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posted: 3/5/2014 5:45 AM

From the Food Editor: Tropical tastes in a glass help melt winter blues

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  • Jamaican Me Blue will lift your spirits during this cold winter.

      Jamaican Me Blue will lift your spirits during this cold winter.
    Courtesy of Alexandra Grablewski/"101 Tropical Drinks"

  • Sunburn

      Sunburn
    Courtesy of Alexandra Grablewski/"101 Shots"

  • Video: "Sound of Sunshine"

 
 

Forgive me if I seem preoccupied, but spring break comes later this month and I've been busy checking airfare deals and hotel discounts for all the sandy beaches and palm tree-shaded swim-up bars I can't afford to visit. A girl can dream, right?

Right now, the closest thing I'll get to a tropical getaway will be a frosty glass with a pink umbrella.

In particular I've been eyeing Jamaican Me Blue from Kim Haasarud's 2013 masterpiece "101 Tropical Drinks" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Combine 2 ounces white Jamaica rum (such as Appleton or Wray & Nephew), 1 ounce simple syrup, ¾ ounce blue Curaçao, ½ ounce each fresh lime juice and fresh lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a Collins glass or tiki glass filled with fresh ice.

That is a sippin' drink, but if you want immediate relief from the arctic temps, I recommend a Sunburn shot from her forthcoming book "101 Shots" (due out later this month from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). For the Sunburn, combine ½ ounce Del Maguey VIDA mescal, ½ ounce mango rum (such as Cruzan), ¼ ounce cranberry juice and ¼ ounce fresh sour mix in a cocktail shaker. Top with ice and shake moderately. Strain into a shot glass. Squeeze the orange peel (skin side down) over the shot glass. Now that will warm you up -- no SPF lotion required.

If those lively libations don't grab you, Haasarud has 200 more recipes (between the two books if you're keeping track) to choose from.

If you come scrape the ice off my deck and pull the lounge chairs from the garage, I'll mix us up a few others to try. I'll put Michael Franti on the outdoor speakers and we'll clink glasses with mitten-clad hands. Who's with me?

A healthy future: Reed Alexander (aka Neville from "iCarly") returns to the Chicago area this weekend to share recipes at the Healthy Children Expo.

At 10:15 a.m. Sunday, March 9, Alexander, creator of the KewlBites website and author of "KewlBites: 100 Nutritious, Delicious, and Family-Friendly Dishes" (Rodale Books 2013), will demonstrate lighten-up, family-friendly Latin recipes at the expo's Cooking Corner. Other weekend demonstrations will focus on gluten-free cooking, healthy snacking and recipes kids can help make. Eat Right, Live Well columnist Toby Smithson takes the stage at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 8, to demonstrate healthful lunch recipes.

The cooking demos are just a small part of the event. Produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the expo offers four main themes: Healthy Living, Safety & Prevention, Family Life and Health Issues, with access to seminars and experts on each topic. In addition there's entertainment as well as an active play area and learning zones.

The show runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. Tickets cost $8 online at healthychildrenexpo.org or $10 at the door. Children get in free.

Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at dpankey@dailyherald.com or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at Facebook.com/DebPankey.DailyHerald or follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter @PankeysPlate.

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