Cherry Gin Slushies

A few weeks ago in my inaugural This and That post I mentioned these  gin slushies by Joy the Baker. As soon as I laid eyes on those bright red beauties I knew I had to make them.

What held me back? Well I lacked other gin drinking adults to share with! My parents have come to visit and the opportunity to make a big batch cocktail arose, it was slushie time.

Joy uses fresh raspberries, frozen in her recipe. Poking around my fridge, I saw I had all ingredients minus the raspberries, and had really zero desire to leave my house again. But, there were frozen organic cherries in the freezer. Not remembering why I originally purchased them, they fit the bill.  All was well! Cherries are red, and delicious and probably just fine with gin. So I went for it.


Using Joy’s recipe as my guide, I subbed cherries for raspberries, Fresca for seltzer, and simple syrup for sugar. If you like things a little less sweet you could probably forgo the simple syrup. But I was going for sugar rush slush.

Now I am ruined forever and only want to drink gin in those slushies. Icy and refreshing. Sweet, but not saccharine with a hint of herb from the gin. Heaven. You can omit the gin and up the Fresca to make these kid friendly!

Cherry Gin Slushies

  • Servings: 4-6 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Icy cold, sweet, and a little boozy, these slushies are the perfect treat for adults at a backyard bbq during the dog days of summer.

Inspired by: Joy the Baker


  • 1 cup of ice
  • 10 ounces frozen cherries
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup Fresca
  • 1/2 cup gin (or more soda if making these non-alcoholic)
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup (omit if making non-alcoholic version)(also, you could use less, I like them sweet)


Add ice, frozen cherries, lime juice, soda, gin and simple syrup to blender. Blend until it reaches a nice slushie consistency. Pour and serve. If you only pour one or two at a time, you can add more ice and re-blend what is left in the blender to freshen what it left in the blender before serving.




Pork Tacos with Honey Mango Relish

Looking at that title I realize its not the most appealing name I could have come up with. But, that’s what they are. Pork shoulder coated in spices and tomatillo salsa slow cooked all day over a bead of onions, shredded and placed on corn tortillas. On top of that, a fresh mango relish. I realize many people would liken it more to a salsa, but the crunch of radish and the red onion say relish to me.


I had been in the mood for tacos for a few days but could not decide what kind I wanted to make. Ground beef? Steak? Chicken? A trip to the butcher decided for me. We popped into the butcher and waiting for me was this pork shoulder (aka boston butt). Once I laid my eyes on it my taco destiny was decided.

Fruit salsas/relish don’t usually appeal to me. I like my savory dishes savory and my sweet dishes sweet, rarely do I enjoy combining the two (except for the classic salt+chocolate]. However, I had a few honey mangos hanging out on the counter, and figured I would give this whole fruit salsa thing a go. Speaking of honey mangos, where have you been all of my life? I have never seen them before this year and suddenly they are in every supermarket. I’m glad for it, they are way easier to prepare than the mangos I am used to eating.

Anyway, the next time you find yourself wanting some tacos, or need to feed a crowd, definitely give these a try. If you are a savory fruit skeptic, give the relish a go, it definitely made me a convert.

Pork Tacos with Honey Mango Relish

  • Servings: It depends on the size of your pork shoulder, we had at least 8 tacos with leftovers
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Savory pork in a warm corn tortilla topped with a sweet and crunchy mango relish.


For the pork

  • 1 bone in pork shoulder/butt roast, mine was about 11 lbs.
  • 1 cup tomatillo salsa
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (I use pre-chopped garlic from a jar, it makes life so much easier. Probably the equivalent of three large cloves of garlic, chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • generous kosher salt
  • pepper

For the Mango Relish

  • 1 honey mango, chopped into cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 radishes, diced
  • juice from 1 lime
  • salt and pepper


The morning (or night before) you plan to have your tacos, prepare our pork. Lay your onion slices over the bottom of the slow cooker. Take your pork shoulder and cut diagonal lines into the fat on the top of the shoulder roast (you could cut the fat off, but I like to leave it on). Place the pork in top of the onions in the slow cooker, fat side up. Put the cumin, salt, pepper,garlic, and paprika on the pork, topping it all with the tomatillo salsa. Set the slow cooker to “low” and leave alone for 8-10 hours.

For the relish, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl at least one hour before you plan to have the tacos.

The pork is done cooking when you can easily shred a piece off of the bone with a fork. Place the pork on a cookie sheet and shred the meat. Feel free to add a little juice from the slow cooker to keep it from drying out. You could also toss come in a hot pan to crisp it up, but that step is not needed at all. To assemble the tacos, warm some corn tortillas over the stove. Add some shredded pork, and top with mango relish. Serve with avocado, lime, and anything else you like on tacos.


Strawberry Basil Lemonade

We have really enjoyed a mild spring (for Georgia) and the heat and humidity are starting to creep in. I loathe the summers here. Summer has never been my favorite season, and the oppressive humidity here makes it worse. But fortunately, we have swimming pools, air-conditioning, and this simple lemonade to help us cool down.


This recipe was inspired by a flavored water I started drinking when we lived in Italy. I would mash some strawberries with some basil and throw them in a pitcher of water in the fridge. The herbaceous flavor of the basil and the sweet strawberries perfectly complimented each other, delicately flavoring the water when sometimes plain ice water isn’t enough.


Being back in the Deep South summer reminds me of high school, sweating out on the porch next to the pool with icy lemonade trying to get the perfect tan. Though classic lemonade will always have a special place in my heart, I wanted to dress it up a bit, as well as use up some quickly decaying strawberries in my fridge.

This recipe starts with a simple syrup, both in name and execution. I brought one cup of sugar and one cup of cold filtered water to a boil, and gently boiled until the sugar dissolved. I threw in a handful of shredded basil leaves and refrigerated it overnight. I could (and did, just a bit) drink this syrup by itself. It is so worth the time and minimal effort, the cocktails you could make with it are endless.

Then I juiced some lemons, threw them into the blender with this syrup, some strawberries and a little water. A quick blend and it turned out better than I expected. Slightly sweet and tart, with a little something that doesn’t immediately identify as basil, but brings a smile to your face. My toddler also lit up when he sampled and quickly demanded “juice!” with a point to the blender. SO a definite crowd pleaser.

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

  • Servings: 4 glasses
  • Difficulty: Easy
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  • Juice from 4 lemons/a little over 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 5 strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 1/2 cup basil simple syrup
  • 2 cups cold water

For Basil Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 large basil leaves, torn


A day in advance, add your sugar and water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Gently boil, stirring occasionally until dissolved. Add basil leave, and let cool overnight.

When you are ready to make your lemonade, add the lemon juice, strawberries, basil syrup and cold water to a blender. Blend until pink and frothy, then strain into a pitcher or whatever you want. Add ice and enjoy!


Real Deal Banana Pudding

Living much of my life in North Carolina, I thought I knew banana pudding. Then I met my husband, who promptly informed me I was wrong.

Some people have strong feelings about potato salad. In other cases, macaroni and cheese can become controversial. What is considered barbecue in what state could be sacrilege in another. For my husband, that food is banana pudding. (For me, it is spaghetti sauce, but we will save that for another day.)

The delight that is boxed pudding, layered with overripe bananas, vanilla wafers and whipped topping on top? Do not even try.  Perhaps you whip fresh cream to add a little touch of homemade. Do not feed him that. Feelings will be hurt. Not that he thinks they are bad, per se, but they are not like what Nana makes.

Back in the early days of our marriage I scoured the internet looking for a banana pudding recipe. I would show them to him, but without meringue, they were nothing. This perplexed me. Meringue on pudding?  Never heard of it. So I decided to wait until we met up with Nana to learn from the master.


What was the secret recipe? TEACH ME YOUR WAYS NANA BECAUSE THIS MAN HAS SOME FEELINGS. Turns out, she just uses the recipe on the Nilla wafer box. The one place I failed to look. We made the pudding together, she gave me her tips, and the pudding went into the fridge.

I could see why my husband was sometimes disappointed when presented with another version of pudding. The homemade custard was satiny smooth. The Nilla wafers becoming almost chewy, reminiscent of the perfect texture formed when a chocolate chip cookie is dipped in milk before eaten.  The bananas, giving the pudding the slightest essence of banana, verses the sometimes over the top BANANA flavor artificially flavored puddings sometimes produce.  Topping it all, was the fluffy meringue, a light contrast to the decadence that was hidden underneath.

I was converted. In our house, this will be banana pudding.

So grab some bananas, some wafers and give it a go. Don’t be intimidated by the mention of a double boiler, I make it in a saucepan over medium low heat. Just like Nana’s.

This post is in no way, shape or form sponsored by Nabisco/Mondelez/ Nilla Wafers. It’s just what we use!

Real Deal Banana Pudding

  • Servings: 6-8 or in our house, 2-3
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Luxurious vanilla custard layered with ripe bananas and Nilla wafers. Topped with lighter-than-air meringue, perfect for any barbecue.

Recipe originally from the side of the Nilla Wafer box but you can also find it  here.


-1/2 cup granulated sugar+ 1/4 cup granulated sugar

-1/3 cup all purpose flour

-dash of salt

-3 eggs, separated

-2 cups milk

-splash of vanilla (they call for 1/2 tsp, I just pour until it looks good, I would say I am closer to 1 teaspoon)

-1 box vanilla wafer cookies (the original recipe calls for 45. Between snacking while cooking, and the fact that the cookies are my favorite part, I tend to use the entire box.)

-5 VERY ripe bananas


  • Pre-heat your oven to 350° F.
  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar, the flour and a dash of salt. Then add your egg yolks and milk. Stir slowly over medium low heat, until it just begins to thicken. This can take a while, I have never had the custard come together in less than 20 minutes. As soon as you feel the custard begin to thicken, remove from heat and gently stir to continue thickening.
  •  Ideally, I like to use a 9×9 glass dish, but you can use whatever you have handy. 9×13 is doable, but would result in a thinner pudding.  In the photo’s above I used a 9×13, and the meringue is not as thick as I would like.  In your chosen dish, place one layer of vanilla cookies. On top of this, a layer of thinly sliced bananas. Be generous.  Repeat until bananas are all gone.
  • Pour warm custard over cookie-banana layers, using a spatula to ensure it is evenly distributed.
  • In a mixing bowl, add three egg whites. Whip using a whisk, or whisk attachment on a mixer, until soft peaks form.  Add the remaining sugar, and then whip until hard peaks form when you gently pull the whisk from the meringue.
  • Spread meringue on top of the pudding, pushing the meringue to the edges.
  • Bake until the top of the meringue is browned to your liking.
  • Place finished pudding in the fridge for at least 6 hours, ideally overnight.