caramel-apple sangria

as I mentioned in my last post, my oldest son and  Daughter-in-law Amanda were in town for 3 weeks. ( click Here for more info on why such a long visit )
Last fall she was telling me about a sangria recipe that she stumbled upon somewhere that required caramel apple vodka.  My son drove all around Jacksonville looking for it.  When she finally made it, she said she couldn’t wait to visit so that we could make it 
( she also makes a mean citrus sangria that’s usually waiting for me when I visit them ) 

For the first part of their visit, alcohol was off-limits, but near the end we were able to enjoy this 

She couldn’t find the actual recipe (I think?) so we improvised 

When we first made it, it was a bit strong… So we tweaked it just a bit
1 part white wine

1 part caramel apple vodka ( Denver friends, I found it at Target in Glendale on the corner of Colorado boulevard and Virginia) 

2 parts apple cider 

Sliced apples

Cinnamon stick (which we didn’t have, but I’d add one next time)
Add the liquids together in a pitcher.  Slice the apples and add the cinnamon stick. 
Refrigerate overnight. 
I rimmed a glass magarita-style with apple pie spice and filled with ice. 

This was sooo tasty! Another friend of mine was just telling me about a fall sangria that used fireball candies!  Doesn’t that sound fun?

I’ve been taking pictures and writing recipes down..  I’m trying to get better about sharing them with y’all.   I also have a few ideas for fun giveaways! 
fall is my favorite  time of year!  I come to life in autumn 😎

 Here’s some of my past apple recipes

Cream of butternut and apple soup

Apple pie
Easy apple butter 
And came across This which has me nostalgic for days gone by… 

So.. What’s your favorite thing about fall? 

starbucks’ mango black tea lemonade copycat

howdy friends!

Every summer I tend to find one beverage that I just cannot get enough of.  2016 is the summer of Michelle sucking down mango black tea lemonade from Starbucks.

But damn.. Those drinks add up!

I’ve spent the last 5 weeks driving my son back and forth to Boulder everyday for a class, and for a hot summer drive, there’s nothing quite like iced tea to have along side . ( that and some Springsteen music 😜☺️)

and although I’m pretty good about using my Ibotta money to buy Stbx gift cards, I knew I had to find a way to recreate this drink at home.

My daughter originally turned me on to this drink.  Essentially it’s black iced tea, lemonade and mango syrup.

I liked it when I tried hers, I just thought it was a bit sweet for my taste. The barista suggested I try fewer pumps of the mango syrup.

Bingo! We have a winner!

so I order it with only 1 pump of syrup now now and it’s perfect.  Just the right amount of sweet to balance the wonderful tart of the lemon.

I’ve been on the hunt for a mango syrup, ( ok, I looked in 1 store.. It still counts) and didn’t find one.

This past weekend I opened my fridge and discovered that someone had bought mango lemonade.

Um… Genious!

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The combination of these 2 beverages perfectly mimics the $4 drink at Starbucks.

I use mostly iced tea then top it with a splash of the mango lemonade.  If you wanted it like the original, I would use 1/2 of each.  Play with it to find your preferred sweetness.

It’s not really a recipe, persay, just something I stumbled upon (happily) and wanted to share ☺️

 

Keep hydrated, my friends!

 

 

 

Other summer beverages

Iced chai tea

Watermelon hibiscus iced tea

Cucumber martini

 

 

iced chai tea

hello my friends.

As usual, I’ve been missing in action.  There’s been so much going on and life seems crazy all of a sudden.

 

And here we are, summer 2016 😜

 

It it no secret that summer is my least favorite season of the year, but for all that annoys me about it, there are a few things I actually really like.

 

Like Iced Chai tea.

 

I’ll order it out now and then, but it’s kind of pricey for what it is.  Plus, so many of them that you order are actually just mixes that have chemicals in them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still drink them, but I went on a mission to make one at home that could rival one from a popular coffee shop.

I started with This recipe, then played around with it just a bit.

I played around with a few recipes and tweaked them until I came up with one that I am throughly enjoying.

Iced chai ingredients

 

iced chai tea

2.5 cups water

1 cup fat free milk

1 cinnamon stick

3 cardamom pods, pierced with a pairing knife

3 nobs candied ginger

a few gratings of fresh nutmeg

3 whole cloves

5 whole peppercorns

1/3 cup of organic sugar

3 black tea bags

 

start by adding everything except for the tea bags to a pot, and slowly heat up, making sure you don’t bring it to a boil

( or else the milk will boil over and you’ll have yourself a big ol mess.  Or so I’ve heard 😂😂😂)

 

ChaiLet simmer for 10 minutes on low

imageAdd tea bags’ cover and let brew for 5- 7 minutes, off heat.

 

  • I doubled this batch which is why there’s more than 3 tea bags, start with the original recipe, then if you like it, it doubles easily 😊*

imageThis is an excellent time to play fetch with your pup.  That little nugget in the background is my newest grand-puppy, Varly. More on her later 😉🐾💜

imageOnce it’s brewed to your liking, strain with a fine mesh sieve

image* I did not discard this, I have been saving it in a Baggie and reusing it for a second batch *

 

imageLet the mixture cool.

Now, I don’t have it pictured, but I froze some of this in ice cube trays in the freezer so that if you simply cannot wait for it to cool, you can use those cubes to have some immediately without having it water down from the hot chai melting the normal ice cubes.

 

 

I happened to to stumble across this at good old Target 🎯

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This is a step that you can skip, but I was in a playful mood so I had fun with it 😁

image

Sprinkle some chai sugar on a plate

image

Dip the top of a glass, margarita-style into a bit of the cooled chai

then roll in the sugar

 

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Fill glass with ice

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Pour chilled chai over ice and enjoy!

 

I changed it up a bit with the batch I made yesterday.  I added a whole vanilla bean and agave syrup in place of syrup.

It also came out fantastic!

I’ve been making a double batch, storing in mason jars and I’m finding that it’ll last and still taste as good as fresh for about 4 days in the fridge.

I didn’t bother pricing out this recipe vs. buying one out, but I’d venture to guess that a large batch of this would cost  a fraction of even one large drink purchased out.

 

let me know if you try this! I’m at that point where I can’t seem to get enough of this drink!  And it’s making the heat and stickiness of summer *almost* bearable for me

 

ciao bellas!

fruited ice water 

Good morning 🙂 
These days when you go to buy water there are soooo many options 

( seriously.. 20 years ago did you think we’d be buying water?) 

Since I personally am trying to drink more water, I’ve started making my own concoctions. And I love them! 

There’s no real recipe here..  Just combos to make water have more flavor and mix it up a bit! 
I am a hug fan of Ball jars and have been as long as I can remember. I use them for cooking, storing, eating and drinking! 
Each morning, I start my tea water and while I’m waiting for it to boil, I use 2 quart-sized jars and place different fruit combos in them 

Then fill with water and/or ice, place cap on and refridgerate! 

( these are also awesome because they are portable!) 

 
Here are some of my favorites..  

Lemon slices, cucumber slices and mint 

  Strawberry-basil! 

Cantelope- mint!  

 I also love apple- cinnamon  

 Pear-vanilla!  

What do you flavor your water with ?  

Related recipes 

Cantelope salad with prosciutto

Balsamic chicken salad with strawberries

Lemon ricotta gnocchi

watermelon times three

Ya’ll may have given up on me posting tonight.. I mean it’s almost 9 pm .. where the heck has she been?

Training for a race, that’s where 🙂 🙂 🙂

So let’s talk watermelon. It’s a melon. It’s made of water. Lots and lots of water.

It’s fun to eat in the summer. It’s fun to have it drip all over you bbq shirt. it’s a BLAST to spit the seeds. It is summer in a food

It’s PINK!

I have always loved watermelon. As an adult I started to appreciate it back in the early 90s when I read the book Fit for Life .

(anyone else read it? show of hands? oh.. only me.. that’s cool  :))

Anyhoooo… The preface is that your body is made of mostly water so you should eat mostly food made of water. Also, you should never eat a protein and a carb together, never eat fruit with anything other than fruit..  that you get out int the sun and soak up the free vitamin D.. and most importantly, only eat fruit until noon.

And the fruit should have high water content. Like watermelon. Because it’s made of water.

Are you gettin’ where I’m going here?

Are you smelling what I’m cooking?

watermelon is chock full of water.

*ducks* ok. ok. I get it…  you know what I am trying to say..

soooooo our first recipe will blow you away. Or at least it did me. I saw this earlier this summer on the Rachael Ray show and I was like, ” GENUIS!”

*side note.. I was on the Rachael Ray Show last year.. yeah.. I’m famous ~~  :inspects manicure like I’m important)*

So Rach (I can call her, that, we’re buds)was talking about how watermelon was made of….ok.. you get it, I know, I know!!!

do you know where I’m going with this?

Let’s play a game. Let’s look at some pictures.

look liked plain old cubed watermelon, right?

look again

getting cooler warmer?

ok.. I’ll give it to you… I’m nice like that 🙂

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!  you have figured it out, haven’t you… you are a genius.. you are… YOU ARE!!   She made watermelon ice cubes!!!!  because #$%^&  melon is made of #%$%^ which freezes! GENUIS! 

so to make these watermelon cubes even better.. I added them to this…
tea that Amanda and I found while she was here..( on clearance!).. although I think that you could use any fruit tea.. truth be told, it was her idea to use this tea with the cubes… she also comes from great jeans genes.

brace yourself..

I’ll give you a minute… I understand…

So the next recipe…. Years ago I came up with a brilliant idea to make a watermelon salsa. I was SOO proud of myself and promptly made some for my mom proclaiming my obvious talent.

And while we were eating it, a chain restaurant advertised on tv their ‘new watermelon salsa’

Really? REALLY?  yeah, really.

But in my heart of hearts,. even if the rest of the world was already doing it, I came up with my own in my kitchen, so I’m ok with that 🙂

Watermelon Salsa

2 Cups cubed seedless watermelon

1 bunch cilantro, rinsed, chopped and soaked like we did for the leeks

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lime

Sea salt & pepper

~ everyone in the pot~

and mix :).. seriously…  you CAN do this!

volia!  done 🙂 I like it if it sits overnight but it is reallllllly hard to do… cause it’s

so

darn

good

You can top grilled chicken with this, tofuTop a salad… or eat it alone. 

Maybe if you live on the wild side like me, you could put it on vanilla ice cream

*note to self.. buy ice cream tomorrow*

here’s a napkin for you 🙂

Okkkeeddookee…. last recipe…

we are going to get smoky.. and sultry.. and tangy

with watermelon?

um. yes.

Grilled Watermelon Salad

1 thick piece of watermelon, about 2×4.. sprinkle with salt & drain on a paper towel ( I tried to use my tofu press, but it didn’t do much) then rinsed after 10  min

1 tomato, sliced, sprinkled with salt, drained on paper towels ~ I did not rinse the salt of these babies ( I chopped the end up for topping)

1 thick slice of red onion

A few chunks of feta cheese

2 wedges of lime

Olive oil & a pastry brush

Grill pan

Sea salt and pepper

start by making sure that everything is as dry as it can be. Then using pastry brush, brush all veggies with olive oil. Preheat he grill pan until it is super hot then place watermelon, tomato and onion in the pan. then let the pan do it’s work.. don’t play with it!  After about 5 minutes, using tongs, carefully flip them. ( my tomatoes didn’t look so purty.. but they did taste good 🙂

Place the watermelon on a plate, pretty side up, then arrange remaining ingredients ( except lime) on the plate..  Squeeze on wedge of lime over the salad and garnish with another.

this recipe is sensory overload. The smokiness from the watermelon with the sweetness of the onions, the depth from the tomatoes and the zing from the lime juice & saltiness of the feta….. I loved this!

Ic ame up with the idea after seing one of the contestants on Hell’s Kitchen the other night ( don’t tell me the winner, I had to DVR it until Scott comes home this weekend )

I saw a similar combo on the show and have obsessed over it since then.

’cause sometimes I do that..

like with watermelon 🙂

night friends…..

I have a kitchen to clean!

oxox

♬♬ Bikinis,zucchinis, martinis, yeah!♬♬

Ok, I know.. not the REAL lyrics of this summer’s most overplayed song, but this week, in my house, it works!

This week at CSA was very exciting ( actually, they are ALL exciting),  but this week we got to pick flowers!!

Here is a picture of my favorite BIG girl, Leah..  Her mommy likes orange flowers, go figure? Just kidding!

this is my basket of Flowers & greens… we also received corn on the cob!! 12 ears!!  Of organic straight off of the stalk sweet summer corn.  ♬Heaven♬

In addition to this, my own zucchini plants in my garden have produced beautifully. I welcome any zuck recipes that anyone has to share..

I made Paula Deen’s Chocolate chip zucchini bread

Ryan rolled his eyes when he heard zucchini bread, but let me tell you.. he was the first to DEVOUR this bread!! It is so tasty.  The chocolate chips seemed to sink, so I think that when I make it again I will use that blueberry trick where you roll them in a bit of flour first.

 I drizzled melted chocolate on top just because I thought that it needed it.  There are an additional 8 mini muffins that are already missing form this picture (everyone enjoyed them).  They were perfect for make-ahead form Scott’s breakfast for the week. I’ll be making these again and often!

Next I made stuffed zucchini. I just kind of made up my recipe as I went along based on what I had.

I took leftover whole grain bread from the CSA & crumbled it in a bowl & added milk until the bread was absorbed. Then I drained excess milk.

I brought a large stockpot of water to a boil & salted it. I boiled the zucks whole for about 5 minutes. Drained, cooled, halved the long way & scooped out the center with a melon baller. I cut them into 3 inch zucchini boats

I heat a skillet with olive oil, added a chopped onion, garlic & squash innards. I sauteed for a few minutes, seasoned with salt & pepper, let cool & added to the bread mixture. I added 2 eggs, scrambled & some parmesan cheese.

I filled each boat with filling them sprinkled a bit more cheese. I cooked them in a 375 oven until the tops were  bubbly & brown, then drizzled a bit of EVOO on top.

VIOLIA!

I usually try to make these a bit healthier, but I was feeling all wild, so I went with it. They were so light and delicious!

I’m sure that I’ll be posting more squash recipes.. I’ve also been just slicing & grilling them.

And now, teenie time!!!

I made cucumber martinis. It was so hot this week that the thought of a cool, crisp cucumber martini just sounded SO good!!

I peeled, seeded & pureed 2 small cucumbers with about 1/3 cup of water & a tablespoon of agave syrup ( if you don’t have agave, you can use honey or make a simple syrup, the idea is just to add a bit of sweetness)

Then I strained it over ice, pressing the pulpy mixture through a fine sieve..  I added a healthy shot of vodka, then strained into a chilled martini glass, & garnished with a cucumber slice.

this was pure refreshment in a glass…

perfect at the end of a very hot July day 🙂  AHH!!

now sing me out…♬♬♬♬♬

oxoxo

 ( you didn’t think that I’d post the bikini shots here, did you?? This is a family show 🙂

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