Give me a Tea: Refreshing flavors for Summer!

I drink unsweetened iced tea everyday — all day long!  I’ve been an iced tea drinker since way back, and even though I am a Southern girl, sweet tea is not my thing.  Add a spring of mint and a lemon slice and my heart sings!

My sister-in-law was asking me recently for some ideas on refreshing non-alcoholic drinks for the summer.  Although, I have 415 recipes on my Pinterest “Just a Sip” page, it is much easier to find a flavored tea and no need to buy a bunch of ingredients to add to the expense.  An added bonus — black tea has many health benefits.

About a month ago, I signed up to receive a series of Tea: 101 emails from the Republic of Tea on how to brew the perfect cup of tea.  I perused their catalog and ordered three tins of tea to try.

Organic Strawberry Basil Tea.  This is my new favorite.  You can definitely taste the strawberry, but not in a sweet way.  It’s subtle.  There’s an essence of basil, but just enough.  This would be perfect with for a ladies luncheon with tea sandwiches.  It’s fresh.

 

Watermelon Mint Tea.  It was a little overwhelming at first, very watermelon-ey. But once I drank the first glass, it was different in a good way.  I liked the taste of the mint. I can see a pitcher of this poolside. Add a wedge of watermelon on the edge of the glass and it will be impressive.

 

Ginger Peach Tea.  It’s always my fall back tea.  My favorite place to get this is at McKinley’s with a chicken salad sandwich.  It will always be in my pantry, but I am glad I tried the other two teas.

 

 

How Mrs. Twist Makes Iced Tea

Fill a kettle with cold water and let it come to a boil.  Meanwhile, put two bags of flavored tea, and three bags of Lipton tea into a large heat-resistant bowl measuring cup (like a Pampered Chef Batter Bowl with a spout). Before I put the tea bags into the bowl I fluff them up so they aren’t flat.  I think this allows the water to flow through the tea leaves. Pour boiling water into the bowl and I let it sit on the counter until it is cool to the touch.  I like really strong tea so I leave the bags in until I dilute with water.  I pour it in a gallon sized plastic jug and fill with filtered water.  I always have a gallon of tea in the door of the fridge at all times.  The other thing I always have on-hand during the warm months, is a jam jar full of fresh mint from my garden.  Mint thrives in our Texas heat and humidity.

Be sure to visit The Republic of Tea site.  There are tons of other flavored teas to try — like Blackberry Sage — and lots of great information like 25 Fun Facts about Republic of Tea.  Did you know it was founded by the same people that founded Banana Republic?  And, they were the first company to receive USDA certified organic certification.

What’s your favorite summer sip?  Please share!

Sips…with a Twist

On the coat tails of Holley’s post yesterday, I thought it would be fun to round up some pink drinks.

From A Beautiful Mess, look at these Pink Lemonade Jello Shots!

They give you a recipe for “lemonade” using vodka, pink lemonade, unflavored gelatin, and Deep Eddies Lemon Vodka. Yum. But, you might be able to concoct a non-alcoholic version with plain lemonade and gelatin.

In fact, if you need a kid-friendly pink lemonade recipe, here is one from The Cooking Bride.  This is the kind you make using a simple syrup on the stove and mix in fresh squeezed lemon juice, then add a smidge of cranberry juice to make it pink. Central Market always has the freshest selection of lemons. Meyer lemons are my absolute favorite for making lemonade.

Look at this confection…Very Pink Raspberry Cosmopolitan from Creative Culinary. That luscious pink color is divine!

Calling for raspberries and their juice and raspberry liqueur, vodka and simple syrup, garnished with a rim of pink sugar crystals…it makes me want to sit on a recliner and be fanned by a cabana boy holding a palm frond.

And last, from Tell me Tuesday, a Rosemary, Grapefruit and Gin cocktail. You make a simple syrup using rosemary, then add in dry Gin and fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.   Here’s a tip:  If you are going to prepare drinks that call for “fresh squeezed” purchase the juice from a place like Central Market that really makes it fresh and not from concentrate.  Don’t use canned juice.  I mean, you can, but the result of a super-fresh cocktail that tastes clean won’t be the same with juice from concentrate. Trust Mrs. Twist on this.

If you don’t know how to make a simple syrup, you need to learn.  It’s not hard.  Here’s a how-to video link here.  It will keep in the fridge for up to a month.  Just put it into a mason jar and it will be ready for whenever you want to whip up one of these delicious cocktails.

Check out my other Just a Sip cocktail ideas on my Pinterest board (there’s over 300 recipes).  Cheers to Pink!

Percolator Punch Recipes

coffee-urn
Westbend Electric Coffee Urn

Nothing says “Party!” like yummy sips from a percolator. It’s the quintessential drink for any awesome gathering.  Mother always had a coffee urn in her entertaining arsenal ready for all the parties she hosted.

I’m on a personal journey to keep punch recipes alive and well.  It’s not just for baby showers and wedding receptions.  In honor of National Punch Day, I am sharing two of my very favorite hot punch recipes; one for fall and one perfect for Christmastime.

First, every hostess needs an electric coffee urn.  I have one of these in my party pantry.  They are perfect for making coffee, hot cocoa or iced tea for a crowd.  I throw the ingredients into the basket and in 20 minutes your hot punch is ready for your guests.  Places like Target and Walmart sell them for about $40-$50.

Hot Golden Fall Punch (from my 1987 copy of the Junior League of Austin “Necessities and Temptations”)

4 cups of unsweetened pineapple juice

1 12-oz can apricot nectar

4 cups of apple cider

1 cup of orange juice

2 cinnamon sticks

1/4 tsp of salt

1 tsp whole cloves

Pour juices into electric percolator.  Place remaining ingredients in basket and perk.  Serve steaming hot.  (without a percolator, pour juices in a large pot.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove spices).

Christmas Percolator Punch (I don’t have a source.  This is a handwritten recipe in my own personal recipe binder)

2 32-oz bottles of cranberry juice

1 46 oz can unsweetened pineapple juice

2 cups water

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 TBL whole allspice

2 TBL whole cloves

6 3″ sticks of cinnamon

Pour first 3 ingredients into a large percolator.  Place brown sugar and remaining ingredients in percolator basket.  Perk through complete cycle of electric percolator.  Yield:  1 Gallon.

I have a table on my front porch with an outlet nearby.  I love to set up my percolator on the porch with fun mugs and a sign for guests to start with punch when they arrive at the door.  They can smell the spices as they walk up to the porch and it’s so welcoming!  It’s different, unexpected and a special touch your guests will not forget.  Cheers!

National Tequila Day — Fun Sips

Today is National Tequila Day.  Other than your usual Margarita, I took a spin at the Pinterest wheel and found three fun sips to celebrate the day with a good bowl of salsa and salty chips.  Sip one, Lime Drop Shot, is from ManTitlement.  A fun cooking and entertaining blog from a guy’s point of view.

lime-drop-shots-top
Lime Drop Shot

Second Sip, a Tequila Sunrise.  It reminds me of the 60s when cocktail hour was everyday before dinner.  And, who doesn’t love an umbrella in the their drink garnished with maraschino cherries!  This recipe is from Averie Cooks.

tequilasunrise-4
Tequila Sunrise

I found some fun things on the web about the origin of the Tequila Sunrise…one story said a fellow named Gene from the Arizona Biltmore worked for the hotel over 30 years and one of his many talents was bartending.  He loved creating the perfect drink for each guest.  One guest asked Gene to make a cocktail with tequila so he’d have a refreshing pool-side beverage.  Gene’s concoction was a little different than the one I shared.  His recipe had the addition of Creme de Cassis and lime juice.

Here’s another Tequila Sunrise recipe circa 1956 from the Los Angeles Times, May 18, 1956:

Fill glass with cracked ice.  Add one jigger Cuervo Tequila, one teaspoonful grenadine, 1/3 teaspoonful cream de cassis and the juice 1/2 lime & sparkling water.

Third sip, is the Paloma from BuzzFeed.  I love, love, love grapefruit juice. It’s a simple drink with a few shots of tequila topped off with icy, cold grapefruit soda.

the paloma
The Paloma

Have a super Saturday with your sips and chips!

Summertime Cocktail — Coconut Mojito

summer in a glassI follow Coastal Living magazine’s Instagram feed.  They featured the yummiest cocktail for a Coconut Mojito that I had to try.

It tastes like a suntan in a glass.  Remember the days when Pina Coladas were all the rage?  Well, this is her younger, hipper sister’s drink.

Here’s the link to the recipe at Coastal Living where this liquid treasure and other fun cocktail recipes can be found.  I’ve provided the recipe from their site below.

coconut mojito6 fresh mint leaves
3 lime wedges
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/4 ounces (2 1/2 tablespoons) Mount Gay white rum
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) Malibu coconut rum
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) cream of coconut

Ice

1 cup chilled club soda

Garnishes: lime wedge, fresh mint leaves, pinch of grated coconut

Muddle 6 fresh mint leaves, 3 lime wedges, and brown sugar in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add white rum, coconut rum, and cream of coconut.  Fill shaker with ice, and stir vigorously until chilled. Strain mixture into a tall glass, and top with chilled club soda. Garnish, if desired.

Check out my Pinterest board for some other sips, too.

Fun holiday drink — The Mrs. Claustail

We hosted our neighborhood Christmas party last week and I searched Pinterest for a fun cocktail.  I found one I liked Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer from House in the Hills.  We have a huge rosemary bush in our backyard and I really liked the different ingredients, especially the addition of homemade rosemary simple sugar.  I renamed mine a Mrs. Claustail (get it instead of Cocktail, it’s Claustail?  What?  I think it’s clever).

I had a tray of these bubbly spirits waiting for guests as they arrived.  The sprig of rosemary is like a swizzle stick.  Grocery stores are plentiful right now with Pomegranates and I like to have a bowl of them on our kitchen table during the holidays.  Mr. Bee is a whiz at peeling them and plucking the fresh seeds of goodness.  Plus, we needed them for Giada’s Pomegranate Brussels Sprouts Salad.

Here’s the Mrs. Claustail recipe:

1 bottle of chilled Prosecco
2 ounces peach schnapps
4 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 ounces of chilled pomegranate juice (I like Trader Joe’s)
1 small bottle mango flavored soda water (I found this at Trader Joe’s)
6-8 sprigs of rosemary
1 fresh pomegranate
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup water

Add 1 cup of water to a small saucepan with 2-3 sprigs of rosemary, bring to a boil.
Add sugar to boiling water and stir until sugar dissolves.
Remove from heat, strain rosemary sprigs and set aside to cool.
Clean and de-seed pomegranate.  Set seeds aside.
Pour Prosecco into 4 cocktail glasses.
Add 1/2 ounce of peach schnapps, 1/2 ounce rosemary simple syrup, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 ounce of pom juice and a splash of mango soda water to each glass and stir.
Sprinkle in a few pomegranate seeds into each glass.
Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

Check out my Pinterest — Just a Sip board for more ways to say Cheers!

Keep Calm and Have a Cocktail

Mr. Bee has been perfecting his recipe for blood orange margaritas.  We first had this liquid sunshine when we went to San Antonio back in June.  For a little July 4th celebration we hosted for our neighbors, he worked and worked until he came up with the perfect blend of ingredients.  I have to say it was fun helping him taste each batch.  Here’s his recipe…

3 parts Blood Orange Juice (no fear, there is no blood involved.  It’s a type of orange that makes a lovely shade of dark reddish orange).  You can use either fresh juice or ready made.
2 parts Tequila
1 part Cointreau
1/2 part fresh lime juice
1/2 part simple syrup or agave nectar.

For the party he made the simple syrup which is one part sugar, one part water simmered on the stove.  He added a few sprigs of fresh mint and let the mint steep in the syrup.  That was my favorite version.  If you have the time, I recommend this step.

Chill the ingredients and pour over ice.  We prefer on the rocks, but you could also freeze it.

Enjoy!

Who Wants Hot Cocoa?

You know how moms have to buy their own gifts, wrap them, put them under the tree and act all surprised when they open them on Christmas morning?  I do that.  It’s okay, this way I get exactly what I want.

This year I treated myself to the Williams-Sonoma Hot Cocoa carafe.  It’s on sale right now for $14.99 (from $34.99, so it’s a sweet deal).  You could pick up a few for next year or they would make a great Valentine’s Day gift.

It is the cutest thing I have ever seen.  It holds three cups of hot cocoa.  Made of ceramic, you can heat the milk in the carafe in the microwave, but I think the preferred method would probably be to make your cocoa the usual way on the stove, then pour it in the carafe to keep it warm. It also comes with a built-in, battery operated whisk so you can give your cocoa a few whirls before serving it to make sure to mix up the settled cocoa.

Oh, I saw Anchorman Two this evening.  Terrible movie, but awesome soundtrack.  Cheers!

Yummy Fall Cocktail

Last night, at a progressive dinner gathering of friends, we ended the night with after dinner drinks.  I made butterscotch martinis.  I saw the original recipe on the Food Network with Sandra Lee. She calls her version a Butter Martini, but the butterscotch Schnapps is so flavorful and makes the drink tastes more like the candy instead of a stick of butter.

Here’s what you need:

Cocktail shaker — not required, but will make you look really cool while mixing the cocktail
Crushed ice cubes
One part Vanilla Vodka (I put my bottle in the freezer to make it really cold)
One part chilled pineapple juice
Splash of butterscotch Schnapps
Splash of Chamboard (a raspberry liqueur)

For the “one part” I just used the little jigger on top of the cocktail shaker.  Mix all the ingredients in the shaker, then pour into glasses.

It was just the right blend of flavors.  You got the vanilla vodka at the top note of the drink and after a minute the smooth, caramel flavor of the butterscotch set in.

Perfect cozy fireside drink with friends.  Cheers!

What a Peach — a refreshing recipe for Mojitos

I love to try new recipes especially when they are featured in Southern Living magazine.  This is a recipe from their June issue for Peach Mojitos.

I have mint growing everywhere in the garden and the peaches were really good looking at Walmart.  So, I decided to give this little cocktail a whirl.

• 2 large peaches (about 1 lb.), unpeeled and chopped

• 1/2 cup superfine sugar (be sure to use superfine like the recipe says — it dissolves alot quicker)

• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

• 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves

• 4 cups club soda, chilled

• 2 cups white rum

• Garnishes: fresh mint sprigs, peach wedges

Preparation

1. Process first 3 ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. (Yield should be about 2 cups.)

2. Muddle mint leaves against bottom and sides of a glass pitcher to release flavors. (Leaves will be bruised and torn.) Add club soda, rum, and peach mixture; stir to combine. Serve immediately over ice.

Hints:  I made the syrup mixture up the night before, covered it with plastic wrap and refrigerated it.  Then, the next day I made up the drinks.  I actually tripled the syrup mixture and had some left over.

Be sure to wear your hostess skirt while drinking.