Spicy Watermelon Margaritas

Happy Fri-yay! I am so jazzed that we are entering the last weekend of August and am ready to bring on the fall weather. We are getting a tiny taste of cooler weather this weekend and I am living for it. I pulled out my jeans, a cardigan, booties – I am all in. To celebrate the end of a season that reminds us all that the earth is melting, I threw together these spicy watermelon margaritas.

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Here’s the deal – I don’t like melons. Cantaloupe and honeydew melons are horrifying to me and I am that brat standing at the breakfast table picking out all fruit but the melons. I am not sorry that the person behind me has an option of ten slices of cantaloupe and one blueberry. Not sorry at all. I can get behind watermelon on occasion though. If the watermelon is super red and juicy – I might be able to partake. If the watermelon is mixed in with some lime juice and tequila… I can definitely partake.

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This is the first watermelon I have purchased this summer and it did not disappoint. This recipe only calls for half of a watermelon and I still have about two cups of juice in my fridge begging to be used in another drink recipe. You can easily make these for a crowd with one small melon!

I start by juicing half of my watermelon in a blender. I find that this is the easiest way to do it because I pour everything from the blender over a fine sieve to get a smooth juice in a matter of minutes. If you are using a full watermelon you may have seen the hip new way of putting an immersion blender straight into the middle of it for juicing. You do you!

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Once you have your watermelon juice ready to go, prep your jalapeños for the spicy component to this drink. I added about half a jalapeño for two drinks and muddled it with just the watermelon juice and lime juice to start – so taste as you go to make sure the spice level works for you.

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This drink should be shaken once you add your alcohol. I went for the aesthetic of my lovely glass here and stirred instead. Don’t be like me. Any drinks with juice should be shaken and drinks with straight alcohol are stirred. Got it? Good. So shake your drink and then strain out into glasses. I also recommend mixing up your salt rim for this drink. I know, this sounds like crazy talk for margarita straight shooters. I added some fresh cracked black pepper to my salt here. I think it adds some smokey flavor to the drink that compliments the jalapeño. Enjoy sparingly and do not take a big ole’ lick of the rim before a drink or you will overpower the flavors with black pepper. Be dignified please.

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Yum, right?

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Total Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2 – but can be scaled easily

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces fresh watermelon juice
  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 4 ounces Cointreau
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1/2 jalapeño
  • Salt and pepper for rim
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Prepare your watermelon juice by cutting a small watermelon in half. Add flesh of the melon to a blender and pulse until smooth. Strain through fine mesh sieve and store remaining juice in fridge. This produces about 2-3 cups of juice depending on the size of your watermelon. I would recommend only using a quarter of your watermelon for juice if you are not making large quantities of margaritas.

Slice jalapeño into small rounds. I removed the seeds before adding to the shaker, but you can keep them if you want the drink to be very spicy. Add watermelon juice and lime juice to the shaker with jalapeño. Muddle gently to combine and then add tequila,  Cointreau and ice. Shake vigorously to combine.

Prep glasses by using leftover limes to wet the rim and roll in salt and cracked pepper. Use a 2:1 ratio of salt to pepper – you do not want a ton of pepper on each glass.

Strain cocktail into prepared glasses with ice and enjoy!

 

Cherry Limeade Margarita

It’s National Tequila Day! Which, let’s be honest, might as well just be Margarita Day. Yes, yes, there is already a day dedicated to margaritas (February 22nd to be exact) but why not have two holidays for this special nectar of the agave plant?? Today, I am honoring tequila with this Cherry Limeade Margarita.

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I have a thing about cherries. Anyone with me? Cherry-flavored things remind me of cough syrup and other super artificially flavored candies. And don’t get me started on the maraschino cherry… no thank you to those bright red sugar bombs. There is only one time a year that I get excited about cherries, and that is dark, sweet cherry season. No bright red colors or super sweet additives – just dark, luscious cherries from Washington State or Oregon. YUM.

Additionally, as most Americans, I am an Amazon prime member and can never go back to 3-day delivery or shipping that costs more than $0. I am even more devoted now that Whole Foods gives me a hefty discount on a few select items each week with said membership. This week, I walked into my neighborhood Whole Foods and what do I see? Fresh, dark cherries marked at 50% off. A gift from the gods I say. And then that same day, what appears on my doorstep? Oh, that brand new blender I purchased on Amazon Prime Day… obviously my first thought goes to a frozen beverage. Thanks, Amazon.

So here lives the frozen Cherry Limeade Margarita, perfect for a celebration of booze. I pitted my fresh cherries and put them right into the freezer for this cocktail to ensure a smooth consistency. Once they were frozen, I threw them into my blender with tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, a little simple syrup, and a few handfuls of ice. Simple, delicious, and worthy of my $10 sale-priced bag of cherries.


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Total Time: 10 minutes (plus time to freeze fruit)

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces Cointreau
  • 2 ounces lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 cup dark cherries, pitted
  • Handful cubed ice
  • Sugar and lime zest for rim

Instructions:

Pit your cherries and freeze them for about 2 hours until firm. You can use frozen cherries from the freezer section in the off season, but fresh is best. Once frozen, add cherries to blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Add 1 cup of ice at a time to reach desired thickness.

Prepare your glasses with the sugar and lime zest rim by taking a slice of lime and circling around the edge. Then roll the glass on a plate filled with granulated sugar and fresh lime zest.

Fill prepared glasses with frozen margarita and enjoy!

 

Tequila Time Bomb

It is the weekend before a mid-week holiday and July is charging towards me like a ball of fire. Literally. It is so stinking hot and my poor AC unit is struggling to keep up with my desire to live life wrapped in a blanket and sweatshirt. I am also living the single life for the next ten days as the resident photographer takes a cross-country road trip to Vegas. He has decided to swap out a week of cocktail photos for sunsets and open roads. So here I sit, blasting AC to cool an entire house for me and some animals who would rather lay in the sun, and binging on Netflix shows. Nailed It season two, anyone?

I will put my single lady plans on hold for one day this week though and throw back a few frozen cocktails to ring in the 4th of July. Now listen. The 4th of July is very special to me. Not because I bleed red, white, and blue and want to chant “USA” with sparklers in hand all day (although sparklers DO make everything better) but because it was a holiday always spent with my grandparents in a Prowler camper somewhere in the middle of the United States. Bear with me – I promise we will get to the cocktail.

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Now, these vacations were a chance for our parents to get some time away from two screaming girls, time for two screaming girls to bond over a shared twin bed converted from a couch, and an opportunity to explore national parks with our grandparents. We waited for geysers in Yellowstone, pretended to rock climb in the Badlands by jumping off tiny boulders, and painted Christmas ornaments under the awning during rainy afternoons that still hang on my own tree to this day.

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These trips are certainly over now, and squeezing into a pull-behind camper is no longer the preferred method of family gatherings. But these holidays spent on the road with family are what I associate with early July – and I hope you spend yours with the explorers and adventures in your life. (And protect the National Parks, ya’ll)

These trips were also an opportunity to celebrate my grandma’s birthday, July 3rd, by splurging on ice cream bars from the camp store. My preferred treat from the freezer chest? The Bomb Pop. These red, white and blue ice pops changed your mouth purple and left stains all over your hands. They were sweet, a little bit tart, and the BEST summer treat. You can imagine how thrilled I was to see them in my freezer section advertised as “THE ORIGINAL!” last week. This advertisement is 100% accurate. The annoying white plastic is still hard to rip open, the stick still leaves you with sticky fingers, and the blue raspberry section continues to be the best flavor of them all.

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First things first, I ate two of these things straight from the box. Then I decided to be an adult about it and add some alcohol to the situation in order to consume a third. I present to you… the Tequila Time Bomb. This drink goes down smooth and hits you just as you finish the last bit in your glass. The frozen component is tequila, triple sec and lots of lime juice. Essentially, a frozen margarita. The sweetness comes in from the popsicle and it truly gets better with every sip.

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This drink comes together quickly, just add your tequila, triple sec (or other preferred orange liqueur), lime juice and crushed ice to a blender. Mix it up, add your bomb pop and you are ready to ring in the 4th of July!


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Total Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 3 ounces triple sec
  • Juice from 3-4 limes
  • 1-2 cups cubed ice
  • Bomb pops

Instructions:

Add tequila, triple sec, lime juice and ice to blender. Start with 1/2 cup of ice and add incrementally until you get your desired consistency. I made mine pretty thick and used just under 2 cups of ice. I also taste tested along the way and added a little more lime juice or tequila based on my preferences. Pour blended cocktail into a tall glass and serve with a bomb pop!

Note: If you really want the juices to melt into the cocktail quickly, leave your bomb pops out on the counter while you are blending the cocktails and they should be softer by the time you add them to the glass.

Peach Margaritas

The rain is finally gone here in North Carolina and we are celebrating with these peach margaritas! It has been muggy and wet for days and I can’t tell you how happy my soul is to see some sunshine. To mark the beginning of June and to use up some fruit from last weekend’s farmers market jaunt, I went to town on some peaches last night.

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Now, let me tell you about the state farmers market. It is paradise. A very crowded paradise, but paradise nonetheless. Freshly cut flower bouquets, tomatoes from every corner of the state, berries picked just hours earlier, freshly baked bread, cheese, more garlic varietals than I thought possible, and the sweetest peaches that I never intended on purchasing. I always go to the farmers market hungry. Why, you ask? Isn’t that the exact opposite of what we should be doing when purchasing food? Well, I can’t say no to a free sample. Especially when that free sample is a juicy sliced tomato, or roasted cajun peanuts, or a plump peach that kept calling to me from across the aisle… These peaches, man.

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I had my list. I wanted strawberries, asparagus, onions, tomatoes, and herbs. I had everything I needed and was on my way out. But then I took a free sample of a peach and thought “oh perfect, a little dessert for the road”. Nope. That was the end of me. Ten seconds later I had an armful of peaches and no real plan for how to consume them all.

When faced with an overabundance of fruit, most people would make a pie or smoothies or freeze them for later – I just mix them with alcohol. So here enters the lovely peach margarita. I adore margaritas. My happiest place is sitting at a picnic table with fresh guac, warm chips, crispy fish tacos, and a pitcher of margaritas. Typically, a classic margarita always does the trick. But when you are looking for something a little sweeter or brighter, make these peach margaritas.

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To really incorporate the peaches, I blend them with simple syrup to get a thick, peach puree. I then shake the puree with tequila, grand marnier, and lots of lime juice to really incorporate everything together. You could use triple sec if you want, but I recommend trying it with the grand marnier. I also skip the salt here and use lime zest and sugar on the rim. It really sends this margarita over the edge. I will never regret grabbing an armful of peaches from the farmers market ever again.


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Total Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe peaches
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup
  • 3 ounces tequila
  • 4 ounces grand marnier
  • 3 ounces lime juice
  • Sugar and lime zest for rim
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Make your simple syrup with equal parts granulated sugar and water. I make about one cup at a time (1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water). Heat on the stove until hot and fully dissolved. Remove from heat before the liquid begins to boil. Once the syrup is completely cool, reserve 1/4 cup for the peach puree and store the rest in your fridge for up to one month.

Remove the skins from three almost overly ripe peaches and place in a blender with 1/4 cup simple syrup. If you have large peaches, then just use two. Mine were about the size of a lemon. Blend until smooth. This will make enough puree for 4-6 margaritas and can keep for five days in the fridge. I usually make two drinks at a time, but if you are making a batch for a group – just add more liquor and lime juice.

Add three ounces of the peach puree to a shaker filled with ice. Add tequila, grand marnier, and lime juice and shake for 20-30 seconds. Prepare your glasses with the sugar and lime zest rim by taking a slice of lime and circling around the edge. Then roll the glass on a plate filled with granulated sugar and fresh lime zest.

Fill glasses with cubed iced and strain liquid from your shaker into each glass! Top with a lime wedge or a peach slice if you so desire. Enjoy!