Category Archives: Others’ Recipes

Cheers to Cucumber Lemon Vodka and the 10 Cocktails We’ll Clink Together

We watch A LOT of Good Eats at THS HQ.  Alton Brown has inspired us with our daily eats of course, but also with our adult beverages!  Have you seen the episode on Bloody Marys where Alton makes Tomato Vodka?  Nick and I have seen it several times and each viewing we note how simple the process is and mention that “we really need to try that soon!”

Thanks to a couple of generous gardeners in my life, I found myself with a pile of cucumbers on my kitchen table one weekend last month.  Determined to hold on to those summer feelings as long as possible, we decided it was time to try our hands at vodka infusion! 


I can’t stress this enough: Infusing vodka is super simple.
I took slices of my garden cucumbers and placed them in a large ball jar. 
I added a few slices of lemon and poured triple distilled vodka to the top before sealing the jar tightly.
We stored the jar in a cool, dark spot and gave it a shake every few days.
About 3 days in I removed the lemons.
About 3 days later, I removed the cucumbers by straining through a mesh strainer.
Now the question is – how to use it?!

I did some internet hunting and found ten recipes I want to try using my Cucumber Lemon Vodka creation.

This Cucumber Vodka Soda recipe from How Sweet Eats uses actual Cucumber Juice [Jess includes how-to for those of us without a juicer in the kitchen – SCORE!] and regular vodka. I’m thinking upping the game with the Cucumber Lemon Vodka is simply the right thing to do.

Foodie Crush’s Cucumber Delight Cocktail is all about refreshment; even the melon ball and cucumber slice garnish look mega-refreshing. Mule-like with the inclusion of ginger beer with a bit of sweet and sour partnership found in lemon juice and simple syrup. Ahhhhhhhhhh!

Dear, A Bubbly Life – Thank you for teaching me the simplicity of How to Make a Cucumber Salty Dog Cocktail. After my summer of 2013 quest to “make grapefruit vodka and soda my drink” this is an obvious choice. Can you believe I’ve never known what a Salty Dog was before I started looking for recipes to make with my vodka creation? 

It’s important to remember that the most refreshing cocktails are often the most simple.  Pixels and Crumbs delivers the perfect easier-than-pie glass with this Cucumber Vodka Cocktail. I think this is the perfect beverage for chasing a happier hour after a hard day at the office.

I’ve decided that taking the time for homemade lemonade and stirring up some Cucumber Lemonade for Grown-Ups from Set the Table is a great way to savor summer into the start of fall. I have a sweet vintage lemonade set I was gifted years ago and I love using the pitcher for fancy cocktails on a whim.

cucumber lime

It wasn’t long ago that I declared limes my favorite fruit, making this Cucumber Lime Zinger from Kitchen Konfidence a no brainer for Cucumber Lemon Vodka consumption.  I think this cocktail would pair really well with shrimp tacos or beef fajitas

The Firecracker from Creative Culinary is a watermelon, lime and cucumber cocktail fit for celebration. This screams “serve me with finger sandwiches!” and “sip on the porch!”  Who wants to come over?

A cocktail named Garden in a Glass is clearly a check in the “healthy decision” box, right? My Life and Kids blends watermelon, lime, agave and vodka for a freggie-filled glass of adult deliciousness.

My sister, Melissa, first taught me of the wonders of Moscow Mules while visiting my parents at a few years back. Mules have been one of my go-to travel cocktails ever since; I love the blend of sweet and spice, along with the copper mug novelty.  Cucumber Moscow Mule from The Culinary Compass seems like a great way to enjoy the infusion. 

Fresh flavored and gorgeous to look at, this Cucumber Pineapple Mini Martini from I’m Bored, Let’s Go is totally on the list for the next at-home cocktail night!  That speckle! That flavor combo! I’m IN!

Do you have other suggestions for how to use my Cucumber Lime Vodka infusion?

15 Slow Cooker Recipes Using Lean Beef

15 slow cooker recipes featuring lean beef

I love using the slow cooker in these late summer, early autumn months.  When it remains hot in the mid-day sun, but thanks to early morning chill and late evening breezes starting to arrive we’re starting to look towards warm, comforting dinners more often.  Slow cookers and set-it-and-forget-it recipes are the perfect compromise to complete dinner laziness and working hard in the kitchen.  Tools to help you #make1healthydecision even on the days you’d much rather order in and stay planted in front of the TV.

The recipes below all use lean cuts of beef; Lean beef has 10 essential nutrients and is the #1 food source of protein, vitamin B12 and zinc. Beef is a great source of iron, which plays an important role in transporting oxygen through your body. This infographic does a great job of explaining the benefits of lean beef: Beef’s Big 10


Crockpot Beef on Weck Slider from Healthy Delicious // This recipe is proof you can reach the ultimate medium-rare pot roast perfection with the help of your crockpot. Paired with a kitchen-hack for the ages: store bought Italian bread dough turned slider rolls. The semi-homemade way to up your party platter game, if you ask me.

Shredded Beef with Red Cabbage Slaw from Food Fash // A thick, flavorful stock reduction takes this shredded beef recipe to the next level. Paired with a beautiful red cabbage slaw for a picture-perfect plate of delicious.

Slow Cooker New England Pot Roast from Andie Mitchell //  A classic Dinner with a capital-D, pot roast dishes like this bring my taste buds back to the days of home cooked, leave the table full, kind of meals. You know those dinner plates – with meat, and apotato, and vegetable, and grain, and a glass of milk, too. Andie uses this as a favorite easy “throw-together” meal, and I can totally see myself making this to use up the root vegetables taking over my fridge come fall.


Crockpot Sweet and Sour Hawaiian Beef from Cotter Crunch // Say “aloha” to this freezer-friendly crock pot dish full of flavor and nutrition-packed ingredients! Super simple, mixing the deliciousness of pineapple, apple cider vinegar, red pepper, red onion, honey and of course, tasty lean beef. This dish is PALEO friendly, too.

Slow Cooker BBQ Brisket from Real Mom Kitchen // After my 5-year stint in Texas during my twenties, I have an understandable love of BBQ brisket. I can still remember my first real smoke house experience; old picnic tables lending to cafeteria style seating, napkins piled high on each table, all the pickles and white bread you could ask for, and that dreamy, gritty, delicious smoky aroma. I try to grab a plate of BBQ at least once every time I’m in the South, comparing sauces from state to state. This simple slow cooker recipe from Laura reminds me that I can easily make myself a plate at home, too. I think we may need to have a sauce tasting contest to find our favorite for at-home BBQ nights. Any recommendations?

Slow-Cooked Whiskey-Molasses Shredded Beef from Beef It’s What’s for Dinner // A classic cowboy friendly shredded beef recipe tossed with a whiskey-molasses BBQ sauce and paired with a carrot apple slaw. Get inspired to level-up the freggie creativity in your slaw by substituting pears, celery, cabbage or bell peppers.


Crockpot Shredded Beef Barbacoa from Uproot from Oregon via The Lean Green Bean //  A Chiptole Copy-Cat recipe perfect for your weekend meal prep. Turn a pot full of beef into a week of Bring Your Fiesta to Lunch Break deliciousness with a rotation of burrito bowls, nachos, and taco salads all featuring this Crockpot Shredded Beef.

Slow Cooked Pulled Mexican Beef from Bran Appetit // You can easily transform Brandi’s oven recipe to your favorite crock pot.  Simply brown the roast, onions and garlic as instructed, then transfer to your slow cooker along with the salsa, broth and beer.  Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours and you’ll be met with the same rich, tender beef as Brandi achieved from her oven roasting.

Slow Cooker Spicy Tex Mex Beef Fajitas from MJ and Hungryman // Another reminder of the deliciousness of Texas!  These spicy fajitas are the perfect fiesta for two, topped with onions, peppers, cheese and of course, GAUCAMOLE!


Crockpot Taco Chili from Ari’s Menu // A Taco Tuesday approved twist on chili, this creamy pot of yum makes a terrific weeknight dinner. A bowl of this taco chili is warm and comforting while remaining healthy. This is a Food Prep win: make a batch for dinner one night, and gift yourself a few days of leftover lunches.

Scrumptious Slow Cooker Chili from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life // Courtney’s favorite chili recipes raises the bar by using trimmed lean top round in place of commonly used ground beef. This is a hearty slow cooker dish which can be served with your favorite bakery bread or corn muffins.

Crockpot Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup from Mollie’s Sprinkles of Life // A traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner gets the soup treatment. Start the corned beef in the slow cooker overnight, then add all the veggies and herbs the next morning to meld together all day long. Now that’s serious slow cooking.


Slow Cooker Korean Shredded Beef with Creamy Asian Broccoli Slaw Quesadilla Style from Heather’s Dish // A tasty Asian-fusion inspired recipe you can whip up in NO time at all. You can use the beef in a bunch of different ways, but Heather’s choice of going quesadilla style is totally up my ally.

Slow Cooker Steak Stuffed Collard Rolls from Amee’s Savory Dish // A Southern classic healthified with a collection of whole foods. Lean beef, greens, tasty tomatoes and whole grains make this quite the well rounded dinner dish.

Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli from Six Sister’s Stuff // Take a stab at DIY Take Out Night with this healthy version of a Chinese take-out staple: Beef and Broccoli. Going the slow cooker route makes it super simple without sacrificing the umami collaborative that this combo of flavors delivers. #Make1HealthyDecision by choosing reduced sodium products [like soy sauce and broth] whenever available.


If you are interested in learning more about using beef and raising your kitchen confidence:

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Beef Expert Bureau.  This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff.

Cool Your Summer Down with DIY Ice Pop Making

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Blue Diamond.  I’ve been choosing Blue Diamond at my local markets for several years now, long before I became part of the Blue Diamond Tastemakers program.

Last month I was sharing a whole bunch about the new-to-me Blue Diamond deliciousness.  Honestly, I have been really impressed with all the new products and flavors that Blue Diamond has been rolling out over the past several months.  The flavors are bolder and better than I expect before tasting them, the protein content in the nut-thins hit my happy spot, and adding some coconut to the deliciousness of Almond Breeze is a flavor combo I’ll never complain about.

In terms of impressing me, the newest fresh-to-the-shelves product I’ve received to review has been no different: Hint of Honey Vanilla Almond Breeze Almondmilk. It’s rich and creamy with a slight sweetness that rounds out the flavor perfectfully.  I’ve tried it latte-style with the help of my Mr. Coffee Latte, to thin out my post-workout smoothies, and as a substitute for water in my morning oats.  I’ve also used the honey-delicious-AlmondBreeze in an ice pops recipe I share below because I’m all about the cooling-down these days.


I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in the CDNY it seems that we’ve skipped right over spring and headed straight for early summer.  We have one window unit air conditioner at the apartment, which we keep in the bedroom because sleeping well is a top priority for my overall health.  This means all the other rooms of THS HQ can double as a hot yoga studio, even when the oven remains in the off position. [Let’s not talk about what it feels like when I dare to turn it to the on position, okay?]

All in all, though, it’s not THAT bad.  Maybe it’s the several years spent on the gulf coast of Texas, but even the hottest days here in NY seem incredibly bearable, especially with all the best tools to my disposal.  I keep a pitcher of water in the fridge so I can always cool down via hydration.  The back porch is a fantastic spot to spend some time when the air near my computer feels stale.  My go-to at-home summer wardrobe = a running skirt and a tank, hair in messy bun on top of my head, and occasionally a BAMR band.

Another cool-down tool I’m swearing by these days are treats coming from the freezer.  I’ve been making smoothies more regularly than ever before in my life and recently realized that I could easily turn all my favorite smoothies into ice pops with the help of my dollar store plastic mold.  The steps are SO EASY and the outcome is well worth the [very little] effort.

popsicle round up

Destination Beach Vacation Ice Pops
I love island-flavor freezer pops for closing my eyes and imagining the heat I’m feeling is because I’m enjoying a moment of R&R on a beach vacation. 


The steps are simple:

  • Fill a single serve [16 ounce] smoothie cup with frozen fruit, Greek yogurt and coconut.  Slowly add Almond Breeze to fill line on cup.
  • Blend into smoothie-like consistency.
  • Pour or spoon into mold and add sticks or plastic holders.
  • Freeze for several hours until firm.

12 popsicles

Frozen Pops Recipes to Cool Down with This Summer
With the addition of honey in many of these recipes, I feel especially kitchen-confident subbing in the Hint of Honey Almond Breeze Almond Milk for my own freezer creations! 


Lime Pina Colada Popsicles from Back to Her Roots. Another tropical vacation straight from my apartment freezer? Yes, please!

Vanilla Peach Pops from Love and Lemons. Who would turn down a classic flavor combo like peaches & cream?

Key Lime Pie Ice Pops from Freutcake. Pie turned pop?  I can get down with that.  I love the gram cracker outer crust on these beauties.

Papaya Coconut Popsicles from Floating Kitchen. I love the look of a layered freezer treat – so gorgeous!  And papaya and coconut are another imagine-yourself-watching-the-waves flavor combination to embrace this summer.


Bumbleberry Chia Pops from The Healthy Everythingtarian. This advice from my girl Holly in this post pretty much sums up life for me: “Wherever you are at, be there. Push forward. Eat popsicles.”

Blueberry Lemon Popsicles from Try Anything Once Culinary. High School Heather fell for berry flavored lemonade at chain restaurants and I’ve never stopped being a fan of the partnership sweet berries and sour citrus.  These pops make me dream of another favorite summertime treat, Lemon Ice from Culver’s.  Yummmmmmmmmmmm.

Summertime Dessert Banana Berry Acai Popsicles from Lauren Lives Healthy. I totally agree with Lauren that the best way to beat the heat come summertime are frozen treats. These antioxidant boosted treats will totally do the job in my book.


Green Smoothie Protein Pops from Eating Bird Food. These seem like a great post-workout cool down treat if you ask me!

Almond Coconut Fudgesicles from Bliss N Balance.  Almond + coconut + fudge = my favorite mini-candy bar treat – an Almond Joy!  I’m digging this flavor combo!

Pineapple Mint Popsicles from Fitnessista. Pineapple Mojitos are one of my favorite hot weather cocktails, and these ice pops fall right in-line with those flavors.

Watermelon Whole Fruit Popsicles from Nutrition by Angelique. These freezer treats are made with 100% fruit, using puree, slices and chunks.  What a great way to amp up your fruit servings during the hot summer months!