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The sunny season is here, so why not raise a cool one with friends on your patio or by the pool? It’s time to relax in the comfort of our home and enjoy the summer season as long as it lasts.
Some of the most refreshing drinks are those made with fresh fruit. The fruity drink you choose may be a berry-flavored vodka creation, a blender drink using fresh fruits or even a little twist on the always-popular lemonade.
If your preference is more of a non-alcoholic nature, try making some smoothies, which are as popular as ever, or some sparkling juices. Remember, for those of us on a low-carb diet, the fruity smoothie that you make at home or have out still contains carbohydrates. Strawberries, raspberries and oranges are relatively low-carb fruits; whereas, bananas, blueberries and mango are higher-carb choices.
This is a little twist on the ever-popular lemonade. Lavender can be found in the herb section of most supermarkets, in farmers markets or spice shops, or maybe even in your garden.
1 cup sugar
5 cups water
1/4 cup (a generous handful) fresh or 1 tablespoon dried lavender blooms stripped from stems
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lavender sprigs for garnish
Combine sugar with 2-1/2 cups of the water in a medium pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add lavender blooms to sugar water; cover and remove from heat. Let stand at least 20 minutes or up to several hours. Strain mixture and discard lavender.
Pour mixture into a glass pitcher. Add lemon juice and remaining water. Stir well and then watch the lemonade change color. Pour into tall glasses half-filled with ice or refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 6 servings.
Mint Tea Punch
6 bags mint tea
2 cups hot water
2 Tbsps. sugar or honey (optional)
2 cups lemonade
2 cups ginger ale
Lemon wedges for garnish
Let the tea bags steep in the water for five minutes, then sweeten to taste and let cool. Stir in lemonade. Just before serving, add the ginger ale and ice. Serve in a punch bowl garnished with lemon wedges. Makes 2 quarts.
Perfect Party Punch
This is a great punch for those backyard barbecues with all your friends.
4 liters ginger ale, or more if desired
12-oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate
12-oz. can frozen lemonade juice concentrate
12-oz. can frozen pineapple juice concentrate
12-oz. can frozen limeade juice concentrate
12-oz. can frozen grapefruit juice concentrate
4-oz. can frozen cranberry juice concentrate
Thaw all concentrates and then mix them all well in a large punch bowl. Add a lot of ice. This is an acidic punch. Unless the ice melts rapidly, begin with 4 liters of ginger ale and add more if the punch is still too tart for your taste. Makes 24 servings.
1 12 oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 pkg. frozen sliced strawberries, half thawed with juice
1 6-oz. can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 quart carbonated water
1 quart ginger ale
Thinly sliced oranges and lemons, for garnish
Combine orange juice and lemonade concentrate and strawberries in a punch bowl with ice. Just before serving, add carbonated water and ginger ale. Garnish with orange and lemon slices. Makes 20 servings.
Almost Like Orange Julius
One of my favorites, it is almost like an Orange Julius.
3 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
6-8 ice cubes
Combine orange juice concentrate, milk, water, sugar, vanilla and ice cubes in a blender container. Cover and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.
These next three smoothies are one-serving creations:
1/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
1 container (8 oz.) low-fat strawberry yogurt
1 cup frozen strawberries
In a blender, combine cranberry juice, yogurt and strawberries and blend until mixture is smooth and frothy. Pour into a tall glass. Makes one serving.
1/2 cup cranberry-raspberry juice, chilled
1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 cup frozen berry medley (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)
2 tsps. honey
In a blender, combine cranberry-raspberry juice, yogurt, berries and honey. Blend until mixture is smooth. Pour into a tall glass. Makes one serving.
1/2 cup mango; peeled and diced
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
Sprig of fresh mint for garnish
Place mango, yogurt and ice in a blender or food processor and whirl away. Pour into glass and garnish with a mint sprig, if desired. You may want to add a little milk if the drink is too thick, or a little brown sugar for more depth of taste. Makes one serving.
If you’re inclined to have large gatherings, try this champagne punch recipe that was given to my sister-in-law, who has lived in Gettysburg, Pa. for many years, by John Eisenhower, son of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. His wife Mamie served this punch regularly at political and family functions at the Eisenhower Farm in Gettysburg. It really tastes like champagne.
Eisenhower Champagne Punch
1/2 gallon white wine (sauterne, blanc, etc.)
2 liters club soda
2 liters ginger ale
1/3 bottle (250 ml) of brandy (non-flavored)
Pour all ingredients into a large punch bowl with ice. Makes about 30 servings.
Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.