Homemade Blood Orange Shrub

As you know, it’s orange season! So we’re breakin’ out all the orange recipes including sweet treats, sparkly drinks and even biodegradable cleaners – watch out!

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I talked to the orange today and he said he is totalllllly cool with featuring his cousin, the blood orange, in today’s recipe.  I’m partial to the blood orange margarita, but since I’m getting over a bug I’ll settle for a blood orange shrub soda.  Have you ever had shrub? It’s described as drinking vinegar, but I like to think of it as flavoring syrup.  It’s the perfect concoction to have on hand while you’re mixing cocktails or looking to spice up your seltzer water.

I’ve been on a shrub kick! I was gifted a whole bunch of shrubs from Tait Farm and I’ve been sucking them down all January.  I love having a bubbly seltzer drink to break up the monotony of my normal coffee, tea and water rotation.  You may also remember that shrub is one of my bedside necessities so when Katie gave me Quench by Ashley English for Christmas, I headed right to the shrub recipes.  I spotted this blood orange recipe by guest contributor Marisa from the Food In Jars blog.  I actually modified the recipe by cutting the vinegar by a third.  I thought the apple cider vinegar was a tad overpowering in my first batch.  It could have been that my blood oranges were a different type than those used by Marisa or maybe our oranges were at different ripenesses, whatever it was I hated knowing the apple cider vinegar was trampling all over the tangy blood orange juice. So here it is shrub sippers, an easy way make your own blood orange shrub syrup.

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Blood Orange Shrub Ingredients:

  • 4-5 blood oranges
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Blood Orange Shrub Instructions:

  • Pour one cup of blood orange juice into a pint-sized ball jar or any glass container with a tight fitting lid.
  • Add one cup of sugar to the juice, put the lid on and give it a shake.
  • Allow the sugar to completely dissolve into the jar.  This may take a couple hours. Feel free to give the mixture a good shake every once in awhile.
  • Add 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar to the mixture and shake to combine.
  • Store this shrub in the fridge when you’re not mixing up tasty drinks and sauces.

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My favorite way to use this blood orange shrub (and all shrubs) is to mix up a little shrub soda. Simply combine a tablespoon or two of shrub with a glass of icy club soda.  You can also use this blood orange shrub to flavor other favorite drinks like iced tea or lemonade.  Shrubs are also delightful cocktail mixers, but I’m getting over a little cold so no suggestions at the moment.  I’ll get back to you on that one 😉

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Lemongrass Mint Iced Tea

Mint is our ingredient of the season. We’ve used it in a variety of drinks, both alcoholic to non-alcoholic, salads, and body scrubs.

Today we’re sharing an amazingly simple and delicious herbal iced tea that’s the perfect addition to any summer spread. This pairing of lemongrass and mint is something I’ve carried around with me for years, only getting the urge to mix up a batch on the hottest of summer days, just like the first time I had it.

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Watermelon Mojito!

Mint is our ingredient of the season. We’re cutting mint every day for our afternoon agua fresca and evening drinks, adding some to salads, and even taking it into the shower!

 

Remember when I promised a use for Tuesday’s leftover watermelon mint salad? Hands up if you guessed mojitos! Today’s drink couldn’t be easier to make (or drink), especially if you have your watermelon cut up into nice little cubes.

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Ingredients for One

  • ~ 10 mint leaves
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 lime
  • 1/2 cup cubed watermelon mint salad
  • 1 1/2 ounces rum
  • ice
  • seltzer water

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Instructions

  • Place the sugar and mint leaves in the bottom of your glass and muddle them, bruising the mint leaves.
  • Squeeze the lime wedge into your glass and include the rind.
  • Add the cubed watermelon. Muddle the ingredients again, making sure to fully smash the watermelon (you could also puree the watermelon in a blender).
  • Fill your glass about 2/3 full with ice. Add the rum and water.
  • Give your glass a good stir and enjoy!

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Extras

  • I reduced the sugar in this mojito because our watermelon was so sweet. Feel free to up it to 1.5 or 2 tablespoons.
  • If you want to get fancy, garnish with a watermelon wedge. ooh la la
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Mint Agua Frescas

Mint is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve used it for a couple of mojito recipes, but today we’re excited to offer some non-alcoholic options.

Ever sip on some Agua fresca?  It’s basically juice made in a blender.  Agua fresca is popular in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.  I actually first had it in Jamaica, but at the time I just called it juice.  It wasn’t until this past weekend that I realized it is known as agua fresca, which is a combination of fruit, flowers and seeds blended with water and sugar.  My recipes don’t contain sugar, but feel free to add something sweet to yours if that’s your thing.  After you blend the fruits and flowers, you separate out the pulp using cheesecloth or a strainer.

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Water is by far my favorite beverage, but from time to time I like to switch it up a bit.  Sometimes it’s hard to find a cold beverage, besides tea, that I can make on the quick and cheap, but not anymore!  Agua fresca is the perfect remedy; it’s cold, tasty, healthy and hydrating.  There are also a million and one variations.  I looked at what I had on hand and came up with these two recipes in just a few minutes.  It’s also a great substitute for juice lovers that don’t own a juicer.  I like agua fresca because it keeps really well unlike fresh juice or traditional infused water (where you leave the fruit in the container).  Don’t get me wrong, I love both of those options, but sometimes I want something that I can make ahead of time.

Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca Ingredients & Instructions:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 cup fresh mint
  • 4 cups cold water
  • Cut a 1/2 inch slice off of the end of the cucumber. Rub it against the whole cucumber, quickly, for about 15 seconds.  Repeat on the other end.  This is supposed to draw out the bitterness.  Peel the cucumber, cut it into a few chunks and toss it in the blender.
  • Wash the mint leaves and add them to the blender along with two cups of cold water.
  • Blend on high for about one minute.  Strain the juice into your desired container and add two more cups of cold water.  I used a 32 oz Ball Jar.
  • Serve with ice and garnish with a few slices of cucumber and mint leaves, if desired.

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Lemon Ginger Mint Agua Fresca Ingredients & Instructions:

  • One ripe lemon
  • 1 inch chunk of ginger or 1 Tbsp fresh ginger paste
  • 1 cup fresh mint
  • 4 cups cold water
  • Peel the lemon like you would an orange. Cut it in quarters and drop into the blender.
  • Grate the 1 inch chunk of ginger or measure 1 Tbsp of ginger paste and add it to the blender.
  • Wash and add the mint and 2 cups of cold water to the blender.
  • Blend on high for about one minute.  Strain the mixture into your desired container and add 2 more cups of cold water.

 

Quick Tip:

  • *If you want to add sweetener, I suggest dissolving it in a 1/4 cup of hot water before putting it in the blender.  Mint simple syrup would be perfect in these recipes.  You could also use honey, stevia, raw sugar or your preferred sweetener.

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I don’t know about you, but I love having multiple drinks during meals and really all throughout the day.  Teas, juice, coffee and cocktails are my favorite kinds of treats.  Whenever I sit down to work with a fresh cup of whatever, I feel a little bit pampered and more motivated to complete the task at hand.  For me, drinking is my snacking – if that makes sense?  I have to admit I favor the lemon ginger mint recipe.  The combination of spicy ginger, fresh mint and tangy lemon transports me right back to summers in Jamaica.  Drinking it over ice is perfectly refreshing and exactly what I need during this ninety degree North Carolina summer.  It also looks a lot more appetizing, but I trust that you juice drinkers out there know that sometimes the best tasting drinks and are the worst looking.  These agua frescas are so good that ca$h the dog tried to get in on the action.  I dare you to blend up a pitcher for your friends.  You could even add a few lemon ice cubes to their glass.  I bet they’ll be requesting agua fresca every time they come over.

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Simple (syrup) Twist on the Classic Mint Mojito

Hey Seasoned sippers!  With mint as our ingredient of the season, you’re likely to see a lot of mojito recipes on the blog this summer.  Today I’m going to put a simple twist on the classic mint mojito recipe.  A mint simple syrup twist to be exact.

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Mint Simple Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1 cup roughly chopped mint (give or take)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Mint Simple Syrup Instructions:

  • Place the roughly chopped mint leaves in a heat-safe bowl or jar.
  • Combine the water and sugar in a small sauce pot over medium-high heat.
  • Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil.
  • Once the mixture is boiling and all the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat.
  • Pour the sugar mixture over the mint leaves and cover the bowl with a plate or lid of some kind to allow the mixture to steep.
  • Uncover the simple syrup after a thirty minutes and strain out the mint leaves with a mesh strainer or cheese cloth.

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Mojito Ingredients:

  •  10 mint leaves
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp mint simple syrup
  • 1-1.5 oz white rum
  • 1 cup ice (crushed if possible)
  • 1/2 cup club soda

 Mojito Instructions:

  • Roughly chop eight mint leaves and add them to the cocktail shaker along with half of the ice.
  • Cut the lime in half.  Cut one slice and then cut the remaining half into 4 wedges.  Squeeze the juice from the wedges into the cocktail shaker.  Drop the juiced wedges in as well.
  • Add two tablespoons of mint simple syrup to the shaker (add more if desired) along with 1-1.5 ounces of white rum.
  • Put the lid on tight and shake, shake, shake.
  • Empty the contents of the shaker into your tumbler, add more ice if desired and top it off with club soda. Garnish with a slice of lime and a few mint leaves.
  • Sit back, relax and sip.

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As you can see, I like to drink my cocktails while browsing through a book or two.  First I pulled out this classic Old Mr Boston Bartender Guide to compare mojito recipes, but alas there was no mojito recipe to be found.  I quickly became bored of browsing cocktail recipes (shame on me, I know) so I decided to flip through Two Eagles.  It’s a large photo book that looks at the natural history of the United States and Mexico borderlands.  It is over 200 pages filled with fantastic photos and interesting text so you may want to mix up another mojito!

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Rhubarb Mojito!

In the spring rosemary was our ingredient of this season, this summer it’s mint. Today we’re kicking things off with a drink that is perfect for the spring to summer transition.

Let’s just get this out of the way. I love (lovity love love) mojitos, but I’m a purest and only ever order or make the traditional mojito. I envisioned kicking off our summer of mint with a basic mojito, but then I saw some fresh rhubarb at the farmer’s market. Knowing that rhubarb season ends soon,  what could we do but start the season with a deliciously pink Rhubarb Mojito?

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Rosemary *Sage* Fizz

Rosemary is our ingredient of the season (season of the season?). This is our second rosemary drink. We’ve already discussed infusing vodka with the herb, and today we’re using it to infuse simple syrup for a gin-based drink.

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You may recognize the photo above from Alex’s striped birthday recap. As I mentioned before, we were catering to the adults this year. Being the proud Pennsylvanians that we are, family gatherings always involve a case of Yuengling, but we often like to include a fun* alternative or two. With the little guy underfoot, I’m trying to be more smart in my planning. An alternate drink is awesome, but one that doesn’t have to be made glass-by-glass is even better. So, when I saw this recipe on A Cup of Jo, I couldn’t wait to try my first group-sized cocktail!

The original recipe called for gin, but I used my favorite substitute ~ Art in the Age’s Sage, which they describe as being a “garden gin” made from plants collected, grown, and chronicled from the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Ingredients & Such

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice & lemon slices
  • 1 cup Art in the Age Sage
  • 1 bottle of Prosecco
  • Make the simple syrup. Mix together the sugar, water, and a few sprigs of rosemary. Bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves, then remove from the heat and let cool.
  • Mix the cool simple syrup together with the remaining ingredients.
  • Serve with a garnish of rosemary and/or lemon slices!

I loved this drink! It was delicious, and the combination of lemon and rosemary gave it a fresh and somewhat light flavor that I think would make this perfect for any sort of spring or summer event, particularly one outside on the green, green grass.  That said, I loved it so much that I’ll probably find an excuse to make it year round. Come back in December and I’ll be telling you that with its rosemary garnish, it’s the perfect drink for your Christmas party (especially if you add some frozen cranberries to the punch bowl!). 

The drink was strong, but as Joanna recommends, you can add a second bottle of Prosecco to lighten it a touch.  I kept it to one bottle, because our gathering was small, and as it was we still had some left over, and I would say that that is the only downside of the big-batch cocktail. On the other hand, I put the extra in the fridge, and happily sipped on it for the rest of the week. The Prosecco’s bubbles faded, but it still tasted delicious. 

*While the party was in full swing, I referred to this drink as being fun. Our sister, Kristin, then told me that she’s noticed (and it drives her crazy), that as women age they start to use fun as an adjective more often than they should (Isn’t that shirt fun? Look at this fun rabbit hole we’re going down. Should I go on?). Does this drive you crazy too? Or did you see this post and think, “my word, what a fun drink!”? Apparently we aren’t the only ones caught up in this debatable use of the word!

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Refreshing Lemon Vodka Waters

I’m not one for getting drunk, but I definitely enjoy my fair share of cocktails.  Right now I’m loving this simple and refreshing lemon vodka water.  If you like lemon water, you’ll like this.  It’s unbelievable how the lemon masks the taste of vodka so well.  It’s easy enough to whip up a whole pitcher, so go ahead and try it next time your friends are over.  If you’re really in the entertaining spirit, slice up a lemon, put it in a muffin tin, top with water and freeze for cute ice cubes like shown below.

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Rosemary Vodka & Herb Bloody Marys

As you would expect, we love to eat seasonally, varying our ingredients and menus to take advantage of whatever is fresh at the moment. We thought it would be fun to place extra emphasis on one flavor or ingredient each season, highlighting the variety of ways you can use it in your food and home. To kick things off, this season’s ingredient is rosemary!

Today we wanted to share an amazingly simple way to turn your average bloody mary into something extraordinary: rosemary vodka!

Making the vodka is so easy, and when paired with our bloody mary recipe below, you’ll be the star of your next brunch (honestly, the bloody mary will be the star, you’ll be drunk).  We’ve dressed up the bloody mary with some fresh herbs and cheese stuffed olives, nothing too crazy, but just fun enough to make these bloody marys memorable.

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First the vodka  ~ I’m going to provide basic instructions, but fom my experience, the process is flexible and can be adjusted based upon how strongly flavored you want your vodka to be.

 

Vodka Ingredients

  • 4 cups vodka
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary (more or less to adjust flavor)

Place the rosemary and vodka in a clean jar to steep. After a few days, give your vodka a taste. You should be able to taste a hint (or more) of the rosemary flavor. I wanted an intense flavor (and I may have forgotten about this project for a moment), so I let my rosemary steep for over a week. After that amount of time, the rosemary flavor was perfectly present in my bloody mary, but not overwhelming.

Whenever you are happy with the rosemary flavor of your vodka, remove the rosemary sprigs. Be prepared for your vodka to turn a greenish-brown color as the rosemary’s tannins are released ~ while slightly unnerving, the color change really makes it seem like you’ve made a potion!

Now, you could take your vodka and make a basic bloody mary, but why not dress it up a bit? The recipe below simplifies things by using bloody mary mix, but then we splurge on the goat cheese-stuffed olives and the fragrance from the additional fresh herbs.

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Bloody Mary Ingredients

(makes 1)
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 4-5 oz bloody mary mix
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 2 dashes worchestershire sauce
  • lime wedge
  • celery stalk
  • goat cheese
  • green olives (I purchased olives without the pimentos)
  • fresh herbs, particularly dill and cilantro

Stuff your olives with the goat cheese. I used a knife to push the goat cheese into the open end of the olive. It wasn’t pretty, but it was relatively easy.

In a glass filled with ice, add the vodka, bloody mary mix, worchestershire, and horseradish. Stir it well. Arrange the celery stalk and herb sprigs in the glass. Add the lime wedge and skewered olives to the glass’s edge.

Enjoy!

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Have you tried your hand at infused vodkas? Have any favorite flavors?

What about your bloody mary, what are your favorite garnishes?

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