Enjoy The Last Of Summer With 7 Watermelon Drinks (Recipes)


By Cooking Panda

If you’re clinging wildly to the last few dregs of summer before fall officially begins, I don’t blame you one bit.

As much as I welcome sweater weather and warm, spiced drinks, it can be tough to say goodbye to pool parties, barbecues, sleeping in and that unshakeable feeling of freedom that has been hardwired into us since we were kids — even if we haven’t been able to take a real vacation in years.

Fortunately, you still have a few excuses to avoid acknowledging the start of fall for a bit longer as summer officially winds down.

A bunch of summery produce is still available. For instance, watermelon season is just finishing up (depending on where you live!), so there’s a good chance you can still stock up on the ultimate summery fruit, and what better way to enjoy it than to blend it or juice it into a cocktail?

1. Basil Gimlet Fizz

Does it get more stunning than a clear cocktail with frozen watermelon chunks standing in for ice cubes and big basil leaves floating in this super refreshing, light classic drink? I think not! If you happen to get a dud of watermelon, this is a great use for it, and if you prefer mint, you can definitely use it instead of basil — it’s delicious either way.

2. Peppermelon

Black peppercorn honey syrup brings a certain spicy zing to this sweet watermelon, gin and lime cocktail. It is certainly unexpected, but once you try this one, you’ll fall in love.

3. Watermelon Squares in Campari​

Does this count as a cocktail? I’m saying yes. Count on Martha Stewart to come up with the fanciest possible way to serve up watermelon cubes — by dipping them into bittersweet, herbal Campari liqueur. Delicious!

4. Spicy Cachaca and Watermelon Cooler

If you happen to have some of the spicy, fruity Brazilian spirit that is cachaca, make sure you save a little to mix with watermelon and jalapenos (feel free to use another variety of fresh chili pepper if you prefer your drink flaming hot or on the mild side), because this drink is FIRE.

5. Melon-Mint Sangria

Sweet melon and cooling mint are sure to keep your temperature down as you spit this white wine sangria on one of those still-sweltering afternoons.

6. Watermelon Vodka Slush

Feel free to use regular vodka and add a bit of melon liqueur, as it certainly makes the whole deal absolutely delightful. If you’d like, you can also make this with other, creamier types of melon like cantaloupe, honeydew or a mix thereof.

7. Watermelon Bloody Marys

This savory cocktail has all the usual fixings you’d expect in a Bloody Mary, but the addition of fresh watermelon puree/juice brings a welcome pop of fresh sweetness for a subtle change-up.

Featured Image: Max Pixel

Tags: summer recipes, Thirsty Thursday, watermelon cocktail, watermelon drink, watermelon recipe
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6 Fresh Seasonal Soups Perfect For Late Summer (Recipes)


By Cooking Panda

It might seem a bit strange to whip up a big bowl of soup in the heat of summer. It’s hot out, and soup sometimes feels like something hearty that will warm you on the chilliest night. I get it.

But the truth is that there are so many delicious veggies that are in season right now, and cooking a big pot of a bright, zippy and fresh medley of summer flavors will absolutely rejuvenate you. Plus, you can actually serve some of these soups warm or cold, so a few are even appropriate on the most sweltering of evenings.

1. Summer Seafood Stew

This lovely tomato and fennel stew calls for clams, cod, shrimp and scallops, but you can mix and match them as you please. Any white fish easily stands in for the cod, while the clams can be replaced with mussels, for example.

2. Slow Cooker Summer Chowder

I just love slow-cooker soups! They are easy as can be — perfect for a busy night — and you don’t have to heat up an already warm house just to make dinner. With corn, potatoes, herbs, squash and bacon, you get a hearty yet seasonal meal.

3. Spicy Chili Verde With White Beans And Optional Chicken

You can customize this versatile recipe to your heart’s content. Not in the mood for chicken and white beans? Use any kind of beans you want, and either forget the chicken entirely or swap it out for something like ground turkey (brown it in the pan first) or any leftover pre-cooked protein like pork or cubed sauteed tofu. This would be swell with some chopped summer squash as well.

4. Creamy Tomato and Orange Soup

Tomato soup has cemented itself as a fan-favorite for a number of reasons. Give it a summer makeover by blending in some fresh orange juice, leeks and carrots for some extra freshness.

5. Simple Summer Corn Soup

This healthy sweet-savory soup will fill you right up, and it’s easy to customize according to your tastes. All you need is a blender (or lack thereof) and you can give it two different looks: creamy or brothy. It’s up to you!

6. Summer Minestrone Soup

Minestrone soup is a classic, but let’s be honest. You’ve had it countless times in your life, and you could go for something just a little different, a little more exciting, right? Say no more. Grab your favorite seasonal veggies, a few herbs, a scoop of pesto, and let’s get cooking.

Featured Image: Leszek Leszczynski/Flickr

Tags: healthy summer dinner, seasonal soup, soup recipe, summer recipes, summer soup
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8 Peach Desserts Perfect For Summer (Recipes)


By Cooking Panda

In most places around the U.S. (except Florida — sorry Floridians), we’re right in the thick of peach season!

Go pick those sweet, fuzzy fruits from your trees! Buy plump white, yellow, red and purple peaches in bulk at the farmer’s market or grocery store!

Especially if you have a particularly lovely batch of them, peaches are delicious on their own, but if you want to change things up, here are some outstanding desserts you can whip up with the stupendous summer stone fruit:

1. Lazy Peach Cobbler

This fast recipe calls for canned peaches, but you’re more than welcome to use fresh or frozen ones — just double the sugar.

2. Ginger Peach Iced Tea Popsicles

Iced tea popsicles? Oh yes! Talk about a grown-up, sophisticated cocktail — if you want to make it even more adult, they’d be swell with a couple splashes of bourbon.

3. Peaches and Cream Cake

This dense, moist spiced cake is absolutely divine! It works equally well for breakfast or dessert, making it an ideal brunch party offering.

4. Peach Caramel Blondie Bars

The peaches go on top of these gorgeous dulce de leche blondie bars, but if you want you can also bake them right in to give the fruit a softer texture and toasty flavor.

5. Grilled Peaches A La Mode

It doesn’t get much easier than grill-scorched, caramelized peaches topped with ice cream — I prefer with pecan praline, but use any flavor you like. Perfect to finish off an evening of grilling!

6. Brown Butter Peach Cupcakes

The rich nuttiness of brown butter, the smooth tanginess of cream cheese and a bright pop of vanilla perfectly keeps the mild peach flavor front and center, especially since you mix actual peach chunks (fresh, frozen or canned) right into the batter.

7. Peach Roses

This dish is pretty straightforward and really quick — the only thing that might take your time up is slicing those peaches if you don’t have a mandoline. This is a fabulous way to use up a big batch of gorgeous, ripe, fresh peaches if you want them to be the star of the show.

8. Peach Cookies

These are adorable and look just like real peaches! The recipe uses peach jam or preserves (learn how to make that here) as opposed to fresh peaches, so you can serve these all year long!

Featured Photo Credit: Good Free Photos

Tags: peach dessert, peach recipes, summer dessert, summer recipes, weekend desserts
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7 Quick Party Snacks You Won’t Want To Share (Recipes)


By Cooking Panda

Craving finger food? 

If the summer heat is addling your brain and affecting both your appetite and your desire to cook large meals, consider whipping up a fun main course that consists only of appetizers.

It’s lots of fun, and you’ll love this one just as much as the kids do.

Plus, you can make a few of these and throw a party, because what better way to spend those long, summer evenings?

The salty, smoky crispy bacon is the perfect match for the soft, sugary dates with a nice nutty crunch in the middle. If you’d like, you can stuff them with goat cheese or cream cheese instead of nuts.

1. Waffle-Battered Chicken Wings

The best way to turn this favorite meal into bite-sized appetizers is by dipping the fried chicken in waffle batter and then waffling it. Obviously. Want to make it even easier to eat? Use boneless wings, chicken strips or nuggets and serve with toothpicks.

2. Puff Pastry Wrapped Asparagus

If you’re like me, you vastly prefer medium or thin asparagus spears to those really fat ones, which have a tendency to be a little tough and overwhelming. But if you see some, snag a bundle, because once you wrap them in crispy, savory puff pastry, you’ll want to be eating these with every meal.

3. Bite-Sized Baked Brie and Jam Puffs

Fool your guests by offering them this classy, slightly sweet snack. They’ll think that you spent hours on it, but in reality all you need are five ingredients and 15 minutes of prep time. Flaky, buttery crescent rolls really can do it all.

4. Bacon-Wrapped Dates

5. S’more Brownie Bites

Adorable and delicious! I could totally eat a whole batch of these all on my own. The brownie batter is really easy to make, although you’re more than welcome to buy boxed mix if you want to take shortcuts — just add about two teaspoons of vanilla extract to match Giada’s gourmet flair and go from there.

6. Loaded Totchos

Nachos are classic. French-fry nachos are great. And tater tot nachos are absolutely heavenly. Make sure you make these extra crispy, because they do tend to fall apart — that soft, greasy, crunchy crumble completely adds to the appeal, though.

7. Cereal Ice Cream Sandwiches

These make perfect little desserts or hors d’oeuvres, and you can make them way ahead of time and keep them in the freezer, which is great if you’re having people over and want to cut back on time. Kids will love to make and eat these too. Make mini ones for guests and hide some giant ones in the back of the freezer just for you.

Featured Photo Credit: Sam Craig/Flickr

Tags: appetizer recipes, finger food, Party Snacks, summer recipes, Tasty Tuesday
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