Category Archives: drinks

My Favorite Smoothie

A smoothie can be a really nice grab-and-go breakfast, or morning snack…or any time of day snack, really. I’ve tried several varieties, but this one is my favorite. In fact, I never get tired of it and drink several of them most weeks.

It’s one of those smoothies that people look at and ask, “WHAT is THAT?”. Or feel the need to comment, “What are you drinking, it looks GROSS!”. Here’s the thing: It’s green. And for whatever reason, that puts some people off as they automatically think I must be drinking a salad I ran through the blender and am now slurping through a straw. Here’s the other thing: people’s filters are evidently broken because I’m pretty sure commenting on how gross you think someone’s food or beverage looks isn’t etiquette best practice. Aanndd…one final thing…you will quickly learn to brush off the unfiltered comments because this smoothie is so wonderful in both flavor and amazing creamy texture…it’s totally worth it!

image

Ingredients:
1/2 very ripe banana
1/2 ripe avocado
1/4 cup mango (I use frozen)
2 T plain greek yogurt
1/2 of a lime, juiced
1/8 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
Directions:
put everything into the blender and process until smooth

Note:
Since this recipe calls for using half of several ingredients, I prep 2 smoothies at a time and throw the second one in the fridge so it’s a quick grab-and-blend the next day. If you juice the lime over the top of the avocado, the avocado will hold its color well until the following day.
Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe? One that you never tire of and would like to share? I’d be willing to forego my favorite to try some new varieties…share in the comments below!

H


Strawberry Limeade – Cocktail Style

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July holiday.

Our day was pretty low key as we both had to work today. That said, we still managed to squeeze in some 4th of July tradition…

Brats on the grill. Grandma’s potato salad (otherwise known as the only potato salad worth eating – I’ll post a recipe another time). Cocktails.

And we gave it our best effort to catch some fireworks…but that didn’t quite pan out how we had hoped.

At essentially the last minute, just days before the holiday, the fireworks ban was lifted for the larger firework displays here in town. Since work was calling us on Friday morning, we decided not to venture down with the masses (and fight the traffic home) to watch the show. Thinking maybe we could see the show from our house we stayed put.

Lesson learned: no firework watching for us. If there wasn’t a large tree blocking our view we could have seen one display. And, perhaps, if it hadn’t been so cloudy we could have seen another. In the end, we saw nothing, which is kind of a bummer for a 4th of July holiday.

Oh well.

The holiday allowed for a paid day off of work (yay), opportunity for me to jazz up some Mike’s Hard Limeaid AND play with a wedding gift.

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Isn’t this pitcher with stirring rod just awesome? I love it. It’s not only adorable but it’s the perfect size!

So…back to the cocktail. I’m not the biggest fan of Mikes Hard Lemonade or Limeade, but there was quite a bit left over from the wedding and it needs to be consumed one way or another.

I got to thinking…I really enjoy the Strawberry Limeade drinks from Sonic. Could I jazz up some Mike’s to resemble this refreshing drink?

Well…I did! And it was super simple.

Here’s what you do:
blend up 1’ish cup of fresh strawberries and pour into a pitcher  add 2 bottles Mike’s
squeeze in the juice from 1 lime
stir and serve over ice

How was your 4th? Any wonderful stories, or recipes you’d like to share with us?

Hope you have a fabulous weekend and I’ll catch up with y’all next week!
H

 


Cherry On Top

Nearly every year, around Christmas time, my mom receives one of those super awesome gift baskets that includes yummy snacks and a bottle or two of wine. What a lovely gift idea. I’ve never received one myself, but snacks and wine are right up my alley so I have my fingers crossed that one of these days I will be so lucky as to receive one of my very own.

Wine is definitely not up my mom’s alley. She rarely drinks alcohol, and if she does it’s generally in the form of a margarita. Lucky for me that she isn’t about to waste a good bottle of wine and it generally finds its way into my life.

This past Christmas was no exception, and I found myself uncorking a bottle of this:

cherry on topFirst of all, could the name be any cuter? Cherry On Top. Who doesn’t like a cherry on top?? Icing on the cake is one thing, but a cherry on top is an entirely different ball game.

Secondly, this unique sweet red was a nice change of pace that made my taste buds perk right up and demand a splash or two more once the first glass was gone.

Cherry On Top is a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot, Tempranillo, and Grenache.

I don’t consume a lot of red wine. I’m a fan of a good Chianti with a big piece of bloody, red, meat, but otherwise I generally gravitate to a refreshing, sweet, white wine. Red blends are an interesting way to expand on the wine horizon and I’d recommend this one for sure.

The next time you’re in the wine aisle and looking for a change-up of that normal wine routine, give this one a try.

-Hilary


Tomato Juice

When the tomatoes start comin’ on strong  it becomes necessary to find a way to preserve them. Even after sharing with friends and family, and eating some myself, I found myself with  lots and lots of tomatoes just waiting to fulfill their destiny.

Juice.

It’s a fairly simple process, but very time consuming…and a bit lot of a mess.

First, gather the necessary supplies:
-tomatoes (LOTS of tomatoes)
-canning jars
-jar lids and flats
-pots -n- pans
-hot bath (for processing the jars)
-salt
-sturdy, thick wooden spoon
-oven mit
-jar grabber (I’m sure there’s a more technical name, but I don’t know what it is)
-food mill
-1 teas measuring spoon

Start boiling water in a large pot. This water will be used to sterilize the jars, so the larger the pot, the better. Remember to leave some head room so the pot doesn’t over flow when you add the jars.

Get the tomatoes started by cutting off the stems and quartering them (you may need to cut them into 1/6 or 1/8, depending on the size of the tomato – just try to get them all the same size).

Load ’em into a pot, and begin cooking them down. Stir often.

While the tomatoes are cooking down, wash your jars and rings. Even if they are clean, wash them again. Then, submerge them in the water you are boiling in the large pot. Be very careful not to burn yourself!! I drop the heat down a tad so there’s not as much steam nippin’ my hands and arms.

After the tomatoes have cooked down a bit (I usually wait until it looks like all the tomatoes have had some heat on them) carefully pour them into the food mill that’s been placed over a large sauce pan.

Turn the handle and watch as the juice filters into the sauce pan, leaving behind only the skins and seeds!!

Note: the handle turns clockwise for the milling action, but you will need to turn it counter clockwise from time to time to clear some of the leftovers off the milling surface…otherwise nothing can get through!
I scrape this out using a spatula between each batch so there’s less leftover to fight with as I’m milling.

Once your saucepan is nearly full (but not overly so) put it back on the stove on medium low heat.

The juice should come to a gentle boil. This helps the juice thicken a bit. Make sure to stir frequently.

Remember, you’re making juice, not sauce, so you don’t want it to get super thick. I boil mine for only a few minutes.

Then it’s time to transfer this deliciousness into jars. Carefully remove your jars from the sterilizing, boiling water. Make even more certain not to burn yourself. I fish mine out with the handle of my sturdy wooden spoon, dump some of the water out, grab the end with my oven mitt covered hand, pour the rest of the water out, grab the open end with the jar grabbers, and place on a towel folded on my counter.

The juice must be added to warm jars, so don’t get too far ahead of yourself and remove them too early.

I pour the juice from the sauce pan into a large measuring glass. This makes for easier transfer of the liquid to the jars. Since you are working with very hot items, I’d suggest you do the same.

Once the jars are full, let them sit a couple minutes. The juice sometimes settles down and a bit more needs to be added to the top. It’s very important to preserve only full jars, otherwise things can go bad and you can get very sick.

I leave anywhere from 1/2-1 inch of head room, from the very rim of the jar.

Add 1 teaspoon of salt to each jar.

Toss your flats into the boiling water where your jars were being sterilized. If you drop them carefully they will float right on top. You want the side with the rubber seal down, the heat will soften this seal, and for every obvious reason…this is important!

It takes only a minute to soften the rubber seals, so in the meantime wipe all the rims of the jars to remove any juice that might have found its way to the edge.

Remove the flats from the hot water, place on the jars, and screw the lids down as tight as you can. Remember, your jars are still very hot, use your oven mitt or a towel to hang on to the jar while you screw down the lid.

Sometime in the above process, at first opportunity of a large burner coming available, get water started boiling in your hot bath. I fill mine only a bit as I intend to pour the boiling water from my sterilizing pot into the hot bath. It takes quite a while for the hot bath water to come to a boil…so the sooner you can get it going, the better. This is also the place where the process often comes to a stand-still…waiting and watching for water to boil, literally.

Once I’ve poured the water from my sterilization pot into the hot bath, I fill up the pot (about half way) again and get it back on the burner to boil. The reason for this is that I don’t want to over-fill my hot bath because I know I’m adding jars. It’s really hard to judge this though, but I’d rather under fill than over fill (it becomes quite a juggling act working around the jars, trying to get boiling water out of the hot bath so it doesn’t over flow).
Once my jars are added, I can add boiling water if necessary. This also gives me water to add if my hot bath boils off too much water during the processing process.

Once all the water is boiling, it’s time to process the jars. Carefully load them into the rack (it comes with your hot bath), distributing the weight evenly.

I got only 3 jars out of this entire process. It really takes a LOT of tomatoes to make juice, but you’ve gotta use them as you get ’em or they will go bad. Plus, 3 jars is a good place to start.

Or, I think so anyway!

Carefully lower the jars into the water. Add more water, if needed, so the tops of the jars/lids are covered.

The jars will need to process for 30 minutes. Set a timer, but also keep an eye on your hot bath. You may need to add water part way through.

When the 30 minutes are up, the jars need to be removed. You can try to lift up the rack, but I’ve found this to be too tricky (and a serious burn hazard) so I use my jar grabbers and pull each jar individually out of the water.

Set the jars back on towel covered counter, not touching, and let them cool. This takes a LONG time, but as they cool you will hear the lids pop. This means they are sealing! If you don’t hear them pop and they are completely cooled down, push on the lid. If there is give in the center of the lid, it means the jar didn’t seal. The lids have to be sealed for them to store safely. If you didn’t get a seal, no worries, put the jar in the fridge and just drink right away.

That’s it!

It’s quite a process huh? Quite a mess, right?

You’re on your own with the clean-up, but I promise you that the finished product makes it SOOOO worth it.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy tomato juice? Straight up? Red beer? Bloody Mary?

Happy Canning-
H

 


A Hot Summer Day

Last week, on Thursday, I left town for a long’ish weekend away from home. When I left, everything was fine. I returned home yesterday morning to find that a billion (give or take a few) little black bugs had taken up residence on my broccoli plants and were eating their hearts out.

I dusted them with bug killer and headed inside, fingers crossed that the dust would take care of the issue. It wasn’t even noon and temps had already reached 100 degrees.

I hid out on the couch for the bulk of the afternoon. Shades drawn, air conditioner running at full capacity.

At 7:30pm (and temps of 93 degrees) I headed outdoors to get my chores done. The garden needed a serious drink after the warm afternoon, the lawn was in desperate need of mowing, and I wanted to check on the status of the little black destroyers.

I am pleased to report the dust seemed to have done the trick (thank goodness). The lawn got a haircut, the garden a drink, and when I finished with my chores I rewarded myself with one of these:

A cold red beer, in a frosty mug, with homemade tomato juice from last years tomatoes.

So delicious, and well deserved.

Cheers!
-H. Osborn


You are Beautiful, Stella Rosa

I spent the weekend in Colorado Springs. It was an uneventful weekend, given the cool, wet weather that prevented any playing outside. Of course, I was looking forward to some Vitamin D and hiking over the weekend, maybe take in a baseball game. Isn’t that the way it always seems to go on Mother’s Day weekend?

Anyway, I returned home yesterday, already behind in the ‘getting the week started’ department. Apparently my personal assistant, lawn boy, and maid took the weekend off as well because I came home to a long list of what didn’t get accomplished over the weekend. Oh wait! I don’t have any of those people in my life? Bummer!

I figured the best way to tackle this ‘problem’ was to jump right in. I threw in a load of laundry, and started mowing the lawn.  Who needs a maid and a lawn boy?? Then, the task of dinner. Knowing there was (still is) little to nothing inside, I peered into the fridge, hoping that some miracle had happened and someone else went to the grocery store (my very least favorite errand in life). My personal assistant, maybe? Oh, wait, nope! As I expected, the fridge was (still is) mostly empty. Just as I began to feel defeat, I spied this lovely lady on the bottom shelf:

I bought this wine on the suggestion of the guy at the liquor store. He hadn’t ever tasted it, but was confident it was good based on the way he had trouble keeping it in stock. And you wanna know what? He was spot on. This is a semi-sweet, chilled, fizzy, refreshing splash of summer. Make a mental note to pick this one up for your next dinner party, evening on the deck, reward for making it through the day without strangling somebody, whatever.

In my attempt to learn a little about the wines I love/like/loathe I attempted a quick read of the bottle. Most of it was in Italian. So, I turned to the website (see it here). This baby comes to us from a small town in Northern Italy, where sparkling wines are the norm, hence this baby’s refreshing fizzy-ness. It may, in fact, be their secret ingredient. I was pleasantly surprised, and totally in love with those refreshing little bubbles.

They say their wines are like no other; I believe them. I can’t wait to get my hands on some of the other varieties turned out by the Beautiful Stella Rosa.

-Hilary

PS: I realized I got so excited when the wine entered the post, I got side tracked a bit and left you wondering if I just drank wine for dinner.  I love food too much and turn into an angry lioness if not fed. So, I quickly thawed out some raw shrimp. Removed shells, tails, and any remaining ‘vein’. Marinaded in zesty Italian dressing. Revived some on the verge carrots in cold water. Roasted carrots drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with some salt n pepper. Whipped up some rice. Threw the shrimp in the oven for the last 5 min of roasting and Viola! Dinner in 30 min.

 


Any Time is Wine Time, Really.

I would consider myself a Wine Enthusiast. However, let me clarify. This does not mean that I know the ins and outs of wine, or that my palette is sensitive enough to pick up on the “decadent flavors of butter cream, bright citrus & vanilla that melt into a balance of oak and subtle spice”.

What I mean when I use the term ‘Wine Enthusiast’ is that I am Enthusiastic About Wine. Which, in even simpler terms, means I like to drink it. I can tell the difference between a wine I like, and one I do not. I can’t always describe why I prefer one wine and not another, but I can say this with a lot of certainty: I will never pour a wine I don’t care for down the drain. I will drink every last drop. Wastefulness is a characteristic I loathe, but that’s another topic entirely.

So, on a particularly beautiful spring evening I enjoyed a glass of this while sitting on my waiting-to-be-refinished deck:

This particular Chardonnay lands somewhere in the middle for me. Not my favorite, but not my least favorite either. It is unique in that it does seem to have a strong citrus flavor (oh yea – that quoted description above? Took that right off this bottle. Had the bottle not turned me on to the fact that what I was tasting and thinking ‘unique’  was citrus, I would have been lost on that one).

More importantly, the label and cork are adorable, as is their website. You can direct link it here.

Anyone have any favorite summer drink recipes they care to share? Or, perhaps you’re not the ‘bartender’ type but have a fav you like to pop the top, or pull a cork on? Tell us!

Cheers!
Hilary