Several years ago when my mother-in-law celebrated a milestone birthday, we hosted a luncheon for her at our house. Since it was spring, I served my favorite warm weather meal: individual mounds of chicken salad topped with a sprig of fresh parsley served on a bed of lettuce, cherry gelatin fruit salad made in individual molds, raw veggies with dip, a basket of croissants and, as with any family function, fruit tea.
I wanted to offer another beverage other than soft drinks and water, but didn't want to serve punch since the only sweet item on the menu was birthday cake. I had recently attended an event where Cranberry Orange Cooler was served and decided to make it for the luncheon. Everyone loved it! In fact, it ran out before the fruit tea.
With summer fast approaching, I thought this would be a great time to share the recipe. The recipe uses four ingredients and takes only a few minutes to prepare. Like so many recipes, it's best made a day ahead of time so the ingredients have time to blend.
A lot of drink recipes call for the ingredients to be combined in a bowl and stirred until the sugar is dissolved. The directions for Cranberry Orange Cooler say to heat the cranberry juice cocktail and orange juice first. Out of curiosity, I decided to make a batch and see what would happen if I didn't heat the ingredients first. It wasn't pretty. Instead of a beautiful pink shade, I ended up with one that looked like this:
If you want a more aesthetically pleasing color, heat the cranberry juice cocktail and orange juice on low heat until warm; don't let the mixture boil. Pour the warm juices over the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice and refrigerate the mixture.
Although the beverage is served cold, it's nice to serve it over ice. Regular ice cubes dilute the beverage. To avoid this problem, freeze some of the leftover orange juice. You can even freeze some of the Cranberry Orange Cooler if you have enough.
You can use any ice cube tray. I prefer silicone ones. Not only are they available in a variety of shapes and sizes, the ice cubes are easy to remove. A quick and easy way to fill these small compartments is with a bulb baster.
If I want whimsical ice cubes, I freeze orange juice in ice cube trays with compartments shaped like orange slices. If you purchase additional cranberry juice cocktail, you can freeze some of it in ice cube trays with round compartments. The ice cubes would give the illusion of orange slices and cranberries, but without the choking hazard of real fruit.