Got tomatoes? Homemade bloody mary mix!

Burton Lap

My Frenchie Burton!

When I planted my first garden in May, I never thought that 6 baby tomato plants would become monsters and produce enough tomatoes to practically open my own garden stand.  While that may be a tiny exaggeration, I did get about 300 Roma tomatoes off those 6 plants (yes, I counted them).  That means those tomatoes cost about $.016 / tomato!  So much cheaper than buying them at the store.

Since I have canned tomatoes, ate my fair share of caprese salad, made salsa and marinara sauce, I figured I’d try something else this time.  Insert, homemade Bloody Mary Mix!  There isn’t anything more enjoyable on a Sunday than sitting down to relax with a Bloody Mary while watching the Vikings (lose usually) game with a Frenchie cuddling on my lap.  If you load that bloody up with cheese, beef sticks, homemade pickles and olives, you are set!

This recipe required quite a bit of peeling and chopping, but it was well worth it.  The Bloody Mary mix is loaded with fresh vegi’s, lower on sodium that a store bough mix and a healthy (O.K., healthier) way to have a cocktail.  I used the below recipe, but did still add more spice (celery salt, tobacco, Worcestershire) when I made the actual Bloody Mary.  It was delicious and made 3 quarts!

Enjoy!

What you need:

  • 10 pounds tomatoes, cored removed & quartered
  • 2 green peppers, seeds and ribs removed chopped
  • 2 red peppers, seeds and ribs removed chopped
  • 1 large sweet banana pepper, seeds removed, chopped
  • 2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, chopped (omit if you don’t want any heat)
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 4 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley leaves, diced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt (to taste)
  • Generous grinds of black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon Tabasco
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

What you do:

  • Place all the chopped vegetables in large pot.
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  • Add a splash of water, cover the pot, and cook until the vegetables are mushy, 40 minutes or so.
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  • Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  • Carefully puree the vegetables in a blender or food processor (you will need to do this in batches).
  • Press it through a fine sieve, extracting as much liquid as possible and tossing the pulp left behind.
  • Return all the extracted liquid to the pot.  Add the sugar, lemon juice, salt, celery salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Bring the mix to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.
  • Pour it into a pitcher, chill it and use it right away.
    OR….
  • Can it in quart jars for long-term storage.

Canning the Mix:

  • Sterilize 4 quart jars in the dishwasher or boiling water (it might only fill 3, but do an extra just in case).
  • Fill each of your warm, cleaned jars with the hot Bloody Mary mix, leaving a ½ inch head space (I like to use a measuring cup to scoop the liquid and a funnel to pour into).
  • Place new, clean seals on top and screw on the bands.
  • Gently place the full jars into the boiling water and process the jars for 40 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the jars and let them cool for storage (the lids should pop down which means they are sealed).

To make a Bloody Mary, fill a tall glass with ice, add 2 ounces vodka, top with Bloody Mary Mix and stir. If it’s not flavorful enough, add more spices to your liking.  Top with a pickle, olive and any other fixings you like!

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Basil Simple Syrup

Even though I made a boat load of pesto and have been eating caprese salads several photo-1times per week, I still have basil coming out of my ears.  I hate to waste any food, especially food I grew myself, so I have been searching for new things to try using basil.

When a neighbor came down and asked to use some basil, naturally, I was curious what she was using it for.  What she said blew my mind.  Basil simply syrup for watermelon cocktails!  Being that it’s a holiday weekend, that sounded like a perfect way to use some of my basil.

This took only 10 minutes to make and tastes lovely!  It’s obviously sweet with the sugar, but if you didn’t know it was basil, you’d have that “what do I taste?” thought.  While I haven’t tried it in a drink yet (it is only 11am), I am excited to give it a whirl when guests arrive.  I’ll likely add it to a vodka soda with lime, or even in a watermelon margarita.  It would also be yummy drizzled over some fresh fruit or over vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

What you need: 

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup loose packed basil

What you do:

  • Heat ingredients over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved.
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  • Remove from heat, and allow to steep for about 15 minutes.
  • Strain syrup.
  •  for about a week in the refrigerator, stored in an airtight container.

Starbuck’s Iced Coffee…with Bailey’s!

What’s my inspiration?
Starbucks had a deal where if you purchased their instant iced coffee you would get a free large drink.  That was all it took for my hubby Chris to bring some home to try.  It was actually a no brainer deal and now I’m confident I’m hooked on the stuff.  (Starbucks 1 – Melissa 0.)

Anyhow, this stuff is pretty dang good for the instant coffee lover.  And strong!  Personally, I love a little cream in my iced coffee and since I have a liking for Bailey’s Irish Cream and had some on hand, I thought to myself, “Self, why wouldn’t you try the 2 together?”.  I mean two things I love in one glass could only equate to a double lovetastic drink right?  Yup.  And so that is what we did.  All you do is make the instant coffee, pour over a little ice, add a touch of Bailey’s and turn a winter classic into a summer happy hour treat.  Slurp away friends!

What you need:

  •  Starbucks Iced Coffee – Buy it here
  • Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • Ice

Fresca Margarita’s

What is the inspiration?

Since an amazing boat outing last summer, we have been hooked on Fresca in Margarita’s ever since!  My good friends’s mother in-law added the Fresca to the traditional margarita and it makes a WORLD of difference.  Her recipe is a bit different than this, but either way, they are truly amazing!

What you need:

  • White Tequila (Jose Cuervo)
  • Margarita Mix (Jose Cuervo)
  • Triple Sec
  • Fresca
  • Lime
  • Salt

What you do:

In a shaker with ice, combine 4oz Tequila, 6oz Margarita mix, and a splash of triple sec.  Squeeze 1 lime wedge into mixture and shake.  Pour into salt-rimmed glasses with ice. Top with Fresca and garnish with lime wedge.

**Try with the Rib-Eye and Anaheim Chile Quesadilla