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

Guilt Free Cocktail: Green Grape Frojito

I rarely cross over healthy eating habits into the drinking spectrum, but sometimes I am just looking for something light, refreshing and guilt free.  Especially in the summer when calorie laden homemade margaritas sound divine (and are totally worth the splurge sometimes!), there are times when a low calorie option is preferable.  I love frozen grapes, so when this recipe appeared in my inbox via Hungry Girl, I was certainly up for trying it.

Green Grape Frojito

10 mint leaves

2 no-calorie sweetener packets (like Splenda or Truvia)

2 limes, quartered, for a total of 8 wedges

1 1/2 cups green grapes, frozen

3 oz. rum

1 1/2 cups crushed ice or 8 – 12 ice cubes

* Evenly divide mint, sweetener, and half of the lime wedges between 2 glasses (2 lime wedges per glass).

*  Muddle (a.k.a. mash) the contents of each glass.

* To a blender, add the frozen grapes, rum, ice, and 2 tbsp. water. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lime wedges into the blender. Discard these wedges.

* Blend at high speed until smooth. (If needed, turn off the blender, stir, and blend again.)

* Transfer grape mixture to the glasses, and stir well. Drink up and be refreshed!
MAKES 2 SERVINGS

1/2 of recipe (about 16 oz.): 192 calories, <0.5g fat, 4mg sodium, 26g carbs, 1.5g fiber, 18g sugars, 1g protein

Birthday Cake Martini

In honor of a dear friend’s birthday, I would like to share this decadent recipe for a lovely birthday cake martini.  What better way is there to feel like a kid again than to drink a cocktail with sprinkles on the rim, especially when those sprinkles fall into the drink and make whimsical, colorful swirls?

Birthday Cake Martini

3 ounces fluffed marshmallow vodka

1 ounce cream of coconut (be sure to stir well before using!)

2 ounces Amaretto

3 ounces Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur

Honey

Sprinkles (nonpareils work well)

In a shaker, combine vodka, coconut, Amaretto and White Chocolate Liqueur. Add ice and shake. Use honey to rim the glass with sprinkles.  Cheers to birthday celebrations!

 

 

 

El Presidente

El Presidente is a Cuban cocktail that originated in Havana in the 1920s.  It can be translated to a barrel-aged cocktail with a few adjustments to the original recipe as well.

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El Presidente

1.5 ounces light rum

0.75 ounce dry vermouth

2 dashes Curacao

1 dash grenadine

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into cocktail glass.

Aged El Presidente

18.5 ounces of gold rum

9 ounces of dry vermouth

3 ounces of Grand Marnier

2 ounces of grenadine

1-liter oak barrel

(For Serving:  Ice and Orange 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 an orange twist.

Manhattan

The Manhattan is a classic and popular drink concocted with whiskey and sweet vermouth.  Most people prefer it stirred, but some like it shaken.  This drink reminds me of my grandma as it was her cocktail of choice at more fancy events. She liked hers on the rocks and mixed strong. She only drank one by the time I was old enough to remember her with this drink, but I imagine in her prime she would enjoy a few more on an evening out with my grandpa!  The Manhattan can be translated to a barrel-aged cocktail with a few adjustments to the original recipe as well.

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Manhattan

1 1/2 ounces rye or blended whiskey

3/4 ounce sweet vermouth

1 dash aromatic bitters

Stir well with cracked ice and strain into cocktail glass.  Decorate with cocktail cherry or twist of lemon.

Aged White Manhattan

16 ounces unaged white whiskey

16 ounces white vermouth

1/2 ounce orange 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.

Dark and Stormy Cocktail

My co-worker shared this fun recipe with me after drinking it with her family this weekend.  She said she thought of me and knew that I would love this cocktail! How sweet and thoughtful. Since we are having stormy weather recently, I thought it was appropriate share now.

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Dark and Stormy Recipe

Ice

1/4 lime, cut into two thick slices, one for garnish, one to squeeze over the ice

2 ounces black rum (Gosling’s Black Seal Burmuda works well)

4 ounces of ginger beer

Fill a highball glass with ice.  Squeeze lime over the ice.   Add the ginger beer.  Then add the black rum over the ginger beer and it will mix, looking like a dark and stormy night.  Place a slice of lime on the rime of the glass for garnish.

My friend stated that the lime makes the drink, so don’t skip that step.  Also, she suggested looking for the ginger beer near the ginger ale and root beer, as it is not an actual beer.  (Great tip because otherwise I would have been searching forever!)

Red Wine Sangria

In an effort to will summer to appear quicker, I am organizing all of my summer recipes.  Last year I brought this to our family’s Father’s Day celebration, which included my parents, brother, both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and significant others.  All in all, there were well over fifty people that showed up at my parents house for a lovely afternoon playing games, eating and drinking.  This cocktail was a hit! I can’t wait to make it again this summer. (And I have plenty of peach schnapps left since this recipe is the only thing I use it in!)

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Red Wine Sangria

1 bottle of red, fruity wine (I find that the inexpensive varieties work well for sangria)

2 cups of vodka (more/less to taste or for potency)

1 cup of peach schnapps

2 cups of orange juice

2 oranges, sliced

2 limes, sliced

2 lemons, sliced

3 cups of grapes

Any other fruit you would like to include (peaches & apples work well)

Combine all of the ingredients in a large pitcher, mashing some of the fruit to release juices. Feel free to adjust the amounts of ingredients to suit your tastes. The key is to have a cocktail you enjoy! If you love raspberries, throw them in.  If you don’t want a drink that is as strong, cut out the vodka. Experiment to find your perfect combination/recipe.

Let sit for 8 to 36 hours.  The longer it sits, the fruitier the sangria will be and the more alcoholic the fruit pieces will become. Serve over ice.

My Go-To Drinks

I have a very unsophisticated palate, but I have been enjoying beer, spirits and wine for awhile and I know what I enjoy. I am curious to see if my tastes will change as I become more knowledgable about alcohol and try a plethora of new products.

One of my favorite times of the year is the holiday season.  I love a good drink and the holidays seem to bring about more than a few opportunities to have a social cocktail.  For me, the holiday season starts with my birthday, which is typically celebrated about a week before Thanksgiving, and lasts well into the new year.  You may notice a few seasonal drinks on my list of favorites below because of my affinity for the holidays.

Bailey’s Irish Cream

Such a lovely holiday treat!  I even bought an ice mold tray that will make ice shot glasses, perfect for the Bailey’s.

Schlafly’s Pumpkin Ale

I am quite particular about pumpkin ale.  This St. Louis brewery is phenomenal and their seasonal pumpkin ale is the best I have ever tasted.  I never seem to get enough of it before it is off the shelves.

Ketel One Vodka

I was not always particular about what kind of vodka I drank.  In college, the five dollar bottle was economical and got the job done for tailgating purposes.  Now that I have a more discerning palette and suffer from hangovers more easily, I prefer to spend a bit more money for the smooth taste and ability to function the next day.  I recommend putting this bottle in the freezer for an even smoother effect.

Avion Tequila

As with the vodka, I am willing to pay for the smoother tequila.  I did not even realize that Avion was an actual brand;  I simply thought it was concocted for the show Entourage.  When I saw the perfect smaller sized bottle for my margarita needs, I snapped a bottle up to check it out.  I was impressed.  Well played, Turtle.  Well played.

** Need a perfect margarita recipe?  Check this one out:  Margarita Recipe

Captain Morgan

Does it mean I am an alcoholic if the Friday night bartender at the nearest watering hole to my work place knows exactly what to pour me when I walk in after a long work week?  I didn’t think so.

Captain Morgan and Diet Dr. Pepper is my go-to after work drink on a Friday night.  I have converted more people than you would think to mixing this spiced rum with Diet Dr. Pepper.

X Rated Fusion 

When I want a girly drink, I turn to this pretty pink liquor.  Mixed with a cheap bottle of champagne, this mango, blood orange and passion fruit infused vodka makes an excellent girls night in cocktail.

Cavit Pinot Grigio

A lovely pinot grigio to have with a plate of cheese or chicken dish.  It is very drinkable and reasonably priced, which is important for a simple wine with your meal.

Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir

For me, this is the perfect inexpensive light bodied dry red to enjoy with a nice Italian meal.  Cheers to comfort food and table wine!