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Healthy Recipes To Get Summer-time Ready!

Kelly McCombs - Friday, February 24, 2017

(Photo: fannetasticfood.com)

We have had some absolutely gorgeous weather here in NY the last few days, which has made us realize that Spring is right around the corner! It’s time to come out of that winter hibernation! We have put together a yummy list of some of our favorite healthy recipes to help kick start some healthy eating habits, to get you Summer-time ready!




Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry

Ingredients:

3 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2-3 T olive oil

1 can of tomato paste

2 cans of chickpeas

1 can of coconut milk

2 cups vegetable broth

5-6 oz spinach, washed and torn from stems

2 cups chopped onion

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 T chopped fresh ginger

1 handful cilantro

1 t cumin seeds

1 t coriander seeds

2 T olive or other oil

1 t ground turmeric

1 t garam masala

1 pinch ground cinnamon


Directions:

  1. Toss sweet potatoes in 2-3T oil and roast at 350F until soft. Blend until very smooth with the broth and coconut milk in a high speed blender or food processor.
  2. Heat 2T oil in a large pan and add the cumin and coriander seeds, toasting until just fragrant.
  3. Add the onion, turmeric, and garam masala and sauté for a few minutes until translucent, then add the ginger and garlic, cooking for another 3-4 mins.
  4. Add the chickpeas and sauté for 2-3 mins, then pour the sweet potato mixture into the pan. Add the tomato paste, spinach and cilantro.
  5. Cook until heated through. 


Salmon with Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce

Ingredients for Salmon:

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

4 salmon fillets, patted dry with paper towels

Ingredients for Dill Sauce:

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

¼ cup plain whole milk yogurt

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Directions:

  1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a baking dish and mix well. Add the salmon, turning to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 6 hours.
  2. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Place salmon (skin side down) in a foil-lined baking dish with sides. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
  5. Top cooked salmon with sauce and salt and pepper to taste; serve with brown rice and the vegetable of your choice.



Wild Rice Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 cup wild rice (any rice works, timing will vary accordingly)

14 oz. block extra firm tofu

2 tsp. coconut oil

2 tsp. soy sauce or tamari

fresh ground pepper

1 heaping cup thinly sliced carrots

3/4 cup cooked, shelled, organic edamame

3 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

handful of Chopped Cilantro or Pea Sprouts


Dressing:

2 Tbsp. white miso

2 Tbsp. agave nectar or brown rice syrup

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

2 1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 shallot, minced

Juice of half an Orange


Directions:

  1. Rinse the wild rice. Bring two cups water to a boil. Add the rice, turn the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed (about 35-40 minutes), adding a bit more water if necessary to finish cooking.
  2. Wrap the tofu between a few layers of paper towel or a dish cloth and set it aside to drain for 10-15 minutes. Cut it into a 1/2'' dice. Heat the coconut oil over medium high heat and add the tofu and sauté for about five minutes. Sprinkle the soy sauce and a few grinds of fresh pepper over the top and sauté another few minutes until the edges are browned. Turn off heat and set aside.
  3. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the rice, tofu, sliced carrots, edamame. Toss everything with the dressing. Add the sesame seeds and cilantro and give it another toss. Serve room temperature or chilled.



Italian Chicken and Veggies

Ingredients:

2 small chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup bell peppers, sliced or chopped

1 small zucchini, sliced

½ cup tomatoes sliced into large chunks

½ cup onion, sliced or chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder or fresh minced garlic

1 teaspoon paprika (optional)

salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients.
  3. Cut and lay out 2 12x12 inch squares of aluminum foil on a sheet pan. Place half the mixture on each foil and gently fold the foil around ingredients to form a tight seal.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with a side of rice or noodles.



Shakshuka

Ingredients:

1 tablespoons olive oil

5-6 eggs

½ medium brown or white onion, peeled and diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped

4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste)

Salt and pepper (to taste)


Directions:

  1. Dice the onions and garlic and sauté them on a deep, large pan.
  2. Dice the tomatoes and peppers (make sure to fully core the middle and the seeds). Sauté the bell peppers for 5-7 minutes until soft and add the tomatoes.
  3. Add tomato paste and stir until thickened. Add salt and pepper. Add in paprika and/or cayenne for as much spice as you like.
  4. Once thick, crack in the eggs one by one, making sure to space them out evenly. Cover the pan and allow the mixture to simmer and condense for 8-12 minutes, depending on how cooked you prefer your eggs.
  5. Once the eggs are cooked, the shakshuka is ready to be served with traditional challah bread and shared.

Sweets For Your Sweetie!

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, February 11, 2017

(Photo: kevinandamanda.com)



Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and now is the time to start planning out the day! Most people will buy store-bought candy or pastries for their loved one. Why not kick it up a notch and earn some extra points by making something from scratch! Here is a list of some of our favorite sweets for your Sweetie!



Red Velvet Oreo Truffle Brownies


Ingredients:

1 box (18.25 oz) red velvet cake mix

1 cup butter, divided

2 eggs

1 package (about 36) whole Oreos

1 bag (11.5 oz) milk chocolate chips (about 1.5 cups)

1 bag (12 oz) mini chocolate chips (about 1.5 cups)

1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy whipping cream


Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 baking dish with foil and coat with cooking spray. Beat together cake mix, 1/2 cup melted butter, and 2 eggs until fully combined and smooth. Press into the bottom of prepared pan and bake for 15-18 mins, until just set.
  2. 2. Crush whole Oreos in a sealed bag. Stir together with remaining 1/2 cup melted butter and mix well. Pour over baked red velvet brownies and gently press down in an even layer.
  3. 3. Place the milk chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a low boil, then pour over chips. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk together until completely smooth and thick. Pour over Oreo layer. Top with mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 30-45 mins to allow chocolate ganache to set up. Cut into bars and serve.

Chocolate Lava Cake


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup butter

3 eggs

3 egg yolks

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Powdered sugar


Directions:

  1. 1. Using the 2 tablespoons butter, grease six 8- to 10-ounce ramekins, souffle dishes or custard cups. Place ramekins in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan; set aside.
  2. 2. In a heavy small saucepan, combine chocolate and the 3/4 cup butter. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate melts. Remove pan from heat; set aside.
  3. 3. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, egg yolks, granulated sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Fold one-third of the chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Fold remaining chocolate mixture and flour into egg mixture. Spoon about 2/3 cup batter into each prepared ramekin, dividing evenly.
  4. 4. Bake in a 425 degree F oven about 12 minutes or until cake edges feel firm. Cool in ramekins on a wire rack for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a knife, loosen cake from sides of ramekins. Invert onto dessert plates. Sift with powdered sugar. Garnish with fresh raspberries and mint leaves if desired. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.


Peanut Butter Truffles


Ingredients:

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces

8 ounces chocolate-flavored candy coating


Directions:

  1. 1. In a heavy small saucepan, bring whipping cream just to boiling. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter, stirring until combined. Add chocolate pieces, stirring until melted and smooth. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. Cover and chill about 1 hour or until firm.
  2. 2. Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Use a spoon or a small cookie scoop to shape truffle mixture into 1-inch balls. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cover and freeze 30 minutes or until firm.
  3. 3. In a heavy small saucepan, melt candy coating over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Using a fork, quickly dip truffles, one at a time, into coating. Draw the fork across the rim of the saucepan to remove excess coating. Return truffles to baking sheet. Let stand 30 minutes or until coating is set.
  4. 4. Store truffles tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Let stand at room temperature about 30 minutes before serving.

Easy Mini Cherry Pies


Ingredients:

1 box Pillsbury™ Refrigerated Pie Crust, softened as directed on box

1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling

1 egg

1 tablespoon water


Directions:

  1. 1. Heat oven to 400°F. Unroll pie crusts; use rolling pin to slightly roll dough out.
  2. 2. Use 3-inch diameter round cutter to cut 12 circles from dough. Use small heart-shaped cutter to cut 12 hearts from remaining dough, rerolling scraps as needed.
  3. 3. Press circles into 12 ungreased regular-size muffin cups; fill with pie filling. Top each with heart-shaped cutout.
  4. 4. In small bowl, beat egg and water. Brush over crust on each.
  5. 5. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.


Cookie Dough Trifle


Ingredients:

Cookie Dough

1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 c. brown sugar

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

3 1/4 c. crushed graham crackers

1/3 c. milk

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/3 c. mini chocolate chips


Whipped Cream Layer

2 pkg. Cool Whip, thawed

1 c. mini chocolate chips

8 chocolate chip cookies


Chocolate Pudding Layer

2 (3.4 oz.) boxes instant chocolate pudding mix

4 c. cold milk


Directions:

  1. 1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Mix in graham crackers, salt, and milk. Fold in chocolate chips. Crumble and pour 1/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a trifle dish.
  2. 2. Make the whipped cream layer: Mix chocolate chips and Cool Whip. Pour 1/3 of the mixture on top of the cookie dough in the trifle dish. Top whipped cream layer with a layer of chocolate chip cookies.
  3. 3. Make chocolate pudding layer: Combine pudding mixes and milk, whisking until granules have dissolved. Let pudding has set, 5 minutes, then pour 1/3 of the mixture on top of the cookies, smoothing to create an even layer.
  4. 4. Repeat layers until you've reached the top of the dish.
  5. 5. Cover the entire trifle with remaining whipped cream. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, to soften the cookie layers. Top with chocolate chips and crumbled cookie pieces before serving.

Big Game Day Snacks!

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, February 04, 2017

                                                                                (Photo by Becky Luigart-Stayner)

Have you been looking for some delicious and easy snacks to serve tomorrow for the big game? You’ve come to the right place! We have compiled a list of some of our favorite snacks to have while watching football!


Cheesy Pretzel Twists


Ingredients:

1 can biscuit dough

8 cheddar cheese sticks

4 c. water

1/4 c. baking soda

1 large egg, beaten

Coarse sea salt for sprinkling


Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  2. 2. Place cheese sticks on the tray and freeze for 30 minutes.
  3. 3. Cut each biscuit dough in half and roll into a long strip. Wrap tightly around each frozen cheese stick so that no cheese is exposed. Pinch to seal the edges. Repeat with the remaining cheese sticks and dough.
  4. 4.In a medium saucepan, combine water and baking soda. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Drop in wrapped cheese sticks and let cook for 1 minute, remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to baking sheet, making sure the pretzels aren't touching.
  5. 5. Brush beaten egg over each pretzel. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Garlic Bread Pizza Dip


Ingredients:

2 c. shredded mozzarella

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. ricotta

1/4 c. plus 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

1 can refrigerated biscuits (such as Pillsbury Grands)

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. Freshly Chopped Parsley

1/4 c. pizza sauce or marinara


Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Make dip: In a large bowl combine mozzarella, cream cheese, ricotta, 1/4 cup Parmesan, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper flakes and season with salt. Stir to combine.
  2. 2. Halve biscuits and roll into balls. Place in skillet in a ring. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, and parsley. Brush on biscuits.
  3. 3. Place dip inside of ring and spoon over marinara. Top with remaining 3/4 cups mozzarella and mini pepperoni. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon Parmesan all over.
  4. 4. Bake until biscuits are golden and cheese is melty, about 30 minutes. (Brush biscuits with more olive oil halfway through if necessary.)

Guacamole


Ingredients:

5 avocados, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 16-ounce bag tortilla chips


Directions:

  1. 1. In a large bowl, combine the avocados, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
  2. 2. Stir well. Serve with the tortilla chips.

Sausage Sliders


Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 bunch spinach, thick stems removed (about 4 cups)

1 pound sweet Italian sausage

12 small rolls, split


Directions:

  1. 1. Heat broiler. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. 2. Add the onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. 3. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. 4. Add the spinach and cook, tossing, until the spinach is just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. 5. Remove the sausage from their casings and form into twelve ½-inch-thick patties. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet and broil until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  6. 6. Form sandwiches with the rolls, sausage patties, and vegetable mixture.

Loaded Nachos


Ingredients:

2 tsp. olive oil

3/4 lb. fresh chorizo, casings removed

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 (15-ounce) can Black Beans, rinsed

8 oz. Tortilla chips

10 oz. sharp Cheddar or pepper Jack cheese, grated (about 2.5 cups)

1/2 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded

3/4 c. Fresh salsa

1 avocado, chopped

fresh cilantro

pickled jalapenos

sour cream


Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. 2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chorizo, onion, and garlic and cook, breaking chorizo into pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in beans and cook until warm, 2 to 4 minutes.
  3. 3. Spread chips on prepared pan. Spoon chorizo mixture over chips and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and chips are toasted, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. 4. Serve topped with lettuce, salsa, avocado, cilantro, jalapeños, and sour cream.

Our Favorite Romantic Getaways

Kelly McCombs - Friday, January 20, 2017

                                                            (Photo from www.thesagamore.com)


With Valentine’s Day just a few weeks away, now is the time to plan that romantic getaway! Whether you want to stay close to home or travel a few hours out of town, we have put together a list of some of our favorites!



First up is The Inn at Five Points in Saratoga Springs, NY. Owned by James and Eilis Petrosino, the Inn is a beautifully restored Victorian Bed and Breakfast nestled right in the heart of Saratoga. Centrally located and within walking distance to all that Saratoga has to offer, this would be a very special place to visit with your loved one for a romantic overnight, yet one that is still close to home. The Petrosino's serve a delicious breakfast every morning, in true Bed and Breakfast fashion, with everything being locally grown and sourced. If you would like a true taste of all that Saratoga has to offer, this is the place to do it!



For something a bit farther out of town, head south to The Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY. Architecturally impressive, this castle-like resort is situated right on the banks of Lake Mohonk. Surrounded by beautiful views of the mountains and forest, The Mohonk Mountain house offers a few different packages for your romantic getaway. Whether you want a relaxing spa package for two or a luxurious “Special Occasion” package, they have something to fit everyone’s needs. There are a plethora of activities here even in the winter, from ice skating to snow tubing, so you will never be bored!



Heading back up north, The Sagamore in Bolton Landing on Lake George is one of those hotels that many people know and rave about. Another stunning resort, The Sagamore has been inviting guests to stay with them since 1883. They are offering a lovely Valentine’s Weekend Getaway package which includes breakfast and dinner for two, along with complimentary champagne and chocolates. They also have a beautiful spa which should be high on the list of priorities if you choose to stay with them. There isn’t anything more romantic than relaxing time spent together!



One of my favorite places to go on Valentine’s Day is a little farther than the others, but very much worth it. Niagara Falls during the winter months is one of the most beautiful places. Even if you have been there before in the warmer months, seeing it in winter adds a whole new dimension. The mist from the falls coats everything in a layer of ice, making for some really beautiful ice sculptures. Make sure you dress warmly! Even though this may not be one of the coziest romantic getaways, you will surely make some wonderful memories with your loved one!



We hope you are able to take a little time away from your everyday life to be able to enjoy one of this beautiful places with your loved one. Even if it isn't for Valentine's Day, they all are wonderful places to visit any day of the year!


Winter in Lake Placid

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, January 07, 2017

(Photo from whiteface.com)


The next stop on our travel adventures is a perfect one for those winter enthusiasts...Lake Placid! A quaint village nestled in New York State's Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid is the perfect destination for a romantic couple's getaway or a fun family vacation. There is a plethora of exciting activities to take part in, especially during the winter months. We have put together a list of our favorites!

One major thing to know about Lake Placid, is that both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games were held there! When a large event like the Olympics comes to town, the buildings and infrastructure of the town needs to improve and change. Many new buildings and sporting venues were constructed before the 1980 games, and many of them are still open for public viewing today! The cross country ski center, the ice skating rink, the ski jump complex...you can even take a ride in a bobsled! If you are a fan of watching the Winter Olympics on TV, then this should be right up your alley.

You can't plan a trip to Lake Placid and not plan on spending at least one day skiing or snowboarding Whiteface Mountain. With nice, easy trails for any beginner to much more complex Diamond trails for the expert, Whiteface has something for everyone. Cold and tired from a long day on the mountain? Head on in to one of the lodges for a nice hot cup of cocoa by one of the fireplaces. This is one activity you will not want to miss. Don't worry if you don't own skis or a snowboard, Whiteface also offers daily rentals. They even offer lessons for those that have no experience! There is no excuse!

For the less adventurous traveler, Main Street in Lake Placid is the perfect place to take a few hours to leisurely stroll through the many shops. They have everything from name brand stores that you will be familiar with, to more unique boutiques where you can purchase items that can only be found in Lake Placid. It's a great place to find a keepsake to bring home to remember your trip! There are also many shops leading in to and out of the village of Lake Placid, so make sure to hop in your car to visit those!

If you are a die hard winter sports enthusiast, there is truly a huge number of things you can do in Lake Placid. We have already mentioned the skiing and snowboarding on Whiteface, but you can also go snowshoeing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, tubing and fat tire biking. For some extra excitement for the whole family, take a dog sled ride on Mirror Lake. This is a unique activity that many people never have the chance to experience. Hop on the sled next to the musher and away you go!  


(Photo from lakeplacid.com)

Looking for something to fill your down time? Lake Placid may be known for its winter activities, but they also have some of the best spa experiences in the state. Two of our favorite spas are located at the Mirror Lake Inn and Whiteface Lodge. There is nothing quite like a relaxing massage after a full day of exhilarating outdoor activities!

We hope you get the chance to visit Lake Placid this winter! They already have a ton of snow so now is the perfect time to go and make memories with your family and friends.


Holiday Cocktail Recipes

Kelly McCombs - Friday, December 23, 2016

(Photo from delish.com)

Since Christmas is just around the corner, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite Holiday inspired cocktails, and even one mocktail for the kids or those who prefer not to drink. Make these for your friends and family when they come over for the holiday festivities. They are sure to please!

Hot Buttered Rum
Ingredients

BUTTERED RUM BATTER
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 c. vanilla ice cream, softened
2 tsp. cinnamon

RUM DRINK
2 c. apple cider
1 c. rum

Directions
1. Make the Buttered Rum Batter: In a mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in ice cream and cinnamon, then spoon into a large mason jar or Tupperware container. Store in freezer until mostly hardened, about 2 hours (or store there until you’re ready to serve drinks).

2. Make the Drinks: In a large saucepan, heat cider until boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and pour into a pitcher or easy-to-serve container.

3. Place about 2 tbsp of the buttered rum batter into each mug. Fill about 1/3 of the way up with rum, then top with hot apple cider. Stir and serve.


Classic Eggnog
Ingredients

2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. heavy cream
1/3 c. bourbon or rum (optional)
Whipped cream, for serving

Directions

1. Combine milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla in a small saucepan over low heat. Slowly bring mixture to a low boil.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until yolks are pale in color. Slowly add hot milk mixture to egg yolks in batches to temper the eggs and whisk until combined.
3. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat until slightly thick (and coats the back of a spoon) but does not boil.
4. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream and, if using, booze.
5. Refrigerate until chilled.
6. When ready to serve, garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon.

Holiday Mule
Ingredients

1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz unsweetened cranberry juice
1 1/2 oz gin or vodka
2 oz chilled ginger beer
1 rosemary sprig
orange slice, for garnish
sugared cranberries, for garnish

Directions

1. Combine simple syrup, cranberry juice, and gin. 
2. Pour over ice and top with ginger beer. 
3. Serve garnished with rosemary, orange wedge and sugared cranberries, if desired.

Jingle Juice
Ingredients

CITRUS SUGAR:
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon

PUNCH:
¾ cup Citrus Sugar
1 cup lime juice
1 cup lemon juice
2 cups orange juice
1 cup grapefruit juice
1 cup mango nectar
1 cup pineapple juice
3¾ cups Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
2¼ cup Grand Marnier
1½ cups Amaretto
3 cups sparkling water
orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit slices, frozen cranberries for garnish

Directions

1. Make the citrus sugar by combining the sugar, zests, ginger and cinnamon. Rub the zest between your fingers to release the oils. Let sit at room temperature for 4 hours or up to a a few days in an airtight container.
2. Peel the skins off of the fruit and juice.
3. Make the punch by adding the sugar to the bottom of the punch bowl. Pour in the juice and stir to start to dissolve the sugar. Pour in the alcohol.
4. Garnish with frozen cranberries and fruit slices.

Pomegranate Margaritas
Ingredients

1 can frozen limeade concentrate
2 c. water
3½ c. gold tequila
2 c. pomegranate juice
1 c. Triple Sec
5 limes
Ice cubes for serving
1 c. fresh pomegranate seeds (from 1 pomegranate)

Directions

1. In large pitcher, combine limeade and water until well blended. Stir in tequila, pomegranate juice, and triple sec.
2. Cut each lime crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick wheels; cut a slit in each wheel, from center to edge. To serve, place ice cubes and a few pomegranate seeds in each glass; place a lime wheel on rim.

Christmas Punch (Non-Alcoholic)
Ingredients

5 cups Tropical Punch
1 cup Cranberry Juice
1 cup Pineapple Juice
½ cup Lemon Juice
4-5 cups Ginger Ale
1 pint Raspberry Sherbet

Directions

1. Make sure all ingredients are chilled. 
2. Combine all juices into a large punch bowl.
3.Add ginger ale slowly to prevent too much fizz. 
4. Add scoops of raspberry sherbet & let sit for a few minutes. Serve with a ladle.

____________________________________________________________________

We want to take this time to wish all of our wonderful viewers and customers a very happy Holiday and a Happy New Year! We hope you all enjoy the time spent with your loved ones!

Do you Drink Enough Water?

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, December 17, 2016



With the cold weather in full swing, many people choose to drink warm beverages and forget all about drinking water. Just because it isn’t hot outside and we aren’t as active or sweating as much doesn’t mean our bodies don’t need water. They are made up of 60 percent water, therefore, it is vital to both our physical and mental health to stay hydrated.


One important way that I have found to make sure that I drink enough water, is to drink a big glass before I do anything else in the morning. That glass of water helps kick start my day and sets the tone for me. I also bring a 25 ounce water bottle with me to work every day. I’m not lucky enough to have a water cooler in my office, so I always make sure I am stocked up on large bottles of water to fill my handy bottle that I keep on my desk. If my water bottle is on my desk and in my line of sight, I will remember to drink regularly.






Here are some benefits to making sure you stay hydrated:


  1. -Staying hydrated improves your mood and fights off fatigue. This is the main reason why I make sure to drink at least 16 ounces of water first thing in the morning. It wakes me up and gets me going. A lack of water in the body’s system can cause a drop in blood volume, which then causes the heart to work harder to pump oxygenated blood around the body, hence the increased fatigue.

  2. -Drinking enough water every day will help improve the clarity of your skin. If you are prone to breakouts, or have dry, dull skin, you could be dehydrated. The skin is one of the first places to show signs that you need to drink more water!

  3. -Drinking a glass of water before every meal might also help in weight loss. It will trick your body into thinking it is full, which will then curb your appetite. Drinking water instead of all of the sugary drinks on the market will also help with weight loss.

  4. -If you are prone to headaches or migraines, increasing your intake of water might help keep them away.

  5. -Drinking plenty of water will help your kidneys stay in tip top shape. Drinking too little may lead to painful kidney stones. The kidneys play a vital role in our body’s function so staying hydrated is essential for their (and your!) health.

  6. -Water plays a very important role in your digestive health, as well. Without adequate water, your system could become backed up and constipated. The water helps dissolve fats and soluble fiber, which then continues on through the system.

As you can see, water is crucial for everyday life. There are so many health benefits associated with drinking enough of it, so make a point to think about your water consumption on a daily basis! 

 


Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, December 10, 2016

(Photo by Jose Luis Pelaez)


For the next few weeks, we thought it would be the perfect time to feature some of our favorite gift giving ideas. This week, we will be featuring stocking stuffers! Opening a stocking is one of my favorite things to do, mostly because my family tends to stray away from the typical stocking gifts like toothbrushes and batteries. Opening a stocking in my family is a hilarious and fun experience!



First up on the list, this gift is perfect for the wine lover in your family. XO, G Wine is perfect for the person who wants to have one glass of wine, but doesn't want to open a whole bottle. They are the perfect size for one person to finish happily...and they are delicious to boot!


The next gift on the list is for the tech-savvy person. These Screen Cleansing Towelettes by Well-Kept are perfect to keep in a purse or car. The resealable packaging makes them easy to travel with and prevents them from drying out. They are safe to use to clean the screens on any of your tech devices. They can even be used to clean your glasses!


The Minimergency Kit is perfect for the clumsy friend, or the friend who has a habit of carrying around everything with them, just in case. The kit is sold at The Container Store and contains everything from a few first-aid items, to hair bands and stain remover. It also comes in the most adorable little pouch that is the perfect size to throw in your purse!


These handy Bobino Cord Wraps are perfect for anyone, really. They make the hassle of knotted headphones a thing of the past, and keep your charging cord organized and neat, and not floating around in your car or your purse. Also, super affordable, you can find these at The Container Store!


For the skincare addict of the family, these Origins Mask Pods are the perfect way for the "giftee" to try a new product, without you having to buy the full size version that they may not like. You can find these and other similar "travel-size" items at Sephora.com


I think my favorite gift of all is this Bluetooth Tracking Tag. Simply attach it to your keys or any other item that you frequently lose. When you lose the item the next time, grab your phone and turn bluetooth on and presto! Your keys are found! A perfect gift for the forgetful friend!

Buying stocking stuffers can be such a fun experience. There are a ton of thoughtful and quirky gift ideas out there. We hope you have enjoyed the few we posted today!

Holiday Cookie Recipes

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, November 26, 2016

(Photo by midwestliving.com)


Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it is time to start thinking of new recipes to make for Holiday cookies! My friends and I always do a big cookie exchange amongst ourselves. To save time and money, it is always best to plan ahead and have your recipes on hand. Here are a few you might like to include!


Peppermint Sugar Cookies


Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

10 Tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Red gel paste food coloring


Directions:

1. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.


2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat for 2 minutes on medium speed or until mixture is light and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add egg and egg yolk; beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Beat in peppermint extract. Gradually add flour mixture beating on low speed just until combined.


3. Divide dough in half. Knead about 1/2 teaspoon gel paste food coloring into one of the dough portions (add more, if desired, for a deeper red color). Leave the remaining dough portion plain. If necessary, wrap and chill dough for at least 1 hour or until easy to handle.


4. Form dough into desired shape. For peppermint swirl cookies: Divide each red and plain dough portion in half for a total of four dough portions. Roll a red dough portion into an 8x6-inch rectangle on parchment or waxed paper. Pat or roll a plain dough portion into an 8x6-inch rectangle on paper. Use the paper and your hand to carefully invert the red dough rectangle on top of the plain dough rectangle; remove top layer of paper. Starting from a long side, roll up dough using bottom layer of paper to help lift and guide the roll. Pinch dough edges to seal; wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining red and plain doughs. Chill dough rolls for 1 to 2 hours or until dough is firm enough to slice. Unwrap dough rolls; reshape, if necessary. If desired, roll each of the dough rolls in red edible glitter or red coarse decorating sugar. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, slice rolls crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Rotate roll while cutting to prevent flattening. For candy cane cookies: For each cookie, on a lightly floured surface, shape a 1/2-inch ball of plain cookie dough into a 5-inch rope. Repeat with a 1/2-inch ball (1 measuring teaspoon) of red cookie dough. Place the ropes side by side and twist together. Form into a cane shape.


5. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven until edges are set (9 to 10 minutes for swirl cookies; 6 to 8 minutes for candy cane cookies). Cool on cookie sheets on wire rack for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool.



Cookie 'N Cream Blossom Cookies

Ingredients:

3/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. dark cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cornstarch
36 Hershey's Kisses Cookies 'n' Créme, unwrapped


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350º and line a cookie sheet with parchment. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.


2. Add egg and vanilla and mix until well combined.


3. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients, then add to wet ingredients and mix until combined.


4. Form level tablespoons of cookie dough into a ball and place onto prepared cookie sheet.


5. Bake until edges are set and centers look mostly set, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a Hershey’s Kiss into center of each.


6. Let cookies cool 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.



Sugar Cookies


Ingredients:

1 c. butter (no substitutions)
½ c. sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, with mixer on low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and creamy. On low speed, beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in flour, baking powder, and salt until blended.


2. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; flatten each piece into a disk. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or until dough is firm enough to roll. (Or place dough in freezer 30 minutes.)


3. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of dough 1/8 inch thick. With floured 3-inch to 4-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; wrap and refrigerate trimmings. Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet.


4. Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings.


5. When cookies are cool, prepare Ornamental Frosting, if you like; use along with sugars and candies to decorate cookies. Set cookies aside to allow frosting to dry completely, about 1 hour. Store in tightly covered container (with waxed paper between layers if decorated) at room temperature up to 2 weeks, or in freezer up to 3 months.


Chocolate Volcano Cookies


Ingredients:

1 lb. confectioners' sugar
¾ c. unsweetened cocoa
½ tsp. salt
4 large egg whites
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1½ c. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper; lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.


2. In large bowl, whisk confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and salt. Add egg whites and vanilla and beat with wooden spoon until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips. Set dough aside 5 minutes. If your batter is too runny, cover and refrigerate 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.


3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake 13 to 15 minutes, or until set and crackly. Let cool on cookie sheets 3 minutes; then, with spatula, carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely.


Russian Tea Cakes


Ingredients:

1 cup butter or margarine, softened 
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar


Directions:

1. Heat oven to 400ºF.


2. Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.


3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.


4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.


5. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.


We hope you enjoy these delicious cookie recipes, and don't forget to share with your friends and family!




Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, November 19, 2016
                                                                                   Photo by Justin Bernhaut

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite side dishes and desserts for you. The turkey should always be the star of the show, of course, but having some delicious sides to pair with it make the meal perfect!


First up is a delicious Corn Pudding that is so rich, it is the perfect comfort food. This recipe is also super easy because you will be using packaged cornbread mix. The perfect mix of corn on the cob and corn bread, this is one recipe that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.


Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

1 package (8-1/2 ounces) corn bread/muffin mix

1/2 cup 2% milk

1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained

1 can (14-3/4 ounces) cream-style corn


Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 325°. 
  2. 2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
  3. 3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  4. 4. Beat in sour cream. Gradually add muffin mix alternately with milk. 
  5. 5. Fold in corn.
  6. 6. Pour into a greased 3-qt. baking dish. 
  7. 7. Bake, uncovered, 45-50 minutes or until set and lightly browned.


What’s Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce? This recipe puts a spin on the traditional canned version by adding orange marmalade and cilantro. This is very easy to make ahead and will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. If you do plan on making this ahead of time, don’t add the cilantro. You can add it in just before you serve.


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup orange juice

16 ounces cranberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 to 3/4 cup orange marmalade

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (optional)


Directions:

  1. 1. In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.
  2. 2. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  3. 3. Add the sugar, orange juice, and cranberries.
  4. 4. Cook until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.
  5. 5. Stir in the marmalade to taste (depending on desired sweetness).
  6. 6. Turn off heat. Stir in the pepper and cilantro just before serving.
  7. 7. Serve warm or at room temperature.


One of my favorite potato sides to make for Thanksgiving is this Skillet Scalloped Potatoes with Chive Butter. Super cheesy and easy to make, someone in my family has made this for the last few Thanksgiving meals, and it is always the first thing we run out of.


Ingredients:

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 onion, diced

2 tsp. fresh thyme

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 c. heavy cream

1/2 c. chicken stock

1/4 c. chopped chives, plus more for garnish

1 c. shredded fontina cheese

3 to 4 Yukon gold potatoes, sliced thinly on mandolin


Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. 2. In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter and add garlic, onion, and thyme. Cook until mixture is softened, 3 to 5 minutes. 
  3. 3. Add 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, heavy cream, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and mix in chives and half of fontina.
  4. 4. Add potatoes to skillet and arrange in any pattern, keeping slices vertical to ensure even cooking. 
  5. 5. Bake 40 minutes. Sprinkle remaining fontina all over and bake until cheese is melty and crust is golden brown, 10 minutes more.
  6. 6. Garnish with chives and serve immediately.


One of the most recognizable side dishes that can be found on most tables is a Green Bean Casserole. Usually made with canned ingredients, this recipe is made with only fresh ingredients. Talk about a delicious comfort food!


Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing

5 cups sliced green beans

4 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 cup grated Parmesan

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons canola oil

1 1/2 cups diced onions

2 cups sliced baby Bella mushrooms

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1/2 teaspoon House Seasoning, recipe follows

1/2 teaspoon salt

HOUSE SEASONING:

1 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup garlic powder

1/4 cup black pepper


Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 1 1/2-quart baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. 2. Boil the green beans in the chicken broth for 20 minutes, and then drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth.
  3. 3. Mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and 2 teaspoons of the oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. 4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes, and then add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.
  5. 5. Pour the reserved 1 1/2 cups chicken broth back into the pot the green beans boiled in and bring to a boil. Add the green beans to the skillet with the mushrooms and onions.
  6. 6. While that is coming to a boil, combine the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl to make a slurry. Slowly pour the slurry into the boiling broth, whisking constantly as it thickens, about 2 minutes.
  7. 7.  Pour the thickened mixture over the green beans and add the sour cream, House Seasoning and salt. Stir well.
  8. 8. Pour into the baking dish and sprinkle with the panko and cheese mixture. Bake until the casserole is hot, about 10 minutes, and then broil until the breadcrumb topping is slightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. 9. Mix together the salt, garlic powder and pepper.

Switching to the dessert side of things, everyone is used to the traditional Pumpkin Pie or Apple Pie at their Thanksgiving table. Why not showcase some of the different fruits available during the Fall? This Brown Butter Pear and Cranberry Cobbler is one of my personal favorites to bring to my family’s table on holidays!

Ingredients:

6 tbsp. plus 3 tbsp. butter, cut up

2 lb. ripe Bartlett or Anjou pears, peeled, cored and chopped

1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries

3/4 c. plus 1/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. cornstarch

Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. 2. In 12" skillet, melt 6 tablespoons butter on medium. Cook 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant, swirling frequently.
  3. 3. Stir in pears, cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar, cinnamon. Cook 5 minutes or until pears begin to soften, stirring frequently. Cool.
  4. 4. Meanwhile, in food processor bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Pulse in remaining 3 tablespoons butter until fine crumbs form; transfer to medium bowl. 
  5. 5. Stir in heavy cream until dough just comes together, kneading once or twice.
    1. 6. In large bowl, toss pear mixture with cornstarch; transfer to 9" pie plate or 2-quart baking dish. With hands, scoop dough onto pie in small mounds. Bake, on foil-lined baking sheet, 40 to 50 minutes or until top is golden brown and pears are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.



From our family to yours, we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, spending time with loved ones and making memories!



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