Inner Chef

Enjoy your kitchen, your food and your inner chef

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Tracy’s Christmas Punch

Tracy’s Christmas Punch

Last year at our staff Christmas party, Tracy; our PK teacher made a delicious punch that I just could not get enough of! The taste was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. This recipe is extremely easy and will definitely make a lot! Here it is! The punch I am now addicted to! (Thanks to Tracy!)

48 oz. Pineapple Juice

48 oz. Cranberry Juice

Red hots (cinnamon candies found in the baking isle)  (I used a 3.5 oz. bottle)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Mix juices together and chill. In a saucepan, make a simple syrup by combining the water, sugar and candies. Stir constantly until candies have dissolved. Let cool and add to juice mixture.
That’s it. I divided mine in half because let’s face it….I am the only one drinking it around here.



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Coquito (Puerto Rican Egg Nog)


Coquito (Puerto Rican Egg Nog        Makes: 5 cups

(Saveur Magazine)


2 cups coconut milk

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups Puerto Rican rum

4 egg yolks, slightly beaten

Ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks for garnish


Blend milks, rum, and egg yolks in a blender until frothy; chill.

Pour into glasses, sprinkle with ground cinnamon and serve with cinnamon sticks

Saveur Magazine

Saveur Magazine


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Watermelon Cooler

Watermelon Cooler           9 Servings

3 cups coarsely chopped seeded watermelon

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves

2 cups white grape juice

1 tsp. finely shredded lime peel

3/4 cup fresh lime juice, chilled

32 oz. (4 cups)club soda, chilled

Fresh mint sprigs (optional)

Watermelon wedges or balls (optional)


1. Place watermelon in a blender or food processor. Cover and blend until smooth. Strain watermelon puree through a fine mesh sieve; discard pulp.

2. In a large bowl combine sugar and mint. Using the back of a wooden spoon, lightly crush mint by pressing it against the side of the bowl. Add grape juice, lime peel, lime juice, and watermelon puree, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Stir in club soda. Serve in glasses over ice. If desired, garnish with mint sprigs and watermelon wedges or balls. Serve immediately.

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Fresh Lime Soda

Fresh Lime Soda        Serves: 1

2 Tbsp. simple syrup (made by first boiling
together equal parts sugar and water,
then letting it cool)
1 ½  Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
(regular supermarket limes—aka Persian
limes—are the best ones to use)
¾  cup soda water
Lime slice


1. Fill a glass with ice cubes, then add simple syrup and lime juice. Add soda water. Stir well, then serve garnished with a lime slice, if you like.

Photo: Saveur Magazine

Photo: Saveur Magazine

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Chili Spiced Strawberry Syrup

Photo: Saveur Magazine

Photo: Saveur Magazine

Chili Spiced Strawberry Syrup    Makes: 1 ¾ cup

Use this syrup on ice cream, pancakes, or yogurt for that extra burst of flavor.


1½ lbs. strawberries (about 3 pints), washed and hulled
1½ cups sugar
4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 (½-inch) slice fresh ginger
½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
½ tsp. Sichuan peppercorns


  1. Working in batches, pulse berries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and stir in sugar, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, and salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Strain juices into a 2-qt. saucepan; reserve fruit for another use. Add      ginger, chile flakes, and peppercorns to juice mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until thick and syrupy, 30-35      minutes. Stir in remaining lemon juice and let syrup cool to room temperature. Strain and store in the refrigerator up to 1 week.


Combine 3 oz. syrup with ½ oz. apple cider vinegar in a tall, ice-filled glass; top with sparkling water.

Pour 1-2 oz. syrup in a chilled glass and top with a pale lager-style beer; garnish with a lemon slice.

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Peach Lemonade

With Haley’s bridal shower coming up next week; I wanted to serve something different for the beverage. I came across a recipe for Peach Lemonade and made it using fresh peaches (which was expensive for this time of year) and let the syrup cool for only 3 hours. The recipe calls for fresh peaches and to chill for at least 3 hours. The outcome: so-so. Not a lot of peach flavor came through.

The next time I tried it (for Easter Sunday); I used thawed frozen sweet peaches and let the syrup chill over night. The outcome: AMAZING! The peach flavor burst through and the color was vibrant. It was also cheaper to use the frozen peaches. Here is the original recipe and the changes I made are in ( ).


Peach Lemonade

Serves 8 if using 2/3 cup lemonade per serving


4 cups water

2 cups coarsely chopped peaches; approx. 3 to 4 peaches (I used 1 small bag frozen sweet peaches)

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup fresh lemon juice; juice of approx. 6 to 8 lemons (I used 4 lemons) 

1/4 to 1/2 cup additional water

4 cups ice

1 peach cut into 8 wedges, for garnish


In a medium saucepan, add the peaches, water & sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 3 minutes.

Very carefully pour mixture into a blender or food processor and let stand for approximately 20 minutes.

If using a blender, take the center out of the lid and place lid tightly on blender, covering the top with a kitchen towel.  (I used my Ninja and it has a little lid at the top you can open as well). Blend or process until smooth.  Pour into a large container and refrigerate peach puree for approximately 3 hours* (or overnight if preparing a day ahead).

After peach puree has chilled, press the mixture through a sieve into a large container, reserving the liquid and discarding the solids.  Pour peach juice into a pitcher and add lemon juice.  Stir until combined. Taste and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water to dilute if too concentrated*.

Serve by pouring approximately 2/3 cup of peach lemonade in a small glass over approximately 1/2 cup of ice. Garnish with a peach wedge if desired.

*I chilled overnight for best results.

*I added about 1/2 cup of extra water.

Inner Chef Notes:

Be sure to stir before serving. Best if used within 24 hours of completed recipe. When I used the frozen peaches; the recipe yielded a little over 2 quarts.

DSCN9120-001 DSCN9121-001

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Spicy Hot Cocoa

Spicy Hot Cocoa               Yields: 5 ½ cups dry mix

(Alton Brown)


2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)

2 ½ cups powdered milk

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste

Hot water


  1.  Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. In a small pot, heat 4 to 6 cups of water.
  2. Fill your mug half full with the mixture and pour in hot water. Stir to combine. Seal the rest in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry. This also works great with warm milk.

Inner Chef Note: I only used about 3 Tbsp. of mix per 8 oz. mug and thought it was plenty. I suggest you start with this and work your way up to more if desired.


Photo: Food

Photo: Food