Kick Back and Relax With These Summertime Mocktails

If you prefer a drink that’s light on the alcohol but still big on taste, there are a number of tasty summertime mocktails that will cool you down on a hot day. Forgoing the gin, vodka, or Prosecco doesn’t make these delicious drinks any less perfect, and they even look just as pretty as the real things. Here are three warm weather mocktails that are perfect for sipping by the pool.

Pear Sparkler
This sparkling beverage goes down smoothly and tastes sweet, but it also offers warm, hearty undertones more commonly found in autumn recipes. Pear juice is a unique alternative to the usual fruit juices found in most cocktails, and adding fresh herbs, ginger, honey, and lemon juice creates an even more complex flavor.

Virgin Grapefruit Mojito
When it comes to mocktails, many people prefer to take a tried-and-true cocktail recipe and simply remove the alcohol. This virgin mojito contains the same roughly torn mint leaves as the original rum-filled version, but it incorporates grapefruit soda and pieces of fresh grapefruit to give it a taste that’s all its own.

Mango Lassi
If you feel left out from icy summer cocktails like margaritas and daiquiris, you’ll adore this cold Mango Lassi. Fresh, juicy mango is blended with ice to create a sweet base, while buttermilk, honey, and cardamom add a warm, rich taste. For even more flavor, top with toasted pistachios.

Tart Meets Sweet in These Fresh Berry Desserts

Sweetening up the tart flavor of fresh berries with simple sugar is a popular flavor combination in many desserts, and it tastes especially appropriate in the summertime. There are a number of different ways to combine tart and sweet flavors, especially if you use a bit of creativity in the kitchen. Here are three favorite fresh berry desserts.

Strawberry Shortcakes [Martha Stewart]
Strawberry shortcake is made with a hearty, crumbly cake topped with sweet strawberries and a hefty dollop of whipped cream, and Martha Stewart’s recipe for individually-sized shortcakes doesn’t stray too far from the original. This dessert calls for just a few simple ingredients and about an hour of your time.

Berries with Mascarpone [MyRecipes]
If you prefer a no-cook dessert that’s equally juicy and decadent, a fancy pudding cup filled with ripe berries and topped with a sweetened-up version of mascarpone cheese makes a beautiful end to any dinner party. Simply combine the mascarpone with sugar, vanilla, and whipping cream to create the fluffy topping.

Blackberry Ice Cream [Coastal Living]
If you’ve never made your own ice cream before, you’ll be surprised about how simple it is to do. Using your own fresh berries cuts down on the additives found in store-bought versions, creating a decadent dessert that you can feel good about eating!

3 Brunch Cocktails to Greet a Lazy Sunday

From savory omelets stuffed with melted cheese to maple syrup-drizzled French toast, weekend brunch is arguably the best meal of the whole week, made even better by a sip of a bloody Mary or a bellini. Whether you're serving brunch to two people or twenty, these three brunchtime cocktail recipes will get your Sunday off to a great start.

Champagne Punch [Martha Stewart]
Not only does Martha's take on champagne punch taste great, it looks pretty in the pitcher. Her recipe combines fresh blueberries, raspberries, sliced peaches, ice, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a pitcher, then champagne is poured over top.

New-Look Bloody Mary [Bon Appetit]
This bloody Mary receives a spicy kick from the unique combo of sriracha sauce, horseradish, black pepper, and curry powder. Dill pickle and lemon juice brighten the mix, while celery stalks and lemon wedges provide the finishing touch.

Pamplemousse [Food & Wine]
Kick off your Sunday with this refreshing cocktail, which is relatively low in alcohol. The juices of grapefruit and lemon are shaken with gin and elderflower liqueur, then garnished with a basil leaf.

Unique Muffin Recipes You Can Bake at Home

From blueberry to chocolate, muffins come in an endless assortment of flavors for just about any occasion. Whether you’re looking for a nutritious breakfast treat or a sweet dessert, these unique muffin recipes will show you a number of different ways to make your favorite baked goods.

Easy Morning Glory Muffins
Rise and shine with these hearty, flavorful breakfast muffins. Full of shredded carrots, apples, and raisins and accented by crushed walnuts and spicy cinnamon, these easy-to-make muffins make a delicious treat to have with coffee or to toss in your bag when you’re late for work.

Apple Pumpkin Muffins
Perfect for cold weather seasons (or any other time of the year, for that matter!), these sweet apple and pumpkin muffins are filled with two of the most popular flavors. The warm, rich taste of pumpkin combined with the tangy sweetness of apple creates a flavor that is just perfect in muffin form.

Ginger-Lemon Mini Muffins
With a uniquely spicy zest, these mini muffins are better for pairing with tea than your usual coffee. The spice of ginger and the tartness of lemon create a sophisticated flavor that make this muffin recipe perfect for serving at a fancy party or giving as a gift to you foodie friends.

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Bake Bread at Home With these Recipe Sites

There’s something so satisfying about bread, whether it’s a crispy piece of toast with jam, a light, fluffy roll dipped in your favorite soup, or a crunchy crostini with goat cheese spread. If you want to make gourmet-quality breads from the comfort of your own kitchen, these step-by-step recipe websites will help you do just that.

Cooking Light
The Cooking Light website aims to make eating bread a bit more healthier, but just as delicious. Its Healthy Baking Guide features a list of the 30 Best Quick Bread Recipes, perfect for the busy home cook or the amateur chef. These breads are leavened with baking powder or baking soda instead of yeast, which makes their cooking times shorter and more manageable. From flaky buttermilk biscuits to zucchini-pineapple quick bread, you’ll find an abundance of fast and easy bread recipes on this unique list.

Better Homes and Gardens
Better Homes and Gardens magazine has published a lot of bread recipes over the years, but this is a list of their very favorite loaves. From Semolina and Rosemary Boule to Two-Tone Banana Bread to Whole Grain Sunflower Bread, these not-so-average breads are all delicious in their own unique ways.

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Ring In the Weekend With These 5 Pancake Recipes

All hail the weekend! Nothing makes Saturday morning sweeter than a tall stack of piping hot pancakes. Whether you like 'em plain with a side of strawberry jam or chock-full of inventive add-ins, these five recipes will please your palate.

Edna Mae's Sour Cream Pancakes [The Pioneer Woman]

Wild Rice Pancakes [The Pioneer Woman]

Good Old Fashioned Pancakes [Allrecipes]

PB & J Pancakes [Martha Stewart]

Crock Pot Blueberry Pancakes [Huffpost Taste]

Slow And Green: Vegetarian Cooking In The Crockpot

We all know how good slow cookers and crockpots are great for dealing with tough cuts of meat, but did you know that there are also tons of amazing recipes that use the device for vegetarian ends? If you’re looking for some fun new meal ideas, here are five to get you started.

Chili is one of the best things to make in a slow cooker, and it’s easy to do a vegetarian version. Use several different kinds of beans for hearty flavor and mix in a variety of chopped vegetables, including bell peppers, celery and kernels of corn. Flavor with paprika, parsley, oregano and basil and add chili powder to your desired level of heat.

If you’ve got summer squash, it’s easy to make a delicious, cheesy dish in the slow cooker with it and some cheese. Simmer the squash and onions in a pot until softened, then mix in the slow cooker with a bit of soft, flavorful cheese such as Gouda. This is an awesome side dish.

Some grains do really well in the slow cooker. One favorite recipe is mushroom, lentil and barley stew. This dish harnesses the deep and complex flavors of mushrooms to add interest to the lentils and barley. It’s a robust and earthy dish that is filling on a cold winter’s afternoon.

Slow cookers are exceptional for making applesauce, as they keep the fruit at a stable temperature and allow it to break down evenly without lumps. To make your applesauce a little more flavorful, try adding allspice or pumpkin pie spice.

A traditional French cassoulet requires a lot of meat to prepare properly, but you can make an excellent vegetarian version in your slow cooker. Soften onions and carrots in a skillet and add mushroom broth, bouillon and bay leaves as well as white beans. Stir occasionally as they cook.

Check Out The Mariners Staff Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to show off your cooking skills to your friends and family. If you’re lacking in the arena of cooking, perhaps you are better at eating. Regardless as to what your strengths are, Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday for everyone to enjoy the company of their loved ones. Take a peek at what the staff of Mariners likes to cook or eat each and every year on Thanksgiving. Happy Eating!

Michelle enjoys Pecan Pie:
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 cup light corn syrup
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/3 cup melted butter
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 3 large eggs, slightly beaten
• 1 heaping cup pecan halves
• 1 pie shell, unbaked, 9-inch
Preparation: In a large bowl, combine corn syrup, brown sugar, salt, butter, and vanilla; mix well. Add slightly beaten eggs and blend well; stir in pecans. Pour into the unbaked pie shell. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 45 minutes, or until set. Cool pecan pie and serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla

Natalie Enjoys Cooking Broccoli Casserole:
Preparation: Cook broccoli and rice according to
• 2 boxes of Uncle Bens Wild Rice (6 oz)
• 1 Jar of 8 ounce Cheese Wiz
• 2 boxes of frozen chopped broccoli
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• ¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese
• Dash of paprika
• Dash of bread crumbs
package directions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large mixing bowl, combine broccoli, rice, and cheese wiz. Pour mixture into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, until bubbly and lightly brown. 30 minutes into baking add the bread crumbs, cheddar cheese and paprika for a beautiful finish.

Yvonne Enjoys Making Turkey Gravy

• 2/3 cup of flour
• Turkey Drippings
• 2 1/2 cups of broth (turkey or chicken)
• 1/2 cup water
• Pepper

Remove turkey drippings into a saucer, whisk flower in for 1-2 minutes and add the broth and water. Keep at a boil occasionally stirring for about 5 minutes. Add fresh pepper. Pour into a gravy server.

Delectable Game Day Recipes

It’s an exciting weekend for NFL playoff football – with our own New York Giants taking on the Green Bay Packers Sunday at 4:30 pm! Try one or all of these delectable dips (recommended by the Mariners office team) this weekend during the game! Do you have a favorite game day recipe? Share the recipe with us and we will post it for next week’s NFC/AFC Championship games!

Natalie’s Delicious 7 Layer Dip

•  16 ounces refried beans
•  1 (1 1/4 ounce) packages taco seasoning
•  1 cup sour cream
•  1 cup guacamole
•  1 cup salsa
•  1 cup lettuce
•  1 cup Mexican blend cheese
•  4 ounces sliced olives
•  1 cup tomatoes

1.  In a serving pan layer the ingredients in this order:  refried beans mixed with taco seasoning, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, cheese, olives, and top with tomatoes. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping. Enjoy!

Michelle’s Mouth-Watering Buffalo Chicken Dip

•  1 pound of boneless chicken breast (2-3 large chicken breasts)
•  1 cup of ranch dressing
•  1 cup of Frank’s red hot sauce
•  1 8 oz package of cream cheese (softened)
•  1 package of shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Cut up chicken breasts and sauté until cooked.

3.  In large bowl mix together the ranch dressing, Frank’s red hot sauce, cream cheese and 1 cup of Monterey jack cheese.

4.  In baking pan, layer the cooked diced chicken breast and cover with mixture. Sprinkle extra Monterey Jack cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes and until top layer of cheese is bubbly. Serve warm with tortilla chips, pita bread, or celery sticks. Enjoy!

Yvonne’s Favorite Spinach & Artichoke Dip

•  1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
•  1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
•  1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
•  1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
•  1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
•  1/3 cup heavy cream
•  1/2 cup sour cream
•  1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.

2.  In a blender or food processor, place artichoke hearts, Romano cheese, Parmesan cheese and garlic. Pulse until chopped, but not ground. Set aside.

3.  In a medium bowl, mix together spinach, heavy cream, sour cream and mozzarella cheese. Stir in artichoke mixture. Spoon into prepared baking dish.

4.  Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips or small pieces of bread for dipping. Enjoy!