Homemade Sour Mix

Homemade Sour Mix is so easy to make, and is so much better than the neon green store bought stuff.

Homemade Sour Mix | A Nerd Cooks

Just like it says above: super easy to make and waay better than the store bought stuff. Stash it in the fridge and break it out whenever you feel like whipping up a cocktail.

You’ll need (makes ~3 cups):

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3/4 cups lime juice, freshly squeezed

The first thing you’re going to do is make a simple syrup. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water.  Stirring occasionally, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Remove from the heat and allow it to cool completely. Once cooled, pour the simple syrup into the container in which you’ll be storing the sour mix.

Add the lemon and lime juices to the simple syrup. Give everything a shake until well combined. Seal the container and store the sour mix in the fridge.

Stay tuned, because I’ll be sharing a cocktail next week that uses this sour mix AND the Rosemary Infused Vodka that I shared recently.

Homemade Sour Mix | A Nerd Cooks
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Rosemary Infused Vodka

This infused vodka is full of herbaceous flavor, embarrassingly easy to make, and makes the perfect addition to cocktails. 

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Rosemary Infused Vodka | A Nerd Cooks

Before (above) and after (below).

This infused vodka is so easy to make. It only requires a little forethought and patience (~5 days). It’s really fragrant and flavorful, and makes a great addition to cocktails.

Rosemary Infused Vodka | A Nerd Cooks

You’ll need:

  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3.5 cups plain vodka

Place the sprigs of rosemary into a jar (or other container that can be sealed). I used a quart Ball jar. Top with vodka. Seal the container and wait 5 days. You’ll see the vodka go from colorless to a clear gold/green.

And there you have it. You’ve just made Rosemary Infused Vodka! You can remove the rosemary from the container, or not. The flavor will continue to intensify the longer it’s left in the vodka. You can store the vodka right in the container in which it was infused and stash it wherever you keep your booze. I keep mine on top of our bar.

Stay tuned for a recipe for Homemade Sour Mix + a cocktail to make using it AND this vodka!

Rosemary Infused Vodka | A Nerd Cooks

Chocolate Cookies and Cream Pudding Cookies

These treats include a beloved flavor combination baked into super soft pudding cookies. 

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Chocolate Cookies and Cream Pudding Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Honestly? I’m not sure what to say about these cookies. What is there to say, really? They’re super soft, chocolate pudding cookies studded with white chocolate chips and chunks of Oreo cookies.

In my opinion, cookies get no better than this. Then again, I’m fairly obsessed with cookies and cream, well, everything. Check out the bottom of this post for more cookies and cream-flavored recipes!

Chocolate Cookies and Cream Pudding Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

The original recipe comes from Crazy for Crust; I’ve also shared Lemon White Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies, too.

*dough requires ~1 hour of chilling*

You’ll need (yields approximately 24 cookies):

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until smooth.

Add the pudding mix, baking soda, and kosher salt. Mix until combined. Add the flour. Mix again until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed. Add the white chocolate chips and chopped Oreos and mix on medium-high speed until they are well distributed throughout the cookie dough.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop ~2 tbs balls of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the chilled balls of cookie dough on the prepared baking sheets, approximately 2 inches apart. Bake 9-11 minutes, or until the edges just start to turn brown.

Remove the cookies from the oven and press additional white chocolate chips into the warm cookies, if desired. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Need more cookies and cream-flavored desserts? I got you.

Chocolate Cookies and Cream Pudding Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Chocolate Cookies and Cream Pudding Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Orange Creamsicle Crush

These cocktails are super refreshing and taste just like a creamsicle.

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Orange Creamsicle Crush Cocktail | A Nerd Cooks

The weather is warming up again, and that invariably puts me in the mood for a Crush. They’re refreshing, lightly sweet, and can be made in a variety of flavors. For example, I’ve shared Grapefruit Crushes with you before.

Thanks to the combination of fresh orange juice, triple sec, and whipped cream vodka, these Crushes taste just like an orange creamsicle.

Orange Creamsicle Crush Cocktail | A Nerd Cooks

You’ll need (makes 1 cocktail):

  • 1.5 oz whipped cream vodka
  • .5 oz triple sec
  • 2 oz. orange juice (freshly squeezed, please!)
  • lemon-lime soda or citrus flavored sparkling water (Orange La Croix is my go-to)

Add the whipped cream vodka, triple sec, orange juice, and ice to a cocktail shaker. Shake for 10 seconds or so, or until very cold. Strain into a tall glass with ice. Top with lemon lime soda or sparkling water. Garnish with an orange slice if you’re feeling fancy.

Looking for more warm weather cocktails? Check these out, too:

Orange Creamsicle Crush Cocktail | A Nerd Cooks

Orange Creamsicle Crush Cocktail | A Nerd Cooks

A Nerd Travels: Florence, Italy

Cover-Photo

So, you’ve seen some pictures from our time in Rome. Next, let’s head to Florence.

We took a high speed train from Rome to Florence. This is something that I really wish we had more of in the U.S. It cut what is usually a 3.5 hour drive down to only 1.5 hours.

Our first day in Florence, we did a lot of walking. Actually, we did a ton of walking each day we were there. I’m talking 20,000 steps a day without even trying.

We made our way to Ponte Vecchio, which literally means “old bridge.” It is, as the name might lead you to believe, an old bridge. It has shops (mostly pretty touristy stuff) along the bridge, which used to be common, but you don’t see it very often anymore. There we are, on the bridge. IMG_1370

The following picture is a view of Ponte Vecchio from atop another bridge further down the Arno River.

2017-03-08 11.57.51

Just like in Rome, there were lots of old, beautiful churches. This is Santa Maria Novella2017-03-11 17.04.29

And of course, we spent a lot of time in Piazza del Duomo. You can climb to the top of both the dome of the Duomo as well as Giotto’s Bell Tower, if you’re up for it. After some research and asking around, I found that the Bell Tower involves a slightly less claustrophobia-inducing climb. So we went that route.

You can see the dome of the Duomo in the picture below.

IMG_1366

This is the Bell Tower. 414 steps will take you to the top.2017-03-11 16.52.57

This is the front of the Cattedrale di Santa Maira del Fiore, along with the Bell Tower (on the right).2017-03-11 16.40.51

Waiting in line, looking up and anticipating the climb.2017-03-11 14.58.39

The climb up to the top of the Bell Tower is narrow, and can make you feel pretty claustrophobic. The stairwell gets more narrow the higher you climb, and gets to the point that it’s pretty difficult to have folks going up and down the steps at the same time. I took this picture on one of the small landings while waiting for people to go up the steps before we could continue on our way back down.2017-03-11 15.33.05

One of the great things about climbing the Bell Tower is that you are afforded gorgeous views of the Duomo and pretty much all of Florence.2017-03-11 15.25.05-12017-03-11 15.09.14

Aside from sightseeing, we ate so much fantastic food. In fact, I would say that the best meal during our entire time in Italy was eaten in Florence. If you ever go, please seek out Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori. It’s a small restaurant (make a reservation!) with a handwritten menu that changes daily. I had pasta with zucchini flowers and a saffron ricotta cream sauce. Amazing.

A Nerd Travels

Of course, even in Italy, Sean had to find an Irish pub and have a Guinness. This was right after we climbed the Bell Tower.

Lemon White Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

These pudding cookies are super soft and packed with bright, zingy lemon flavor.

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Lemon White Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

It’s official: pudding cookies are my new go-to cookie. They addition of pudding mix ensures that they are super soft, bake up perfectly every time, and can be flavored however you like. Want a more traditional chocolate chip cookie? Use vanilla pudding + chocolate chips. Is pistachio your jam? Use pistachio-flavored pudding. You get the idea.

Lemon White Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Beyond being delicious, lemon and white chocolate strike me as being a perfect flavor pairing for spring time. The sweet and tangy flavor combination is also a refreshing alternative to all-sweet cookies.

In the mood for more lemony treats? Check out these Pink Lemonade Cupcakes and Whole Lemon Bars!

Lemon White Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

These cookies are adapted from the recipe found on Crazy for Crust.

*Before we dive into the recipe, know that this dough will need to be chilled for at least 1 hour before baking.*

You’ll need (yields approximately 24 cookies):

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed. Mix in the egg and lemon extract until smooth.

Add the pudding mix, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined. Add the flour. Mix again until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed. Add the white chocolate chips and mix on medium-high speed until they are distributed throughout the cookie dough.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop 2 tbs balls of dough onto the cookie sheet. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two additional baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the chilled balls of cookie dough on the prepared baking sheets, approximately 2 inches apart. Bake 9-11 minutes, or until the edges just start to turn brown.

Remove the cookies from the oven and press additional white chocolate chips into the warm cookies, if desired. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Lemon White Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Lemon White Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Spring Confetti Blondies

Celebrate the return of Spring with a colorful, sweet, and fun blondie!

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Spring Confetti Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

These chewy blondies are loaded with lots of good things: chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, sprinkles, and peanut butter-filled candy eggs. Admittedly, they’re a bit of a sugar bomb, but I think that they’re worth it.Spring Confetti Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

I made these these blondies in anticipation of the Easter holiday, but, not surprisingly, couldn’t get it together enough to post these last week. Since Easter has come and gone, you can feel free to substitute any candy you’d like in place of the egg-shaped Reese’s Pieces candy that I’ve used. Think M&Ms, regular Reese’s Pieces, and so on.

These sweet and chewy blondies serve as the perfect backdrop for whatever candy or mix-ins you choose to add.

Spring Confetti Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

The base of this blondie recipe comes from The Cookies & Cups Cookbook.

You’ll need:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray and set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

Cream the softened butter and brown sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat until combined. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.

Add the mini chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and sprinkles. Beat until all of the mix-ins are distributed throughout the dough.

Press the dough into the prepared baking dish in an even layer. Top with extra mini chocolate chips and sprinkles. Lightly press the Reese’s Pieces eggs into the dough, distributing them randomly over the surface.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center, comes out clean. Allow the blondies to cool completely before cutting them into bars.

Spring Confetti Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

Spring Confetti Blondies | A Nerd Cooks