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If it’s watermelon time, it must be summer

2 Jun

It’s not the heat and it’s not the pool opening. It’s not the strappy dresses and sandals or the birds chirping too early and the fire-pitless porch parties lasting past midnight.

What tells me it’s summertime is the large, cardboard box full of big green orbs that greets me when I enter Trader Joe’s.

I received that happy welcome last weekend. There was even a woman handing out watermelon samples at a makeshift tasting station. She advised that the sweetest watermelons were ones with yellow on them. Taking her word for it, I grabbed (if you can “grab” a bowling ball without finger holes) a fine looking specimen and weighted down my cart immediately.

At the official tasting station, they were sampling Watermelon Cucumber Juice. Good stuff! I’d bought a container the week before, but hadn’t opened it yet. As Persian Cucumbers are one of my shopping-list staples, I looked in my cart and thought, “Cukes, watermelon…why not make my own juice?!”

Hydratedly inspired, I searched for a recipe and found a three-ingredient drink I thought I could master. The third ingredient was lime juice – and I found that it makes ALL the difference!

(Although there are several sites with similar recipes, mine came from AllRecipes.com. Thanks, AllRecipes!)

How To Make Watermelon Cucumber Cooler:

I used:

  • 4 Persian cucumbers
  • 1/2 the fruit from a watermelon
  • 2 limes

Trim the ends off your cukes and cut into bite-sized chunks.

Cut the watermelon into chunks.

Combine the cuke and watermelon chunks and liquify in a blender or food processor.

Stir in the juice from the limes. It’s OK if a little lime fruit drops in, too!

It makes a pitcher-full of juice. Enjoy!

This is what it looked like:

Glass2 ingredients

Notes: The cukes were unpeeled. The watermelon had very few seeds, so I just let the few involved get mixed in the batch.

I had planned to make a fizzy drink by adding carbonated water to half a cup of juice, but I got caught up in the deliciousness, and the batch was finished before I remembered I wanted to do that! Next time.

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DIY Bloody Mary – when you need it now (recipe)

14 Jul

Sometimes the hankering for a Bloody Mary possesses you when you’re not prepared. Sometimes you just have to make do.

The inspiration hit at the beginning of the 2014 World Cup Finals. A friend tweeted a photo of a refreshing glass of Bloody Mary that looked very tasty. I remembered that I had an unopened bottle of TJ’s Bloody Mary Mixer gathering dust in the pantry. I dug it out and discovered that the expiration date was months past. Since it contained clam juice, I thought it was best not to take a chance with it.

when you're not in the mood to DIY

TJ’s recipe for a tasty Bloody Mary

I took a look at the ingredients on the bottle – a key reason I buy and love TJ’s Mary mix. Not a lot of ingredients with chemical names. It’s mainly tomato puree (tomato paste + water or tomato sauce). I decided to try and make my own!

Sadly, I didn’t have a few ingredients I really like in a Bloody Mary. I also tweaked the idea in a few ways, including substituting Gin (my preferred Bloody Mary Mix mixer) for beer, a twist on the refreshing Michelada.

Makeshift Bloody Mary Mix

Main ingredients

A makeshift Michelada

Beer Mary

Here’s what I came up with – and it worked VERY well. Tasty, relatively low cal and a minimum of preservatives:

Mix in a bowl:
1 can tomato sauce (includes onion and garlic powder)
1 can water

Per glass ingredients (Suggested amounts, but per taste):
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon green Tabasco sauce
A jigger of vodka or gin, or beer as directed below

Directions:
1. Fill glass with ice
2. Add per glass ingredients
3. Fill glass 2/3 full with tomato sauce/water
4a. Add vodka or gin, or
4b. Fill remainder with pilsner of choice, like a can of Oranjeboom from TJ’s
5. Garnish with olives and/or celery and lime wedge
6. Enjoy!

Cuckoo for Coconut

12 Jul

Three of the many coconut options at Trader Joe’s:

A bouquet of coconut CoconutGreenTea coconutmilk

What’s your favorite coconut concoction?

How to Make a Killer Sangria: A Trader Joe’s Shopper Shares Her Secret

10 Jul

Michelle Walton knows good sangria. She spent $100 mixing a batch from a South American recipe. But with a bottle of Maria Ole Sangria from TJ’s, Michelle now impresses her friends for a fraction of the cost. Take 30 seconds to listen to how she does it. She makes it seem so easy! Thanks for sharing, Michelle!

Happy International Coffee Day!

29 Sep

A little caffeinated wisdom from one of my favorite celebs, who’s no slouch when it comes to high octane energy.

Speaking the language of coffee

Wisdom from Jackie Chan

 

Pancake happy hour

3 Jun

It’s been a while since I could drink white wine without it burning. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinto Grigio – all lashed flames on the way down.

Recently, I discovered a white wine that tasted really good and didn’t burn. It was a little on the pricey side – for special occasions.

I received a dinner invitation and decided this was a good $$ wine event. Explaining my predicament and discovery to the cashier at the wine shop, she said that most likely the problem was with the acidity of one-grape wines, and the solution was getting a mixed-grape version.

Aha!

My next step was to go to TJ’s, explain the situation and see if they might offer a non-offending white wine. The kind and informative Joe had a good suggestion:

Pancake white wine from Trader Joe's

Pancake time

Joe said that the flavor rivaled the $$ wine I liked. As we talked, he said, “Well, it’s not exactly the same. But it’s pretty close.” And, as with all TJ’s items, Joe reminded me that if I didn’t like it, I could just bring it back.

He was right that it wasn’t quite the same as the $$ wine. But, I did enjoy a glass that went down smoothly and painlessly! Cheapwinefinder.com describes Pancake’s Big Day White as a “Tuesday night wine.”

Give it a try. It’s only five bucks! And it’s summer.

Trader Joe’s: It’s safe to drink Bloody Mary mix, again!

22 May

I’ve been a Bloody Mary mix fan for a long time. But one in-flight look at the ingredients made me put the mix down and step away from that drink option. Until now.

What I found in the most common Mary mix was high fructose corn syrup. Yes, I can make my own mix which is the best way to get your favorite flavor and leave out the offending ingredients. And I thought, for those reasons, that would be my only option, until discovering Trader Joe’s version.

No high fructose corn syrup in this spicy Mary mix.

Trader Joe’s keeps it real

My recipe:

A glass of ice, add three olives, the juice of half a lime and fill with Bloody Mary mix. If you’re so inclined, make it an adult drink with some gin or vodka.

A glass of Bloody Mary mix made to order

A merry Mary

And enjoy!

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