thirsty thursday: rosemary & gin goddess

No matter the season, the time of year…I always find myself coming back to it. I do hereby profess my love for all cocktails that are gin-based. And this drink, y’all, is no different.

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In fact, this could almost be my new go-to in the summer. There’s something about gin that just screams “summertime” to me – it’s crisp and refreshing, doesn’t need much to transform it, but can pair so beautifully with many other ingredients. It’s simple to elevate a classic ‘gin and tonic’ with just a few slices of cucumber, or perhaps another apertif {but we’ll save that for another day}…but for today, I give you gin. Gin, paired with rosemary and lemon.

I’ll let that sink in for just a minute.

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This cocktail is so dangerously good that it should be illegal. Seriously. The hubs and I made a batch of these not long ago, and I had to restrain myself from slurping it down too fast. It’s just.that.darn.good. Preparing the rosemary simple syrup the night before you’re planning on cocktails, this drink comes together in a matter of minutes.

I recommend having enough ingredients on hand, because you’ll find yourself heading back inside to make another round. Mostly because this is an ideal porch-sipping drink on a lazy summer evening, but even more so because you’ll find yourself impossible to resist just one.

Cheers!

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Rosemary & Gin Goddess {recipe from Food52}

Appropriately named because this cocktail is seriously that amazing – nothing but the best ingredients, and suited for royalty. This is one for the books, y’all – one taste and you’ll fall in love.

Rosemary Syrup:

1/4 cup rosemary leaves, with the stems on

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

To Prepare the Syrup:

Bring the water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Add in the rosemary leaves and sugar, allowing the sugar to melt completely into the boiling liquid. Remove from heat, and cool completely. Store {with the rosemary leaves still inside} in a tightly sealing jar in the refrigerator.

Ingredients {cocktail}:

1-1/2 ounces good gin {we used Hendricks, but whatever your favorite is will be just fine}

3/4 ounces rosemary syrup

3/4 ounces fresh lime juice

club soda, for topping off

fresh rosemary sprig, for garnish

To Prepare {cocktail}:

Fill a tall glass with ice. Add in the gin, lime  juice, rosemary syrup and stir to combine.

Top with a splash of club soda, stir briefly, and garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

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Enjoy!

4th of July – how to celebrate!

Another holiday means another round up of ideas, trips & tricks for all of those who might be hosting {or co-hosting} a party! While we won’t be hosting this year, I spent some time perusing the web to make life a bit easier for y’all : )

As always, feel free to leave suggestions/tips/ways to not go crazy in the comments!

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Food & Drink

4th of July Recipes {via Food Network}

4th of July Food {via Southern Living}

Healthy 4th of July Recipe & Menu Ideas {via Eating Well}

Throw a Kid-Friendly 4th of July Party {via She Knows}

4th of July Drinks {via Food & Wine}

Red, White & Booze: Awesome Drinks to Sip on {via Cosmopolitan}

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Decor

4th of July Party Decorations {via Good Housekeeping}

Easy 4th of July Decorations {via Better Homes & Gardens}

Simply Chic 4th of July Decorating Ideas {via HGTV}

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Games & Activities

10 Outdoor Games to Try at Your BBQ {via Huffington Post}

4th of July Ideas for Kids {via Disney Family}

Drinking Games for the 4th of July {via Drinking in America}

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Happy planning, y’all!

planning our summer fun with eventbrite!

I recently found out about Eventbrite and their ‘Summer Food Bucket List’ campaign, so naturally, I decided to join in! Eventbrite is an amazing technology platform that allows users to find events going on in their area, as well as gives users the ability to promote and manage their own events, too!

 

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Pretty cool, am I right?!

You guys already know that the hubs and I spend A LOT of time travelling, and this summer is no different! While it won’t be as crazy as last year’s {read: here, here, and here to a fun little refresher!}, we still have a lot of fun things planned. And of course, it wouldn’t be an “Alicia” trip if we didn’t have a lot of our “wining & dining” experiences already planned out.

Let’s take a look and see what’s on the agenda, shall we?

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One of our all-time favorite events is, hands-down, the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival. This is the festival of all festivals – great food, great drinks, and great entertainment. The hubs and I have gone for at least the past 4 years, and we certainly don’t plan on missing it anytime soon! We decided to step up our game last year and order the ‘VIP’ tickets; best idea ever! You receive an extra two hours at the festival and “special” experiences {cooking demonstrations, whole hog picking}, not to mention a variety of exclusive bourbons and beers on the VIP holders get to take! Clearly, that was a big enough selling point for us — > you know how the hubs and I appreciate good bourbon! On my tasting list: lots of BBQ, specialty food items from local vendors {mustard, jams & jellies, and spirits, to name a few}, and of course, bourbon! All the liquor vendors do a great job of mixing up cocktails specifically for the event, so I’m excited to try those as well!

Being the wine lovers that we are, and the fact that we live so close to our favorite local winery, we’ve got several events of theirs on our radar, too! The one that I am most excited about is their Cheesy Dinner, held in July – course after course of delicious, cheesy-filled meals paired with their spectacular wines. They do a great job of souring locally, too, so it’s one to look forward to, for sure! And besides, with a cheese-centered meal, what could not be perfect about that?

Lastly, the hubs and I have our annual week-long trip planned. We’ll be strolling the coast of South Carolina for a few days to kick off our week! At the recommendation of my sister: a 5-course meal set up at R.Kitchen, cocktails at The Warehouse {their bourbon drinks are off the charts amazing!}, as well as some brewery and distillery tours {here, here, and here!}. I’m super excited about the meal at R.Kitchen – the chefs their plan their menus daily, so it’s an adventure every time!

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…so you can see, we’ve got our plates full! no pun intended, haha. And you know that I’ll be reporting back after each trip with my “lately” posts, so be sure to keep an eye out for those too!

Happy summer, and happy eating, y’all!

thirsty thursday: spicy watermelon margaritas

As promised last week, here’s part two!

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spicy. watermelon. margaritas.

I mean, this is what I’ve been waiting for! And I’m going to go ahead and say that you have too…you just might not know it yet.

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I feel like I say this more often than I should, but I mean it 10000000% this time. This is the drink of summer, the drink to put all other summer cocktails to shame. One look at that color, just look! It’s gorgeous. Stunning.

It reminds me of the pink streaks at sunset during summer. I’m in love. Both with summer and this drink. Forever and ever.

Fresh watermelon juice meets hot, spicy tequila – and the result could not be more spectacular. I’ve mentioned that I was never terribly fond of overly spicy things as a child, but it just goes to show you how your palette changes and develops as you get older {even typing the word “older” made me cringe a little bit}. But I sure am glad it does happen! Because making this drink has changed my summer cocktail experience. The hubs and I have been making variations of this for several weeks now, and I am beyond thrilled to share it with you today! Happy summer sipping, y’all!

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Spicy Watermelon Margaritas

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how refreshing this drink is! The perfectly sweet watermelon is nicely complemented by the punchy tequila; a surefire winner for any summer get-together.

Ingredients:

8 ounces watermelon juice*

1 ounce habanero-infused tequila

1 ounce silver tequila {or if you dare, double up on the amount of the habanero-infused tequila!}

simple syrup, to taste {here’s my recipe; simply omit the sliced ginger used}

ice, for the glass

fresh mint springs or basil leaves, for garnish

*To make the watermelon juice: roughly chop about 1/4 of a large {seedless} watermelon. In batches, add the chopped fruit into the bowl of a food processor, and processing until no chunks remain. Using a large bowl lined with cheesecloth, pour the processed watermelon onto it; the solids will separate from the juice, and you’ll be left with gloriously pink and sweet watermelon juice! Make sure to store any remaining in the refrigerator, tightly sealed. 

To Prepare:

In a large rocks glass filled with ice, pour in the fresh watermelon juice. Add in the two tequilas, and stir vigorously to combine. Take a small sip, and adjust the taste {AKA the spiciness!} with several dashes of simple syrup to suit your palette. Garnish with fresh mint and/or basil.

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Enjoy!…and do yourself a favor by sitting porch-side in the sun. It’s the best way to enjoy cocktails in the summer, no? : )

thirsty thursday: habenero-infused tequila

Well, hello, you little firecracker.

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Never in a million years {especially when I was younger!} did I think that I would develop an affinity for all things spicy. And an even further stretch – spicy cocktails. I mean, who am I? Total crazy talk, right here.

While feeling slightly adventurous a few weeks back, I was immediately drawn to a spicy margarita at one of our favorite spots. Topped off with freshly pressed fruit juice, this drink was too fun to pass up. And the secret ingredient was…habanero-infused tequila! I knew that after my first sip, I had found my new love. I told the hubs that we had to recreate this infusion at home; check out the recipe below for the oh-so-simple steps to make your own!

Happy “thirsty” Thursday, y’all!

 

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Habanero-Infused Tequila

We’re turning up the heat with this one! Sharp white tequila is infused with just a few slices of fiery habanero peppers and left to marry; the result? Lip-burning, but oh-so-perfect for frozen margaritas. 

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups white tequila

1 habanero pepper, seeds removed and cut into thin rings.

To Prepare:

In a large Mason jar {or any other tightly-sealing container} pour in the white tequila and add in the sliced peppers. Seal tightly and set aside for at least 2-3 days before using. The longer it sits, the better it gets!

…& stay tuned for next week! Your inner cocktail lover will be glad you did ;) we’ve got a fun treat coming up!

lightened up spinach artichoke dip

A lot of times, what we deem as “traditional” appetizers often get a bad rep. I mean, it’s not hard for that to happen. When we peel back the layers of ingredients and really dive in, we find that most are loaded down with heavy, not-so-healthy ingredients…full-fat mayonnaise, cream cheese, sour cream, an oftentimes an exorbitant amount of cheese on top. And that doesn’t even take into account the accouterments {fried chips, toasted bread, crackers and pretzels}. Now don’t get me wrong! – I am a big believer in maintaining a balance; everything in moderation, exercise portion control when needed. But sometimes, you might just want to do some serious work on appetizers and not feel guilty about it!

Enter this dish…

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It’s bubbly, browned, crusty and FULL.OF.FLAVOR. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to your new favorite {and jazzed up!} spinach artichoke dip! Glancing down through the ingredient list, you’ll recognize instantly a few of my staples: Greek yogurt, blended cream cheese, etc. But what really makes this dish shine and stand out from its cousins is the explosion of spices and vegetables that we’re packing in. In just about 3 cups of dip, we’re utilizing smoky paprika, spicy garlic, onion powder, red pepper flakes{!!}, and tangy Parmesan. Seriously, your taste buds won’t know what hit them upon the first bite.

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This is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and is on constant rotation in our home. This can easily be doubled or tripled for the countless summer BBQs we will all surely be attending this summer; is wonderful spread onto sandwiches; I’ve even thrown it into a fritatta with shredded chicken. A dish with many purposes; not only super healthy, but super flavorful and oh-so-flexible!

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Lightened Up Spinach/Artichoke Dip

A perfect dip for throwing together at the last minute, this is one of our go-to items for date nights at home. It’s tangy, refreshing, bubbling over with flavor…and good for you!

Ingredients:

12 ounces frozen spinach, cooked {make sure you drain it really well}

1 {14 ounce} can artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped

5 ounces of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp. cream cheese {I like to use a Greek yogurt/cream cheese blend that is available at my grocery store}

2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

1 clove garlic, finely diced

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. onion powder

large pinch of red pepper flakes {optional}

nonstick cooking spray

salt & pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a round glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside {mine holds about 3-4 cups worth of dip}.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix well to combine; take extra care to make sure that the cream cheese and yogurt are thoroughly mixed into the vegetables and spices.

Spoon dip into the prepared baking dish. Top with additional Parmesan cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the top is starting to turn golden brown and the edges are bubbling over slightly.

Serve hot with toast points, sliced vegetables, chips, etc…whatever you like.

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Enjoy!

thirsty thursday: bulleit rose sangria

Sangria. Need I say more?

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Not too long back, a good friend of mine {hi, Suzanne!} and I were chatting about summer time and some of the fun things that I should be whipping up. When she mentioned “sangria” I was instantly sold. A self-proclaimed wine lover, I have been known in years past to whip up a mighty fine sangria. And since it’s been awhile since I’ve shared one with y’all {this one, so far back?! gee whiz!}, I determined that I was well overdue for a new recipe. After time spent pouring over ingredients ::and perhaps a few poured glasses of wine, cough cough:: the hubs and I came up with a winner!

I am particularly excited about this one because not only are we using tons of fresh, in-season fruit, but we’re marrying two things the hubs and I love the most – WINE & BOURBON! Woohoo! In all honesty, I had no idea that the two spirits would pair so nicely together, but let me tell you…they are indeed kindred spirits. Dry rose wine and spicy, warm bourbon dance so nicely on your palette; it is indeed a thing of beauty. And when you get to the bottom of your glass, those wonderful bits of fruit have leeched all the glorious tastes from said spirits. You’ll find yourself reaching for another  glass…and perhaps another…

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Let’s not waste any more time, shall we?

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Bulleit Bourbon & Rose Sangria 

A playful twist on sangria, this pitcher is sure to pack a punch to your taste buds! A perfect summer drink, ideal for long evening spent sitting around the fire pit, chatting and catching up with friends. And by all means, feel free to swap out fruits for whatever you might have on hand/like better/what you have in your garden!

Ingredients:

1 bottle rose wine {we opted for a drier version}

1 pint of strawberries, washed and hulled

1 orange, sliced thin

2 Anjou pears, cut into wedges

1/2 cup bourbon {we used Bulleit, but feel free to use your preference!}

1/4 cup Triple Sec liqueur

additional fruit wedges for garnish, if desired

optional “toppers” for the drink: non-alcoholic {or alcoholic!} ginger beer, lemon-lime soda, tonic water, plain club soda, flavored club soda, sparkling water. **keep in mind that these are used to provide an effervescence, but can also be used to help dilute the drink to your liking..and potency : ) 

To Prepare:

Combine the rose wine, bourbon, triple sec, and sliced fruits into a large pitched with a tightly fitted lid. Stir to combine; you want the fruits to distribute and the different alcohols to merry together.

Chill for at least 4 to 8 hours, or overnight.

Serve over ice with additional fruits for garnishes, and fill as desired with liquid “toppers”.

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Cheers!