Friday Cocktail: Mango Margarita

When thinking about this week’s Friday Cocktail I was so sick of the rain that all I wanted to do was have a nice cup of tea and wait it out. Then, by some miracle, sunshine! What better way to celebrate than a bright and sunny mango margarita? I can think of none.

I’d recently found some mangoes on sale for $10 for 10 and I couldn’t pass it up. Fresh mango is delicious, but whenever I have a surplus I dice some for the freezer, as it’s a great addition to smoothies, or eaten on their own. This time I decided to puree some for popsicles or sorbet, but then had a better idea- margaritas! Not the slushy, super sweet variety, but fresh-tasting and fruit forward. I used my go-to margarita recipe and adapted it for the mango version. The mango puree works really well, as you don’t have to dice and muddle some mango every time you want to make a drink, and it doesn’t get caught in the strainer.

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Depending on the ripeness of your mangoes (the riper the better!) you may need to add bit more agave or mango puree for the flavor to really come through. One large mango should be plenty for a few drinks when you add a little water to help things move in the blender. Although, if you wind up with extra mango puree you can put it in an ice cube tray (silicon would work best) for smoothies, which is definitely an added bonus.

Ingredients:

• 1.5 oz silver tequila (I generally like reposado tequila for a margarita, but the silver works better with the mango here)

• 1-1.5 oz lime juice

• 2-3 oz mango puree

• agave to taste

Directions:

1. Add ingredients to a large shaker with lots of ice.

2. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass. It’s best not to use too fine of as strainer so you get as much mango as possible in the drink.

3. Enjoy!

If you want to make these into frozen margaritas it would be super easy. You could freeze the mango puree, and add a bit extra for each cocktail, then the rest of the ingredients. You could of course just add some ice, but it would dilute the flavors, which would be a shame.

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Cheers!

Peach Truck Peaches and Rainy Days

Last weekend at the Franklin Farmers’ market Cameron and I picked up a bag of The Peach Truck’s awesome peaches, and after a few days they were ready to eat. Stone fruit is one of my favorite parts of the summer. After straight from the fridge, or in a cocktail (coming soon!), my favorite way to have peaches in the summer is definitely in the form of a cobbler.

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It has rained every day this week, which has been very dreary, but was the perfect excuse to experiment with a few different peach cobbler recipes. The one here is definitely the best I’ve ever made. Usually I have trouble getting the fruit to sink or, as I never have self-rising flour, getting the batter to rise at all.

One of the great things about cobblers is how little work they require. I generally love baking, but in the summer I find there are so many other things I’d rather be doing than precisely measuring ingredients,or adding the liquid at just the right time when I could be outside enjoying the sunshine, or reading a good book on a rainy day. Because there are only two of us, and because I would eat peach cobbler at every meal, I decided to make a slightly smaller version, but you could easily double the amounts for a larger cobbler to serve 4-6 rather than 2-3. Or you could go ahead and make the larger version anyway and have peach cobbler for breakfast- I definitely considered it!

Ingredients: 

• 4 peaches, sliced (and peeled if you prefer)

• 1/2 c flour, plus 2/4tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt (or self rising flour)

• 1/2c flax milk (unsweetened, plain)

• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

•  1/2 c sugar

• 3tbs coconut oil (or butter substitute of your choice)

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Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice the peaches and place in a medium bowl. You could sprinkle 1-2 tbs dark rum over them and let it soak in while you prepare the cobbler part.

2. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and lightly whisk.

3. Add flax milk and vanilla extract to dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.

4. Measure coconut oil into your baking dish and place in the oven to melt. You could use Earth Balance or another substitute here, but coconut oil is less overpowering.

5. Once the oil has melted, carefully remove the baking dish from the oven. Spoon cobbler mixture directly into the baking dish, and then top with the peaches. You may be tempted to mix the oil into the batter, but I promise you don’t need to- just think of it as one less thing to do!

6. Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

It may look like the ingredients haven’t quite combined, but I promise if you let it rest for a few minutes you will have the most delicious peach cobbler. The fruit definitely sinks to the bottom, flavoring the cobbler with an awesome floral peachiness. There is definitely more fruit than cobbler, which I love, but if you prefer an equal or greater amount you could add a bit more batter.

This cobbler delicious on its own, but I would venture to say that some coconut milk ice cream on top would be just as good, if not even better.

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Enjoy!

Gin Fizz and a New Boston Shaker

Cameron and I have been wanting a Boston shaker for a long time. The size is great because you can mix two drinks at once, having only two pieces makes it easy to clean, and it’s generally just a lot more versatile. If you’re in the market for a cocktail shaker- go with the Boston, it won’t disappoint. We decided on the Williams-Sonoma version available here. It’s somewhat more expensive than a standard shaker, but knowing how much we will use it, and that it will last for years made it a no-brainer.

We decided to ‘christen’ our new shaker by making a gin fizz, per Cameron’s suggestion. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the result is lovely. It’s tart, citrusy, and delicious on a hot summer evening (or afternoon). You probably already have all of the ingredients in your pantry- gin, lemon juice, some seltzer, and sugar, in the form of a fortified simple syrup.

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The simple syrup in this recipe is a bit different from the typical one using a 1:1 ratio, and instead uses twice as much sugar as water. When finished it has the consistency of a runny honey. One cup of water and two of sugar will make plenty of syrup that should keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. If you don’t feel like juicing quite a few lemons, definitely go with Nellie and Joe’s Key West lemon juice. It tastes as close to fresh as any I’ve tried, and comes in a large enough bottle to make quite a few drinks. It’s also great to have unhand for cooking.

Now for the cocktail.

Ingredients:

• 3 oz gin

• 1 oz lemon juice

• 1 oz fortified simple syrup

• Seltzer to top

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Directions:

1. Pour everything but seltzer into a shaker with ice.

2. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass. Top with seltzer, and garnish with a lemon wheel.

3. Enjoy!

This is a great cocktail for the summer. It’s a bit like an adult lemonade, and drinks easily, in fact almost too easily. The seltzer adds a nice fizz that feels a bit festive, and makes even a weeknight feel a bit like a celebration.

Cheers!

Currently Reading: The Opposite of Loneliness

I first heard about Marina Keegan, her essay “The Opposite of Loneliness,” and her book last spring as I was preparing to graduate from college. Her essay, and the excerpts I’d read in reviews seemed to capture so well how I was feeling at the time- excited to be graduating, but terrified of what was going to come next.

This month marks one year since I’ve graduated, and many of the same emotions remain. The feeling that I’m not doing enough, that I’m not as far in my career, or relationships as I should be, that I’m not accomplishing what I want to accomplish. Perhaps it’s a sort of quarter-life crisis. I’m not sure. What I do know is that Keegan’s words capture my feelings one year ago, and also my feelings today. Most notably, I often find myself missing the “web” of friends I so enjoyed at school, the “elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness” she so accurately describes. I can so identify too with her hope for the future. Like Marina, “I plan on having parties when I’m thirty. I plan of having fun when I’m old.” I know that there is so much life ahead of me to be excited about, it’s just a matter of getting there.

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Her fiction is is just as powerful. I’ve found myself both laughing out loud and welling up with tears. There’s this energy to her stories I can’t quite explain that makes them nearly impossible to put down. Her nonfiction is honest and thoughtful. In various ways she captures my fears, my thoughts, my hope for a life filled with purpose, connection, and who knows what else. And then there’s the strangeness of reading her writing knowing she passed away only a few days after her own college graduation. I find myself both incredibly thankful to read her writing, and sad that she passed away so soon, that she will write no more.

If you can’t tell already tell, I definitely think you should read this book. I hope you enjoy it even half as much as I did. That it reminds you you are not the only person feeling what you’re feeling. That the opposite of loneliness is something attainable. That there’s so much life ahead to be excited about, and it’s okay to be scared, to feel overwhelmed, to feel like you aren’t doing enough.

Springtime Hibiscus-Lavender Collins

Recently I found a really interesting (and pretty!) new cocktail ingredient, and have been waiting for the perfect occasion to take it for a spin. I was searching for a mother’s day gift  I found this hibiscus-lavender syrup syrup made by Raft, so had to get it for myself as well.

All of their products are slow-brewed botanical syrups that are perfect for cocktails! I tried a little bit before making the cocktails and it was definitely strong, but really good. It has a slightly herbal taste, and the lavender is strong enough to smell even after you’ve mixed it with the other ingredients. It seemed like the perfect ingredient for something refreshing and light to sip not he porch after a long, hot day.

IMG_3370I decided to keep it simple and follow the direction on the bottle (it helped that it called of only three ingredients!) by using the syrup, my choice of sprit, and some sparkling water. After trying it it needed a hint of citrus tobrighten it, so I added some lime juice- making it a collins. I posted recipe a few weeks ago for a basil collins, and really love them in the warmer months; the light fizz makes them really refreshing!

Ingredients:

• 1tbs Raft Hibiscus-Lavender Syrup

• 1/2-1 tbs lime juice

• 3 tbs gin (you could also use vodka)

• sparkling water or seltzer

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Directions:

1. Pour syrup, lime, and gin into a glass with ice.

2. Top with seltzer and stir slightly

3. Enjoy!

An alcohol-free version of this would be equally delicious. I tried the syrup with just some seltzer and it reminded me of the Italian soda I loved growing up. It isn’t too sweet, but has a really nice, light flavor. It could be a great “mock-tail” for a birthday party or baby shower as well!

I’m definitely going to be on the lookout for the other syrup’s made by Raft- they have a lemon-ginger, and a smoked tea and vanilla that both sound amazing! I also checked out their website, which has some awesome recipes using their different syrups.

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Cheers!

Favorite New Find- AG Hair Dry Shampoo

I love dry shampoo. I have fine hair that looks best when washed every day, but quickly dries out breaks more easily if I actually do. Shaving off a few minutes in the morning is definitely a perk as well, and my hair is much happier/healthier when I extend the time between washes as much as possible.

I’ve tried a few different dry shampoos over the years, and have never found one that covers all the bases, until now. Before finding AG’s, my favorite was definitely Alterna’s translucent dry shampoo. It smells great, sprays evenly, and adds some great volume. I have light hair, but it works just as well on dark, which is a rare find!

When I ran out I was in a pinch, and grabbed a can of Herbal Essences naked dry shampoo from Target, and was left disappointed. The smell was pretty overpowering, but besides that it seemed to make my hair look even dirtier than before applying. Not good. Which is what lead me to stumble onto AG Hair’s dry shampoo.

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Although I was initially wary of a dry shampoo that deposits a bit of color, I remembered that my second day hair often looks a shade or two darker than normal, and so gave it a try. The blonde color deposit is subtle, and the smell is nice without being too strong. It uses natural ingredients like tapioca starch to soak up excess oil, as well as tea tree oil and silk protein. The best part, though, is that it makes my second day hair look freshly washed, and gives my third day hair some nice volume- perfect for adding waves or throwing it into an easy bun or ponytail.

To apply I follow the directions, but with a twist or two- the night before I apply by shaking the can and spraying it directly onto my roots from six to eight inches away. Then I flip my head upside down and massage it into my scalp, sometimes using a hairdryer on low help it absorb more easily. From there I style as usual, either going over the ends with a straightener or a large-barrel curling want.

Definitely effortless!

Home with Campari and Grapefruit

I’ve been visiting my family for the past few days, which has been lots of fun, and full of errands and appointments. So thought a good way to relax with this Friday Cocktail would be to feature an old favorite! I don’t actually remember when I first had one of these, but I remember feeling very grown-up as a teenager when I was occasionally given one (consisting mostly of grapefruit juice with just a splash of Campari) when we were relaxing on vacation, or we waiting on dinner. Its low alcohol content makes it perfect for sipping before dinner, or on a warm afternoon- combined with tart grapefruit juice it’s a refreshing and relaxed aperitif that’s sure to please!

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Campari is a bitter aperitif that can be added to cocktails (like the amazing Negroni) or enjoyed more simply over seltzer. Invented in Italy in 1860, its made by infusing herbs and fruit with alcohol and water, much in the same manner as Pimm’s. It’s a great addition to your bar because of its versatility; technically classified a ‘bitter’ it is of of the few that can act as the star of a cocktail, rather than just a supporting ingredient.

The great thing about Campari and grapefruit is the ease with which its made- it’s exactly what it sounds like. Sure, you can whip out the cocktail measure and make your drinks, but it’s even easier to pour the ingredients to your personal taste and forgo any measuring. Before you know it half the bottle may be gone, but everyone in your group will be feeling great!

IMG_3264Ingredients:

• 3oz (or desired amount) of Campari

• a splash of grapefruit juice (fresh is best of course, but any tart juice will work)

• wedge of lime

Directions:

1. Pour Campari and juice into a glass and stir, garnishing with a lime wedge.

Cheers!

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-C