Summertime and the Menu’s Easy Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments
The cold condensation running down the side of your drink; lightning bugs flashing across the yard; and the smell of dinner cooking on the charcoal grill bring most Southerners back to a simpler time. It’s as if when summer begins, Mother Nature is hitting some sort of Pavlovian bell that stirs some of our fondest memories.
When I think of my childhood summers, most thoughts surround those many outdoor parties my parents hosted when I was growing up on a quiet street in Little Rock. The sound of the blender going full speed as my mom mixed vodka with Minute Maid Frozen Limeade; my dad giving a friend a hard time for wanting his good cut of steak well done; and the screams of excitement from all us kids when someone would emerge from inside with Otter Pops (Alexander the Grape was by far my favorite).
While lime-flavored frozen concentrate and affectionately named fruit pops may not take center stage like they did a few decades ago, I have found a way to create memorable summer nights on the porch through a few recipes of my own.
Key Lime Cosmo Pops
The traditional Cosmo is a bit too sweet for my tastes, but in a popsicle form they are rather delicious. When you add Nellie & Joes Famous Key Lime juice, they that much better.
1 1/2 cups cranberry juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup Cointreau
Combine all ingredients in a large measuring cup and then pour into molds. After about four hours in the freezer, place sticks into popsicles and leave in freezer over night. Servings yielded will depend on size of molds used.
Someone gave my mom this recipe, my mom gave it to me, and I want to give it to the world. This is by far my favorite snack, and bonus points for it including an Arkansas seasoning as an ingredient. Servings yield enough for 6-8 hungry adults.
6 roma tomatoes
2 bunches of green onions
8-ounce package of Feta (block not crumbles)
3 Tbsps of olive oil
Cavenders, as needed
1 loaf of fresh French bread (skip bread and go for pita chips if really hungry)
Cut the tomatoes and strain well to ensure you remove all pulp and juice. Chop the onions, but you will only be using the white portion of the stalk for this recipe. Place the tomatoes and onions in the serving bowl you plan to place out for guests.
Crumble the entire feta block and mix all three ingredients with a spoon. Pour in olive oil and season with Cavenders to your liking. Stir all ingredients again.
Cut the bread into small sections (about 1/2-inch thin) and place on oven pan. Broil each side on high until lightly toasted. Serve in bread basket with bruschetta.
Cherries on Ice
I wasn’t sure anything would top Sonic ice, until I started dropping maraschino cherries (stem attached) into ice trays before freezing. You can do this trick with herbs, fruits, syrups and even veggies (think jalapeños in your bloody mary). However, the cherry ice is my favorite to drop into my Front Porch Punch listed below.
Front Porch Punch
While the word “punch” might suggest this drink is reminiscent of something served at college frat parties, this is certainly less questionable and a lot more enjoyable. Bourbon + Lemonade + Cherries = Refreshing.
1 1/2 ounces of bourbon
1 ounce of lemonade
Sweet cherry juice, as needed
Cherries on ice
Fill a mason jar with mix of regular and Cherry Ice. Shake bourbon and lemonade in ice-filled cocktail shaker and then strain into mason jar. Top off with a splash of sweet cherry juice. Serve with a straw. Garnish will be cherries, once the ice melts.
Modern Day Limeade
If I wanted to serve a Minute Made Frozen Limeade style drink like my mom use to make, but didn’t want it frozen or from concentrate, then this is what I would use. The recipe is for a non-alcoholic version, but you should try it with vodka (that is what any member of my family would do).
1/4 cup mint leaves
2 ounces honey simple syrup
1 1/2 ounces lime juice
Club Soda, as needed
In 12-ounce glass, muddle mint and honey simple syrup. Add ice and lime juice, then fill with club soda. Stir well and serve.
Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
Nothing says summer dessert in the south like strawberry shortcake, but what if you could put that dessert in cookie form? Ah-mazing.
2 cups strawberries cut into ¼-inch chunks
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsps cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine strawberries and lemon juice in bowl.
Sift together flour and baking powder. Add sugar and kosher salt to dry ingredients and thoroughly mix with wire whisk. Using a pastry cutter and cut butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles course crumbs.
Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then gently add strawberries.
Do not over mix — you want the strawberries to remain chunky.
Drop by the tablespoonful onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (easier clean up)
Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Cool on wire racks before serving.
Lauren Weintraub is a Little Rock native residing in Nashville. When she isn’t making improvements to her porch parties, such as the addition of a slip-n-slide, she moonlights as the owner of The Solution Girl – providing professional organizing, party planning and problem solving services to clients throughout the South.