Today I have 10 Drink and Cocktail Recipes To Keep You Cool This Summer! The heat is here and that means it’s time to crank up your drink game! Whether you are into something boozy or looking for an energizing smoothie to start your day, I’ve got you covered in this round-up! OH and bonus points if you like vegetables in your drinks – I have a surprising number of veg-focused cocktails…
10 Vegetarian Recipes To Make Before Spring Is Over: Starters, Drinks, Entrees, and Desserts to make the most of the season!
I shared a round-up of my favorite vegetarian spring recipes over on Instagram Stories the other week and realized I should probably go ahead and share them here in case you don’t follow me on IG. Spring is zipping by and before you know it, it’ll be too hot to even turn your oven on so hurry up and get in that kitchen with these recipes!
This Cranberry Molasses Mulled Wine recipe is perfect for chilly winter evenings or big holiday events. Serve it with a few orange slices and fresh cranberries for a stunning presentation.
First off, I didn’t post yesterday because I was with family but I just want to say that I am so thankful for all of you here! So many of my favorite opportunities would not be possible with VV and VV would not be possible without all of you. You are the best.
And happy BLACK FRIDAY! Did you wake up at 2 AM to wait in line for that new laptop? Oh wait, I’m still living in 2001 – stores open at like 8 PM on Thanksgiving now. Or does everyone just do their Black Friday shopping online these days? I’ll admit that I’m guilty to snagging a few deals today on CB2 and West Elm for our new house (which we are closing on in ONE WEEK! eeeep!).
This bubbly Pomelo Gin Fizz cocktail skips the egg whites and uses citrus to bring a subtly sweet and tart tang to your next happy hour.
They say that life happens in waves and I definitely feel like I’m riding one of the big waves right now. After a week in the Pacific Northwest exploring and photographing, I came home for 2 days (one of which we looked at a house and then immediately put a bid on it) and then hopped back on a plane for a vacation in southern Florida. For the first time in my Midwestern life, I smelled the salt of both the Pacific and the Atlantic in the same week! And if two adventures across the country weren’t exciting enough, the bid we put in on the house was accepted and we will be moving into the next phase with that this week!
This Sweet Beet Strawberry & Tarragon Vodka Smash is a unique and fun summer cocktail. The savory sweet beet tarragon simple syrup blends perfectly with juicy strawberries. This recipe was made in partnership with Prairie Organic Spirits.
I’m really excited to share today’s drink recipe with you. If you are a regular around here then you probably already know that I make a hobby out of throwing vegetables and unlikely fruit pairings into my cocktails for a unique flavor boost. Today’s recipe is no exception. Although my favorite profile flavor combo has always savory and sweet, earthy and sweet has slowly been creeping in at a close second.
This Sweet Beet Strawberry & Tarragon Vodka Smash covers all the bases: sweet from the fruit, earthy from the beets and tarragon, boozy from the vodka, and refreshing from the top off of sparkling water. It is whipped up in a pitcher for a quick turnaround for your guests.
You need to be careful when making the beet tarragon syrup as the tarragon can quickly over flavor the entire syrup if it steeps for too long. A tiny hint of tarragon brings an extra level of herbiness to this drink but too much tarragon flavor will leave the cocktail with an unappealing licorice taste. If you don’t have tarragon or are not a fan, you can skip adding any herbs to the syrup and then muddle a few mint leaves with the strawberries for a brighter and fresher cocktail.
I used Prairie Organic Vodka for this cocktail and was excited to find the mellow flavor left no bad alcoholic aftertaste for these. I must say that I always seek out organic produce but never thought to do so with my alcohol until now! This vodka is smooth and doesn’t overpower the cocktail like a cheaper brands might. Make sure your strawberries are ripe and juicy because we want them to be adding a natural sweetness to this cocktail that will be missed if the strawberries are dull.
This Sweet Beet Strawberry & Tarragon Vodka Smash is a unique and fun summer cocktail. The savory sweet beet tarragon simple syrup blends perfectly with juicy strawberries.
- 3 medium golden beets peeled and chopped
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 3 sprigs fresh tarragon
- 1/4 cup Beet Tarragon Simple Syrup
- 2 cups fresh strawberries tops removed
- juice from 2 limes
- 1 cup vodka
- 2 cups sparkling water
- thinly sliced golden beets
- Lime wedges
- Fresh mint and tarragon
Add golden beet chunks, granulated sugar, and water into a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat, add tarragon, cover, and let sit for another 15 minutes.
Strain syrup into a clean jar. Let cool completely before using.
Add syrup and strawberries to a large pitcher. Use a muddler or handle of a wooden spoon to smash the strawberries in the bottom of the pitcher. Add lime juice, vodka, and sparkling water.
Garnish with beets, strawberries, tarragon, and mint.
This post was made in collaboration with and sponsored by the generous folks at Prairie Organic Spirits but all opinions expressed are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make VV possible. Enjoy responsibly, 21+ only.
This Green Matcha Sangria recipe is a perfect mix between earthy matcha and sweet white wine.
Remember when Starbucks made matcha lemonade a big thing earlier this summer? Well it got me thinking about other ways I could enjoy matcha during the hot summer months (because, let’s be honest, a steaming hot full-fat matcha latte is not very appetizing in the muggly heat that is August) and my mind immediately wandered to alcohol. A matcha gin and tonic? No, too simple. A matcha mojito? Already overdone. And then the light bulb went off – what about in sangria? I did a quick search on my blog to find that I’ve never done a sangria recipe (which is absurd because it’s always been a drink of choice between my mother and I ever since I was old enough to drink).
This Strawberry Rhubarb Gin & Tonic recipe is the perfect spring (/ early summer) twist on a gin and tonic. It’s light, refreshing, and has the tiniest hint of sweet.
I’ve been feeling pretty scatter brained lately so it only felt nature to write this post in the same form. Here are a few things that have been on my mind lately:
This Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Protein Smoothie recipe is great as a filling breakfast or post workout drink.
If you know me in person then you know that I’m a big day dreamer. Some of my day dreams have turned into reality (hellloooo book deal) and some of them are just crazy (helloo mansion on the ocean with an indoor / outdoor kitchen and 3,000 square foot studio room). I think that Wyatt often times takes my day dreaming remarks as signs of not being happy but really I just like to make up scenarios and play them out over conversation. I think I probably got this from my parents who, when my brother and I were little, used to take us for drives in the “gated communities” and talk about what it would be like to own one of the million dollar homes.
One of the big things I talk about is what it is like to move to another city; I think it is because we kind of organically ended up where we are instead of intentionally saying we were going to take root here. It’s funny because I am actually terrible at change but my mind still starts to wander to other life scenarios after things have been normal for too long.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my day dream tendencies lately because I’m headed to Portland tomorrow for a weekend trip. Portland was one of the places I dragged Wyatt to after college because I was certain we should move there. We absolutely loved the city and all it had to offer. However, as with all of the trips I drag him on to check out new cities, it didn’t feel like home and we were happy to return to our little college town in the Midwest. BUT it’s still a wonderful place to visit and I’m so excited to go back – any recommendations for places I should see / eat / hang out while there?
Moving on to this smoothie, I’m pretty beyond stoked to have smoothie season back again. With our brutally cold winters here, I can’t bring myself to drink smoothies between September and April (all I want is hot tea). As the weather warms and I start to move my body more, it also craves refreshing fresh vegetables and fruit so smoothies are the easiest way for me to feed those cravings. To be honest, my usual go-to are green smoothies but I was feeling something a little more sweet this time around (although a cup of spinach would still be fantastic in this recipe if you wanted the extra green boost).
The secret ingredient here is the pink peppercorn. As with most spices, we are only using the tiniest amount to enhance the overall flavor of the smoothie without completely overwhelming it. We want the end result to have the faintest peppery bite without anyone (besides you since you are making it!) being able to put their finger on exactly what is creating that spice.
Also, I rarely make the same smoothie twice because I’m always just using what I have on hand. Here are a few mix-ins that I bet would be great with this smoothie: 1 cup spinach, ground flaxseed, or even beet powder (which I weirdly have on hand because I’m a total food nerd).
Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Protein Smoothie recipe below:
- 1 cup Silk High Protein Nutmilk
- 1/2 cup chopped strawberries
- 1 banana , peeled
- 1 carrot (grated if you don't have a high speed blender)
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey if ok w/ it not being vegan)
- Dash of ground pink peppercorn (about 1/4 tsp)
- 1 cup ice
- Optional mix-ins: 1 cup of greens (spinach, kale, etc), 1 tsp ground flaxseed, 1/2 tsp ground beet powder
Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until completely smooth.
Transfer to a glass and enjoy right away.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.
Pink Grapefruit Cucumber Rose Skin Quencher recipe from Lily Diamond’s new cookbook, Kale & Caramel, is a simple natural beauty drink recipe.
Heyyy friends! Today is extra special because it’s my dear friend Lily Diamond’s book launch day! She was one of my favorite friends to confide in through the writing process for Vegetarian Heartland and I hope she feels the same for Kale & Caramel. When it comes to writing a book, there are a ton of stressful deadlines and so many highs and lows as you bring this giant project, that you’ve put your whole self into for years, into the world. With Lily also having a spring ’17 book launch, she went through these processes at a similar time as me so we were able to bounce experiences off of each other and cheer each other on.
Finally, it’s pre-order time, baby! Vegetarian Heartland started as a spark of an idea in April 2014 and is now finally being released as a gorgeous hardcover 272 page cookbook! It is photo and recipe heavy with additional notes about being vegetarian, growing up in the Midwest, and having adventures in your kitchen sprinkled throughout it. Sure, there is an emphasis on the Heartland in it (an area that I personally think gets overlooked despite having amazing landscapes and culture) but, for all of you who don’t have a particular interest in this region, it’s about so much more – it’s about cooking up modern and healthy meat-free versions of comfort food and it’s about life’s adventures that revolve around food.
This simple two-ingredient Cranberry Orange Champagne Mimosa (plus garnish) cocktail is perfect for holiday parties or Christmas morning. Dress it up with an orange slice and candied rosemary or keep it simple with just the juice and champagne.
Ever since I’ve been old enough to drink (almost a decade), it’s been a holiday tradition to wake up on Christmas day to my mom preparing a simple egg bake with lattes and tall glasses of mimosa waiting for us on the counter. We lug everything into the family room with the tree and presents and enjoy while opening gifts.
Below I am sharing recipes for Fromage Fort and Whiskey + Maple Syrup Sour from Julia Turshen’s cookbook, Small Victories. This Fromage Fort is the perfect appetizer because it lets you use up all the leftover cheese and wine you have from the rest of the Thanksgiving recipes you are making (plus it’s cheese and wine – how could it even get any better than that?). Additionally, I love this simple Whiskey + Maple Syrup Sour recipe since it’s made with ingredients you most likely already have on hand; this also makes it ideal for whipping up when guests stop by or you are hosting a huge dinner (like Thanksgiving) and don’t want to add more ingredients to your long shopping list.
This post is part two of a six part series on Hosting a Vegetarian Thanksgiving. Please visit post one for the full menu and tips on hosting your own meat-free holiday.
As I mentioned in part one of this year’s Thanksgiving series, I always turn to trusted sources like my favorite cookbooks and magazines when planning a party menu. Don’t get me wrong, I love blogs (HELLO! This IS a blog!) but the recipes are not always as vetted and tested over and over again on websites. When it comes to a recipe making or breaking my dinner party, I just can’t chance it on the recipe not turning out for the big day. That is why I chose two recipes from Julia Turshen’s new cookbook, Small Victories, to include on this year’s Thanksgiving menu. Both recipes are simple, come together quickly, and turned out perfect!
This Iced Cocoa Coffee Smoothie is the perfect morning or afternoon booster with iced coffee, blended dates, chocolate OLLY Smoothie powder, and vanilla all coming together to create a healthy iced coffee concoction.
I’m going to start out by mentioning I’m not a smoothie girl. Sometimes, because this is a meat-free blog, VV gets grouped into these ‘special diet’ categories with all the other folks working on their yoga poses, superfood salads, and beautiful smoothie bowl game. Don’t get me wrong, I’m down with all those things on occasion but I just don’t identify with them. You know what I do identify with? Chocolate. You know what else? Coffee. Dang – do I love coffee. This drink I’m sharing today is called a ‘smoothie’ for lack of a better word – really, it’s like a super mix between a light chocolate shake and a dang fine cup of iced cold brew.
I first discovered a similar shake (smoothie? frozen coffee concoction? frappucino?) a few months ago at a juice bar in Minneapolis. Our host didn’t have coffee but she had a big jug of a similar drink in her fridge. I still can’t remember exactly what was in it but I remember thinking it tasted like the best iced coffee I’ve ever had. I started making my own version when I got home and couldn’t get over how sweet that dates made the drink with zero refined sugar (and gave it a little creamy vibe as well). I usually make this for an afternoon pick-me-up with any leftover coffee I still have lingering on the stove. When OLLY mentioned they’d be sending me some nourishing chocolate smoothie powder, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought to put chocolate into it earlier. The OLLY powder gives both an additional nutrition boost AND an indulgent jolt from the chocolate.
Afternoons can be rough for me. I wake up beyond excited to start the day and find my mind the clearest and most creative in the AM. From there lunch is great because well…I’m eating and I love to eat. But then around 3 or 4, I tend to crash – I’ve tried eating big lunches (to see if they would get me through dinner but they just bog me down even earlier) and light lunches (which leave me starving and without energy by 3) so I’ve accepted my body needs something else in the afternoon. This healthy drink has been the answer for the last couple months – it doesn’t leave you with a sugar crash and I get a little bit of caffeine boost without the afternoon shakes that would come from a strong cup of coffee. Oh and I bet the boost of vitamins from the OLLY powder is a big help as well. You ever feel the afternoon slump as well? Try this drink – it positively could change your afternoon energy level forever!
Note: Some days I’ve had enough caffeine by 11 AM to know when enough is enough. This drink is just as delicious with decaf if you’d prefer to switch to that in the afternoon. Also, I sometimes only blend together 1 cup of ice and reserve the rest to throw into my drink after to give it more of an iced coffee vibe – totally your call on how you’d like to do it!
PSS Don’t worry, I’ve already been recipe developing a warm version of this for the colder months. I’m hoping to share that recipe later this season!
BONUS! OLLY was kind enough to offer a giveaway for a chance to win over $1000 in prizes. To say thanks for playing, they’ll send you a $5 off coupon for target.com! ENTER HERE by Monday, October 17th!
Iced Cocoa Coffee Smoothie recipe below:
This Garden Tonic Punch is worthy of any summer cocktail party. It’s made up of the herb and vegetable bounty found in my own backyard. A cold-pressed tomato simple syrup combined with an easy herb syrup creates a refreshing summer gin cocktail ideal for big batches.
Guess what!? Today I am celebrating these two things with this Garden Tonic Punch: 1. #drinkthesummer which is a fun little virtual cocktail party where all my favorite bloggers get together and mix up something fierce (see the full list of cocktails below) and 2. Vegetarian ‘Ventures FIVE year anniversary! Can you believe this space is FIVE years old (okay, it *technically* happened last week but who is keeping track)? Like imagine this space was a kid – she’d be HUGE by now… wanting to play dress up to look like mom and picking out her own ice cream flavors. But really, back to this space being a blog, this little space has grown up to host thousands of pictures, 534 posts, thousands of comments, millions of views (!!!), writing in the form of dreams and desires, fears and worries, and a whole heck of a lot of recipes. Pretty cool, right?
This tart and floral Elderflower Lemonade is a refreshing homemade drink that can be made alcoholic by adding a splash of gin or St. Germain.
This past weekend, Wyatt and I took a quick trip up to Chicago. It has been too long since we went there without a work assignment and to just wander around. The main highlight was hitting up the Green City Market which made me feel like a little kid in a candy store; it had the best homemade bread I’ve ever tasted, rows of beautiful flower bouquets, edible flowers galore (yes!), and any berry or green you could ever want (plus some you didn’t even realize existed). It really put our tiny town’s market to shame and I’m already wondering if it’s too ridiculous to move to a city just for their farmer’s market? I think not?
It’s no surprise that I have a thing for elderflower (I use the cordial constantly in cocktail recipes like St. Germain Spritzer and Garden Tonic) so when I stumbled upon the chance to purchase fresh elderflowers, I couldn’t pass them up. The white flowers are tiny but abundant and grow in large bunches. Most recipes I found for using it where to make a cordial; it sounds delicious but I didn’t want to seek out citric acid. So, instead, I went an easier route and created a simple syrup out of it that would still preserve it’s flavor but could be used for both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks.
This homemade sweet and spicy watermelon soda is the perfect fizzy non-alcohol drink recipe to quench your thirst on a hot day.
When anyone asked me where my favorite restaurant was when I was a kid, I always said The Root Beer Stand (our local drive-up diner). There was something about that drive-up experience that made me go crazy with excitement, like a dog waiting for his first walk of the day. Maybe it was the gallon (yes, gallon. Not liters – gallon!) of homemade root beer they brought out along with frosted mugs or the little trays that hooked onto your car window perfectly or that fact that we were allowed to eat in Mom’s car (for once) that made the unique experience so excitingly unforgettable.
This novelty didn’t just get me when I was a kid either. Our local root beer stand closed down when I was in middle school but there was one in the town over that was a hot spot due to it being right by the beach on Lake Michigan. My two older cousins lived with us on and off when I was growing up and there were a few times where I’d convince my cousin, LM (her real name is Linda-Marie but we call her LM for short), to call into my high school pretending to be my mom and say I was sick. Back then I was dating this really fun troublemaker of a boyfriend who ditched often (without even bothering to have someone call him in) so he was totally down to hang out with us on those day hangs. We’d go to the town over and to the beach to avoid bumping into anyone we knew. We’d spend hours walking around the lake, bowling, and wondering antique malls. I remember demanding that we had to go to the root beer stand for a root beer float after hanging out at the beach and them teasing me for being so obsessed with the novelty of it.
I can go all winter without touching soda but as soon as the weather starts to warm up, I begin to crave root beer because of those root beer floats. Despite the New York Times putting out an article this week about the negative effects of sugar (and soda in particular), my body still craves it. I decided to compromise and make my own homemade soda mostly made out of natural sugars (juice from the watermelon) to please my craving without totally throwing in the towel to sugar. This spicy watermelon soda is subtly sweet with a punch of spice for an insanely delicious and thirst-quenching refreshment.
Note: I don’t like my drinks very sweet and I’m a total wuss when it comes to spice (lame, I know) so I kept the simple syrup level rather low. Feel free to start with that amount and add more to taste.
Spicy Watermelon Soda:
Rosé All Day Spritzer is a tropical spritz cocktail perfect for a humid summer evening on the porch or for sipping by the pool.
My love for bubbly alcohol runs much deeper than I probably need to admit. Honestly, I wish someone had introduced me to spritzers a long time ago. Back in college, I was obsessed with the $4 bottles of champagne you could buy at the local liquor store. I’d pick one up before heading out to a basement show or house party and everyone could count on me always being there with a big warm grin on my face, much too short skirt on, and a bottle of Andre in hand. I’d wear it like a handy purse that, no matter how intoxicated I’d get, I’d never lose the bottle or forget it in another room. They were college parties so no cups were required and I’d drink straight from the bottle all night long – offering a swig to anyone who I struck a conversation with like I was offering up a sip of the finest wine on the market. I’d sip on it like for hours straight, like many of my friends would do with a 40, until it was warm and the carbonation was gone.
This four ingredient St. Germain Spritzer cocktail takes two minutes to whip up. It’s the perfect refreshing alcoholic drink for a spring or summer evening.
Before I jump into talking about this beyond simple cocktail, I’m excited to tell you all about the giveaway I am currently hosting over on my instagram right now! I’m not going to lie, between finishing up the book, working full time at my indie rock job, pushing the newest issue of Driftless Magazine into the world, and doing freelance work, our evening meals have really started to suffer. Sure, it’s great when I have to recipe develop tacos or lasagna but all too often I’m working on a drink recipe or dessert and those things end up being our dinner. So when Sun Basket sent me one of their weekly meal boxes to try out, I was so excited to have an excuse to set some time aside and make dinner again. Not only did it give me an excuse to get back into the kitchen for more than just work but the meals were delicious and ridiculously easy.
I’ve had a lot of reservations with meal services in the past but Sun Basket has the perfect solutions for them all. Meal services always felt so wasteful with all the individual packaging of every ingredient but Sun Basket sends you a return label to send back all the packaging for them to reuse or recycle. I also hated the idea of a meal plan because of my meat-free dietary restrictions but they’ve covered that as well; they gave you the option to choose between vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo recipes! And last but not least, I’m kind of a food snob and insist on all of my vegetables being organic so I was thrilled to find out their ingredients are certified organic! Yup, $11.49 for an organic meal that is delivered right to your door and can be whipped up in less than an hour. Dreamy, right?
Now, onto the best part! I am currently giving away one week of Sun Basket meals (3 meals for 2, worth $68.94) over on my instagram! All you have to do it hop on over and tag someone you think would appreciate Sun Basket (whether it’s someone who never has enough time in their day or appreciates a delicious organic meal or has dietary restrictions or just loves to cook and try new recipes). Hop on over there NOW because the contest ends on Sunday at midnight (EST time)! Also, if you know for sure you want to try out Sun Basket, you can use this link to get $30 off your first order! How can you resist with a deal like that?
Now onto this drink recipe! This is one of those recipes where I was trying to relax at the end of a day (this is a new development, by the way. My workaholic self is trying to slow down and enjoy a few silent moments a day) so I made myself this cocktail with ingredients we had on hand to enjoy with a novel on the porch. As I was sipping it, I was like ‘this is so good and looks so beautiful. I want to take a picture of it’. Fast forward 40 minutes later and I’m back to work, snapping pictures and writing down recipes (so much for that relaxing thing I’ve been working on, right?).
This cocktail is beyond simple but that is what I really enjoy about it. It’s four ingredients. I can be whipped up in under five minutes. And it’s refreshing and light enough for the warming weather but boozy enough to keep you warm once the sun sets.
St. Germain Recipe below:
Blogiversary (did I seriously just use that term?), we meet again. This time around it’s VV turning four but how has it already been a year since the last one? It’s very strange for me to think about – four years doesn’t sound like that long but I can’t even remember what it was like not to have this little blog around. To shoot photos in my free time. To obsess over new recipes and cookbooks. To sell my photography on the side. To ramble on and on about my dog, boy, and life changes.
Not only am a really grateful for all the amazing opportunities I’ve been offered from this blog but I’m so grateful I was talked into starting it as a creative outlet. My Ma has recently started talking about moving out of the house that I was mostly raised in and when she was cleaning out the basement, she came across dozens and dozens of my journals. I’ve kept a journal since I learned to read – some were filled with words, others with sketches, many with magazine clippings, and most with a combination of all those things. She was telling me about all the journals she found over dinner one night and I excitedly asked if she had brought them with her. She gave a nervous chuckle and said she had tossed them as there were dozens of them that she couldn’t imagine I’d want to store them. I had to hold back tearing up – I know her intentions were not at all to upset me but I was upset. I’m not sure why I hold those journals so close to my heart or why I even started writing in a journal to begin with but I was beyond bummed. I had always imagined giving those journals to my daughter one day to let her get a glimpse into what I was like at that age and to let her feel a little less alone when she was going through social trouble at school (which is absurd since I don’t even want kids).
There is something about reflecting on my old writing and knowing that all the problems I was worried about worked themselves out… that is so relieving. Or reading through and realizing how much my dreams have changed and that is okay. Or stumbling upon an entry of a memory I had completely forgotten and reconnecting with the emotions I felt during that moment. Whenever I start to feel too stressed about how things are currently going, I like to reflect on my old writings to escape to simpler times – maybe it’s because I have a terrible memory or maybe it’s because the written memories are never quite how I had been keeping them stored in my mind.
Anyhow, I stopped keeping written journals when I started VV as my writing energy goes into posts like this and I prefer to tell most of my story through photography these days. Here’s to always keeping the memories logged somewhere (that your Mom hopefully can’t throw away – ha!). Also, here are the past Blogiversary posts because it’s fun to reflect:
Did you all have a wonderful 4th of July (to the U.S. followers) and long weekend? I sure hope so! We went up to a lake house in Michigan for the long weekend and had the most relaxing time!
July has been speeding by at full force and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. After spending the first long weekend on a lake house in Michigan, we spent last weekend up north at my stepbrother’s wedding and are now getting ready to head to Denver for my other brother’s wedding and a family trip to the Rocky Mountains. Between all of that, I’ve been busy packing orders for Driftless magazine (issue 3 is finally out!!) and taking long walks to ease that hyper boxer dog of ours. With all this excitement, I’m surprised I’ve even found time to eat, let alone cook! Needless to say, I’ve been relying a bunch on make ahead snacks and green smoothies.
For a city of 80,000, it’s pretty incredible that we have four local breweries around town that sling their homemade craft beer; so incredible, that I would say it’s almost down right unnecessary. Because of that, I was beyond thrilled to hear that we were getting our first distillery in town as it was such a breath of fresh air from another brewery coming in. Luckily for us, there is a lot of new and inventive businesses opening up constantly here in Bloomington, IN since it’s a college town and 40,000 kids come through here for their education every year. Some of those kids (meeeee) are bound to stay here and grow into adults that want to do awesome things like make this community even better with their creative and, often times, delicious business plans. And because of that, this city continues to have all the comforts of home (like our favorite Thai place that has been around for 30+ years) while constantly having new places pop up to keep us from ever getting bored in this small oasis in the middle of cornfield country.
Design Sponge did a city guide on Bloomington in 2013 and already so much has changed. Here are a few notable changes that have happened just in the last two years: Rainbow Bakery now serves up irresistibly delicious vegan baked goods, Hopscotch has come in and upped the coffee game (and modern aesthetic of this city!), and now Cardinal Spirits is also making a mark with their sleek vibe and modern twist on classic cocktails. I’m really proud of how this city continues to grow in a positive way while still being a small enough community that you know the people making it happen.
I had the pleasure of getting a tour of the new Cardinal Spirits distillery and managed to snap a few photos to give you all a little peak. They put out their vodka earlier this year and just releases their gin at the end of last month! While snapping these photos on tour, they let me try the gin and took a quick video of me sampling it (warning: I’m super awkward in it). Here are a few snapshots from hanging out in the back where all the magic happens:
Hey friends! Just popping in real quick to let you know that there is a new VV recipe over at 80Twenty this week! It’s the perfect afternoon pick-me-up for this never ending cold so many of us in America is enduring right now!
Okay – that is all for now. I’ll be back in a few days with another warm and comforting recipe!
I have all sorts of opinions on being an adult. I really really dislike it most of the time; in fact, not only do I dislike it but I’m pretty darn awful at it. I’m the kind of person who needs to set monthly reminders to pay the billz on my cellphone, ical, and fridge yet still forget to pay it until the 3rd notice, in which they threaten to turn off our water, arrives in the mail (this is also the kind of things that really ticks off the boyfriend / roommates which is another annoying adult thing: being held accountable for your mistakes). Ever since I graduated from college (note: it’s been YEARS since I graduated so I really should be adjusted by now), I’ve groaned at the concept of having to spend 40 hours of my time a week at work in order to pay the rent in this small college town. I’ve agonized over the right foods to put into my body in an attempt to take care of myself. I’ve bitched and bitched about how insanely expensive things like health insurance and dentist appointments are. I’ve had numerous nightmares about going to jail for doing my taxes wrong and not being able to pay rent because I blew all of my paycheck on records.
Sure, it felt easier when my parents were footing the bill and I could skip class to cure a hangover at the local diner BUT being an adult isn’t all bad. In fact, being an adult can be down right fun at times. You can go a whole month without doing your own laundry and no one will say anything. You can re-arrange your entire living room on a Sunday afternoon and no one will get angry because its your living room. You can spontaneously adopt a dog. You can eat french fries and ice cream for dinner while sitting in front of the TV and watching Gilmore Girls. You can spend all of your money on records and wait to pay the bills until next month (oh wait…).
For Christmas, I was given a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin by one of my accounts (yup, I have ‘accounts’ that I work with on the regular – very adult). Gin is my thing – the rest of my office enjoys whiskey (or so I told myself that) so I decided to just bring this bottle home for a rainy day. The adult thing to do would have been to stop drinking $5-a-bottle gin after college but I hadn’t kicked that habit yet; well not until I started making drinks from this bottle of Hendrick’s. This stuff is fantastic and it’s not even that fancy or expensive. Like my adult paycheck could afford a bottle of this a month and I plan on adding it into the budget (the expendable part that I usually just reserve for netflix and cookbooks). The best part? It’s so good that you don’t even have to really add that much of a mixer. Heck, enjoy this stuff on the rocks if you want…although I recommend adding a splash of orange juice for the perfect winter relaxer. So, what I am trying to say is, be an adult and buy adult alcohol so that you can enjoy cocktails for what they really should be: mostly alcohol!
Anyhow, is it just me or was that kind of a weak punch line… I don’t know where I am going with this. I’m 25 years old. I’m an adult and it’s cool but also sort of hard and mostly confusing but also really fun. Oh and I think about growing up way too much…when I’m not too busy being grown up.
Gin & [Blood Orange] Juice recipe below:
I know I know – I disappear for a whole month and when I come back, I only have a simple drink recipe to give you? I can explain. Our oven was broken – for six weeks. We rent our home so it wasn’t as simple as dipping into our saving to invest in a new one; instead, it was a constant battle of calling and emailing our rental company, them ordering parts, installing those parts (3 different times), and it still coming out broken. It was frustrating and I may have had a few meltdowns that made me disgusted with even bothering with the kitchen for a few weeks. Yes, I could have used the stove-top to whip you something delicious but it was the frustration of the whole thing that really unnerved me every time I walked into the kitchen and the annoyance took all my creative drive right out of me. So yeah – I was feeling negative the last few weeks and really didn’t want to bring you into it..I am hoping you understand. After a particularly nasty call I made when we were told it was fixed (for the second time) and I whipped up a big batch of cake batter only to find that the oven stopped halfway through the baking process, Wyatt snuck out of the house and returned with a toaster oven the size of our real oven. I am now able to bake you cakes, pizzas, breads, and so much more in this giant toaster oven so watch out – there will be lots more recipes very soon!
Until then, I bring you a cocktail recipe! Thanksgiving is approaching fast and we are switching up the tradition this year. In years past, Thanksgiving prep was actually great practice for the freelance world; I would spend weeks researching recipes by scanning through magazines, Pinterest boards, and the indexes of my favorite blogs. I’d make lists of 30 to 40 recipes that would then be dwindled down to 10 or so by my stepdad and ma. We would then spend two solid days cooking (these are now shoot days in my freelance life) and prepping the food. It would all end up with a huge feast that we’d present to the whole family. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case this year due to my stepfather’s passing two months ago and my mother not ready to carry out that tradition just yet.
Instead, I will be heading up the the northern part of Wisconsin (brrrrrrrr) to celebrate with Wyatt’s family in their cabin. I am excited to start this new tradition with Wyatt’s family but am also bummed I won’t be taking control of the food this year. Wisconsin may only be 2 states away but the drive is 13 hours and I can’t imagine that a cake or pie will fair well in the back seat with Tuko.
So alas, I am throwing in the towel and only bringing ingredients for a cocktail recipe instead. Besides the obvious point that these ingredients will travel well and it’ll be easy to prepare, I am hoping to bring a bit of my family’s tradition with me to Wyatt’s event. It is not that this particular cocktail is an old family recipe but that my family has always celebrated with alcohol. Both sides of my family are German and we all tend to be heavy and joyful drinkers; I realize some families have negative views of drinking as it leads to dramatic arguments and un-controllable negative habits but not with my family. My family works hard and we also play hard; my mother and I have at least one ‘mother-daughter pool day’ a year in the summer months that consist of drinking sangria and lounging by the family pool, my grandparent’s drank a Manhatten together every evening as they talked about their days for over 50 years, my father pulls out the bottle of Jack whenever his old college buddies come into town and they drink rum and cokes while reminiscing about their old prank days, and my mother and I always get a boot full of glühwein during the holiday season when we go up to Chicago for Christmas shopping. Similar to food, it’s nice to be able to take a sip of a certain cocktail and have my mind transported to a moment in time that I had shared with loved ones.
Pomegranate Cranberry Rum Punch With Candied Rosemary recipe below:
Today I’ve paired up with the fine folks over at Williams-Sonoma to share my favorite Bloody Mary recipe with all of you!
Hmmm…end of August. I almost went all season without posting a tomato recipe which would basically make me the worst food blogger on the interwebz. Some people look forward to tomato season for the margerita pizzas and others for the buscetta but me? I look forward to tomato season for the fresh squeezed tomato juice and the killer Bloody Mary’s. I’m not much of a hostess (“we have water and uh…we have some open bottles of tequila and whiskey”) but I never skimp on the Bloody Mary’s during tomato season.
Most drinks you can tolerate if they are watered down or a little off but not Bloody Marys. Bloody Marys are such an unusual concoction to begin with that you really need to make sure it’s damn good or else it could easily be inedible. I personally think the secret is to have that kick – sriracha is my spice of choice usually but I ran into a huge deal on hot peppers at the market yesterday so harissa felt like a great replacement to experiment with.