Tag Archives: tequila

Game Day Eats – Boozy Caramel Corn

When I was single, I would sometimes make dinner out of beer and popcorn.  Occasionally, it was followed by ice cream.

I would come home too tired to do much of anything but take off my high heels and plug in my air-popper.  But, that was enough.  The salty, crunchy, buttery (real butter, of course) corn would improve my mood in minutes.  Okay, okay…the beer and ice cream helped, too.

I’ve spread the popcorn habit to my husband, but we don’t eat for dinner.  Just lots of snacking.  I so clearly convinced him of the value of regular popcorn that he bought me a huge table top popcorn popper for our bar.  Now, we can make big batches for our friends when they come over to watch a game.

But, when I want something a bit more than butter and salt  on my popcorn, I mix up something like this…

Tequila Caramel Corn
Makes about 4 quarts

4 quarts popped popcorn
1/2 cup unsalted butter, more for greasing pan
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp agave syrup
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp tequila
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts

Place popped popcorn in a large, buttered roasting pan.  Place the roasting pan in a 200 degree oven to keep the popcorn warm while you make the caramel.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter, brown sugar, syrups, and salt.  Stirring constantly while it heats.

Once it starts to boil, stop stirring and let it boil for 5 minutes.

Remove the popcorn filled roasting pan from the oven.  At the end of 5 minutes, quickly stir in baking soda and tequila.  You may want to add spicy tequila, like I did.

Working very quickly, sprinkle 1 cup of peanuts (I used chile lime peanuts!) on top of the popcorn.  Then, pour the  caramel on top.  It is very helpful to have an assistant here so one person can scrape out the caramel and one person can stir it into the popcorn and peanut mixture.  It is very hot, so be careful.

Once the popcorn and caramel are well mixed, put the roasting pan back in the oven and increase the temperature to 250 degrees F.  Bake the mixture for about an hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Break apart and let cool before storing.

Charley is not my only four-legged friend.  I also have a cat, Izzy.  He apparently wanted to see what that other black cat was doing…

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Bar Stool Fridays – Dog Walking Adventures

The sun was shining and it felt warm on our skin.  Charley and I had encountered very few U.G.O.s (unidentified ground objects that he tries to consume) or chicken bones (yes, I live in a community where folks really throw chicken bones on the ground) on our daily midday walk around the neighborhood.  We didn’t pass anybody dealing drugs, I didn’t catch a whiff of urine from the alley…I may have even been smiling.  I was really enjoying this walk.

Now, I am definitely not a fearful person.  I walk through life with confidence, but I try to always be aware of my surroundings and I am far from trusting strangers.  However, I had no reason to be suspicious of the car driving toward us.  The driver had his window down with his arm resting on the frame.  He also seemed to be enjoying this lovely day.  And, because I look quite different than most individuals in my neighborhood and I may have been smiling, I was not surprised that he looked our way.  I didn’t find it threatening.  I was not even surprised when he stopped the car and began to speak to me.  Charley was paused to sniff what most have been a particularly fragrant section of tree and he also didn’t feel threatened by this man in the car.

“Uh wahh wahh meh like yah wahh that big black dawg?”

He was smiling when he said this, so for some reason my brain didn’t register this as something with which I should be troubled.  I smiled and replied, “What’s that?”

“Yew wanna walk me like your walkin’ that big black dawg?”

Hmmm…that was not what I expected to hear.  I thought he was going to ask for directions or comment on Charley’s size or shiny coat.  I had no expectation that someone driving down the road would pull over and ask a strange woman if she would walk him like a dog.  No expectation.

Once my brain processed what he actually said (and it did take me a couple of beats), I replied, “No.  No, thank you.”  (I have to say thank you ’cause I’m from Texas and we are nothing if not polite.)

He shrugged.  I turned away and Charley and I continued down the block as he drove away in the opposite direction.  My smile actually came back as we walked on because I found the exchange more amusing than intimidating.  I shook my head and thought, “This is why I enjoy so many bloody cocktails.”

So, I decided to make one.  Literally.  Well, with blood oranges…

This drink is inspired by the classic tequila cocktail, the Compadre, which translates to friend/partner from Spanish.  So, I’m calling it the Vecina Amiga, or the Friendly Neighbor.  Yeah, I am using the feminine, but it is pink.

The Vecina Amiga
Makes 1 drink

2 ounces tequila (I used silver)
1 ounce Campari
3 or 4 ounces blood orange soda (see NOTE)
lime wedge, for garnish

Shake the tequila and Campari vigorously with ice.  Strain into an ice-filled highball glass.  Top with blood orange soda and stir gently.  Garnish with a lime wedge and serve.  Maybe you can even make one for your friendly neighbor.

NOTE: I found the “gourmet” blood orange soda in a local grocery store.  If you cannot find a similar product, mix equal parts of blood orange or grapefruit juice and club soda.  Taste, and if it needs to be sweeter, add a splash of simple syrup.

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Bar Stool Fridays – Add A Little Spice to Happy Hour

My friends Virginia and Kate have been on a mission to find spicy cocktails lately.  We’ve found a couple good ones at local bars, but I knew I needed to have something on hand to serve them when they enjoy cocktails at our house.

I decided to infuse tequila with serrano peppers to give them the kick for which they are looking.

Pepper Tequila

6 to 12 serrano peppers, washed and trimmed
750 mL tequila of your choice

After rinsing the peppers, trim the stems.

Drop serrano peppers into a sealable glass container and pour in tequila.

Seal and let sit in a cool location for 10 to 14 days.

Strain and pour into a labeled bottle.

This will keep indefinitely in a cool, dark place.

Now, for the happy hour…

Spicy Margarita
Makes 1 drink

2 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz Grand Marnier
2 oz pepper tequila

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker.  Strain into a margarita glass.  I serve it on the rocks on with no salt, the way I like it.

This is spicy.  No joke.  You may enjoy it best with food…you know, like with some chips and yummy queso.

NOTE: I have rather large margarita glasses, and this recipe is made to fit them.  You can make more or less depending on how many glasses you want to fill.  Just use equal parts of all ingredients.


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Blackberry Cocktails

A perfectly ripe blackberry is a beautiful and delicious thing.  Blackberries are reaching their peak here in the Washington, DC area, and I cannot get enough.  My family grew blackberries when I was young and I just adore them.  I like picking them, too.  It reminds me of childhood and the vines that grew near our horse pasture.  My horse, Bess, was very curious and would watch you closely as you picked the fruit, hoping it would mean something sweet for her, too.

I wasn’t really feeling in the mood for traditional baking with blackberries, so I decided to come up with some cocktails instead.  A number of blackberry-themed drink recipes using creme de mure or creme de cassis, which is a blackberry liqueur.  I do not have that liqueur, but I thought I might create even more delicious blackberry flavor if I used a blackberry puree instead.  So, I pulled out my trusty blender and got to work.

To make the blackberry puree…In a blender, add 2 cups of blackberries, 1/4 cup water, 2 Tbsp of lemon juice, and 3 Tbsp of sugar.  Puree and taste.   Continue to add sugar or a bit more water until desired consistency and taste.  Some berries are sweeter and riper than others and need less sugar.  I’ve given you a starting point, it is up to you to make it work.

I mixed up two different blackberry cocktails.  One, I call a Tequila Sunset, a take on the Tequila Sunrise.  The second is a modified version of the Bramble, which is gin based.  Give them both a try, even if you don’t think you like gin or tequila.

Tequila Sunset
Makes 1

crushed ice
1 oz tequila
4 oz orange juice
1 oz blackberry puree (see above recipe)
2 oz club soda or seltzer (optional)
Pour the tequila and orange juice into an ice-filled glass, and stir.  Float the blackberry puree on top, and let it slowly descend through the drink.  Top with club soda or seltzer, if desired.
Blackberry Bramble
Makes 1

crushed ice
2 oz gin
1 oz lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 oz blackberry puree (see above recipe)
garnish with fresh blackberries and a lime wedge
Fill shaker with ice and add gin, lime juice, and simple syrup.  Shake and strain into glass with crushed ice.  Pour the blackberry puree on top and let it descend through the glass.  Garnish with blackberries and a lime wedge.

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Toast with a Tenderloin

While we were in Cleveland last weekend, my husband and I hosted an outdoor party for his family and friends who were not able to join us in Texas for our wedding.  We were joined by some of our good friends from Washington, DC, too.

It was a whirlwind trip – lots of fun, but not really relaxing.  We really didn’t have a chance to truly appreciate all the well wishes and special conversations that we had while we were there.  Both of us feel so lucky to have so many fun and considerate people in our life, and we worry they don’t realize the depth of our gratitude.

Because of that we decided to plan a relaxing evening at home to go through the congratulatory cards and presents we received and share our thoughts about the success of the party.  I wanted to make something special for the two of us, but nothing too taxing.  We were both still tired and we wanted time to sit back and absorb what we just experienced.

I decided on a pork tenderloin from Niman Ranch and I was inspired by a bottle of tequila sitting on our bar.  I made a margarita-like marinade, let the pork soak it in for a couple of hours, and tossed it on the grill.  I served it with chipotle-spiced beans and rice with green onions.  Then, we toasted our good fortune with a couple of beers.

Margarita Marinated Pork Tenderloin
Makes 3 to 4 servings

2 green onions, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 Tbsp flat parsley, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp tequila
2 Tbsp orange juice
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 lb pork tenderloin

Place all ingredients, but pork into a large zip-top plastic bag and combine.  I dropped the limes in after squeezing to enhance the citrus flavor.

Add pork to mixture in bag and seal.   Using your hands work the marinade around and rub it into the pork.

Let it marinate for at least one hour, but not more than 5 hours in the refrigerator.

When ready to grill, remove the pork from the marinade and discard the marinade.

Grill, with grill lid closed, over high heat.  It will likely take not more than 5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of your tenderloin.

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