Teachers around the U.S are counting down those last few days of school. Christmas break is just a couple of days away. They made it. And you know what they deserve? To CELEBRATE!
My son is 2 1/2. His Mother’s Day Out teachers may not have to deal with testing or teenage attitudes…but they help potty train eleven children…and they are better at it than I am with one child. They do pinterest worthy activities EVERY class day. They taught my child his colors, when all summer long EVERYTHING was blue. I seriously thought he was color blind…but no. They text me pictures of my son at sensory stations and my mother-guilt for not doing enough of these activites at home is lessened. They are my Pinterest arms and legs. My son will not grow up in a generation of Pin Kids and be the only one who never played in a “sensory bin.” Thank you Mrs. H and Mrs. T!
So cheers to teachers everywhere. If you are a teacher, I hope someone is celebrating you this week…and if not, I raise my glass to you. Here’s what my son’s teachers and his school’s director are getting from The Randolphs this year. It’s not expensive, but I hope it expresses how grateful we are for them…because we totally are!
The makings of pomegranate spritzers and some delicious dark chocolate covered almonds (I bought the Archer’s brand from Target. They are dairy-free and dangerously tasty). I had these little gratitude stones from one of my old clients Michele Wahlder. She had them made up to go with her book Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude, which also makes an absolutely beautiful gift or addition to a gift basket.
Homemade Simple Syrup is so easy and CHEAP, but adds a nice homemade touch to this gift. Simply boil equal parts sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. I did one cup of each and filled three medium sized baby food jars. (If I’d thought ahead, I’d have bought small mason jars–so much cuter–but I went with what I had). You can sweeten any drink (iced tea, cocktails, coffee) with simple syrup without leaving undissolved granules of sugar in the bottom. It’s also the perfect stocking stuffer for the sweet tea lovers in your life.
You can also make all sorts of flavored simple syrups for a special touch by adding things like peeled ginger, jalapeno, orange peel, mint, or basil. Unflavored syrups will keep for about a month in the refrigerator. Most flavored will keep for 2-3 weeks. Just toss it when it gets cloudy.
I took the pictures of the finished boxes in a hurry before school. Of course, I take pictures of the one where I ironically misspelled “simple.” Maybe I shouldn’t have been sampling the recipe as I made up these cards. 🙂
Makes one drink
2 ounces pomegranate juice
2 ounces sparkling water
.5 – 1 ounce simple syrup (see below for recipe)
Optional: 1.5 ounces of white rum or vodka
Wedge of Lemon
Pour all ingredients into a martini glass. Squeeze in lemon wedge. Give it a gentle stir. Add some ice cubes if needed. Serve. (You can shake the pomegranate juice, optional rum or vodka, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice and then top with sparkling water and lemon if you’re bothered by a few cubes of ice in your martini glass.)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Put sugar and water in a pan. Bring to boil. Boil until the sugar dissolves. Only takes a few seconds. Remove from heat. Let cool. (You can also just put sugar and water in a jar and shake, shake, shake until it dissolves.) Store in refrigerator for up to one month or until it gets cloudy.
(Becky, the Mama.)
There’s something so right about snow in the winter. Chestnuts roasting, Jack Frost nipping, sleigh bells ringing… Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!
But when it is mid-April and barely a daffodil has bloomed in my yard, there’s not a speck of green or a bud on the tree, and you look outside expecting to hear birds singing and instead you see snow blowing… it is just plain WRONG.
I adore Colorado ¾ of the year, but I’ve got to find a way to get outta here in Spring when my native Texas eyes long to behold green, my skin aches for the warmth of the sun, and the cook in me is ready to fire up the grill on the patio, and mix a refreshing cocktail as Greg and I visit on the porch swing.
Yesterday, while we were experiencing this out the patio door…
….I decided it was time to take the weather into our own hands. We’d simply have to make our own sunshine. Out came a bag of fragrant lemons and my handy juicer. Then, vodka and bottle of Italian lemoncello- a gift from my thoughtful friend Lucille, upon her return from Europe. Finally, just to show off, I pulled a fresh basket of raspberries out of the fridge and plopped them on the counter too.
Now then, wasn’t it pretty? Things were looking brighter already.
I do not like to boast, but may I just say, I make the best Lemon Drop Cocktails around? Not too sweet, not too tart. Plenty of real lemon flavor. And when you float a few brilliant red raspberries in this refreshing drink, and add a lovely twist of lemon peel, really, who cares if it’s April and there’s still stubborn case of Winter lingering outside your window?
Inside, we stayed happy and cuddled by the hearth, toasting the (eventual) coming of Spring.
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer ~ Albert Camus
Ultimate Lemon Drop Martini with Fresh Raspberries
1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 part lemoncello liqueure (It is found in most liquor stores on the liqueur aisle. It is made from vodka, sugar and the zest of lemon)
1 part vodka
twist of lemon peel slice, and 3 fresh raspberries per glass
Ice for shaker
Sugar for rim, if desired
Pour first 3 ingredients over ice into a martini shaker. (For a generous martini, I use about a 1/4 cup of each “part” per person. For less Spring-deprived people, living in balmy southern climates, this will probably make enough for two people. But if you are still living in places where you are shoveling your driveway in mid-April, go for the generous pour.) Shake, shake, shake your winter blues out. Rub a bit of fresh lemon juice around the rim of a martini glass, then dip in a shallow plate of sugar to line the rim. Drop in 3 fresh raspberries and a twist of lemon peel.
* If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, add a little agave nectar or simple syrup.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title:Ultimate Lemon Drop Martini with Fresh Raspberries
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
(Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)
For the past two weeks I’ve been keeping my 5 year old grandson. This has been humbling for a person with ADD who spends a crazy amount of time finding and losing her own purse/keys/phone/sunglasses. Add to this routine, keeping up with a five year old’s needs: shoes, sunscreen, snacks, water bottles, favorite toys and books. At one point, sleep deprived and on my 7th trip from car to house to retrieve a lost item, I tearfully told my husband, “A person who cannot keep up with her keys should not be trusted to care for a small child!” But I somehow got my Temporary Mom Groove on, with a few routines and the help of my husband and family.
Last week my son Gabe invited me and my grandson over for lunch. It was so nice not to have to cook or eat out of a box or bucket. In addition to a yummy salad, roast potatoes and steak, Gabe served the most refreshing Sangrias to the adults. They were perfectly balanced, not too sweet.
“How did you make this?” I asked. He told me that at the restaurant where he and his girlfriend wait tables, there is a man who always orders the same drink: Merlot and Sprite over ice, with a lime. An “instant sangria,” of sorts. The wait staff finally tried it themselves, and loved it.
Gabe gave me the recipe along with some steak and roast potatoes to take home and share with Greg. Greg found the steak and potatoes under my car seat today, six days old and beyond redemption. Thankfully I had the ingredients on hand to make him a sangria to help soothe the loss.
No Stress Sangria
1 part chilled lemon-lime or grapefruit soda
1 part chilled Merlot or Cabernet
Slices of citrus
In a glass or pitcher, mix equal parts soda and red wine. Mix with ice and any slices of citrus you like. That’s it! Now find a nice place to sit and sip it, preferably to celebrate the kids having gone to bed! (Or off to college.)
I’ve always loved a perfectly ripe banana for a quick snack. On hectic mornings, I’d often grab a banana, a spoonful of peanut butter, a swig of milk and call it breakfast. Once, when my four kids were young, we all headed in a crazed mass exit toward the car where I would drive them to school. Realizing I’d forgotten to eat, I instructed my then-thirteen year old son, Zach, to “run back in the house and grab me a banana.”
I watched, perplexed. as he ran to the front door of the house then took an odd pose, his head slightly to the right, his arms to his side, and then ran back to the car in this weird position. “What are you doing?” I asked. He answered in all seriousness, “I thought you told me to go to the house and then run like a banana.”
I swear, when puberty hits our children their hormones start eating their brain cells. But I digress.
Back to bananas for breakfast. As some of you know, I’m determined to eat my way to lower blood pressure. One of the ways to do this is to eat more potassium rich foods. And a banana is loaded with potassium. In fact, I read that a bite of a banana has more potassium than most potassium tablets. Almonds, too, are praised for all sorts of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure.
Another new food craze I love is salted caramel anything. So I combined a simple banana smoothie with almonds and unsweetened almond milk (only 35 calories a cup!) then added a touch of caramel and sea salt. (Sea salt does not raise blood pressure the way iodized chemically produced salt does, and you need less of it to flavor your food since it so rich in minerals.) There is only 2 teaspoons of caramel syrup (about 40 calories) in each shake, but because you use one of the teaspoons to rim the glass and as a decoration on top, you get the feeling that it is much sweeter as you get a tiny taste of the pure caramel with each sip.
This new smoothie/shake is the breakfast of my dreams. I’m hooked. It also makes a wonderful mid-afternoon snack or a bedtime treat, since the ingredients also relax you for a good night sleep. It could be a fluke, but I have noticed my blood pressure has lowered since having one of these banana and almond treats per day.
Served in a martini or margarita glass not only adds more elegance but allows you to rim the glass in a bit more caramel and sea salt, and gives you more surface area to garnish the top with the same.
Becky’s Salted Caramel Banana Nut Shake (Healthy)
1 rounded T. roasted almonds (salted or unsalted both work)
1 banana, peeled and chopped into 2 inch slices (preferably frozen)
1 ½ c. unsweetened almond milk
4 t. caramel syrup, divided (There are several non-dairy alternatives for vegans, including caramel agave nectar, or google recipes for vegan caramel. )
½ c. ice
Sea salt – couple of tiny pinches
Into a blender put almonds, banana, and almond milk, 2 t. caramel syrup, ice and small pinch sea salt. Blend until smooth and almonds are just specks.
Pour about a teaspoon of caramel syrup around a plate, approximately the size of the rim of a martini glass. Sprinkle this circle with a tiny pinch of sea salt, lightly. Dip the rim of the glass into the syrup and salt, twisting and turning to coat evenly. Do this twice to prepare two martini glasses.
Pour half the smoothie/shake into each glass. Squiggle a bit more of the syrup (about 1/2 t.) to garnish the top of the drink, and sprinkle with one more tiny pinch of sea salt. Prepare to fall in love.
Variations: Add protein powder to buff up the protein and drink the whole recipe to make a complete breakfast smoothie.
Add liquor (rum, coconut or vanilla vodka) to turn this into a yummy frozen cocktail.
Try it with coconut milk instead of almond milk.
In a hurry? Skip rimming the glass.
When my little brother Gabe and I were pre-teens my parents would often take us to a timeshare resort in East Texas for the weekend. Most of the time, we’d each bring a friend along. My girlfriend and I would spend our afternoons lounging poolside or goofing off playing putt putt, while Gabe and his friends would spend the day fishing or schooling all the other kids in kickball.
At night, when the sun set and all the activities quieted down, we’d finally hull up on the cabin patio together with the tall pines towering above us and eat grilled burgers or barbeque chicken and fresh seasonal fruit. In the Spring months, the cool night air would drift in, and one of us inevitably would make the challenge.
“Let’s go jump in the pool.”
“It’s too cold,” another would whine.
“We can get in the hot tub afterwards. Come on it will be fun. Don’t be a wuss!”
To that, we’d all shimmy on our cold swim suits, still wet from the afternoon and chaise each other down to the pool. “Last one there has to jump in first,” the lead would holler back.
The older teenagers in the adjoining hot tub looked with disdain, as one by one we jumped in and splashed on their make-out parade. Our heads popping out of the water, screaming and laughing.
Covered in goosebumps, we’d jump straight from the cold pool into the steaming hot tub, ignoring the make-out couple’s grumbles as they climbed out and headed for some privacy on the lake shore. We’d stay in the hot tub until beads of sweat mingled with the chlorine water droplets on our face.
Then back into the cold water. This time, the cold shock was a welcome refreshment. And we’d swim around until our lips quivered and turned blue. Back and forth we’d go, until our parents hollered for us to come in, dry off, and get to bed.
These jalapeno margaritas are like an adult version of that childhood thrill. The first sip cools you off, then a punch of heat hits the back of your throat and you start to sweat just a little, but the lime zest sugar from the rim of the glass quickly counters the spice with a tangy sweet sensation. And back you go for another cooling sip, again and again…until your mom tells you you’ve had enough fun for the night. 🙂
Rachel’s Jalapeno Margarita’s
Makes 4 Margaritas
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 jalapenos (cut in half length wise, remove seeds if desired, but we like the thrill of the heat)
4 oz silver Tequila
juice of 6 limes
3 T. sugar, lime zest, slices of lime & jalapeno
In a sauce pan, make infused simple syrup: combine sugar & water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add jalapenos. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the jalapenos and seeds (if used). Let cool in the refrigerator.
In a pitcher, combine lime juice, tequila, and simple syrup and stir. Garnish the glasses and either pour the jalapeno margarita over ice or shake it in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into the glass.
Combine 3 T. sugar with the zest of a lime on a small plate. Run a slice of lime along the edge of the glass and dip the glass upside down into the lime sugar. Stick a slice of lime and a slice of seeded jalapeno on the edge of the glass.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Jalapeno Margaritas
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/05/22/jalapeno-margaritas/
Oh my Darlin’ Clementines, how we’ve come to love you. Call them clementines, baby tangerines or Cuties, these sweet small oranges have won our hearts.
My firstborn grandson Nate, at age 3, once ate almost a whole bowl full of Clementines on a family beach vacation to San Clemente. We sat in awe, watching as he peeled and ate one after another, “all by himself,” and ate them with glee as we sat on the porch and watched the sea waves roll in.
I tuck Clementines into my purse on all my airplane trips now because they not only have Vitamin C, but a nice serving of fiber.
So, I figured, nutritious as they are, if one should add clementine juice to a martini, it would practically be a health drink…right?
In fact, the juice of 3 or 4 clementines and a shot or two of vodka, shaken with ice, yields a simple, lovely martini that needs no other sweetener. It is perfectly balanced as is.
But recently I tried a cocktail with St. Germains liqueur added, which is made from delicate elderberry flowers, but smells and tastes faintly of grapefruit. It was divine. Add this liqueur to the clementine and vodka, and you’ve got yourself an exotic, refreshing martini of citrus heaven.
The martini worked out so well, I took a glance at the mint already burgeoning in my herb garden this day in early April, and thought, “Hmm…. clementine mojitos! How could those not be good?”
Then my husband got our tax bill from the accountant and suddenly volunteered to taste any and all martinis and mojitos I made tonight, sacrificing for the good of this blog. Bless his heart.
Needless to say, we are now both happy campers. The martinis? Excellent. The mojitos? Amazing.
Just in time for tax season, I bequeath you both recipes.
Becky’s Clementine Martini
1/4 to 1/3 c. clementine juice (3 to 4 small clementines)
3 T. vodka
1 -2 T. St. Germain’s Elderberry Liqueur (depending on how strong you want it)
2 T. organic raw sugar mixed with 1/2 t. clementine zest (for rimming glass)
Put martini glass into freezer to chill. Put clementine juice, vodka and St. Germain’s into a shaker of ice. Shake-shake-shake. In a shallow bowl mix sugar and clementine zest. Take chilled glass out of freezer, run a slice of clementine around the rim to moisten the edge, then dip in sugar & clementine zest mixture.
Strain martini and pour into cold sugar-zest rimmed martini glass.
Becky’s Clementine Mojito
1 T. organic raw sugar
1/2 t. clementine zest
5 to 7 mint leaves
Juice of 3 clementines
1 T fresh lime juice
3 T. rum or vodka
club soda or sparkling water to top off glass
Into a tall glass put mint leaves, sugar and clementine zest. Muddle with stick end of a wooden spoon to bruise the mint leaves and help the sugar to dissolve and melt. To this mixture add clementine and lime juice, rum or vodka. Stir. Add ice and top off drink with club soda or sparkling water. Stir once more and garnish, if you like, with slices of lime, clementine and a small sprig of mint.
Non-alcoholic Variation: These mojitos are perfect for your non-alcoholic guests or children if you leave out the liquor and just add a wee bit more sugar (or agave) and club soda or sparkling water. Nice alternative to lemonade for summertime sipping.