Showing posts with label Beverages. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beverages. Show all posts

29 August 2015

Labor Day, Football Tailgating: Check Out Some New Drinks, Appetizer Cheesy Zucchini No-Fry Fries with Smoked Paprika Dip Sauce

Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- Cutting a zucchini into frylike sticks then cooking them delivers a signature crunch without the deep-frying.
Photo:  Matthew Mead/AP

From Denny:  Ready to try something new for the Labor Day weekend and tailgating season?  Audition it on Labor Day and check out your reviews, and, if all goes well, you have some winners for the tailgating season.  I know.  I know.  The conventional wisdom is that you are not supposed to audition something new on your guests but my crowd likes to review.  Come on; put a little risk into your life!  

I usually cook up standards I know most people enjoy and then introduce a couple of new things for review and comment.  It's a conversation starter and since my friends tend to be as opinionated as myself, well, they enjoy weighing in.  They even make suggestions to kick it up, tone it down or variations that I might not have considered.  Since I value their input it's all done in good fun.  For my guests to take home I also make copies of the new recipes with space for them to make notes while we discuss the food.
The first two drinks up for consideration are old standards with new twists:  a Planter's Punch and a Bloody Mary.  The new twist for the Planter's Punch is that it has some added Camus Cognac with the apple cider, apple juice and pineapple juice.  The new twist for the Bloody Mary is the addition of Lucid Absinthe with the spicy bloody mary mix, worchestershire sauce, horseradish, black pepper, celery salt and garlic salt.  These two drinks come from  Niccole Trzaska at The Liberty Bar in New York City.

This appetizer recipe is from Chef Sara Moulton, one of the busiest TV chefs.  Check out this link to her site for online cooking classes, links to her TV shows and awesome easy recipes.  Sara has enjoyed a long career:  a 25-year stint at Gourmet magazine (which had a run from 1941 - 2009), hosted several Food Network shows for a decade, hosts public TV's "Sara's Weeknight Meals" and has written three cookbooks, one of which is "Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners."  Whew! All while raising her own family.  It's no wonder she specializes in quick and easy food.

Sara developed this tasty zucchini fries recipe as a way to use up all those crazy zucchini multiplying in your garden and on the grocer's shelves at the end of summer.  Sara says, "What if I told you there's a way to transform the whole lot of them [zucchini] into a delicious dish resembling french fries, but without all the calories?"  Well, she has my attention.  How about you?  Sara continues, "The secret involves cutting your zucchini into fry-like sticks, then cooking them in a way that delivers that signature crunch but without the deep-frying."

To get that toasted taste and golden color for the breaded zucchini without deep frying, you start by toasting up some panko breadcrumbs in a dry skillet.  Sara also advises to pay attention to which cheese grater you use:  a fine wand-style grater has two-thirds more volume than if you grate the cheese on the fine side of a box grater.  Sara used a wand-style cheese grater that produced 5 Tablespoons of grated cheese in this recipe.  If you use the box grater you will only need 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons of grated cheese.  Who knew?

The usual basic breading technique is employed to get the crumb mixture glued to the zucchini sticks:  dip first in flour, then the beaten egg, then the breadcrumbs.  Sara advises that if you skip the flour then the crumbs have a tendency to fall off.  Stick to the recipe and don't deviate on this step.

For entertaining this recipe is a good one because you can stop at the breading stage an hour ahead of time, parking the breaded zucchini on a cookie cooling rack just before dinner or when you want to serve at the party.  The cooling rack keeps air circulating around the zucchini sticks so they don't get soggy.  When you are ready to bake, transfer the zucchini sticks to a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes.

The dipping sauce is a kicked up aioli, a garlic mayonnaise.  Sara added extra lemon juice to cut the sweetness of the commercial mayonnaise and some smoked paprika.  Who doesn't love smoked paprika?  It's definitely a standard at our house.  I can get downright cranky if my local grocer is found to have an empty space on that spice shelf.  Of course, the remedy I've used many times, as I am not one to be denied - is to buy regular paprika and mix it in with what's left of the smoked paprika.  It doesn't take but a couple of days for the small amount of smoked paprika to influence and infuse the regular paprika for a lighter smoked taste.  It's also a way to cut the price of smoked paprika if you are on a budget but still want to enjoy.

So, check out some new cocktails for entertaining and a new appetizer twist on the humble but plentiful zucchini!  Be sure to check at the end of the post for links to more recipe posts...

Louisiana Seafood Reusable Shopping Bag

Louisiana Seafood Reusable Shopping Bag

Check out awesome Louisiana eating: oysters, shrimp, crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya
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13 August 2015

Summer Food: Blueberry Lemonade To Beat The Heat

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Grandma's Blueberry Lemonade
2TheAdvocate photo: HEATHER MCCLELLAND

From Denny:  Blue food.  It's pretty to look at and cooling in this summer heat.  Blueberries are the very essence of summer.  Did you know the silvery bloom on blueberries is a naturally protective waxy coating?  

Most people don't wash them until just when ready to eat.  Well, that doesn't work in our house so I pour a large bowl of water, add about 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar and let the entire plastic box and blueberries soak for about 5 minutes to kill bacteria.  Drain the entire box well, dry off a bit with a towel and throw back into the fridge.  Usually, a reputable grocery store - and even from the farm - they give the berries a quick vinegar wash to brush off leaves and bugs.

We all like to dine on blueberries by the handfuls as snacks, toss them on to the breakfast cereal or yogurt and make breakfast muffins. Here's a new twist: how about blueberries in your homemade lemonade?

This interesting recipe (from our local newspaper food writer) combines two fruit syrups:  a blueberry syrup and a lemon syrup.  You only use the blueberry syrup to color the lemonade to your preference.  The remaining blueberry syrup can be used on pancakes, waffles, toast or even in salad dressings.  OK, you got me, this lemonade is so doggone pretty!  Great idea for summer entertaining...

Lucy Name Mug

Is your fav person, dog or cat named Lucy? Check out fun products for her! "Lucy is in the house!"  Loads of other names available so check back often as new ones added.
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Lucy Name Canvas Lunch Tote

Lucy - whether human or beloved pet - deserves her own special tote for her yummy treats!
Visit Denny Lyon Gifts  @  -  see what's new!  

12 June 2011

5 Cooling Watermelon Drinks 4 Summer

Instructions on how to carve a watermelon Birthday Cake

From Denny: Did you know that America ranks as number four in production of watermelons? Bet you didn't know that important factoid. Now you are ready when you see the Trivia Crowd coming your way. You are sure to impress.

Some more fun facts about watermelons from the site National Watermelon Production Board:

* About 200-300 varieties are grown in the U.S. and Mexico
* 50 varieties are very popular
* The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt.
* Watermelon is 92% water
* Early explorers used watermelons as canteens
* In 1990, Bill Carson of Arrington, TN grew the largest watermelon at 262 pounds (1998 ed. Guinness Book of World Records)

Today - and this past week - the temperatures have been riding high in the 90's, near 100 degrees, making everyone miserable. One sure way to help cool off in this heat is with fresh fruit like watermelon.

Seedless watermelons now make up 60 percent of the crop as they are highly favored among consumers at the grocery store. And don't worry if you prefer not to buy a large melon. You can do like I did this weekend and just purchase a large slice of your favorite watermelon. Sometimes, you just want to enjoy watermelon for a few days not an entire month! :) I like to buy the wedges because I can see how ripe the watermelon is and check out the seed level, if any.

Take a look at these wonderful recipes from the National Watermelon Production Board. They sure have been busy on their site figuring out how to entice people to enjoy their product.

Watermelon Pomegranate Green Tea

From: National Watermelon Promotion Board

Makes: 6 to 8 servings


4 cups watermelon purée
2 cups pomegranate juice
4 cups strong prepared and chilled green tea
1 cup white grape juice
Ice for serving


Mix ingredients together in a large container (except ice) and chill well. Stir before serving and serve over ice.

Frozen Watermelon Blackberry Margaritas With Cilantro and Vanilla

From: National Watermelon Promotion Board

Makes: 3 to 4 drinks


1 cup chilled watermelon purée
1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
1 tsp. fresh cilantro leaves
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Juice from 1 or 2 fresh limes
1/2 cup chilled tequila or to taste
1 tbl. Triple Sec
2 to 3 cups crushed ice


Blend first seven ingredients together until smooth. Add ice and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Note: Rim glasses with sea salt or raw sugar.

Watermelon, Pineapple and Peach Smoothies

From: National Watermelon Promotion Board

Serves: 2


2 cups chopped, seedless watermelon
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained well
2 cups peach yogurt
Dash of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


Blend ingredients together in a blender until smooth and serve immediately.

Watermelon and Grapefruit Shooters

From: National Watermelon Production Board

Serves: Makes about 12 shooters


1/2 cup water
4 ounces strawberry flavored gelatin mix
1 1/2 cups watermelon puree
1 cup pink grapefruit juice
1 1/2 cups Tequila


Bring one half cup water to a boil. Place the gelatin in a heatproof container with a spout and pour the water into the gelatin and stir to dissolve. Combine the dissolved gelatin and the watermelon puree. Divide the watermelon mixture among 12 shot glasses or small juice glasses. Cool until thick but not set. Top each glass with the grapefruit juice and tequila.

Pink Watermelon Chardonnay Sparklers

From: National Watermelon Promotion Board

Serves: 1


1/3 glass watermelon purée, chilled
1/3 glass chardonnay, chilled
1/3 glass sparkling water, chilled
1 watermelon ball


Combine ingredients in a wine glass and serve immediately.

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19 February 2010

10 Perfect Hot Drinks to Warm Us in Cold Weather

From Denny: It's cold outside and you still feel cold inside. What to do? Make a hot drink to warm you from the inside out. Make sure it is a drink you can linger over and savor the moment, enjoying the goodness. After all, a hot drink to warm you is more than raising your body temperature. It's about ambiance and style! :) OK, did I mention it has to taste really good? Anyway you look at it, a warming drink will keep your spirits up throughout the day or at the end of a long day. Make the drink spicy and it will warm your soul too.

Gary Regan, of The Bartender's Bible, says "the secret to making good hot drinks is a simple one: Don’t skimp. Don’t use canned whipped cream and when the drink is made, spend some time enjoying the aroma; savor the whole experience of the drink. It will warm the cockles of your heart.”

Sounds like a good idea to me!

Let's take a look at your choices:

Hot Coffee Drinks:

Café au Lait
Irish Coffee

Hot Milk Drinks:

Williamsburg Hot Chocolate
Hot Taffy Milk

Hot Rum Drinks:

Hot Buttered Rum
Orange Toddy

Hot Cider Drinks:

Warm Fruit Cider
Honey Spiced Cider
Spiced Mulled Cider
Maple Mulled Cider

Hot Coffee Drinks

Photo by David Humphreys @ Junior League of Baton Rouge

Want a rich and creamy hot beverage? Café au Lait is the answer. It has a smooth velvety taste and is a Louisiana favorite every morning at our house! We make it with Community Coffee brand's New Orleans Blend (with chicory). Chicory is great for reducing the acidity in coffee that can bother your stomach. It's also a wonderful herb to aid liver function. Drinking hot milk in your coffee is a great way to replace the calcium that coffee can leach from your body so it all balances out.

Café au Lait

“River Road Recipes IV: Warm Welcomes” cookbook published by the Junior League of Baton Rouge

Serves: 6


4-1/2 cups milk
4-1/2 cups freshly brewed coffee or espresso


1. Heat milk in a saucepan over low heat just until barely boiling and whisk until foamy.

2. Pour the warm foamed milk and hot freshly brewed coffee into a heated carafe. If possible, warm each person’s coffee cup before serving.

Photo by Richard Alan Hannon @

Houmas House Plantation executive chef Jeremy Langlois often prepares Irish Coffee to conclude dinners in the plantation’s Latil’s Landing Restaurant. Part of the presentation of the classic beverage is carefully pouring the cream over the back of a teaspoon into the hot coffee so that the cream floats on top of the coffee.

Irish Coffee

From: Jeremy Langlois, executive chef at Houmas House Plantation and Latil’s Landing Restaurant

Makes: 1 cup


1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1 tbl. brown sugar
1 jigger Irish whiskey (1-1/2 ozs. or 3 tbls.)
Heavy cream, slightly whipped
Pinch of nutmeg for finish


1. Pour hot coffee into warmed cup until it is about 3/4 full.

2. Add the brown sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Blend in Irish whiskey.

3. Top with whipped heavy cream and sprinkle nutmeg on the cream for garnish. Serve hot.

Editor’s note: According to “Food Lover’s Companion” by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst, “Irish whiskey is a distilled liquor made primarily from barley (malted or unmalted) as well as corn, rye, wheat and oats. Irish whiskeys are triple-distilled for extra smoothness and are aged in casks for a minimum of 4 (usually 7 to 8) years. The aging casks have typically been used previously for aging bourbon, sherry or rum, the flavors of which contribute unique nuances to the whiskey.”

Hot Milk Drinks

Williamsburg Hot Chocolate

From: Grand Marnier

Serves: 1


1 cup milk
Grated zest from 1/2 orange
1 stick cinnamon
1 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted
2 tsps. Grand Marnier
Whipped cream for garnish, if desired


1. In a small saucepan, over low heat, slowly scald the milk with the orange zest and cinnamon stick.

2. In a blender, combine the hot milk with the chocolate and Grand Marnier. Blend on slow speed until very smooth.

3. Pour immediately and top with whipped cream, if desired.

Hot Taffy Milk

From: Tommy Simmons, Food Editor @

Serves: 2


1 cup low-fat milk
3 tbls. cane syrup (if not available use a favorite thinned molasses)
Dash of cinnamon


1. Pour milk and cane syrup into glass measuring cup. Mix to dissolve cane syrup.

2. Microwave on High in 1-minute intervals until desired temperature is reached. (Takes about 2-1/2 minutes.)

3. Pour into mug. Dust top with cinnamon, if desired.

Hot Rum Drinks

Hot Buttered Rum

From: “The Bartender’s Bible” by Gary Regan

Serves: 1


1 tsp. brown sugar
4 ozs. boiling water
1 whole clove
2 ozs. dark rum
1 tsp. unsalted butter
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg


1. In an Irish coffee glass, combine the brown sugar with the boiling water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Add the clove and the rum. Float the butter on the top and dust with the nutmeg.

Orange Toddy

From: David Simmons

Serves: 2

1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
2 tbls. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. butter (a tiny pat)
1 to 2 tbls. rum


1. Mix orange juice, water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and butter in a large glass measuring cup. Microwave on High for 2 minutes or until just beginning to boil.

2. Remove from microwave, stir in rum and serve in mugs.

Hot Cider Drinks

Warm Fruit Cider

From: “Slow Cookin’ in the Fast Lane” by Julie Kay

Serves: 10 to 12


1 (64-oz.) bottle apple cider
2 oranges, cut into quarters, peeled
2 lemons, cut into slices, with peel
6 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks


1. Pour apple cider in slow cooker and add all remaining ingredients.

2. Cook on Low for 3 to 4 hours. When ready to serve, remove orange quarters, lemons, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks.

3. Pour into individual mugs or punch cups and serve.

Honey Spiced Cider

From: National Honey Board

Makes: 8 (6-ounce) servings


5 cups apple cider
3/4 cup honey
24 whole cloves
2 small navel oranges, quartered
7 (4-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 (4-inch) strip lemon zest
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg


1. Combine cider and honey in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the honey dissolves.

2. Push 3 cloves into the rind of each orange quarter. Add to the cider along with the cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and nutmeg.

3. Bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer at the merest bubble for 20 minutes. Remove the fruit and spices with a slotted spoon and discard. Serve hot.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 178 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 grams protein, 46 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol and 7 milligrams sodium.

Spiced Mulled Cider

From: Tabasco

Serves: 2


2 cups apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tbls. honey
1 tbl. Tabasco brand green pepper sauce
1/4 cup rum
Apple slices for garnish


1. In 1-quart saucepan over high heat, heat apple cider, cinnamon stick, honey and Tabasco green sauce to boiling. Reduce heat to low, remove cinnamon sticks and set aside, and continue simmering cider for 5 minutes.

2. Remove from heat; add rum. Pour into glasses or mugs; garnish with apple slices. If desired, use the reserved cinnamon sticks as stirrers.

Maple Mulled Cider

From: “Fix-it and Forget-it Diabetic Cookbook”

Serves: 10


1/2 gallon cider
3 to 4 cinnamon sticks
2 tsps. whole cloves
2 tsps. whole allspice
1 to 2 tbls. orange juice concentrate
1 tbl. maple syrup

1. Combine ingredients in slow cooker.

2. Cover. Heat on Low 2 hours. Serve warm.

Testing note: The original recipe listed the orange juice concentrate and maple syrup as optional ingredients. However, both used together make for an enjoyable boost of flavor.

*** THANKS for visiting, come back often, feel welcome to drop a comment or opinion, a big shout out to awesome current subscribers - and if you are new to this blog, please subscribe!

03 July 2009

Recipe: Italian Chocolate Soda

chocolate sodaAnother chocolate soda version, looks yummy! - Image by rho.doras via Flickr

From Denny: Whew! It's so hot here it's 101 degrees F. in the shade! Sitting in front of the fan while I blog - and, oh, yeah, the air conditioning is on full blast too. :) Enjoy this quick chocolate fix on a hot day! Now everyone say after me, "Ah, chocolate comfort food!"


A sparkling drink with a hint of chocolate and cream. Even with the heavy cream, this is a very refreshing recipe for the heat of summer.


•3 Tablespoons chocolate syrup

•3 Tablespoons heavy cream (I use low fat milk as a substitute)

•Crushed ice

•Club soda or other sparkling water


Add syrup and cream to the bottom of a glass and mix well. Add crushed ice to nearly full, and then top off with club soda.

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09 June 2009

Wine Video: Perfect Wines for Summer

French wine and French gastronomy are often en...Image via Wikipedia

From Denny: OK, I like wine so I like to watch these wine videos where folks make recommendations - especially if it's a price conscious wine that won't empty my wallet! :) I'm often a big fan of Chilean red wines as they are tasty but budget conscious. Chilean wines come from French vines planted over 150 years ago. The Chilean philosophy is the same as their Spanish forebears: Everyone should be able to afford a good glass of wine often!

Here's an interesting video of current recommendations from The Today Show on NBC - one of the few networks that offers the ability to embed videos. Yet another reason to like these guys! :)

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23 May 2009

Video: Beautiful Fruit and Floral Cocktails Served with Chocolates!

From Denny: This NBC video was developed for Valentine's Day but these cocktails are good year 'round. The one demoed in the video is most unusual and refreshing for the summer season.

Where's the chocolate? Not in the cocktails but I'd definitely serve these cocktails with a side dish of your best dark chocolates to complement the fruit and floral tastes.

Here are the recipes:

L’Amour de Fleur

Michael Cecconi



• 1 ounce pink peppercorns

• 1 ounce kosher salt

• 2 ounces sugar

For the drink

• 2 ounces gin

• 1 ounce fresh lime juice

• 1 ounce simple syrup

• 1/2 ounce Rothman and Winter crème de violette (Available at Astor Wines and Morrell)

• 4-6 mint leaves

• 1 pinch dried lavender flowers (available at Dean and DeLuca and Kalustyan’s); give them a good crush before you drop them in the shaker

• Edible pansy flowers (optional; available at Kalustyan’s)


For the drink’s spice rim: Coarsely grind pink peppercorns in either a spice grinder, mortar and pestle, or mini-processor; mix with salt and sugar in a bowl, then pour onto a plate. Moisten a rocks glass with simple syrup, then dip it into the spice mixture. (There should be enough spice mixture left over for several cocktails.)

For the drink (serves 1): Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker; add ice, shake, and then pour through a julep or other fine strainer into an ice-filled, spice-rimmed rocks glass. Garnish with an edible flower sprinkled with a bit of the spice mixture.

The Honeysuckle Rouge

From: Michael Cecconi


For spiced red wine and honey syrup:

• 2 bottles inexpensive red wine

• 3 star anise pods

• 2 cardamom pods

• 2 bay leaves

• 2 cinnamon sticks

• 5 cloves

• Zest of 1 orange*

• Zest of 1 lime*

• Zest of 1 grapefruit*

• Zest of 1 lemon*

• Pinch of salt

• 2 cups honey

• 1 cup hot water

For the drink

• 2 ounces Anejo Tequila

• 2 ounces Spiced Red Wine and Honey Syrup

• 1/2 ounce lemon juice

• Thin round of lemon for garnish in cocktail


For the Spiced Red Wine and Honey Syrup:
Combine all the ingredients, except for the honey and hot water, in a large pot, bring to boil and reduce to roughly 1 pint (about 25 minutes at a hard boil). Pour through a fine strainer and set aside. Stir honey and water together until fully mixed. Combine one pint of the spiced red wine with one pint of the honey syrup. The spiced red wine and honey syrup will keep in a refrigerator for a week and freezes well, too.

*Save fruit for juicing or eating.

For the drink (serves 1): Combine tequila, spiced red wine and honey syrup, lemon juice, and ice in cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass, then garnish with a thin slice of lemon.

Sparkling Sunset

From: Michael Cecconi


For the pomegranate syrup

• 2 cups sugar

• 1/4 cup water

• 1 quart pomegranate juice*

For the drink

• 3/4 ounces pomegranate syrup

• 1 ounce fresh orange juice

• 1 ounce Plata (silver) tequila

• 2 ounces dry sparkling wine


For the Pomegranate Syrup:
Combine sugar and water in a medium-size pot over high heat, and boil until the syrup thickens and uniform bubbles appear on top (around 15 minutes; do not allow syrup to caramelize). Reduce the heat to low, and slowly, carefully add the pomegranate juice, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat, cool, and refrigerate. The Pomegranate Syrup will keep for a week and freezes well.

*Juice fruit like you would a grapefruit: Cut it in half and then use a countertop citrus juicer to extract the juice.

For the drink (serves 1): Pour pomegranate syrup into a flute. Combine tequila, orange juice and ice in a cocktail shaker, then shake. Using the back of a spoon, strain the liquid into the flute, on top of the pomegranate syrup. Top with the sparkling wine, then serve to guests with a small spoon and encourage them to stir the ingredients together.

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19 April 2009

Drink: Concord Berry Sparkle

From Denny: From the folks over at Welsh's comes this non-alcoholic drink that would be just perfect for a Sunday gathering if you wanted something that was just a bit special. It sounds so refreshing! If you wanted to make it alcoholic just add a light white wine.

It's the seltzer that makes it so refreshing. Seltzer is a flavorless effervescent water. Originally, it came from the town of Nieder Selters, located in the Weisbaden region of Germany. Most of us are familiar with seltzer as soda water that is actually injected with carbon dioxide to mimic the one from Germany. Today, soda water as we know it began back in the late 1700's. We still use this basic technology in our soda drinks. Amazing, huh!?

Concord Berry Sparkle


Yield: Serves 1


3 blueberries or 3 red grapes

4 ozs. Welch’s 100% Grape Juice made from Concord grapes

1/2 oz. seltzer water or club soda

1 wedge fresh lime

1 sprig fresh mint


1. In a glass, muddle blueberries or red grapes.

2. Add ice to glass. Pour in grape juice and seltzer.

3. Stir to blend fruit juices and sparkling water. Squeeze a little lime in, slosh the glass around and garnish with mint. Serve immediately.

Note: You can make a berry skewer to fancy up the drink for a party or guests.

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