Wine Chill Drops

Like the frozen tears of an angel, Wine Chill Drops let you go from hot and miserable to hot and miserable with a glass of wine in three minutes.

It’s been 103 degrees here lately. Maybe 129. It’s hot. One has to be prepared to deal with these things.

But try as you might, at some point you may find yourself in need of a bottle of white wine that isn’t chilled. Oh no!

Then you grab these Wine Chill Drops from your freezer and balance is restored. In a few minutes, they’ll get your wine to the right temperature, while you properly chill the rest of the bottle.

Technology provides us with many amazing things. This is one of them.

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Let us celebrate our independence by adhering to a strict dinner-party menu

While the desserts are patriotic colors, I couldn't commit to a true all-American theme. But there will be many coolers of beer. That's a national pastime I can get behind.

My name is Cavan and I’m a planaholic. So it’s no surprise that part of my routine for getting ready for parties now includes creating a menu on my iPad. Mind you, these menus don’t always make it to the actual party. They’re just for me. I mean, the iPad is busy during the party serving as a cookbook and stereo. It can’t just sit around on the table telling people what the food is.

… That’s why you also create labels for each dish.

Other people do these things, right?

Well. Anyway. Here’s what we have in the works for tomorrow’s Fourth of July party at our house.

I will never get tired of grilling pizzas. It seems hard, but is really so simple. Make a dough that’s somewhat thin and easy to handle, brush some olive oil on it, grill it for a few minutes to let it firm up, then hand it over to a party guest to top it. A few more minutes on the grill, and you’re in Pizza Heaven. Or as close as you can get without owning a wood-fire oven. This is yet another cooking trick I picked up from Sweets by Natalie Kay, proving her expertise even beyond sweets.

Another new trick is watermelon granita. Just like the vodka sodas, these started as a fancy desesert from bon appetit that I quickly transformed into a cocktail. It’s easy and magical. Fill your blender about 3/4 full with watermelon cubes (go small to help your blender out), two heavy splashes of lemon juice and a few tablespoons of sugar. Blend. Top with ice. Blend. Taste and add sugar to get to your own sweetness preference. Throw in some glub-glubs* of vodka.

*I stand by my belief that the best cocktails adjust themselves accordingly as the evening goes on, whether this means increasing or decreasing glub-glubs of vodka as the night goes on. The point is, add however much vodka you can handle. And then add a splash more. You can do it. I believe in you.

Soda jerks.

Did Scott like my Blackberry Mint Soda recipe, or did it put our marriage in peril? Let's find out.

Say, do you remember last week when we made three types of vodka sodas? If you don’t, then I bet you’ve been making them every night since! Now, if you would, sober up just long enough to see how my taste test went.

As soon as I wrapped up taping for the vodka soda video, my husband walked in from work. Is there anything more American than having a cocktail ready to go when you’re husband walks in the door? I mean, aside from the overwhelming amount of camera gear, the ingredients in the glass that were not vodka and the fact that we’re both dudes, it was like a scene out of “Mad Men.”

Remember, the Strawberry, Lemon and Basil Soda and Spicy Ginger Soda recipes were from bon appetit, and I made up the Blackberry Mint Soda recipe on the spot. Did Scott like mine as well as the chef’s recipes? Watch and find out.

Also: I told you about how protective he is of that flour sifter!

Soda three ways

Blackberry Mint Soda, Strawberry, Basil and Lemon Soda and Spicy Ginger Soda

I read about the trend of restaurants making their own sodas in the latest bon appetit and was intrigued. I decided I’d give it a shot soon. Moments after that, I thought, “Oh boy — I can add lots of vodka when I make mine!” Moments after that, I was at the grocery store. Moments after that, I was making this video for you so you can make your own, too. All told, these were some pretty productive moments.

I decided to try bon appetit’s Strawberry, Lemon and Basil Soda and Spicy Ginger Soda recipes. Then I created my own — a Blackberry Mint Soda.  The idea here is simple enough: take fresh fruits, herbs and spices and bring soda water to life with their flavors. I used a different technique for each — muddling the ingredients, making a puree and making a simple syrup. This is easy stuff, and definitely worth doing. Mashing strawberries and basil in a glass with some lemon juice, sugar and salt takes but a few moments.

There’s nothing special about the soda water here, either. It may be called seltzer water or sparkling water. Club soda works, too, if you can’t find those, but it may have a slight flavoring to it, whereas soda water is just carbonated water.

I shot a taste test with a very special guest for these three sodas; I’ll have that video ready for you soon. But suffice to say, my Blackberry Mint Soda was an experiment and an attempt to compare the muddling method with the pureeing method. Truth be told, next time around, I’m just going to muddle everything in the glass or make a simple syrup. The puree took a few extra steps that didn’t add much to the flavor or texture.

Blackberry Mint Soda (in the video)
Puree 2 pints of fresh blackberries. Pour two tablespoons of the puree into a glass, rip up six mint leaves, fill the glass with ice, fill with soda water and top with a shot of vodka.

Blackberry Mint Soda (just do it this way)
Muddle eight blackberries, a tablespoon of sugar and six mint leaves in a glass. Fill the glass with ice, fill with soda water and stir to chill. Strain into another glass filled with ice (unless you’re fine with a chunky soda … . (I am.)). Top with a shot of vodka.

Before shooting this video, I asked on Facebook and Twitter what flavors I should make. Two flavors that piqued my interest: pear cardamom and lavender lemonade. What flavors of soda would you make?

Let’s talk about you.

Tequila Target

Cory and Carrie from Midwest Gluten Free sent this my way after giving my Tequila Fresca idea a shot.

Say, there’s a reason you get top billing in the name of this blog. I think you’re great. What you’re wearing today makes you look really good, too. What you wore last Wednesday wasn’t so hot, but the fact that I can tell you these things just shows what great friends we’ve become.

So, great friend, I want to get to know you better. You’ve been in my kitchen. What’s happening in yours? Have you made that Thai-Inspired Butternut Squash Soup yet? Or Tequila Fresca? Or nacho?

If you have, I want to hear about it. And I’d love to see it, too. I was overjoyed to receive this photo from Cory and Carrie, who run Midwest Gluten Free, a great resource for anyone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Cory and Carrie started the site after learning their daughter has celiac disease.

Cory and Carrie gave my Tequila Fresca idea a shot, and then discovered something they said was even closer to the taste of an actual margarita. They subbed Peach Fresca with some sugar-free packets of lime margarita drink mix from Target, and were very pleased with the results.

So here’s where you come in: What’s your favorite cheap, easy-to-make drink? Share a photo or recipe on the brand new You’re In My Kitchen Facebook Page, e-mail them to me at cavan@youreinmykitchen.com or  leave your recipe below.

No judgment here, people. You’ve seen me drink vodka from jugs through straws.

If Cory and Carrie have already discovered a new take on Tequila Fresca, imagine what we can all do if we work together. That’s right — we are going to save the world. And we’ll need some cocktail ideas before we take that on.

Happy National Margarita Day!

Tequila Fresca

Tequila Fresca!

It’s a big day. I hope you’re celebrating and honoring the margarita properly. I did. Twice.

You probably know that there are a shocking number of calories in margaritas made with sweet and sour. I’ve had a cheap and easy solution for years: Tequila Fresca.

Are you ready?

Go buy some Peach Fresca, tequila, sea salt and straws. I’m assuming you have ice and a glass at home. If you don’t, get those too. I apologize for making assumptions about you.

Put the Fresca and tequila (however much you like — I won’t judge you) on the rocks. You can rim the glass with salt if you like, but I often just throw a pinch right in. Stir it. Drink it. Enjoy.

You can also buy the cheapest tequila you can find. Again, I won’t judge you. But please be warned: There is something called tequila-flavored liqueur out there. Satan made it. Avoid it. I fell for it. Once.

Why do this? Well, like  I said, it’s cheap and easy. Plus:

A margarita has 740 calories. Seven. Hundred. And. Forty.

My Tequila Fresca? There are roughly 104 calories for every 1.5 oz. of tequila you use. Fresca has zero calories. And for some reason, it’s marketed as an “adult soda,” so that just adds to the … magic. We’ll call that magic.

Now we have 636 extra calories to play with. You’re welcome.

Aperitif … from a jug.

Oh, hey. Thanks so much for all of your kind words and support so far. I’m so glad you’re here in my kitchen. Stay for a while.

I thought for your first real glimpse into my kitchen, I’d offer an aperitif of sorts before a full-on cooking demo. But I believe in generous portions. So this aperitif comes in two jugs.

Last week, I infused two types of vodka — a blood orange vodka and a cucumber vodka. I’ll show you how to do that quite soon so you can start experimenting with your own flavors.

But let’s cut to the chase: The fun part about infusing your own vodka is the taste-testing. In the spirit of really having you in my kitchen, I offer you my first video — unscripted, off-the-cuff chit-chat with you as I prepare food and drinks.