Cucumber Basil and Lime Vodka Cocktail

*I was sent a bottle of American Harvest Organic Vodka for this post.

cucumber-and-basil-vodka-cocktail-for-summerUm, yeah.  Cucumber.  Lime.  Basil.  Each of those things screams refreshing to me.  Then put them altogether in a cocktail and of course you aren’t going to hate it.  This cucumber basil and lime vodka cocktail might just be my summer drink for 2014.  But let me tell you a little bit of a funny story…

American-Harvest-VodkaSometimes brands send me alcohol to use in posts.  Just like American Harvest did.  But most of the time I already have an idea for something I want to make with it.  The bottle arrived with a little recipe booklet and I flipped through.  Each cocktail sounded more delicious than the last.  And then I came across this cucumber number. 

slicing-cucumbers-for-the-vodka-cocktailI sliced up the cucs, quartered the limes and got almost through the entire recipe before I realized…

refreshing-vodka-drink-perfect-for-summerthat the drink is pretty much straight vodka.  Like, there is a little bit of lime juice from the muddling but it’s pretty much a big old cup of icy cold vodka.  You would have thought I would have figured that out when I read the recipe the first time.  Or made my grocery list of things I needed for making the cocktail.  But no.  I’m a total lightweight so I was super concerned that I would not like it and be drunk just from one sip.  I am happy to report that while the cocktail was on the stronger side (again, the whole thing is pretty much vodka) the taste was fantastic!  The basil, cucumber and lime took a little of the edge off but the real star is the American Harvest Vodka.  For real.  I wouldn’t just say that since they sent me a bottle of vodka.  I could totally see drinking these this summer.  Like, really slowly.  Over several hours.  With lots of food in my stomach.  And a baby sitter for the kids.  And some Drinkwel.  But I have heard that organic vodka’s are not as likely to induce a hang over…

summer-cocktail-vodka-basil-cucumberWhat I loved most about this cocktail is that the flavors were so crisp and clean.  The ice made this super easy to sip and the fragrance from the basil and cucumber made it a really enjoyable from start to finish.  It goes to show that with the right brand of spirit, you might like something you were never a huge fan of before.  This has also happened with me and whiskey.  But still not probably going to drink that straight.

You can find the full recipe right here (I didn’t use the agave because I don’t generally add sweeteners to my drinks)

*Thank you for supporting the brands, like American Harvest, that let me do what I do.  All opinions are mine.

 

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Muddled Ginger Limeade Recipe

Delicious ginger and lime infused water for an easy summer drink.  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWelcome to water week.  Huh, you say… I really don’t know what else to call it.  So water week it is.  But it isn’t just like, boring old water.  These waters are fruit infused and super refreshing.  I drink this kind of stuff all summer long so I thought I would share them with you.  I was browsing through a super old cocktail book of my grandmother’s the other day and one of the recipes called for muddled lemon.  And I thought to myself, now if that isn’t the easiest way ever to make lemonade, I don’t know what is.  So this week I’ll be sharing 3 recipes for easy muddled fruit ades.  Today I kick it off with a Muddled Ginger Limeade Recipe.

Muddled Ginger Limeade Recipe.  Perfect for summer! //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comGinger and lime are my go to flavors.  All of my favorite cocktails have one or both of these included.  You may remember I shared a similar recipe last year.  But that one had fizzy water and was more about the flavors being really subtle.  This muddled ginger limeade is about really tasting the flavors.  But as always I love that these recipes can be made for your personal flavor preferences.

Honest fruit and veggie wash is awesome!  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comFirst things first.  I’m not all the concerned about buying organic fruits.  To be honest, I can’t afford it.  And usually I’m not too concerned about the toxicity of my limes, since I’m just using the juice.  But since the rind and all will be in the beverage, I wanted to make sure to do what I could to remove anything grody from the skin.  I used my Honest Fruit and Veg wash (I LOVE this stuff!!) and then I was good to go.  Totally not sponsored, I just really love it.

Coke-jito, Like a Mojito but with Coke

A coke mojitoI love a good mojito.  And I love Coke.  I don’t drink it very often, but it is my soda of choice.  So while in Mexico this summer, I was trying to find a drink that would be super yummy that no one could screw up (seriously, we were at an all-inclusive resort that I thought would excel at margaritas and they just butchered them).  Mojitos can be made different ways by different bartenders but I thought to my self, “self – if you have them make it with Coke instead of a combination of simple syrup and soda water or some other way bartenders make them, it will be less likely to taste bad.”  So basically I invented the Coke-jito.  Which I realize is basically rum and coke…And then I found out that other people have posted about Coke-jitos.  Long story short, I think I’m a genius but turns out I’m just average.  But I still like this drink and I think you will too. What-you-need-to-make-a-cokejitoYou need all the basics for a mojito, lime, mint, and rum.  Maybe even a little agave syrup if you need it to be sweeter.  And swap the club soda for some Coke.

add-mint-and-lime-to-glassAnd you make it the same way.  Muddle your lime and mint.  And take a deep breath because this is quite possibly the best smell ever!  Unless you add in some newborn baby.  But I do not suggest muddling your infant.

add-rumThen you add some rum.  I chose to do a dark rum, although a traditional mojito is a light rum.  I don’t know all the nuances of the two types, but I feel like dark rum adds a nice sweetness to drinks it is mixed with.

A mojito made with cokeThe Coke-jito is that easy.  And so yummy.  I like to think of this as my winter mojito.  Or a way dirtier version of the Dirty Diet Coke craze that was happening over the summer because of the addition of alcohol.

Coke-jito Recipe

1.5 – 2 oz rum (light or dark – to your liking)

1 lime (quartered and quarters cut in half – you will use 3/4 of the lime but I can’t really tell you to buy 3/4 of a lime now can I?)

8 ish mint leaves

1 can of Coke

Agave Syrup (optional)

To a tall glass, add lime and mint.  Muddle.  Add ice.  Top with a can of Coke.  Give it a light stir.  If you need it a little sweeter, add agave syrup to taste.

Boom.

*Botran Rum sent me samples to taste.  I used on in this post.

Mexican Mule Cocktail

mexican-mule-title-image-1I’m a huge fan of the Moscow Mule which is made with Vodka.  But lately I’ve been on a total margarita kick and I’m finding that I really enjoy tequila.  Not like I’m out doing shots or anything (Tammy, Lauren – please hide those photos).  So I decided to try out a Mexican Mule.  I quite like it and I think you will too.make-a-mexican-mule-for-chicks-and-salsa-partyYou will need a lime, Tequila (now I know there are different types of tequila but I don’t know enough about them to pin point a specific one to use.  This is what we had in our cupboard) and ginger beer (Reed’s is my fave brand and is available at Sprouts and Trader Joe’s).add-ginger-beerThe ginger beer adds such a nice “bite” to the drink.  If you would like it sweeter you can certainly add in a little simple syrup or agave or something.mix-ginger-beer-lime-and-tequilaBut I like it like this, nice and refreshing.mexican-mule-recipeDrink up amigo! These drinks were made to go along with my menu for my Chicks and Salsa post.  Don’t forget to check out my recipe for Chicken Enchilada casserole and Churro Cream Cheese Fruit Dip.

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Mexican Mule Cocktail
 
I love a good Moscow Mule but this variation uses tequila, which is my new fave spirit!
Recipe type: Cocktail
Ingredients
  • Juice from 1 lime (approximately 1 - 2 ounces depending on your flavor preferences)
  • 1½ - 2 ounces of Tequila
  • Reed's Ginger Beer
  • Mint
Instructions
  1. In a glass, squeeze the lime juice.
  2. Add ice.
  3. Add tequila and top with ginger beer and mix.
  4. Add a lime garnish of your liking.
  5. If you have fresh mint, you can also give a leaf a quick clap in your hand to release the oils and garnish with it as well or try cilantro to make it even more festive!

Muddled Ginger Strawberry Sparkling Water

*This post is sponsored by Arrowhead® Brand Sparkling Mountain Spring Water.
RecipeWhelp, its hump day again.  Arrowhead® Brand Sparkling Mountain Spring Water wants you to make a “Feel Good Moment” for yourself today and every Wednesday.  Last week I talked about how much I love sparkling water.  Today I thought I would share one of my favorite ways to drink it.  This muddled ginger and strawberry drink recipe is SO tasty!  My friend Danae mentioned she was drinking this one day on her instagram and I immediately had to try it.  I LOVE fresh ginger but had never thought to add to a drink.

ginger-strawberry-lime-and-mintI very rarely use fresh ginger.  But for some reason I always have some in my freezer.  Ever since I made a syrup with it for homemade ginger ale for my son’s birthday party I have kept it on hand.  The smell always gives me a quick pick me up.  I’m very picky about the freshness of my fruit, but I hate to waste it.  This is a great recipe for strawberries that are looking a little sad.

peel-ginger-with-a-spoonDo you know the trick of using a spoon to peel the ginger?  So easy and quick.

fresh ginger in glassMake this recipe to your taste.  Slice up some fresh ginger and add to your glass.

limesAdd as much lime as you like.  I add 3 of these cut up pieces.

add-fruit-to-glassRoughly cut your strawberries and add them to the limes and ginger.

muddle-fruit-in-glassThen muddle your little heart out.  I’m sure there are rules for not being too rough with your fruit but I just wanted to make sure that I was able to get the limes to release their oils and juice and make a dent in the ginger to release its flavor.  The strawberries get pretty squashed.

Arrowhead Sparkling WaterAdd ice to your glass and top with Arrowhead® Brand Sparkling Mountain Spring Water.  Place a sprig of mint in the palm of your hand.  Clap your hands together a time or two to get the mint to release its fragrance.  Add the mint and a straw to your glass and enjoy.

lime-ginger-strawberry-sparkling-waterThis is super refreshing and delicious.  The fresh ginger gives it a little kick and the fresh lime and strawberry just work so well with it.  You will get pieces of fruit stuck in your straw.  If you give it a little mix with the straw you can see from the shot above that the larger pieces can get stuck up on top of the ice and make it less likely to stop up your straw.

ginger-lime-strawberry-waterOr skip the straw altogether and guzzle the crap out of the this.  It’s that good.  The fresh ginger really makes this special.  Are you a fan of fresh ginger?

Thank you for sponsoring this conversation, Arrowhead® Brand Sparkling Mountain Spring Water.  What are you going to do for yourself today?  Need tips?  Head to their Facebook page to see what others are doing to get through hump day.  Share your moments there too!

{Hellmann’s Chicken Change Up} Chipotle Lime Crusted Chicken

I am in love with this Chipotle Lime Crusted Chicken recipe that I got from Hellman’s.  I have really enjoyed participating in Hellmann’s Chicken Change Up Promotion.  It really opened my eyes to a whole new set of recipes that I would not have been open to before this challenge.  I’ve learned that I am not the only one who dislikes mayo and that if you just don’t tell people you have put it in something you cooked, they would never know.  The same can not be said for uncooked items and I’ll tell you right now, if you ever try to sneak uncooked mayo in to something I’m eating to try to pull a fast one on me, you may end up black listed.  Like most of you, I struggle with getting a delicious, home cooked meal on table each night.  On top of that, I have dietary restrictions, picky eaters and budget constraints.  And I just get plain tired of the things that I make over and over.  By introducing Hellmann’s mayo into my ingredients list, I can now make a whole new range of recipes.  And all of them are available to you on the Hellmann’s Facebook page and it is a great resource for all your dinner dilemmas.

The recipe that stood out to me was Chipotle Lime Crusted Chicken.  Lime is one of my all-time favorite flavors and upon reading the recipe I saw that it also included crushed tortilla chips.  Yum!  The recipe takes about 10 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to cook.  Super quick for baked chicken!  The secret is a high temperature for speedy cooking and the mayo for keeping it moist.  And with simple ingredients, these unfussy recipes should please even your pickiest eater.  I wanted to make this chicken for a small mid-week dinner party to test it out.

Wouldn’t you know, the morning that I planned to have friends over to test it, I woke up sick!  It took most of the day to get my energy up and by the time I was feeling well enough to get the house ready, it was almost time for the guests to show up.  It was the perfect scenario to see if this recipe really is as cook as they say it is.  Oh and I made a video (with A LOT of help from my husband – who thought I said “um” too much so he turned the sound off when I said it :).  So if you want to skip to it, scroll down!

The ingredient list is short and the most exotic item with the ground chipotle pepper that I was able to find at Target.  I got out everything that I would need before I started the recipe which included crushing up some tortilla chips (super easy to do in a ziplock bag).  And the only reason I am using the “light” mayo is because I had finished the regular with the Tuna and Noodles and Mayo Cookies although I did not taste any difference between the two!

Prep Time:  10 minutes                 Cook Time:  20 minutes

1/2 cup Hellmann’s or Best Foods Real Mayonnaise

1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1/4 cup crushed plain tortilla chips

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

2.  Combine Hellmann’s or Best Foods Real Mayonnaise, cheese, lime juice and ground chipotle in medium bowl.  Arrange chicken on baking sheet.  Evenly top with mayonnaise mixture, then sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips.

3.  Bake 20 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Mix up the mayo, the jack cheese, lime juice and chipotle pepper in a bowl.

Lay your chicken out on a cookie sheet or baking dish.  Evenly distribute the mayo mixture on all of the chicken.  There will be plenty.  I usually double chicken coating recipes but this is a very decent amount.

Sprinkle the crushed tortilla chips on the chicken.  I would recommend doubling this!  It provided a nice crunch in the finished dish and I could have used more of it.  Bake for 20 minutes and then dazzle your guests!  It really was quick to put together although I found that I needed about 5 more minutes of cook time.

Because this was a weeknight dinner party, I wanted to keep the decor really simple.  I threw on a tablecloth (and may or may not have tried to iron it right on the table – I do not recommend it – and blew a fuse since our dining room wiring is wonky) added a simple white tray and grabbed empty jars from my party storage for the flowers ($3.99 from Trader Joes).  To add color, I used flagging tape in two colors from Home Depot to add bows and confetti.  I served a simple sangria (no recipe – just riesling, strawberries, plums and a splash of apricot nectar) to drink and kept it classy in simple wine glasses.

The chicken came out super moist while the crust stayed really crunchy.  The chipotle pepper added a little kick to the dish and the smokiness of the spice coupled with the creaminess of the jack cheese created a delicious ranch-like taste.

I served the chicken with some delicious side dishes.  This black bean salad can be made ahead and simply served straight from the fridge or at room temperature.  The roasted kale can be put in the oven, at the same temperature as the chicken, the last 8 minutes of cooking.  And of course I put out the mayo cookies.

Here is the video I made of preparing the meal and the dinner party.  Go easy on me.  This was my first edited video and it took a long time.  And a HUGE thank you to Lauren and Amanda as they had no idea, before they got here, that they were going to be in my video.

But here is sort of the coolest part.  Because I now know that cooking with mayo will help keep my chicken super moist but not require me to spend tons of time in the kitchen, my dinner possibilities are just about endless.  For this recipe I used lime, chipotle and tortilla chips, but next time I can keep the same method, but easily change up the flavors.  Check out the recipe for BBQ Cheddar Crusted chicken.  In fact, I think I am going to make this tonight.  I mean, I have mayo in the house for once.  I don’t want to let it go to waste!

Hellmann’s challenges you to add some of these recipes too.  By doing so, you can enter to win a $5,000 grocery store gift card! (Full rules available on Facebook).  Or just enter their daily giveaway for a $50 grocery card.  But don’t forget to check out all the recipes from the Chicken Change Up!

*Discolsure:  Hellmann’s product and additional incentives were provided to me.  All opinions stated are my own.  And I would like to add that I now, voluntarily, make these chicken recipes because they are so tasty.  I did not expect that!