Category Archives: Beverages

Spicy Mango Aguas Frescas

Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasNew York City has reached a level of heat and humidity that can only be solved with one big cleansing thunderstorm. The trouble is, we don’t really get thunderstorms in New York City—maybe three times a year, and they’re never as spectacular as the storms in Texas.

I recall many times over the course of my childhood where my whole family would gather on our covered porch to watch the rain. Sounds dull, but when you live in a place that’s almost always teetering on the edge of drought, heavy thunder-and-lightning temperature-dropping rain is a thing to see.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasI had forgotten all about watching thunderstorms until I visited my older sister last summer. We had spent all morning boating on Lake Austin, where it was sunny and very hot (because Texas). By time we all got home and cleaned up though, the skies were ominous and the air was so thick, walking outside was more akin to swimming than anything else (because Texas).Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasSpicy Mango Aguas FrescasWhen thunder started cracking, my sister broke out the blender, made some watermelon aguas frescas, and shuffled us all (three geriatric dogs included) out onto the covered porch to watch the storm. I don’t remember what we talked about out there, but I know I’ll remember watching that storm with (almost) all my favorite people and those cool lime-scented watermelon aguas frescas for a long time.

And also how my sister and I put on head lamps and took jigsaw puzzling to a new level as the storms continued and the electricity went out three hours later.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasBut back to aguas frescas. I should probably explain what they are. That’s a good place to start, right? Aguas frescas are a blended beverage made of water, ripe fresh fruit, and sugar, that are popular in Mexico and parts of the U.S. They’re super refreshing and make for a great non-alcoholic option on hot summer days.

I love my sister’s watermelon version, but I got the idea for these Spicy Mango Aguas Frescas last weekend and just had to figure them out. It only took one try—when you’re blending mango, lime, and jalapeño, you’re all but guaranteed to have great results.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasSpicy Mango Aguas Frescas begin with a jalapeño simple syrup. This is the most difficult part of the entire process. Heat equal parts sugar and water with two split jalapeños until the sugar has dissolved.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasLet it steep until the syrup has a good amount of heat…Spicy Mango Aguas Frescas…and strain it out.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasSo, yeah, not difficult at all. This recipe makes more than you’ll need for aguas frescas, but you can keep jalapeño simple syrup in the fridge for weeks on end. It goes well in cocktails and mocktails too—you won’t have any trouble finding excuses to use this combination of sweetness and heat, I promise.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasPour 1/2 cup of your jalapeño simple syrup into a blender, along with some fresh lime juice, water, and 3 cups of fresh mango chunks.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasBlitz it all until smooth…Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasSpicy Mango Aguas Frescas…and strain out the pulp.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasPour it over ice and garnish with lime slices. And maybe some of those paper straws you bought at Target four years ago and keep forgetting about.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasIf you love mango and sweet heat, this is the drink for you. Spicy Mango Aguas Frescas have a rich, sweet mango flavor and a bit of a kick from the jalapeño simple syrup, while the lime and water balance it all out. This is what summer tastes like. For me, anyway.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasWe have storms in the forecast later this week. I’d love to invite you all over to watch them and drink some Spicy Mango Aguas Frescas on a covered porch, but this is New York and nobody watches storms. Also, I don’t have a covered porch.

It’s the thought that counts though, right?Spicy Mango Aguas Frescas

Spicy Mango Aguas Fresca
makes about 6 servings

3 cups fresh mango chunks (about 2 large mangos)
1/2 cup jalapeño simple syrup (recipe below)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2-3 cups water
ice, for serving
lime slices, for serving (optional)

Combine mango chunks, simple syrup, lime juice, and 2 cups of water in a high-powered blender. Put on the lid and blend on medium speed until smooth. Taste for sweetness and heat, and add another cup of water, if desired (I did).

Place a mesh strainer over a large mixing bowl. Pour mixture through the strainer, pressing the pulp to get as much liquid as possible. Discard pulp.

To serve, place a few ice cubes in each of 6 small glasses. Divide aguas frescas among glasses. Garnish with lime slices.

Leftover agua fresca may be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Mixture will separate over time; stir before serving.

Jalapeño Simple Syrup
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2-3 fresh jalapeños, stemmed and halved

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Let cool for 45-60 minutes, or until the concentration of flavor/heat is to your liking. Strain out jalapeño halves and any seeds. Store simple syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasSpicy Mango Aguas Frescas

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Wassail

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}My family didn’t do any holiday baking when I was growing up and we’ve never been much for big holiday traditions, but it just wouldn’t be Christmas without my mom’s Wassail.

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}Yes, Wassail. Like hot mulled cider.

Like “Here We Come A-wassailing.”

Does that song make anyone else automatically think of A Claymation Christmas Celebration, where they go a-waffling? No? Just me?

Whatever happened to the California Raisins?!

Anyway…

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}Wassail, y’all. It’s delicious and you should all make some this holiday season. My mom makes a big pot of the stuff in the days leading up to Christmas and then reheats it as necessary. And, oh, is it necessary.

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}You’re going to drop by to deliver a gift or have a chat? Great! Would you like some Wassail?

You want to play a raucous multi-hour game of Dominoes? I’ll get the Wassail.

You’re going to go for a walk to see your neighbors’ insane Christmas light displays? I’ll make you a to-go cup.

Texas missed the memo that it’s Christmas and it’s blazing hot outside? Let me pour this Wassail over ice and top it with a little splash of seltzer.

We’re going a-wassailing? I don’t exactly know what that is, but I’ll bring the Wassail.

Bottom line: Wassail is appropriate for any and all holiday occasions.

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}My mom’s recipe comes together in just half an hour and couldn’t be easier. You literally simmer a half-gallon of apple cider with a couple cinnamon sticks and then jazz it up with some pineapple juice, the juice and zest of a lemon, some honey and nutmeg. Serve it up with a slice of lemon or another cinnamon stick and prepare for a mug of sweet, tangy holiday bliss 😍Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}I love that this Wassail is non-alcoholic. It’s appropriate and appealing for kids and grown ups alike, and it’s a rare non-seltzer/coffee/soda option for those of us who don’t drink 🙋

This seasonal beverage has been a part of my Christmas memories for as long as I can remember, and I can’t imagine a holiday season without it. Make a batch in the next few days and it might become your tradition, too.Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}

Wassail
from my mom’s recipe box
makes about 3 quarts

1 medium lemon
1 half-gallon (8 cups) apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
24 ounces (3 cups) unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For Garnish:
1 medium lemon, thinly sliced, optional
cinnamon sticks, optional

Use a vegetable peeler to remove lemon zest in thick strips. Slice lemon in half and squeeze into a small bowl. Set aside zest and 3 tablespoons of the juice.

Combine apple cider and cinnamon sticks in a stock pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer for five minutes. Stir in lemon zest strips and juice, pineapple juice, honey, and nutmeg. Bring back to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer for five more minutes.

Strain out lemon zest and cinnamon sticks, if desired (I don’t mind them). Serve Wassail in mugs. Garnish with lemon slices or cinnamon sticks, if desired.

Wassail will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days and may be reheated on the stove or in the microwave.

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason Jar

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarGrowing up in Texas, I was used to 100+ degree heat and blazing sun, but Texas has nothing on New York. The temperature rarely creeps into triple digits here in NYC, but that doesn’t mean we escape the heat. Oh, no. There is nothing quite as brutal as 85+ degree heat in a city made entirely of concrete and surrounded by water. I used to think New Yorkers were just wusses when it came to heat, but I am here to say that I was deeply wrong. So, so wrong. My sincere apologies to every sweaty, miserable New Yorker that I have ever called a weakling.

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarWhen it’s this warm, baking is far less appealing than it might normally be. Today, I’m staying away from the oven and cooling off with an Iced Matcha Latte. Creamy, sweet and ice cold, it’s a great way to beat the heat!

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarMy single-serve Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason Jar is completely vegan, refined sugar-free, and requires just six ingredients, two of which are ice and water.

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarIced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarI start by combining 2 1/2 teaspoons of matcha green tea powder (I use this one), 2 teaspoons of maple syrup, and a splash of vanilla in the bottom of a pint mason jar. Stir that all together until all the lumps of matcha have disappeared and you have a paste.

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarNext, stir in a few tablespoons of water.

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarIced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarIced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarPour almond milk (or any milk you like) up to the 1 cup mark. Add an ice cube or two, seal the jar, and shake it up!

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarOpen the jar, pour it into a glass with some more ice cubes, and enjoy with a cute straw or two! Life’s just more fun when you have cute straws.

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarMy Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason Jar is just as cold, creamy, and sweet as any you’ll find in a coffee shop, and it’s a fraction of the price! Matcha contains antioxidants and caffeine, so these lattes make for a great mid-afternoon pick-me-up! Treat yourself to one this weekend 🍵💚Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason Jar

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason Jar
makes 1 latte 

2-2 1/2 teaspoons matcha green tea powder*
2 teaspoons maple syrup (agave and honey work, too)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
4 tablespoons water
~2/3 cup almond milk (or other dairy or plant-based milk)
ice cubes

In a pint mason jar, combine matcha powder, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir together with a fork until there are no lumps. Add water, almond milk, and 2 ice cubes. Screw on lid. Shake for 1 minute, until combined. Strain out the ice cubes while pouring your latte over fresh ice. Enjoy!

Note:

Matcha comes in different grades and colors. For a brighter color, use ceremonial grade matcha. Food grade matcha (the variety I used in my Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies) will work, but the color will be subtler.

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason Jar

Hot Chocolate Mix

Hot Chocolate MixHi! How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was great–I got lots of quality time with my little sister and parents, had dinner with a reader (hi Robyn!), and ate so much chocolate that I think I might soon abandon my vanilla person ways.

But now Thanksgiving has passed and November is nearly over. I got home Sunday night and immediately broke out my Christmas tree and started decorating. It’s still not finished and I have no idea where I’m going to put my Peanuts Nativity scene, but I’m definitely getting into the holiday spirit ❤️💚🎄

Hot Chocolate MixDuring the weeks leading up to Christmas last year, I did Twelve Days of Cookies. While I love holiday cookies and had a blast making all of those recipes, I felt I had limited myself. I mean, why only make cookies when there are cakes and food gifts and seasonal beverages to be had?! There will definitely be some new holiday cookie recipes over the next few weeks, but I’m expanding a bit this year. Let’s call it Twelve Days of Holiday Treats, and let’s kick it off with Hot Chocolate.

Hot Chocolate MixEveryone loves Hot Chocolate. It’s a classic. Warm, sweet, creamy, comforting, and (most importantly) chocolaty, it’s a must-have this time of year. We’ve all had great cups of hot chocolate while out and about. The versions we make at home, however, are often packaged and filled with stabilizers. And they certainly don’t taste like chocolate. At least, they don’t taste like any chocolate I’ve ever had.

My Hot Chocolate knocks the pants off anything you can get in a packet. It starts with cocoa powder. Use any cocoa you like (I am fond of the deeper, richer flavor of Dutch process). Sift the cocoa into a large mixing bowl. I know sifting is a tedious process, but this will keep the Hot Chocolate Mix from being lumpy when stirred into warm milk. Lumpy hot chocolate is gross. So sift that cocoa powder and a couple of cups of confectioner’s sugar, too. You could certainly use granulated sugar, but the powdered variety dissolves more easily into warm milk and the cornstarch it contains helps to thicken the Hot Chocolate.

Hot Chocolate MixHot Chocolate MixNext, grate half a chocolate bar into the mix. I prefer milk chocolate, but use dark if that’s what you prefer (it’ll keep it vegan!). This will make the Hot Chocolate extra chocolaty and super smooth and creamy. Lastly, whisk in a pinch of salt. You may add some vanilla powder if you happen to have some lying around, but if you don’t, your Hot Chocolate Mix won’t suffer in the slightest. Whisk all the ingredients together and spoon the mix into an airtight container.

And then, make yourself some hot chocolate. Warm some milk on the stove or in the microwave, and stir in a few tablespoons of your mix. Drink it plain, or top it with whipped cream or marshmallows or chocolate curls–or all three, if you’re feeling feisty. You’ll love the smooth, rich chocolate flavor, and that you know exactly what ingredients are in your mug.

Hot Chocolate MixHot Chocolate MixWhile it’s fun to have a treat all to yourself, it’s always more fun to share. This hot chocolate recipe is easily doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled so you can share with your family. And, of course, you can always tie a cute ribbon around a jar of the mix and give it out as a gift.Hot Chocolate Mix

Hot Chocolate Mix
makes about 4 cups

1 cup cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1.5 ounces chocolate (milk or dark), grated
1 teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Sift cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in grated chocolate, optional vanilla powder, and salt. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

To make Hot Chocolate:
3-4 tablespoons Hot Chocolate Mix
1 cup milk of choice, warm
whipped cream, if desired
mini marshmallows, if desired
chocolate curls, if desired

Whisk mix into milk until no lumps remain. Top with whipped cream, marshmallows, or chocolate curls, if desired. Serve immediately.

Hot Chocolate Mix

Pink Lemonade

I think the world would be a much happier place if we all stopped for a lemonade break. I mean, think about it.

It’s ten thousand degrees outside. School is starting back up again soon. The holidays are not all that far away.

Yes, I’m thinking about the holidays nearly four months out. Aren’t you?! 😜

 So, how about instead of thinking about all the stuff we have to do, we pause for a glass of cold lemonade and forget everything for five minutes? Real lemonade, not the powdered stuff that you’ve had in your pantry for two years. Definitely not that. Instead, let’s have perfectly sweet-tart homemade lemonade. And let’s make it pink because it’s just more fun that way.

    Homemade Pink Lemonade takes a little more effort than stirring powder into water, but it is also a million times more delicious. You won’t find any food coloring in the list of ingredients either. Nope. The pink color comes from fresh raspberries!

The recipe starts with making a lemony raspberry syrup. Throw some fresh raspberries, a couple of tablespoons of lemon zest, sugar, and water into a small saucepan, and cook it just until the berries start to fall apart. Let it cool for 30 minutes while you juice a bunch of lemons. Then strain the syrup into a pitcher and stir in the lemon juice and some cold water. Serve it over ice with a few slices of lemon and cute straws, and then relax for five whole minutes. Trust me, your to-do list can wait that long.

 Pink Lemonade
makes about 2 quarts

Syrup:
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 ounces fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (about 2 large lemons)
3/4 cup water

For Assembly:
1 1/2 cups lemon juice (about 10 large lemons)
3 1/2-4 cups cold water
ice

For Garnish (optional):
1 large lemon, thinly sliced

Make the syrup. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, raspberries, lemon zest, and water. Cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until berries are starting to fall apart. Let cool 30 minutes before pushing through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds and pith.
Make the lemonade. In a large pitcher, combine syrup, lemon juice, and 3 1/2 cups cold water. Stir. Taste, and add 1/2 cup more cold water if it’s too tart.

Serve pink lemonade over ice. Garnish with lemon slices, if desired.

Pink Lemonade