Category Archives: Drink

Summer Cocktails – Gin Fizz Recipe

In 2007 we went on our first summer beach holiday as a couple, we were going to a wedding in Cyprus and we booked a lovely hotel in Protaras. At first we were a bit taken aback by all the cheesy bars, but we soon learned to embrace them and their cheap cocktails. Quickly I discovered the most popular cocktail in the resort – the Gin Fizz. It wasn’t hard to see why this was so popular, not only was it delicious but it was really refreshing, which is what you need on a sultry summer evening.

gin fizz recipe

I was recently sent a bottle of PLj to try, it is 100% lemon juice, unsweetened, nothing added and it’s a really handy way of having fresh lemon juice whenever you need it. My first port of call was to add a dash to a cool glass of soda water, it was sharp and refreshing, but it was crying out to be made into a Gin Fizz.

gin fizz recipe

After a good deal of wholly scientific experimentation (hic), here’s my recipe. It’s incredibly simple and was very reminiscent of hot summer evenings in Cyprus –

Gin Fizz Recipe

Ingredients:
2 shots of gin
1/2 shot PLj lemon juice
1 heaped teaspoon of icing sugar
Soda water
Ice
A slice of lemon

Method:
1. In a cocktail shaker (or a jug with a whisk if you discover your cocktail shaker has been packed away in the loft) put your gin, PLj lemon juice, the sugar and a few cubes of ice and shake like billy-o. Check it to see if it’s sweet enough for you, you can always add more sugar if you want to.
2. Pour into a tall glass filled with ice and top with soda water and stir it through, garnish with a slice of lemon, and perhaps a spring of mint if you have it.

I love a Gin Fizz, it’s one of my guilty pleasures on a summer evening. Delicious! 

Review: Get More Vitamin Drinks

Going to a blogging event such as Blog On MOSI can be thirsty work, all that chatting and making new friends. During one of the breaks I was perusing the promotional stands and bumped into the friendly girls from More Vitamin Drinks. They noticed I looked a bit parched and slipped me a bottle or two of their vitamin water drinks to rehydrate me. I was eternally grateful, a cold fizzy flavoured water is one of the most refreshing drinks I know.

When I got home I emailed to thank them for their hospitality and they very kindly sent me (virtually) the full range of More Vitamin Drinks to try out.

more drinks

More Vitamin Drinks have two ranges of water based drinks for adults and children, with larger bottles for adults and the smaller “A Little More” range for children. Each bottle is enhanced with vitamins and minerals (each flavour is different) and it supposed to be great for helping to rehydrate you after exercise or in hot weather, or just whenever. It’s not a sports drink, it’s just a drink.

I was sent –
Still Mango & Passionfruit (vitamin D)
Sparkling Blackcurrant & Blueberry (vitamin A)
Still Cranberry & Pomegranate (minerals)
Sparkling Lemon & Lime (multivitamins)
Still Apple & Raspberry (B vitamins)
Sparkling Orange (vitamin C)
A little More – Apple (multivitamins)
A little More – Mango (vitamin D)

It just so happened that the week we tried the More Vitamin Drinks it was really quite hot. I went for a few walks down by the river and treated myself to a nicely chilled bottle while I was out. When I picked the small boy up from school I’d have a cold bottle ready for him to drink on his way home.

We enjoyed them all, obviously we all have our flavour preferences, I’m not keen on mango, but the boy loves it, I prefer fizzy, he prefers still, etc etc. I can’t comment on if the added vitamins had any instant effect, I liked the idea that I was putting something good in my body, but it was too short a testing period to see any significant benefits, although I can tell you they are cracking if you’ve got a hangover!

I do often reach for a cold fizzy water when I’m thirsty, especially in the summer. More Vitamin Drinks are low in calories, usually with under 10 calories per bottle, which is something I look for when I buy these kinds of drinks. I like that it’s not just a bog standard flavoured water and that it can help aid nutrition, but in this weather it’s just a really simple way of keeping hydrated.

I would definitely look out for these drinks in the future. They are available from a range of shops including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Ocado, and sell they for around £1.45 per 500ml bottle. You can find out more about More Vitamin Drinks on their website.

More Drinks

Note: I was sent the bottles (pictured) of More Vitamin Drinks for review purposes, all images and opinions are my own.

Appy Juice – a review

My brother and I grew up in the 1980s. A time when food covered in neon orange breadcrumbs was the norm (crispy pancakes anyone?). The juice we drank wasn’t fresh, but came in huge bottles and was essentially orange flavoured chemicals, designed to make children bounce off the walls and their teeth turn a funny colour and then fall out. Thankfully times have changed. As a nation we try and eat and drink good things, and as a parent I try and give those good things to my son.

We were sent a selection of juices to try from Appy Food and Drinks. I’d never heard of them before, so I did a little reading (I Googled them, no one reads anymore, sheesh). They’re a pretty new company, but they make all of the juices from natural ingredients and strive to make them low in calories, low in sugars (they sweeten with stevia) and free from artificial colours and flavourings. Their juices are approved by the Vegetarian Society, are vegan friendly and are approved by leading nutritionist Jenny Tschiesche.

Appy juice

We were sent four of their juice products to try –
Peppa Pig Apple & Summer Berries fruit drink (tetra pack)
SpongeBob SquarePants Orange & Pineapple fruit drink (tetra pack)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Apple & Blackcurrant fruit drink (pouch)
Dora the Explorer Mixed Berries fruit drink (pouch)

They were really colourful and obviously appealing to young children. Each day when I pick him up from the school nursery, I bring a drink for him to have while we walk home. I’m never really sure how much he’s had to drink while he’s there and I like him to have at least one portion of juice a day, as it counts towards his five a day.

Over a couple of weeks he tried them all, he really loved the Peppa Pig juice and the Turtles one, he liked Dora but was less keen on SpongeBob, but I think that’s because he doesn’t like pineapple, so I took one for the team and had those ones, they’re handy for taking out, for lunch boxes and the pouches stay cool for longer.

Appy juice

They were quite sweet and fruity, a bit too sweet for my own personal tastes, so we did decant a few into a big cup and water them down a little, which had the benefit of making them go a bit further. We’re used to watered down juices at home anyway. The juice boxes were a nice treat after a busy day at nursery and he liked showing off his Peppa Pig juice in the playground too.

Each 200ml juice box contains around 15 calories and the small boy really enjoyed them. I’ve seen them in Tesco’s and I believe you can also get them from Ocado and various other supermarkets and shops. They’re £1.99 for four juice boxes which seems a good price for something made to these standards, with no artificial colours, flavourings and natural sugars.

The packaging is incredibly attractive to children, I think the Peppa Pig one is his favourite because he really loves Peppa. The boxes the drinks come in have various cut out and colour in activities which does add a bit of value and interest. It’s all recyclable too.

We do really like the Appy drinks, I think we’ll buy them as and when we see them for our walk home from nursery. They are on the sweet side, but I find most drinks aimed at children are these days anyway. My tip is to water them down, it makes them go further and dilutes some of the sweetness.

Note: We were sent these juices from Appy Food & Drink free of charge for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: What is Just Drink Aloe like?

I’ve never been one for New Year resolutions, or falling for that ‘New Year – New You’ nonsense. But I think after the heavy duty gorging over Christmas, it’s natural to want to eat things which may contain traces of salad. I was feeling a bit run down and cream filled after the festivities, so a few healthy changes were required. Fortuitously I was sent some Aloe Vera juice from Just Drink Aloe to review. So what did I think?

Just Drink Aloe sent me the mango, strawberry and lychee flavours, though they also make pomegranate, passion-fruit and original flavoured juices. Each bottle contains 500ml and a serving is 100ml. I decided to drink one serving of Just Drink Aloe a day to see how I’d get on.

Just Drink Aloe

To the uninitiated Aloe Vera juice can seem a bit alien. It’s a clear-ish juice with bits of Aloe pulp in it. It’s hard to describe, but my best advice would be try it a few times before making your mind up, because it might take a bit of getting used to.

I started with the mango flavour, it didn’t have a strong smell and it tasted nicely of mango but was not overpowering. It was a refreshing way to wake up in the morning. I suspect the Just Drink Aloe mango flavour would make a nice ice lolly.

The strawberry flavour was the one I was least looking forward to. I don’t like strawberries (yes I know I’m weird). This had a stronger smell than the mango and unsurprisingly it tasted like strawberry juice, it was quite delicate. I could drink it for the five days but it wasn’t for me, I just can’t get along with strawberries. If you love strawberries though you’ll probably like this.

My favourite flavour was the lychee. I wasn’t sure what to expect really, but what I got was a lovely delicate, almost rose flavoured drink. I literally couldn’t keep my hands off it. Every time I went near the fridge I’d be sloshing a bit in a glass. Sweet but not too sweet, the lychee did not last the five days it was supposed to which was entirely my fault. Oops.

Just Drink Aloe

Update 2017: Just Drink Aloe have added two new flavours to their range Hawaiian Pineapple & Coconut and Tropical Passion Fruit, Mango & Orange. These are a interesting addition to the range and I was especially fond of the Tropical Passion Fruit, Mango & Orange, whereas my husband preferred the Hawaiian Pineapple & Coconut. Both are true to the brand, fruity, sweet and packed with Aloe Vera pieces, which personally is something I enjoy.

Review: What is Just Drink Aloe like?

Just Drink Aloe drinks have no artificial preservatives, no artificial colours or flavours and are made from fresh juice and pulp, not powder. They contain just 27 calories per 100ml serving and are apparently an excellent source of vitamin C. Aloe Vera juice has long been associated with a range of health benefits including balancing the immune system, encouraging a healthy (and regular) gut and digestive system, improving the condition of skin and hair, healthy joints and lots more.

It’s difficult to gauge in just two weeks the effect of drinking Just Drink Aloe juice on me. But my digestive system wasn’t as sluggish as usual and my skin looked a bit brighter too. I felt that if I continued drinking 100mls a day over a period of time then I’d see a bigger difference. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals, so I’d much rather have a slug of aloe juice every morning than a handful of vitamin tablets, especially with the other benefits which aloe gives you in terms of digestion etc.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for their lychee flavour (I’m addicted now). So if you spot any, do let me know!

You can find out more about Just Drink Aloe on their website.

Note: I was sent these Just Drink Aloe drinks for review purposes. All images and opinions are my own.

Chocolate Peanut Hottie….. More boozy milkshakes!

In February I got to try out some Peanut Hottie. As a hot drink it’s warming, satisfying and a bit of a low-calorie treat, but me being me, I ended up making some pretty sexy, dirty, boozy, Peanut Hottie & bourbon milkshakes with it. Of course I blogged it and it is now without question one of my most popular blog posts. Turns out you lot love a dirty milkshake!

Last week I got my paws on some CHOCOLATE Peanut Hottie. Yup, you read that right. It’s like hot chocolate with a dollop of peanut butter stirred through it. Delicious, a little bit naughty and still only 83 calories a mug. But what could I do with this Chocolate Peanut Hottie? There was only one answer, make a milkshake and add booze! So I did.

chocolate peanut hottie

First off, for the small boy who was stood in the kitchen bellowing “I want a milkshake pleeeease!” I made a non-alcoholic version…

Chocolate Peanut Hottie Milkshake (serves one)
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
4 teaspoons of Chocolate Peanut Hottie
350mls of milk

Put it all in a blender and whiz up for a minute, pour it into a glass, you can top it with squirty cream and a peanutty treat if you’re being fancy, I added a slice of a Snickers bar.

I spent ages thinking about what I should slosh into my milkshake, I did consider bourbon, which would still work a treat, but I wanted something different to what I’d had before. Amaretto (a delicious almond flavour liqueur) seemed a pretty good choice, I figured the nutty flavours would really work with the Chocolate Peanut Hottie and I was not wrong.

Chocolate Peanut Hottie & Amaretto Milkshake (serves one)
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
4 teaspoons of Chocolate Peanut Hottie
2 shots of Amaretto liqueur
350mls of milk

Again, put everything in a blender and whiz it up for a minute. Pour it into a glass, add squirty cream and your slice of Snickers (only if you’re being fancy) and enjoy.

I used vanilla ice cream, but if you wanted to boost the chocolately flavours you could use chocolate ice cream, or a scoop of vanilla and a scoop of chocolate would be good too.

Chocolate Peanut Hottie

I have to say it was excellent, Peanut Hottie works so well in milkshakes and it does have fewer calories than just dolloping in actual peanut butter, though I guess if you’re drinking this you’re less concerned about calories and more concerned about putting awesome things in your mouth. And by god, this is an awesome thing.

You can find Peanut Hottie in Sainbury’s, Waitrose, Booths and Tesco.

Note: I was sent a jar of Chocolate Peanut Hottie free of charge for review purposes. All images and opinions are my own.

York Coffee Emporium – gourmet coffee

My love of a good brew is not a secret, we recently put our gorgeous retro coffee grinder on our kitchen wall and we were desperate to use it, with a degree of perfect timing we were sent some lovely beans from York Coffee Emporium to try.

The beans we were sent were Ethiopian Kaffa Forest beans and had been freshly roasted in York. Just grinding the beans made the house smell absolutely incredible (if you’re trying to sell your house, don’t bother making a pot of coffee, grind the beans instead, it’s just fantastic).

My friend has a cafe which is well known for its tea, but when I visit him we always drink pot after pot of good strong coffee, so I was keen to try it out with him.

We brewed the coffee and it smelt beautiful, the flavour was mellow, almost chocolatey caramel, it’s a really easy drinking coffee and perfect for weekend drinking whilst leisurely reading the papers. The Ethiopian Kaffa was described on the packet as having “lovely floral notes, delicious juicy apricot, forest honey and tongue hugging caramel”, we didn’t really get the apricot, but it was a delightfully soothing mocha-caramel brew.

I fancied something sweet, so we made a little take on affogato. Traditionally it’s a shot of espresso poured over vanilla gelato or ice cream, sometimes with a liqueur poured over the top. Bereft of liqueur I sweetened a shot of the Ethiopian Kaffa with sugar and poured it over some ice cream, it was delicious, admittedly not the traditional affogato, but close enough for a daytime treat.

The Ethiopian Kaffa is a bit deceptive, it doesn’t taste super-strong, in fact we both drank double the amount of coffee we normally would, it’s so mellow and buttery and easy to drink. York Coffee Emporium give this a 4/5 strength rating, and as I type this a good two hours after drinking two pots I’m feeling a lovely coffee buzz. Do not be deceived by it.

It’s a lovely cuppa and I’m looking forward to enjoying it again whilst perusing the Sunday papers. I’ll most definitely be ordering from York Coffee Emporium again, I’m pretty keen to try a few of their other roasts and blends, my coffee loving cafe owning friend was impressed enough to say he’d stock it, so it must be good!

York coffee emporium

Note: I was sent a bag of Ethiopian Kaffa Forest beans free of charge from York Coffee Emporium for review purposes. All images and opinions are my own.

Quick & Easy Malteser Milkshakes

One of  the most popular posts I’ve ever written on this blog were some recipes for peanut butter milkshakes. They were incredibly good, but they also contained a healthy slug of bourbon, which made them a bit adult. Today we fancied a sweet treat, so we raided the cupboards and made this delicious Malteser Milkshake.

Malteaser milkshake

Here’s what we did…
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
1 packet of maltesers
350mls of milk
Squirty cream

Whizz the maltesers up in a blender until they’re crumbs (but not too fine, you still want a hint of crunch), add the ice cream and the milk and whizz up together until blended. Pour into a glass and top with squirty cream and decorate with whatever you fancy, I put a couple of maltesers aside and popped them on top.

Many hands make light work, so I enlisted the help of the small boy to help make the milkshake. As you can see from his little face he was pretty happy with his milkshake.

What’s your favourite milkshake?

Fruity & Refreshing Iced Tea Recipes

When the the sun’s out and the mercury is rising there are two drinks I crave, shandy in a beer garden, or a large cool glass of iced tea. I usually buy the ready made iced teas and pour them over ice, but when Redbush sent me a selection of teas to sample I thought I’d try to make my own Redbush iced tea. It was ridiculously easy to make, so much so I won’t be buying the ready made stuff again.

redbush iced tea

Redbush & Peach Iced Tea
600mls boiling water
2 Redbush tea bags
4 teaspoons of runny honey
Half a lemon
I large sprig of fresh mint
I large, ripe peach

Method

  1. Pour 600mls of boiling water into a jug, add two Redbush tea bags, cut a thick slice of lemon (approx 1.5cm thick) and drop it into the tea, add the honey and leave to steep for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. After 5 minutes remove the tea bags. Push the ripe peach though a sieve and add the sieved peach juice to the tea. Drop in the mint sprig and stir. Taste and add more honey if you’d like. Leave to chill in the fridge until cool.
  3. When you’re about to serve remove the mint and lemon and pour the tea over lots of ice. Garnish with a slice of peach and a slice of lemon.

Citrus Redbush & Lemon Iced Tea
600mls boiling water
2 Citrus Redbush tea bags
5 teaspoons of runny honey
Half a lemon

Method

  1. Pour 600mls of boiling water into a jug, add two Citrus Redbush tea bags, cut a thick slice of lemon (approx 1.5cm thick) and drop it into the tea, add the honey and leave to steep for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. After 5 minutes remove the tea bags. Taste and add more honey if you’d like. Leave to chill in the fridge until cool.
  3. To serve pour the tea over lots of ice. Garnish with a slice of lemon.

redbush iced tea

I’ve now got the homemade iced tea bug. I’m loving coming up with new ideas for what to make next. I’m a total convert to using Redbush Tea in these delicious iced drinks. I love that they’re caffeine free, packed with antioxidants and have a raft of other health benefits; but most of all, I love that they’re so easy to make and you know exactly what you’re putting into them.

Note: Redbush Tea sent me some products to try for review purposes. I couldn’t be bothered writing a review (sorry Redbush) it was too hot and I thought we might all prefer some nice iced tea instead. Yay!

All aboard for the Gincident 2014

When the idea of a night out on a canal boat drinking gin cocktails was mooted, I had some flashbacks of a 6th Form canal boat holiday I went on in 1992. It was an eventful week in which hearts were broken, canal boats smashed into bridges and double denim was the fashion du jour. Thankfully none of the above happened at Gincident 2014. Thankfully.

We boarded the good ship L.S. Lowry at Castlefield and chugged our way to Media City and back. We enjoyed the splendid views of Salford Quays, the photographic highlight being Blue Peter studios. It was sadly, a grey and drizzly evening, but that didn’t dampen our spirits.

image

Hosted by head liquorist Tom; we weighed anchor clutching probably my favourite drink of the evening, for I am a girl of simple tastes, a gin and tonic. This being a Liquorists Gincident, it wasn’t a bog standard G&T; made with Scottish Caorunn Gin, fevertree elderflower tonic and garnished with slices of red apple, it was wonderfully refreshing and an all round big hit. Caorunn is made from a blend of six traditional gin botanicals and five Celtic botanicals which were only enhanced by mixing it with elderflower tonic and sliced red apple.

Gincident 2014

Next up, while the barge approached Pomona lock, (famous for linking the Bridgewater Canal to the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Irwell) we sipped a twist on the Pegu Club; made with Opihr Gin, apricot brandy, fresh lime, bitters and orange bitters, this split the group. It was perhaps too strongly flavoured for us and our little table decided it would be much more drinkable if it was watered down, perhaps with prosecco. It was very orangey and a fellow gin-cruiser suggested it tasted like a Christmas pomander. In the end we agreed it probably needed to be drunk in front of a roaring fire in the winter and not on a barge in the summer.

We were then treated to some Thai food from local street food purveyors The Holy Basil; being veggie I had the Som Tam salad made from shredded turnip, with green beans, tomato and a heady hit of chilli heat, followed by an excellent veggie Penang curry with fragrant sticky rice. Served in boxes it didn’t look fantastic, but it tasted so good I’ve thought of little else since.

With the Thai food we drank a “Blue in Bloom”, made from Bloom Gin, blue curaçao, egg white and some other stuff (by this point I was losing my focus a little and busy eating curry). This was a real hit for me, it was refreshing and the perfect cooling foil for my spicy Thai meal. I’ve not drunk anything that blue and beautifully boozy since my uni days. Blue drinks make you smile. Fact.

Gincident 2014

After dinner (in a box) we met Alex Jones, the brand ambassador for Miller’s Gin who gave us a quick introduction to Martin Miller’s Gin. We then tried said gin in a cocktail called (wait for it) Message Gin A Bottle. Served in a blue bottle, (not unlike something the Body Shop sell shampoo in), this was packed full of fresh Sicilian lemon juice and an undercurrent of crème de violette, it was a twist on the classic Aviator but it was a little on the too sour side for me.

Gincident 2014

Next up was the Savannah Collins, made with Whitley Neill Gin and Rooibos iced tea, this was another opinion splitter, some loved it, some loathed it. Initially I wasn’t keen, the Rooibos wasn’t doing it for me, but a few sips in I changed my mind, it was light and refreshing after some of the sturdier flavoured cocktails we’d had earlier. I’d happily try and recreate this at home, perhaps using a tea I get on a bit better with.

Lastly (thankfully, as the barge was beginning to feel a bit wonky), was the Abbey Martini, made with Tanqueray 10, fresh orange juice and Martini Rosso, this was very orangey, my companions enjoyed it, I was less keen, but Tom, our affable host did say this is a cocktail which will split the room (or barge) and it did.

We returned to Castlefield and did what any good sailor does best, we hopped on a minibus to The Liquorists HQ in Redbank and had another excellent G&T. That is what all good sailors do isn’t it? It had been a most enjoyable evening, we loved, really loved the cruise, we tried a real mix of cocktails, made some new friends and got to sail past the Blue Peter studio.

More Gincident information and info on how to book can be found here.

Disclaimer: I was the plus one of another blogger, so my ticket was free of charge, but that doesn’t sway my opinions either way.

Peanut Hottie – Making Peanut Butter Milkshakes

Peanut butter is one of those love/hate things. I’m firmly on the side of loving it. I love it on toast, in salad sandwiches and a more recent love, in milkshakes.

I was uber excited when I got wind of Peanut Hottie which is a peanut butter hot drink like hot chocolate but peanut butter instead. Sounds weird. Looks weird. Is incredible. I know this because the moment the postman delivered me a sample, I put the kettle on.

Peanut Hottie
It’s easy to make, just four teaspoons in a mug of hot water, a vigorous stir and you’re in peanut butter heaven (or hell depending on if you’re one of those weird hater people).

With the sample came a note inviting my imagination to go wild, use Peanut Hottie in any culinary way I saw fit and to blog the results. I thought long and hard about this, then realised I needed to play to my strengths. Add lashings of booze was my answer!

My friend Lou has a cafe where I spend quite a lot of time. It is a lovely cafe with a massive selection of teas, as well as brilliant cake. Amongst those in the know (taps nose with finger) they also make pretty darn special milkshakes. It was to Lou I turned with my mad ideas, he had the equipment and expertise. I had a tub of Peanut Hottie and a crazy milkshake dream.

First off we tried Peanut Hottie and Caramel, here’s what we did…
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
4 teaspoons of Peanut Hottie
1 dessert spoon of caramel sauce
350mls of milk

Whizz it all up in a blender, add optional squirty cream and decorate with whatever you fancy, maybe chopped peanuts or a cookie.

It was incredible. It was really peanutty with a slight undertone of caramel. It was sweet but not too sweet. Lou downed his in about 4 seconds and he was really impressed with the way the Peanut Hottie powder blended. I loved it. It’s up there with the greats.

Next we tried the game changer, the Peanut Hottie and Bourbon
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
4 teaspoons of Peanut Hottie
2 shots of bourbon
350mls of milk

Whizz it all up in a blender, again add optional squirty cream and decorate with whatever you fancy, maybe chopped peanuts or a cookie.

This makes me happy just thinking about it. Yes it was boozy, but just the right level, it added a gentle background warmth and worked so incredibly, amazingly well with the peanut flavour, Lou was blown away. I loved it, I can’t ever imagine a peanut butter milkshake without bourbon in it now. It sounds wrong, but it is so right.

milkshake

I love Peanut Hottie and I’m pleased that it has fewer calories than the actual butter. However this is negated if you make a milkshake with ice cream, bourbon and caramel, but totally worth it!

What would you do with Peanut Hottie?

Disclaimer: I was sent a jar of Peanut Hottie to try free of charge with the proviso that I blog honestly about it. Peanut Hottie is available from Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.