COCKTAIL RECIPE FOR A CROWD: SWEET TEA MARTINI

This is one of my favorite cocktails to make for a big crowd. Everybody- and I mean everybody loves my Sweet Tea Martini! It's easy to make in big batches and because you control the amount of sugar you add, you can control the sweetness and the calories, too. When you use juice as a base for a cocktail, you're adding a ton of extra sugar. When you use tea as a base and you brew it yourself, you can add as little or as much sugar as you see fit. I often use zero additional sugar if I'm using a citrus flavored vodka but if I use lemon juice instead, I need a bit of sugar to balance that out.

If you use store bought tea by the gallon, I'd suggest using unsweetened tea and making a simple syrup to add to taste. If you use sweet tea, you may find it is just too sweet when you add the Pama Liqueur.

Make the tea strong and do not dilute it with water so it isn't weak when you serve the cocktail over ice. Double, triple, or quadruple the recipe as required. This version will make 8-10 based on portion size when served over ice.

Big Batch Cocktails for a Crowd Sweet Tea Martinis

SWEET TEA MARTINI FOR A CROWD

INGREDIENTS

6 cups water

4 family-size tea bags (I use Red Diamond quart tea bags)

1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar (optional- the Pama is a bit sweet so you can use as little or as much sugar as you like)

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 bottle(750ml bottle) Pama Liqueur, chilled

1/2 bottle (750 ml bottle) vodka, chilled (you can use citrus vodka and reduce the lemon juice)

DIRECTIONS:  

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan; add tea bags. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute; remove from heat. Cover and steep 10 minutes. White still hot, add desired amount of sugar. Stir to dissolve.

Remove and discard tea bags. Allow to cool completely.

Pour tea into a gallon container or into a serving dispenser. Add ½  of a 750 bottle chilled Pama and ½ bottle cold vodka. Use citrus vodka ifyou like and reduce the amount of lemon juice.

Serve over ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

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SIMPLE SUPPERS: LEMON HERB SHRIMP OVER PASTA

When I get off work on a Friday afternoon when the weather is nice, I cannot wait to get the weekend started. I typically don't feel like making complicated food... I want it to be fast, easy and delicious. This dish is so simple to whip up for a couple or a couple dozen guests. The key is to use fresh herbs and the best shrimp you can find. For me, that is Alabama Gulf shrimp... I'm lucky to have easy access to it. Frozen shrimp will work if that is what you can get but oh my, what a difference you will taste if you use fresh shrimp. Make this for supper and serve it with some toasty bread and a nice chilled glass of white wine and you've got a good start on a relaxing weekend.

Simple Suppers Lemon Herb Shrimp over Pasta

LEMON HERB SHRIMP OVER PASTA

Yield: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

1 pound fresh Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on

1 cup seafood stock (I make my own using the shrimp shells but you can use the boxed kind)

1/2 cup white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)

1 lemon, sliced

 1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Hot cooked angel hair or pasta of your choice... I use angel hair because it only takes a few minutes to cook.

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the pasta per package directions to al dente. Set aside.

In a large skillet or saucepan over medium high heat, add the olive oil. Once it is hot, add the smashed cloves of garlic and saute. Tilt the pan to make sure the oil covers the garlic and cook it for 2 minutes to infuse the oil with the garlic flavor. Cut the tops off of the tomatoes and crush them with your hand into the pan, squeezing all the juice from them. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, bay leaves and oregano. Break the tomatoes into small pieces and cook for one minute. Add the wine and the stock. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Check the seasoning. You may need to add a bit more salt and pepper. Add the shrimp and allow them to cook for 2 minutes. Squeeze the lemon halves over the shrimp and drop both halves into the pan.  Flip the shrimp and cook another 2-3 minutes on the other side or just until the shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat. Add the butter. Cover and let stand for 2 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with the shrimp and sauce. Add the parsley and some Parmesan, if desired.

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COCKTAIL RECIPE: MOSCOW MULE (OPRAH'S FAVORITE DRINK)

Way back in like, 2008, I was driving in the car and had on Oprah Radio-- I heard Oprah raving about her favorite summer drink, the Moscow Mule. I was curious so I had to try it. I thought it was very refreshing and easy to drink. Best of all, they are easy to make. You'll need ginger beer, which you can find at most grocery stores these days or at an International market like World Market. And use fresh lime juice. Not the squeezy stuff.... You are supposed to serve a Moscow Mule in a copper mug and it may just be me but I do think they taste better in the copper. There are tons of places to buy these now but hey- you can serve Moscow Mules in a julep cup, a coffee cup, or a plastic cup.

Moscow Mules in copper mugs

 

THE MOSCOW MULE

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 ounces vodka ( I prefer Tito's for this drink)

1 teaspoon simple syrup (make it with equal parts sugar and water- heat til sugar dissolves, cool)

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 cup ginger beer

1 sprig fresh mint

slice of lime

ice

DIRECTIONS:

Pour vodka over ice. Add simple syrup and lime juice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with mint and lime.

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