Watermelon Whirl

Watermelon Whirl

When I was pregnant for the first time, I thought I would miss drinking alcohol – it is not that I drank very much, but it was nice to have a drink every once in a while.  At that point in my life, I really loved a good bottle of beer.  I was mostly into fruit beers, like apricot, raspberry, and oh blueberry (just thinking about it makes me want one) that we found in a brewery in Boulder one weekend….but would be happy with a nice Belgium brew without fruit as well.  This was before I was into the cocktail craze, and if I did order a cocktail – it was a Cosmo.  Pregnancy turned me into the mocktails, that is for sure.  All of a sudden whenever I went out to dinner, I would scour the menu for a good mocktail.  I felt like it was ok to have a few sips of my husband’s beer here and there, but for me, it was mocktails all the way.

There is another baby joining the family soon – my cousin is pregnant, and she is just about the cutest thing I have ever seen.  They are both so excited about their daughter who is due in November, and my younger one is even more excited thinking about the possibility that this baby could come on her birthday.  My cousin is not just a typically pregnant mother-to-be, she is also a scientist.  I happen to know the type of person who becomes a scientist – since I have been married to one for almost 17 years.  There are no simple answers to a scientist – and that’s when her blog was born.  If you are pregnant – this is a great source of information – not medical advice, just different mysteries of being pregnant (as she puts it) “from a scientists perspective.”  The Pregnant Scientist is not only informative, it is actually quite fun to read whether you are pregnant or not.

So back to the drinks.  Watermelon is summertime’s classic fruit.  When I was visiting my mother, instead of serving all the watermelon for dessert – I decided to experiment a little – and boy was I glad I did.  This drink was exactly what I was looking for – just the right amount of natural sweetness, and a flavor that screamed summertime.  Of course after I mastered the cocktail – it was time for the mocktail.  The girls loved them, in fact – so did I!  I found myself sneaking sips of there’s when I was done with my cocktail.  So give this watermelon a whirl, and see what you think.  Whether you drink or not – are pregnant or not, which ever drink you choose, I think you will agree that it is a party in a glass – a nice summertime garden party overlooking the ocean.  Cheers!

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons watermelon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Chartreuse (cocktail only)
  • 4 tablespoons Gin (cocktail only)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (and more for garnish)
  • 6 mint leaves
  • Club Soda (mocktail only)

Preparation

Place watermelon chunks in a blender and puree until liquefied.  Strain the liquid so you are left with just watermelon juice, and the discard the solids.  Place the mint leave in a shaker with some ice, and muddle the leaves with the back of a wooden spoon.  Add the watermelon juice, Chartreuse, Gin and fresh lime juice.  Shake the drink and strain into a martini glass with a fresh slice of lime as a garnish.  If you are making a mocktail, omit the Chartreuse and Gin, and after you strain into a glass, add some ice and club soda.  If you like a sweeter drink, you can add 1 tablespoon of agave nectar.

Makes 1 drink

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Watermelon Whirl

Cucumber Mint Tequila Cooler

Cucumber Mint Tequilla Cooler

I swear, the summer keeps getting better and better.  I feel horrible about saying this when there are so many places not having a good summer, but we deserve it.  It is not every year that we actually see temperatures above 80 degrees, and I swear at this point we have seen more days like that than I can count.  Tonight I did something a little out of the ordinary for me – almost decadent – I went to a class at Book Larder on making cocktails.  I sat there for 90 minutes basically listening to a lecture on different flavor combinations, spices and ways to infuse alcohol.  It was amazing in so many ways…first of all, to take a break from work, or the chaos of coming home after a long day – just to sit there and be able to think about all the different creations available – it is almost a little overwhelming.  There is so much I want to do, and so little time.

This weekend when our friends were visiting, they really got to see what we have been working on for the past couple of years.  They were shocked.  They actually called us adults, and I just laughed.  They wanted to know how we even know what types of alcohol to buy – and I explained that we have basically been doing research for the past couple of years – and this year in particular we really made a lot of progress getting to know a bartender at our favorite restaurant.  He is so knowledgeable, we just sit there and drill him every time we go there.  It is amazing how much we have learned.  Between jam and cocktails, there has got to be a business in there somewhere – or for now, a really fun hobby.

I also decided that from now on, whenever I post a cocktail here, I will explain how to turn it into a mocktail – in case you don’t drink alcohol, you are pregnant – or you want to make your kids something really fun to drink.  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and I was sold after the first ingredient.  I am a sucker for anything with cucumbers.  I also thought, why not get your vitamins in as well?  This cocktail was just perfect for a hot summer night.  It was so refreshing, and earthy – the flavors were incredible.  If you are making this alcohol free – just leave out the tequila and add a little extra tonic water – it is that easy.  Your kids will never believe they are actually drinking something good for them.  Here’s to summer!!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped English cucumber
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1  lime, sectioned and juiced
  •  Dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup tequila blanco (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chilled tonic water

Preparation

Combine first 6 ingredients in a food processor; pulse until smooth. Scrape mixture into a bowl; stir in tequila. Chill. Strain. Stir in tonic water. Serve over ice.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cucumber Mint Tequila Cooler

Summer Sunset

Summer Sunset

Happy Mother’s Day!!  It is our day – the day where all that hard work is finally recognized.  I hope all you mothers out there had a terrific day, filled with lots of hugs, cards and relaxation.  I had a really nice day, but I must admit, the highlight was this poem that my younger daughter wrote for me:

My Mom is like…

A lightning bolt at the computer,

A technology queen,

A super cook,

A fluffy pillow,

A flower garden,

Some bug spray,

And a no dogs allowed sign!

The other highlight was yesterday – making this amazing cocktail.  Last summer we were at one of our favorite restaurants – where the tables are pretty close to each other.  There was a couple next to us and we were eyeing their food.  They were on their main course, and their food looked incredible. They noticed us staring, so we started talking.  The food conversation quickly turned to cocktails – and he ended up sharing his favorite cocktail with us.  We were still in the process of building out our bar (in an old fashion wardrobe cabinet in our dining area) and didn’t have a lot of good liqueur just yet.  We were in research mode (as we often are), and asking a lot of questions on what we should buy.  He definitely talked up Aperol, which is similar to Campari, but a little less bitter.  It took me a log time to make this drink, as fresh grapefruit is not something usually I have in the refrigerator.  I just happened to have a bunch of grapefruits though that were too sour to eat – so I squeezed all the juice out of them – and remembered this cocktail.  It was a huge hit with my husband and our friends.  Oh, and did you see the color??  Gorgeous.  As always…don’t drink and drive.

So – here’s to all the mothers out there – cheers to you!!

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces Aperol
  • 2 ounces Gin

Preparation

Place all ingredients into a shaker with ice.  Shake and serve in a martini glass with a twist of orange.  Makes 2 cocktails.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Summer Sunset

Summer Sunset 2

Fennel Lemon Drop

Time to pick up a drink and toast to the beginning of summer.  Of course, in the Pacific NW, we are lucky if we can break 70, but if the sun is out, people are smiling.  Friday evening when I came home from work, it felt like January – exactly the reason why my husband and I call this month Junuary.  I hear the rest of the country is in a huge hot spell…not us.  On the bright side though, no need for air-conditioners or sprinklers – aren’t we lucky.

I am obsessed with fennel – if you are a long-time reader, you will remember some of my other posts on the wonderful topic.  At one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle, they have taken fennel to a whole new level.  One night I was there and they served fennel ice-cream with this sumptuous morsel – with some candied fennel on the side, I swear there is nothing better.  Another night they served a fennel cocktail, that was also outstanding.  I have been thinking about that fennel cocktail ever since…

The other week I had a bulb of fennel in the refrigerator, and no time to roast it – so I had an idea.  Fennel infused vodka – I was well on my way.  Once the vodka was nicely infused, it was time to decide how to prepare the cocktail.  I didn’t want to do anything too crazy that would mask the taste of the fennel – so I decided to go real simple – just a little simple syrup and some lemon juice.  I shook it up, and I was in love.  The first night I made it, I served them in high ball glasses over ice – a nice fennel lemonade.  I didn’t like though how the ice melted into the drink – so the next time I served them straight up – and that was the key.  Just like a lemon drop, with a wonderful flavor of fennel.  So – here’s to summer – may we have many nice sunny evenings to enjoy these!

Ingredients

  •  2 cups vodka
  • 1 medium fennel bulb
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup
  • ice cubes
  • lemon slices for garnish

Preparation

To make the fennel infused vodka, cut up one medium fennel bulb and place in a jar.  Pour vodka over the fennel and seal.  Place in the refrigerator until the fennel is infused, around 3-4 days.  The longer the vodka infuses, the stronger the fennel flavor.

The recipe above makes 8 drinks.  To make 2 drinks, take a shaker and fill with ice cubes.  Pour 1/2 cup vodka, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons simple syrup into the shaker.  Shake well, and strain into two martini glasses.  Garnish with lemon slices.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Fennel Lemon Drop