Wow. What a month June has been! First things first, I can’t thank all of my friends and family enough for your support at my book signing/release party at Parnassus Books. The support was overwhelming and The Outdoor Table was their NUMBER 1 best seller for the month, which was published in The Tennessean! Seriously, so cool!
On top of all of that excitement, we closed on the house Zach built this week (I was the agent), so needless to say, this has been quite the month. We are overjoyed, exhausted, and humbled with all of the blessings that the past few months have brought. Life is not perfect, but we sure our blessed to be living out our passions, even if it does make things complicated and uncertain at times.
Now for a summer sipper, this recipe is sure to cool down during this super hot and humid summer we are already having, at least here in Tennessee. I love a good homemade lemonade, but I don’t love all of the sugar that comes with it. This version isn’t sugar free (it is lemonade after all), but you get some natural sweetness from the blueberries and mint, so no need to overload on pure sugar. Not only is this drink mouthwateringly refreshing, it’s also a gorgeous shade of purple. Add a few fresh blueberries and mint to garnish, and I’m thinking this is the perfect festive addition to your 4th of July spread!
Minted Blueberry Lemonade
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pint blueberries
2-3 sprigs of mint
3/4 cup sugar
5 cups water
2 cups ice
extra mint and blueberries to garnish
In a large pitcher combine the lemon juice, blueberries, and mint. Use a masher or wooden spoon to muddle/mash the blueberries slightly.
In a saucepan combine 1 cup of water and the sugar. Bring to a simmer until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the sugar syrup to the pitcher as well as the remaining 4 cups of water and ice.
Serve over ice and with a sprig of mint and blueberries to garnish, if desired
Christmas is less than a week away, I can’t believe it! Last year I really went all out for Christmas…baking, decorating, the whole deal. This year is a little different, I haven’t had so much time for all of that decorating and baking with this little boy hanging around, but I’m not complaining. I have a feeling Christmas will never be the same, in the best way!
I did make some time to try out this recipe for Peanut Brittle for the first time last week, and it was actually pretty dang good. I am a sucker for sweet and salty, so I sprinkled it with a little sea salt before it hardened….could not quit opening that tin! Monday I am taking Maverick to my parents so my mom and I can do a little baking, and I would love to try some new recipes this year. What are your favorite Christmas cookies/candies/treats?!
For now, I am sharing this cocktail recipe I came up with for the December issue of At Home Memphis magazine, and I defnintely plan to make it again on Christmas Eve. Last year I made this Sparking Apple Cider Sangria on Christmas Eve, so I am thinking this new Christmas cocktail recipe every year is becoming a trend, and I like it!
Enjoy and Merry Christmas from my family to yours!
Merry Berry Spiced Martini
makes 4 martinis
1 1/4 cups cranberry juice
3/4 cup spiced rum
1/2 cup orange ginger simple syrup (recipe follows)
4 cups of ice
Optional: orange slices and fresh cranberries to garnsih
For the simple syrup…
Combine 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, 4 slices fresh ginger, and the zest of 1/2 of an orange in a small sauce pan. Bring the mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Strain out the ginger and orange peel and store this in the refrigerated until you are ready to use it.
For the Martinis…
Combine the cranberry juice, rum, simple syrup and the ice in a pitcher.
Stir the mixture well. (If you are making this ahead of time leave out the ice, and store covered in the refrigerator)
Strain the drink into martini glasses, and top each one off with some of the soda.
Garnish with an orange slices and fresh cranberries if desired.
One of the first things I love to do when the weather turns colder is to make Hot Cocoa. Sitting by the fire, curled up in a blanket with a warm, comforting cup of hot chocolate is my idea of a perfect night this time of year.
So recently, on a cool evening I was in the mood for some hot chocolate, but I am never as prepared as my mother, so there were no packets to be found in my kitchen. I decided I would just come up with my own recipe; it can’t be that hard, right? After several tries, I came up with this one, and I have to tell you, I don’t think I will be buying too many more hot cocoa packets. It was so easy, so rich, and so delicious.
I also love the fact that I was able to control the ingredients that I used, which allowed me to also control the fat and sugar content. These are all ingredients that I had on hand which make this hot chocolate very convenient. I have a feeling I will be making this for many years to come and hopefully passing down the recipe to my kids some day. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
The Best Homemade Hot Chocolate
4 cups 2% or low fat milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cinnamon for sprinkling
Heat milk in a saucepan over medium high heat until bubbles form around the edges. Whisk in cocoa, vanilla, and salt until cocoa has dissolved into the milk. Remove from the heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted. Ladle into mugs and lightly sprinkle with cinnamon.
Two days until Christmas, can you believe it?! I have been cleaning, cooking, baking, and running around getting last minute shopping done today, but I did squeeze in time to come up with this fun Sangria recipe for Christmas! This is a Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria made with…you guessed it, Apple Cider and Champagne! Now that’s a winning combination if I’ve ever heard one. You can make the base of this Sangria a day ahead to allow all of the flavors to soak into the cider.
You’ve still got some time to grab these ingredients with your last minute grocery run, it will be worth it I promise!
Merry Christmas Friends!
Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria
3 cups apple cider
3-4 strips of orange peel
3 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
1 apple, chopped or thinly sliced
1/2 cup white rum
1 bottle dry champagne
Combine all of the ingredients in a large pitcher except for the champagne a day ahead of serving or the morning of and stir together. Right before serving add in the champagne and that’s it, just pour over ice.
I am thrilled to announce that my first cookbook, "The Outdoor Table," published by Thomas Nelson Published is available to purchase wherever books are sold! This beautiful book includes 175 EXCLUSIVE recipes, not found on this site, perfect for all of your outdoor entertaining! Find out more and order your copy here...
Hey Y'all! Well I'm a southern gal, raised in Tennessee, where I still live with my husband and baby boy! Creating fresh and simple recipes with a southern flare, while sharing bits of my life with y'all on camera is what this site is all about. Also, my very first cookbook with Thomas Nelson Publishers will be out Spring of 2015, and I just can't wait to share it with you all! Read more about April...