It’s that time of year again — August, aka too-hot-to-do-anything month. So why not have a margarita to cool down and chill out?
Head on over to LiveMom and check out my latest article on margaritas to beat the heat. With lots to choose from — from the traditional to the out-there (avocado, anyone?) — there’s bound to be something your style. Cheers!
Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Today’s guest is Christl Denecke, who is a good friend of mine from back in Northern California (who heralds back to my lawyer days). Although she’s not a food blogger, we happen to share a great love for cocktails, so I feel very confident in sharing a couple of her recipes with you. And, if you are in Northern California, please look her up — she has her own estate planning practice (Denecke Planning), and she helped the hubby and I with our wills a couple of years ago. I highly recommend her — not just because she’s a friend, but because she’s a damn good lawyer. Photo credit goes to Steven Ginzburg, Christl’s intrepid assistant (and husband).
Since August is now upon us, I thought I might make some refreshing cocktails to help us get through these steamy evenings. And the perfect summer cooler is Campari. This carmine-colored, Italian aperitif has a bitter-orange flavor — a cooling counterpoint to sweeter mixers.
My favorite hot weather drink is Campari and tonic, the exotic cousin of that old standby, the gin and tonic. Like the bitter-juniper taste of gin, the bitter-orange flavor of Campari provides an excellent counterpoint to the sweet effervescence of tonic water. It pairs well with a hammock and a good book.
For something a little more elegant, try an Americano – not the caffeinated beverage that perks up many a Monday morning, but an invigorating cocktail with sweet vermouth tempering Campari’s bite. Add a squeeze of lemon and some sparkling water to create a smooth quaff with a hint of fruit.
Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Today’s guest is Priscilla Carruthers, AKA The Icebox Queen, who is a personal chef in Austin, Texas who specializes in healthy comfort food. She also writes an inspiring blog of the same name, which draws from her experiences as a chef as well as the local Austin food and wine scene and her “nomadic existence” all over Texas before settling in the capital city. I’m excited to test-drive a virgin spin on the delicious cocktail Priscilla has to offer us… and someday soon, the real thing. Those of us with basil overtaking our gardens this time of year can definitely appreciate this one!
I have the blackest of thumbs. Plants look at me and wilt. Nurseries close the blinds and turn out the lights when I pull into the parking lot. My dogs look at me with disdain when I try again, year after year, season after season, to grow another pot of herbs or a window garden with flowers. Even they can see the foreshadowing of my failure. People gift me with “easy to grow” plants, promising that, “No one can kill mint!,” and warning me to plant it in a pot to fight the spread. They shake their heads when they return to my house, realizing that plants taking over my garden would certainly beat the bare dirt and burnt up oregano that lives there now.
That is, until this time. This time, my mother didn’t just tell me what to do to have a garden, or send me home with a few plants. This time, she came with me to the nursery, and better yet, she came home with me and helped me plant them. And thanks to her, they live. They not only live, they thrive. Thanks to her fairy dusted green thumbs, I have more basil than I know what to do with. It’s starting to flower out there! I didn’t even know basil had flowers.
So this Basil Ginger Cocktail is dedicated to my mother’s verdant thumbs.
If you don’t have as lush a garden as I do, (she giggles), store-bought basil works just as well, and it only takes a little. If you’d like this to be an adult beverage, I’d highly recommend Dripping Springs Vodka, or Tito’s; otherwise more club soda in place of the vodka would taste just as fine on a hot Austin day.
Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Today’s guest is Alicia, who writes the blog Boozed + Infused, where she shares recipes for making liqueur and infused spirits at home with inspiring and seasonal ingredients. I thought the process sounded a little intimidating at first, but Alicia’s posts finally inspired me to try a few infusions of my own, and it’s so easy! The results are customizable and always tasty, and, what’s better, you save a lot of money infusing your own liqueurs instead of buying them. Visit her site for tons of inspiration, and check out this delicious recipe for thyme honey lemonade (without or without booze) for a refreshing summer treat.
It is officially summer! And summer means lots of fresh treats in the garden. I have been busy picking berries, canning and jamming to my heart’s content. Meanwhile, our booze pantry is filled to the brim with infused delights. I just love picking fresh herbs and berries from the garden to add to summer beverages.
For Gourmet Veggie Mama readers, I wanted to bring you a quick infusion that is nice for a summer gathering or barbeque. Everyone loves lemonade, right? Well I do, and it is always fun to muddle fruits and herbs into lemonade to make it more festive. Today we are enjoying a Summer Thyme Honey Lemonade.
We start off by making a Thyme-Honey Syrup for our quick infusion.
8 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice (plus extra lemon wedges for garnish)
8 oz thyme-honey syrup
12 oz club soda
White rum (or other light spirit)
Fresh thyme (for garnish)
Place the ice in a pitcher or carafe, and add the lemon juice and thyme-honey syrup. Stir well to incorporate. Add the club soda and stir again.
For each serving, fill glass a third to half way with ice, pour 4 ounces of lemonade and add 2 ounces of rum. Garnish with lemon wedge and thyme.
We used a silver rum from Eastside Distilling in Portland (one of our favorite local distilleries). And for those of us (perhaps our fair blogging host) who are not consuming alcohol, this is delicious without the rum. It would also be fabulous with gin.
Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Today’s guest poster hails from one of my favorite cocktail blogs — Rufus’ Guide to Food & Spirits. When they offered to do a round-up of minty summer cocktails, I jumped at the chance — just look at these delicious sippers! For so many of us in hot climes, mint grows like weeds in the summertime, so it’s all we can do to keep up. I can’t think of a better way to use it all!
We live in the South, and our mint plants produce almost year round. Come summertime, they would take over the yard if we didn’t keep them in pots. Considering the state of our yard, we might free them from their clay confines one of these days.
We throw mint in tea, garnish soup with it, make loads of tabbouleh when the tomatoes are in, throw it in with sauteed vegetables… you name it. We also drink it in a variety of cocktails and nonalcoholic beverages. We always say nothing punches up a summer punch at the family reunion like some moonshine. Okay, well mint is a close second on that front. Here are some of our favorite minty fresh drinks. Click on the links for recipes!
Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Today’s guest is Lee Stokes Hilton of Spoon and Ink, who is a fellow AFBAer and a former Wall Streeter-turned-writer and kitchen goddess. As a recovering lawyer, I immediately knew I had found a kindred spirit! Read on for an amazing sangria recipe, and be sure to check out her blog too — not only does she share delicious, entertaining-friendly recipes, but she also sprinkles in some personal wisdom here and there.
In the heat of the summer, nothing is quite so refreshing as sangria. But as much as I enjoy the traditional stuff, it can sometimes feel a little heavy for daytime drinking. (We all enjoy a little daytime drinking, don’t we?) So this recipe for white sangria is the perfect solution: cool, crisp, and light.
I love serving this to a brunch or a ladies’ lunch. It adds just the right touch of sophistication. And we recently served up gallons of it at a neighborhood cocktail party, where it was a huge hit. If you’re serving a large crowd, it’s sometimes easier to make batches of the wine and fruit – which you can do a day ahead – then add ¼ cup (2 ounces) of sparkling water directly to each glass. That way, the carbonation doesn’t disappear before you serve it.
As for the wine to use, I prefer either a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio, both of which have nice fruity notes that go well with the pears, kiwis, and grapes.
Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Today’s guest is a friend of mine, as well as a fellow mama and lover of spirits. (Do those two go hand in hand? Maybe. Or perhaps it is purely coincidental.) She may be a lover of wine first, but this lady knows her way around a bottle of gin, too, so I was excited when she agreed to do a guest post for me. Please welcome Alissa Leenher of SAHMmelier, and read on for a summer gin cooler perfect for sipping on the porch. Check out her site, too — it is one of my favorite reads, with everything from wine reviews to musings on motherhood. Cheers!
After the nicest spring that I can remember in my 18 years in Austin, summer is here. We actually made it to June without hitting the century mark (which is a little surprising), but now it’s time to lighten the wardrobe — and the cocktails.
One of my favorite summer sippers is as easy as throwing on your favorite sundress. Made with a locally distilled spirit and Elderflower liqueur, this cocktail is the perfect antidote to the Texas heat.
I originally fell for this gin from Bone Spirits in Smithville, Texas when making the grapefruit martini Lauren shared a few months ago. I think we are on our third bottle since I discovered it. It’s clean, herbaceous, with notes of citrus and juniper. I love it, and I love supporting local distilleries.
Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Today’s guest promised a creative margarita, and boy does she deliver! My mouth is watering just thinking about the spicy-sweet goodness of these babies. Please welcome Emily Teachout of A Time to Kale, and read on for a margarita recipe I just can’t wait to try out. Hop on over and check out her site, too — it has tons of great healthy recipes and restaurant reviews for your perusing pleasure. Emily is also a regular contributor for Endless Simmer, and you can follow her on Twitter (@emilyteachout). Cheers!
No fruit screams “summertime!” like watermelon. To me, it’s the highlight of every picnic, barbecue, and cookout — sweet, refreshing, and such a cheerful color! I’ve loved it ever since childhood, but as an adult, watermelon holds yet another perk: it’s so easy to combine with booze!
Watermelon’s texture is perfect for a frozen drink, and of course the ultimate frozen drink is the margarita… basically they were meant to be together. You really don’t need more than watermelon, tequila, limes, and maybe a bit of extra sweetener to make a good marg, but I like to make things a bit more interesting by adding a kick. I’ve had really interesting spicy cocktails in the past, but sometimes people can take it overboard by adding too much habanero, jalapeno, etc. You want a good balance of fruity and spicy, not an overwhelming tongue-searer.
That’s why I went with chipotle instead of one of the aforementioned peppers – it’s slightly smoky and sweet and works well with the watermelon and lime. It still packs a good amount of punch, so don’t get overzealous. I recommend starting with two teaspoons for the whole batch, then adding more bit by bit if you’re craving more of a punch.
I had planned on making a batch of these bad boys in the blender, like any good frozen marg, but disaster struck when my blender died on me during the creation of this recipe! I had to go with Plan B: using an immersion blender and serving the drinks over ice. Sigh. Luckily, there’s a silver lining: the frothy watermelon mixture looks gorgeous served over crushed ice. I included both “methods” in the recipe below.
½ small or “personal” watermelon, cut into small chunks
fresh juice of 2 limes
6oz silver tequila
2 tsp chipotle sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
agave nectar (as much as you like!)
With a blender:
Now, if you’re a fancy, highfalutin person with a working blender, you can make these margs the way I had originally intended. Combine the watermelon chunks and lime with about a cup of ice in your blender, then pulse until evenly ground together, but before everything is liquefied.
Add your tequila, chipotle, and a healthy squeeze of agave and pulse together a few more times.
Pour into your drinkin’ glass of choice and garnish with a wedge of lime.
Or, if you find yourself in the same desolate situation as I did – no working stand-up blender to be found – feel free to dump all ingredients (sans ice) into a big bowl and work on it segment by segment with your immersion blender. Classy, I know.
Once everything is blended to your liking, pour the cocktail mixture over crushed ice and garnish with a wedge of lime.
Any way you blend it, this unique marg will turn out to be a refreshing yet caliente summer drink!
I just finished re-reading one of my favorite books, The Great Gatsby. Of course, everyone is excited about because there’s a new movie out (and, yes, I am planning to see it at my earliest opportunity), but I just love being transported back to the world of the Roaring 20s. And it’s just a fantastic piece of literature. But today, I’m talking about it from a purely nostalgic point of view (that is, if one can be nostalgic for a time period in which one was never actually alive).
If you’d like to get in character and pretend you’re partying on Jay Gatsby’s lawn, you’re in luck — that is, at least if you’re in Austin (or one of the other cities with a Sullivan’s*). Sullivan’s is hosting a Gatsby Gala tomorrow evening, complete with dining, dancing and 20s-era cocktails and dishes. Guests are encouraged to come in full 1920s style and enjoy some delicious food, including a few vegetarian options, like deviled eggs and oysters (yes, I think oysters are arguably vegetarian).
And the cocktails — Oh, the cocktails! You all know I’m a sucker for classic cocktails, and they’ll have a few delicious-sounding ones on tap for the gala. I’m pleased to share the recipes with you, courtesy of Sullivan’s. Cheers!
Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. With summer knocking on the door, and mint starting to spread like weeds in the garden, it’s only natural to start dreaming of mojitos! Please welcome Kenley Leigh of Green Door Hospitality for a refreshing take on this summer drink. Also, go check out her site — there are lots of delicious veggie-centric recipes and entertaining ideas to get your creative juices flowing for the summer entertaining season.
Nothing says refreshing cocktail for the spring and summer months like a classic mojito. The cool combination of mint and lime makes this drink the perfect companion to a breezy and sunny weekend afternoon. Plus, it is a great way to use all the mint that pops up in our garden. When it starts creeping, prune and make mojitos!
There are a lot of great interpretations and variations to the mojito — ones that bring flavors like strawberry, lemongrass, coconut, and blueberries to the table. However, to me, nothing beats a classic.
I’m a recovering lawyer-turned-freelance writer and editor, aspiring domestic goddess, and mom to a spunky, demanding and truly awesome 2-year-old girl. I love all things food and drink, and I’ve rediscovered a love for cooking now that I’m not spending most of my days locked in the office, but I often have to improvise, since having the ankle-biter around makes it more challenging!