that's forking good

adventures in a culinary neophyte's kitchen

Archive for the ‘drinks’ Category

seasonal sucker

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 19, 2014

so delicious pumpkin

One of the things I pride myself on is my grocery shopping proficiency. I make lists, plan a route, study the circulars… I’m basically a supermarket Rain Man. Avocados are on sale this week. Yeah, definitely four for $5. Uh oh, long line at checkout. I militantly stick to my list, steadfast in my in pursuit of savings and abbreviated supermarket visits. But sometimes — just sometimes — I cross paths with a seasonal or novelty item packaged or marketed in such a way that I cannot say no.

Enter SO Delicious‘ pumpkin spice coconut milk. Hooooly wow.

I was sucked in during the holidays when I spied a long line of bright cartons on the end cap at ShopRite: Mint Chocolate, Egg Nog and Pumpkin Spice. All dairy- and gluten-free, and good enough to drink straight from the carton with the fridge door ajar, telling yourself that it’s probably not the best idea to drink the entire quart in one shot, but doing it anyway. (Don’t judge me.) The former two flavors seem to have petered off as Christmas fades into the rearview, but Pumpkin Spice remains and sometimes its sweet, creamy goodness is just too much to pass up, even if it’s not on my list.

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it’s like a heat wave!

Posted by culinaryneophyte on July 20, 2013

Remember a few weeks ago when it wouldn’t stop raining, like, every day on the east coast? I would gladly take that over the however-many straight days of 100+ degree temperatures we’ve had this week. It really hasn’t seemed that bad to me, though, mostly because I spent the greater portion of the summer refusing to turn on my AC. The thermostat in my condo would sit anywhere between 85-87 degrees, and I grew accustom to the high heat. The only thing I can’t get used to is basically driving into a tree every day after eight hours of work because I can’t touch the steering wheel without leaving welts on my hands. I am really considering trying that ‘baking chocolate chip cookies on the dashboard’ thing. Worst-case scenario: The cookie aroma forces out the gym locker smell that has overtaken my car thanks to multiple sweaty sporting events per week.

mocha coconut frapp cleanAs a means to cool down one night, I tried this mocha coconut “Frappuccino” I saw on The Gracious Pantry (one of my favorite clean eating sites). I think I enjoyed this even more because I served it in a mason jar. There’s just something about a mason jar that makes you feel shnazzy (…snazzy? …schnazzy?). The flavor is on the mild side because you don’t have all the processed sugar involved, which was perfect for me. It’s just a nice, frothy, COLD treat that doesn’t take long to make and won’t hurt your diet (like a “real” Starbucks beverage would). You can brew coffee in advance and keep it in your fridge to make this even more convenient.

slightly adapted from The Gracious Pantry
makes 1 drink
♦1 c. brewed coffee, chilled
2 tsp. unsweetened coconut powder
1/2 c. coconut milk (I used Silk)
♦4 tsp. coconut nectar (or 3 tbs. honey)
3 c. ice cubes

Blend all ingredients together in blender. Serve immediately.

Calories? About 170 calories
Total time? 5  minutes
Cost? $3.69 coconut milk, $7.49 coconut nectar
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out of 10. I only deducted points because the end of the drink becomes almost completely ice slush with no flavor if you drink it too fast, which is exactly what I did because it was so good (and because it was 100 degrees in my house and I was trying to bring down my body temperature). Quite the conundrum. If you’re patient and can slowly enjoy this frothy treat, then 10/10 for sure.

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sometimes you feel like a [health] nut

Posted by culinaryneophyte on June 17, 2013

almond joy smoothie

For some reason, I had the new [terrible] “Family Feud” on in the background one day, and I overheard a round regarding the least used kitchen appliance. Survey says: the blender. Are you kidding me? I use my blender, like, three times a day. I guess I’m smoothie obsessed? For all you inactive blender owners out there, give this Almond Joy smoothie a go and maybe you’ll see the light.

It’s not the lowest-calorie thing, so treat is at a treat, but I’ve provided the “clean” version so you can at least feel better that there’s nothing processed in it. You can make substitutions if you don’t have some of these on hand or want an extra-indulgent treat (whole milk/ice cream, sugar, milk chocolate, actual pieces of Almond Joy…)

“Clean Eating” Almond Joy Smoothie
Makes one big serving

♦3/4 c. coconut milk
4 ice cubes
3 large pitted dates
♦1.5 tb. almond butter
1 tb. of coconut nectar
shredded coconut
carob chips (or dark chocolate chips)
slivered almonds

Combine all ingredients in the trusty blender (use your judgment on the last three — depends on what sort of texture you’re looking for).

Calories? About 400+ calories
Total time? 5 minutes
Cost? $3.99 coconut milk, $2.99 dates, $6.99 almond butter.
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out of 10. I can’t say this smoothie tastes just like an Almond Joy, but I love how the flavor of the almond butter comes through. If you’re not a texture person with your smoothies, this may not be for you; the last sip is my favorite — a big gulp of chopped dates, carob chips and shredded coconut. Obviously this isn’t an everyday sort of thing, but this smoothie has become one of my favorite mid-week, warm-weather treats.

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skinny shamrockin’

Posted by culinaryneophyte on March 15, 2013

skinny shamrock shakeLast week, my friends — a few of which are in a weight-loss competition — were discussing Shamrock Shakes and their inability to resist the minty seasonal treat. We played the nutrition fact guessing game, and I wasn’t surprised: In just the small, 12-ounce Shamrock Shake, there are 530 total calories. (You can lop off 80 calories alone by cutting out the whipped cream and Maraschino cherry. Who the hell gets a cherry on their Shamrock Shake anyway?)

Not that any of those guys would be interested in my creation because they tune out when I go “healthy stuff” on them, but I think I’ve found a satisfying substitute to the Shamrock Shake that I can have for a meal or post-workout: the “skinny” Shamrock Protein Shake.

You can easily make this completely organic/clean, but I’ve listed more general ingredients here because not everyone has cacao nibs in their cabinet.

Makes 1 serving
6 oz. vanilla almond milk
♦1/2 frozen banana
♦1/4 c. vanilla Greek yogurt
♦1/3 avocado
♦1/2 tsp. mint extract
One scoop whey protein

♦chopped dark chocolate/cacao nibs (optional)

Add all ingredients minus chocolate to the blender, and blend on high. Serve in a frosty glass and top with dark chocolate.

Calories? 289 calories per serving.
Total time?
 3 minutes
Cost? $1 avocado, $2.69 almond milk, $1 Greek yogurt, $3 mint extract.
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out 10. Only point docked is because it’s not a magical beverage that tastes like a real Shamrock Shake, but has the calories of this concoction. Otherwise, it’s perfect. FYI, there is no banana taste in this; it’s just in there for consistency. The first time I made this, I didn’t include the cacao, and without it, I’d give it a 7. I said it’s optional, but go for the topping. It takes it to another level without adding too many calories.

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strawberry beer lemonade

Posted by culinaryneophyte on July 18, 2012

Some of my friends will drive across states to visit a brewery. They’re talking about hops, malt, IPAs… I have no idea what they’re talking about, and often when they give me a taste of whatever beer they’re drinking, I crinkle my nose and act like someone’s given me ipecac. Sometimes it’s lonely on the outside looking in, but I just don’t get beer. Don’t get it.

All that being said, I recently came across an interesting photo on Pinterest: strawberry beer lemonade. It’s one of those things you tell people about and they say, “That sounds…interesting…,” but I was intrigued and determined to show my beer snob friends something they’ve never seen before.

I set out for the liquor store — ready to find some beer for this little summer spirit. And then I spent about 25 minutes pacing in front of the beer fridges, trying to figure out what I should be buying. I must have taken out and put back five different cases before I turned around and realized there were all sorts of room temperature craft beers (maybe? I’m not sure what the difference was) on the shelves behind me. More wandering. More squinting. Three different employees asked me if I needed help.

And then I saw it: Samuel Smith’s Organic Strawberry Fruit Beer. Bingo. If you wanted a different type of lemonade, Samuel Smith’s also sells Cherry and Raspberry Fruit Beer (and I will most definitely be trying those out).

♦1-1/2 c. fresh strawberries, hulled
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice (about four lemons)
1 bottle of Samuel Smith’s Organic Strawberry Fruit Beer (18.7-oz. “Victorian” pint)

Squeeze lemon juice into pitcher. Add strawberries and sugar, and let steep for 10 minutes. Slowly add beer and stir. Serve over ice. Best served immediately, but will keep for a few days.

Total time? 20 minutes (10 to hull, chop, squeeze; 10 to steep).
Cost? $2 lemons, $2.50 strawberries, $7 Samuel Smith’s Organic Strawberry Fruit Beer
Overall success relative to expectations? 10 out of 10. Remember when I said I wanted to make this for my beer snob friends? Yeah, about that… I basically drank the entire pitcher myself. The taste of beer was present, but because it was fruity, it enhanced the flavor of the strawberries without making the drink bitter (or “blegh” as I sometimes refer to the taste of beer). My only complaint was that the lemon flavor was pretty absent, so I upped the lemon measurement in this revised recipe. I really can’t wait to make this again. Maaaaybe I’ll share.

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whip it good

Posted by culinaryneophyte on December 10, 2011

The first couple in my group of close friends is getting married at the end of this month, and we’re all pretty jazzed for the celebration. Last weekend was the bachelor party, and while the boys were quoting the hell out of “The Hangover” and losing their money in AC, the girls got together for a quiet night in.

When the boys are around, the only adult beverage available is beer, and that gets old. Fast. But while the boys are away, the girls will play [with girly drink combinations that guys will like, but never be seen drinking]. Armed with my favorite Pinnacle spirit, I sought to make a fantastic martini. I call it: the White Whipped.

♦1 part Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka
2 parts white chocolate liqueur (Godiva or Merrys) 
1/2 part milk
1 tbs. chocolate syrup
1 tbs. hot chocolate mix (alt: cocoa powder, chocolate sprinkles or chocolate shavings) 

FOR GLASS
Pour chocolate syrup onto a small plate or round tupperware lid of similar size to your martini glass. On a separate plate, spread hot chocolate mix or other chocolate rimming substance. Carefully dip edges of martini glass into syrup, then into dry mix. Don’t get overzealous with the syrup or it will run down the sides of the glass and ruin the aesthetic.

FOR DRINK
Drop a few ice cubes into cocktail shaker. Add vodka, liqueur and milk, and shake. Strain into readied martini glass. (If you do not have a shaker — as I did not the night I made these — you can press two cups with the open ends pressed together, and separate to pour into glass.)

Total time? 5 minutes.
Cost? $15 Pinnacle Whipped Vodka, $11 Merrys White Chocolate, $2 milk, $1.99 chocolate syrup, $1 hot chocolate mix.
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out of 10. I’ve only had a few martinis in my time, and that’s mostly because they’re all so strong that the taste is unfavorable and I’m tipsy in three minutes. I just don’t understand the allure of drinking a huge glass of straight vodka with an olive in it (and it’s a green olive at that — bleck!). My little creation was perfect for me, though. Sweet, creamy and enough alcohol to keep me yapping all night, but not enough that I couldn’t drink more than one. If you do like strong martinis, nix the milk and you’ll get a nice, unadulterated punch of alcohol (which is what happened with Take One). I would have preferred chocolate shavings around the rim of the glass, but I was ill prepared and the cocoa mix was all I had. It’s still an important part of the drink, though, so don’t go bare glassed!

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