Homemade “Tru Blood”

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I am so, so excited that True Blood is back. I’m a bit of a fangirl when it comes to this show. I have several True Blood tshirts and other trinkets – and got the True Blood cookbook for Christmas. Since the show takes place in the south, it’s full of classic Southern dishes. There are also a lot of cocktail recipes, as a lot of the characters work in or regularly frequent bars – and these are a lot of fun to make while watching the show.

A lot of the drinks include Tru Blood as an ingredient. HBO used to sell it – it was a specially bottled blood orange flavored soda – but it’s been discontinued. Instead, they included a recipe in the cookbook so you could make your own. It’s a little sweet to drink straight, but it’s perfect as a cocktail mixer!

Homemade “Tru Blood”
(from True Blood: Eats Drinks and Bites from Bon Temps)
Makes 2 1/2 cups

2 c. orange soda
3/4 c. grenadine
1/4 c. lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together in a pitcher and stir to combine before serving.


Make it Yourself Monday: Shamrock Shakes

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For me, Shamrock Shakes appearing at McDonald’s are a sign that spring is coming. By the time you hit St. Patrick’s Day, the weather around here is starting to get decent again. And by decent, I mean you probably won’t need the scarf, gloves, hat AND your car warmed up so you don’t freeze on the way to work. I’ve grabbed two so far this season and have sipped them happily dreaming of warmer weather.

Of course, Friday morning we woke up to some unexpected snow – total buzz kill. I decided another dose of the minty goodness was what I needed to shake the snow blues. Luckily, these are ridiculously easy to whip up yourself at home.

I used low-fat ice cream and low-fat milk to keep these slightly healthier and it didn’t feel like I was missing calories at all. I also opted for the more generic mint extract over peppermint extract, which a lot of the Shamrock Shake recipes call for. I think the flavor of the mint extract is closer to what you get at McDonald’s. Add on some whipped cream, a cherry and a green straw and you’ve got a perfectly festive treat.

 

Shamrock Shake
(adapted from Number 2 Pencil)
Makes 1 Shake

1 1/4 c. vanilla ice cream
1/4 t. vanilla extract
2-3 drops mint extract
1/4 c. milk (plus additional if needed to thin the shake)
1 T. sugar
2-3 drops green food coloring
Whipped cream and cherry, for garnish

In a blender, combine the ice cream, vanilla extract, mint extract, milk, sugar and green food coloring. Blend until smooth. If too thick, blend in a little more milk until the desired consistency is reached.

Top with whipped cream and a cherry.


DIY Hot Chocolate Mix

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I’m not a coffee drinker. Or a tea drinker. Hot chocolate, though, I could drink by the gallon. I keep some in my desk at work and always have some in the house – even in the summer months. We could seriously go broke on cocoa mix.

Last year for Christmas, I made this mix for family members, and fell in love with it. It’s a great gift, or just great to have in your pantry.

DIY Hot Chocolate Mix
(from Brown Eyed Baker)
Makes approx. 20 servings

3 c. nonfat dry milk powder
2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2  c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. white chocolate chips
1/4 t. salt

Whisk all ingredients together and then, working in batches, pulse in a food processor until everything in finely ground and well combined. Store in an air-tight container for up to three months.

To prepare: Mix 1/3 c. hot chocolate mix with 1 c. hot milk.


Strawberry Lemonade

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Have you ever been on a college campus during the summer? They have a secret they don’t want the students to know: the food is much better in the summer. Seriously.

I worked on campus the summer before my senior year and was shocked the first day I walked into the student center food court and found a completely different menu. I was quite disappointed when the fall semester rolled around and the fresh salads and sliced steak sandwiches once again became chicken fingers and burgers.

One of the things they served that summer was fresh lemonade with fruit puree – a different fruit every day. The strawberry was my favorite. Even if I wasn’t planning to buy lunch, I’d stop down to make sure I wasn’t missing out on the strawberry lemonade.

This is a dead-ringer for my favorite drink of that summer. I’m not sure there’s anything better.

Strawberry Lemonade
(slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction)
Makes approximately 6-8 cups

1 c. sugar
1 c. of water
1 pint fresh strawberries
1 c. fresh lemon juice (approximately 8 lemons)
4-6 c. cold water (depending on your taste)

Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and heat until the sugar in completely dissolved; swirl the pan occasionally. Let cool.

Once the simple syrup has cooled, puree strawberries in a blender with 1/2 cup water.

In a large pitcher, combine strawberry puree, simple syrup and lemon juice. If using the vodka, add it to the pitcher and stir to combine.

Add 4-6 cups of cold water. The amount of water you use will depend on your taste, so add as little or as much as you want to achieve your perfect sweet/tart balance. Serve over ice.


Watermelon Agua Fresca

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A few weeks ago, we had a housewarming party to finally show off our now one-year-old house.  I had planned a slew of food, including watermelon with dessert. My plan was to cut up the watermelon right before dessert but in the hubbub of everything I completely forgot about it.

When we remembered it later we thought, oh well, we’ll just eat it ourselves. Clearly, we didn’t realize how much watermelon we had. After a few days of eating it with breakfast or lunch we were getting sick of it so I decided I needed to jazz things up a bit. 

Mark’s a big fan of juice so I knew this would go over well. It was light and refreshing – really a perfect summer drink. In the mood for a summer cocktail? It’s great with vodka.

Watermelon Agua Fresca
(slightly adapted from Chef In You)
Makes approx. 1 liter

1/2 large watermelon, seeded and cubed
1 1/2 c. water
3 T. agave nectar

In batches, use a blender or food processor to blend the watermelon and water. Filter using a fine strainer to remove any watermelon pulp. Stir in agave nectar. Serve well chilled.


Sparkling Punch

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Several of our friends and family members aren’t drinkers so when we have parties it’s nice to have something non-alcoholic that’s a little fancier than just serving soda.

I’ve made this one twice – for Christmas and again for a dinner party with my friends – and both times it was well recieved. It’s got a light, refreshing taste that would also make it great for Easter or a shower.

Sparkling Punch
(from All Recipes)

1 lemon
2 large oranges
1 (6 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 liter club soda
2 (750 milliliter) bottles sparkling apple cider
1 T. sugar

Thinly slice the lemons and the oranges and place in a large punch bowl. Pour in the thawed lemonade. Gently stir in the club soda and the sparkling apple cider. Add sugar to taste.


Power of Pink Challenge – Cotton Candy Cocktail

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When I saw Beantown Baker’s Power of Pink Challenge I knew I had to participate. Like too many other people, breast cancer is something that has touched me personally. I lost my aunt to breast cancer when I was in college.

My aunt was one of the most fun-loving people I’ve ever known so I wanted to whip up something fun to honor her. Aunt Pat would have loved a good girls night in with this pink cocktail.

Cotton Candy Cocktail
(adapted from Drinks Mixer)

1 oz. vodka
1 oz. Di Saronno (Amaretto Liqueur)
Pink lemonade
Cotton candy for garnish

Shake together vodka, Di Saronno and pink lemonade with ice. Strain into glass and garnish with cotton candy.