Smoky Margarita

Last weekend I experimented with making a smoked simple syrup. YES. Smoked. Simple. Syrup. The smoker was on duty for some meatloaf (I can do a separate blog post about that later!) and figured why not pop on some simple syrup and see what happens. I have some lessons learned, but overall the result was awesome! I already have a few ideas on how to use it in cocktails.

If you’ve followed my Instagram for any amount of time, you know I LOVE margaritas. And if you have browsed this blog you’ll notice that too. So when this smoked simple syrup worked out I knew the first thing I wanted to make was a smoky margarita. The smoky flavor is the perfect compliment to the tart lime. With just a few ingredients and this syrup you have a margarita that is definitely something special!

Tequila, smoked simple syrup, limeade, lime juice, smoked salt (for rim)

Here’s what you need:

  • 1.5 shots favorite tequila
  • 1 shot limeade (I love all things Santa Cruz Organic brand!)
  • 1 shot smoked simple syrup (see recipe details down below)
  • 1 shot lime juice
  • Smoked salt for rim
  • Ice
  • Shaker

In a shaker with ice add your tequila, limeade, simple syrup, and lime juice. Shake vigorously until cold.

Rub rim of glass with lime juice and then tap in the smoked salt. I use Maldon smoked salt. (IYKYK!) Fill the glass with ice or a large ice cube.

Pour the margarita over your ice. Garnish with a lime wheel. I got fancy with it and grilled my lime. TOTALLY just a boujee photo op garnish and definitely not required!

Sip and enjoy!


Smoked Simple Syrup

Want the details on the smoked simple syrup?? Here’s the breakdown:

On the stove in a small saucepan add 2 cups water and 1 cup of refined sugar. Over medium-low heat stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.

When your syrup is combined put it in a metal or high heat resistant container. I put mine in a metal meatloaf pan. Then place the container on an active smoker.

For the smoker, I use a Weber kettle grill. I set up my smoker like I do for meat. Light the charcoals and then I used pecan wood chips for the smoke. I’ve never tried smoking this syrup on a pellet smoker, but I assume any smoker will do the trick.

I let the syrup smoke on the smoker for about 2 hours, stirring a couple times during the duration.

Remove the syrup from the smoker and let cool for about 45 minutes and place in the fridge to store. This should last in the fridge for at least a month.

Lesson learned: Depending on the temp of your smoker, you are going to see your syrup reduce and become thicker. When I smoked mine, it reduced too thick for cocktails. Knowing that, I would have started with at least a 2:1 ratio water to sugar on the stove before I put it on the smoker. This is reflected in the instructions above. Just be aware that the hotter the temp, and the longer the time on the heat, the more it will reduce.

Chipotle Lime Aioli

When I tell you I love sauces, I LOVE sauces. But this one is in my top 3 favorite sauces. It’s amazing on tacos, sandwiches, bowls, seafood…all. the. things. You can whip it up in 5 minutes and it stores in the fridge for at least a month. I’m obsessed!


Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 TBSP Chipotle Chile Pepper Powder
  • 3-4 cloves fresh garlic finely minced/smashed
  • 1 TBSP Chili powder
  • 1 TSP ground cumin
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 3 TBSP lime juice (about 1.5-2 limes)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp of each)

In a large bowl add your mayo and sour cream. Then add your garlic, spices, lime zest, and lime juice. If you are timid on heat level, start with only 1 TBSP of the chipotle pepper powder. This is where the majority of the heat comes from. I love the full 2 TSBP but if you are making this for the 1st time, I recommend starting with only 1. Stir it all together well, taste, and add more from there. Now add salt and pepper to taste and stir together one more time. And that is it. Your all purpose sauce is complete!


Here are some ways I’ve enjoyed the aioli recently.
DELICIOUS!
On Grilled Shrimp Tacos
Drizzled Over Grilled Ahi Tuna

On Deconstructed Sushi Bowl

Pumpkin Curry Pasta

It’s October! This is the perfect dinner to kick off fall. Spicy Italian sausage, creamy pumpkin, and warm curry flavor all wrapped around a hardy pasta. This was a hit among friends last night, so if you like the warm spice of curry, you have to give this pasta a try!

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes Servings 4-6

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb Pasta (I used Rigatoni)
    • Plus 1 cup pasta water
  • 1 lb Hot Italian Sausage
  • 1 15 oz can Pumpkin Puree (NOT Pumpkin Pie Filling!)
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 container of baby spinach or power greens (142 grams)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced/crushed
  • 3/4 cup white wine (If you don’t want to use wine, substitute all chicken stock, just ease up on the salt if you do this)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2-3 heaping TBSP curry powder (this is where you get the spice!)
  • 1/8-1/4 TSP nutmeg (per your taste)
  • 1-1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese + some for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese for a gooey cheese garnish (this is absolutely optional. I didn’t use it in my final plate!)
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil (a good drizzle)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

This sauce comes together really quickly so you will want to have everything measured and ready to go when you get started. A great thing when you need a quick meal!

Start by getting a large pot of water boiling. When you are bringing your water to a boil, brown your sausage in a large walled skillet. You’ll be finishing the pasta in this skillet so you want to make sure it’s big enough to hold the all the pasta. When your sausage is browned, remove it from the skillet and drain on a paper towel lined plate and set it aside.

When your water is at a rolling boil, generously salt the water and toss in your pasta. Cook the pasta to al dente per the packages instructions. As your pasta is cooking, it’s time to make the delicious sauce. (DO NOT DRAIN THE PASTA! You need about a cup of pasta water for the sauce!)

In the same skillet you used to brown your sausage, put in a drizzle of olive oil and add in your diced onions. Cook until they start turning translucent.

When your onions have begun to sweat and turn translucent, add in your curry power and allow it too cook for about a minute to let the spice bloom. Now it’s time to add in your garlic, chicken stock, white wine, and pumpkin puree. Stir these over medium heat until they combine and begin to heat up.

When your pumpkin sauce has started to warm, toss in all of your greens and let those cook down and wilt. As the greens are cooking, grate in your nutmeg.

Your sauce will likely seem very thick at this point. This is why we saved the pasta water! Add your browned sausage into the sauce and now it’s time to add that pasta. Pull the pasta straight from the pot of pasta water over into your sauce allowing the excess water to carry over with it. Toss the pasta in the sauce until the pasta is coated. If the sauce is still thick (mine was) continue adding a little pasta water at a time and stirring until the sauce loosens. When the sauce has nicely coated the pasta and is the consistency you desire, add in your grated parmesan. Give your pasta one final good stir until it’s all mixed in to the sauce. Make sure to sample your sauce at this point and add in the Salt and Pepper to taste. Garnish with Mozzarella or Parmesan Cheese!

Spicy Michelada

We are still hanging onto the summer weather around here and it just begs for cold beers on the deck. I’m stretching the al fresco cocktailing season out as long as I can. Tonight I was in the mood for more than just a beer. Enter the Michelada!

What you need:

  • 12 oz beer (you want something light/lager or ideally, a Mexican beer)
  • 1/2 cup V8 Juice
  • 2 TBSP lime juice
  • 1 TSP hot sauce (more or less to your heat level preference)
  • 1/2 TSP Worcestershire
  • 1/2 TSP Jane’s Krazy Original Mixed-Up Salt (add more if you love the saltiness)
Here’s the Mixed-up Salt. It has herbs, spices, dehydrated onion and garlic. YUMMMM.

In the bottom of a large mug or glass pour the V8 Juice, lime juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and salt. Top the mixture with your ice cold beer and gently stir up the beverage. I garnished mine with some pickled jalapeno slices because, well, I like the heat! But it would be delicious to rim with some of the Mixed-Up Salt or Tajin, and a garnish of lime wedge!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

The brussels sprout (Yes, it’s actually brusselS sprouts with an S on the end). Such a divisive vegetable amongst people. I think it’s one of those veggies that you either love or hate. I used to be a hater. My dad was not a fan, so we NEVER ate them at home growing up. And the only ones I ever recall eating as a kid were mushy or stinky or both!

A friend of mine told me he saw a TikTok that said the version we eat now are different than the ones we had as kids. Apparently, genetically, they are less bitter. (???) You might want to fact check that last part, but I still think you should give them a try! I’m glad I revisited these veggies as an adult because they are now a favorite.

I love my brussels sprouts super roasted and crispy with a little heat. There’s lots of ways you can build on this basic recipe too. So master this version and then have fun playing with the accessories! I’ll list some of the ideas at the end.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb brussels sprouts trimmed and halved/quartered so equal in size
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (depends on how spicy you like it)
  • sheet pan
Trimmed Brussels Sprouts

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is heating up, prep your sprouts. You want the bottoms trimmed off and then either halve or quarter the sprout. You want them to be approximately the same size so they roast evenly. The picture above shows the trimmed bottom on the right and the halved/quartered heads on the left. Don’t discard the loose leaves. Place those on the sheet pan with the rest of the trimmed sprouts.

Once you have all your sprouts trimmed and on the sheet tray toss them in the olive oil, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and cayenne pepper. Spread them out evenly across the pan. THIS IS IMPORTANT…do not crowd your pan! If you crowd the pan and don’t give them space, you’ll end up with steamed brussels sprouts. Steamed=mushy! NO NO NO. So make sure you spread them out well so they can get roasty and toasty.

Once the oven has reached 400 it’s time to roast. Place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and roast for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes are up, pull them out and toss the sprouts around. You are doing this so you can get them roasted all over. The next pic is what they look like after the 1st 10 minutes in the oven. They are starting to soften a bit and get a little brown. THEY NEED MORE TIME!

After you’ve tossed them, return the pan back into the oven for another 8-10 minutes. You’ll want to keep an eye on them around the 8 minute mark. Depending on your oven, it could need a little less or more time for them to get nice and crispy.

They are done when the leaves are a dark brown and the heads have golden roast on them. Pull them out of the oven and they are DELICIOUS just like this. You can always add a little more salt to finish them if they need it. But that’s it! They are done! Now you enjoy them with steak, chicken, whatever!


Some other tasty ways to try them:

Now that you have this basic recipe, you can play with variations of it. I love to add 4 strips of bacon, sliced into small pieces, and toss that with the sprouts and seasonings before I put them in the oven. It adds a smoky, meaty, deliciousness to the sprouts. HIGHLY recommend! Parmesan cheese is another winner. Just sprinkle some on in the last couple minutes of roasting to add a nutty salty component.

Some other things I’ve done is add a balsamic glaze or honey drizzle on top as soon as they come out of the oven. The drizzle melts and adds a sweetness that is amazing.

I have also added some things after cooking them like feta crumbles, dried cranberries, and walnuts. You can really experiment. The slight bitterness of the brussels sprouts goes well with a little sweetness. Get creative! Let me know what you try!

Blackberry Basil Bourbon Smash

The perfect transition beverage from summer to fall. The herbal and bright berry flavors mesh with the warming qualities of bourbon to hit all the right notes. You can’t miss with this beautiful cocktail.

Ingredients
  • 2 oz bourbon (I used Larceny)
  • 1 oz honey simple syrup
  • 1 oz lime juce
  • 7 blackberries
  • 5-7 basil leaves
  • club soda
  • Ice
  • Shaker
  • Strainer
  • Muddler (spoon or other utensil is fine to smash)
  • High ball glass

In a shaker, add 5 blackberries, 5 basil leaves, and the honey simple syrup. Muddle these ingredients until they are a pulpy mixture and blackberries have given up all their juice.

Muddled blackberries, basil, and honey simple syrup

To the muddled mixture add your bourbon and lime juice and shake well. In a glass filled with ice, strain the contents of your shaker over the ice. My shaker has pretty big holes, so I used a mesh strainer over the glass to keep out the seeds. See the photo next of what I used.

Top off your beverage with club soda. I used lime La Croix because that’s what I had on hand.

Garnish with your remaining blackberries and basil leaves. Sip and enjoy!

Frozen Fruity Vodka Soda

This is a super fun twist on the standard vodka soda. Freeze your favorite fruit juice in ice trays and make this simple cocktail something special! I love this hack with fruit juice. Use bottled or fresh and this prolongs the life of your juice. Plus, you can use these cubes in all sorts of cocktails. I’ll show you more in another post sometime!

Let’s start with the juice cubes:

Fill a silicon ice try with your juice of choice. I had tart cherry juice (and LOVE it) so that’s what I used in this beverage. You will need to let these freeze over night.

For the cocktail:

  • 2 shots vodka
  • 3-5 juice cubes
  • Sparkling water/club soda

Directly in a glass add your juice cubes. Over the cubes pour the 2 shots of vodka and then top with sparkling water or club soda. I used lime La Croix. Sip and enjoy!

Welcome!

After years of sharing photos of my food, cocktails, and other fun and crazy things in my life on Instagram I decided it was time to create a space for it all. This blog was inspiration from all of you who support me. I hope you enjoy what I’m creating!

Cook. Clink. Chaos.

Cook. My cooking style is definitely random. I’m not a chef! Sometimes it’s completely homemade, other times I live for simplicity. If you are looking for either, it will be here! I spent nearly a decade in the food and beverage industry and picked up nothing more than silverware and dirty dishes. I had zero desire to cook, had absolutely no clue how to make anything but a sandwich, and survived on the restaurant cooks and drive-thru windows to feed me during my time in the business.  But life changes, things happen, and I began to explore cooking. A lot of my food is off the cuff creating. What do I have on hand? What did I see and want to try and recreate? Not everything is a winner and not everything is completely homemade. That’s OK! It’s all what brought me excitement and confidence in the kitchen. I hope it does the same for you!

Clink. My friends and I love to gather for happy hour. When that can’t happen I enjoy being creative at home. Classic cocktails and random mixology. I applied the same approach to my cocktail experiments as I had to cooking. What do I have? What sounds good? Who can I enjoy them with? Cocktail making led to sharing what I was doing with my friends on social media to feel connected to people. Who doesn’t love a 5 o’clock cocktail after a full day of video calls? Find your inspiration with spirits too!  

Chaos. Fostering dogs, playing fantasy football, watching the Shockers hoop, traveling the world, dancing to old school hip hop. Creating joy. My love of dogs expanded into fostering for a local rescue organization called Wichita Animal Action League. I had a chocolate lab named Ruxin and he was the most AMAZING dog. I knew he would be great with other dogs so I took a giant leap into fostering in 2016. That leap has led to me fostering 18 dogs and adopting 2 of them (FOSTER FAIL). Deacon the Dalmatian and Mosby the Supermutt. Chaos is the greatest part of my life!

This has surprisingly been the most enjoyable hobby I never EVER thought I would love. Of course my story has many more chapters, and this is just a very brief glimpse into how this page came to be. I hope this blog becomes a space for you to find creativity in your cooking, enjoyment in cocktails with others, and some entertainment and inspiration for more good chaos in your life.

So that’s me. Cook. Clink. Chaos. I am so very glad you are here!

This is my life!

Double Decker Crab Cake Sandwich

Here’s a hot tip: Not everything has to be homemade! You can still get creative and make things easy on yourself. That is where this crab cake sandwich idea came from. I didn’t want to take the time to make crab cakes from scratch but was really craving them in a sandwich. I found a great quality crab cake in the freezer section at Sam’s Club, zhuzhed up some mayo, added some toppings, and a delicious easy sandwich was born.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Servings: 4 Sandwiches

Here’s what you need:

  • 8 Crab Cakes (The Member’s Mark brand I used has 6 in a box so you would need 2 boxes to serve 4 double deckers)
  • 4 Brioche Buns
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 2-3 dashes of your favorite hot sauce
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Onion/Pickled Onion

The longest part about this recipe is waiting for the crab cakes to cook. You will want to follow the package instructions for this depending on the brand you use. Mine called for 20-23 minutes of cook time from frozen. I lined a sheet tray with parchment and then sprayed it with cooking spray. This ensures it doesn’t stick AND gets a nice brown crust. At the halfway point of cooking pull out the cakes and flip them over to get a good crust on the 2nd side. You also will want to GENTLY smash them down to flatten them a bit for the sandwich. Be very careful doing this because they can break apart very easily. So just a gentle smoosh with the back of a metal spatula works great.

While your crab cakes are cooking you can prep the rest of your sandwich. I made a quick and easy Old Bay Mayo as the dressing for mine. Here’s how to make it:

In a bowl put 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 2-3 tsp of lemon juice, 2 tsp of Old Bay seasoning, and a few dashes of hot sauce. Stir this all together. I like mine pretty lemony so you can also add less or more on the juice and hot sauce depending on what you like. And that’s it. It’s ready for your sandwiches.

When your crab cakes are ready, it’s time to assemble. I sliced tomato, cleaned some ice burg lettuce, and grabbed pickled onions as my toppings while the cakes cooked. I also like a toasted bun so I opted to for that too.

I smeared some mayo on both sides of the bun, put tomatoes on the bottom, added my first crab cake, then some lettuce and pickled onions, then the 2nd crab cake, and topped it with the other half of the bun. I chose to serve cauliflower and cheese on the side with a little Old Bay sprinkled on top. But you could choose any side that sounds delicious like some crinkle cut fries or sweet potato tots! And there you have it… Another quick and creative meal!