Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

The first time I ever tried Strawberry Lemonade was at Chilis. I went to dinner once with friends, and in the many times we went there as college students, I never noticed the drink before until the waitress mentioned it. I really thought it would be a disgusting Hi-C drink, but when the waitress bought it out, it contained strawberry puree. I was in love. I’m sure it had 900 calories a glass, but it was just SO good and sweet! Now, I don’t go to Chilis as much anymore, but whenever I end up there, I have to have it! I’m sure some of y’all are judging me for liking something at Chilis, but just give me a little slack here. :-) I think the last time we ate at Chilis was several months ago…it’s definitely not a place we frequent.

A while back, I saw this recipe for homemade strawberry lemonade. I waited until strawberry season came around, bought a bag of lemons, and made a pitcher of the stuff. Let’s just say I had three glasses of this in a row that evening. This stuff is GOOD and super easy to make!

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade
Source: My Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of water, divided
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 8-9 small lemons)
  • 4-6 cups cold water (I used 5 cups)

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Make a simple syrup by heating and occasionally stirring the mixture on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the mixture to fully cool before doing the other steps.
  2. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup of water.
  3. In a large pitcher, add the strawberry puree, cooled simple syrup and lemon juice. Stir the mixture until everything is well-mixed.
  4. Add 4 cups of cold water and taste. If you feel the lemonade needs more water, add it a cup at a time until the lemonade tastes great to you!
  5. Stir the lemonade really well and serve it over ice.

Note: It lasted about 2 days in the fridge (since I finished the pitcher by then), but it may last longer.

Foodbuzz 24×24: A Culinary Journey Down the Muddy Mississippi

When I was a little kid, I had such trouble spelling “Mississippi”. Was it too many “s”s or the double “p” that threw me for a loop? I just couldn’t get it. My house was less than a tenth of a mile away from the river, and I just couldn’t spell it. That bothered me. My parents taught us a little fun way to spell it eventually, and now I can’t ever spell Mississippi wrong. When in doubt, I tell myself “M-i-s-s… I-s-s…i.P.P.i”. There was an emphasis on the cap letters, so it became a bit of a rhythm to say it in my head that way before spelling it out.

Since I grew up living so close to the Mississippi, I’ve seen the river have its ups and downs. Literally. When the river gets high in the Spring, boats appear like they are floating on the levee. And of course, when it gets low, you’ll barely see the tops of the boats. It’s crazy how much it varies, and this year was no exception. For the first time in almost 40 years, the river was so high that the Corps of Engineers had to open a spillway north of Baton Rouge in order to save New Orleans and Baton Rouge from catastrophic flooding. Sadly, this spillway isn’t just land. People actually built their homes and farms in the spillway, so they had to evacuate. While I’m glad that nothing catastrophic happened to our big cities, it still hurts to know that some people suffered from this.

While I was watching a news segment about the river one night, I couldn’t help but think about the massive journey that the water takes. All the way north from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. There are so many different cities that the river just flows by, and my husband had the greatest idea. A culinary journey down the river–from Minneapolis all the way to New Orleans. Our party idea featured foods that are notorious in the major cities along the river: Minneapolis, St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans. I was so stoked when Foodbuzz let me know that our party proposal had been accepted for this month’s 24×24, so I called up our families and had them over for this awesome party!

For Minneapolis, we grilled up the famous Juicy Lucy burger! You can’t go wrong with a cheese stuffed burger, and this burger was one of the favorites of the meal!

Jucy Lucy

For St. Louis, we baked a gooey butter cake. We served it with ice cream and various summer fruit sorbets. The cake is a yeast based batter on the bottom and of course, a gooey butter base layer on top. Many of us (myself included) have never had a gooey butter cake, but it was a great hit! I think next time, this would go perfectly with some fresh fruit.

Gooey Butter Cake

For Memphis, we made some fabulous BBQ Baby Back ribs. This was my first time ever working with ribs, and it really wasn’t that bad. These were very flavorful ribs and super tender, since they were in an oven for a good part of the morning before finishing off on the grill!

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

And of course, for New Orleans, we made some grilled corn grits. Grits are a favorite around here, and in one of our favorite restaurants, this is how they make the grits. It’s fabulously rich and flavorful! You probably don’t want to know how much heavy cream and butter are in these grits, but I’ll tell you anyway later when I post the recipe! :-)

Corn Grits

Oh, and since we’re all from Louisiana, we had to add in a little lagniappe for NOLA: Hurricanes. I mean, how could you NOT? For a hot, summer day, these are always a hit!

Hurricane

*all recipes will be shared on the blog at a later date*

It was so wonderful to spend time with our families, and I’m so glad everyone enjoyed the food. You know it was a good party when people ask for the leftovers and recipes as they’re leaving! :-)

Dessert Time

Family

Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for making this party happen! We really enjoyed the different foods from cities along the river, and also had a blast spending time together!

 

Sprite “Icee”

Sprite Icee

My husband and I are on an Icee kick lately. I know those drinks are full of sugar and not the most diet friendly, but man, they are SO refreshing! When I saw Bridget of Bake at 350 post about this easy idea to make your own Icee with an ice cream machine, I couldn’t wait to try it!

Of course, the texture really isn’t an Icee. Icees are much lighter to me, so I would actually call this more of a slush. It’s still pretty darn yummy, though and VERY easy!

Sprite “Icee”
Source: Bake at 350, originally from Cuisinart

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of cold soda (any regular soda..this won’t work on diet)

Directions:

  1. Pour the cold soda in an ice cream maker.
  2. Let the soda freeze in the maker for about 30 minutes.
  3. Enjoy!

Bananas Foster Milkshake

Banana Milkshake

I’m sure you can tell I’m sort of in love with bananas foster. I’m from New Orleans, so I guess you can say I’m pretty hooked to the stuff. I don’t really remember the first time I had it, but I know it was love at first bite!

I’m also greatly in love with ice cream…I gave it up for a month for a personal junk food detox to prepare me for the 10 week weight loss challenge I’m participating in. :) Before my personal little detox, I used to have a bowl almost daily. It was low-fat ice cream, so no guilt right? Psh, unfortunately those 150 calories daily added up, and I blame the hot summer for the crazy weight gain I’ve experienced. Darn you hot summers and refreshing ice cream!! :)

So, naturally when I heard that Foodbuzz and Lactaid were hosting a smoothie/milkshake recipe contest, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enter my idea: a bananas foster milkshake. I know milkshakes are a huge diet no-no, but hey, I can practice portion control here, right?

After submitting my idea to Foodbuzz, I found out that my idea was one of the 12 chosen to participate in this contest. :) Wahoo!!

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what the prize for this fabulous contest is, right? It’s a trip to this year’s Foodbuzz Festival!! So, cross your fingers for me, y’all. This would be an amazing opportunity for me, and I think I would just go nuts if I won (in a good way, I promise).

Now, since this is a contest for Lactaid, I couldn’t just make any milkshake. Rather, this milkshake had to be lactose-free AND unique! Quite a challenge, no?

Now, I knew Lactaid made milk, because I was graciously given a coupon to get a Lactaid milk product for free to make this recipe happen. However, my two other worries were ice cream (of course, a milkshake staple) and butter (a main ingredient in authentic bananas foster).

After perusing Lactaid’s site, I found that Lactaid makes an ice cream product. Bonus? A store really close to my house carries all Lactaid products, so the products are easy to find. If it’s in my town, it’s probably in your town. Yay for availability! Also, Lactaid products are very reasonable in price. I know not everyone can pay mega bucks for groceries, so it’s wonderful that Lactaid keeps costs fairly low for their products. :)

Milkshake Ingredients

Now, for the butter, I took a risk and used a little bit of oil with water rather than butter. I thought this would work well, because I interchange oil and butter in most of my cooking, so why not? Thankfully, the flavors worked out, the shake ended up not tasting oily, and it worked beautifully in making the infamous bananas foster sauce. :)

On a side note, I have to hand it to the folks at Lactaid. When I was a kid, I think I was a little lactose intolerant (never was diagnosed). I used to have major stomach pains after drinking milk, and the sad thing was, I used to drink chocolate milk anyway. I know…you think I must be crazy! To me, the pain was totally worth it. I was completely addicted to chocolate milk!  And yes, while I had stomach cramps, I like to think my addiction to milk had to contribute to my 5’10” frame. Haha! Now, don’t worry…the good news for me is sometime in my teenage years, I grew out of the intolerance I had. Yay!

However, not everyone ends up so lucky. So, it’s good to know that those who are lactose intolerant can still enjoy cow’s milk now, get the same nutrients from regular milk, and hey, they can even make milkshakes, root beer floats, enjoy sundaes…the list is endless!

Lactaid has really taken it upon themselves to make lactose intolerance less daunting. They have a huge array of lactose-free products, and offer a new website, called MooVision, which is to bring awareness to lactose intolerance and to showcase their product line. They have some fun features on the site too, which include:

  • Moolah!, a trivia contest about lactose-free milk (you can win Amazon.com gift cards here!)
  • Gourmoo cookoff, which is a competition with recipes featuring lactose-free milk
  • Moo News, which is a mockumentary style news show for milk lovers

So, using Lactaid’s ice cream and milk products, I came up with this milkshake. I’m sure you’re wondering if there’s a difference in consistency or taste with these products. Good news peeps…I really didn’t notice a difference, which is awesome.

The verdict? The taste of this shake came out perfectly, as expected. :) Heck, bananas foster is typically served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream anyway. Why not combine it into a tasty drink? You might noticed that I didn’t make traditional bananas foster with alcohol. I did this, because it’s not a huge flavor difference to me, and because of the lack of alcohol, this becomes a shake you can make for the kids, too! :)

And, in case you’re wondering, I only drank 12 oz. of the stuff. This shake made it really hard to practice portion control too…so tasty! I kind of don’t want to calculate the calories, but in hindsight, with a 48 oz. pitcher next to me, I could have done much worse damage.

Disclosure: I received a free sample of Lactaid milk for this recipe, and this recipe serves as my entry for a contest to attend the Foodbuzz Festival.

Bananas Foster Milkshake
Source: an original

Ingredients:

  • 3 bananas, sliced
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • appx. 1/4 cup water
  • 12 oz. Lactaid milk (we used 2% reduced fat)
  • 1 quart Lactaid vanilla ice cream

Directions:

  • Place oil in a medium skillet and bring the heat to medium heat.
  • Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir and slowly add water until it forms a sauce. Lower the heat to medium-low heat.
  • Add the sliced bananas to the pan, stirring occasionally.  Cook this down for about 5 minutes. You know it’s done when you can smell it and the bananas are really soft!
    Bananas Foster
  • Remove the bananas and place them in a bowl in a larger bowl with an ice bath to cool down. Reserve the sauce in the skillet.
  • Once the bananas foster has cooled, blend the milk and ice cream together until well blended. Then add the bananas foster and blend. If you think the shake is too thick for your liking, you can add some milk, a little at a time.
  • To serve, drizzle bananas foster sauce in a glass, pour in the shake and drizzle more sauce on top. Enjoy!

Makes appx. 48 ouncesBananas Foster Milkshake

Thanks again to the folks at Foodbuzz and Lactaid for allowing me to participate in this contest. :)

Iced Coffee at Home (and a review)

Iced Coffee

I am a coffee shop junkie. Some mornings when I woke up feeling crabby, nothing would change the day’s outlook more than a “mochasippi” from a local coffee joint. Apparently, I had many crabby mornings, because a month later, the barista would recognize my voice (and order) at the drive-thru window and tell me, “Morning, Miss Amy!”.

Well, it got to the point where I would stare at my bank statements, and realize, I’m spending far too much moolah on something so simple as coffee. I need to change this. One Particular Kitchen wrote about some fabulous iced coffee she makes, but I was skeptical about this. How could it compare to my precious mochasippi?

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I volunteered to be part of a test run group for The Nest. If chosen, I would get an appliance to test out and review (compliments of The Nest). Imagine my surprise when I got an email about testing out a coffee machine! I’ve never owned a coffee machine before (although with the amount of coffee I consume, I knew it would be a money saver!) 

Coffee Machine

When I received the coffee machine, which is a Hamilton Stay or Go, I noticed that you can brew (double strength) iced coffee base with this machine. No excuses y’all. I knew that I had to try out this iced coffee, and well folks, I’m hooked!

This coffee machine comes with two travel mugs and a pot (you can brew 1 mug, 2 mugs or a pot). Since I’m the only coffee drinker in the house, the mug brewing feature became a MUST! Also, this machine is fool-proof. For someone who has never used a coffee machine in her life, this thing was a cinch to figure out. Also, if you and your husband have different tastes in coffee, there is a special double basket that will brew two different coffees into the two separate travel mugs provided. Neato, eh?

I got sent this coffee to sample from Starbucks as well. It was delicious as a base for the iced coffee.

Coffee

I have been playing around with the recipe a little bit, and this is my favorite so far. There will be much more experimentation in the future though. Sometimes when I’m feeling ultra coffee shop, I add a squirt of whipped cream and syrup on top! Yummy!

  • 1/2 double strength coffee base
  • 1/2 2% milk
  • light chocolate syrup, to taste

Very simple. Very yummy and my wallet couldn’t be happier!

Note: This coffee machine and coffee was sent to me for review by thenest.com at no cost to me. My review, however, is 100% my thoughts, as I was allowed to give good/bad reviews on the machine.