Pineapple-Rum (or Orange) Slush

I started making this grown-up slush years ago when we lived in California.  It was the perfect drink to sip while sitting out on the deck enjoying the evening with our neighbors.  Make it in the morning, or even the night before, freeze, and it's ready when you are.  The rum keeps it from freezing solid, and if you prefer a virgin drink, substitute freshly-squeezed orange juice.  If you decide to make it at the last minute, or you haven't freezer space, this can certainly be chilled and served over ice.  Enjoy!  6 one-cup servings

3 cups pineapple juice

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 5 lemons)

3/4 cup golden or dark rum (if you don't care for rum, you may substitute vodka or tequila, or orange juice to make this non-alcoholic)

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup sugar of choice

Place the water and sugar in a small pan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is melted.  Set aside to cool.

In a plastic pitcher combine all of the ingredients and stir well.  Cover and freeze for at least 4 hours, or until slushy.

If the mixture freezes too much, just let it set on the counter and thaw until it softens a bit.

Note: If you substitute orange juice, it will freeze solid, so plan accordingly.

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Blueberry Pomegranate Iced Tea

Blueberry-Pomegranate Iced Tea

Blueberry-Pomegranate Iced Tea

During the summer months at the cafe, this "Blue Tea" was a customer favorite, and with good reason.  Sweet tea, lemon juice, and naturally-sweetened blueberry-pomegranate concentrate combine for a perfectly balanced thirst quencher.  It's quick and easy, and may become your "go-to" beverage for the dog days of summer.

1 gallon-sized tea bag or equivalent number of smaller tea bags

3/4 to 1 cup sugar, to taste

1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1 12-ounce can of frozen Blueberry-Pomegranate juice concentrate, thawed (I use a no added-sugar, naturally sweetened brand, and you may substitute Cherry-Pomegranate concentrate, too.)

Pour 3 cups of boiling water into a one-quart measure with pouring spout.  Add the tea bag and steep for 10 minutes.  Remove the tea bag,  add the sugar, stirring until it dissolves.  Pour the tea mixture, lemon juice, and thawed juice concentrate into a one-gallon pitcher and stir well.  Add cold water to make one gallon of tea.  Refrigerate.  Serve over ice.

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Green Sun Tea with Lavender, Citrus, Honey & Basil

I'm sharing this recipe with a bit of trepidation, so please hear me out.  Those who love the flavor and aromas of fresh herbs and flowers will need no coaxing to make this tea.  But I can feel the doubtful, quizzical looks that some of you have as you read this......so I coax!  The herbal notes in this tea are very subtle, and the combination of the lavender, lemongrass, lemon, basil, and honey with the green tea results in a complex, nuanced beverage that is delightful.  It is thirst quenching, barely sweet, and even my hubby liked it. (Of course I didn't reveal the ingredients until after his first few sips, as I wanted to avoid prejudice!).  Yes, it has a feminine overtone making it perfect for luncheons, showers, and summer book clubs.  But hey, the guys like it too!

15 cups cool water

10 green tea bags

2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender (not the potpourri kind, it has to be food safe!)

1 Tablespoon dried lemongrass

1/2 cup honey (if you don't care for the flavor of honey, substitute raw or white sugar.  Simmer the basil or mint and lemon zest with water and add stevia or artificial sweetener to the finished tea if you prefer.)

1/2 cup water

2 basil leaves (or 2 sprigs of mint if you prefer)

Juice and zest of one large lemon

Place the water in a clear glass gallon container, obviously a sun tea jug is perfect.  Cut a large square of cheesecloth (a kitchen must-have!) and place the lavender and lemongrass in the center.  Pull up the corners and twist so that the contents can't escape, forming a sachet.  Tie with butcher's twine or string.  Place the tea bags (with strings over the top of the container) and sachet in the jug and cover with the lid,securing the tea bag strings so they can be retrieved.  Set the jug outside in a place that receives full sun and leave for 6-8 hours. 

Immediately, or a few hours before bringing the tea in, combine the honey, water, basil leaves, and lemon zest in a small saucepan and bring up to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and let cool completely.  Add the lemon juice and refrigerate.

Bring in the tea.  Remove the tea bags and sachet and discard.  Place a tea strainer over the opening and pour the honey mixture into the jug, straining out the basil leaves and zest.

Stir well and serve over ice.  Keep refrigerated.

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Raspberry Truffle Coffee

Raspberry Truffle Coffee with Red Velvet Valentine's Cookies & a chocolate spoon!

Raspberry Truffle Coffee with Red Velvet Valentine's Cookies & a chocolate spoon!

I had a version of this coffee on a trip to Vermont at a restaurant called The Perfect Wife.  I analyzed and starting making and enjoying it at home!  Replace the Chambord and Godiva liqueurs with raspberry and chocolate flavored syrups (I like Monin best).  You hardly need anything else for dessert, this coffee is the perfect ending to a meal.

For each serving pour into a cup or mug:

1 shot Chambord or other raspberry liqueur

1 shot Godiva chocolate liqueur (white or dark)

1 shot half-and-half

Fill the cup with freshly-brewed, very hot coffee.  Optional: Top with a dollop of whipped cream.  Serve immediately.

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