everyday food made simple

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As much as I complain about how much I hate seeing summer go, a little part of me secretly loves the anticipation and the arrival of fall.

Watching the trees gradually change from a lively, healthy green color to a vibrant, flaming red/orange color in a span of a week, the sound of crunching leaves beneath my shoes, watching store shelves stock up on caramel apple/pumpkin spice everything, being able to lounge all day in sweatpants and a hoodie (even though it seems like that’s all I wear 9 months out of the year anyway), are just some of the reasons why I’m a big fan of fall.

Oh, and boots. All the boots. Don’t even get me started on shopping for the perfect pair of boots.

And the fact that fall also means that no one will ever know if you don’t shave your legs for the next 7-8 months. And that you will also be forgiven if you don’t bother on getting pedicures from now on, since it’ll be too cold for flip-flops and sandals outside anyway.

Last weekend it was 90 some degrees here in Minnesota, so Brian and I decided it’d be the perfect weekend to go hunt for some pretty fall foliage, since according to every single news channel and multiple websites, fall leaves were at their peak north of the metro.

So the mister and I decided on the St. Croix State Park, which 50-75% of the leaves have turned colors, according to the state park website. We packed up my camera, stocked the car full of snacks, and made the hour-long drive up north, excited to take some gorgeous photos. (← #signsthatyouregettingold)

After much disappointment and getting attacked by swarms of mosquitoes, I came home with a few satisfactory photos. The state park was sort of a let down, as we drove around a lot and the location the website recommended for “perfect fall photos” didn’t have a single red leaf on its trees.

Not to mention my mosquito bites swelled up within hours and turned into huge welts all over my arms that left me itchy for daaaaaaays.

Ironically, most of the best foliage photos were taken by me sticking my camera out the car window while passing various small town neighborhoods.

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After we got home, I was exhausted, hot, sweaty, and itchy, and proceeded to pour myself a large cold glass of this sparkling apple cider I made the day before.

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If where you’re at is still too hot for hot apple cider, this is definitely for you! However, if you’re not a fan of spiced apple cider, feel free to substitute the amount of spiced cider in this recipe for plain cider, although I do think the addition of orange slices and subtle notes of cinnamon and cloves does elevate the original to a whole new level!

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sparkling spiced apple cider
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups apple cider
  2. 1/2 orange, sliced (leave the peel on)
  3. 2 cinnamon sticks
  4. 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  5. 2 cups club soda
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the apple cider, orange, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. Bring to a boil, them reduce and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Discard all the solids.
  2. Fill 4 tall glasses with ice. Fill each glass with 1/2 cup of the cooled spiced cider and 1/2 cup of club soda. Serve immediately.
  3. Makes 4 cups (4 servings)
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
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© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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One weird thing about me is that I tend to only drink smoothies or anything that involves blending ice cubes in a blender during the summer. Once the temperature starts to drop and the days get shorter, I can say “bye bye see you next summer” to frappes, smoothies, and coolers (I love my Caribou Coffee!)…

You can’t blame me, the frigid Minnesota winter is cold enough as it is, I don’t need to make myself any colder by drinking anything cold!

Now that it’s mid-August and there’s only a few more weeks of “real” summer left, I need to get all my slushie/smoothie fixes in before it starts getting cold outside.

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So today I’ve brought to you a very simple yet summery watermelon drink. It’s super easy, yet super refreshing. Watermelon is perhaps the iconic fruit of summer. I haven’t met a person who doesn’t like watermelon – kids love it. I love it. My grandma loves it. Even my dog loves it. It’s truly a fruit enjoyed by people (and dogs) of all ages! It only makes sense making a cold, minty, sweet, refreshing drink with it… right?

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watermelon mint slushie
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups watermelon cubes, frozen
  2. 8 oz plain coconut water
  3. Juice of 1/2 lime
  4. 6-7 mint leaves, additional for garnish if desired
  5. 1 cup ice cubes
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high for a minute, or until smooth.
  2. Divide evenly among 2 glasses, garnish with additional mint leaves.
  3. Serve immediately.
  4. Makes ~24 ounces (2 glasses)
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
A little bit of separation is normal after you’ve poured these drinks into glasses. It’s just like your blended coffee settling after a while – the icy part floats to the top, leaving the liquid portion on the bottom. Stir it up a little if you’d like and enjoy! You can even substitute the coconut water with some club soda for a little extra fizz. Let me know what you think!

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Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Skirt.com

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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There sure are a whole lot of rhubarb recipes out there lately. I have to admit, I’ve never worked with rhubarb before. I guess I’ve never had the desire to make a whole pan of rhubarb crisp or crumble, simply because my little 5′, 96-lb frame cannot finish a 8×8″ pan of rhubarb crumble myself.

…So this is what I made with rhubarb for the first time ever:

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I first encounter with rhubarb was the rhubarb strawberry crisp I had from Good Earth a few years back. That was the day when I decided that I liked rhubarb desserts. The sweetness of the strawberries balanced out the tartness of the rhubarb. The warm crumbles on top contrasted with the cold vanilla ice cream on the side – it was heavenly.

My coworker Shannon has a rhubarb plant in her backyard, and every year during rhubarb season, she would bring a bagful of rhubarb stalks to work for those that are interested to take home. She would set them on the tables in our break room, and within hours, they were all claimed and gone. It’s almost like she’s our department’s sole provider of rhubarb in the summer. Thanks Shannon! :)

Since this summer is all about trying new things, I decided to ask Shannon to bring some extra rhubarb stalks in for me. I got the inspiration for this recipe from Carpe Season’s sparkling rhubarb lemonade – incorporating rhubarb into a summery drink sounded like such a good idea! That way I won’t have to worry about finishing off a whole dessert myself within a few days (not that I haven’t done that before….).

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Instead of mixing the rhubarb syrup with the Sprite and adding in the ice cubes, I decided to freeze the rhubarb syrup into ice cubes! If you freeze the syrup into ice cubes and add them to your Sprite, it not only still retains the lemony-rhubarb-fizzy goodness, it also prevents your beverage from being watered down. And any beverage that doesn’t get watered down over time is a win in my book.

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rhubarb-lemon ice cubes
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Ingredients
  1. 1-1/4 cup water
  2. 1-2/3 cup chopped fresh rhubarb
  3. 1/4 cup sugar
  4. 1-2" strip lemon peel
  5. A handful of mint leaves
  6. 1/3 cup lemon juice
  7. 1 liter bottle of Sprite, more or less depending on how much you want
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the water, rhubarb, sugar, lemon peel, and mint leaves. Bring to a boil, them cover and simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Using a strainer, strain the rhubarb mixture over a medium bowl - I used a Pyrex measuring cup with a pour spout to make it easier for my next step. Discard the solids and stir in the lemon juice.
  3. Pour the rhubarb/lemon mixture into an ice cube tray. Freeze until solid, about 3-4 hours.
  4. When ready to serve, place a few ice cubes in a glass and top it off with Sprite. Garnish with a few extra mint leaves, if desired.
Notes
  1. The rhubarb/lemon mixture turns out to yield about 1-1/3 cup and filled about 12 ice cube wells in our tray.
Adapted from Carpe Season
Adapted from Carpe Season
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
This drink sure hits the spot on a hot summer day! I had to quick shoot these photos before a showing on our house, placed them in the fridge and took Bentley to the dog park. After we came back from the hot summer sun, I downed both glasses within an hour… oops.

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Too bad Bentley couldn’t have any – he looked like he could’ve used something nice and cold and refreshing after playing in the sun for an hour…

Enjoy!

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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When you read this title, I bet you went, “that doesn’t sound like it’ll be good”.. but trust me, it is. I thought the exact same thing when I first saw this recipe, but since my vacation is almost over and I set out on a mission in the beginning of the summer to make as many summery drinks as possible, I decided to give it a whirl.

I’ve been looking for the perfect slushie that involves honeydew for a while. Don’t ask me why, honeydew to me just sounds like it’ll be great in a slushie. Let me just say that it sure didn’t disappoint, because this recipe produced a pretty tasty, refreshing drink!

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You know those slushies at gas stations? They’re good, aren’t they? Well, this almost has the same consistency as those, just with a lot less sugar, no artificial flavors, no high fructose corn syrup, it has fruit in it, and everything that goes in it is simple and with an easy-to-pronounce name. The fact that there’s fruit in it automatically makes it healthy! (at least that’s what I’m telling myself)

Another reason why I’ll be making this again next summer is because you can make the syrup/tea/ginger ice cubes ahead of time and put them in the freezer.

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Have some extra cubed honeydew? Freeze those too! Next time you want a slushie, throw those in a blender with some gingerale, a splash of lemon juice, and a few chopped mint leaves and… wa-la!

Instant slushie. It’s that simple.

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honeydew-ginger slushies
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Ingredients
  1. 12 oz green tea, freshly steeped and cooled to room temperature
  2. 3 tablespoons water
  3. 2 tablespoons sugar
  4. 1-1" ginger, peeled and sliced
  5. 16 oz honeydew, chopped
  6. 32 oz gingerale
  7. Lemon juice
  8. A handful of mint leaves
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and ginger. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool. Discard the ginger.
  2. Combine the ginger syrup and the green tea. Pour into an ice cube try and freeze until solid.
  3. Divide the chopped honeydew into 4 bags (yields 4 individual servings). Freeze until solid.
If making one serving of the drink
  1. In a blender, add 1/4 of the ginger syrup ice cubes with one bag of the frozen honeydew. Add a splash of lemon juice, a handful of chopped fresh mint leaves, and 1 cup of gingerale. Puree until smooth, adding more gingerale if needed.
  2. Pour into glass and enjoy!
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
This recipe makes about 4 servings, so I divided the honeydew into four separate little baggies and used 1/4 of the tea/syrup ice cubes. That way I still have 3 servings left of this delicious drink for another day. Maybe I’ll have another one later….

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Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine

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FIrst of all, can I just say I can’t believe it’s July already?! That means half the year is over. It also means that summer is halfway over. It also means by the time we know it, winter is going to be here (boo!), there’s going to be snow on the ground (lame), and it’s going to be cold for another 7 months (ugh). BUT, it also means that the Minnesota State Fair is next month!

Okay, now back to my post….

You know how McDonald’s has their sweet tea for $1? The ones that come in the gigantic styrofoam cup that are loaded with probably a pound of sugar that’s super tasty?

Well, I loooove sweet tea. I love iced tea in general, but there’s something about sweet tea that has a special place in my heart. Back in our college days, my best friend Nicky and I used to stop by McDonald’s just to get their sweet tea. And when we used to work together, she’d always stop by Micky D’s to surprise me with their sweet tea before coming into work – talk about a thoughtful friend! :)

For the past several summers, I’ve been making my homemade sweet tea infused with a little hint of cinnamon that Nicky absolutely loves. This time, I decided it’s time to change it up a bit and went with a refreshing mint (with a subtle hint of blackberries) instead.

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If you’re not a fan of the caffeine that comes with tea, feel free to use decaffeinated tea bags instead. That was originally my plan until I realized I still had a bunch of regular black tea bags leftover from last summer.

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blackberry mint sweet iced tea
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup blackberries
  2. A handful of mint leaves
  3. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  4. 8-3/4 cup water, divided
  5. 10 black tea bags
Instructions
  1. Place the tea bags in a large pitcher and add 8 cups of water. Place in fridge.
  2. Meanwhile, make the syrup: in a small saucepan, combine 3/4 cups water, the granulated sugar, blackberries, and mint leaves. Bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes until sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from let and let cool.
  3. Take pitcher out from fridge, add syrup and stir. Place back in fridge and refrigerate 18-24 hours.
  4. Remove the tea bags (don't squeeze them!), serve over ice and garnish with additional mint leaves if desired.
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
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I like using the cold brew method for my iced tea. If you want, you can brew the tea the traditional hot brew method – just bring the 8 cups of water to a boil, add the tea bags, and let steep for about 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, let cool, and then transfer to a large pitcher.

The blackberry flavor in this is very subtle and it actually pairs quite well with the minty taste if leaves in your mouth afterwards.

I didn’t add as much sugar to this recipe as I normally would either – it’s still sweet, but not sweet to the point to where you feel like you’re just drinking sugar water.

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I’m calling it the “skinnier” version, just to make myself feel better about it. It has less sugar, it has healthy antioxidants from the tea, and it has fruit – that makes it a healthy summer drink, right?

Enjoy!

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