Category Archives: Drinks

MMM Day 7: Maple Date Smoothie

I drove home to Wisconsin today to – guess what – help make syrup. The trees weren’t running today so there’s no sap to pick up, but hopefully after a good freeze tonight we’ll have plenty of sap tomorrow. With any luck, we’ll be able to do some cooking tomorrow evening!

If you don’t know how sap becomes syrup, I think this song by Pete Seeger sums up the process pretty well, especially the important detail that you need warm days and freezing nights (more on that tomorrow!).

In anticipation of tomorrow’s work, I think an energy drink might be in order. And what better fuel than maple syrup?

Maple Date Smoothie
1 small banana
small handful walnuts
3 or 4 whole dates (no pits!)
1 – 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/8 c. yogurt
1/4 c. milk

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

Maple Date Smoothie


MMM Day 5: The Noreaster

I’m in the process of shopping for a new car.

Thus, I think you can understand why today for March Maple Madness I present to you a maple recipe that features bourbon as the primary ingredient.  Use Irish whiskey and I think you’ve got yourself a St. Patty’s Day drink, my friends.

The Noreaster (from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – thanks to my aunt for the tip!)

1 jigger bourbon
1/2 jigger lime juice
1/2 jigger maple syrup
ginger beer or ginger ale

Shake bourbon, lime juice and maple syrup over ice.  Strain into a glass.  Add ginger beer or ginger ale.  Garnish with a lime slice.  Drink cares away!

noreaster cocktail with whiskey and maple syrup in background

Note that I am running low on provisions! This is the last of my maple stock!!



Staycation Vodka Delight

On Saturday I hosted my 2nd Annual Staycation party to tide us over until spring finally springs.  This year, in addition to Staycation Sangria, we tried out a new vodka cocktail, now dubbed Staycation Vodka Delight.  Anyway, I think the name Staycation Vodka Delight is apt because it seems that those who indulged in this libation were delighted and that their winter blues were at least temporarily alleviated.  Mission accomplished!

Staycation Vodka Delight (adapted from Epicurious)
1/3 cups sugar
1 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
1 lemon or lime, sliced into rounds
1/2 small cucumber, sliced
2 cups fresh lemon juice
2 cups vodka
2 cups club soda

Muddle mint, sugar, and citrus slicers in a pitcher.  Add cucumber slices.  Let these ingredients sit for about 30 minutes.  Add juice, vodka and club soda and let chill at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.  Enjoy over ice!

Surfing on Staycation!



Aunt Pat’s Grasshoppers

Happy New Year!!  I hope everyone was able to ring in the new year in a special way.  For my part, I was invited to a “Fattening” party, a potluck with fun people and delicious food, and watched the Badgers try unsuccessfully to bring home a Rose Bowl win.  I’ll admit that the football game, though fun to watch, was a bit disappointing.  The Fattening party on the other hand, was a huge success.  Not only did I get to eat a lot of tasty food and enjoy tons of good laughs, I won Bananagrams at the gift exchange!  Clearly, my year is off to an excellent start.

My contribution to the New Year’s Fattening was twofold.  I brought a version of this squash and lentil salad as my contribution toward health, and Aunt Pat’s Grasshoppers as my contribution toward gluttony.  This is the same Aunt Pat of Brandy Slush fame, so I knew it would be a hit.  That and this was perhaps one of the best parts about the holiday season while growing up, so I saw no reason why it wouldn’t be a wonderful way to ring in the new year with some new friends.

But the best part about these Grasshoppers is that you don’t really need a holiday as an excuse to enjoy them.  I recommend mixing up a batch today to enjoy throughout the new year!!

Aunt Pat’s Grasshoppers
1 pail vanilla ice cream
1/2 c. creme de cacao
1/4 c brandy
3/4 c creme de menthe

Allow ice cream to soften.  Mix in liquors and freeze.  Enjoy!!

Chai Tea

It’s been a busy week.  Yesterday I finally went to the doctor to have my aching back checked out.  It’s been hurting since June and I finally decided that my “ignoring the pain and it will go away” strategy was failing.  I went in hoping to get a referral for physical therapy.  Check!  But I got a little more than I bargained for with the additional prescription for muscle relaxers.  Though the doctor said they would only last 8 to 12 hours after taking them, I think what she meant was that they would only last 8 to 12 hours after you wake up from 8 hours of drug-induced sleep.  In a word, I was completely unproductive yesterday because I was, well, relaxed.  But in a zombie-like way of being relaxed.  Not in a lazying about on the beach sort of way.

Anyway, being so “relaxed” didn’t help me grade any papers yesterday (to be fair, writing this blog post isn’t helping either).  So today, I opted not to take the muscle relaxers and instead brewed up a batch of chai tea, now known as “grading juice”.

I don’t drink coffee.  Or soda.  The only caffeine I ever have is in chai tea and let me tell you – IT WORKS!  Should you have your own pile of essays to grade, I highly recommend brewing up a batch to help you through the seemingly never ending pile of fun that awaits you.

Chai Tea
1 inch ginger root, sliced
6 – 8 cardomon pods
12 whole cloves
12 peppercorns
3 – 4 c. water
1 c. milk
3 – 4 black tea bags (caffeine, baby!)
1/8 c. maple syrup

Place spices in a bag and slightly crush.  Put spices and ginger in water and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes.  Turn down heat.  Add tea bags and steep for about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add one cup milk.  Warm again as needed.  Add maple syrup.  Enjoy!!
*Note:  All the amounts are approximate.  Adjust to your tastes!

chai spices

Brandy Slush

This last weekend I went camping with my friend and her aunt in Wisconsin at Wildcat Mountain State Park near the Kickapoo River, where we did some canoeing and biking on the Elroy-Sparta trail.  If you’ve never been canoeing in the Kickapoo, I highly recommend making the trip to Drifty’s to rent a canoe.  The drive alone would make it worth your time, but jumping out of the canoe and floating down the river to cool off will guarantee it.

Growing up, my family didn’t do a ton of camping but there were a few times that we went up north to visit Aunt Pat, Uncle Bob and cousins to hang out at their RV campsite.  Those weekends were always a lot of fun.  I seem to remember my brothers doing a lot of fishing, and my parents and aunts and uncles doing a LOT of laughing.  What could have induced all this laughter?  Who knows for sure, but I’m sure that Aunt Pat had something to do with it.

This weekend, as I was devouring s’mores by the campfire, I thought a little bit about those trips up north, which got me thinking about Aunt Pat, and naturally got me thinking about ice-cream buckets full of fun (Aunt Pat could always be counted on for fun, in ice-cream buckets or otherwise).  I’m not so sure we had brandy slush when we visited Aunt Pat and Uncle Bob on those trips up north, but I sure did have a glass last night when I got home from my weekend camping trip.  And you know what?  It was almost like Aunt Pat was right there with me, having lots of fun and lots of laughs.

Brandy Slush
7 c. water
2 c. sugar
4 green tea bags
2 c. brandy
1 12-oz can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 12-oz can frozen lemonade concentrate

Boil 5 c. water and 2 c. sugar.  Let cool.  Boil 4 tea bags in 2 c. water for 4 minutes.  Cool.  Add orange juice and lemonade concentrate to sugar water.  Add tea.  Add brandy.  Put in freezer for at least 24 hours.  Serve one scoop in a small glass and fill with 7-up, squirt, or ginger ale.

Staycation Sangria

A few weeks ago some friends of mine and I went to see the Art Shanties on Medicine Lake.  If you aren’t familiar with Art Shanties, you should really think about checking them out next winter.  Basically, it’s an ice fishing village, but all the ice shanties are pieces of art.  For example, there was the Fantashanty, which looked like a plain wooden box from the outside, but turned out to be a lush, tropical paper rainforest on the inside.  My favorite shanty this year was the Staycation Shanty.  From the outside, this ice dwelling was shaped like a giant suitcase, covered with travel stickers (even one from Yosemite!).  When you stepped inside, you were instantly transported from cold MN to Egypt, Hawaii, or Paris, all without leaving the frozen lake!  I thought it was a pretty brilliant idea so I pilfered it and hosted a staycation party last night so that my friends and I could also enjoy a much needed escape from winter reality.

There’s no better way to escape reality than by drinking copious amounts of alcohol, right?  And if one is trying to escape winter reality, then summer drinks, such as sangria, seem to be in order.  Now, I’m about 99.5% certain that Grandma never made sangria before, but I’m equally certain that these two recipes would get the VVG stamp of approval.  Or f if not VVG, at least VVI, because if you’re looking to get very, very intoxicated, these will do the trick.  Enjoy!

Peach Sangria
1.5 L white wine
3/4 c. peach or apricot brandy
6 T. lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 16oz. package frozen peaches
1 1/2c. grapes (red or green), halved
club soda

Mix all ingredients together and chill at least 2 hours before serving.  Add club soda to individual servings as needed. Makes about 12 cups.

Red Sangria
2 oranges, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
4 c. fruit of your choice (I used plums and a grapefruit)
2  1.5 L bottles red wine
1 c. Cointreau (or other orange flavored booze)
1 c. brandy
club soda

Put all fruits in a large container.  Pour in red wine and enjoy the glug, glug, glug sound it makes.  Pour in liquors.  Cover and refrigerate overnight (or up to 3 days).  Add club soda to individual servings as needed.  Makes about 24 cups