Cinco de Mayo Skinny Margarita Recipe

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!

We all know it’s hard to unwind completely with a margarita when you’re thinking about those empty calories from sugar. So we’ve got a guilt-free margarita recipe for you (not that you should feel guilty for enjoying a treat, for goodness’ sake). Unwind without spiking your blood sugar level with this easy, delicious recipe:

  • 3 ½ cups of strawberries
  • 2 ½ cups of crushed ice
  • ½ cup of tequila
  • ½ cup of fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. Cointreau (orange-flavored liqueur)
  • Lime or orange wedges (optional for garnishing)

Combine strawberries, ice, tequila, lime juice, sugar and liqueur in blender and process until smooth. Pour into four large glasses and serve immediately (185 calories per serving).

margarita

Photo courtesy of Last Shred of Sanity

Tip: If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of squeezing a half-cup’s worth of juice out of fresh limes, try Nellie and Joe’s Key West Lime Juice. It’s delicious and a close second to freshly squeezed citrus.

No margarita recipe is set in stone, so feel free to improvise and use this recipe as a jumping off point! Use peaches instead of strawberries, lemon juice instead of lime, or get wild and toss some fresh grated ginger in there. Using fresh (or frozen) whole ingredients helps reduce the need for sugar and artificially-flavored syrup. Because who needs strawberry-flavored syrup when you’ve got the real deal? And with summer right around the bend, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of fresh produce.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy some leisure time this Cinco de Mayo with some special people.

And if you’re serious about healthy outdoor living, don’t forget to enter our sweepstakes, where you could win a $10,000 outdoor yoga studio, basketball court, or other addition to your backyard!

Recipe of the Month: Smoked Salmon Dip

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Our recipe of the month is back, and this month it’s a savory smoked salmon dip! This dip takes a mere five minutes to whip up and makes a great party appetizer or a decadent snack.

Here’s what you need and how to make it:

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 12 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill weed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion

In a medium-sized bowl, stir the cream cheese until it’s pliable and yielding. Add the salmon, Worcestershire sauce, dill and green onion and stir well until the ingredients are distributed evenly throughout the cream cheese. And that’s it!

If you want to add a bit of kick to it, add a few drops of hot pepper sauce into the mix. If you’re not a fan of smoked salmon, you can substitute smoked rainbow trout or another smoked fish. If you’re watching calories, substitute some of the cream cheese (though no more than half) with fat free or 2% milkfat plain Greek yogurt (it sounds weird, but it’s basically sour cream without the fat and it’s loaded with protein!).

Serve with crackers and if you still have leftovers and you’re feeling adventurous, spread some on a bagel.

And there you have it. Now you’ve got something new to bring to a party or to debut at a get-together of your own.

Recipe of the Month: Traditional Wassail

iStock_000001436037MediumIf you’ve ever celebrated the holidays with someone of English ancestry, you may have had the pleasure of sharing a pot of delicious wassail. Wassail was originally considered a symbol of greeting and celebration. Drinking was often accompanied by caroling and general merriment, which makes it perfect for the winter season. Wassail, which means “be you healthy” or “be whole,” is a hot mulled cider traditionally enjoyed with others as an ancient southern English ritual intending to ensure a good cider apple harvest the next year.

So how exactly does one go about concocting this drink from olden days? It may have a rich history, but it’s very easy to whip up. You only need six ingredients, none of which require traveling back in time to the English courts:

  • 2 quarts of apple cider
  • 2 quarts of pineapple juice
  • 2 cups of orange juice
  • Juice of 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Start by combining the apple cider, pineapple, orange and lemon juices in a large pot over low heat. Add the cloves and cinnamon sticks, bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour. Remove the cinnamon sticks and cloves and serve.

You can serve wassail hot or cold, though it is traditionally served hot. If you’d like it to be less tart, you can quarter the lemon juice or add more cider. Feel free to modify the recipe to suit your palette. (Ghosts from King Arthur’s Court are not going to come haunt you for breaking tradition.)

And voila! Fresh, homemade wassail. Enjoy!

Outdoor Entertaining Tip of the Month: Orange-Scented Mulled Wine

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Don’t let the cold weather discourage you from enjoying your outdoor space this winter — all you need is a few blankets and a tasty beverage to keep you warm. This Mulled Wine recipe is one of our favorite remedies for frosty nights. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 large orange
  • Seeds from 8 cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
  • 8 to 9 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 bottles (750 ml. each) dry red wine
  • ¼ cup orange-flavored liqueur (optional)
  • Thin orange slices (optional)

Preparation

  1. With a vegetable peeler, pare 8 thin strips zest (4 in. by ½ in.) from orange. Juice orange, and reserve juice.
  2. Wrap cardamom, coriander seeds and ginger in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine.
  3. In a nonreactive saucepan, crush orange zest and 7 tablespoons sugar with a wooden spoon to release oils from zest. Add reserved orange juice, wine, and spice packet. Cover and bring to a simmer over high heat, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 30 minutes. Discard spice packet and orange zest.
  4. To serve, heat wine, covered, over medium heat just until steaming. If you like, stir in liqueur and more sugar to taste. Ladle into heatproof glasses. Garnish with thin orange slices.

From Sunset 2009

 

Outdoor Entertaining Tip of the Month: Holiday Pears

As friends and family begin filtering in for the holiday season, or as you travel to their homes, we invite you to indulge in this recipe for Holiday Pears that will awaken your taste buds. With a decadent mix of spices, this dish will surely become a staple in your holiday traditions.


Ingredients
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
4 firm-ripe pears such as d’Anjou or Bosc (about 2 1/2 lb. total)
1/2 rinsed lemon (about 2 oz. total), thinly sliced (ends discarded)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Preparation
1. Sort cranberries and discard stems and any bruised or decayed fruit. Rinse and drain berries. Peel pears; cut in half and core. In a 2- to 2 1/2-quart baking dish, combine cranberries, pears, and lemon slices.

2. In a 1- to 2-quart pan over medium-high heat, stir sugar, vinegar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and 1/2 cup water until mixture boils and sugar is dissolved. Pour over fruit. Cover dish tightly with foil.

3. Bake in a 350° regular or convection oven until pears are tender when pierced, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.

From Sunset December 2001

Chocolate Caramel Apples with Sprinkles

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as taking a bite out of a juicy, sweet and sticky caramel apple. Put a twist on caramel apples this fall with a mix of chocolate and caramel that even the best dieter can’t resist!

Ingredients
5 apples (we prefer Granny Smith and Fuji varieties, 6 to 8 oz. each)
Butter
14 ounces (about 50 pieces) unwrapped soft caramels (such as Kraft)
10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sprinkles (your choice of color)

Preparation
1. Rinse and dry 5 apples (we prefer Granny Smith and Fuji varieties, 6 to 8 oz. each). Insert a craft or popsicle stick halfway into the stem end of each apple. Line a baking sheet with plain parchment paper or wax paper that has been generously coated with butter.

2. In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine 14 ounces (about 50 pieces) unwrapped soft caramels (such as Kraft) and 2 tablespoons water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth.

3. Holding the stick, dip each apple one at a time into the caramel about three-quarters of the way. Swirl to coat evenly.

4. Hold stem side up and use a knife to scrape excess caramel off the bottom of apple back into bowl. Place apples on the parchment paper or buttered waxed paper and refrigerate until caramel is firm, about 5 minutes.

5. Return pan of water to a boil; remove from heat. Place 10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate in another bowl and set over pan. Stir frequently until chocolate is melted and smooth.

6. Dip the bottom half of each apple in chocolate, turning to coat evenly. Hold stem side up and use a knife to scrape excess chocolate off bottom of apple and back into bowl. Place each coated apple on the parchment paper or buttered waxed paper and refrigerate until chocolate is slightly set, about 10 minutes.

7. Place about 1 cup sprinkles (your choice of color) on a plate. Roll bottom third of each apple in sprinkles to coat. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes.

From Sunset October 2005