Drink Recipes

Lavender Margarita

April 26, 2017

Lavender Margarita
(AKA Don’t Test Marg Recipes at 2pm on a Wednesday)

A quick note: This is not a sponsored post, just some of my own thoughts and recommendations. Please drink responsibly 🙂

Whenever people visiting New York ask me for suggestions, I immediately recommend Baby Bo’s. It’s my favorite Mexican food in New York because it has something for everyone, fresh vegetables, and the best margaritas. They’re not very sweet and they use good tequila.

I have so many good memories at this restaurant. There were times my sister and I celebrated the end of semesters together, having too many of those margaritas with my aunt and cousin, and the time I told my now husband that I didn’t want to be proposed to. The day before he was planning on asking me to marry him. True story. It’s not that I didn’t want to be married to him, I’m just not one for romance, and the thought of a proposal seemed overwhelming.

Since leaving New York, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect margarita. I decided it was time to learn how to make my own. Turns out, good margaritas aren’t very hard to make! I think the key is good tequila and low sugar. I’m typically a Patron snob, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay $50 for a small bottle. I went with Olmeca Altos Tequila and really enjoyed it.

A friend of mine recently gave me the book The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart. It’s filled with fun information and the history of how plants were used to make alcohol. We brought it to a new cocktail lounge in our area and referenced it several times to see exactly what we were drinking. From the back of the book:
“Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley, tequila from agave, rum from sugarcane, bourbon from corn. Thirsty yet?  In The Drunken Botanist, Amy Stewart explores the dizzying array of herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi that humans have, through ingenuity, inspiration, and sheer desperation, contrived to transform into alcohol over the centuries.”

Some of my favorite fact from the book:

  • Agave is often compared to a cactus, but it’s actually more closely related to asparagus or a hosta.
  • Beers that have a tradition of adding lime to the beer is a marketing ploy to disguise beer that has gone past its peak or skunky. Still, I love a Pacifico every now and then.
  • Cider has a low alcohol content because apples are low in sugar in comparison to grapes (yeast eat sugar and produce alcohol). Once the yeast has finished eating the sugar, they die off, resulting in a drink that only has a 4-6% alcohol content.

After reading this book I was inspired to make my own version of a margarita using botanicals. My recipe is quite simple and delicate, but it was refreshing and had a little twist on a classic.

The Drunken Botanist is a beautiful reference book with so many great cocktail ideas and I’d like to pass it along. I’ll pick a random commenter from this post and send a copy of the book to the winner. Simply answer one of the questions below in the comment section by May 3rd.

Lavender Margarita
Serves: 4 drinks

1/3 cup of honey or agave
1/3 cup of water
1 tablespoon of culinary grade lavender
6 ounces of blanco tequila
4 ounces of Cointreau
4 ounces of fresh lime juice
Limes for garnishing
Salt for garnishing


  1. Make the simple syrup – combine the honey/agave, water, and lavender in a small pan. Bring it to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool and strain out the lavender.
  2. In a cocktail shaker or measuring cup, combine the prepared simple syrup, tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. Stir.
  3. Cut a lime wedge and run it around the rim of a glass, dip the top of the glass in salt if desired.
  4. Fill the glasses with crushed ice and pour the margarita mix. Garnish with a lime wedge.

What’s your favorite cocktail or non-alcoholic beverage and how do you make it/who makes the best version? Salt or no salt on your marg? Salt all the way!!!

Gluten Free Recipes Snack Vegan Vegetarian

Lightened Up Caramel Corn

March 17, 2017

Lightened Up Caramel Corn
(AKA What I’ve Eaten for Breakfast for the Last Week)

Caramel Corn

In the last 2 years I feel like popcorn has really made a comeback. Popcorn is not my favorite snack, but I really like the unhealthy types, like caramel corn. I sometimes have to have Jon hide a bag from me so that I don’t eat it all in one sitting. I have no problem with treats, but I found myself at the grocery store putting the bag back on the shelf because I was so turned off by the ingredients. I just felt like sugar shouldn’t be the first ingredient in popcorn. Sugar should be the first ingredient in gummy bears or licorice.

Caramel Corn 2

Then I found Whole Foods Kettle Corn and holy moly, I couldn’t resist. It sells out fast; so if you see a bag, grab it and get an extra one for me! I’ve casually (read: not at all casual) asked my local Whole Foods when they receive shipments. And that’s when I realized, I have a problem. (By the way – It’s Wednesday and Friday for the Des Moines crowd).

Caramel Corn

Making caramel corn is so much easier than I thought. Sure, this recipe is a little long-winded, but that’s just me. In any case, here are a few notes:

  • I tried one version with all maple syrup and another with half maple syrup and half brown sugar. Both were good, but I preferred all maple syrup. Let me know which one you prefer. (The first pic of the little pot is the option without the brown sugar)
  • I originally wrote the recipe with 2 tablespoons of butter, which Jon preferred, but it was well, too buttery for me. I found myself wiping my hands on my pants after every handful. #slob
  • You need more oil than you think when popping the kernels – After 4 rounds of burnt, half-popped popcorn, I finally realized my mistake.
  • Speaking of the half-popped popcorn – what do you think of those brands that sell it that way intentionally? Maybe it’s my Irish teeth, but I’m not a fan.


Vegan Caramel CornLightened Up Caramel Corn
Serving: About 4 cups of popcorn 

1 tablespoon coconut oil or canola oil
¼ cup of popcorn kernels
1 tablespoon of vegan butter, like Earth Balance or organic butter
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of almond milk
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon of salt, plus more for seasoning


  1. Preheat the oven to 250° (225° if you’re using a convection oven) and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Make the popcorn: In a medium sized pot (about 4 quarts), heat the oil on medium-high heat for about a minute. Take the pot off the heat and add the popcorn kernels to the pot and cover. Count to 15 and place it back on the heat. When the kernels start to pop, shake the pot every few seconds. When the kernels slow popping, remove from heat and take the cover off to let the steam out.
  3. Make the caramel sauce: In a small frying pan or small pot, add the vegan butter, maple syrup, almond milk, vanilla extract, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Heat on medium high heat and bring the sauce to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir the sauce with a fork often. The sauce will reduce to a syrup consistency.
  4. Place the popcorn in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the caramel sauce into the bowl (a few tablespoons at a time), stirring between adding the caramel.
  5. Spread the popcorn out on the baking sheet, season with a pinch of salt, and bake for 25 minutes.

Question: What’s a junk food you just can’t control yourself around?