July 17, 2014

Watermelon Margaritas

We're just one week away from National Tequila Day on July 24th and I recommend celebrating with watermelon margaritas!  I was excited when asked to create a recipe using Casa Noble Tequila, so much so that I bought their Tequila Blanco ahead of time to get a jump start before receiving their Tequila Reposado in the mail.

watermelon margaritas recipe

I've slowly been stepping up my tequila game, starting with Jose Cuervo (which now makes me shudder), then 1800 and now Casa Noble.  I paid $41 for Casa Noble Tequila Blanco and found that it is well worth the price.  Even The New York Times' Tasting Report agrees that this is a phenomenal tequila.

Another interesting article comes from The Washington Post about orange liqueurs and the importance of splurging on Cointreau.  Here's the thing, an expensive bottle of Cointreau isn't needed to make these margaritas.  You need one mini bottle (50 ml) to make 4 cocktails, which costs about 2 bucks.  So you'll have plenty of money left to purchase some quality tequila!


I tried both Tequila Reposado and Tequila Blanco with this watermelon margarita recipe.  I typically prefer reposado for margaritas, but in this case I would definitely recommend both, which each have a hint of citrus that pairs well with orange liqueur.

I am not a fan of salt rimmed margarita glasses but Chris is, so I made pink salt for him :)  I recommend using a resealable plastic bag to mix coarse salt and food coloring, if you would like colored salt on the rim of your cocktail glass too.  Just dip the rim in a little lime juice before adding the salt.




After seeing cute watermelon margarita popsicles on Pinterest I knew I needed to try making them with a modified version of this cocktail recipe.  I liked the idea of using Dixie Cups instead of molds because tearing paper off seemed a heck of a lot easier than the tricky business of unmolding popsicles without melting them.

The final result is really cute but the shape is a little strange for eating.  I definitely prefer the shape produced by my popsicle molds, however after three attempts of using my molds I gave up.  I cannot explain why the recipe froze so well in Dixie Cups but was a slushy mess each time in the popsicle molds.



So the popsicle recipe became a watermelon margarita sorbet recipe!  The sorbet is only slightly spiked to allow it to freeze better, so if you want a boozy treat I recommend adding a touch more tequila before serving it.  It is currently really hot and humid here in Miami, so this sorbet was a great dessert to enjoy while sweating sitting on our balcony.


I recently bought new cocktail glasses via Amazon and I'm really happy with the Bormioli glasses you see pictured.  I love both the look and feel of them, and at 8 1/2-ounces, they're the perfect size for cocktails.

Disclaimer: I received Casa Noble's Reposado Tequila to review for this post, along with a Whole Foods gift card to create a cocktail recipe for #TequilaDay.

watermelon margaritas recipe


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients (4 cocktails)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 orange
  • 2 cups chopped seedless watermelon
  • 3/4 cup Casa Noble Tequila
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau (I use a 50 ml bottle)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (from 3 limes)
  • garnishes such as lime wedges or slices of watermelon
Instructions
  • To make orange zest simple syrup, combine the sugar, water and 3 strips (about 1-inch each) of orange zest (cut with a vegetable peeler) in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat , stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Let cool to room temperature, then remove orange peel and transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid. You'll have about 3/4 cup simple syrup and it will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
  • In a blender, puree watermelon until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding solids and foam, into a pitcher. You should have about 8 oz (1 cup) of watermelon juice.
  • Then stir in 6 oz (3/4 cup) tequila and 2 oz (1/4 cup) each of simple syrup, Cointreau and lime juice.   Pour into ice-filled cocktail glasses, garnished with lime wedges and/or small watermelon slices, if desired.
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July 15, 2014

Pitas with Hummus, Radishes, Spinach & Feta

I'm on a pita lunch kick this summer because it's easy to vary pita fillings and they make a quick weekday lunch option.  The idea for a radish and hummus filling came from The Live-In Kitchen and I'm so glad Lindsay suggested the combination because it's a great one!

Slicing small items, like radishes, on my mandoline makes me nervous despite the hand guard so I pulled out the slicing disc for my food processor and was impressed with how quickly and easily it produced thinly sliced radishes.


I was happy to find pitas included in my big box of free items from Stonefire because I have a hard time finding pitas that aren't dry, which causes them to crack when being filled and they don't taste very good.  The Stonefire pitas I received were very soft, easy to fill and better tasting than any pitas I've tried before.  I only wish I could get a regular shipment of them.

For this filling combination, I chose my favorite type of hummus (Sabra roasted red pepper), along with arugula, spinach, radishes and feta cheese.  I thought the arugula and radishes together might be a bit too peppery but they were surprisingly good together.


I would love to hear suggestions for more pita filling combinations!  What's your favorite?  My other go-to pita lunch this summer has been the edamame pesto, feta & chickpea combo.

July 13, 2014

Roasted Vegetable Pizza

I'm a huge fan of homemade pizza dough, but I also love the convenience of using Stonefire's pizza crusts.  So it was easy to say yes to receiving a big box of Stonefire items knowing that I already loved their pizza crusts.

Alysha got me into eating roasted vegetable salads during our Door County trip, so I wanted to experiment with roasted vegetables on a pizza.  Chris and I were both amazed when experiment #1 turned out perfectly.  As in, we were sitting across the dining table from each other saying "wow, this is actually really good."


Stonefire products can be found in the bakery or deli area at most grocery stores.  Publix is my local grocery store and they have the strangest store layout.  Their Stonefire pizza crusts on a shelf in the cheese section.  It's worth taking time to figure out where they are in your local store.


There are many vegetables that would roast nicely for this pizza, but I chose eggplant and zucchini.  If you have a grill (we left ours behind in Wisconsin), I think this pizza would also be great with grilled vegetables.

Despite not liking tomatoes, I added some to this pizza because Chris loves tomatoes and I like they color the add. I did pick every last one of them off though before enjoying my slices of pizza :)


This pizza comes together quickly once the vegetables are roasted.  Just spread a layer of pesto on the Stonefire crust, then top with roasted vegetables.  I prefer using a perforated pizza pan for a crisper crust but a baking sheet or pizza stone would work too.


I added arugula just after removing the pizza from the oven.  Arugula is too bitter for me in a salad but I like the addition of it on pizzas...in small quantities :)



Roasted Vegetable Pizza



Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Stonefire multigrain pizza crust
  • 1/4 cup pesto (I used spinach basil pesto)
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup arugula
Instructions
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the eggplant, zucchini, onion, garlic, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Seal the bag, then shake until the vegetables are coated in oil and seasoning.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the vegetables out in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, then toss vegetables. Roast for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft. Leave the oven at 400 degrees for the pizza.
  • Place pizza crust on a perforated pizza pan. Spread pesto evenly on the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Add roasted vegetables, tomatoes and feta cheese. Bake for 10 minutes. Add arugula immediately after removing pizza from oven. Slice into 8 pieces and serve.
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July 01, 2014

Nectarine Crumble Bars

I've made this recipe at least a dozen times and it's one I eagerly look forward to making when peaches and nectarines become available each summer.  It's based on a peach shortbread recipe from Smitten Kitchen and is so simple to make!


I go a lot heavier on the peaches/nectarines than Deb of Smitten Kitchen does.  I did so the very first time I tried her recipe after reading numerous comments suggesting more peaches and I've found that triple the amount she calls for is perfect.


Peaches and nectarines are fruits that will soften after being picked but will not get any sweeter.  It's important to use at least somewhat firm fruit for this recipe because, as I've discovered, even the sharpest of knives struggles to cut slices from a soft nectarine.


If you have a picnic or potluck coming up, these bars would make a great addition!  Not too sweet, not too filling, just a great summer dessert.



Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (makes 16 bars)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 firm nectarines, pitted and thinly sliced
Instructions
  • Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Using a pastry blender, mix the butter into the flour mixture and then the egg. At this point you will have a dry crumb mixture.
  • Pat about 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of an 8x8 pan, pressing firmly. Scatter nectarine slices over crumb base in a single layer (some overlap is ok). Scatter remaining crumbs evenly over nectarines.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until top is very slightly brown and you can see a little color around the edges. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares. Store in refrigerator, or freeze.

Recipe adapted from: Smitten Kitchen
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