Have a Chilled Summer

It's August and the dog days of summer are here. Even though it won't be long before cool winds blow our way, Mother Nature is trying her best to deceive us -- and it's working! The sun seems to actually enjoy pounding down on us for days on end. But, we won't let the hot days keep us from enjoying ourselves! We just need to remember to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of liquids.

It's the second part of that equation that we're celebrating here this month. August's hot days give us all the perfect opportunity to try our hands at making some terrific chilled drinks. All you need are some summer favorites and a blender! If you need some input about buying a blender, make sure you check out the recent Product Focus on that subject.

As for that list of summer favorites, it will change depending on your tastes. Here's mine:

  • whole strawberries - fresh and frozen
  • canned pineapple in its own juice
  • low fat vanilla ice cream
  • a wide variety of my favorite coffees
  • fresh limes and lemons
  • yogurt -- especially vanilla
  • Sprite or other white lemon-lime soda
  • Kahlua
  • ripe bananas
  • a wide variety of fruit juices
  • skim milk
  • as much fresh fruit as I can use before it goes bad!
The key to being able to make cold drinks in a snap is to have your ingredients on hand. For instance, I like popping some fresh strawberries that have had their stems removed into the freezer. That way, I can toss a few in a blender with some vanilla yogurt and skim milk and I've got a nutritious treat in short order! Try freezing some of your favorite fruits and berries for fast chilled drinks. You can also try keeping a couple of cans of fruit in heavy syrup there too. Don't worry, they won't explode and if you let them sit out for 5 minutes before you open them, they almost slide out of the cans!

If you don't have a blender or want an even quicker way to dress up your drinks, try some of the ice cube ideas given in this article. You can impress your summertime guests with little effort. Again, it's as simple as having the ingredients on hand.

I'm including some of my favorite summertime drinks here. Feel free to rearrange them to fit your likes. There are really no rules here!

Make sure you share your favorite chilled drink ideas too! I love getting new ideas from you. Just post them in the form below or send me email. Now you can face the dog days of summer with confidence and a frozen drink!

Watermelon Slushies

  • 2 c. cubed, seeded watermelon
  • 1 can chilled lemon-lime soda (e.g. Sprite)
  • 2 T. lime juice

Place watermelon in a container and freeze for at least one hour or until frozen. Place watermelon and remaining ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Serve in tall glasses. Recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes

Kahlua Freeze

  • 2 c. French vanilla ice cream
  • 1 c. strong coffee, chilled
  • 2 oz. Kahlua

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Serve in tall glasses. Recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc.

  • Yields: 3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Sunshine Freeze

  • 1 c. chilled orange juice
  • 3 pieces sliced pineapple
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 c. vanilla ice cream

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Serve in tall glasses. Recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Hazelnut Cafe Chiller

  • 2 c. French vanilla ice cream
  • 1 c. skim milk
  • 2 T. instant coffee
  • 1 T. hazelnut syrup

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Serve in tall glasses. Recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc.

  • Yields: 3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Banana Split Smoothie

  • 6-8 large frozen strawberries
  • 3 pieces sliced pineapple
  • 1 c. vanilla ice cream
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 1/2 c. skim milk

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Serve in tall glasses. Recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc.

  • Yields: 3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Strawberry Slushies

  • 1 c. Strawberry-Banana V8 Splash (or strawberry juice)
  • 1 c. frozen strawberries
  • 1 can chilled lemon-lime soda (e.g. Sprite)

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Serve in tall glasses. Recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc.

  • Yields: 3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Ice Cubes with Class

Place any combination of the following into ice cube trays:

  • edible flowers
      violets, pansies, nasturtiums, marigolds, etc.
  • fresh fruit
      raspberries, blueberries, pineapple chunks, grapes, etc.

Fill the trays with water or any other liquid (try Sprite, champagne or iced tea, for instance). Freeze until set. Serve with chilled drink of your choice.

Another option is to forego the ice cube trays altogether! Just add frozen peach slices to your favorite iced tea for an instant splash of color and flavor. Other fruits that lend themselves to becoming chillers are:

    grapes, pitted cherries, nectarine slices, melon balls, strawberries and pineapple chunks

Choose something that will compliment the drink you're serving.

If you hate a warm glass of iced tea but also hate watering it down with ice, try filling your ice cube tray with some of that iced tea. The result: Iced Tea Cubes! Enjoy your cool drink without sacrificing its flavor. Try the same method with your next party punch.

Whether it's relaxing with an iced tea and a good book under the back yard shade tree or offering a delightful array of smoothies at your next barbeque, make sure that you keep your cool this summer with these chilling ideas. Enjoy!

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