There are some people who you don’t want to meet in the morning before they’ve had their cup of coffee. They go from red eyed monsters into functioning human beings. I’ve never been one of those people, but I crave the ritual of having a cup of coffee in the morning. As someone who loves to stay organized and keep to do lists (or Teux Deux lists in my case – you gotta try it if you haven’t already), the best part of waking up is sitting down with my coffee and getting my ducks in a row for what’s to come. We’ve seen all those Folgers commercials, but in our home the smell of coffee doesn’t gently wake us from our serene slumber…it’s usually our dogs pawing at our faces. Once upon a time the first order of the day was walking straight to Starbucks for my coffee which was both expensive and a hassle. The day I stopped relying on coffee runs for my morning fix in favor of our first Nespresso machine was the start of something new and great. Not only am I not spending $4 on a latte every day, Nespresso also never misspells my name. No matter how many times I have thrown boiling hot coffee at the baristas while screaming “It’s Catherine with a C” they never seemed to get it right. Rude. ;) But now I’m into a double Ristretto, Indriya, or Dulsao blend latte with steamed almond milk, a little maple syrup or honey, and cinnamon on top. SO good. Even better, recently Nespresso was kind enough to send me their new VertuoLine machine to try out which also makes coffee. Huge! I love having the option to change it up according to my mood and offer our overnight guests whatever their morning happy drink is , even if they’re a red eyed monster craving their regular full cup of coffee to return to normal and start their day….
Another game changer for the morning routine: our patio, which up until this week was strictly used as storage. We had this great private outdoor space attached to our apartment and it was filled with dirty bikes, stray tools, empty Amazon boxes and a six pack of Red Bull cans. We don’t even drink Red Bull! It was a disaster. We finally got rid of a lot of extra junk, put some fig trees, lanterns, potted plants, and garden lights out there, and now it’s my new favorite place to do work in the morning. Amazing what a difference a little refresher can make on your daily life!
I’m not normally a fan of drinks that include sweet soda (with the very specific exception of a Moscow Mule) but when I came across this one, I had to give it a try. I’ve heard that the paloma almost beats the margarita for the most popular drink in Mexico, which surprises me considering that up until I made this one I had never tried any version of it. It’s usually made with grapefruit soda which sounds right up my alley, but there’s something about the blood orange and thyme that just begged to be combined in this version. Why deny what’s meant to be? I love how easy this cocktail is to make yet it has the vibe of being complex and artisanal. It would be perfect made in a big batch for a soiree or for even just a casual taco night at home.
2 oz silver tequila
4 oz all natural blood orange soda (I used Whole Foods brand)
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
leaves of 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, roughly chopped
thyme sprig for garnish
1 blood orange (slices for garnish)
Combine the salt and thyme on a small plate. Use as much or as little salt as you like – I like to mix in a little sugar too since I don’t like too much salt. Crush the mixture together with your fingers. Wet the rim of a glass with lime and cover with the thyme salt. Add in a few ice cubes, and then top with the tequila, lime juice, soda and stir. Garnish with a blood orange slice and thyme sprig.
Holidays are for indulging, merry making, and imbibing, right? I had the pleasure of doing those very things with a fab, talented group of ladies at a super fun soiree hosted by the lovely Devon for a holiday feature that’s up on Glitter Guide today, along with Kelly, Mara, Sydne, and Jana. Hop on over there to see all of our tips on how to throw your own “Glitzmas” party. My tip is all about the cocktail, of course! If you’re throwing a holiday soiree of your own, I suggest serving a signature punch. That way your guests can serve themselves with ease and you don’t have to be in charge of keeping their glasses full all night. Plus, a pretty punch bowl makes for pretty bar decor. For this one, I combined two of my favorite sippies – the greyhound and champagne. It’s so yummy, super easy, and PINK. Enjoy…
INGREDIENTS (12 servings)
2 bottles of champagne or prosecco
1/2 cup of vodka (grapefruit flavored, if you’re picky)
1/4 cup of Campari
1 cup grapefruit juice
Combine all ingredients in a beautiful punch bowl. Serve in coupe glasses, cheers, sip, and proceed to make fools out of yourselves!
One year when I was at home for the holidays in my early drinking age years, my mom revealed the tastiest winter cocktail and said she’d been making it for twenty years. I don’t know where she’d been hiding this recipe all my life, but wow. Once I tried it, there was no going back. Hot buttered rum combines all the best things about the holidays – warmth, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and buttery vanilla goodness. Ummm yes please! The best part is that once you make the mixture, you can keep it in the freezer for the whole season, and you’ll get a countless number of servings out of it. Serve it up at a party, and you’ll have everyone asking for the recipe. Trust me, you can’t lose with this one. Enjoy!
1 lb dark brown sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
1 pint softened vanilla ice cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
For the mixture: Let the butter and ice cream soften at room temperature. Once everything is soft, mix all the ingredients together to form a whipped consistency. Using a mixer makes this easy to achieve, but it’s not necessary. Put the mixture in the freezer, where it will be ready for your delicious boozy hot drink cravings all season long!
To serve: Add 1 tbsp batter into a mug with a jigger (1.5 oz) of rum and 4-6 oz boiling water (to taste). I like putting a cinnamon stick or some freshly ground nutmeg in each mug. Cozy up and enjoy!
There’s no better way to kick off the week than with a cocktail, don’t you think? Be forewarned: this one’s a boozy one, so it may not be for you if you like your drinks sweet and gentle. Lately I’ve gotten more into bourbon and have started to dabble in the Manhattan as a potential go-to. This version is a festive, holiday inspired one that will make your kitchen smell of November. Mind you, if you do this one right, it takes a bit of notice. Ideally the vermouth infuses for a couple of hours with those yummy spices, but I’ve also made it when only steeping for about 15 minutes and it was still a great cocktail – just a little bit more bourbony. Things to keep in mind, but that’s the fun thing about cocktails – you can always modify to your own cocktailing needs.
Spice Infused Vermouth (this mixture will get you about 4 cocktails):
1 cup sweet vermouth
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp allspice
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 dash sea salt
Cocktail (just one): 2 oz bourbon (Redemption already has a slightly spicy taste so it works perfectly for this cocktail, but any other brand would work too!) 1 oz infused vermouth Dash of angostura bitters Orange twist Sprinkle of fresh nutmeg
To infuse the vermouth: Heat vermouth until it’s just about to boil. Turn off heat and add cinnamon stick, cloves, allspice, cayenne, and sea salt. Cover and let steep for an hour or more, if you’ve got that kind of time. If this drink was more of a last minute decision, you can steep it for a few minutes and it’s still yummy. Pour through sifter into a glass container. Note: If you do steep it for less time, just add a bit more of it to the cocktail to make up for the youth of the infused vermouth and balance the intensity of bourbon.
For each cocktail: Pour bourbon, vermouth, bitters, and ice into a shaker and shake. Pour into martini glass. Add an orange twist and zest nutmeg over the top. Enjoy!
This drink and I have had a rough road. Not for the reasons you might expect, but because the first time I had it, I was unpleasantly surprised at how little I liked it. It was at a fancy shmancy place in Palm Springs, and that particular bar served it in a pint glass (there’s your first problem) with about a drop of tequila and way too much of the sweet stuff. It tasted like juice. Artisanal juice, but juice. I respect that some people like their cocktails to taste like dessert, but not me. I like to know if there is booze in what I’m drinking and I don’t like too much sugar in there. I was sad and disappointed. After all, this recipe had two ingredients that would normally make any drink a winner for me – ginger beer and hot sauce – but it was definitely a no go. I thought for sure we were over, until my girl Jaimi made her own version of the recipe for a party and this time it was much more my speed. Smokey, a little sweet, unmistakably non-virgin, and served in a much more civilized slow sipping glass, it was glorious. So needless to say, me and El Diablo are officially back on, and he’s moved into my bar cart for good. Here’s my go at the feisty little devil…
For 1 drink:
2 oz tequila
1/2 oz creme de cassis
1 lime (cut in half, and save a slice for garnish)
Ginger beer (I prefer Maine Root brand but couldn’t find it anywhere this time)
In a cocktail shaker combine tequila, creme de cassis, the juice from the two lime halves, and as many drops of Tapatio as your little heart can take. Shake it up, pour it into a sassy yet intelligent glass. Top with ginger beer, add the extra lime slice, and stir. Sip away!
Sometimes we spend so much time trying to make something new, different, and special that we forget about the tried and true basics. I’m always looking for the next cocktail with some sort of artisanal element like a special herb or exotic fruit when I’m ordering at a bar, but I’m the first person to appreciate something simple and effortless when it comes to making drinks at home. A vodka gimlet is about the easiest, most basic cocktail you can make and adding mint makes it taste that much fresher. This one is worth keeping limes and mint in the fridge on a rolling basis for spring and summer.
2 oz vodka
1/2 oz simple syrup
Put about 10 mint leaves at the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the juice of 2 limes and simple syrup. Muddle but don’t be too hardcore about it. You want the mint flavor to blend with the other ingredients but you don’t want it to break into a million pieces (not fun for sipping). Add about 5 ice cubes (crushed is better for this drink, if you have it), and the vodka. Shake. There are two ways to serve it – in a lowball with all the ingredients, or strained into a martini glass. Depends on how glamorous you’re feeling.
We all know I’ve blogged about my fair share of drinks, but this is only the second time ever that I’m blogging about food. I hope you don’t mind. I just simply had to tell you about a revolutionary new part of our weekly cooking routine: Fresh Dish. I heard about it from my friend Audrey who raved about this new way to have dinner already figured out as you head into the week without having to brave the Trader Joe’s mobs over the weekend, and I was instantly intrigued. We’re talking about gourmet meals which come in portions for two or four, planned out a week in advance with four menu items to choose from each week, at $8-12 per person. You pick what you want by Friday, then on Tuesday you get a special delivery with fresh ingredients already prepped and the recipe to make it – in a refrigerated box, mind you. It cuts out all the parts I don’t like about making dinner – the decision making about what to cook (for us that’s always the worst part for some reason), the shopping, and the chopping/measuring, but leaves in the part that still makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something (the actual cooking part). Not to mention the recipes are delish and *usually* healthy. Usually is the key word, as you can see from this particular meal, but hey – we all deserve a treat every now and then, right? So far we’ve made dinners like Mediterranean lamb meatballs with hummus and spinach salad, chicken di parma, panang curry, and shrimp fajitas.
Like any new and innovative idea, it’s not completely perfect. The packaging is intense. It comes in a big box with heavy cold packs which I’m sure are somewhat necessary, but a bit wasteful and cumbersome. I did talk to the nice folks at Fresh Dish about this and they informed me that they are working on a great reusing program, so I applaud them for that. Maybe the next goal could be to go all organic with the ingredients? In any case, it’s a great way to make dinner even just once a week – especially if you have multiple people to cook for.
This time we made a delectable turkey mac and cheese with apple and fennel slaw. Comfort food at its best! Get the recipe here if you want to try it out – we loved it. It was so easy and fast, and we had leftovers for the next day. You can sign up for Fresh Dish here and get $10 off your first order, AND Fresh Dish is offering a special promo for The Life Styled readers where if you buy one 4-person kit, you’ll get a second one for free! Just use the code STYLEDFRESH. Next week’s menu is up now til Friday so have a little look around. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself waiting for Monday to come so you can see the new menu and start getting excited for your week’s meals. It’s a planner’s dream. If they’re not delivering to your area yet, don’t fret. Rumor has it they are expanding to more cities and in the meantime you can at least find the yummy recipes on their blog. Enjoy your dinners!
I was recently made privy to the fact that when you substitute champagne for soda water in a Gin Fizz, it becomes a Diamond Fizz. This pleases me very much. After all, not only are champagne cocktails typically super easy to make, but they are always glamorous and totally worthy of a Gatsby party (especially when served in a coupe glass). I made this version with rosemary for out of town guests once and it was a huge hit. It’s crisp, flavorful, not too sweet, and hard hitting if you’re not careful.
To make the rosemary simple syrup, boil 1 cup of water with one cup of sugar and add some rosemary sprigs. Refrigerate for as long as you can before giving up. In a coupe champagne glass (or whatever), put a lemon slice and a rosemary sprig. In a cocktail shaker, combine 1/2 oz of fresh squeezed lemon juice (about half of a lemon), 1/2 oz of rosemary simple syrup, 1 oz of gin, and ice (and guys, this is easily modifiable – do more simple syrup if you like it sweet, more lemon if you like it tart, less gin if you are trying to keep your cool, more if you are looking to embarrass yourself). Shake it up real good and strain into the glass. Fill the rest of the glass with champagne. This cocktail can easily be made in bulk for a party. Do a cup of gin, 1/2 cup of simple syrup, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, and a bottle of champagne. If you like it sweeter, do a whole cup of the rosemary simple syrup.
Here’s a tip: If you’re just making single servings, I recommend the canned Sofia champagnes. That way you don’t have to worry about any extra bubbly going flat in a big bottle.
My kick loving palate is always on the hunt for a spicy drink. When I go to happy hour, the first sign of heat has my order figured out. Serrano – make it a double. Jalapeño – set the menu down and start gabbing with the girls about The Bachelor until the bartender takes our order. And don’t get me started on grapefruit. I love all citrus based cocktails but grapefruits are pink and yummy. Need I say more? Combine that magical fruit with cayenne pepper (always stocked in the spice cupboard), tequila, and a spice rub rim and I’m done.
Cayenne Simple Syrup -
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you’re adventurous – I did a heaping 1/2 tsp because I’m spice obsessed)
The Drink -
4 oz grapefruit juice (fresh squeezed if you can – takes about 2 grapefruits)
2 oz tequila
1 oz cayenne simple syrup
salt or spice rub – any kind of premixed spicy powder normally used on meat – yep (if that weirds you out, make your own using salt mixed with a little bit of cayenne, but I do prefer the spice rub).
First step is to prep the simple syrup. Combine the sugar, water and cayenne in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Heat until the sugar is disolved and the cayenne is blended. Cool in the fridge – ideally it’ll be able to chill there for an hour or two before making the drinks, but if you don’t have that kind of time, stick it in the freezer for a few minutes and the ice in the shaker will do the rest.
To mix the margaritas, run the lime wedge around the rim of the glass then dip it in the salt or spice rub. In a shaker, combine ice, tequila, simple syrup, and grapefruit juice. Shake, serve, enjoy the kick in the buns.