Lemony Sweet Tea Vodka

Homemade Sweet Tea Vodka

(Photo credit: Steve Legato)

Happy Friday! And Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Can you believe we made it to the summer after the looong winter we had? I think we all deserve a pat on the back and a fun cocktail for surviving all that snow.

We are still in California, so this post will be short and sweet. Also, next week Cheating Vegan is moving to its new home! I can’t wait for you all to see the new site. Check back on Tuesday.

Here are this week’s links:

Looking for a perfect Memorial Day dessert? How about this Easy Ice Cream Cake? Only four ingredients–and one of them is ice cream sandwiches!

I’m reading this book right now and loving it. Somehow I forgot about Curtis Sittenfeld after Prep, but she is so good.

Tragic.

I was so incredibly lucky to have Mary Morris as my thesis advisor in graduate school. Her recent Modern Love essay in the New York Times was beautiful!

I will be making a vegan version of this dish very, very soon.

How long would it take before you realized you were watching Cruel Intentions play out in reality? A real-life GIF in Central Park.

The eternal question.

This week’s drink is another excerpt from my cookbook, Edible DIY. Have you ever had Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka? This is my fresher, homemade version made with simple, all natural ingredients. The recipe calls for up to two cups of simple syrup. Start with one cup and add more to taste. The full two cups will yield a vodka as sweet as Firefly.

This is delicious on its own over ice, but I especially like it mixed with lemonade and garnished with a sprig of mint.

To make the simple syrup, simmer 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 1/2 cups of water until the sugar dissolves. You may have extra, but it keeps forever in the fridge.

Lemony Sweet Tea Vodka
Excerpted from Edible DIY
Makes about 8 cups

6 cups vodka
6 black tea bags
1-2 cups simple syrup
2 large, juicy lemons

Pour 3 cups of vodka into each of two 1-quart mason jars. Add three tea bags to each jar. Screw on the lids and allow the vodka to stand undisturbed for one hour.

Remove the tea bags (be sure to squeeze out all the vodka and add it back to the jars!). Add 1/2 cup of simple syrup and the juice of one lemon to each jar. Screw on the lids and give the vodka a good shake. Taste, and add up to another 1/2 cup simple syrup to each jar.

The vodka will keep for up to a year, stored in a cool, dark place.

Homemade Barbecue Potato Chips

Homemade Barbeque Potato Chips

Greetings from the West Coast! We made it in one piece. Highlights from the trip here included changing pull up diapers in the (tiny, turbulent) airplane bathroom, paying for Internet in desperation only to realize you can’t watch Netflix (tantrum), and when Owen threw his pacifier behind him like a bride tossing her bouquet.

We just might have to stay forever. Which wouldn’t be so bad, actually, because Northern California is one of my favorite places ever, and I got to spend the late afternoon yesterday drinking pink wine with one of my best friends in the world.

But enough about me. You’re really here to talk about chips. More specifically, these homemade barbecue potato chips, which are perfect for any Memorial Day celebration. Making potato chips at home can seem intimidating at first, but it is actually super easy. Plus, you can make them way in advance.

Edible DIYThese chips are excerpted from my book, Edible DIY. I’m giving away three copies! In the comments below, tell me your favorite grilled fruit or vegetable dish. At the end of the week I’ll pick three winners at random.

To get the ball rolling, one of my all time favorites ways to grill vegetables is to grill a cut lemon next to them, and then squeeze the smoky lemon juice over the top with a drizzle of olive oil.

I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

Barbecue Potato Chips
Excerpted from Edible DIY
Makes about 10 cups, enough to serve alongside 4 to 6 sandwiches

2 large russet potatoes
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Peanut or vegetable oil for frying

Fill a large bowl with cold water. Cut the potatoes in half crosswise. Using a mandoline, thinly slice each half into rounds. Transfer the potato slices to the water and let them soak for one hour. Meanwhile, combine the brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, chili powder, and paprika in a small bowl. Line a work surface with a layer of newspaper and then a layer of paper towels.

Drain the potatoes and lay them in a single layer on top of the paper towels. Let stand until dry, about 30 minutes. Blot any damp spots with extra paper towels.

Pour two or three inches of oil in a large pot, such as a Dutch oven. Clip a thermometer to the side of the pot and heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 375°F. While the oil in heating, transfer the potato slices to a clean, dry bowl and reline the work surface with a new layer of newspaper and paper towels. Line a large, flat plate with paper towels. Have ready a clean paper shopping bag.

Working in batches, fry the potato slices, turning once, until they are nicely browned, two to four minutes. Remove the chips as they are done with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the paper towel-lined plate. From the plate, dump the chips into the paper bag and sprinkle with a little bit of the spice mixture. Give the bag a good shake to coat the chips. Dump the chips out onto the work surface lined with newspaper and paper towels and let them drain and dry completely.

Store the chips in an airtight container for up to a month.

Vegan Matcha and Spinach Smoothie

Matcha Spinach SmoothieI’m trying something new here, a regular feature called Links & Drinks. On as many Fridays as I can manage, I’ll post a roundup of links to interesting articles, Internet finds, books, podcasts, and anything else I’m currently loving. I’ll also post a drink recipe–sometimes a cocktail, sometimes not.

In other news, I’m so excited to share that very soon I’ll be rolling out Cheating Vegan 2.0! I’ve been working really hard on a redesign with a new logo, mobile format, and bigger photos. I can’t wait for you to see it.

We’re off to California next week to visit family. Owen is so excited for his cousin’s birthday party–he’s been talking about the bouncy castle for days. I’m going to try to post from the West Coast, but we’ll see how it goes.

OK, here are this week’s links:

The Dowager Countess’ house is for sale! Would you buy it? Let’s take a peek inside.

My cousin Molly wrote a YA novel about a ten-year-old boy from a big family who dreams of making it into The Guinness Book of World Records. I bought a copy for my niece, but I’m going to try and speed read it on the plane before I give it to her.

How is it possible that women directed only 4 percent of top-grossing films in Hollywood over the last dozen years? The ACLU is getting involved, finally.

The decision to have Owen was so easy for me, at the time I didn’t even recognize I was making a choice. When and if to have a second baby is something I’m finding much harder. How did you know you were ready to have a baby?

Speaking of kids…what podcasts are you into lately? This one is my all-time favorite.

Beyonce’s vegan meal delivery service. A report from the frontlines.

I love this skirt so much I bought it in navy and black. It’s so comfy and flattering, and it’s perfect for weekends. Beware it runs big, so get a size smaller than normal.

I got a dachshund puppy four months before I became pregnant with Owen. After he was born, my parents took the dog “for a little while, just until things got settled.” I used to feel guilty about asking them to take care of her, but now I realize it’s a wonderful arrangement: For the Love of Animals.

Alex and I made these last weekend with my bounty of reposado tequila (I’m doing an article for Westchester Magazine). They were the best margaritas ever.

I’m thinking about a career change. Jobs I’d be well-suited for.

Matcha Spinach Smootie 2This week’s drink recipe is for my new favorite breakfast smoothie. I run five mornings a week, and I can’t eat anything beforehand. By the time I’m home and showered, I’m ravenous! This giant smoothie fills me up for relatively few calories (less than 300). Matcha (green tea powder) is the latest superfood. It’s rich in antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure. Some doctors believe it has anti-aging properties as well. My birthday was this week and I’m now solidly in my mid-30s—so I’ll drink to that.

Vegan Matcha and Spinach Smoothie
Serves 1

1 banana, frozen, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup loosely packed baby spinach
1 1/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon matcha (green tea powder)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-5 large ice cubes

Combine the banana, spinach, almond milk, chia seeds, matcha, vanilla extract, and ice in a blender and blend until smooth. (If the blender is sticking, add a few tablespoons of water.)

Note: If you don’t have chia seeds, you can substitute 1 to 2 tablespoons of oats.

100% Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

100% Whole Wheat Blueberry MuffinsLast Saturday my parents came to visit. Their train was late, and while I was waiting I decided to pop into this cute little bakery by the station for a cup of coffee. They always have a really nice selection of healthy(ish) baked goods, like oatmeal breakfast cookies and gluten-free scones. That day they had a wide array of fresh, fruit studded muffins…for $5 each.

$5 for one muffin.

It literally made me angry. Muffins aren’t even that expensive in the city! What, was it filled with Russian caviar? Was the high school student behind the counter going to shave black truffles over it before she shoved it in a paper bag?

I left without buying anything. Which is just as well, because the recipe I’m about to share makes the best muffins I’ve ever had, and it’s not going to cost you $60 to bake a dozen.

Ever since we switched Owen to a “big boy bed” he has been waking up very early in the morning, usually between 5:45 and 6am. On the weekends, it’s tough to find things to do with him at that hour. Something I really enjoy (after making myself a giant cup of coffee) is making something together that we can have for breakfast. Lots of times it’s French toast or pancakes, but we also bake a lot of muffins.

The day after we baked these, Owen told his teacher at daycare that muffins were his favorite food. Yay! Parenting win!

This recipe is from Cook’s Country. I adapted it only slightly, swapping plain yogurt for buttermilk because that’s what I had on hand. I’m giving you the full recipe here, but I actually halved it and baked only six muffins.

Sometimes homemade muffins can be disappointing because they come out so much smaller than bakery muffins. That is not the case here. These muffins are huge and glorious, filled with pockets of tart blueberries and topped with a shower of brown sugar crumbs.

100% Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Cook’s Country
Makes 12 muffins

For the crumb topping:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the muffins:
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups plain yogurt (or buttermilk, sour cream would probably work too)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberries

For the crumb topping, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, salt, and butter in a small bowl and toss with a fork until evenly moistened and the mixture forms small clumps. Set aside.

For the muffins, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Spray a paper towel with nonstick spray and rub it oven the top of the pan, to grease the part where the muffin top overflows.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the sugar, eggs, melted butter, and oil together in a separate medium bowl. Whisk the yogurt (or buttermilk) and vanilla into the sugar mixture.

Stir the sugar mixture into the flour mixture until just combined and no streaks of flour remain (the batter will be thick). Gently stir in the blueberries. Using a heaping 1/4-cup dry measuring cup, divide the batter between the muffin cups (they will be very full). Sprinkle the tops with the crumb mixture, pressing gently to adhere.

Bake the muffins until they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, until they are set and you can easily remove them without tearing the tops.

Strawberry Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Compote

Strawberry Rhubarb Vanilla Bean CompoteSomeday I want to write a cookbook called Back Pocket Desserts. What do you think? Would you buy it? It would be filled with recipes like this one—quick and simple sweets that keep for a while, so that you’re always prepared when it’s 9:30pm, your kid is finally asleep, and you definitely deserve a little treat.

I love anything strawberry-rhubarb—cakes, muffins, crumbles, crisps. But let’s face the cold, hard truth: we can’t eat baked goods every single day. This compote is the best part of those desserts, minus all the floury carbs. It’s like the strawberry-rhubarb equivalent of eating a small piece of dark chocolate instead of a giant brownie.

You can serve this over vanilla frozen yogurt, ice cream, coconut sorbet, or your favorite vegan ice cream. It’s also a great breakfast treat—try it stirred into Greek yogurt or oatmeal. If you don’t have vanilla beans, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. This compote will keep for about two weeks in the fridge.

Strawberry Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Compote
Makes about 3 cups

3 cups sliced strawberries (about 1 pint)
3 cups diced rhubarb (about 1/2 pound)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 small orange
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, and orange juice in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the vanilla seeds and split bean. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has broken down and the sauce is thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Remove and discard the vanilla bean. Store the compote in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Honeydew Agua Fresca

Honeydew agua frescaLike most kids I know, Owen is obsessed with the movie Frozen. On a recent trip to the supermarket, he spotted some bottles of water with the characters on them. Even though I’m generally opposed to paying for something I can get for free from my kitchen sink, I caved and let him get the Olaf one. When we got home, I opened it for him and he took a sip. I asked him how he liked his water, and he looked at me and said, “No Mommy. It’s juice.”

In fact, he was right. It wasn’t water at all; it was “Berry Frost Flavored Water Drink” with a laundry list of artificial ingredients. Oops.

So let’s talk about how to make natural flavored waters, or agua frescas (“cool waters” in Spanish). It’s a lot like making lemonade, only instead of sticking with citrus fruit you can let your imagination run wild. Melons, pineapples, berries, mangos, guavas—they’re all fair game.

The Broad ForkThis honeydew version is adapted from Hugh Acheson’s new cookbook, The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits. Usually I find chef’s cookbooks a little intimidating, but this one is super approachable. (There is a cantaloupe soup with curry(!) that I’m dying to try next.)

Honeydew Agua Fresca 2This recipe includes a full cup of lime juice, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a limeade—Alex didn’t even guess it was there. Instead, it’s just the perfect expression of melon in a glass. I didn’t even use a very good one (I’m literally the worst person in the world at picking melons) and somehow it still came out fabulous.

We’ve been drinking this topped with a little club soda, but I think it goes without saying that Prosecco would be an even better choice.

DSC_0971Photo bomb!

Honeydew Agua Fresca
Makes 6-8 cups (depending on size of melon)
Adapted from The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson

1 honeydew melon
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 6 small limes)
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey

Cut, seed, and dice the melon into chunks, discarding the rind. Combine half the melon and the lime juice in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour through a strainer into a large bowl. Puree the remaining melon and 1 cup water and pour through the strainer. Use a wooden spoon to press out as much melon liquid as possible. Discard the melon pulp. Transfer the melon juice to a pitcher.

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining cup of water, sugar, and honey. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Pour into the pitcher with the melon juice. Chill in the refrigerator until cold. Serve over ice.

Whole Wheat Vegan Graham Crackers

Whole Wheat Vegan Graham CrackersDo you guys remember that episode of Friends where Rachel gets called out for saying that her favorite movie is Dangerous Liaisons when it’s really Weekend at Bernie’s? That’s what I’m like with baking cookbooks. When asked, I say that it’s Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen. And it is a fabulous cookbook. Run, don’t walk, to the kitchen to make her ricotta pound cake and honey and pine nut tart.

But my actual favorite? Mom’s Big Book of Baking by Lauren Chattman. I know, I know, it’s so unsexy. But Lauren really nails all the basics, so this is a great book if you want a no-fail recipe for a birthday cake; any kind of muffin (I make her chocolate chip ones with cinnamon and sugar all the time); or classics from the cookie cannon, like snickerdoodles or peanut butter thumbprints. If you want to give one of her recipes a go, try this Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier this week, I’m having a moment right now with whole wheat flour. So this past Monday I whipped up a vegan variation of Lauren’s homemade graham cracker recipe. What I love about these crackers is that they’re not too sweet; they’re really almost like a biscuit. I’ve been enjoying them with a mug of tea and a little square of dark chocolate for dessert. I’m also ecstatic to report that Owen loves them! He burst into tears last night when Alex wouldn’t let him take one in the tub. (Owen won, and the graham cracker got soaked.)

Whole Wheat Vegan Graham Crackers
Adapted from Mom’s Big Book of Baking by Lauren Chattman
Makes about 16 crackers

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat the coconut oil and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Add the maple syrup, vanilla, and almond milk and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Gather the dough together in a ball and wrap in plastic. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand until it’s soft enough to roll out (I refrigerated my dough overnight, and I let it stand for about an hour).

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

On a floured work surface, roll the dough out with a rolling pin to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut the dough into 3-inch squares (I was less than professional about this and just sort of eyeballed it). Gather the scraps together and reroll to make more squares.

Transfer the squares to the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Prick the crackers several times with a fork. Bake until they are light golden and slightly puffed, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

The graham crackers will keep for about a week, stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Apple Rhubarb Crisp

Whole Wheat Blueberry Apple Rhubarb CrispI don’t mean to eschew responsibility, but I swear sometimes desserts just happen in our house. I wasn’t planning to bake anything last Friday, but I had a pint of blueberries in the fridge along with a few leftover stalks of rhubarb, and there were some green apples in the fruit bowl… before I knew what I was doing, this crisp was bubbling away in the oven and the kitchen smelled amazing.

That’s the best thing about crisps, crumbles, and the like. You don’t really have to plan them, because you probably already have everything you need–and if you don’t, you can improvise. I didn’t set out to use an apple, but I didn’t have enough blueberries, so in it went–and it was delicious.

This is the first time that I used whole wheat flour in my topping, and let me tell you, I’m never going back. Why haven’t I been doing this my entire (baking) life? It imparted a nutty, toasty flavor that worked so well with the oatmeal, and was a perfect compliment to the tart, juicy filling.

The topping can be made with either butter or coconut oil (for a vegan version). Serve the crisp with sorbet, vanilla ice cream, or frozen yogurt. I baked my crisp in an 11-x-7-inch rectangular dish, but you can use any dish that holds about 6 cups. An 8-inch square pan would work, as would a deep dish pie plate.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Apple Rhubarb Crisp
Makes 6 servings

For the filling:
2 cups blueberries (about 1 pint)
2 cups diced rhubarb (2 or 3 medium stalks)
2 cups peeled, chopped tart apple (about 1 large)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon

For the topping:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oatmeal (not quick cooking or instant)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced, or solid coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 375°F. To make the filling, toss the blueberries, rhubarb, apple, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Transfer to a 6-cup baking dish (such as an 8-inch square, 11-x-7-inch rectangle, or a deep dish pie plate).

To make the topping, combine the whole wheat flour, oatmeal, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter or coconut oil and pulse until the mixture is well combined and resembles wet sand.

Scatter the topping evenly over the filling and bake until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes.

Roasted Cauliflower with Romesco

Roasted Cauliflower with RomescoThe most memorable romesco I ever had was at Chez Panisse. It was in July of 2009 and Alex and I were on our way to Napa Valley for a wedding. It wasn’t my first time in Northern California, but it was my first time since food had become something that mattered to me. In fact, I was hard at work on my first cookbook, and I had lugged a printout of the manuscript across the country so I could obsessively edit and rewrite on the plane.

One night, we made a special trip to Berkeley for the sole purpose of worshiping at the alter of Alice Waters eating at Chez Panisse. Here is a picture of us. We look so young!

Chez PanisseWe sat upstairs, in the more casual dining room, and what I remember above all else is the amazing smell of the wood burning oven that drifted through the entire restaurant. I can’t recall exactly what we ordered, but I do remember a fantastic bottle of Oregon pinot noir, and the most perfectly executed plum tart–seriously, it almost brought me to tears.

And the romesco! We ordered shrimp roasted in that wood burning oven, and it was served piled high at one end of wooden plank. At the other end was a mound of smoky, nutty, brick-red romesco. I’d never had anything like it. It felt casual and elegant all at once, and you could tell that every single ingredient was of the absolute highest quality, right down to the grains of salt.

Since then, I’ve learned to make a pretty good romesco at home. This is my favorite version. For this recipe I served it with roasted cauliflower, but feel free to pair it with whatever vegetables you prefer. It also makes a fantastic dip or sandwich spread. Leftovers will keep for about a week in the fridge.

Roasted Cauliflower with Romesco
Makes 6 side dish servings
Adapted from Chow.com

For the romesco:
1 small plum tomato
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 ounces day old crusty bread (about 2 slices, or a fist-sized chunk)
1/4 cup whole raw almonds
1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

For the cauliflower:
1 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the tomato in half and toss it on a baking sheet with the garlic cloves, bread, and almonds. Roast until the bread and nuts are lightly toasted, 7 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the tomato, garlic, bread, and nuts to a food processor and pulse to coarsely chop. Add the roasted red peppers, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and smoked paprika and pulse until well combined and smooth with just a few chunks. (Romesco can be make up to a week in advance.)

To make the cauliflower, preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the cauliflower into large florets. Toss them on a baking sheet with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping the cauliflower pieces once, until tender and charred.

Serve the cauliflower with the romesco on the side.

Strawberry Lime Jalapeño Shandies

Strawberry Lime Jalapeño ShandiesYears ago, when I was just out of college and a newly minted New Yorker, I went home to Foxboro for the holidays. There was a Blockbuster (remember brick-and-mortar video stores?!) nearby, where my brother once worked, and where we rented all our movies.

When you’re 23, and live with a bunch of your friends in the city, a week in your hometown can get pretty boring. I rented a lot of videos. One night, feeling especially sophisticated and cosmopolitan, I asked the teenage clerk where I could find the Woody Allen movies.

And do you know what he said?

Who is Woody Allen?

Seriously! I mean, I know it’s Foxboro, and I know he was just a kid, but come on. You work in a video store. Woody. Allen.

I’m telling you this story because earlier this week a very similar thing happened. I had an idea to make strawberry-rhubarb lemonade, and then to mix it with a light, crisp beer to make a shandy. It would be pink and bubbly and perfect for spring. I could practically taste it.

So I went to our local fruit and vegetable store, this really cute farm-stand type place that has great produce, and also sells pumpkins in the fall and Christmas trees in the winter. And I asked the first employee I saw if they had rhubarb.

His response?

What’s rhubarb?

For real. My dream of the perfect strawberry-rhubarb cocktail faded fast. But I’ve watched enough Top Chef Quickfire challenges to know that when you can’t find a specific ingredient you need, get over it, shift gears, and make something else.

I already had strawberries and beer, so I still wanted to make shandies. But I’ve always liked strawberries better with lime  than with lemon. The lime made me think of margaritas, which made me think of jalapeño. And thus this drink was born. It’s not the one I set out to make originally, but it is still pink, still bubbly, still perfect for spring, and absolutely delicious.

Make it boozy: Add a shot of tequila. Replace the beer with ginger beer. Salt the rim of your glass.

Make it a mocktail: Swap club soda for the beer.

Make it not spicy: Leave out the jalapeño, obvi.

Strawberry Lime Jalapeño Shandies
Makes about 5 cups, enough for 8-10 drinks

4 cups water, divided
1 cup granulated sugar
1 jalapeño, chopped (leave the seeds in if you like it spicy, discard them for a milder heat–I left them in)
2 heaping cups sliced strawberries
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 6 limes)

Light-style beer, for serving (I used PBR)

In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups water, the sugar, and jalapeño. Bring to a simmer, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool. (The longer you let the mixture stand, the hotter it will get from the jalapeño. I left mine for about 45 minutes.) Strain into a pitcher, discarding the jalapeño.

Meanwhile, puree the strawberries with the remaining 2 cups of water in a blender. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into the pitcher, pressing on the solids with a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. (You should have just over 2 cups.) Add the lime juice to the pitcher and stir to combine. Chill in the refrigerator.

For each drink, fill a glass with ice. Add about 1/4-1/3 cup of the strawberry lime jalapeño mixture and top with beer.