Guilt Free Cocktail: Limoncello Mint Sorbet

The beginning of the school year historically seems to bring out the humidity in Iowa weather.  This week is projected to be no exception.  This time of the year is perfect for a cool cocktail, and one with guilt free properties is especially delightful.  Fresh fruit adds a seasonal touch to this refreshing drink.

Limoncello Mint Sorbet

2  cups water

1 1/3 cups sugar

1/2 cup limoncello

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 6 large lemons)

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

2 cups blackberries

Lemon slices (optional)

* Combine first 3 ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; add lemon juice and mint. Cover and chill.

*Strain juice mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon sorbet into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 1 hour or until firm. Serve with blackberries; garnish with lemon slices, if desired.

* If you don’t want to use the limoncello, you can substitute 1/2 cup of prepared lemonade.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:  184 CALORIES, 0.2 G FAT, 0.6 G PROTEIN, 34.3 G CARBS, 2 G FIBER

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Guilt Free Cocktail: Blueberry Punch

I have a sweet tooth at times, so fruit is the ultimate guilt free indulgence for me.  Succulent, juicy berries bursting with flavor are one of my favorite things about summer.  I like to use the abundance of fresh fruit this time of year to my advantage by making some cocktails.  An added bonus for this recipe:  the antioxidants that make the berries blue may trigger increased fat burning.

Blueberry Punch

1/2 cup blueberries, plus 12 for garnishes

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup water

2 cups sparkling water

6 ounces elderflower flavored liqueur

4 lavender sprigs for garnish

* In a small saucepan, bring to a boil the blueberries, sugar and water.

* Cook 1 minute, breaking up berries with a spoon.

* Strain syrup, reserving liquid (you should have about 1/2 cup); let cool 15 minutes.

*  Fill a large pitcher with ice. Add blueberry syrup, sparkling water and elderflower-flavored liqueur (such as St-Germain); stir well.

* Pour into 4 glasses; garnish each with 3 blueberries and a lavender sprig. Serve immediately.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

177 calories per drink, 0 g fat, 22 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein

Guilt Free Cocktail: Watermelon Margarita

One of my favorite summer fruits is the watermelon!  It is an absolute delight to find one that has the perfect amount of sweetness and quenches your thirst and sweet tooth all at the same time.  I am convinced that I could polish off an entire melon by myself if I was hungry and attempted.  This recipe from Hungry Girl gives you the best of both worlds, a sinful feeling margarita and delicious fresh fruit.

Watermelon Margarita

1 1/2 cups cubed seedless or seeded watermelon
3 oz. tequila
1 tbsp. lime juice
3 no-calorie sweetener packets (like Splenda or Truvia)
2 cups crushed ice or 10 – 16 ice cubes

* Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Pour, sip, and enjoy!

MAKES 2 SERVINGS

1/2 of recipe (about 16 oz.): 138 calories, <0.5g fat, 2mg sodium, 10.5g carbs, 0.5g fiber, 7g sugars, 0.5g protein

Honeydew, Cucumber & Mint Spritzer

Feeling cool as a cucumber in the summer is refreshing during the oppressive, humid days.  This wine spritzer recipe can help achieve the perfect cooling method.

Honeydew, Cucumber & Mint Spritzer

1 honeydew melon, peeled and chopped

1 cucumber

1 cup fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1 cup sparkling wine

* Puree honeydew melon, 1/2 cucumber and mint leaves in a blender until smooth.

* Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large pitcher.

* Add lime juice and 1/2 sliced cucumber.

* Chill for 30 minutes (or up to 12 hours).

* Stir well, then mix with sparkling wine and  serve over ice.

* Garnished with lime slices.

Pineapple, Lime & Coconut Spritzer

This wine spritzer is a refreshingly cool thirst quencher to enjoy with friends and family on a sunny weekend gathering.

Pineapple, Lime & Coconut Spritzer

3 cups pineapple juice

2 cups coconut water

1/2 cup fresh lie juice

2 cups of sparkling white wine

* Combine pineapple juice, coconut water and fresh lime juice in a large pitcher.  Chill for 30 minutes (or up to 12 hours).

* Just before serving, add sparkling wine.

* Serve over ice, garnished with 1/2 pineapple slice.

Horchata Cupcakes & Horchata Cream Cheese Frosting

Full disclosure, I have not actually had a chance to try these fabulous sounding cupcakes and cream cheese frosting, but I am always a fan of made from scratch baking.  This recipe will certainly be taste tested this summer at some point when I have a dessert to bring for a picnic!

Horchata is a traditional Mexican drink made from rice, milk, vanilla and cinnamon.  One of the most popular brands of horchata liquor is RumChata. RumChata is produced in Wisconsin, so I’m not sure if it is popular in my area simply because it is made in a neighboring state and therefore is fairly local or if it is gaining popularity in other regions as well.  To me, it tastes an awful lot like the milk leftover after eating a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and I have heard many others describe it in a similar fashion.  So chances are if you like that creamy, cinnamon milk, you will like horchata.

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Horchata Cupcakes

1/2 cup butter (1 stick, at room temperature)

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup horchata

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 egg whites

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees

* Combine sugar & butter and beat until fluffy

* Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.

* Mix the horchata and vanilla together.  Set aside.

* Alternating, add in the flour mixture and horchata mixture into the butter and sugar.  Start and end with the flour mixture.

* In a clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  This will be easiest in an electric mixer.

* Fold egg whites into the batter.  Do not do this with an electric mixer, use a spatula.

* Fill cupcake liners.

* Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Horchata Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces cream cheese (1 1/2 packages, at room temperature)

1/2 cup butter (1 stick, at room temperature)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

5 tablespoons of horchata

1 two pound package of confectioners sugar

* Combine butter and cream cheese until smooth

* Add vanilla

* Slowly add confectioners sugar

* Mix in the horchata

* Frost cool cupcakes

Purple Haze

A friend of mine recently introduced me to the type of sushi that I find palatable.  She paired the sushi with both a Japanese beer (Sapporo) and also introduced me to a warm Sake and Chambord drink that she aptly titled Purple Haze.

Sake is a fermented rice beverage that traces its roots back to third century Korea. There are over 100 breweries (kura) in Japan.  Sake is usually 15-20% alcohol.

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Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur.  It uses a unique three step process to make the liqueur a high quality product.  To make Chambord they perform a double fruit infusion and extraction, marry the flavors and blend the flavors.  Chambord is 16.5-23% alcohol.

The Sake and Chambord were served warm in a teapot, giving it an earthy, homey feel.  The raspberry flavor kicked the intensity up a notch.  The Purple Haze concoction was a fabulous accompaniment to the meal.

Pomegranate & Lime White Wine Spritzer

This spritzer has a nice amount of tartness because of the pomegranate and lime added.  And you can not discount the fact that this drink is full of antioxidants thanks to the pomegranate!  Nutmeg Nanny included this cocktail in her 12 days of boozy Christmas, and that series alone makes me love this nanny and website.

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Pomegranate & Lime White Wine Spritzer

1/2 cup seltzer water

1 cup white wine

1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds

1 lime wedge

* Put ice in a glass.

* Add white wine and a splash of seltzer water.

* Add pomegranate seeds and lime wedge.

Bamboo

In a Bamboo cocktail, the two kinds of bitters add a new dimension to the sherry, making it more aromatic. A fellow blogger, The Cultivated Mind, recently wrote an interesting post about The Return of Bitters, so if you are interested in learning more about this product, check it out.

It was invented in Japan in the 1890s and can be perceived as an old man’s drink. Bamboo can be translated to a barrel-aged cocktail with a few adjustments to the original recipe as well.

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Bamboo

1 1/2 ounces dry amontillado sherry

1 1/2 ounces dry vermouth

2 dashes orange bitters

1 dash Angostura bitters

Lemon twist

* Combine sherry, vermouth, bitters and cracked ice in a mixing glass.

* Stir ingredients for 20-30 seconds until well chilled.

* Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

* Add a twist of lemon to serve.

Barrel-Aged Bamboo

16 ounces sherry

16 ounces dry vermouth

1/2 ounce orange bitters

1 teaspoon Angostura bitters

1-liter oak barrel

(For Serving:  Ice and Lemon Twists)

* If the barrel is new and dry inside, fill it with water and let stand until watertight (about 24 hours) and drain.

* Fill the barrel with all of the liquid ingredients needed for your cocktail, using a funnel.

* Age the cocktail until it has taken on a softer, rounded but not overly oaky flavor (about 1 month).  Taste a sample once a week to ensure that you are not letting it age too long.

* Strain the cocktail through a coffee filter-lined funnel into a glass container.

* If you age a new cocktail in the barrel after a previous one, it may pick up on some of the flavor from the first cocktail aged in the barrel.  This can be a fun thing to play around with while aging drinks!

* Store until you are able to enjoy!

* To serve, pour 3 ounces into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and stir until chilled.  Strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass and serve with a lemon twist.

Tinto de Verano

Tinto de Verano is a simple Spanish red wine spritzer.  It literally translates to “red wine of the summer.”

Tinto de Verano

1/2 cup red wine, preferably from Spain

1/2 cup lemon-lime soda, such as 7-up or Sprite

lemon slice

* Fill a glass with ice.

* Pour in the red wine.

* Then add soda and top off with lemon slice.

* Enjoy immediately.