6 Kitchen Appliances That Are Essential For Thanksgiving Dinner Preparations

If my grandmother is to be believed, then Thanksgiving is one of the most stressful dinners a person can prepare. Not only must the turkey be picture perfect but it must be complemented with a wide variety of side dishes and desserts. One way to ensure your Thanksgiving dinner preparations are as easy as possible is make sure you have the best kitchen appliances available to assist you. These appliances will not only save you time but also make it easier to prepare multiple dishes simultaneously and ensure they are all finished at the same time.

Here are six small appliances that are essential to preparing Thanksgiving dinner for your family.

Stand Mixers

Stand Mixer

An overlooked kitchen appliance which is incredibly useful during Thanksgiving preparation is a quality stand mixer. While they are most often associated with desserts a stand mixer is surprisingly versatile. The mixer itself is ideal for creating smoother mashed potatoes, combining dressing ingredients, and preparing silky sweet yams. Plus, a growing number of stand mixers have the capacity to support a variety of accessories which have nothing to do with mixing, but give you the freedom to leverage the mixer’s powerful motor to complete other tasks. For example, you can grind meats, stuff sausage, roll perfect pasta, strain fruits/vegetables, and even make ice cream.

Pressure Cooker

Fagor Pressure Cooker

Another useful kitchen appliance is the pressure cooker. The purpose of a pressure cooker is to speed up the necessary cooking time for a variety of labor-intensive recipes. You can even cook a juicy, delicious turkey in a pressure cooker, although it probably won’t be very presentable if you plan on carving it at the table. To help with Thanksgiving dinner preparations, a pressure cooker is ideal for a variety of time intensive desserts, such as bread pudding and custards. It can also be used to quickly churn out giblet gravy.

Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker with Turkey

A slow cooker is another extremely valuable kitchen appliance everyone should take advantage of when making Thanksgiving dinner. Its primary value is the ability to help free up oven space by allowing you to make one of your side dishes in it. A slow cooker is perfect for making Thanksgiving stuffing, casseroles, and any grain or rice-based side dish. You can also use a slow cooker to keep dips or your gravy warm while you are finishing up the main dishes. Some people prefer a triple slow cooker which allows you to heat up three different types of food at the same time.

Deep Fryer

Deep Fryer

Similar to a pressure cooker, a deep fryer is an excellent way to save time if you are planning on cooking any foods which will be fried in oil. While pan frying is a great way to impart flavor into food, you can easily deep fry the same items in less time, without sacrificing taste. Another option is to start out using the deep fryer and then transferring the food over to a pan while they are finishing. This is particularly helpful if you have multiple appetizers which are all fried.

Food Processor

Cuisinart Food Processor

When it comes to saving time in the kitchen during Thanksgiving, very few kitchen appliances are as valuable as having a food processor within reach. It is amazing how much a food processor can chop, dice and slice during the food preparation portion of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of asking all of your family to help you chop and dice, a food processor can do better work in significantly less time. It will also help assist in making all the delicious sauces, dips and spreads that make your turkey complete.

Similar to other small kitchen appliances on this list, food processors usually come with a variety of helpful attachments and accessories which make it even more versatile. This tool can be effectively used to prepare dishes for every course you plan on making.

Freestanding Cooktops or Range Burners

Ranger Burner Cooktop

If there is one complaint that is common among most people preparing Thanksgiving dinner it is a lack of space on the stove. Unfortunately, stovetop space is one of the most difficult resources to replicate in the kitchen. The easiest way to compensate for this is by using a couple of freestanding cooktops and range burners. Normally they are setup independent of any other appliance and simply need to be near an outlet. Not only does this provide you with more stovetop burners to use but it also is a fantastic space-saver. You can setup one or two range burners anywhere as long as it can reach an outlet.

Preparing the perfect Thanksgiving dinner is hard enough with all of the right tools. There is no reason to make matters worse by trying to prepare everything without adequate space for heat sources. Making a small investment in the high-value small kitchen appliances listed above will yield immediate benefits. The best part is all of these kitchen appliances take up very little space and are versatile enough to be used all year long.

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6 Tips to Save Money on Winter Heating Bills

Brace yourselves, winter is coming. As such, it is never too early to start planning ahead for the annual rise in winter heating costs.

A common misconception is that the most effective ways to decrease energy costs is by resorting to expensive, large-scale solutions such as installing new insulation throughout your home. Sure, that will definitely work at keeping you warm, but it will also cost you an arm and a leg to do so. The truth is that there are a number of small things you can do right now to help chip away at the overall amount of energy you use this winter. If done correctly, these small changes will lead to big savings. The key is taking the time to assess your needs and choosing the approach which best matches your goals while limiting your expenses.

Stay warm with these six tips to saving money on your winter heating bills.
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3 Common Uses for Combo Kitchens

Combo Kitchen

A combo kitchen is single, standalone unit that serves all your basic kitchen needs. A typical combo kitchen consists of a sink, mini refrigerator and stovetop range. Sometimes referred to as compact kitchens, combination kitchens, kitchenettes or all-in-ones, combo kitchens are available in a variety of configurations. Some models include freezers, ovens, electrical outlets, cabinets, built-in cutting boards and storage drawers.

A combo kitchen is a great solution when space is in short supply, such as in small apartments or guest houses. Other models are especially built for outdoor use, making them perfect for backyard barbecues and patio entertaining. Because combination kitchens are considerably more affordable than traditional kitchens, they also make practical substitutes during home renovations, especially when your budget is being stretched thin.

Let’s take a closer look at three common uses for combo kitchens, so you can make an informed decision as to whether one is right for you.
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7 Easy Ways to Get More From Your Patio This Fall

Summer may be over, but fall is the perfect time to take advantage of everything your patio has to offer. It is the time of year that the leaves begin to turn beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. The sweltering summer days begin to wane and shift to a more comfortable, brisk environment. It is the time for football barbecues and perfect mornings to sit outside with a cup of coffee.

Most people set up their patio and never change it but it is one of the most versatile and enjoyable spaces your home has to offer. This is especially true if you plan on entertaining guests outdoors. The key is knowing the easiest ways to get more from your patio with very little effort. Here’s our favorite ways you can improve your patio, so you can enjoy it throughout fall.

1. Choose Versatile Seating Options

One of the simplest ways to give your patio a new, comfortable look is to choose versatile seating options. It doesn’t matter if you prefer metal furniture outdoors or more traditional wood or wicker seating, the key is versatility. While it is nice to have one or two chairs for a more intimate or casual setting, seating is typically the one limitation that prevents people from hosting larger get-togethers outdoors.

Adding one or two long benches is a simple solution. You can add seat cushions or outdoor pillows to turn a simple wooden bench into a more comfortable yet versatile seating solution. The best part is benches are easy to move so it can be pushed aside when it’s not needed.

2. Entertain with an Outdoor Television

Outdoor Television

Just because it’s football season doesn’t mean you need to spend your weekends indoors on the couch. Television technology is evolving at a rapid pace. There are now televisions which are specifically designed to be used and stored in an outdoor environment. They have screen coatings which prevent glare from becoming a problem. Some outdoor televisions can even connect directly to your Wi-Fi network so you wouldn’t have to worry about installing a cable outlet.

Just like when you choose a television for your living room, outdoor televisions come with a large assortment of accessories you can buy to make your experience even better. Before you rush out to buy a TV for your patio, it’s important to consider how much space is available and where you plan to install/watch it.

3. Outdoor Beverage Refrigerator

Patio Outdoor Refrigerator

Nothing is worse than constantly running inside to get food and beverages for friends and family when you’re trying to spend time together outdoors. Not only is it inconvenient, but it also lets all your A/C out of the house. The simple solution is to have an outdoor beverage refrigerator available for your guests. The benefit of an outdoor only beverage station is that you can choose from a wide variety of sizes, so it fit your needs and available space.

A portable beverage refrigerator, or even a kegerator, is not only a great way to provide your guests with easy access to food and drinks, they’re also portable and easy to move around. During the winter, if you’re not spending much time on your patio, you can move it in and use in other areas of the house.

4. Portable Ice Maker

Portable Ice Maker

If your beverage refrigerator doesn’t have a built-in ice maker, it would be wise to have a portable ice maker readily available for your guests. Instead of running in and out of the house to get ice, you’ll be providing them the convenience of ice right there.

It’s never been easier to find an inexpensive, yet dependable ice maker that’s designed to stand the elements outside. From the spring sun to the summer heat, a quality ice maker should be durable enough to leave outdoors nearly year-round.

5. Stay Warm With An Outdoor Heater

Patio Heater

As fall begins to turn towards winter the evenings will start to get cold quickly. Depending on where you live, that cold may already be nipping at you. Instead of moving the party indoors try using an outdoor heater. From table top to wall-mounted, there are a number of different heating options you can choose from. Take a look at your options, analyze your space and determine which type of heater will be the best for your patio.

One of the most popular outdoor heating options is a fire pit. This allows you to sit back and enjoy the crackle of an open flame and keep warm at the same time. Instead of building a permanent fire pit, most people prefer the portable version so they can move it out of the way when the weather warms up again. Another option is the more traditional outdoor heaters which can be either propane or electric. With a simple flip of the switch, these heaters are the perfect solution when you don’t want to build and maintain a fire but still want to stay warm.

6. Plant a Garden

Patio Garden Container

An overlooked accent that makes every patio more appealing is the ambiance of a garden. Whether you’re growing flowers or vegetables, having a garden out there is a guaranteed way to make your patio look better. You don’t need a large plot, just a small, low-maintenance garden will do wonders for the look and feel of your patio.

There’s a large variety of gardening equipment and supplies that can help you accomplish this, but all you really need to get started is a few containers, a bag of soil and seeds. It’s easy to swap out your plants depending on the season. This helps ensure that your shrubbery, flowers and vegetables are always lush and green all year-round. Just be sure to cover your plants or move them inside before the deep freezes set in.

7. Cover Your Patio with a Canopy

A simple yet effective way to help maintain your optimal temperature on your patio is by covering it. If you have an open patio the popular option is to use a stylish canvas, canopy or other temporary enclosure, as this allows you to quickly put it up and take it down. Installing a canopy can help keep the elements out, and your heat in. Depending on your patio, you may be better suited with a more enclosed or permanent solution. Be sure to weight your options before buying the first canopy or canvas you find.

Improve Your Patio For Fall

Just because the temperature is changing doesn’t mean you need to retreat indoors quite yet. Summer may be gone, but the beautiful season that is fall is just beginning. By adding a few key accessories and making a couple of improvements to your patio, it will be easy to enjoy everything the outdoors has to offer, even into the early winter months.

Surely, we missed a few ways that you can improve your patio for fall. What would you add to this list? We’d love to hear your tips and suggestions in the comments below.

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3 Things to Keep in Mind When Starting an Indoor Garden

You have decided to start a fall gardening project in your home, and you know what you want to grow. What do you do now? The hardest part to setting up your indoor garden is to figure out what it requires to succeed.

Before you rush out and buy a bunch of gardening equipment for your indoor garden, it’s always wise to proactively troubleshoot a few of the most common problems, in order to ensure the overall long-term success of your garden. From proper lighting and ventilation, to assessing whether you have enough space, let’s take a look at what can do to give your plants what they need to bloom and grow. Follow our beginners guide to setting up a basic indoor garden on a budget.

Size of Your Gardening Space

First, assess the size of your space. Large rooms need a lot of lights with a powerful system for ventilation. Small rooms need fewer lights with less energy devoted to ventilation. Measure the dimensions of your room to give you a better idea of what you will need. A room that measures 18 feet wide, 12 feet long would be considered spacious.

Next, you must think about your budget and how much experience you have growing plants. If you are fairly new to urban or indoor gardening, you may not want to fill the entire room with plants until you have a little more experience. Instead of jumping straight into buying a bunch of gardening equipment, start off with a smaller project and measure your overall success. Once you feel more comfortable, proceed on with more plants. The last thing anybody wants is to spend a bunch of time and money on an indoor garden, only to see your plants die before you can harvest.

Now that you have the size of your gardening space established, section-off part of the room so that you have a space that is at least 8 feet wide and 12 feet long. This is a manageable working space for a novice. Granted, sectioning the room is an additional effort and expense. However, creating a smaller space within the room gives you more complete control of the environment in your garden. Line the sectioned area with reflective sheeting so that you get the most out of your lighting. If you do not feel confident installing a temporary partition on your own, buy an indoor grow tent to drape from the ceiling.
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4 Simple Space-Saving Tips for Organizing a Cluttered Closet

It is a tale as old as time — the older you get, the more clothes you buy, and the harder it is to part with beloved fabrics and well-worn shoes. Eventually, these nostalgic lifestyle habits come back to haunt you when you run out of room in your closet. Without taking proper actions, it’s bound to happen to all of us at some point. To help you prevent this from happening, here are our four favorite space-saving tips for a cluttered closet.

Purge the Unnecessary & Old Clothes

The first space-saving tip for decluttering your closet is to purge all the unnecessary clothes you no longer need. Begin with the two-year rule to purge outdated or garments that no longer fit. If you have not used it or worn it in two years, it is safe to assume that you no longer need to keep it.

Once you’ve gone through and analyzed what you’ve worn in the last two years, going forward a good way to keep track of what you want to keep is to start with your hangers facing one way. Each time you take out an item of clothing and return it, turn the hanger around and face it in the direction of your preference. At the end of one or two years (depending on your available space), get rid of all the clothes that you have not turned around.

Remove Non-Essential Items From the Closet

Now that you’ve gone through all your clothes and decided what should go and what should stay, it’s now time to relocate anything else that does not belong in the closet. If it is not clothes or shoes, try to find it a new place to store it.

Have you been using the closet as a storage area for books, boxes, suitcases and other random household items? You are not alone, but it is time for a new solution. Move these things to another area of the home, such as a linen closet, basement or garage. If you have an extra room or closet elsewhere, consider sorting your clothes by season and moving the off-season clothes into a separate area to be switched out. Relocate items that you use frequently to an easy-to-reach area.

Instead of sending everything to a landfill, consider donating or selling items that you no longer use. There are many options should you find yourself willing and able to part with the clutter. Goodwill, the Salvation Army and other thrift shops willingly take gently worn items, and your donations help others in need. Some stores allow trade-ins for store credit or cash rewards for accepted clothing. If you have taken great care of your clothes, bags and shoes, this is a good way to update your wardrobe and save some space. If your friends are similarly struggling, a clothes swap could get rid of your clutter and score you a few useful things in return. Even a garage sale would be a great option if you find the rest of your home suffering from the same cramped quarters as your closet.

Utilize the Space You Have

Even if you live in the smallest, compact living area, there are still ways to take advantage of the space you do have. For example, the walls and floors and the back of a closet and closet door can be huge space savers. Attach hooks on the backs of doors to hang shoes, belts, bags, jewelry and other accessories that would otherwise take up space where you could store your clothes.

Built-in or add-on shelves can also help save space for stackable items. Take advantage of all vertical space by stacking sweaters, shoes and handbags on shelves. Use compressed bags, boxes or clear containers to stack and store items that you do not frequently use, such as out-of-season clothing. You can also employ stacking drawers or shelves to help prevent items from toppling over. Buying and installing space-saving shelves is somewhat simple, assuming that you have the time, space, and are DIY-savvy.

In addition, space-saving hangers and rods are available for your closet needs. If most of your clothes are short-hanging, add an extra closet rod above or below the first to instantly double the amount of hanging space. Use add-on hangers, which take up as much space as a single hanger and store four times the amount of clothing.

Fix That Shoe Problem

Since shoes are less versatile than clothing, they can be harder to store and take up more space in your already cluttered closet. Luckily, you have some space-saving options if you have nowhere else to store your shoes.

Use a hanging shoe rack for the back of your door to keep shoes organized, easy to reach and out of the way. Another great way to store shoes is on DIY shoe hangers. Cut the bottom rod of a wire hanger in the middle and twist up both ends, creating dual hooks on which to hang your shoes. Hang these next to your clothes, and save the floor space of your closet for stacks of sweaters, linen or other items. While this isn’t the prettiest option, it’s cheap and it saves a ton of space.

If you have the space, opt for a decorative shoe storing solution to de-clutter your closet. Options include a wall-hanging rack or a pretty cabinet that serves dual functions for shoes and accessories. Tubs and baskets keep footwear together and can be stored on shelves or floors. Consider sorting shoes and boots by seasonal use or style, so you always know where to look for the footwear that you need.

Cluttered Closets: More Common Than You Think

Closet clutter is a common issue that affects us all, no matter how big or small our closets are. The shortage of space is especially a problem for those that live in small homes and apartments. By following the space-saving tips above, you’ll be able to fully utilize the amount of space you have in your closet and organize your clothes in a way that works best for you.

Surely, there are more tips out there. What space-saving tips would you recommend?

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3 Products To Help You Achieve An Organized Freezer

If you keep a lot of frozen foods on hand, you know how hard it is to keep them all organized. Large chest freezers are efficient, but they’re not very good for items you need to reach daily. If you’re spending to much time digging around for food in your freezer, then it’s probably time to get an easily organized freezer that is seamless to use every day.

Here’s a couple of freezer options that may help you get more organized.

1. Upright Freezers

EdgeStar Upright Freezer

Cramped freezers that are part of a refrigerator unit, as well as chest freezers are far from the only option available to you. Upright freezers come in all shapes and sizes and are more than capable of meeting a wide variety of needs. Whether you’re a college student who needs to store frozen foods in your dorm or a mom who needs to keep a wide variety of meats and foods in stock and readily available at a moment’s notice, there’s an upright freezer on the market for you.

Small upright freezers are also a great fit for college students, since they rarely need a lot freezer space. Fortunately for them, there are plenty of compact freezers that fit easily in a dorm room. These would give you around a cubic foot or two of space. Not only are these freezers affordable on a student budget, they provide the luxury of being able to store a few comforts of home and some easy microwavable meals to provide a break from dining hall food.

If you buy a lot of fresh meat and need to keep ready access to it all, a larger upright freezer is an excellent choice. Depending on how much meat you need to store, this larger type of freezer is available with up to 23 cubic feet of space and more. Adjustable racks make it easy to store anything of any size for quick access.

The Best Upright Freezer Options:

2. Undercounter Freezers

Undercounter Freezer

Although a lot of storage space is nice, some people just need to store their usual grocery run of various meats and frozen foods. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, then perhaps a lower-profile undercounter freezer is the best option for you. These are perfect for those who need a little more space than their regular refrigerator’s freezer offers, but don’t want to invest in a large chest freezer or lose the space that it would take up.

Undercounter freezers typically have a good amount of cubic feet of space and fit under your counter for a discreet, hidden-away and convenient location. You can store your daily items in your refrigerator’s freezer, and your less-used items can stay organized and frozen under your counter. Or, if your problem isn’t a full freezer, you can also install a built-in, undercounter refrigerator.

The Best Undercounter Freezer Options:

3. Portable Freezers

12-Volt Portable Freezer

If you are always on the go, a portable freezer may be the best option for you to get organized. These will allow you to clean out space in your freezer, and keep it frozen while you’re out and about. Unlike a simple cooler that you fill with ice that melts quickly, a 12-volt portable freezer is designed to keep your food frozen for a longer duration of time, and does not require the use of ice.

While this type of freezer is not the best long-term solution for storing frozen food in your house, it will still work. These portable freezers, however, are perfect for road trips, camping and picnics.

The Best Portable Freezer Options:

If you are in desperate need for freezer space but hate digging through inconvenient chest freezers, one of the three products listed above may be the best option to get your kitchen organized. Whether you use extra shelves or have two freezers, keeping an organized freezer has never been easier.

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5 Back-to-School Appliances You’ll Need For Your Dorm

Back to School Bundle of Savings

It’s that time of year again. The pools are starting to close down. The neighbors are all getting back from their family vacations. The sun doesn’t seem to be as intense as it was a few weeks back. Unfortunately, this all means one thing — summer is coming to an end… and a new school year is about to start.

For the early school years, stocking up for back-to-school was pretty simple. All you had to do was walk down the school aisle at your local grocery store, picking out the most basic supplies. If you were lucky, you might even get a new backpack. But leaving for college is a little bit different, especially that first year. You still need those basic school supplies, but you also need a few basic appliances to help you get by in the dorm.

While you’re busy registering for classes, don’t forget about these essential back-to-school appliances for your dorm room.

1. Compact Refrigerator

Compact Refrigerator

The obvious appliance that every dorm needs is the small, compact refrigerator. Every college student needs one of these. Even if you’re on a meal plan and don’t plan on preparing your own meals in your room, you need a dependable mini fridge just to keep your drinks and snacks cool.

Compact refrigerators usually consist of 1 to 2.5 cubic feet of space. They are small enough to put in a corner or underneath your desk, but large enough to hold your basic foods and drinks. If your school allows it, you should look into getting a midsize refrigerator. These are not only small enough for a dorm atmosphere, but usually have more cubic feet of space and a separate freezer compartment for your frozen foods. For the price and the features, this will be your best value.

The best compact refrigerators for dorms:

2. Microwave

Microwaves

Having a dependable microwave is another must-have dorm appliance. Sure, your dorm will probably have a microwave in the common area, but most likely, it’s going to be an old model that probably doesn’t work as effectively as one you bring yourself. Plus, it’s likely that somebody will be using it when you need it.

Avoid the drama, and bring your own microwave. You’ll have the luxury of heating up your leftovers or making a bag of popcorn, all without having to leave the room or wait in line. It’s almost a guarantee that any microwave your bring with you, will be better than the one that is in your dorm and used every day by countless amounts of students. Just be sure to check if your dorm allows microwaves beforehand. Some do, and some don’t.

The best microwaves for dorms:

Another possible option, is to combine the two most needed dorm appliances into one. A combination refrigerator and microwave may just be the perfect solution for you. This unique combination basically gives you an all-in-one kitchen, without taking up lots of space. Not to mention, if you bundle the two appliances into one, you’re going to save a little bit of money.

3. Humidifiers

Dorm Humidifier

On most college campuses, dormitories usually tend to be hot and dry places to live. Bringing along your own humidifier will not only help keep your room more comfortable to live in. The extra moisture in the air will help you feel a little better by relieving dry, itchy skin, as well as help with any allergy symptoms you may experience. Now that you’re living in close quarters to other students, a humidifier may also dramatically reduce your chances of catching other their viruses. Nobody likes being sick, and that’s especially true when you have to cram for a big test.

Humidifiers are generally pretty quiet, so you won’t disturb your roommate. And they’re also pretty small, so they won’t take up much space. Which is precisely why they rank as one of the best dorm appliances.

The best humidifiers for dorms:

4. Coffee Machine

Dorm Coffeemaker

Whether you have early morning classes or plan on studying late into the night, you’re probably going to need to have access to a readily supply of fresh coffee. This is why a reliable coffee maker is an essential for your dorm. Most dorms won’t have a coffee machine readily available to you, and if they do, you can bet that it’s been there for many years.

To eliminate overall waste, we would recommend a single-cup coffee maker, like a Keurig. These are great at brewing just enough for you to make it through that last chapter of your textbook, without having to brew a whole pot that you’ll just pour out.

The best coffee makers for dorms:
Steam Iron

5. Iron

Having an iron is another important must-have for the dorm, even though a lot of students will think they won’t have a need for one. At some point, you’re going to need put on a nice shirt and nobody wants to look like a wrinkled slob. Steam irons are easy to carry around, and small enough to store out of the way.

The best irons for dorms:

Moving away from home and living in a dorm isn’t going to be easy for most students, at least not at first. Bringing along these appliances is a great way to make the transition into the dorm easier, so you can concentrate more on your studies.

What’s your list of must-have dorm appliances? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.

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The Best Types of Drinks for Boating

Nothing beats the heat on a hot summer day like relaxing on a boat. Whether you are hanging out with friends and family, trying to catch a good tan or just taking in the breeze, everybody loves going out on a boat. For your day on the water, it’s important to stay hydrated with ice-cold beverages to quickly quench even the mightiest thirst. Read on to learn about the best drinks to ensure your boating experience is fun-filled and dehydration-free.

Water & Sports Drinks

For a quick cool-down, keep plenty of bottled water and electrolyte-replenishing sports drinks on hand. In order to avoid dehydration, it would be wise to drink an abundance of these drinks. Iced tea is another good choice, as it is both refreshing and water-based. Just be sure to stay away from drinking large quantities of high-citrus and sugary drinks, such as lemonade or soda, because they have a diuretic effect on the body. It’s important to keep you hydrated, and these sodas will do the exact opposite.

Beer & Wine

What is a day on a boat without an ice cold beer? Not only is it a tasty and refreshing beverage, beer is easy to find, easy to carry and goes down smoothly on a hot day. Compared to other alcoholic drinks, beer is also going to be your cheapest option. Cans of beer are probably going to be the easiest option, but you could always bring bottles or a mini kegerator on board.

If you love wine, however, all hope is not lost. The French even have a name for wines that are good on a hot day: vin de soif, which literally means “thirst-quenching wines.” Your best bets are light whites and pinks. If you prefer mixed drinks, easy-to-make sangria begins with a wine base combined with ginger ale or soda water, fruits and sugar. Mix up a pitcher of sangria, and serve over ice.

Blended Drinks

Blended tropical drinks, such as margaritas and blue Hawaiians, are perfect boat companions. In fact, these drinks are often referred to as “boat drinks,” from the classic song “Boat Drinks” by Jimmy Buffett. If this is the route you want to take, we would recommend mixing the drinks in pitchers in advance and store the pitchers in a portable travel cooler until you’re ready to serve.

To make sure that your drinks are always ice cold, invest in a portable ice maker. Affordable, portable ice makers come in electric, battery-operated and hand-cranked versions. With a portable ice maker, your cooler never runs out of ice and your hand is never without an ice-cold boat drink. When it comes to portable ice makers, there are plenty of brands for you to choose from, but for the best quality, we would recommend going with either Koldfront or Edgestar.

To ensure true boating nirvana, make sure to keep lots of extras of whatever you are drinking on board. As new cans or bottles are opened, replenish your cooler so you always have cold drinks available. Keep in mind, alcoholic drinks will dehydrate you, so make sure you and your guests alternate alcoholic beverages with water and other hydrating drinks. Whatever you decide to drink, just remember to be safe and drink plenty of water while you’re out on a boat.

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5 Margarita Recipes to Make Your Next Summer Party a Smash

Summer get-togethers are not complete without a tasty plate of food in one hand and a cold drink in the other. One thing that is sure to take your party from good to great is a fun fiesta theme – complete with margaritas. Here are some tips and a couple of recipes to make sure your summer fiesta makes Jimmy Buffett proud.

Your Margaritaville party deserves the best. But remember, Margaritas are only as good as their worst ingredient, so use quality, 100% agave spirits, real Triple Sec and freshly squeezed lime juice. For those who like salted rims, use coarse sea salt or kosher salt – never table salt. Make sure to run a lime wedge around the rim to make the salt stick.

The Classic Margarita

Before you go crazy with variations, first you must master the classic margarita.

What you will need:

  • 1 cup of tequila
  • 3 ounces orange liqueur
  • 3 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce agave nectar (optional)
  • Yield: 4 Margaritas

Directions: Shake the ingredients with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass with a salted rim. If your mixture is too sweet, add more lime. If it’s too tart, add more agave or orange liqueur. The agave nectar is optional, but the earthy flavor adds an excellent touch. For a less strong margarita, cut back on the tequila.

The Ultimate Margarita

Much like the classic, the ultimate margarita possesses some of the same ingredients, but adds a few more for an extra kick.

What you will need:

  • 1 cup of Patrón Silver
  • 2 ounces Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 cup of Triple Sec
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite lager beer
  • 1/2 cup of fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • Yield: 4 Margaritas

Directions: Set the beer to the side, and shake the rest of the ingredients together with ice. Strain the mixture into a salt-rimmed glass and add a splash of the beer on top.

Watermelon Margaritas

Nothing says summer, like a wedge of watermelon. So, why not add that same summer taste into your favorite cocktail?

What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup of your favorite tequila
  • 3 tablespoons of Triple Sec (1.5 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 ounces of fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 3-4 cups of cubed watermelon (no seeds)
  • Yield: 4 Margaritas

Directions: Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until the mixture is at your desired consistency. Pour into a glass with a few icecubes to ensure it stays cold. For bonus points, be sure to add sugar on the rim of your glass.

The Spicy Margarita

To add some spice to the mix, try a margarita variation that simply swaps one citrus out for another. You can also sub in aged tequila like Reposado or Mezcal for the more typical blanco. Instead of adding ingredients, try this “less is more” margarita recipe.

What you will need:

  • 1 cup of 100% agave tequila
  • 4 ounces of Grand Marnier
  • 4 ounces of freshly-squeeze lime juice
  • 4 ounces agave nectar syrup
  • Yield: 4 Margaritas

Directions: Shake the ingredients with ice, and strain into your favorite margarita glass. For an extra spicy kick, garnish the margarita with a fresh-cut serrano or jalapeno pepper.

The “Morning After” Margarita

The “morning after” margarita is the perfect alternative to a mimosa or Bloody Mary.

What you will need:

  • 6 ounces of your favorite tequila
  • 3 ounces of Cointreau
  • 3 ounces of freshly-squeeze lime juice
  • 4 ounces of mango nectar
  • 4 ounces of fresh tangerine juice
  • 2 ounces of ginger juice
  • Yield: 4 Margaritas

Directions: Shake all of the above ingredients with ice. Strain and pour over ice in a glass. For garnish, skip the lime wedge and add a tangerine wedge.

Margarita Party Accessories

Margarita Machine

Whatever variations you choose for your margarita party, remember that quality, fresh ingredients make the most memorable margaritas. But why stop there? Make your summer party a real success with one of these margarita party accessories:

Do you have a favorite margarita recipe? If so, we’d like to hear in the comments below.

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