May 17, 2011

Thirst Quencher

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Margaret's Morsels | Cranberry Orange Cooler

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:

Margaret's Morsels | Cranberry Orange Cooler

Science isn't my forte so I have no idea what caused this to happen.  The beverage still tastes the same so, if you don't care what the finished product looks like, you can prepare it without heating the ingredients first.

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.

Margaret's Morsels | Cranberry Orange Cooler
A bulb baster's not only for basting a turkey.

For a ladies luncheon or shower, I like to use this ice cube tray with three different types of flowers:

Margaret's Morsels | Cranberry Orange Cooler

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.

Margaret's Morsels | Cranberry Orange Cooler
Ice cubes that resemble orange slices.

Cranberry Orange Cooler is a versatile recipe.  Not only is it a refreshing tangy fruit drink, the beautiful pink shade makes it an ideal beverage for baby or bridal showers.  It's also a good way to get your kids to drink juice!

Cranberry Orange Cooler
6 to 8 Servings

1 cup sugar
1 (2 qt.) bottle cranberry juice cocktail
2 cups pulp free orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice

Put sugar in a large mixing bowl; set aside.  Heat the cranberry juice cocktail and orange juice over low heat until warm, but not boiling.  Pour warm juices over sugar; stir until dissolved.  Add lemon juice; mix well. Refrigerate. 

© Margaret's Morsels

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