keep it in the fridge for at least 2 days. (It keeps for a LONG time if you don’t use it right away.)

To make the margaritas:

  • 1 cup of drunken watermelon chunks
  • 1 kumquat (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter … if yours are smaller, toss in a few!), cut into chunks and seeded … (or substitute some lime or orange juice if you don’t have a kumquat)
  • 1/4 cup watermelon-infused tequila
  • 1/8 cup limeade concentrate
  • 1/8 cup Cointreau or Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • Ice cubes

Put all ingredients in a blender (yes, the whole kumquat should go in, including the rind!) and add a few ice cubes. Blend till smooth. Add more ice cubes till the margaritas are the desired slushiness. I didn’t make mine too icy today because it is still February and although it is unseasonably warm here today, I’m not quite up for a slushy cold margarita yet.

Watermelon Kumquat Margaritas

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Cinco de Mayo Fiesta.


Cranberry Lime Vodka

This recipe is so easy, you can make it in your sleep. Well, at least I hope you sleep while it’s “cooking”! It takes a week or two, so you still have time to make it for Christmas if you have someone that loves cranberries and vodka.

(Adapted from Fancy Napkin)

Cranberry Lime Vodka

This is all you do: Cut a bunch of cranberries in half, and slice a lime into thin wedges. Layer them in a jar. I used a small jar because I only wanted a little, but if you are making it for friends for the holidays, you probably want to use a larger jar and a lot more cranberries.

Cranberry Lime Vodka

This is a pint jar and it took about 1/3 of a bag of fresh cranberries. I used 1/2 a lime I think but next time I would use less lime to bring out the taste of the cranberries more.

Fill the jar amost completely with fruit, then pour in vodka so it more than completely covers the fruit. (Use whatever vodka you like … the cheap kind is fine because the fruit flavors will overpower the vodka anyway.) Cover tightly and store the jar in a dark place for a week or two, making sure to visit it and shake it up every couple days to distribute the flavors.

After the “resting period”, strain the fruit out by pouring into a cheesecloth covered strainer over a bowl and squeezing all the juices out of the fruit, then funnel into a pretty jar (or whatever your little heart desires).

Cranberry Lime Vodka

You will have a beautiful ruby red vodka. It’s going to be sour because cranberries and limes are naturally sour. You probably want to add a bit of simple syrup (recipe below) to sweeten it up. I wanted it sour because I have some champagne that is too sweet and I wanted something to tone that sweetness down a bit, but if you want your vodka a little sweeter, add some of the simple syrup below.

Fancy Napkin has a fantastic recipe for Crantinis using this vodka!

Simple Syrup

  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 T. grated lime zest

Mix the sugar, water, and lime zest in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Add a bit of syrup to the cranberry lime vodka and shake, then taste. Add more until you have the desired sweetness. Save the rest of the simple syrup for another occasion (like berry liqueur!)

This recipe has been shared at Tuesday Talent Show.


Protein Power Pumpkin Banana Smoothie

Protein Power Pumpkin Banana Smoothie

Here’s a little something to keep you going through your power shopping trip this Black Friday.

Protein Power Pumpkin Banana Smoothie

  • 1 1/2 cups cold milk (can use regular, soy or almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup partly frozen pumpkin puree (it’s hard to measure frozen pumpkin, so thaw it partially in the microwave … or just add a hunk of frozen)
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice syrup (use store-bought or make your own: recipe here)
  • 1/2 of a frozen banana
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. This makes enough for two smoothies, but I drank it all myself.


Make your Own Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte

with low-fat, non-dairy, and low-sugar options

Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latte

I have some friends from India that I met in California. Many years ago, they introduced me to chai tea–a sweet, milky drink spiced with exotic Indian spices–and it has since become a  necessity in my morning routine. Some people can’t start their day without coffee–I can’t start my day without chai. I keep 4 to 5 different varieties of chai tea bags on hand at all times, and I take an assortment of them with me when I travel. As long as I can find some hot water and milk in the morning, I am set. My very favorite chai tea bags are:

  1. Tazo Organic Chai: it has a peppery bite to it. This is what I usually start with.
  2. Stash Premium Double Spice Chai Black Tea: Intense with spices. I like that.
  3. Twinings French Vanilla Chai: A mellow, sweet, vanilla tasting chai.
  4. Celestial Seasonings Decaf Sweet Coconut Chai: the coconut with the chai is heavenly.

So no, you don’t have to go to a coffee shop to get a great chai latte. Save yourself a lot of money and make your own at home. You can easily do this as a Pumpkin Espresso Latte by skipping the tea bags and adding a couple shots of espresso at the end. I’ll give you a simplified microwave version too … just in case you’re in a hurry. I always seem to be in a hurry …

Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte

Highly adapted from the kitchn’s recipe for Pumpkin Spice Latte (the coffee-inated kind).
makes 1-2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk (you can use lowfat, nonfat or soy/almond/coconut milk–whatever you like! If you want to cut calories even further, you can use half skim milk/half water)
  • 3 teaspoons of Pumpkin Spice Syrup (recipe below)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Sugar or sweetener to taste
  • 2 chai tea bags (or for a less-spiced drink, use black, white or green tea bags)

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin spice syrup and sugar (or sugar substitute).
  2. Set the tea bags in the liquid and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, then remove the tea bags.
  4. Transfer to a blender and process for 15 seconds until foamy. If you don’t have a blender, don’t worry about it – just whisk the mixture really well with a wire whisk.
  5. Pour into a large mug or two mugs.

Quickie microwave directions: Fill your mug with milk (or half milk/half water, which is what I usually do). Microwave for 2 – 3 minutes or until it’s as hot as you like your tea. Add a chai tea bag, then add 2 t. pumpkin spice syrup, 1/2 t. vanilla, and sweeten to taste with your choice of sweetener. Let steep for a few minutes. Stir with a spoon to mix–or if you want that frothy latte effect, take out the tea bag and whir it briefly with a hand blender.

Optional: Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, or cinnamon–or for a really decadent treat, drizzle the top of the whipped cream with a little salted caramel sauce. I just sprinkled mine with a little nutmeg.

Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latte

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups sugar  (I substituted half of the sugar with stevia so I used: 3/4 c. sugar + 18 packets of stevia)
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger (or put a little nub of peeled fresh ginger root in the water as it’s cooking)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 tsp. ginger sugar (this is the sugar that falls down off the ginger when you are making candied ginger–if you don’t have any ginger sugar, you can skip this. It just adds a little extra zip to the syrup.)
  • 3 tbsp. pumpkin puree

Directions:

  1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  2.  Toss in the cinnamon sticks and cloves, then whisk in the remaining spices and the pumpkin puree.
  3. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, without letting the mixture come to a boil. If you screw up and it does accidentally come to a boil, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal — mine did and the syrup tasted fine!
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and funnel into a bottle or jar.
  6. Store in the refrigerator.

Yellow Watermelon Basil Sorbet & the Versatile Blogger Award

verstile-blogger-awardLast week was an incredible week … I was awarded the Versatile Blogger award FOUR times! I am so grateful to have such awesome foodie friends.

Three Rules come with this award:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself
  3. Send it along to 15 other Bloggers and let them know you have awarded them!

First a GREAT BIG HAPPY THANK YOU!

Thank you to my sweet sweet foodie friends for this award:
  1. Lisa’s Dinnertime Dish
  2. Serious Food for the Soul
  3. Newlyweds Blog
  4. A Healthy Jalapeno

As a special thank you, I made some delicious Yellow Watermelon Basil Sorbet! (made with yellow watermelon … and a bit of tequila) I SO wish we could all sit down and have some together.

Boozy Basil Watermelon Sorbet

Second, the 7 things about me:

  1. I have a black cat who I think secretly wants to keep me all to himself. He sits right next to me all day every day while I’m working, blogging or facebooking. He’s fat and he’s lazy but he loves me and I love him. Even if he is the stinkiest cat ever.
  2. I have two wonderful children. (Well okay, maybe that’s not such a secret.)
  3. I love trees.
  4. My favorite color is purple.
  5. Both my kids are now taller than me. And they really love that.
  6. My kids and I all do TaeKwonDo.
  7. I sing in a choir. It makes me happy.

And FINALLY: The Winners!

So now I get to honor 15 other awesome bloggers! The most wonderful thing about having a food blog is meeting such wonderful people along the way! Every day I meet more foodies and the whole community is just infused with joy and love and sharing.

I always have a hard time selecting awardees … there are SO many great foodies who deserve it. So yeah, I couldn’t quite stick within the limit (can’t follow a recipe either  …) On this list are great cooks, amazing people, fantastic photographers, and some health and nutrition experts. Eat well, live well, be well, my friends.

  1. The Southern Lady Cooks
  2. The Naptime Chef
  3. Dine & Dish
  4. The Spicy RD
  5. Mother Thyme
  6. Family Fresh Cooking 
  7. The Truffled Pig
  8. DeeDee’s Delights
  9. Linda’s Italian Table
  10. Thyme Square Garden
  11. Happyolks
  12. Reluctant Entertainer
  13. Barefeet in the Kitchen
  14. Debz Delicious Meals
  15. Sunday at the Giacomettis
  16. Yummy Mummy
  17. I Can Cook That

And I know you’ve all been waiting for the recipe for the Sorbet:

Basil Watermelon Sorbet

Basil Watermelon Sorbet

This is sort of a cross between a watermelon tequila slushie and a sorbet–if you want it to be more of a slushie beverage than a sorbet, add more alcohol. If you’re making it for the kiddos, leave out the booze! It’s very refreshing. You could probably substitute stevia or agave or honey for the sugar if you like.

The subtle basil taste with the watermelon is just heaven. I really love the added little bite from the tequila too.

  • 4 c. cubed, seeded watermelon. I used a yellow watermelon from my mom and dad’s garden. Have I mentioned I am a very very lucky girl?
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. water
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 c. tequila (Add extra watermelon flavor by using watermelon tequila in this recipe! Just fill a jar with watermelon cubes and fill with tequila. Store in the fridge for two weeks. Then use the watermelon and tequila as you like. It keeps in the fridge for a LOOOOONG time and it’s awesome in watermelon margaritas!)
  • 1/8 c. Cointreau

Directions:

  1. Put the watermelon in the blender and blend till the watermelon turns into juice. Strain through a strainer to catch any missed seeds and remove the excess pulp.
  2. In a small pan, boil the sugar and the water till the sugar dissolves. Add the basil and remove from heat, allowing the basil to steep in the syrup for about 5 minutes. Strain the syrup to remove the basil leaves. Cool the syrup before adding to the watermelon juice.
  3. Combine the watermelon juice, the syrup and liquors, then freeze in a ice cream freezer (I have one of those little Cuisinart jobbies and I just love it!) until it’s frozen.
  4. Enjoy immediately or freeze for later. If you make this without the liquor, you’re going to want to eat it right away because it will get too hard in the freezer.

Recipe adapted from Rosemary and the Goat

Basil Watermelon Sorbet

This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food.

This recipe was shared at Miz Helen’s Full Plate Thursdays.


Mocha Cream Liqueur Slimmed Down

Sorta Skinny Mocha Cream Liqueur (Homemade Bailey's)

A creamy dreamy, rich and sweet coffee cream liqueur without all the fat of the heavy cream that’s in Bailey’s and those “store bought” cream liqueurs.

Not quite Bailey’s, but oh so good just the same. A very nice nightcap or little something to slip into your coffee.

Did you make the homemade coffee liqueur yet? Hurry up and get it started … you are going to want it for this project!

Your friends called to tell me they would REALLY love you if you gave them a little bottle of this as a gift. (Just make sure they know it should be kept in the fridge!)

Sorta Skinny Mocha Cream Liqueur

Mocha Cream Liqueur Made Skinnier

Adapted from  from New Country Fare: Glorious Liqueurs. 150 Recipes for Spirited Desserts, Drinks and Gifts of Food. (If you are under 21, please skip this recipe.)

Feel free to adjust it to your own liking and make it your own. :)

  • 1 (14 ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup homemade coffee liqueur — or Kahlua is ok too
  • 1/4 cup coconut rum
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons french vanilla espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup fat free half and half
  • 1/4 c. chocolate syrup (This is totally optional–I didn’t include it this time–I thought it was quite sweet enough already!)

Directions:

  1.  Blend ingredients in blender till smooth.
  2. Store in refrigerator. Will keep for 2-3 weeks, maybe longer. I don’t think mine has ever lasted that long!
  3. Stir or shake thoroughly each time before serving.

This is great served over ice, blended with or drizzled over ice cream and/or cake, or in a mug of hot coffee.

I think if you wanted to cut the sugar, you could replace the sweetened condensed milk with evaporated milk, then add the sweetener of your choice.

A lactose-free version could be had by swapping out the condensed milk for whatever type of lactose-free creamer you prefer and using almond or coconut milk in place of the fat free half and half, then adding sugar or sweetener until it’s sweet enough for your tastes.

Lowfat Mocha Cream Liqueur

This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food. I hope this post helps you connect with some of your loved ones — the “over 21″ ones anyway!

This recipe was shared at Valentine’s Day Blog Hop and Katherine Martinelli’s St Patrick’s Day Blog Hop


Making your own Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)

Homemade Coffee Liqueur

“Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven.”  ~Jessi Lane Adams

Do you love coffee? I do. I love the smell of it … remember it even as a child, I loved the smell of my dad’s coffee.

Homemade coffee liqueur

So yes, I also love coffee liqueur. And I always like the idea of making things that you normally buy at the store. It’s just fun, learning how to make things like this. You don’t have to go buy Kahlua. This is super-easy to make.

Kahlua made at home

“Coffee is the best thing to douse the sunrise with.”  ~Terri Guillemets

Coffee Liqueur

Recipe from New Country Fare: Glorious Liqueurs. 150 Recipes for Spirited Desserts, Drinks and Gifts of Food. (If you are under 21, please skip this recipe.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. instant coffee granules or crystals
  • 3 c. vodka
  • 1 1/2 T. good quality vanilla extract
  • 10 – 15 whole coffee beans
Directions:
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the brown and granulated sugars with the water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the mixture forms a syrup.
  2. Stir the instant coffee granules into the syrup with a whisk until completely dissolved and the coffee syrup is smooth and lump-free. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool completely.
  3. Once the coffee syrup is cool, stir in the vodka and vanilla. Funnel into a half-gallon glass bottle; drop in the coffee beans.
  4. Cover tightly and let it mature for at least 2 weeks. If you want to, you can strain out the coffee beans. Or leave them in. Whatever you prefer.

Homemade Coffee Liqueur

“A cup of coffee – real coffee – home-browned, home ground, home made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet, neither lumpy nor frothing on the Java: such a cup of coffee is a match for twenty blue devils and will exorcise them all.”

~Henry Ward Beecher


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