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Add lemony flavor with concentrate

I’m always on the lookout for inexpensive ingredients that can be used in lots of recipes. I’m especially happy when I find unexpected uses for a common ingredient.

So, I was wandering the frozen foods aisle and did a double take on a can of frozen lemonade and the wheels began to turn. I always had juice concentrate in the freezer when my kids were little, but I seldom buy them for myself.

Lemonade was always a favorite because it’s useful for many beverages. You can add strawberries, blueberries or raspberries to make fruity lemonade. Add mint or basil for a sophisticated twist. You can mix with different soft drinks, like lemon-lime soda or ginger ale for bubbly treats. Mix it with iced tea to make an Arnold Palmer.

Summer cocktails come to life mixed with lemonade. Who doesn’t enjoy a hard lemonade slushy by the pool? Or a Lynchburg lemonade mixed with whisky? Or a shandy made with half lemonade, half beer? Lemonade even makes a perfect base for a margarita.

Since frozen is as frozen does, lemonade is a natural to make ice pops. It’s so refreshing. And there’s the classic frozen lemonade ice box pie. Remember that one?

In case you forgot, here’s that easy recipe. You mix one 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, one 12-ounce container thawed whipped topping, with a 6-ounce can of frozen lemonade. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch graham cracker crust and freeze until solid. Tart and creamy, cold and dreamy.

But here’s where I got excited. I thought, what is frozen lemonade? It’s a concentrate of lemon juice, citrus pulp, lemon oil and sugar. You know what else uses those ingredients? Marinades. Especially marinades for chicken and pork. I can feel your skepticism as I type. Stick with me.

I went all mad scientist in the kitchen and played around until I came up with two marinade recipes all my taste testers loved. I promise, they’re not sweet. Here are the winners.

Both recipes make one cup of potent marinade, enough for 3-4 pounds of your preferred chicken pieces.

LEMON, ROSEMARY AND GARLIC MARINADE

What you’ll need

6 ounces frozen lemonade concentrate

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon garlic cloves, crushed (or more)

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary)

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Here’s how

In gallon-sized resealable food storage bag combine lemonade concentrate, Worcestershire, vinegar, garlic and rosemary. Add chicken pieces, seal bag and smush to blend. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour or even better overnight.

Optional: before you add the chicken reserve 1/4 cup of marinade and mix with 1 cup plain yogurt to make a delicious sauce for the chicken.

LEMON, GINGER AND SOY MARINADE

What you’ll need

6 ounces frozen lemonade concentrate

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon crushed garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Here’s how

In gallon-sized resealable food storage bag combine lemonade concentrate, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and pepper. Add chicken pieces, seal bag and smush to blend. Marinate in refrigerator at least 1 hour or overnight.

To oven bake the chicken: Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 F.

You can also grill, broil or pan fry this chicken.

Note: Lemonade concentrate comes in two sizes: 6 ounces and 12 ounces. These recipes call for 6 ounces so you may get two recipes from one can. When buying concentrate look for brands that don’t contain high-fructose corn syrup. They may cost a few cents more, but it’s totally worth it.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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