Mulled Cranberry Tea, Also Known as the Agony of Potlucks

So I am going to rant here, and I will post the recipe first so that you can read it without wading through my grumbles.

Mulled Cranberry Tea

2 tea bags (I use peach herbal or cinnamon for this)

1 cup boiling water

1 bottle (48 oz) cranberry juice (I use no sugar added natural, because this will come out sweet)

1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional- never used them)

1/3 cup sugar

1 larg lemon, cut into 1/4 inch slices

4 cinnamon sticks

6 whole cloves (also never used these)

garnishes:  more cinnamon sticks & thin lemon slices- never done this either

In a crock pot, deposit tea bags and pour boiling water over them.  Cover & let sit for 5 minutes.  Fish out the tea bags and add the rest of the ingredients sans garnishes.  Cover and cook, either on Low for 2-3 hours or High 1-2 hours.

You can remove and get rid of the lemon slices and cinnamon sticks, but I leave them in because it looks festive and pretty.  Serve warm.  I generally pour any leftovers back into the cranberry juice bottle (straining of course) and use it up within a few days.  Enjoy.

*this is not my recipe, I have edited it a bit for my personal use but it came out of a “Rival Crock Pot Slower Cooker Recipes” book.

So, as it always seems to come to pass, any potluck dish you agonize over choosing out of the many hundreds of cookbooks, searching for that perfect combination of taste and art whilst drag your soul through the fires of self flagellation only to ferry it gently across the river of anguish and deposit on the table like a great sacrifice to the gods of potlucks, hoping that your offering will be deemed acceptable and memorable, and then it doesn’t even get a second look.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I grew up in my church viewing potlucks as a religious rite ( don’t shoot me, I’m sure I will be struck by lightening soon).  I probably put way more thought into this then I should have, but I grew up thinking that food was how my church came together.  I also saw the providing of the dishes as somewhat of a right-of-passage.  Over the years, the trends have come and gone (memorably was the quiche phase *shudder*) and a few other notables, but everyone seems to settle into a specialty over time.

Usually, I brought an apple pie I had managed to turn into second nature since middle school because it is always requested, even though I don’t even like it (yes I hate pie, yes I know it is truly horrendous, we have accepted this as fact- note the use of the royal “we”).

However, my husband has been calming the nerves that I am pretty sure were entirely made up, and trying to keep me from languishing over potluck dishes.  Lately, whether through boredom with my standard pie or laziness for not wanting to spend two hours on something I won’t even eat, I have turned to other dishes.

Today, I was tired and I hadn’t even known if I was going to show up to this potluck.  I decided to make something out of a cookbook I had been gifted with when I graduated college (one of those that is in the shape of the food/method it uses in every recipe) and do something insanely simple.

Now, I don’t even know why, but I love sharing recipes with other people.  Nothing makes me happier then to know someone enjoyed a dish I prepped and that they would love to experiment with it on their own.  Of course, this never happens with the recipes that take hours to make.  You can slave over a dish and  have maybe 1 serving taken from it at the end of the night.  Then you get the dish where you were too busy to go shopping and just threw something together, thinking that you wouldn’t’ even care if it came back untouched, and the damn thing is empty within 10 minutes of being set on a serving table.  Ironically, this is the dish that becomes the most popular out of your repertoire, and it just kills you.

This dish is such a dish.  It literally takes less then 10 minutes to prepare, and can be drinkable in an hour, perhaps even 45 minutes depending on how awesome your crock pot/slower cooker is.

I had no less than 6 people ask me for the recipe, all of whom were appalled at how easy it was.  If you actually made it to the end of this rant, bless you.



Pure Blend Teas

I went to a friends house in Lancaster and we stopped by the farmers market in the center of town. I found one stall selling my weakness- homemade herbal tea blends. I bought three packets of tea. They were a little pricey- I think I spent $12 for all three of them, but the flavors were wonderful!

I purchased a Peach Melba- which is my favorite for a very light, fruity flavor on a cold afternoon. I bought a Nettle Leaf Detox tea that doesn’t have much flavor, but is very comforting in it’s blandness. I detect a bit of chamomile.

Last, I bought a Egyptian Lime Hibiscus- a deep ruby color, it was very citrusy with a sweet overtone.

Recommend for someone who doesn’t mind floating plant bits from loose tea. Very civilized tasting and I will definitely be visiting the website to order more!

Pure Blend Tea

They are based in West Chester, PA

The card says: “Hand Blended Whole Leaf Teas, Matcha and Raw Cocoa from the World’s Finest Organic & Fair Trade Ingredients”

call 484.639.1546 or email & contact Kari Dandrea. She was very helpful and helped me choose the teas I would try. Continue reading

Summer Fruity Splash

I never really drank before I met my husband, but he has introduced me to the occasional indulgence that is enough to be relaxing without being too much. I started mixing drinks due to the influence of a brilliant friend of mine (wave Mary) who has an astounding ability to mix drinks. I have posted one of her recent recipes and will continue to do so. Also check out her drink blog which is in my last drink post.

My favorite summer drink has many variations, and I tend to mix and match depending on what I have on hand. The biggest ingredient is fresh orange juice. I start with 1 shot of Whipped Cream Vodka and, at most, 1/2 shot Peach Schnapps. I then fill to the half way line of the glass with orange juice, and top off with Sprite or Sprite Zero.


Crushed strawberries- they add to the amazement and if I have some girlfriends over, everyone likes crushing the strawberries in a mortar and mixing their own stuff.

Cranberry juice ice cubes- I occasionally make these and pop them in to all sorts of drinks from my Summer Fruity Splash to lemonade. If you throw a couple of these in- it helps keep the drink refreshing and waters it down a bit as you get to the bottom. Also brings out the beautiful colors that remind me of Spring and Summer!

Grenadine- I add this sometimes, with or without, the Schnapps. A little cherry goes a long way but it does add a bit more sweetness to the drink if you feel it is too strong. Usually a Tablespoon or less as it is strong. Interesting side note: Grenadine is made from pomegranates. Pour some in a coke for a Jolly Roger or in a Sprite for a Shirley Temple.

Ginger Peach Blossom

So one of my friends has this amazing ability to take the most random of ingredients and create mixed drinks that will suffice for even the pickiest of drinkers, such as myself. I don’t really like to drink in public. I also tend to avoid strong drinks as I have the alcoholic tolerance of a hummingbird on crack. In any event, I was visiting her last night before we jaunted from Lancaster to Washington DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival and she made this drink for me while we were watching Helsing Abridged.

Honestly, this tasted a little like pineapple to me, but I enjoyed it immensely.

1/2 oz. Almond Syrup
grated ginger (1/2 tsp tops)
2 oz. Gin (She prefers the good Amersterdam Gin because it “has enough botanicals to pull it off”
4 oz. orange juice
top off with little bit of ginger ale
add marachino cherry & ice

Simple, tastes good. Very refreshing without being too fruity.

She has been reading the “Drunken Botanist” lately as inspiration. Tis a good book and provides the history of plants used to make drinks.

Check out her drinking blog!

Mary’s Drink Blog!