Category Archives: drinks

What’s My Summertime Drink? Sweet Tea, of Course!

Sweet tea. It can make or break a restaurant in the South. And if you live in the South you’d better make it well and have it handy. In fact, the uber-prepared hostess these days has not just sweet and unsweet tea, but also half-sweet (half unsweetened, half sweetened). And some lemonade in the fridge in case anyone wants an Arnold Palmer (half tea, half lemonade). McDonald’s, ever the one to capitalize on a trend, even coined a phrase of their own for half-sweet tea: Half-Cut. Go on, go through your nearest McDonald’s drive-thru and order a large half-cut tea. Of course McDonald’s sweet tea isn’t as good as Chic-Fil-A’s, but they do try.

My friend Kim makes the best sweet tea in the world, and I’ve watched her make it oodles of time and mine is never quite as good as hers, but it’s pretty darn good. I think it’s just one of those “tastes better if someone else makes it” things. So here’s my recipe:

Run six cups of water through your coffee pot with a Lipton family-size tea bag in the pot.  Yes, I said Lipton, there’s no need to get fancy with this.  And the bag should go in the pot, not where the coffee grounds go.  Let it sit for five minutes or so, and then remove the tea bag in stir in one cup sugar (or Splenda or whatever) until dissolved.  Fill a two-quart pitcher with cold water and pour the hot tea into it.  Serve over lots of ice.  Do not refrigerate – that makes it cloudy.  My husband likes a wedge of lemon in his, but I usually drink mine straight.  This is a beverage appropriate for any time of the day, and any season.

*disclaimer: This is MY sweet tea recipe.  It’s not the way my mother makes sweet tea, or my aunt makes sweet tea, or my neighbor makes sweet tea.  Everybody has their own recipe.  If you don’t like yours or if you’ve never made sweet tea, start with this one and change it to suit your taste.  Just don’t add sugar after the tea has cooled – that’s NOT sweet tea and any waiter or waitress who suggests it is needs remedial tea training.

What’s your favorite summer beverage? Got a fabulous adult beverage I need to know about? A kid-pleaser you make by the cooler-full? Jump in and share it (or any of the other prompts) at Mama Kat’s Writers’ Workshop!

Kool-Aid Fruit Drinks For Your On-The-Go Summer

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias® and its advertiser.  #CollectiveBias #KoolOff
kool-aid pinnable
I love summer, and so does my family. My fifteen-year-old, John, has been an especially big fan of summer since he made his high school’s drum line a year ago. Why? Band Camp. Two months of long days during the hottest, most humid days of the summer . . . and he loves it. He spends time with his friends, learns a lot, and the band director and his staff take good care of all the students. They monitor the heat index and take the band indoors when necessary, schedule frequent breaks, and even provide hot meals during the twelve-hour days. The kids bring their own “bubba jugs” (individual coolers with spouts) for hydration as well, and John usually likes a beverage tastier than water to have with his meals.

break and smile

Enter Kool-Aid, with their vast array of flavors and multiple preparation options. In addition to the classics – the packet and the pre-sweetened powder – there’s also the little container of concentrated drops (so everyone can have the exact flavor intensity they prefer) and the newest addition: the 96 oz. Ready-To-Drink Kool-Aid bottle! Some stores may have larger, more elaborate displays, but my Walmart had a selection just inside the front door – the bottle was the first thing to hit my cart :)


My husband, Michael, was shopping with me, and insisted we had to get the Lemonade flavor. His excuse was that John loved lemonade, but I happen to know after more than two decades of marriage that it’s Michael’s favorite flavor, too 😉 As we browsed we found Kool-Aid in multiple places around the store: with other juices and drink mixes, in the ready-to-eat section of the deli (brilliant marketing idea!), and at the checkout. We ended up adding both Black Cherry (John’s actual favorite) and Tropical Punch (the flavor that just tastes like Summer to me) to the cart before we were finished. I meant to pick up some Watermelon, which I’ve never tried, but I forgot. It’s on my grocery list for the next trip.


We were shopping late in the day and as I unloaded groceries I remember thinking, “Oh, I’ll just get my pictures in the morning.” Not my best plan, because if you look closely you can see that the Ready-To-Drink Lemonade was already halfway gone by then!

products at home

So I made a pitcher of Black Cherry and a pitcher of Tropical Punch and let everything chill in the fridge until John got home from school. I suggested he try some combinations and see if he could make a designer flavor of his own. This is Black Cherry and Lemonade, and we both thought it was pretty spectacular – the perfect balance between sweet and tart.


I’d noticed a couple of special things about the Kool-Aid Ready-To-Drink bottle itself along the way. Its shape makes it easier to grip securely, which means fewer spills for the klutz in the family (that would be me). It also has a larger opening than a regular soda bottle. This came in handy when I wanted a pitcher of tea and both my pitchers still had Kool-Aid in them. I just rinsed out the empty Lemonade container and poured my tea in. Not a drop spilled. I’ll be keeping a few of these empties on hand to take to summer pot-lucks. I can fill them with our own Kool-Aid mixtures or tea, giving everyone an option other than the usual sodas.

Most important of all, though, I’ll keep a stockpile of Kool-Aid ready for John’s band camp this summer. These kids burn a lot of calories and sweat out a lot of fluids. With both my sons it’s been a battle to keep them from losing too much weight during marching season, and to keep them hydrated. I know the parents of football players, field hockey players, and cross-country runners are facing the same challenges at the same time of year and we all plan meals and snacks accordingly. Plus, a big glass of Kool-Aid tastes pretty fabulous to the moms and dads helping with practices. Sometimes we all look like this:


Jim Dillard, pro fisherman, could be coming to your local Walmart to help promote the new 96oz Kool-Aid bottles! There will be product giveaways, t-shirts, games, and more fun activities!

Friday May 30th 5-7pm:
13675 Highway 43 Russellville, AL WM Supercenter
Saturday May 31st 3-5pm:
3100 Hough Rd Florence, AL WM Supercenter
Saturday May 31st 6-8pm:
517 Avalon Ave Muscle Shoals, AL WM Supercenter
Friday June 20th 5-7pm:
1210 Mineral Wells Ave Paris, TN WM Supercenter
Saturday June 21st 3-5pm:
1225 Paris Rd Murray, KY WM Supercenter
Saturday June 21st 6-8pm:
809 N 12th St Murray, KY WM Supercenter
Friday August 8th 5-7pm:
360 Harbison Blvd Columbia, SC WM Supercenter
Saturday August 9th 3-5pm:
1326 Bush River Rd Columbia, SC WM Supercenter
Saturday August 9th 6-8pm:
2401 Augusta Rd West Columbia, SC WM Supercenter

Low-Cal, Low Fat Pumpkin Spice Creamer

I was intrigued by this Pinterest link to make-your-own creamers, but decided if I was going to go to the trouble of making my own creamer it had better be cheaper, healthier, and not too much trouble to make.

Here’s what I ended up doing:

Mix in a quart Mason jar:
2 cups milk
4 Tbsp canned pumpkin
1 heaping tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 Tbsp pancake syrup (lite if you have it)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp Splenda
Microwave until warmed (about 2 minutes on high) and then cover with lid and band.
Shake periodically as it sits on the counter to cool.
Refrigerate once it reaches room temperature.
Is it thick and creamy, like the higher fat, higher calorie version? No. But it’s very tasty, and I’ve found myself reaching for it every morning!
This is what the finished product looks like:

I used the rest of the pumpkin in the big can I’d been hoarding since last fall to make these fabulous pumpkin-cream cheese muffins.  The only change I made was that I didn’t go to all the trouble they suggest with the cream cheese – I just cut it into chucks and tucked a chunk into the midle of each muffin.  They turned out perfectly.

I’m linking this up to Oh, How Pinteresting Wednesday, The 52 Weeks of Pinterest Challenge, The Penny Pinching Party, and The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

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