Watermelon Strawberry Sangria

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Did you know that today is National Watermelon Day? Well, it is and the timing couldn’t be more perfect because this cool, healthy fruit is a summer staple. I’ve used it for several recipes this season, including a watermelon and feta salad, watermelon margaritas and watermelon ice cubes to go with homemade lemonade.

After making a batch of refreshing margaritas, I decided to use the rest of the flavorful fruit to make some thirst-quenching sangria. This simple recipe yields four to six servings and is perfect for a backyard barbecue. Summer and sangria definitely go together like peanut butter and jelly. Enjoy!

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Watermelon Margaritas

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Happy Margarita Monday! Rough start to your week? Nothing some watermelon margaritas can’t fix! These refreshing summer sippers will get the fiesta (or siesta) started in no time. To add the watermelon flavor to a classic margarita, I used the seasonal fruit to create a flavored simple syrup and the watermelon puree. It’s a fun twist and adds just enough flavor, but does not overpower the traditional drink. This recipe yields two drinks, but next time I might try to make a larger batch to serve in a pitcher at a backyard barbecue. Hope you enjoy this tasty treat to beat the heat.

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 Watermelon Margaritas

Ingredients

For the margarita:

  • 1/4 cup watermelon simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 1/3 cup fresh watermelon puree (made from 1/2 cup watermelon chunks)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 ounces Grand Marnier
  • 3 ounces tequila
  • margarita salt
  • lime wedge

For the watermelon simple syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh watermelon chunks

How to:

  1. To make the watermelon simple syrup, place sugar, water and watermelon chunks in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes. Once sugar is fully dissolved, strain through cheesecloth into a small bowl. Chill in fridge for at least 2 hours.
  2. For the watermelon puree, add 1/2 cup of watermelon chunks to a blender and puree on high until smooth.
  3. To make the drink, combine ice, syrup, puree, lime juice and liquor in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and pour into a chilled, ice-filled glass with salted rim. Garnish with a slice of lime.

Flavorful Friday Fiesta

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TGIF! What better way to start the weekend than with a flavorful fiesta – and watermelon margarita?! Last weekend we grilled up some of our favorite eats and meats to have a fun, festive dinner. The meal was an afterthought to the watermelon margaritas I was excited to try. I wanted the cuisine to complement the refreshing concoction, so we grilled some summer staples and added a Mexican twist.

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We grilled a seasoned skirt steak, which was then topped with an avocado salsa. For a side, I spiced up classic corn on the cob by seasoning it with chili powder and sprinkling it with cotija cheese. I had tasted this traditional Mexican street corn at a restaurant here in Vegas and decided to recreate the deliciousness. The buttery, flavorful corn made for a sensational side.

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Mexican Corn on the Cob

Ingredients

  • 2 ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated cotija cheese
  • 2 wedges of lime
  • 1 tsp. chili powder

Directions

  1. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Grill corn until hot and lightly charred, 7 to 10 minutes. Use a basting brush to coat corn with melted butter and mayonnaise. Sprinkle with cotija cheese, lime juice and chili powder.

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Skirt Steak with Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

For the steak:

  • 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak or sirloin steak
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

For the salsa:

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 sprigs of cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Mix all of the steak seasonings together and rub on the steaks about 1 hour before grilling, covering well and storing in refrigerator. Grill for about 4 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 4-6 minutes, until steak reaches desired doneness.
  2. To make the salsa, mix the salsa ingredients together in a bowl and serve on top of the steak.

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National Hot Dog Day

hot dog 2 CollageI think it’s fitting that National Hot Dog Day falls in July. Whether they are enjoyed at the ball park or around a camp fire, these popular eats seem like the epitome of summer (in addition to ice cream and s’mores, of course). Even though hot dogs seem like a seasonal dish, when I was little they were a year-round staple. I remember Thanksgiving dinners as a kid when my mom would bring hot dogs for my sister and I because we were such picky eaters. I don’t know what happened because now I am very adventurous and enjoy trying new cuisines. Who would have thought that the kid chowing down on microwaved hot dogs would have tried (and liked!) calamari and carpaccio?!

Back then I stuck to ketchup (not even mustard!) as a classic condiment, but now these unique creations make my mouth water! I can’t wait to spice up our next backyard barbecue with these tasty treats.

hot dog 7{Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Popper Hot Dog from Shared Appetite}

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{Corn Dog Mini Muffins from Damn Delicious}

hot dog 1{Tex Mex Hot Dogs from Country Cleaver}

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{BLT Hot Dogs with Caraway Remoulade from Food & Wine}

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{Sweet Pork & Tomatillo Ranch Hot Dogs from Creme de la Crumb}

Happy National Ice Cream Day!

ice cream CollageWith temperatures in the 100’s my favorite dessert to make right now is ice cream! We got an ice cream maker for Christmas and have been putting it to good use making delicious flavors such as chocolate Thin Mint and brown sugar bourbon. I’m always looking for new combinations to try, so with July being National Ice Cream Month and today being National Ice Cream Day, I thought it was fitting to share some recipes that I can’t wait to whip up! Calories don’t count on holidays, right? Looks like July is a free pass for these tasty treats!

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{Watermelon Ice Cream Cones)

ice cream 3

(Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream from The Novice Housewife}

ice cream 4

{Coffee Hazelnut Ice Cream from Top with Cinnamon}

ice cream 6

{Ice Cream Sandwich Cake from A Subtle Revelry}

ice cream 7

{Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwiches from Paper & Stitch}

 

Summer Packing Essentials

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Summer is the perfect time to take a weekend road trip and explore local and regional gems, whether it’s a great restaurant or a scenic hiking trail. Living in Las Vegas, we have numerous destinations within a five-hour driving radius. To the west we have San Diego for a beach retreat while up north we can explore the forested hiking trails in Zion National Park. We want to take advantage of this convenient location and experience as many unique places as possible.

Packing for a weekend trip can be challenging if you haven’t planned out every activity and restaurant. The best way to be prepared for any occasion is to bring versatile pieces that can be dressed up or down and can be mixed and matched. These are a few of my packing essentials for a weekend getaway:

  • White v-neck t-shirt. I love a basic tee because it can easily be dressed up or down, creating a simple, sophisticated look. Plus, chances are it will match all of the bottoms you packed.
  • Gray tank. This is another piece that is versatile and can be interchanged with the v-neck. Pair it with shorts and sandals for an easy ensemble.
  • Simple, black dress. There’s a reason why every woman should own a LBD – they are elegant and create an instant outfit. For day, pair it with your shades and throw your hair in a top knot; for night, add a statement necklace and let your hair down in beachy waves.
  • Floral skirt. This floral, asymmetrical skirt can be worn for both daytime excursions and a night out on the town. It’s trendy and easily paired with both tops.
  • Denim shorts. An obvious favorite because they are comfy, casual and neutral. For an unexpected look, dress up the distressed denim and a basic tee with a colorful statement necklace.
  • Neutral tote. Since you’ll be living out of a suitcase, it’s ideal to have  a large tote that carries all of your essentials (sunglasses, sunscreen, wallet, camera, etc.). A neutral-colored bag that matches the other pieces you packed will make it easy to grab and go.
  • Classic sandals. Flat sandals that are comfortable to walk in are a must. For maximum packing efficiency, it helps if they match your casual outfits, but also look dressy enough for a nice restaurant.
  • Aviators. These stylish shades make any outfit look effortlessly put together. They will also come in handy if you are doing some outdoor sightseeing.
  • Statement necklace. This is the easiest way to fancy up a basic tee or dress. Add the stand-out accessory to your basic ensemble and you have an entirely new outfit!
  • Straw fedora. No time to wash your hair before your next activity? A stylish straw hat and side braid can fix that!

 

Chocolate Thin Mint Ice Cream

thin mint

Shockingly, we still had a box of Thin Mints sitting in our kitchen cupboard. I don’t know how it has lasted since Girl Scout cookie season in March. I would like to credit it to my strong self-control (yeah right…), but most likely I have just been preoccupied with other sweets. We decided to put our ice cream maker to use once again and make this chocolate treat. With the cookies melted into the batter, the mint flavor can be tasted throughout the creamy dessert, not just from the crushed pieces. Chocolate and mint is the perfect combination for a post-dinner treat. I like to think it helps sooth the stomach… maybe not, but it is delicious :)

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Chocolate Thin Mint Ice Cream

Yields 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 box Thin Mints, divided
  • 5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add cocoa powder and whisk until no lumps remain. Gradually add whole milk and heavy cream, whisking constantly. Finely chop 10 Thin Mints and stir into dairy mixture. Pour into saucepan.
  2. Heat dairy mixture on medium-low and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and reaches 180°F. Remove from heat and mix in chocolate chips, stirring until fully melted. Add salt to taste, then pour into a medium-sized bowl. Cover with cling wrap, pushing it all the way down so that it touches the surface of the ice cream base to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for at least 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. When fully chilled, churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Roughly chop remaining Thin Mints. When only a few minutes remain, add chopped cookies. Transfer ice cream to air tight container and freeze for at least two hours before serving. Or serve immediately if you like it softer, similar to the consistency of a Blizzard. Enjoy!

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