Blood Orange Mule

Every year I am absolutely obsessed with blood oranges when they come into season. The color is STUNNING and the juice adds a lovely bit of sweet citrus to cocktails. One of my favorite ways to use the juice is in a Moscow Mule. To enjoy these year round I juice a large batch of them and freeze it into cubes in silicone ice trays. Then, when I want to make a cocktail and they are out of season, I just pop a few cubes in a shaker with the liquor I’m using and it is just like fresh squeezed. This is a fantastic hack I learned from my friend Josh. Hi Josh!!

If you’d like to make this a low sugar version, substitute a zero sugar ginger beer. I like Reed’s but there are tons of options out there now. Basically, choose ingredients YOU like and you’ll love the end result. Let’s make a mule!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1.5 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Blood Orange Juice (about the juice of 1-2 oranges)
  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice
  • 3-4 oz Ginger Beer

In a mule mug or glass filled with ice add all of your ingredients and gently stir together. Garnish with a blood orange wheel. Done. Delish. Sip. Enjoy!

Microwave Cake

I am going to go right out and say it. I can’t take complete credit for this recipe. EEK! I know! There’s a successful YouTube videographer that’s from my area named Lisa Nguyen and she posts really great content. Not just cooking, but delicious food from restaurants, other food bloggers’ videos, food challenges, lots of awesome stuff. She posted a video of a cake hack she learned that is just combining a can of pumpkin puree and a box of cake mix. Mix it together and bake, and you have cake. I LOVED this simplicity and thought it would be an awesome way to do a single serve mug microwave cake! So I set out to make one and this recipe was born.

2 ingredient cake and it’s ready in 90 seconds!? Sign me up! And I know what you’re thinking…can you taste the pumpkin? NO. Once the batter is cooked you absolutely would have zero idea it’s made with pumpkin. It’s microwave magic. I like to add mix-ins like chocolate chips, toffee bits, fruit, sprinkles, so many ideas. To me nothing is off limits. I’ve tried this recipe with chocolate and yellow cake mixes and both were fabulous. I also have a box of spiced cake mix I want to try with cinnamon chips. OH MY DELICIOUS. Or red velvet with white chocolate chips. Or chocolate with peanut butter cups. I can go on and on and on! Of course these add-ins are optional but they definitely add fun to the cake!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/4 cup boxed cake mix
  • 2 heaping TBSP canned pumpkin puree
  • 1-2 TBSP water until mixture is cake batter consistency
    • (this is a freebie ingredient in my mind!)
  • Optional mix-ins like chocolate chips or sprinkles

In a microwave safe ramekin or mug combine the cake mix, pumpkin puree, and water until it is all incorporated. If you have any mix-ins, add those as well. For easy cleanup you can spray the mug with non-stick spray but it’s definitely not required. Pop in the microwave and cook for 1:15-1:45 depending on your microwave strength. Mine is perfect at 90 seconds. Fluffy, Moist (ick the word, yum the texture lol), Perfection!

Mr. Black 43

This week I turned 42. It was fabulously unremarkable and wonderful. I firmly believe in surrounding yourself with people who grant your wish of a comfy, cozy, relaxed birthday. I mention said birthday because my sister gifted me a bottle of Mr. Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur for the occasion. Although I may be the sister with a blog, she is definitely the connoisseur of chic, grown-up, interesting cocktails. She is always introducing me to new things to try. This is a recipe she created and shared with me and it is FANTASTIC. I immediately knew I wanted to share it in the blog! She describes it as a fusion of a Carajillo and an espresso martini. It’s slightly sweet, coffee forward, and the hint of lemon finishes it off perfectly. You are going to love it.

I give you the…Mr. Black 43 Martini

Here’s what you need:

  • 1.5 oz Mr. Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
  • 1.5 oz Licor 43
  • 1.5 oz cold brew concentrate
  • Zest of a lemon

If you aren’t familiar with Licor 43 you are definitely missing out. It is a delightful Spanish liqueur that tastes of sweet vanilla with hints of citrus. It’s usually hiding over by the aperitifs and specialty items at your liquor store. Licor 43 can be added to a multitude of cocktails when you want a sweet component. Highly recommend trying it!

Back to the beverage! In a shaker filled with ice, add the Mr. Black, Licor 43, and cold brew concentrate. Shake VERY vigorously. Shaking makes the delicious foamy top you get when you pour it into your glass. Next, take the zest of a lemon and rub it around the rim of your glass. This is an optional step, and the cocktail is delicious without, but it does add a little brightness and it’s how my sister made it so I follow her expertise. Pour the well shaken contents into a coup or martini glass. Be sure to shake out all the foam onto the top. Garnish with the lemon zest, coffee beans, or just leave it simple like I did.

Enjoy.

Pickled Red Onions

In my opinion no Mexican food meal is complete without pickled red onions. The tang of vinegar and tiny hint of heat not only pairs well with tacos and nachos, but I love it on scrambled eggs, pizza, ahi tuna, you name it! They are a cinch to make and you can keep them in the fridge for a month. I always have a jar on hand!


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper or Serrano
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 3/4 cups distilled vinegar
  • 1.5 TBSP salt
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP black peppercorns
  • Jar(s)

In a saucepan over medium low heat add your water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and peppercorns. You could also use apple cider vinegar or a combo of distilled and apple cider if you would prefer a more mellow pickled taste. The apple cider vinegar will kill the sharp tang. I personally LOVE the sharp tang so I like using all distilled. But these are your onions, so do what you like! Stir and let it heat up until the sugar and salt is dissolved.

While your pickling liquid is warming, slice your red onion. I like to do about 1/4 inch slices. Thin, but not too thin. Slice your jalapeno into rings. Leave in the seeds and ribs. Layer your vegetables into the jar.

Once the salt and sugar have dissolved, carefully pour the liquid over the veggies into your jar. I like to use the handle of a wooden spoon to move the liquid and peppercorns evenly around the veggies in the jar to ensure they are all over the onions. Fill the jar to the top with the liquid and close the lid.

I let the jar sit on the counter for about 45 minutes to cool slightly and then pop it in the fridge. You can use these in 4-6 hours but are truly at their best bright pink, glorious selves after at least a day or 2 in the fridge. What are you planning to put yours on!?

Kombuchatini

Kombucha + Vodka= Kombuchatini.

Like any woman that lived early adulthood vicariously through the wildly glamorous ladies of Sex and the City, I just finished watching And Just Like That. As any true fan of the franchise would. Love it…or hate it, I know we’re all here for it. Catching up with our favorite NYC women had me reminiscing about the classic SATC cocktail, The Cosmopolitan. But just like any reboot these days, it needs a refresh as well.

And just like that…here’s my spin on the classic Cosmopolitan. (HA! You know I had to do it)

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 3-4 oz cranberry kombucha
  • Ice

In a shaker filled with ice, add Vodka, Cointreau, and lime juice. Shake well until cold. Strain contents into a martini glass. Top with cranberry kombucha. Do not shake the kombucha! It’s fizzy on its own! Garnish with fresh cranberries, lime wheel, or an orange twist. Sip and enjoy!

Sparkling Aperol Gin Cocktail

Although this winter weather has everyone craving cozy bourbon and warm cocktails, I still like a refreshing light cocktail no matter the temperature outside. This fresh Aperol and gin delight is the perfect aperitif OR late night sipper. And anything bubbly is a plus in my book! Orange, lemon, herbal, sparkling…YUM! Give this gorgeous lady a try tonight!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Gin (I prefer Bombay Sapphire)
  • 1 oz Aperol
  • .5 oz fresh lemon juice (the juice of 1/2 lemon)
  • Appx 2-4 oz Blood Orange & Black Raspberry S. Pellegrino (enough to top the drink)
  • Ice

In a high ball or stemless wine glass filled with ice, combine Gin, Aperol, and lemon juice. Top with S. Pellegrino or sparkling water of choice. Stir to combine. Garnish with orange slice or candied orange. Enjoy!

Caramelized Onion & Bacon Quiche

Quiche is such a versatile meal. I love it for breakfast and brunch, but it also comes in clutch for an easy dinner. You can add pretty much any meat, vegetable, and cheese you like, mix with a custard, pour it in a crust, and bake. BOOM. Dinner! This version is very decadent. Sweet caramelized onions, smoky bacon, and 2 kinds of cheese come together for a rich and yummy quiche. Serve it with a simple green salad and you have a full meal.

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook time: 1 hour Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen deep dish pie crust
  • 5 eggs
  • 6 strips of bacon cut into lardons
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 shallot sliced
  • 4 small thyme sprigs
  • 3/4 cup half & half (or whole milk)
  • 1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a skillet cook your bacon lardons until crispy. When they are fully cooked, using a slotted spoon, scoop out the bacon, put on a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Make sure you leave the bacon grease in the skillet. You will use that to cook down the onions and shallot.

Next add your sliced onions, shallot, and thyme to the pan with the bacon drippings. Cook these on medium heat, stirring frequently. You want them to get a nice brown color as they cook and sweeten. It takes a few minutes. When they are finished take out the thyme sprigs and remove the pan from the heat.

While your onions are cooking shred about 1/2 cup of gruyere and 1/2 cup of white cheddar cheese.

In a large bowl whisk together your eggs, half & half, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

It’s now time to assemble your quiche. To your frozen pie crust add your onions, bacon, and about 3/4 of your cheeses. (You’ll want to reserve some cheese for the top.) Gently stir them together to combine.

Gently pour your egg mixture over the fillings into the pie crust. Be careful to not overfill the crust. Next, place your filled crust onto a sheet pan and top with the remaining cheese.

Lightly tent the quiche with a piece of foil. You do not want to crimp down the edges. The tent will prevent the crust from getting too brown before the filling is fully cooked.

Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the foil tent and cook an additional 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center. Let the quiche cool and then slice and enjoy!

Blueberry Lemon Gin Fizz

This is an easy sipper. Blueberry lemon flavor with a subtle hint of rosemary. Top it off with blueberry sparkling water and you have a tasty and pretty gin cocktail.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz gin
  • 2 oz blueberry lemonade**
  • 1 sprig rosemary (more if garnishing)
  • 4 oz blueberry sparkling water
  • Ice

In a shaker with 2-3 ice cubes combine the gin, blueberry lemonade and rosemary sprig. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. You want to beat up the rosemary in the shaker to release the flavor. Give it some time! In a glass filled with ice, pour the shaker ingredients over the ice. Top the mixture with the blueberry sparkling water. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary, lemon slice, or fresh blueberries. Sip and enjoy!

**For a sugar free version, substitute fresh lemon juice for the lemonade. Or if you like things tart, put the lemonade and lemon juice in! Use 1 TBSP fresh juice or about half a lemon. I love these versions just as much!

Chicken and Dumplings

Do you ever make a meal because it reminds you of someone? When you eat it, you can almost feel that person with you? Growing up my grandmother from Texas made chicken and dumplings on very rare occasions. From scratch, so delicious! A meal that will always remind me of her and her kitchen. This comfort food staple takes minimum ingredients to execute, but for a truly homemade version you are going to need a bit of time on your hands. None of this is difficult, just requires some patience! I will offer up some short cuts but if you have the time, it’s definitely worth it.

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: Approx. 4 hours Servings: 4-6

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2-3 carrots (about 2 cups) rough chopped
  • 1 large onion peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 head of garlic cloves (peeled and smashed)
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 TBSP peppercorns (ground black pepper is fine too)
  • 3-4 TBSP salt
  • 2 cups flour (and some for the flouring the board)
  • 2 TBSP butter cubed very small
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2-3/4 cups milk
  • Salt to taste
  • about 4-6 cups water

To get started you need to break down your chicken a bit. If you aren’t comfortable butchering one yourself, I highly recommend buying it already broken down or have the butcher counter do it for you. That’s what they are there for! You want it in large pieces to put it in the large pot.

It’s time to cook the chicken and make your homemade stock. YUM. In a large stock pot add your chicken, carrots, onion, garlic, parsley, pepper, and salt. Once all the ingredients are nestled nicely, fill the pot with water until all ingredients are just covered. This is about 4-6 cups of water. Put a lid on it and gently simmer on low for about 2 hours. You want the chicken to easily pull from the bone.

When the chicken is cooked, pull it out of the pot into a separate container and let it cool in the fridge. When it’s cool enough to handle, remove all bones and shred the chicken. Keep the shredded chicken refrigerated until it’s time to add back in later.

Next, strain the liquid from the remaining contents of the stock pot into a large bowl and discard the vegetables and herbs. Put the strained liquid back into the original pot.

After 2 hours
Remove chicken and shred
Strained stock

Now it’s time to make the dumplings! In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and a hearty pinch of salt. Next add your cubed butter. You want to use your hands to work the butter into the flour mixture. This takes a little time to get it incorporated into the flour. Smash it between your fingers to really work it in.

When the butter is completely incorporated and worked into the flour, you will begin adding the milk a splash at a time. You might not use the full amount of milk. Each time you add a splash of milk use your hands to gently combine. You will continue to do this until the dough begins to stick together but is not sticky. It should seem a little dry. If it gets too sticky, sprinkle in a bit more flour. When the dough can form a firm ball it’s ready.

Back to your pot of reserved stock. Add a cup of water to the stock and begin to simmer it on low.

While it starts to simmer it is time to roll and cut the dough. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 1/4″ thick sheet. Cut into approximately 1.5″x1.5″ dumplings. Using a pizza cutter makes this way easier!

Add the dumplings to your stock and simmer on low, covered, for approximately 2 hours or until dumplings are fully cooked. Take a peak at the dumplings at the halfway point. If the liquid is too thick, add another 1/2-1 cup of water for the dumplings to continue cooking. The dumplings will naturally thicken your broth and turn it into a creamy sauce.

Add dumplings to broth
All dumplings in and ready to simmer

When your dumplings have simmered in the broth for approximately 2 hours and are fully cooked through, it’s time to pull out your refrigerated shredded chicken and add it back into the pot. Let everything cook together until the chicken is nice and hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Time to eat! I like to garnish with some fresh chopped parsley and serve. I hope this meal brings you comfort like it does to me.


I realize this recipe does require a time commitment. If you have the time, DEFINITELY give it a try. All the steps are easy and it uses staple ingredients, you just need to provide the time. IF you don’t have the time I have some hacks you can use to cut the time in half for a cozy comfort meal below.

To speed up this dinner, replace the whole chicken and homemade stock with a whole rotisserie chicken shredded and 4 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of water. There is not a great replacement for homemade dumplings, so I recommend you suck it up and make those from scratch! These are what help turn your stock into a creamy sauce.

In a large pot simmer your boxed stock and water over low heat. Add your dumplings and simmer for 2 hours. When the stock has thickened and the dumplings are cooked through, add your shredded rotisserie chicken. Let this all simmer together until chicken is hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with fresh chopped parsley and serve.

Ginger Spiced Cranberry Bourbon

If you need a cocktail that tastes like the holidays this beverage is for you. Just a few ingredients and you have a festive cocktail to share during your gatherings. I hosted a small party last year and every one was asked to bring their favorite cocktail to share. I made these Ginger Spiced Cranberry Bourbon cocktails and they were definitely a hit!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Brown Sugar Bourbon (BSB)
  • 1 oz Cranberry Juice
  • 2-3 oz Ginger Beer
  • 4-5 dashes Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Ice
  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Optional Cinnamon Stick and Cranberries for garnish

Brown Sugar Bourbon is a MUST in this cocktail. The sweet flavor is what makes the cocktail. I have made this with standard bourbon/whiskey and it’s just not the same. Good news, the BSB is inexpensive and very easy to find! This isn’t the kind of beverage that requires you to use the good stuff. And I’m here for it!

In a cocktail shaker combine BSB, Cranberry Juice, and 3-4 dashes of Pumpkin Pie Spice. Shake well so the spices are incorporated. Fill a high ball glass with a large ice cube. Pour shaker contents over ice. Top off the beverage with Ginger Beer and garnish with a Cinnamon Stick, a dash of PP spice, and a few fresh cranberries. Enjoy!