Watermelon Aqua Fresca

Hydrate like a champion! Adults can mix with booze, esp tequila or vodka. When I made it at Sarah’s house with her fancy French juicer, it overflowed and pink sticky juice went everywhere! But this drink is so good, she was cool with it!


8 cups watermelon juice (a medium sized watermelon ought to do it) strained through a sieve
2 cups water
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 tsp Smoke Licker or 2 tbsp Cha-cha Lima or both!

Mix all the stuff in a big pitcher and enjoy!

Sarah’s NOT mad that I spilled sticky watermelon juice everywhere! Yay!

Sarah’s NOT mad that I spilled sticky watermelon juice everywhere! Yay!

Cha-cha Lima Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Collin’s mom loves these suckers.

Collin’s mom loves these suckers.

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Cha-cha Lima
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
3 1/4 cups sweetened coconut

1 1/3 cups chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon Cha-cha Lima

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment.

To make the macaroons: In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients (not including the chocolate for the coating) until thoroughly incorporated. Scoop the dough by 1/8-cupfuls (2 tablespoons) onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch of space between them; a jumbo cookie scoop works well here. Leave the macaroons as rounds, or use your hands or the flat side of a bench knife or dough scraper to shape the balls into pyramids.

Bake the macaroons for 16 to 18 minutes, until they're a light golden brown on top. Remove the macaroons from the oven and allow them to cool on the pan.

For the chocolate dip, melt (or temper if desired) the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in short, 10-second increments, stirring until smooth. Dip the bottoms of the cooled macaroons into the chocolate, then transfer them to a cooling rack or back to the baking sheet. Let rest until the chocolate sets.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour.com

Liz's Hibiscus Cocktail with a Pineapple Shrub

Maxin’ chillaxin’.

Maxin’ chillaxin’.

For the cocktail

1/2 cup Hibiscus Tea
1/4 cup lime juice (1 lime)
1/2 cup pineapple shrub**
1 ½ oz tequila or sparkling water
For the rim and garnish
Cha-cha Lima or Iowa Nice
1. Mix and chill 2 hours or overnight, serve over ice

For the Pineapple Shrub
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 pineapple sliced into wedges
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1. Heat water and super in saucepan until simmering and all sugar is dissolved.
2. Remove from heat and add pineapple. Return to low heat and simmer for 10 min. Turn off heat and let sit for 20-30 min. Strain, discard pineapple. Add vinegar. Chill. A shrub will keep for very long time in the fridge.

Microwave Toffee Popcorn with Coco Corazón

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12 cups of popcorn
1/2 cup Coco Corazón
You can also use Iowa Nice Spice or Cha-cha Lima, but if you’re using Cha-cha, add 2 more tbsp
4 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp salt
Smoke Licker Crop Duster work great. If you’re popcorn is already salted, eliminate this salt.
Add roasted nuts like peanuts, cashews or pecans or chocolate chips!

Split the popcorn into two large bowls.

Combine Coco Corazón, butter, and corn syrup in a large microwavable bowl. Give it lots of headroom, because the stuff is going to bubble up.

Microwave for one minute, remove, stir in the butter to melt. If it’s not melted, microwave for another 30 seconds. Then microwave for 1.5 minutes. Remove and stir. Microwave for another 1.5 to 2 minutes—until the toffee starts to bubble. Remove and stir in the baking soda. Stir-stir-stir to blend in.

Pour half of the toffee over the popcorn in each bowl and stir-stir-stir to blend in. I use two spatulas. It feels like I’m conducting a chocolate orchestra.

Spread the popcorn out on wax paper to cool. If you let it cool in the bowls, it will be a big rock.

Compound Butter

Lisa at Photosynthesis in Ames turned us on to compound butter on Thanksgiving. She served it with Parker House rolls…seriously, I thought it was the best part of the meal. It turns out all salts AND sugars make great compound butters! Use them on baked goods, steak, veggies, toast, you name it!

These aren’t ours, but don’t they look lovely?

These aren’t ours, but don’t they look lovely?

1 stick of butter
2 tsp of Saltlickers
Parchment or waxed paper if you want a log shape
Fresh herbs if you wish

Let the butter soften at room temp then stir in the spice (and herbs). Place the butter on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper, roll into a log, and chill for at least two hours.

Spiced Nilla Wafer Cookies

This recipe works with Das Bigfoot, Bangla-dash or Roxy Taco. Bangla-dash wafers call for one more tsp of spice than Das Bigfoot or Roxy wafers. You can use regular-sized Nilla wafers, but we like the minis. Reduced fat Nilla wafers work great too—they’re harder and they absorb the oil and spice well. I first butter tried on these, but oil’s better!


1 11 oz box Nilla Wafers
1 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp Roxy Taco OR
2 tsp Roxy Taco OR
3 tsp Bangla-dash

Preheat oven to 300.

Spread the wafers on a foil-covered cookie sheet. Pour the oil over them and toss with spice, 1/2 tsp at a time. Use your hands to make sure everything’s evenly distributed. Bake for 5 minutes. They will crisp when they cool.

Smoked Toffee Popcorn

I was going to make toffee popcorn anyway, but then I thought, "Toffee popcorn bakes at 250 for 1 hour. That's perfect for the smoker!" Well, it melted people's faces off in a good way. The Cha-cha Lima popcorn was the best thing I've ever tasted, but some liked the Iowa Nice Spice better. I didn't try Coco Corazón yet.



10-20 cups of popcorn*
1/2 cup of butter
1 cup Cha-cha Lima or Iowa Nice Spice 
(that's 1/2 lb—it's on the website for $10)
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt or Smoke Licker
1/4 tsp baking soda
Foil trays that will fit in your smoker
Wood chips of your choice

Heat smoker to 250. Poke several small holes in the bottom of the trays. I used a corn cob holder. Put popcorn in a big bowl. *The original recipe called for 10 cups, but I stretched one batch to 16 cups, and another to 20 cups. There was plenty of flavor, and the popcorn was well-covered on both batches. So for smothered super-candy popcorn, use 10 cups. If a lighter glaze is OK, this recipe stretches to 20 cups. Melt the butter, sugar, corn syrup & salt together, stirring constantly, until it bubbles when you stop stirring. Stir in baking soda. Pour over the popcorn and stir until everything's covered. Scoop popcorn into the foil trays (don't pack the trays—you want space for the smoke to do its thing) and load the wood. I used apple wood for the Iowa Nice, and cherry for Cha-cha—though I wish I'd had mesquite. Smoke 1/2 hour. Take the trays out and toss/break up the popcorn, and return to the smoker for 1/2 hour. I only did one pass of smoke, but if you like it super smokey, go nuts and give it another blast after 1/2 hour.

Cha-cha Kabobs

  • 2 lbs meat or shrimp
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 tbsp Cha-cha Lima Sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil if you want
  • Sriracha if you like it on fire

Put the oil, soy sauce, Cha-cha Lima, and sesame oil/Sriracha in a glass measuring cup and nuke on high 1 minute. Stir, Marinate the meat for 1 hr. Skewer w/ veggies + grill = partay.

The Cha-chaloma!


PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOKING TIME: 0 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes

Cha-cha Lima
White tequila
Grapefruit soda (our fave: FRESCA)
Mint or cilantro

Make a simple syrup with by boiling equal parts water and Cha-cha Lima. Pour one shot of white tequila in a glass over ice, add 1/4 shot Cha-cha Lima simple syrup and four shots grapefruit soda (our fave: FRESCA). Shake. Pour into a glass rimmed with Cha-cha Lima. Garnish w lime if you got the time.

Christiana's Watermelon Beet Salsa

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"Who'da thunk the beet/watermelon combo would be so delicious?" Christiana asked in our email exchange.

"I would think it would be great! The family veggie stand next to us at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers' Marke gave us FOUR bunches of beets on Saturday. It was like that joke where someone breaks your back windshield and throws in an accordion," I replied.

1.5 cups of watermelon, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 shucked corncob’s worth of kernels
½ a small zucchini, cut into ½" cubes
1 green onion
1 jalapeno, deseeded and minced
1/4 cup leftover cold chopped beets, optional
Juice of half a lime
Coarse ground black pepper
1 tsp. Alliyum, Cha-cha Lima or Roxy Taco

Combine all into a bowl and enjoy with Luke's Organic multigrain chips, or, as a side dish/salad.

Cha-cha Chex Mix


It's sweet, tangy, salty a little bit spicy, and addictive as crack. I've eaten about 5 lbs of it this week. The sauce can be used for an Asian slaw or a marinade. Here's the (super easy) recipe:

  • 4 cups Chex
  • 2 cups pretzels
  • 1 cup nuts
    You can throw anything you like, really
  • 4 tbsp butter (if you're making a dressing or a marinade, substitute a neutral oil)
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 tbsp Cha-cha Lima Sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil if you want

Mix the crunchy stuff in a big bowl. Put the butter/oil, soy sauce, Cha-cha Lima, and sesame oil in a glass measuring cup and nuke on high 1 minute. Stir, pour it over the crunchy stuff, toss. To crisp it up, you can nuke it for 2 minutes, stir, nuke again for another 2 minutes, then spread it out and dry it on paper towels. Or you can bake it on cookie sheets at 300 for about 10 minutes, then air dry it.

Cha-cha Lima Asian Slaw or Marinade


4 tbsp neutral oil like canola
4 tbsp soy sauce, tamari or liquid aminos
3 tbsp Cha-cha Lima Sugar
1/2 tbsp sesame oil if you want

Blend and shake it up. You can add pepper, lime juice, chilis, and/or fruity vinegar. Smoke Licker works well, too. Marinade meat, shrimp, tofu, etc. and throw those suckers on the grill or stir fry.

1/2 head of purple cabbage
3 carrots, ends trimmed
1 zucchini
1 cucumber cut into thin strips
1 red pepper cut into thin strips
1 package of ramen noodles, crushed
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/4 cup fresh parsley, mint and/or cilantro chopped

Shoot the cabbage through the slicing blade of the food processor. Shoot the carrots and zucchini through the grating blade. Toss all the veggies, add the ramen noodles and peanuts and dressing. Toss again. You can also add grilled meat, shrimp, tofu, etc.

Gluten-free Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Cha-cha Lima

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PREP TME: 15 minutes
COOKING TIME: 1.25 hours
TOTAL TIME: 1.5 hours


1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, large
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups zucchini squash, shredded
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tbsp Cha-cha Lima for the top

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, xantham gum, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together light brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs at medium speed|until very well combined, about 3-4 minutes. With mixer still on, drizzle in vegetable oil. Add vanilla extract and beat a few seconds more. At medium speed, slowly add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Gently fold in the shredded zucchini and chocolate chips. Spread batter into a 9x5-inch loaf pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle 1.5 tbsp Cha-cha Lima on top. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Ginger Chiowa Yapple Crisp


This double-whammy dessert features Cha-cha Lima and Iowa Nice Spice, plus Torani Gingerbread Syrup. 

PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOKING TIME: 45 minute
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes


6 apples
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup Cha-cha Lima
1/4 cup of sugar
2 tbsp Torani Gingerbread syrup
2 tbsp flour

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup Iowa Nice Spice
2 tbsp Torani Gingerbread syrup
1/4 tsp salt
12 tbsp butter (1 1/2 sticks), chilled and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup nuts, coarsely chopped and toasted (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, toss the apples, lemon juice, Cha-cha Lima, Torani Gingerbread syrup, and flour. Pour the apple mixture into a buttered 2-quart baking dish. In another large bowl, mix the flour, oats, Iowa Nice, Torani Gingerbread syrup, and salt. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers just until it comes together and forms large clumps. Fold nuts into mixture. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit. Bake the apple crisp until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown and crisp, about 45 minutes.